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

There are many ways to participate in the struggle for a just, sustainable society. Each defensive struggle against a typical characteristic of neo-liberal capitalism and each offensive struggle for one of the characteristics of a green social democratic society is, in our view, a revolutionary struggle, whether a green social democratic society is a conscious aim of that struggle or not. In the authors' opinion, the following movements in which readers are or may become involved become revolutionary ones when they adopt the following aims and methods.

A labor movement (social unionism) that:

  • beyond the immediate physical survival of working people and their families puts the interests of the global working class as a whole before any other short term interests of any of its detachments (global working class internationalism)
  • acts in solidarity with all the victims of Capital (working class solidarity with all victims of Capital)
  • champions the environment, protecting it for future generations (working class environmental stewardship)
  • behaves thoroughly democratically in its own organizations, including adherence to the principle of the primacy of the rank and file over those in formal positions of leadership, and militantly opposes all manifestations of authoritarianism, beginning with the workplace (working class democracy)
  • fights for the application within the money economy of the moral principle: "from each according to their ability to each according to their work" and contributes to the growth of the non-money economy in which people contribute freely to others according to their available time, health and abilities and receive according to their relative need, regardless of their contribution (working class morality)
  • aims in the first instance to have at least an equal say in all work-related decisions that concern the health and welfare of the community and ultimately to replace "management rights" with the fundamental right of working people to manage their own workplaces.

An environmental movement that

  • opposes private property rights to nature and natural resources, working to replace these with stewardship rights and obligations (environmental stewardship)
  • fights for legislation and constitutional change aimed at a rapid winding down of the fossil fuel economy, including prohibition of any expansion of this economy as a crime against humanity and redirection of the profits from this economy to the development of an alternative economy based equally on safe, alternative energy and conservative, sustainable use of resources (creating a sustainable economy)
  • links its fight for the environment with a commensurate fight for human equality, passing along the full costs of the transition to those most able to pay (making the new economy a just one).

A civic movement that

  • works to create resilient communities that prioritize people and nature over profits (resilient communities)
  • actively builds a culture and practice of community participation in decision-making and action (participatory democracy)
  • uses its electoral victories to create public banks, including the transfer from private banks of all public funds and financial transactions, with an investment priority in public institutions and democratic worker managed businesses needed in the construction of an alternative just, sustainable economy, featuring family and cooperative worker owned and run enterprises and initiatives (public banking for the new economy)
  • works for a new era of enlightenment based on community oriented and diverse, vibrant forms of public education, science, communication and culture (the new era of enlightenment)
  • is thoroughly engaged in national and international politics, making local communities beach-heads in the struggle for a green social democracy nationally and globally, with the ultimate aim of overwhelming the centralized, autocratic economic and political power of Big Capital (transition towns and communities).

Non-violent democratic political movements that in addition to the above include political parties and policy advocacy organizations that

  • work both inside and outside of parliamentary/governmental bodies and for-profit and non-profit business and non-business organizations to push for the goal of a green social democracy, that is, a just, sustainable society
  • emphasize education and culture, including learning, teaching and inspiring as integral to the progressive movements
  • respect and learn from the knowledge and experience of others regardless of and indeed because of initial differences in understanding and outlook
  • recognize that the comfort of sectarian affirmation is a dead-end for those who seek a just, sustainable future
  • accept the challenge of the necessary give and take in every creative, problem-solving endeavor
  • recognize and act on the recognition that as long as extreme wealth and income inequality continue to exist we cannot match the power of the wealthiest to buy representation from lobbyists, politicians and think-tanks
  • give priority instead to our strength in numbers, experience and determination
  • rely on our collective might as volunteers in the struggle for a just, sustainable future
  • defeat the autocracy of the few by the democracy of the many.

In the next chapter, we aim to place the struggle for a green social democracy in historical perspective.


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

Creative Commons License

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.