The decline and fall of empires.
Historical evidence indicates that elites governing previous historical empires have never voluntarily ended the socio-economic system over which they ruled. Indeed, the evidence indicates they fought ideologically and practically to continue their preferred socio-economic for of exploitation despite clear signs that it had become moribund and unsustainable. Yet those immense historical empires, such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, Babylonia, Greece and Rome nevertheless did collapse and came to an inglorious end. The elites dominating the current immense empire of global capitalism – are no different in this regard.
It cannot have escaped the readers attention, how in other countries – as well as our own – that legitimate citizen protests are met with the calculated force of the states armed police forces in order to dissuade protesters from continuing their campaigns for better pay, working conditions or environmental improvements. So the fact that it has been known for decades, that capitalistic mass production and consumption has been undermining the natural foundation of food production, (soil, climate, fresh water, plant pollination) threatening major coastal cities from rising seas and depleting and damaging the oceans sea-food resources, does not mean elites will end this practice.
Their general reactionary position with regard to the extinction probabilities now highlighted by ‘extinction-rebellions’ and many concerned scientists is that; a) populations should leave existing elites in charge; b) allow capital to carry on producing and consuming in similar destructive ways, and that; c) citizens should simply adjust to new realities of increased fires, floods, epidemics and pollution. We should – just get used to it!
However, when ruling elites will not allow changes to a mode of production which has clearly not provided what it’s citizens require for a very long time, then a revolutionary transformation of that mode becomes necessary – if existential disasters are to be avoided. The good news is that we are already part way there. As noted in previous ‘guides’, elites in control of the capitalist mode of production have already introduced non-profit forms of organisation where capitalist enterprise has proved unsuitable. The bad news is that these same elites stand in the way of completing the logic of this economic transition. Neo-liberalism deliberately interrupted the move from private enterprise organisations to public service institutions and cooperative production. What is now required to complete and consolidate this economic transition is a two-fold revolution – political and economic.
Sooner or later, the present political system will have to be ended at local and national levels, for it is designed from top to bottom to eliminate direct decision making from the majority and place it in the hands of a hierarchical elite. This system of political control will have to be abolished and a new non – hierarchical decision making process created. Clearing away the current disfunctional social infrastructure would facilitate a rapid completion of the transition to non-profit making, co-operative forms of organisation. The ethos of which would be for sustainable production and eco-friendly distribution, consumption and waste disposal – for all! Concurrently, the hierarchical internal structure of social organisations and productive bodies will also need to be replaced with genuine staff democracy.
Of course revolutions against entrenched and privileged elites do not just happen by recognising their necessity. Historical evidence demonstrates that certain developments are needed before revolutionary transformations occur. However, these developments are mostly outside of the control of individuals and even campaigning groups. Research on revolutionary processes elicits the following general – often overlapping – stages.
1. Widespread dissatisfaction and questioning the legitimacy of the system among populations.
2. Local collective activities and grassroots organisations broadcast the dissatisfaction and begin active opposition.
3. Regional/national organisations of dissatisfaction and coordinated action are created.
4. Dissatisfaction appears within the ruling and governing elite and these make links with regional and local developments.
The above four stages create the basis for popular uprisings. However, the success of such uprisings also depend upon the following three developments.
5. Irreparable splits appear within the ruling elites on popularised solutions to the problems.
6. Non-hierarchical civil-society organisations prepare themselves to resist being forced to back down and actively press their demands.
7. These civil – society movements organise alternative forms of national community structures in opposition to existing state organisation.
If the above stages become established, then the uprisings demands tend to be transformed into self-activity measures. In this way the general uprising ‘against‘ conditions can become transformed into revolutionary action ‘for‘ solutions. Then:
8. Existing socio-economic production systems are taken over by the protest movement and new ones created. Interrupted supplies of basic necessities are restarted and developed.
9. Decisions on production and distribution stay with the community organisations and their liason links with other community organisations are extended.
10. Future planning and coordination of production and exchange remains based upon negotiated community across models. Individual administrative or facilitator posts (deemed necessary) are by election on the basis of ability and are revocable.
In previous guides it was noted that in advanced capitalist countries, the bulk of the social organisations have already been instituted on a non-profit public service ‘needs’ basis. These need to be democratised and pay and conditions equalised to eliminate elite sabotage, misdirection and disruptive production. Even those remaining organisations based on private profit have long been reliant upon huge social support before, during the increasingly frequent economic and financial crises. They are but one step away from being fully transferred to the public sector and similarly democratised and equalised.
The era of globalised capitalism has reached the point where, within a generation, a rapid decline or sudden collapse, now seems inevitable. Already aggressive resource extraction has drastically de-stabilised the ecological and climate balance of the planet. The only remaining question is the speed in which this will happen. If humanity does not wake up and replace production for profit with production for sustainable need, then accelerated decline or sudden collapse is the likely outcome.
Roy Ratcliffe (March 2020)
[For why capitalism might suddenly collapse not gradually decline: See http://www.counterpunch.org/2020/03/13/four-reasons-civilisation-wont-decline-it-will-collapse ]