Here's a Thought: 'Abolish the Capitalist Mode of Production'

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Beverley Goodwin/Flickr

Since the Obama Administration launched We the People, the public-petition section of WhiteHouse.gov, two-and-a-half years ago, it's met occasional derision and perhaps garnered the most attention when suppliants have proposed exciting if, okay, ultimately unrealistic, ideas like building a Death Star. But as J.H. Snider has insisted, there's an important democratic purpose here:

... to help put new issues on the public agenda that aren't already there by making it easier for politically underrepresented groups to mobilize themselves. In the technical language of political science, it is to use new information technology to help solve collective action problems.

Right? So when we came across this new WtP petition this morning, we reckoned it might be an intriguing one for Atlantic readers to consider:

While the capitalist mode of production has done a great deal to accelerate the development of technology and increase the availability of consumer goods in the last few centuries, it has outlived its usefulness and has in fact become destructive. Inequality, unemployment, financial crises, and environmental devestation all point toward one inevitable conclusion: we must get rid of capitalism, once and for all.

Hence we ask that the President work with Congressional leaders to develop a more just and sustainable economic system not based on the profit motive or the exploitation of waged labor.

The petitioners aren't advocating any specific alternative to the capitalist mode of production; they're just asking the president and Congressional leaders to develop one ... you know, together. In fairness, it's hard to imagine an alternative to the capitalist mode of production, especially when we're all so caught up in it all the time. So we thought we'd put it to you: Can you think of one? How would it work?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section ...

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J.J. Gould is the editor of TheAtlantic.com. More

He has written for The Washington MonthlyThe American ProspectThe Moscow Times, The Chronicle Herald, and The European Journal of Political Theory. Gould was previously an editor at the Journal of Democracy, co-published by the Johns Hopkins University Press and the National Endowment for Democracy, and a lecturer in history and politics at Yale University. He has also worked with McKinsey & Company's New York-based Knowledge Group on global public- and social-sector development and on the economics of carbon-emissions reduction. Gould has a B.A. in history from McGill University in Montreal, an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and a Ph.D. in politics from Yale. He is from Nova Scotia.

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