Sunday, August 1, 2010

Beyond Capitalist Mythology

by Michael K. Smith

As back-to-school time approaches amidst talk of deepening recession, it's well worth considering a classic anti-capitalist textbook that should be required reading not just for political science students but for business and marketing majors, in fact, for everyone indoctrinated to believe that "there is no alternative" to the capitalist system that has brought the human race to the edge of extinction.

"Democracy For The Few" by Michael Parenti is an outstanding scholarly review of capitalism as not just an economic model but as an entire social system. It brilliantly treats the contradiction between democratic and elitist values, relentlessly exposing the realities of class power and powerlessness. The author doesn't simply make assertions; he carefully considers the arguments underpinning capitalist legitimacy and finds them sorely wanting on rational grounds. He covers all the major themes of capitalism vs. democracy: the grotesquely lopsided distribution of wealth; corporate propaganda masquerading as objective journalism; self-serving mythology about the U.S. Founding Fathers; the subjugation of labor; the amelioration of capitalist exploitation with social democratic advances (the New Deal); the socialization of risk and the privatization of profit; military intervention abroad and the maintenance of a global system of power; ecological catastrophe and the attack on social programs; institutionalized injustice masquerading as law; political repression and incipient police state tactics; the international dimension of class struggle; elections as public relations extravaganzas; the buying of the Congress; the president as Commander in Chief of world empire; the partisan courts, and suggestions about how to transcend this system with real democracy.

Well researched, elegantly written, soundly argued. Buy it, use it, tell others about it.