Thursday, May 7, 2009

Beyond the Horizon of Capitalism

Perry Anderson on the French Left (after the fall of Communism):

"Historically, the left had tried to separate capitalism and democracy, but they formed a single history. Democracy had triumphed since 1989, and with it capital. But its victory was now tinged with malaise, for it was accompanied by an ever greater disengagement of its citizens from public life. It was impossible to view that withdrawal without a certain melancholy. Once Communism had fallen, the absence of an alternative ideal of society was draining politics of passion, without leading to any greater belief in the justice of the status quo. Capitalism was now the sole horizon of humanity, but the more it prevailed, the more detested it became. ‘This condition is too austere and contrary to the spirit of modern societies to last,’ Furet concluded. He ended in the spirit of Tocqueville, lucidly resigned to the probability of what he had resisted. ‘It might one day be necessary,’ he conceded, ‘to go beyond the horizon of capitalism, to go beyond the universe of the rich and poor.’ For however difficult it was even to conceive of a society other than ours today, ‘democracy, by virtue of its existence, creates the need for a world beyond the bourgeoisie and beyond capital.’ "

This separating of democracy and capitalism has some resonance. Capitalism being the 'least worst' option in the economic sphere does not equal singing the praises of every aspect of it. The market's self-regulation, openness, and opportunity are to be valued, but the difficult-to-conceive idea of an economic system retaining effectiveness while sating democracy's "need for a world beyond the bourgeoisie and beyond capital" seems a worthwhile concept to buff ones mental blades with.

As with most things (excepting Tostitos Hint-of-Lime and high speed photography) there is worth in noting what is praiseworthy and worth in the acknowledgment and exploration its weaknesses.

(Click for Large)


  1. What does this red-blooded American think of Cuba? Is it possible to see beyond the negative US propaganda and appreciate what Cuba has achieved?

  2. That's " 'merican" ...
    of course! and equally as able to see what it has not (even bearing in mind the embargo). Its people do not seem particularly discontented , which denies any generalizations about life under "Communism."
    (though honestly, there is little "propaganda" actually 'propagated' in the US; the embargo is more simply an encrusted law that has lived beyond it's lifespan.)