Extinction. (The ‘normal’ for capitalism.)
In the 21st century, the capitalist mode of production has reached a stage which has undermined humanities metabolic basis of existence. In pursuit of profit, the natural ecological, environmental and atmospheric cycles of nature and the many species which live by a symbiotic relationship with nature, have been destroyed or degraded beyond repair. The planetary biosphere cannot be satisfactorily resurrected on the same basis as the previous 200 years of capitalist destruction. Agricultural land fertility, needed for crops to feed people, animals and insects has been been systematically exhausted. Many insect species needed to pollinate crops and other much needed vegetation, have been destroyed by chemical-assisted, profit-orientated agriculture.
Numerous animal species, robbed of their natural habitats, by profit-led extraction have become endangered or extinct. The seas, another store of nutrients, food sources and oxygenating plankton, have been acidified, polluted and over-fished beyond any natural cycle of replenishment. Science and technology has been progressively subordinated to the needs of capital. These two occupations have been directed to improving the pace and extent of resource extraction, commodity production and consumption. By unleashing an insatiable greed among elites for accumulating wealth, the normality of capitalist mode of production has progressively pushed all life on earth closer toward a series of mass extinction events.
The same business orientated (distorted) science and technology has astronomically increased the efficiency of production and has decreased the number of workers needed to produce these increased volumes. Consequently, ‘normal’ capitalism has progressively made redundant the very buyers it needs for its increasingly superfluous and polluting commodities. This evolution of production technologies has thus led to large-scale unemployment and two 20th century world wars between nations over sources of energy, raw materials and markets. In a self-reinforcing response to the 20th century armed conflict of national ‘capitals’, another branch of science and technology has perfected weapons capable of annihilating most human and non-human species.
So to capitalisms steady productive progression toward mass extinctions has been added a military capacity to enable a rapid mass extinction event. All the above are part of capitalist ‘normality’ .
Of the three main classes which have been established upon the basis of the capitalist mode of production, the capitalist classes, the middle classes and the working classes, the first two have been the ones who have guided and controlled the direction humanity has been travelling for the last two hundred years. Economic, financial, political, educational and military leaderships drawn from the ranks of the, upper and middle classes have managed to consistently steer humanity down the path which all but the wilfully blind can see is leading inexorably toward a series of extinction events.
Over the last one hundred years few from these two classes have seriously criticised the capitalist mode of production. Even the most astute have proved unreliable and have never proposed anything other than some self-serving temporary measures based on charity aimed at the poor.
Revolution. (The need for a new normal.)
The only class, from which could emerge the knowledge, commitment, energy and numbers required to transform the current mode of production to a fully socially beneficial mode, are the various sections of the working classes. And this is no wishful thinking. Under the impact of the Covid Pandemic of 2020 and beyond, the term essential workers became an outstandingly popular one. It was an almost universal recognition of the key role these blue and white-collar sections of the working class played in the existential maintenance of human life on the planet. It became glaringly obvious during 2020 that workers of all skin shades, (in some cases working night and day, often sleeping in corridors and lorries) again overcame obstacles in transport, health, education, emergency services, food and water supplies, energy provision and sewage and waste disposal services.
They collectively demonstrated that they are the actual foundation of all modern societies. All other forms of human occupational activity built upon these essential foundations such as; music, culture, arts, literature, sports, leisure, politics, warfare administration and governance whilst interesting or even useful, demonstrated that they are of less importance to the survival of human communities. Essential workers on low pay kept the essential foundations of societies functioning while most of the rich, famous (and those in the areas noted above) isolated themselves and stayed home. As individuals and as a class the elites among them never once appeared to reflect upon the wealth disparity between the low – paid essential workers and their own well – paid, less-essential occupations. With very few exceptions, the contribution most of them made during lock downs was to invent or purchase non-essential boredom-deflecting activities or invent new ways to increase their wealth.
The above (well broadcast) general description establishes the relative worth of the various classes and the usefulness of their occupational skills. Working people in essential services not only maintained existing societies in crisis, but their demonstrable ability to persist and innovate makes them essential to found societies anew. Upon the foundations laid by the world’s essential workers there needs to arise new attitudes and practical superstructures which value these workers and whose non-essential activities do not conflict with the interests of nature and humanity as a symbiotic whole. Although the pro-capitalist elites arrogantly consider the working classes are incapable of self governance, I suggest that is only a self – induced delusion due to their own blinkered class prejudice.
However, elite consciousness has recognised that the authoritarian discipline imposed on working people by the conditions of employment has been eroded by large-scale unemployment. They have also recognised that any former contentment and engagement during previous welfare-state capitalist forms has been undermined by the neo-liberal stage of social austerity. Therefore, over many decades the elites in government and those in all political parties, have strengthened laws and the states bodies of armed men to ensure authoritarian discipline can be maintained by force during any future form of civil unrest.
In contrast the consciousness of working people is as yet fragmented due to their place in the mode of production, their vulnerable exposure to personal crisis and their absorption of the elites dominant ideology. Nevertheless, working people are capable of transcending these occupational and educational shortcomings by experience and mutual support – particularly during a period of revolutionary change. This because radical transitions involve a rapid reversal in thinking and doing. Meanwhile, their consciousness surfaces in contradictory and partial understandings. For example, conspiracy theories and a lack of trust in authority exist among large numbers of working people and this has been condemned by many middle and upper class elites.
Such condemnations fail to recognise that working people tend to believe in elite conspiracies for obvious practical reasons. From childhood to adulthood, many have directly experienced lies and conspiracies at school, at work, in advertising and in politics. They know the elite (and those in league with them) frequently lie and they know they lie and conspire in order to fool or deceive working people. Indeed, concealing, altering or fabricating evidence, corruption and misconduct are endemic among capitalist society elites. So in a world of almost universal elite deception, dissimulation – and community destruction – workers will rationally and correctly demand of those who criticise them – just whose side are you on?
Going back to Blaming the Victims?
It is therefore rational for working people to assume that those in authority and with power (in whatever form) over them – until extensively proven different – will be at the very best economical with the truth and at worst, they will blatantly and repeatedly deceive them. So to criticise working people for not believing what they are told by democratic or non democratic authoritarians in power over them is a classic case of blaming the victims. To blame working people for believing – even unlikely conspiracy theories – is not only to deny their direct (and indirect) experiences under capitalism but also an attempt to shift responsibility away from those who actually do the conspiring on a regular basis.
Moreover, to blame working people or to describe them as insane or dumb, as some on the left have done, (over masks and vaccines, for example), is to side with the interests of the political and medical elite and Big Pharma. It is also to ignore that all these three categories have a proven track record of experimental, underhand and self-serving rushed chemical remedies, including tactics to silence any whistle-blowing critics. Such ill thought out attacks upon working people is to gravely disrespect working class knowledge and experience of the capitalist system. Those on the left who belittle working class intelligence and abilities or demonise their opinions have in effect helped the bourgeois world of authoritarian class superiority.
It should be obvious that the pro-capitalist elite wish to place responsibility upon working people for everything that goes wrong in capitalist societies. This tactic conveniently directs criticism away from themselves and their mode of production. So it would also be to capitalisms advantage if one section of the working class were to condemn and ferociously disrespect another section. That way any future potential working class uprisings could be levered in the direction of brutal and sterile civil wars. It would be even better for the elite if some among the workers own ranks were to help with the prerequisite efforts of disrespecting their views and sowing divisions among the multi ethnic working class. And unfortunately a few are already doing that.
Forward to a humane normal.
In contrast to spreading disrespect for working people with different views, the task of revolutionary-humanists is not to blame them for any asserted shortcomings or any emotional or situational inadequacies. The task is to put the blame firmly where it belongs. The capitalist system has created distorted, deformed and confusing life experiences for many millions of working people and that is a substantial part of the problem of modernity. The fundamental problem is certainly not the systems numerous and varied victims. The 21st century dichotomy of a crisis riddled system, resting upon the efforts of a working class which mainly produces and serves and a ruling class which mainly consumes and governs is not going to be resolved to the satisfaction of both these classes. It will be necessary to take sides.
The purpose of the revolutionary-humanist research of Karl Marx and those who understand and agree with his basic analysis of capitalism, is to support and assist the working classes to overcome all the illusions, delusions and self-defeating dualisms promoted by the pro-capitalist elite. This includes helping them resolve any other de-humanised results of their historic separation between the means of production and the purposes of future production.
Another world is possible – but not by continuing to blame the working class victims – who are the only ones capable of creating a better one.
Roy Ratcliffe (February 2021)