--The Emergence of Dynamic Economies Combining the Market with National and Democratic Planning and Initiatives. The collapse of the Soviet bloc underscored an historical crisis of socialism, in both theory and practice. The commandist, anti-market models suffered serious defeats. To survive and thrive in the 21st Century, socialism requires major revisions and theoretical breakthroughs. Some important work is already being done by market-oriented socialists in many countries and movements, but much remains to be done. China, with its socialist market economy with its own national features, is the largest and most significant of these economies in the third world. Even with its problems, it has made giant strides in promoting growth, modernization, and prosperity, and has made new contributions to socialist theory and practice.
Other important experiments in economic democracy are underway following the popular victories in South Africa and the coming to power of the Workers Party in Brazil. In a European context, there are thriving regional alliances of popular and worker controlled industries in both Spain and Italy that also have rich lessons for the future. The message is that the tension between capitalism and socialism did not end forever with the collapse of the anti-market, command model of the Soviet bloc. There are new, positive, and practical ways for popular and democratic forces to contend with the "TINA-There Is No Alternative" crowd that capitulates to the Neoliberal Globalists and the Hegemonists.
Understanding the positive importance of the market is a critical point of demarcation between us and some others on the left. In our view, the market is not simply synonymous with capitalism; it is an achievement of human civilization that both predates capitalism and will persist for some time after capitalism. As a result, our vision of a socialist society is one that contends today in the arenas of both the market and the state. A successful revolutionary struggle in just one of these arenas is required but not sufficient.
The market has too often been one-sidedly, simplistically and tragically viewed as only a terrain for capitalists or the exploiting class. This abstention unnecessarily cedes to them a critical arena for production, defining work, technological progress, knowledge, democracy, among other things. Not only is the market place an arena for regulation and application of macro policy, but also a place for democratic ownership, further developing our tradition of collective and participatory management, developing the wisdom among our ranks to deal with uneven development as we promote progress and solidarity, and developing a socialist entrepreneurial tradition. In this terrain, we create deep and, often complex, alliances between workers, managers, investors, the community, consumers, financiers, and technical experts. In this context, our task is to help the workers train to become the masters of society, even as they struggle under the weight of its present conditions. If we aren't capable of managing the pressures that encourage corruption and opportunism in the firm or political life, we certainly disqualify ourselves from leadership in transforming society.
Increasingly people, organizations, and nations across the world are joining in great numbers to oppose many of the reactionary policies arising from the crises of global capital internationally and domestically. The opposition to the War in Iraq was powerful, broad and unprecedented in scope. The United Nations and other international networks have become increasingly independent, as have traditional allies of the US in Europe and North America, signaling growing and important divisions in the capitalist world. Labor and democratic movements are gaining strength in many cases-the recent victory of the Workers Party in Brazil being a particularly stunning and recent important victory.
Everyday within the US, there are growing cracks in what has been claimed is so secure and so permanent. Even among the ruling establishment, there is are growing conflicts and skirmishes between speculative and productive capital, ie, between "Low Road" businesses and investors that want to drive down working and living standards, restrict safety nets, destroy trade unions, increase inequality and subvert public schools and services. "High Road" businesses and developers, on the other hand, tend to understand the longer-term importance of a skilled, healthy and prosperous work force, of sustainable development and a clean, healthy environment. They often see that these things are beneficial to them as well, and they are willing to work in democratic alliances to realize these conditions.
The greed of low-road capitalists, on the other hand, has openly shown itself more than ever in recent memory. Their highest priority is making maximum profits in the short run, even as they harm and devour the productive capacity that gave them so much power in the world. This is giving rise to a deepening alienation in all strata of society by those who depended on them and expected them to preserve the productive surge of modern society that offered so much promise.
Thus there is a growing demand and struggle in all segments of our society for justice, against racist discrimination and oppression, against the oppression of women, for peace, for a restored environment, for an end to poverty, for the rights of homosexuals to be free from discrimination and persecution, for full democratic rights for all. There is also a growing struggle to defend and develop our local economies and communities in reaction to the unrestrained destruction created by predatory, Low Road capitalist practices and to build a sustainable and restorative economy using every opportunity and resource available through intelligence use of the market, the state, and civil society.