ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Manifesto for Socialist Development in the 21st Century

What might socialist development look like? Mainstream conceptions of development deem capital accumulation the bedrock upon which to achieve human development. In these conceptions of change, labouring classes are regarded as fuel for the development motor, which in turn justifies their exploitation and oppression. In contrast, how would a non-exploitative socialist development strategy be operationalised? This article advances a 10-point plan for sustainable socialist transformation.

Parts of this article have been published previously in Monthly Review Online.

I am grateful to the anonymous reviewer for suggestions for improving this article. All errors remain my own.

In early 2017, it was revealed that eight men owned as much wealth as half the world’s population (Oxfam 2017). This is in a world where, according to the most conservative figures, around one in three workers live in poverty. More realistic calculations show that the majority of the world’s population suffers from poverty of one form or another.1 These inequalities and deprivations are only one symptom of capitalist development. Others include environmental destruction, systematic racism and gender discrimination, each of which generate their own poverty burdens.

Whether in Augusto Pinochet’s Chile (the laboratory for free-market development) or in Park Chung-hee’s South Korea (the most celebrated case of state-led development), capitalist development is founded upon the exploitation and political oppression of labour.2 Moreover, capitalist development is predicated upon environmental ruin and the (re)production of various forms of discrimination.

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