Economics is often presented as “too complicated” for regular folks to understand and politics is often presented in a too simplistic style — two ways for the people who benefit from the world as it is to keep the world as it is. Systemic Disorder presents essays on the ongoing economic crisis of capitalism and the environmental issues connected to it, the political and ideological disinformation that holds the global system in place, thoughts on the creation of a better world and the occasional book review.
Systemic Disorder is written by Pete Dolack, an activist, writer, poet and photographer. My degree is in journalism, so if I can understand economics, so can you. As an activist, I have been an organizer with Amnesty International, National People’s Campaign, New York Workers Against Fascism, Brooklyn Greens/Green Party of New York, No Spray Coalition, WBAI Fightback and Trade Justice New York Metro.
I am the author of the book It’s Not Over: Learning from the Socialist Experiment, a study of some of the attempts organized to create societies on a basis other than capitalism with an eye toward an understanding of today’s world and finding a path to a better world tomorrow. It’s Not Over is published by Zero Books, and copies are available from online retailers well below the list price.
My second book, What Do We Need Bosses For?: Toward Economic Democracy will be published by Autonomedia in spring 2023. In societies around the world, working people have struggled to overcome their subordinate positions in capitalist production and to instead take charge of their working lives and their workplaces. The core of the book is six chapters describing past and present efforts to establish new systems of economic democracy on a national or society-wide basis. These six examples are workers’ self-management in Yugoslavia, workers’ control in Prague Spring Czechoslovakia, the social-property area of Allende-era Chile, the democratic confederalism of Rojava, the cooperatives of Cuba and the communes of Venezuela.
I am also the author of the 44-page pamphlet The Winners and Losers of Fascism, which examines five historical examples (Germany, Italy, Spain, Chile and Argentina) and discusses the possibility of fascism being implemented today.
Thanks Pete for setting up this blog. It is enormously helpful to read and gain a better understanding of this difficult subject. Congratulations on this great writing and offering your wise mind to the public.
For many years, people could rely on several learned individuals for thoughtful, researched in-depth analysis of major political and economic issues impacting their lives. These were people who invested hours upon hours of work to study such matters and try to put the pieces together in ways that made sense. Moreover, they were people who were willing to travel extensively and give what little spare time they may have had to write, speak, appear on panels and offer well reasoned answers to whatever questions were thrown at them. Professor Noam Chomsky comes to mind as one of the very few left of such seasoned “scholarly based activists.” After reading your first two blog posts, I am feeling both encouraged and relieved to know that this essential tradition continues in good health. Thank you for stepping up to the plate, or at least the cyber microphone. As Neil Young wrote in a song: Long may you run!
I’m posting this to brechtforum/economywatch.org.
I don’t know how to thank you for this blog without using stupid words like “awesome” and “great”. The writing is quite accessible. The ideas are powerful. I post almost everything you send to my blog, DemocracyWeb.com
Man, I had no idea your name was Pete. I really should read people’s About pages more often. Damn good to know you, man.
I linked your blog to mine, prayforcalamity.com
In your essay “Opening Our Eyes to the Origins of Capitalism,” you mention Spain using the silver it stole from the indigenous of South America being used to finance the Crusades. Is this an error? The crusades ended by the fifteenth century, pre-columbus, no?
financing the post-Reformation religious wars?
Great blog. Sign me up to be notified when your book is out–will definitely buy.
Thanks for this, Pete, it came at the right time. In addition to working on my testimony for a hearing on the VT bill on Tues., I have been working on my presentation at my town meeting for the article that would direct the legislature to create a state bank in VT. I had intended to send it to petition organizers in other towns in case it might help them but you have done the bulk of my work in this blog.
Since I didn’t want to take up space on the comments section of your last piece, thought I would put the following here. You can put it where you consider it appropriate and edit as you see fit. And since this is the more personal side of things, I’ll add my admiration for all the work you have done. Am sending your address around. Great clarity in a cacophonous world.
I’ll admit it. I watched the teevee this evening. It was a program called “Ce Soir ou Jamais”, a weekly panel discussion centered around a broad question which tonight was: Is France Afraid of Progress? The panel consisted of a range of competencies which included journalism, biology, history, philosophy, fiction, economy, sociology from all political tendencies, all ages.
The highlight of the program was the observation by the biologist that our very biological nature was being somehow neutralized by the linear scientific conception of Progress; that differences, the very idea of “different” was being slowly effaced from the entire idea of progress; that it was these very differences, and our adaptation to them, that marked so much of our progress, and that so many of our technological advances, our “scientism” as he put it, were confining us to a sectarian, inside the box view of progress.
And I thought to myself, “That’s it!” That’s why I so enjoyed driving with my parents from Michigan to Florida back in the 50s, before I-75, seeing not only the varied countryside, but hearing the different accents and music on the radio, eating the different foods, meeting different people. And that was why I wanted to travel to Europe later on. To experience even greater differences.
Which is why I believe that had not the US interfered in post-war Europe, we might have seen a very different Europe emerge from that horror. Not the EU we know today, but a collection of sovereign states that had decided to co-exist, each with its own identity, strengths, weaknesses, cuisine, language, literature, and so on.
The psycho-monetary capture and manipulation of the European elites (as well as other, more brutal means) certainly put an end to their experiments with communism and, to a longer term degree, socialism, as you rightly point out. I was working in Greece in the 70s.
And to put the biologist’s idea into more concrete terms, back in the 60s and 70s, one could travel almost anywhere if one really wanted. Friends of mine drove from Marseille to Kabul and back in a couple of old 2CVs. I motorcycled throughout North Africa without any real concerns at all. Try doing that today.
Sure, I can traverse multiple borders in Europe without having to show a passport, but what do I see on the other side of the frontier? More and more of the same. Or fewer and fewer differences. Take your pick.
Good work Mr. Dolack. Herb Jackson would be proud.
Great blog, Pete. Clear writing about difficult topics. Thanks!
Good stuff! Think you might enjoy this big picture climate change doc; http://www.crossofthemoment.com
When a large portion of this world’s population has agreed that money is being earned in time instead of by labor, a planetary power shift will have taken place.
You are way too harsh on the Soviet Union. Despite its flaws it represents the most successful socialist model to date. It seems like you are promoting some kind of anarchism which has a 100% failure rate.
For a Marxist-Leninist perspective I would recommend Stephen Gowans’ blog called “What’s Left” and Roland Boer’s blog, “Stalin’s Moustache.”
Finally, socialism was never totally defeated. We have Cuba and North Korea with the world’s largest economy, China, leading the way.
since a workers’ paradise has yet to be achieved, whether the workers will be more just or less just than the owners remains an open question – but that’s no reason not to try
We liked your thesis that we need to organize and we need to be ready to take action. Please join us at unriggingamerica.wordpress.com. We believe we need to develop a slate of electoral reforms that will put power back in the hands of the people and we need to push that platform forward by any and all mean. We hope you will be with us.
Thanks for the heads up in TISA. Hadn’t heard of it before. Had thought of the US bowing out of TPP as the one positive effect of electing Trump.
Insouciant Americans continue to Swallow the Lard while the Duopoly distracts their attention with endless war supported by the nfl draft and Hollywood. How embarrassing for all puny Earthlings.
[…] article (along with all other “systemic disorder” articles) reflects excellent research, analysis and delivery. it was illuminating, though […]
Thanks for posting your review on Jackson Rising. Glad to be connected with you.
Where Does Profit Come From?
Nice article, but much more complicated than it needed to be.
If you have ever worked in a production industry, producing commodities, you know that for each process there is a break-even point for a chosen period of time. On auto assembly lines, for example, the hour is management’s preferred unit. Each process, e.g. building a door panel has an hourly production quota and a (lower) hourly break even point.
By the time workers have passed the break even point, their wages for that hour have been created, along with all other costs—material, energy, rent, overhead, etc. But they are not allowed to stop work until the production quota is met. Every door panel produced between break even and production is pure surplus value. It is exclusively up to owners how much of surplus value becomes profit (in the narrow taxable sense).
We create value that we do not get paid for, simple as that. Profit is unpaid labor. Theft.
Milliards of streams of unpaid labor flow into vast rivers of surplus value every minute of every day, into a sea of wealth over which workers have no say whatsoever. Economic democracy puts those who create wealth in charge of saying how it will be used.
Sidney Hook’s “Toward the Understanding of Karl Marx, a Revolutionary Interpretation” explains all this with elegant, crystal-clear logic in chapter 14, Marx’s Sociological Economics.
Hook’s later right turn does not invalidate the lucid analysis of his youth.
former door line worker at Chrysler
I had to pass this one here since I did not see an contact link that provided an email address.
This is a halo rious (simultaneously funnie and sad) start to the new year.
It should be born in mind that the Geman word will does not mean the english word will. Will in German means wants to in in English.
But the fact that there are high level officials that want to is very noteworthy.
Yes, Putin is NOT progressive. But I am ready to cheer even for Taliban when they boot USA imperialists out of Afghanistan. USA imperialism and its lackeys are the greatest reactionary force in the world.
lidia, you’ve got THAT right. And “we” continue to doomsday!
Great to discover your work, please email me with the latest.