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New Left Review 41, September-October 2006

Can emancipatory social science provide a framework for rethinking paths forward from capitalism? Erik Olin Wright on the navigational tools that might orient a route towards a non-statist socialism; and on the necessary preconditions for transformative theory.



Towards a Socialist Alternative

Throughout most of the twentieth century, socialism constituted the central ideological matrix for thinking about alternatives to capitalism and giving direction to anti-capitalist struggles, even where the establishment of a socialist order was not an immediate political goal. If the particular institutional arrangements historically associated with socialism are now seen as incapable of delivering on their promises, many of the traditional socialist criticisms of capitalism seem more appropriate than ever: inequality, economic polarization and job insecurity are worsening; giant corporations dominate the media and cultural production; politics is increasingly run by big money and unresponsive to those without it. The need for a vibrant alternative to capitalism is as great as ever.

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Erik Olin Wright, ‘Compass Points’, NLR 41: £3

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