Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation
Justice, Peace, Integrity<br /> of Creation

The (alleged) limits of capitalism

Comune 19.12.2021 Raúl Zibechi Translated by: Jpic-jp.org

For several years now, the multiplicity of crises we are going through has clearly shown that the possibility of the extinction of many species on the planet is no longer just a threat or a theoretical alternative. Maybe it was so a hundred years ago, when Rosa Luxemburg was talking about it. Today, climate and environmental disasters, the desperate flight of millions of people, crises in the food and water system, the onset of pandemics and many other indicators are a reality. Although they are felt to a lesser extent in some small privileged parts of the planet, they show how the struggle against capitalism has effectively become the struggle for survival if not for the planet at least for those who live on it. Today, we know that, unlikely what people believed for a long time in the twentieth century, capitalism does not seem to have limits. Its internal contradictions alone and even revolutions are not enough to undermine it. It cannot be defeated once and for all, and without having built new and different worlds and social relationships in the meantime. Yet, precisely because it is a system of social relations, its dominion is neither eternal nor invincible. We must update our thoughts on its end, starting with the most significant experiences of resistance, such as those accomplished in Latin America, Asia, among the original peoples of the various continents, Europe and Africa included, among black and peasant populations, and even - in some cases – those of urban suburbs. The author of the article lists some of the points that appear to be essential to the purpose of subduing capitalism.

For a long time, some Marxist groups argued that capitalism has structural and economic limits, established in "laws" that would make its self-destruction inevitable. Those laws would be immanent in the system and in relation to central aspects of the economy functioning, such as the falling trend of profit rate Marx had analyzed in Das Capital. This thesis has led some intellectuals to speak of the "collapse" of the system, again such as a consequence of its own contradictions.

More recently, not a few thinkers have even argued that capitalism has "environmental limits" that would lead it to destroy itself or at least to change its most predatory aspects, while in reality what has limits on the planet is life itself and, in a special way, the life of the poor and humiliated half of planet’s population.

Today we know that capitalism has no limits. Not even revolutions have been able to eradicate this system because, after a time, capitalist social relations expand again within post-revolutionary societies and, within the state, the bourgeois class re-emerges and takes charge of making them prosper.

The expropriation of the production and exchange means has been, and will continue to be, a central step to destroy the capitalist system, but, more than a century after the Russian revolution, we know that it is insufficient if there is no community control on those means and on political power in order to manage them in different way.

We also know that organized collective action (class, gender and skin color struggle, always against oppression and oppressors) is decisive for undermining the system, but even this action is partial and insufficient, although consistent. The updating of thinking on the end of capitalism can only go hand in hand with the resistance and the social building from peoples themselves.

Some points, therefore, seem central to overcoming this challenge.

The first. Capitalism is a global system, which embraces the entire planet and needs continual expansion in order not to collapse. As Fernand Braudel teaches us, the expansion scale was momentous in the establishment of capitalism, hence the importance of the America’s conquest, because it allowed an embryonic system to spread its wings.

Local struggles and resistance are important, they can even bend capitalism, but an alliance / coordination with the movements of all continents is essential to put an end to the capitalist .system.

The second. The system would not be destroyed once and for all (See El pensamiento crítico frente a la Hidra capitalista). There is here is an aspect that challenges us profoundly: only constant and permanent struggle can undermine capitalism. Like the heads of the Hydra, neither one nor anything can cut them with a single blow. A different way should be found. Strictly speaking, we have to say that we do not even know exactly how to put an end to capitalism, because it has never been done. We are sensing, however, that neither a party nor a state, but organized communities and peoples should identify to subdue under strict control the conditions for preventing the system­­­ continuity or its rebirth.

The third. Capitalism cannot be defeated if another world and other social relations are not built at the same time. We should not see that other or new world such a place of lending, but a way of living that in its everyday life would prevent the going on of the capitalism. The ways of living, the social relations, the spaces that we will be able to create, would exist in a permanent struggle against capitalism.

The fourth. As long as State exists, there will be a space for capitalism to expand again. Contrary to what a certain thought proclaims, let's say from the progressive or left side, the State is not a neutral instrument. The powers from grass roots (­­­los de abajo), which are non-state but autonomous powers, are born and exist to prevent the expansion of capitalist relations. They are, therefore, powers that derive from the anti-capitalist struggle and aim at it.

Finally, the new world after capitalism is neither a landing place, nor a paradise where the “buen vivir” (A good life) is practiced. It is a space of struggle in which, hopefully, we, peoples, women, dissidents and all the people at grass roots, would only be in better conditions to continue building diverse and heterogeneous worlds.

If we stopped fighting and building the new, capitalism would revive, even in those different worlds. The story of Old Antonio who says that the fight is like a circle, which begins one day but never ends, is extremely topical. (FacebookTwitterMastodonPinterest).
See I (presunti) limiti del capitalism

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The comments from our readers (2)

Bernard 27.01.2022 Sur le fond du texte, je reste un peu perplexe. L'analyse historique semble donner raison à l'auteur sur la résistance du système. Pour la voie qu'il propose pour en sortir, sa vision sur la nécessité d'autres modes de relation entre les gens semble essentielle mais cela reste une vision utopiste et un peu anarchiste. D'où partirait le déclic ?
Paul 27.01.2022 Have never been sure exactly how to define capitalism. Making a profit is no bad thing, provided: • People who work are treated justly • A small profit is made, not for shareholders or greedy chairmen • Workers feel they are not exploited but share in the company (there are many here in Euskadi, especially in Mondragon near here where co-ops are said to have begun) Monsanto, Pfizer, Cargill, Amazon to me are the ugly face of capitalism. Likewise I disagreed with Margaret Thatcher when she sold the state companies such as Electricity, Water & Gas into private companies, who think more about their shareholders. As for Marx or Lenin, I doubt if they are in Heaven, though one never knows with our Good Lord.