The Soul of Capitalism

That’s the title of William Greider’s new book, which seems to be getting slightly lost among the avalanche of recent “George Bush Sucks and I Hate Him” releases. Having recently become reacquainted with the difficult but painfully necessary task of publicizing a new book myself, I asked him if he wanted to write a few words about it for this site, and he graciously consented. So without further ado, I give you Bill Greider:

So why would anyone want to read about “The Soul of Capitalism”
when George W. Bush is the ripe target? Why daydream about a “moral economy” when the existing one is tanking? Reasonable questions. My short answer is: progressive forces are never going to gain real traction in American politics until they develop a much larger vision of the future. The right has its agenda. Left-liberal activists have been on defense for so long many have lost the capacity to think this way. They are unlikely to revive the Democrats’ reform tradition until they can tell a more ambitious (and radical) story about what this country can become.

Essentially, that’s what my new book tries to do. The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy offers people — especially young people whose minds aren’t wholly owned by establishment thinking — a basis for genuine optimism. A new way to think about reshaping American life. A casebook for transforming the economic order in fundamental ways — big ideas and actions neither Dems nor Republicans would presently touch. Yet plain-wrapper citizens are already working on them in various ways. Winning victories toward the day when a new social reality emerges to generate new politics.

Are we truly free when most Americans work in a “master-servant relationship” inherited from feudalism? If we are so wealthy as a nation (and we are), why are so many people confined and trampled in their lives, feeling desperate amid the abundance? And does our prosperity really require business and finance to wantonly destroy nature, not to mention families, communities, our deepest human values?

The book confronts such questions, not as theory, but in concrete reality. It explains the sources of the destruction and injury, the gross inequalities that emanate from a steepening pyramid of power. It describes the goals and strategies of Americans working to create a different, more humane reality. Yes, politics and government play a hand, but the discontents originate mainly within capitalism. Until the economic system is profoundly altered, government is reduced to impotent reformer or willing collaborator.

All this may sound intimidating, but people are not as powerless as they imagine. Deep change always originates with a brave minority. Think of the civil rights movement. Never won an election, yet changed the nation. I hope to help people rediscover their courage, show them the leverage points where they can find their power.

William Greider