Old-fashioned socialism is dead and it is just awaiting burial. It was basically a solution to problems which do not exist anymore. We desperately need new solutions for the new problems of an our own era. Good old Marx (the one with a great beard, not the one with the big cigar) did see a lot of things right, but they were right only at his own time. The world has just changed so incredibly much that his analysis is not valid anymore.
Most of all his ideas for rectifying the wrongs of capitalism did, in fact, lead to unforeseen and unneeded suffering in the form of imposed state-capitalism in Soviet Union and it allies. However, socialism did in its more democratic western guises also do a lot of good. In fact, it did save capitalism from the grave that the open and unharnessed greed of the Industrial Revolution would have lead it.
Most of all, fear of socialism was a major force which did lead to massive improvement in the conditions of the working majority of humans in the western world. Coincidentally, this improvement also did create a new kind of mass market for the products that capitalists were producing more effectively with the aid of science and new technology.
Without this new mass-market and with its hugely expanded tax-base the modern welfare would have been impossible to create. The socialist political movement was also important in bringing changes in very many societies. However, most of all fear of the rising power of socialism did force capitalists to make many kinds of compromises.
In the end, just these compromises did make it possible to create a new kind world of relative peace and prosperity. This is the world in which we live just now in areas like Europe and Northern America or Japan. Quite similarly the green movement did not need to have real political of power.
Even without real power the green movement did change general environmental attitudes in the 80's and 90's in Europe in a major way. The secret was that the fear of the rise of green power was enough for other parties to reform their policies in environmental issues.
Rising productivity did make it possible to pay better wages. Other extremely important factor was the rising scarcity of labor that did drive the price of labor up, when the work-markets were practically local in nature. This competition for labor rise did push the wages and general level of prosperity up. This rise did help also to create a better and better working state-apparatus with the rise in taxes that were collected from expanding economies.
The rising price of labor was also in the end a very important factor in driving the industrial productivity up. It just was more and more profitable to find ways to make things with less and less labor. Happily for us the economies expanded with the ensuing rise of income which the rise in productivity did again make possible. More and more was produced with less and less human input. Economies kept expanding, and these expanding economies could also offer more and more jobs.
This was a win-win-situation for both labor and capitalists. It lasted until the prices of transporting of goods fell dramatically with the rise of container-based transportation. This development did, in fact, revolutionize the pricing, speed and safety of international trade in very short time.
Now it was possible to produce even the cheapest and most basic items on the other side of the globe. The old constraints of the local labor-markets were broken. Workers were not competing with people in roughly similar conditions anymore. They were competing with laborers from dirt-poor countries who were willing to work for a pittance.
(btw. I have gone through many of these ideas in this blog before here: http://beinghuman.blogs.fi/2011/04/09/how-would-protecting-the-chinese-workers-help-you-10978584/)
Capitalists could now happily circumvent the whole apparatus of environmental regulations, work-safety laws, sick-pay and pension-systems that had been built up laboriously step by step during last the hundred years in developed countries. It was back to the raw and merciless world of Industrial Revolution. In that time workers slaved away for pittance just to stay alive. Now this environment was just crated in China or India or Vietnam.
My answer to this new situation is 'Solidarism' (It could also be 'Global Solidarism' or 'Humanist Solidarism', if you like, but short is good in these things, I think). Solidarism is an ideology where decisions are based on how they best serve common interests of all humans as inhabitants of a common and most of all very finite planet.
Ecology and things like global curbing of emissions of certain gases would be high on the agenda of this movement. Most of all it would try to find local solutions to global problems. A very basic problem is that there is no real counterpart and counterweight for the of the big international operators in the international economy.
The global solidarism as a global truly boundary-free movement just could offer this kind of counterforce (in my daydreams, that is, of course). The central theme of Solidarism would be solidarity of all humans. We just live in a world where protecting the rights of the Chinese or Indian workers would be the best and most effective way to protect also the Finnish or German workers.
This idea of global human solidarity is basically of course an old humanistic ideal. However, humanism is an attitude and life-stance. Solidarism would need to go many steps further for it to address concrete problems in our world. The old-fashioned socialist and labor-movements do still concentrate on local agendas and local issues, when we need new kinds of forces that could act on a global level.
Naturally I cannot know if it would ever be possible to create any real movement for furthering this kind of ideas. However, luckily one if allowed to imagine new solutions to old problems in one's own mind, at least. I am not a complete fool (I still hope!). An idea of this magnitude that is presented in an obscure blog in remote Finland will never really change anything.
However, any individual idea can well gain a life of its own. I can only hope that at least some of the ideas that I have presented here will be in the future presented in other forums too. In this age of borderless information, it can be done by someone of whom I have never even heard of and who has never heard of me. An individual idea is a meme. W you release it to the wild, it can gain a life of its own, and you can have very little control on its future.
(This piece was completely refurbished on 8th of February, 2013)