It's a little confusing, who wrote what in this post, but I kind of enjoy that tension between the academic analysis of our options, and Sara Robinson's spin on them. At least I think they are her spin on them. For me, the takeaways are all toward the end, where she gets to the crux of the matter: do we wait (for or push for) revolution, or nurture an organic evolution toward a new, sustainable economic model. I favor the latter, but I can sure as hell understand the emotions of those who think the former is almost inevitable. Evolution takes time. We may be running out of that.
Changing the status quo is always a bitch. It just doesn't want to change because we need or want it to. It protects itself, and the people who benefit from it most. The include such people as the Koch brothers, every working hedge fund manager, and the many thousands of rich and aspiring people who work for them and their ilk, directly or indirectly.
All of the above discussions are also being informed by an evolving understanding of how transformative social change happens.
As long as most people assume that market capitalism is sustainable, they'll focus on reforming it — cleaning it up around the edges, rewriting regulations, making it work in the public interest, and so on. Many Americans, in fact, still hope that this is all it will take– that technology, political reform and market forces, working in some magic combination, will be enough to save us from ourselves.
Robinson then reminds us here that Revolutions are messy, and they have consequences:
Others among us are holding out for a full-on revolution that overthrows the whole system in one massive push, clearing the way for something entirely new. Revolutions are tricky, though: historically, a lot of them have gone sideways when the revolutionaries couldn't hang on through the chaotic aftermath of what they'd wrought. They often get swept away by some other force that's better organized, and thus better equipped to step in and take over. Anything can happen in the wake of a revolution, and all too often, it's not the thing you hoped for.
The alternative ot revolution is evolution. But can people who still think Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church really support anything with that word in it? Wait…do those people even matter? Yeah, they do. At least until we vote in enough sane politicians who marginalize them by no longer pandering to them, as they have for the past 40 years.
Gar Alperovitz offers "evolutionary reconstruction" as a better alternative to either reform or revolution. Visionaries from Gandhi to Buckminster Fuller have agreed with him. This model focuses our change energy on building new parallel institutions that will, in time, supplant the old ones. Don't fight the existing system, this strategy argues. Instead, just sidestep it entirely and create a new one. As the old system collapses under its own decay, yours will gradually fill in the gaps until it becomes the new dominant paradigm.
My favorite part, where Robinson points out that evolution has already worked. It was just evolved by the wrong people, and for the wrong reasons:
America's right wing has used this model very successfully to take control of our culture over the past 40 years. Starting in the 1970s, they invested in a wide range of parallel education systems, media outlets, professional organizations, government watchdog groups, and so on. These groups groomed a new generation of leaders, while also developing the intellectual, policy and cultural basis for the change they wanted to create. As time passed, they took advantage of opportunities to insert people and ideas from these alternative institutions into the mainstream ones. The result was that 90 percent of the conservative revolution took place almost entirely under the radar of most Americans. One day, we simply looked up to find them in charge of everything that mattered.