The inevitable fall of capitalism is fast approaching. Alright perhaps not that fast. But it should, even by the most conservative estimates, be here in another century or two. This might seem glacial to us today but compared to the millennia it took to overthrow feudalism and establish capitalism in the Western world, the decline of capitalism is going at light speed.
When nearly a century and a half ago, Marx argued that capitalism would provide the tools and conditions for its own destruction, he was written off by most capitalists of his time. With the fall of the Soviet Union, this self-assurance among the bourgeois that their mode of production would be immortal became emboldened. And yet the coming of the 21st century brought with it one of the most acute economic breakdowns in history. Recessions are becoming more and more frequent, inflation is at record levels and unchecked environmental exploitation has brought us to the very edge of the ecological chasm.
Of course, capitalists worldwide continue to dismiss all these as phantom allegations. “There have been recessions before,” they say. If one were to believe most of the Right wing, it would appear inflation is a natural phenomenon while climate change is not.
With every passing year, the capitalist engines of the world find new ways to optimise their exploitation of known resources and seek out new ones. Even the push for space exploration is at least in part motivated by the need to find new resources to exploit. The bourgeois are aided in these tasks by governments that open up natural resources to private exploitation and by economists who, like the clergy of the old feudal system, sanctify these actions as necessary for the overall benefit of the people.
The ‘Human’ face of Capitalism
Neoliberal economics is merely the latest packaging with which this exploitative machinery is beautified to make it more appealing to the electorate. The supposedly centrist political machinery works in tandem with these ‘liberal’ economists to convince the working classes that reform alone will make capitalism better and that no better system exists for the distribution of resources to those who really need them. Yet every year, tonnes of food end up in landfills while millions of people starve to death; pharmaceutical companies overprice medicines while millions die of curable, preventable diseases; and seats in educational institutions go unfilled while millions remain uneducated and illiterate. Where exactly is the equitable distribution? If one were to believe the arguments of neoliberal economists, it would appear that job cuts, cuts to welfare and the privatization of essential services are all ‘for the people’.
“Which people?” would be a good question to ask such modern day soothsayers.
The myth of the progressive liberal
Another weapon that the capitalist class has employed to quell discontent is the corporate-aligned liberal political movement epitomized in individuals like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and David Cameron; individuals who push for social reform while quietly omitting to make any form of meaningful economic reform.
This is not to say that progressive reforms like LGBTQ rights, feminism and racial equality are invalid. However any true eradication of these requires the eradication of the capitalist system that benefits from it. For what is the point of freedom from patriarchy without freedom from the institutions that capitalise on patriarchy? To those who live in abject poverty, what is race but just another excuse to be exploited? For the hungry and desperate, how does sexuality even become a matter of concern?
Identity politics is a luxury that is unavailable to the working class.
This is why, as Eleanor Marx put it, the struggle of working class women against patriarchy is different from that of the middle class woman. The middle class woman fights against the glass ceiling, against the institutional barriers that stop her from climbing to the top of the bourgeois ladder, while the working woman fights for bare subsistence and the means of survival. So long as they are trapped within capitalism, gender equality for the working class means nothing more than the right to equal suffering and exploitation.
The winters of our discontent
Those who count themselves as humanitarians and yet advocate capitalism are inherently hypocritical and any individual who wishes to protect that which is human in this world would understand that there is nothing more inhuman than the capitalist machine. Capitalism replaces all other forms of value with mere economic value. Every interaction, every product, and every human relationship, is commodified.
We see the world in numerical values. We may buy a shirt and see it as being worth three hundred bucks but what of its human value? What about the labour of the farmer, who cultivated the cotton; who probably took out loans to be able to raise a crop? What about the labour of the worker who turned it into yarn, and that yarn into cloth and so on and so forth? Capitalism reduces the value of all that labour and all those stories down to a single series of numbers and calls it its value. There is nothing humane about capitalism.
No generation knows this more than the present one. The millennials were raised on the myth of capitalist opportunity that, if you just try hard enough, anyone can succeed. Yet we entered into the real world with no means of steady employment, no chance of social security and a profound sense of depression. We were told growing up to follow our hearts and now we find that that might not be an option. This discontent is reflected in the polarisation of the electorate across the world to both the Left and the Right.
All roads lead to capitalist suicide
This brings us back to the point of the inevitability of the fall of capitalism. The constant push for innovation and automation means that eventually the world will come to a crossroads where we will be forced to choose between either increasing profits through optimization and increased automation or a large-scale reform of the capitalist system. The proposals for Universal Basic Income and free welfare are all symptoms of this realisation among the capitalist governments of the world. UBI is a desperate gamble by the capitalist state to try and placate worker unrest. Yet when forced to choose between profits or reform, the bourgeois will invariably choose the former. There is no better example of this than the present wave of climate change denial that seems to be spreading across the Right wing.
The fall of capitalism is not only inevitable, but desirable and essential for the survival of the human race.
On the path to revolution
So what can the Left do to achieve this revolutionary overthrow? In countries where feudalism is still the order of the day, we work with the parties of the bourgeois to push for the end of that archaic and oppressive system while remembering that our battles are far from over even when the heads of the monarchs roll. In countries where capitalism has already taken hold, we work to spread class consciousness among the masses by constantly fighting for the rights of the Labouring classes. However that too will ultimately not be enough. Any concession received under capitalism is nothing more than a band aid on the cancer of exploitation.
We must take our victories where we can get them but we must not allow ourselves to be complacent. Like the Dickensian symbol of the oppressed working class, we too must not fail to ask for more.
Wherever possible we must claw our way into power. Those who criticise the democratic path must see that the democratic rule of the proletariat is still the rule of the proletariat. In place of neoliberal reforms we must bring socialist reforms that will strengthen the people and empower them to seize the means of production. The first step to this is to gain control of the media. We must use any and all avenues available to us, be it a meme shared on social media or an editorial in a newspaper, to further the awakening of class consciousness among the working class.
Before we seize the means of production, we must first seize the means of propagation.
To do so one need not resort to petty propaganda. In fact, the use of propaganda would further alienate those among the oppressed who would otherwise ally themselves to us. Only the Right-wing feels the need to employ paid media and ‘alternative facts’ to further their goals. We need not hide our intentions or twist the truth because the truth is that the system has failed and continues to fail and our intent is the emancipation of the masses from this failed system. There is no weapon against capitalism sharper or more powerful than the honest truth.
The bourgeois defend private property by saying that no one has the right to take away someone’s hard-earned money. This is exactly the argument that we place at their doorstep. When an ‘investor’ who put in no physical or creative labour towards the production of an object takes home millions while the worker who poured his life and soul into the production of each item starves, what is it but theft? There can be no freedom, no equality under the bourgeois state. Every transaction under the capitalist system is stained with the blood of the working classes. Every luxury comes at the cost of a labourer’s life.
This is why we must fight; to preserve our humanity and our natural human rights. “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”. Once the bourgeois demanded these things from the feudal state. Now it is our turn.