Finian Cunningham and Jodi Dean: Western Capitalism’s Historic Crisis: There’s Actually A Socialist Alternative

Occupy May Day 2012

Image by brent granby via Flickr

by Finian Cunningham
Writer, Dandelion Salad
March 14, 2023

Finian Cunningham on Mar 9, 2023

Western capitalism and its supposed democracy are in terminal crisis as increasing numbers of people reject the system’s abysmal economic failure: record levels of poverty, inequality and relentless militarism and warmongering.

Professor Jodi Dean, the author of The Communist Horizon (Verso), says we are living in a rare historic situation of social, economic and political turmoil where breakthrough revolutionary change can happen. People are increasingly realizing that “Western-style democracy” and its much-vaunted “values” are a grotesque illusion. In reality, what we have is a “dictatorship of billionaires” that is brutally oppressive and destructive.

Nothing is guaranteed to happen from the present turmoil and mass of social energy out there. But there is a huge potential for a socialist alternative, one where people’s living conditions are vastly improved by workers taking control over economic production and one where international peace and security are actually observed because capitalism and its imperialist depredations are transcended.

Increasingly, people and workers are taking to the streets in protests and in industrial strikes, from Europe to the United States, because they have “had it” with capitalist exploitation and militarism. This is a formidable sign of positive change, says Dean in this wide-ranging interview on the prospects of a socialist alternative.

She points out that the massive bailouts of banks and private corporations by the state, both in the U.S. and Europe, clearly demonstrate to people that socialist control of the economy is actually viable and doable, only instead of “socialism for the rich” we should implement socialism for workers, the vast majority of society.

People in Western states realize more than ever that their elitist governments are their enemies, that the ruling political parties are barriers to progressive change and therefore must be swept away. Socialism is becoming popularly realized as a realistic alternative to the destructive, oppressive, warmongering status quo of capitalist so-called democracy. Dean points out that socialist consciousness comes from collective action and protest and struggle for one’s rights and basic needs. And collective action for self-preservation and human solidarity is being compelled by the failing status quo. Consciousness and choices are ineluctably being forced because the failure of capitalism is an existential crisis for societies and individuals.

There is no easy prediction that the revolutionary situation will go in the constructive direction of a socialist, genuinely democratic system. But the ruling class – the established political parties – is deeply fearful that socialism becomes popularly demanded as a political vision to secure decent societies and international peace. The fact that the political establishments denigrate socialism so fanatically demonstrates they are fearful of workers developing a full demand for it.

Despite decades of relentless anti-communist propaganda and brainwashing especially in the United States – the lead capitalist power – people have not lost the rational and ethical appeal for socialism.

Finian Cunningham, is a columnist at the Strategic Culture Foundation and a Writer on Dandelion Salad. He can be reached at

From the archives:

Brian Becker: Why You Should Read The Communist Manifesto

How Does An Economic System So Hostile To Life Endure For Centuries? by Pete Dolack

Jodi Dean: A Proposal to Save the Climate: Decommodify, Decolonize and Decarbonize the Country

American Capitalism’s Growing Dysfunction, by Rainer Shea

Inflation, Layoffs, and the $1 Trillion War Budget, by Scott Scheffer

Why You Should Be A Socialist In 2023

Michael Parenti: Does Capitalism Work?

How Capitalism Controls You

Envisioning A World With No Bosses, by Pete Dolack + Michael Albert: What Kind of Economy Comes After a Socialist Revolution?

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