6.1 Is socialism dead?

"Insofar as people produce themselves in the course of all their activities, the very process of engaging in democratic forms of production is an essential part of producing people for whom the need for cooperation is second nature."

Michael A. Lebowitz (2012, Monthly Review Press) The Contradictions of Real Socialism: the conductor and the conducted, p12.

Faced with an accelerating rate of destruction of our home in nature, devastating weather effects from human-caused climate change, serious threats to our food supply, and growing wealth and income inequality, leaving hundreds of millions relatively defenseless while mere thousands have gathered for themselves control over greater wealth than that of entire nations, we are called upon to respond with consideration of what brought us to this position and what we might do to at least avert the worst. Since the problem is a social one (human impact on the environment and dysfunctional social systems for the production and distribution of goods and services), the response must also be social.

Many, including the authors, are looking or have looked to one or another of the variants of socialism for an alternative to capitalism. We have been dismayed by the historical dead-ends and flagrant abuses attributable to some of the social systems, movements, political parties and heads of state who have proclaimed themselves socialist. This circumstance can invite, but only temporarily, acceptance of the claim by some of capitalism's defenders that there is no alternative to a system whose purpose and operating system is the perpetual accumulation of capital. But a system whose moral imperative is the accumulation of capital for the purpose of accumulating even more capital is patently absurd, notwithstanding the frequent claim of its supporters to rationality. Worse, many of us believe that the incessant drive for capital accumulation whatever the consequences is the principal cause of environmental destruction and human misery.

Capitalists, at least those with good survival instincts, are driven in the manner of white mice on a treadmill, running faster in order to run still faster. The alternative for them is to be thrown from the accelerating treadmill and all its attendant privileges.

Yes, the results of capitalism have included great wealth and power for a few and a good life for many. But the results have also included impoverished lives for even more. For everyone the results include the reckless destruction of our home in nature. This ongoing destruction of people and nature by a system that prioritizes capital accumulation over the conservation of nature and the welfare of people is today explanation enough why the struggle for an alternative to capitalism engages increasing numbers of people and why in time it is likely to engage all. In this circumstance socialist alternatives will be on the agenda so long as capitalism remains the dominant global system.

Raising the flag of socialism, however, is no substitute for a clear identification by those committed to moving beyond capitalism of where it is they want to go and an earned reputation for behavior and practices consistent with those aims. Readers who are relatively new to socialist theory and practice and are interested in a brief, but reasonably comprehensive account of the definitions and forms of socialism that have characterized the past century might have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism. For a more engaging but still superficial historical account of socialism, its origins, personages and associated ideas and practices, see Pamela D. Toler (2011, Adams Media) The Everything Guide to Understanding Socialism: The political, social, and economic concepts behind this complex theory. This can at least serve to identify many of the events, ideas and people that readers may wish to know more about.

In what follows, our focus is on identifying past mistakes and wrong directions taken by socialist movements that will need to be avoided if we are to be successful in finding a path to a future beyond capitalism.


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.