Is there any alternative to today's system of corporate capitalism?  This article looks into the question.


by Dada Vedaprajinananda

“If you don’t like it here you can go to Russia, China or North Korea.”  That is what Mitt Romney told someone who challenged his economic and social positions during a primary campaign rally in South Carolina last month.

Romney and many others in mainstream politics paint this picture of stark alternatives when they talk about the U.SA.  They contend that we have to accept the inequalities and defects that we have today in America because the only other alternative is the misery and drudgery of the old Soviet Union or present-day North Korea.

This kind of approach ignores the fact that all social and political systems undergo change. The march of history will not stop just because we would like it to. Why can’t we improve on a system which concentrates wealth and power in the hands of a few? Why can’t we improve on a system which worships the military-industrial complex and is geared to a perpetual war with overseas enemies?  I am sure that this is what the young man who challenged Romney had in mind.

I would agree with Romney and would not want to live in North Korea or any country which suppresses basic human rights. However, just because past attempts elsewhere to change things failed does not mean that we should give up on seeking change and improvement today.

Recently Noam Chomsky was asked if there could be any alternative to corporate capitalism and he was at no loss of words and started explaining how cooperative ownership of work-places could change things. In his film “Capitalism, A Love Story” Michael Moore comes to a similar conclusion and stated that employee ownership of economic enterprises would be better than the present corporate model.

Taking this even further, the Indian philosopher P.R. Sarkar outlined an alternative to corporate capitalism which he called the Progessive Utilization Theory (known by its acronym, PROUT). Sarkar said that the need of the hour is for people around the world to establish economic democracy. His PROUT economic model calls for a decentralized and democratic economic system in which cooperatives would have an important role.

There definitely are alternatives to the economic system that we have in the USA today. However, when the political debate gets rough here, the politicians like Romney try to scare people with the bogeyman of North Korea or the old Soviet Union. Sometimes they even warn people by telling them that we will end up like Sweden if we make changes! This is patently ludicrous, as many Americans would love to have the social benefits provided by the Swedish model. This kind of discourse is simply dogmatism. If we truly want to pursue happiness, which is nominally the American creed, then we have to start considering rational alternatives to an economic and political system that is so badly in need of fundamental change.