Capitalism has begun wheezing and sputtering under the influence of its fatal contradictions. One of the more graphic illustrations of the system’s growing irrationality is being vividly painted now by one of its forward outposts -- Israel. The state that Zionism created has begun sensing its mortality and is thrashing around accordingly. The guardians of the state are clearly in the grip of fear and uncertainty. The indiscriminate bombing in Lebanon and Gaza and the resultant killing of civilians and destruction of infrastructure, the kidnapping of Hamas legislators, the targeting of a U.N. observer post and now the outrage on Qana are desperate acts increasingly outside the bounds of common sense.
Completely out of the blue on several recent occasions and in leaflets dropped on the Lebanese, Israeli leaders have felt compelled to mention their power to erase Lebanon from the planet. The Israelis are blustering past the graveyard and their bully’s trepidation is bound to grow now that their adventure has gone badly. Prime Minister Olmert and his security cabinet are moving in fits and starts. When the Israeli military’s nose was bloodied at Bint Jbail, they gave up on the idea of driving to the Litani River to establish their so-called buffer zone. When the security cabinet realized the electrifying effect of this turn on the Arab people, they poured troops across the border and returned to their original plan but deep down they know that militarily speaking, only a Pyrrhic victory is available against Hizbollah.
One thing the Israeli assault on the Gaza and Lebanon has made clearer is the alignment of forces in the Arab and Muslim world. Ironically, in different fashions both Hamas and Hizbollah were creations of Israel. Hamas was supposed to act as a counterweight to the Palestine Liberation Organization when Israel considered the PLO the most immediate threat to their domination of the Arab majority. Hizbollah filled the gapping chasm Israel created with the 1982 invasion and years long occupation of southern Lebanon. Both Hamas and Hizbollah have, through years of disciplined work and organizing, woven themselves into the lives of the respective peoples they seek to liberate. What a stark contrast with the rich Arab boys who have created the cult they call al-Qaeda. See the clownish Ayman al-Zawahiri rush to his camcorder after Hizbollah faces down the Israeli military to spout some silly rhetoric about a caliphate from Spain to Iraq in front of a poster that screams, “Please remember us, we did 9/11!”
Under normal circumstances the impending death of a form of racism like Zionism (see the picture of young Israeli girls writing messages and drawing on missile warheads soon to rain down on Lebanon) and the establishment of a secular state on the territory Israel now occupies where Palestinian Arabs of various religious persuasions and Jews could peacefully co-exist as equals would be cause for human celebration. Unfortunately, the insanity that clearly grips Israel means they will likely resort to attacks on Damascus and Tehran and then to use of their nuclear arsenal when all else fails. And that, on a larger scale, is the dilemma that the whole world faces as the capitalist system spearheaded by the United States passes into history.
Capitalism Is Destined To Die
Much like Charles Darwin’s immutable truths regarding of the origins and evolution of life, Karl Marx guided us through the reasons capitalism was born, why it would thrive and dominate for a time, and how its inherent contradictions condemn it to be replaced by a superior economic system called socialism. Outside of capitalism’s hacks at places like the University of Chicago, Marx’s brilliant science-based vision can no longer be challenged on the facts. It has and is going to continue to unfold just as he forecast. Capitalism is doomed. History marks humanity’s step up from feudalism to capitalism as a bloody mess and Marx knew that it was likely to be just so when capitalism was forced to make way for socialism. Turns out, he could not foresee everything. Scientific advance has provided the dying system with weapons of mass destruction.
So the problem humanity faces is that capitalism in its last throes, rotting internally, irrational and increasingly insane, is now armed with doomsday weapons and has created an immune system for itself. It influences culture and controls the mass media and education across a growing part of the world, places its servants in seats of political and military power, and creates philosophy and myth to glorify its own existence. A cornerstone of capitalism’s defense mechanisms is it’s complete amorality. It is now evolving into a system that would not bat an eye before killing every single human being on the planet. In the near term, capitalism will take increasing advantage of war, disaster, disease, terror, and slavery to feed itself. Wholesale destruction and regime change will be visited on the oil producing states like Iraq, Iran and Venezuela and other resource-rich areas. Left unchecked, eventually the United States, China, India and the European Union will fight wars for control of world markets and access to resources.
Capitalism depends on profits to live and the appetite for those profits simply cannot be satisfied! For example U.S. oil companies have realized world record profits every quarter for the past several years. An observer unfamiliar with the nature of capitalism might ask why Big Oil can’t relax with all those billions in the bank. The fact is, unless they make ever-greater profit into the indefinite future ExxonMobil and Chevron will whither and die. That is why, against every instinct toward justice, the oil company’s servants in the Congress reject a windfall profits tax, have given away billions of dollars of royalty rights revenues, and will eventually give up drilling rights prohibitions on the Gulf Coast and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Today, even the largest corporations, like General Motors, Nissan and Renault, seek the comfort of each other’s arms. They can only survive through the consolidation of wealth in fewer and fewer entities!
But wars for resources, higher commodities prices and mega-mergers are only putting off the day of reckoning for capitalism. There is only so much technology can boost production or wages can be depressed until a slave system must be created. Even at that, the system will then stare into the eyes of its fatal contradiction. Slaves cannot buy the products they produce.
Really, only a single life-or-death question remains. Will humanity and the planet Earth survive the end of capitalism? To a great degree, our self-preservation depends on the building of an effective class-conscious resistance here at home, in the belly of the beast. What is to be done in the United States of America?
What Is To Be Done?
Start with a clear telling of history. Fueled by the Industrial Revolution the capitalist system broke the brutish shackles of feudalism on the people of that day. At the same time capitalism began creating the only force capable of destroying it -- the working class. Nascent capitalism enjoyed explosive growth and it spawned revolutions around the world, including the American Revolution. The young and dynamic economic system found that a bourgeois democracy created the most fertile terrain for development. The United States and several other leading industrial countries adopted this form of government.
Since its birth, capitalism has been able to provide the American people with several powerful incentives to go along with historic lies. Five percent of the world’s population is invited to consume 30% of the world’s resources by way of imperialism. White Americans are invited to enjoy a disproportionate share of the wealth by way of racism. A very comfortable place is provided to politicians, intellectuals, academics, bureaucrats, and entrepreneurs in the narrow strata of society Marx called the petty bourgeois. That deal with the capitalist devil is becoming more and more difficult to keep! The U.S. is being integrated into a global economy as capitalism searches for the lowest possible wage and the greatest possible profit. The process is steadily reshaping ours into a subsistence-wage service economy. The jobs of elite industrial workers, from auto and steelworkers to airline pilots, are disappearing across the country along with their health benefits and pensions. Even white Americans are now feeling the pain of a declining standard of living.
Capitalism’s contradictory impulses have begun bumping into each other. It’s happening in the national debate on immigration and it happened in the recent Dubai Ports World controversy. Profits are the system’s lifeblood so the ruling class craves an immigrant guest worker program and the UEA’s petrodollars but the rabid anti-immigrant and anti-Arab sentiment coursing through U.S. society has so far blocked their designs. Racism and xenophobia and every other tactic of division have been the guarded carefully by capitalism with good reason. Unity of the working class is the only potentially deadly threat to this system. White supremacy, Black Nationalism, religious fundamentalism, sexism, homophobia, and all the crackpot schemes and the nihilistic cults of the bourgeoisie, like al-Qaeda, are dead ends for all of us who work. Like the Africans trapped in the Middle Passage and on slave plantations workers must learn each other’s languages and begin to talk. Unions must reach across national boundaries to unite workers everywhere. Share class-conscious thought with others, especially our working class sons and daughters in the US and other militaries.
Now as capitalism enters its final stages, politically a nearly seamless transition to fascism is taking place. The trappings of bourgeois democracy are a brake on profits and so they are being shredded. The Constitution and its Bill of Rights are being rendered meaningless by presidential signing statements and the theory of the unitary executive, extraordinary rendition, government surveillance programs and the like. Programs based on democratic principles like the public schools, Social Security, Medicare, affirmative action and welfare are being starved to death. The mass media and electoral machinery and both major political parties are now fully under the control of those in power. Bloodless coups in 2000 and 2004 installed George W. Bush in the White House and no future election will remove the candidate of the ruling class from power.
It would take a team of psychoanalysts to catalogue the many and varied mental pathologies of George W. Bush and his henchmen in the U.S. government. The point to keep in mind is that in this time and in this place the capitalist system needed people in power capable of carrying out insane and grotesquely inhumane policies, up to and including nuclear warfare. Capitalism, like the HAL 9000 computer onboard the spaceship Discovery in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, is out of the control of its makers. The system now has only human sentinels, best represented by the so-called Neo-Conservatives in ruling circles.
American bourgeois democracy is being drowned. It will never be resuscitated. The liberal intelligentsia of the petty bourgeois spins its wheels in the mud of this reality. A learned man like Al Gore sees what is being done to the planets ecosystem and tries to sound the alarm with a film like An Inconvenient Truth. Lay out the incontrovertible facts of global warming, organize and agitate, and a tipping point will come that changes governmental policy. A young Al Gore saw Dr. Martin Luther King do just that in his confrontation with racial injustice and clings to the memory along with the idea that rationality still has influence in American ruling circles. The real inconvenient truth is that even the great Dr. King could not generate an effective civil rights movement in 2006 and that the assault on the environment will not end until a stake is driven into the heart of capitalism.
The sad truth is that the petty bourgeois cannot defeat the capitalist ruling class! They are a timid and passive group who, in this time for warriors, gather at the gates of the palace to nag and complain essentially to each other. There are scores of Internet websites, magazines, newspapers, radio programs and networks like AirAmerica Radio, and some small television networks where liberal, left, progressive, and other commentators show up to whine out loud. They rail against the outrages and inhumanity of the U.S. government and the Bush Administration. They point out the duplicity, the corruption, the hypocrisy, the inhumanity, and the utter criminality loosed in the world today but to no useful end since capitalism will not be reformed nor shamed to death. Pointing out the defects of capitalism has become as easy as shooting fish in a barrel. The ruling class brushes its liberal democratic critics off like gnats as long as they stay away from the third rail. But let one of these voices dare mention unity based on working class-consciousness and a mobilization to strike at profits and great danger would shortly thereafter visit.
No matter the danger, it must begin to be spoken by our warrior-poets: socialism is the only way humankind will live into the distant future on this planet. Only a working class in power will see to the end of this madness and willingly share our available resources to insure our survival on this planet. Some others will be forced by the rest to settle for only their fair share for several generations until the system takes root and communism evolves.
Nathaniel Turner is a pseudonym for a person that shares rebel slave Nat Turner's Oct. 2nd birthday.