The quote in this short post on Ken MacLeod’s blog is pretty amazing:
All will be artists. All will be workers and students, builders and creators. All will be free and equal. Human solidarity will encircle the globe and conquer it and subordinate it to the uses of man.
It is our destiny, here and now, to live in the time of the decay and death agony of capitalism. It is our task to wade through the blood and filth of this outmoded, dying system. Our mission is to clear it away. That is our struggle, our law of life.
I’m reading David Harvey’s The Enigma of Capital at the moment, and one of the things that he makes clear is just how riven with conflicts and contradictions capitalism is. Thatcher crushed the unions in order to drive down wages, in order to increase profits for the capitalists at the top. But of course, if you drive down wages for the majority of the country’s population, you drastically reduce their ability to consume, to purchase the goods(/services, etc.) they are labouring to create. This means profits fall, so in order to fix this problem, we got ridiculous loans and mortgages to try and encourage people to spend money they don’t have. Which led to the most recent crisis.
Capitalism has a long history of overcoming crises like this, but the more you look at it, the more you have to wonder: can it really go on forever? A healthy economy requires a 3 percent compound rate of growth, but the universe’s resources are not infinite. How much more profit can possibly be squeezed out of what we have before something breaks irrevocably? There’s hope there, I think. There’s going to come a point where capitalism will simply be unable to function, where it will – of necessity – be replaced by something kinder and fairer and more sustainable.
There was a fantastic banner at one of the London rallies a couple of years ago that pretty much summed up Harvey’s book: ‘Capitalism is Crisis’.
And for what it’s worth, I subscribe wholeheartedly to James P. Cannon’s vision of the future. All will be artists; that’s the future I want.