Humanity on the Brink

Charles Posa McFadden and Karen Howell McFadden 11.12.2016

Following more locally confined military conflicts during the 19th century, humanity found itself on the brink of global catastrophe three times during the 20th one, twice culminating in world wars, and once culminating in the global collapse of one of the contending global forces, an armed network of Communist Party led states which claimed to represent an alternative to capitalism. These, as it turns out, were mere prelude to the present crisis.

Once again, humanity is on the brink of destruction, either by slower death through the now accelerating destruction of both nature and human resilience or sudden death through the unleashing of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, whether intentional or through loss of control over their dissemination and use.

On the other side of the scale, humanity is at the same time on the brink of creation of a new system, one founded on the lessons learned from past failures at social transformation and on the advent of new technologies that have the potential for making democracy feasible on the scale of a single global socioeconomic system.

But first, let us remind ourselves that recorded history corresponds (so far) to the existence of two powerful groups of social classes, those which can reliably gather or produce a surplus beyond their own immediate needs and those social classes which are (so far) successfully able to appropriate that surplus from its producers. Necessary, however, to the continuity of every class society is a favourable natural climate, locally abundant natural resources, and adequate technology for the production on a continuing basis of the necessary surplus. Each of these conditions, however, is subject to change. Indeed, history knows repeated instances where one or more of the necessary conditions for the existence of class society have locally ceased to exist. In these locations human population collapsed or relocated.

For the first time in human history, however, a single socio-economic system, transnational capitalism, now prevails over the entire Earth, having replaced the former dominance of competing nationally bound capitalist societies. And for the first time in human history, there is no space left for systemic contradictions to be resolved by geographical relocation of the failing social order.

The successful expansion of capitalism and its development into a single global system has, in effect, destroyed the grounds for its continuing existence. Surpluses are today produced only by robbing the future to pay for the present. Class society is today at the end of its historical journey. And the only alternative for humanity is the one being pursued, consciously or not – in a large diversity of ways - by a growing legion of social and political movements – a globalized communal society, one enabled through a radical development of democracy and the appropriate use of communication technology to manage production and distribution in a more just, sustainable fashion.

The presently dominant ruling classes will, it is understood, not readily give up their present privileges. Nor will the exploited and oppressed automatically take the path of common struggle for an alternative system, abandon the quest for a seat at the table of the now dominant classes, and take a consciously revolutionary path. Both the dominant system of distribution and the corresponding cultural justifications serve to reproduce the existing system. But the very breakdown of the existing system today provides both the motivation and the opportunity for moving beyond capitalism.

How does this struggle between the present and the future manifest itself? The prevailing system lives only through violence – against people and against nature. Violence, including that from some of the opponents of capitalism, only begets more violence, justifying and thereby perpetuating a system based on violence. Curtailing violence against nature and against people is the path – in the face of the existing means of destruction, the only viable path - towards a system characterized by the relative absence of violence.

But movements of resistance will not, by themselves, be enough. The structural framework of every human society includes supportive laws, regulations and customs for the continuing reproduction and existence of the prevailing system. Social change, therefore, necessarily includes changes in laws, regulations and customs to those required for the creation and reproduction of the new system. The non-violent movements of the people for social change need parallel representation by political movements and political parties. Political movements and parties that aim for social change equally need powerful movements for social change as their impetus and source of knowledge, including policy.

Even then, one essential element remains inadequately developed at the present time. Capitalism arose historically and is founded on a system of alienation of working people from ownership of the tools they employ and from their inalienable human right to an equal say about how and on what and for whom their labour is to be expended. What capitalism established as the right of owners and their managers, namely management rights, represents theft of an inalienable human right. Genuine democracy – social democracy – means an end to management rights.

Today, the social and political movements of the people are training grounds for new, higher forms of democracy. We are in the process of creating new models of popular democracy, forms that can bring the knowledge of everyone to bear on the decisions we make and actions we take together. Our future rests not only on democracy within the social and political organizations we create, but above all, at our places of work.

When all our current struggles for justice, including our right to a life-sustaining natural environment, are combined with an insistent demand for acceptance of our inalienable human right to democracy at work, the most powerful exploitive system in human history will be compelled to step off the historical stage, to give way to the demand for all power to the people.


This website was launched September 1, 2010 in support of a green social democratic alternative to neoliberal capitalist policy and practice. The primary result is a work by Charles and Karen McFadden of seven chapters, grouped under the title, Towards a Green Social Democratic Alternative to Capitalism available here in pdf and html formats.

Below under the heading What’s New can be found the most recent materials posted on this website, including opinion pieces, book reviews, articles and selections from the 2017 edition of the main work.  For the interest of new and returning visitors, new materials will be included quarterly.

What's New


Authors' Preface

1.6 The epochal nature of the period we are entering

6.0 The socialism we need against the "socialism" of the 20th century

6.8 Additional concerns about 20th century variants of "socialism"

6.9 The people united!

7.1 Policy alternatives and political movements to advance them


Charles and Karen McFadden, Is revolutionary transformation on the agenda

Charles and Karen McFaddenHumanity on the Brink

Charles and Karen McFaddenMovements of Resistance to Movements for System Change

Charles McFaddenTranslating Green Principles into Education Policy and Practice

Charles and Karen McFadden, The Role of Revolutionaries in the Labor Movement


Charles and Karen McFadden, “The Shape of Water” as an Antidote to the Age of Trump 

Charles McFadden, Decolonizing the U.S. & Canada: The People United for a More Just Sustainable Future

Karen and Charles McFaddenCan emergent early 21st century neo-fascism be defeated without coming to grips with late 20th century restructuring of capitalism into a global system

Karen and Charles McFaddenA Dominant Capitalism or a Sustainable Environment? Why we can't have both.


William I. RobinsonThe Crisis of Global Capitalism and Trump's March to War

William I. RobinsonTrumpism, 21st Century Fascism, and the Dictatorship of the Transnational Capitalist Class


George HewisonWINNIPEG 1919 & THE COLD WAR

George HewisonArt Manuel - "Unsettling Canada

George HewisonThe NDP and LEAP


Albert Einstein, David Swanson, Jill Stein, Chris Hedges, William I. Robinson, and others Selected articles for Winter 2018



1.7 The dynamics of capitalism as a system and the limits of single issue reforms

2.11 The economy in transition towards a new deal for labor and the community

3.1 The challenge of a moribund economic system

3.7 Public banking: A cornerstone of a green social democracy

4.7 Economics and culture

6.5 Using the non-market economy as an opportunity to begin moving beyond capitalism


1.6 The epochal nature of the period we are entering

2.0 Theoretical Perspective: Defining Green Social Democracy

2.5. Socialism and green social democracy in historical materialist theory

4.3 Culture in historical perspective

5.1 Contrasting a green social democratic world with the currently prevailing, but challenged neo-liberal one

6.2 Socialism and capitalism as coexisting social systems


2.11 The economy in transition towards a new deal for labor and the community

5.7 Defeating neo-liberal capitalism: The role of social movements

7.3 Justice: Creating a just society, based on the right of all to a dignified, secure existence

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Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) applies to all work posted on this website except that which appears with authors whose last name is other than McFadden, in which case standard copyright should be assumed to apply.