So argues Historian Eric Hobsbawm in The Guardian today. Hobsbawm is right that after years of capitalist dogma that there is no alternative, the time has never been better to seek alternatives.
Many of the comments that follow his piece however take issue with his assertion that socialism has failed. The communist brand of “socialism” practiced in Russia wasn’t socialism at all – more a vicious state centralised authoritarianism that had little to do with true socialist ideals. The same could be said however for the type of neo-liberal capitalism we have today which has strayed so far from the principles and ideals of pure capitalism as outlined by founders such as Adam Smith that it’s almost unfair to say that capitalism has failed also.
The problem is that if a new socio-economic system emerged, it would have to be adopted by every country in the world. Countries are so inter-linked nowadays through exports and imports that a country could have the most stable and healthy economic system on the planet but it wouldn’t be able to cope if other countries around it were collapsing.
Incidentally, Hobsbawm’s volumes The Age of Revolution, The Age of Extremes and The Age of Capital are excellent reads.