“Progress has not followed a straight ascending line, but a spiral with rhythms of progress and retrogression, of evolution and dissolution.” - Goethe
its inception, capitalism in the West internalized the Protestant
leaders’ emphasis on humanity’s “total depravity.” It is thus one of the
deeply-ingrained assumptions of Western capitalism that goodness and
excellence are to be found outside of the human sphere--goodness is
achievable only through non-human, institutional means.
Muhammad Yunus’s belief in “social businesses” seems more far-fetched
than Michael Albert’s “participatory economy,” in this regard. At least
Albert recognizes that such a structure is achievable only with the
elimination of economic markets, which exist only as a way of thinking,
i.e. an insistence that we use structures which prioritize the non-human
over the human--numbers over language, digitally-recorded contracts
over face-to-face agreements, global markets over grassroots democracy.
is such a structure. First used to mean “famous person” in 1849,
‘celebrity’ is a decidedly non-human category. It is a creation of mass-media
that cares nothing about the humanity of the celebrity, i.e.
serial-killers can be celebrities as easily as saints. The only
requirement seems to be the single-minded pursuit of perfection--whether
it’s the attempt to save the world or the attempt to commit the
the early Protestant leaders correct that with the Fall, humanity is in
a state of “total depravity” and should seek excellence only through
non-human structures such as economic markets? Or is it possible that
they were mistaken, and as the Eastern mystics propose, excellence is to
be found through balance rather than through the pursuit of perfection?
Why Socialism? Perhaps we should be asking "Why not?"