Alternative Vision to Capitalism–Jerome Roos

Many recognize the need for a specific plan to provide an alternative to neoliberal capitalism, inequality and powerlessness, but few formulate answers other than localism. Jerome Roos did provide specific goals in a 2015 article in his ROAR Magazine. He dismisses the Old Left’s lack of vision for an alternative to zombie neoliberalism—including 20th century socialism and social democratic parties, so that the populist left must be reinvented. The recent uprisings are part of a new politics that does offer a “collective vision of a radically different future” with these themes: democracy as practiced in assemblies and attention to quality of daily life–especially shared control of public areas in urban centers called “the commons.” Examples of the “political imaginary and transformative projects” are the protests in Zuccotti and Gezi Parks that provided free services in experiments in democracy, protests against water privatization in Bolivia and Italy, and worker-owned factories.

Currently engaged in a “mostly defensive retreat into the ‘small’ and the ‘local,’” what these recent experiments lack is organizing a common political movement. The vacuum created by the uprisings was therefore replaced by the military in Egypt and so on. Roos blames a too strict an emphasis on horizontalism. Activists overlook that the direct democracy exemplified by the Zapatistas in Chiapas and Kurds in Rojava is not limited to pure horizontalism. Bookchin’s vision of a confederation, as applied in Rojava, suggests the way to join forces in “rebel cities,” including neighborhood organizations, campaigns for a particular issue, even radical political parties as long as they don’t try to dominate. The rebel cities would form national and then international networks. A beginning is Spain’s Network of Cities for Common Good. Thus the long-term goal follows Bookchin in replacing the centralized capitalist state with a “decentralized confederation of communes.” Examples of specific actions Roos would like to see implemented in the rebel cities are a basic income for all, fewer work hours in a “cooperative economy,” free health care, cooperative housing, “radical pedagogy” in schools, renewable energy, and open access to communal property. He recognizes that revolution is not an event but an ongoing process, even though problems like climate change and the refugee crisis need immediate action. Now power must be built by continuing to demonstrate in the streets.

Jerome Roos, “Towards a New Anti-Capitalist Politics,” ROAR Magazine, December 9, 2015.


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