UCD sociologist argues against utopian ideal

At a public meeting in Dublin last night, an audience was told of the socialist alternative to capitalism. An outline was also given of the efficiencies in socialist democracies. By Shane Creevy.

Hosted by the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), and led by UCD sociologist Kieran Allen, the audience was told that the need for societal change was unarguable.

But the idea put forward by many socialists, of a utopian world, is a mistake because it mixes up “a model of how to move out of capitalism with a model of how we got in to capitalism”. Capitalist enclaves could exist within socialist enclaves, but not vice-versa, said Dr. Allen.

(Picture: UCD sociologist Dr. Kieran Allen)

(Audio: Full speech of Dr. Kieran Allen, UCD sociologist)


He argued that a genuine alternative to capitalism could only arise through a movement of the working-class.

The first task of a socialist society, Allen argued, is to take over major corporate organisations and fire its board of directors. He outlined three reasons for public ownership:

  • Elimination of waste. Socialism would provide the needs of food, for example, that a healthy human needs.
  • Elimination of low-quality goods. Capitalist products demand their own finite existence. 
  • Elimination of externalities. Capitalism always seeks to offload its debt to society.

All this would lead to massive increases in efficiency, Allen said.

After the speech a lively debate took place with one attendee asking the SWP why it had not utilised the massive drop in Fianna Fail support as a catalyst for change.

The question was also asked of the differences between the SWP and the Socialist Party. Dr. Allen replied by saying that there was 80% agreement between the two parties but that there were three main differences.

The first was that the SWP did not believe that the countries of Eastern Europe were truly social. This was also true, in a contemporary context, of Cuba. 

The second issue revolved around anti-imperialism. The SWP support anti-imperial movements even if they disagree with their politics. So for example the SWP would support the Hamas government, democratically elected by its people, in their boycott against Israeli goods.

The final difference is related to the growth of the left. The SWP argue for united fronts to encounter capitalism. This will be tangible by the next general election as groups on the left come together to bolster their chances of gaining seats in the Oireachtas.