Glib thoughts on the fall of capitalism

February 10, 2016

 

The fulfillment of the [Marxian] prophecy.— As capital has become more mobile internationally since the 1970s (the era of globalization), undermining national boundaries and cultures, and has accumulated in ever-larger concentrations, undermining the “relative independence” of the state and producing a global proletariat (or “precariat”), the world has approximated ever more closely the pure model of capitalism that Marx described in Das Kapital. The West slowly sinks to the level of the Rest, and the Rest slowly approaches the industrial-capitalist condition of the West. The latter deindustrializes and eventually sees its infrastructure deteriorate, the former semi-industrializes and sees its infrastructure build up a bit, though not sufficiently. Class polarization in the West approaches levels in the Rest. Conditions everywhere tend to equalize, with a hyper-elite set against an enormous reserve army of labor. A revolutionary situation ripens as the world becomes more uniform and the middle class, that historical bastion of conservatism, disintegrates.

 

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Here’s a simple way to think about the downfall of capitalism: for over a century, the downtrodden all over the world have risen up again and again, year after year, decade after decade, to overthrow institutions either integral to or, if residual from the feudal past, temporarily strengthened or made harsher by capitalism. And people will continue to do so, each generation continuing the fight. Their prospects for revolutionary success, however, have been limited as long as the core of capitalism in the West has had a fairly stable social structure and intact civil society. As long as the richest states have not faced insurrections themselves but have been able to intervene (usually successfully) whenever such insurrections threatened elsewhere, global capitalism has been more or less safe. Only when, finally, insurrections elsewhere coincide with massive revolutionary movements in the core—resulting in part from the decline of an integral civil society—can capitalism fall. This condition wasn’t really fulfilled even in the 1930s. Only now is it beginning to come to fruition.

 

Moreover, the necessity that civil society decay means that capitalism’s fall has to coincide with that of the nation-state, which, historically speaking, matured symbiotically with civil society. The latter’s decline entails the former’s. (See this paper.)

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NOTES OF AN UNDERGROUND HUMANIST

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