Even before the financial and economic crisis in 2008 capitalism has been in crisis. “The difference between this crisis and the always-crisis is that this crisis is affecting the powerful and the rich also, which is why it is talked about and publicly discussed, why there has to be an agenda to deal with it. Before this mess, right, there were still, I don´t know, 10 million people a year dying of preventable death around the world, probably more than a hundred million dying of preventable disease and of starvation and so on”, says Albert. The suffering of many people also in leading industrial societies like the US where many live under the poverty line is not a result of the financial crash although it has tightened the situation for working people. At the same time the governments react to the crisis by bringing the elites back to their old positions who are sometimes better off than before. An alternative solution for the crisis would be an economy with real justice and fairness. Hence, protests and movements should focus on alternatives and accordingly formulate their demands.
Michael Albert: US writer, activist and economist, co-founder of ZMag and t ZNet, author of "Realizing Hope. Life Beyond Capitalism" and "Parecon" ("Participatory Economics")
David Goessmann: We see at the moment the dysfunctionalities of capitalism. Couln’t it be a good chance for implementing a participatory economic system as an alternative?
Michael Albert: One thing, that, I mean, always strikes me as strange. We are told that these current epics, these last few years since the bubble and so on, and with the recessions and maybe the depression, and in Europe, you know, kinds of mess, that it makes evident that capitalism does not work. Well, it is certainly true that it makes evident that capitalism does not work in a moment of its discombobulation. But nothing works when it is discombobulated. What is really critical about capitalism is that it is always in crisis. The difference between this crisis and the always-crisis is that this crisis is affecting the powerful and the rich also, which is why it is talked about and publicly discussed, why there has to be an agenda to deal with it. Before this mess, right, there were still, I don´t know, 10 million people a year dying of preventable death around the world, probably more than a hundred million dying of preventable disease and of starvation and so on. That is a crisis, isn´t that a crisis? Am I missing something some place? No it is not a crisis for mainstream media. Because it is the others who are dying. That is not a crisis. The fact that people work with no dignity and no control over their life, that is not a crisis. Because me, journalist extraordinaire, I have control over my life. Right and I do not pay attention to the plight of those people. So, when this current crisis comes along and it starts to make inroads against my comfort, my meaning the elites, it becomes a crisis. So that is the first thing to notice. That, what you say is absolutely true, the current situation makes it even worse and therefore breaks the normal mode and opens people’s eyes, it is all true. But there is something strange about it also. People who live in the inner cities in the United States are always in crisis. People who live under the poverty line live always in crisis, right? So it does not require sort of a disruption of the system, which is what we have now, to create their pain. Their pain is the normal order of business. Okay that said, it is true that what is going on now creates a context in which a great many people are thinking in a way that they have not before, well, maybe we need an alternative. Maybe we need something else. Maybe we need to get on about differently. So there are two ways of looking at the current crisis. One way is to say, how do we get out of it and get back to a situation where the elites, the constituencies of people who have the wealth and the power are in the same place they were before or even better off. That is the way of getting out of the current crisis that is being followed by governments who represent those elites. That is what is going on throughout Europe and the United States. There a slight arguments about it. (…) But now there is another way to come with the crisis and to say, wait a minute, your question, can we get out of this crisis in a way which is not about getting back to the way we were before but is about getting forward to a situation in which we have real equity and we have real justice? In which those who have for so long gotten the short end of the stick get a fair deal. Can we reverse the situation can we reduce the disparities, or even eliminate the disparities and have something equitable. So that is a different way of approaching the crisis. And the more people think about it that way the more people think about not only dissenting, whether it is in the streets of Madrid or Berlin or in Wisconsin, New York, not only being dissenting, not only being dissident, but maybe trying to conceive where do we go, what changes do we require, what demands can we make, what structures can we build to push through a whole new society. And that is obviously where my inclinations are.