David Harvey's Economics - a comment

This letter of published in the Big Issue (April 26) was written in response to an article by David Harvey in a previous issue.

In the doldrums of an election campaign where only slightly different alternatives within capitalism are on offer, it is good to read David Harvey's bold call for an alternative to capitalism. I also agree with his view that the name of communism is too damaged by its bad 20th century connotations (Stalin, Mao, etc) to be reclaimed with its good 19th century connotations (Marx and Engels). However, I find his suggestion that the movement should just define itself as anti-capitalist, or the Party of Indignation, less than satisfactory. It is inadequate to declare what we are against without defining what we are for. Capitalism at least has the advantage of being the devil we know. People cannot be expected to stake their whole future on a revolutionary change of system until they have confidence that there is an alternative that will really make life better. Opponents of capitalism need to work out a positive, life-enhancing alternative (something the Left has so far failed to do) and the choice of a name should reflect this. We might take a cue from the young Marx, who described his vision of a new society as a fully developed humanism.

Richard Abernethy