The good bloggers at the European Tribune have made me aware of a new quarterly journal: Social Europe: a journal of the European left. On the Web site, the journal's editors make their mission quite clear:
Social Europe – the name of the journal outlines our programme. In principal opposition to conservative and neo-liberal ideas, we stand up for the design and deepening of the European societal model on the basis of social democratic values. We support the development of the integration process and identify ourselves with the aims of the European Constitution, namely to assure ‘unity in diversity' in Europe. As regards the way we are seen by the outside world, for us, this implies the self-commitment of the European Union (EU) to advocate a just, democratic, and sustainable world order.
There is also an e-mail newsletter you can sign up for. Even though the focus of the journal is Europe, I'm sure many Americans will be interested in reading this journal. Many of us are fed up with the prevailing cult of the free market which has slowly destroyed the middle class and left tens of millions of Americans without adequate health care and educational opportunities. So we are open to learning about different economic and social models that are predicated on the common good. Actually, one the most interesting article in the current issue is by an American - Jeremy Rifkin: The real underlying debate in Europe is not the EU Constitution but, rather, the Future of Capitalism. Rifkin gets to the root of the great debate:
The strength of capitalism is, paradoxically, also its weakness. The market caters to the pursuit of individual self-interest, and is, therefore, almost pathologically innovative. Individual risk-taking, the entrepreneurial spirit, technological innovation, and productivity advances exceed any other economic system ever devised. This point, I believe, is generally agreed to by all. But then, the more troubling question has to be asked, what does capitalism not do well? It does not fairly distribute the fruits of economic progress. That is because the logic in the boardroom is to always cut production costs in order to maximise profits and shareholder value. This means reducing, whenever possible, the share of the gains that go to workers, as well as cutting the expense of preserving the natural environment upon which all future economic activity depends. The result is a world increasingly divided between haves and have-nots and a biosphere seriously weakened at the hands of self-interest devoid of a sense of collective responsibility.
This needs to be debated in the US. Last week it was reported that the top hedge fund managers on Wall Street took home between $125 million and $1 billion in pay last year. Meanwhile the price of a college education - traditionally a ticket to middle class prosperity - is increasingly out of reach for many Americans. Unless we are willing to rethink our economic policy and listen to ideas from others we could be faced with a meltdown of the middle class in America, the foundation of our democratic system.