Build It Now: Socialism for the Twenty-First Century

Build It Now: Socialism for the Twenty-First Century

Build It Now: Socialism for the Twenty-First Century

Build It Now: Socialism for the Twenty-First Century


Build It Now puts forward a clear and innovative vision of a socialist future, and at the same time shows how concrete steps can be taken to make that vision a reality. It shows how the understanding of capitalism can itself become a political act- a defense of the real needs of human beings against the ongoing advance of capitalist profit.

Throughout the book, Lebowitz addresses the concerns of people engaged in struggle to create a better world, but aware that this struggle must be informed by the realities of the twenty-first century. Many chapters of the book began life as addresses to worker organizations in Venezuela, where worker self-management is on the agenda. Written by an eminent academic, this is far more than an academic treatise. The book brings an internationalist outlook and vast knowledge of global trends to bear on concrete efforts to transform contemporary society.

Build It Now is a testament to the ongoing vitality of the Marxist tradition, drawing on its deep resources of analytical insight and moral passion and fusing them into an essential guide to the struggles of our time.


The nature of capitalism, Marx once noted, comes to the surface in a crisis. Then, it is possible to see some things that were hidden—that the whole system revolves around profits and not human needs. Yet, we see every day what capitalism produces. The blatant waste in advertising, the destruction of the planet, the starvation of children alongside the obscene salaries of professional athletes, the despotic workplace and the treatment of human beings as so much garbage, the coexistence of unused resources, unemployed people and people with unmet needs—these are not accidents in the world of capitalism. Things could not be otherwise, Marx commented, where workers exist for the growth of capital—as opposed to the “inverse situation,” in which the results of social labor are there “to satisfy the worker’s own need for development.”

In the twentieth century, an alternative to capitalism emerged. It involved different relations of production—society was not driven by the profit motive. Nor was there the inverse situation, in which the worker’s need for self-development dominates. Rather, characteristic of the new form was the use of the state to develop productive forces as rapidly as possible. Certainly one element shaping this alternative was the belief that it was necessary to catch up to capitalism in order to avoid military defeat. (We must make up the gap within ten years, Stalin stated in 1931, or we will be defeated.) But, there was also, with some exceptions, the general conception that all history depends on the expansion of the productive forces (which, in practice . . .

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