Friday, February 19, 2010

Transforming or Reforming Capitalism: Towards a Theory of Community Economic Development

Edited by John Loxley, 160 pages, Fernwood Publishing.

Loxley and his fellow writers disparage capitalism as too individualistic and hierarchical, and seek ways of rebuilding the communities that capitalism has ravaged. At times, the judgment is rather harsh: "In an alienated society [such as the one created by capitalism], individual needs are limitless, the possession of things becoming an end in itself."

Transforming or Reforming Capitalism looks to more than economic issues, asserting that community is about more than material goods.

Community economic development focuses on empowering people, rather than on getting people rich. The book offers clear ideas rather than fuzzy theory, calling for community building through using local economic goods and services; "neighborhood stability"; environmentally sustainable economic development; skill development in local people; and the reinvestment of profits in local communities.

Because the capitalist marketplace can be quite aggressive towards communities and families, community economic development cannot afford to be neutral. It must take stands on the relevant issues, as in covering gaps in community development left by capitalism.

Transforming or Reforming Capitalism's strong condemnation of capitalism would be reasonable if the writers also condemned extreme feminism and some forms of liberalism for their roles in the break-up of the family and society. The radical left is as guilty as aggressive capitalism in breaking up society, and until the left writes with more critical self-awareness, books such as these end up limiting the good they can do.

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