[Marxism] Should the left try to take over the Democratic Party?/Why are People Still Living in East Aleppo?/Absolutely Final Thoughts

Ralph Johansen mdriscollrj at charter.net
Tue Nov 8 10:09:55 MST 2016


Michael Yates wrote

    What hope is there for radical change in the United States. Not
    much. Jacobin just posted an essay wondering what we can do to make
    sure that the choices we face in the 2036 election won't be as bleak
    as the ones we face today. By 2036, most of the Brooklyn
    intellectuals around Jacobin will have long since moved to the
    right, so the question will be be moot.

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On this sodden election day here in the US, I'm reminded of this, which 
pretty much puts it in a nutshell. If we look beyond the dismal punditry 
out there about causes, consequences and the possibilities for change, I 
see this as one of the more profound, explicit statements of the problem 
and solution by John Smith in the final chapter of his fine book 
Imperialism in the 21st Century published by your invaluable MR Press, 
Michael. This passage is vibrant with possibilities, both terrifying and 
hopeful. Among other things, Smith accounts in his book for the 
prolonged hiatus in western radicalism by the "vast global shift of 
production to low-wage countries, with the result that profits, 
prosperity, and social peace in imperialist countries have become 
qualitatively more dependent upon the proceeds of super-exploitation of 
living labor in countries like Vietnam, Mexico, Bangladesh, and China. 
It follows that this is not just a financial crisis, and it is not just 
another crisis of capitalism. It is a crisis of imperialism." That plus 
capital's very successful prevention of labor mobility so far, despite 
which millions are at extreme peril managing each year to migrate.

    Along with a huge expansion of domestic, corporate, and sovereign
    debt, the global shift of production gave the outmoded and
    destructive capitalist system a respite that lasted for barely
    twenty-five years. The “financial crisis” that brought this to an
    end is a secondary infection, a sickness caused by the medicine
    imbibed to relieve a deeper malaise, one for which capitalism has no
    alternative remedies. Exponentially increasing indebtedness
    succeeded in containing the overproduction crisis, but it has
    brought the global financial system to the point of collapse.
    Outsourcing has boosted profits of firms across the imperialist
    world and sustained the living standards of its inhabitants, but
    this has led to deindustrialization, has intensified capitalism’s
    imperialist and parasitic tendencies, and has piled up global
    imbalances that threaten to plunge the world into destructive trade
    wars. All of the factors that produced this crisis—increasing debt,
    asset bubbles, global imbalances—are being amplified by the effects
    of the emergency measures designed to contain it. The irony of
    zero–interest rate policy and quantitative easing is that their
    greatest success—preserving the value of financial assets and thus
    the wealth of those who own these financial assets—blocks the only
    possible capitalist solution to the crisis, namely a massive
    cancelation and reassignment of claims on social wealth asset
    values. QE and ZIRP—Zero Interest Rate Policy, or “crack cocaine for
    the financial markets,” in a memorable phrase uttered by a Goldman
    Sachs banker —are therefore means of postponing the inevitable, of
    kicking the can down the road while waiting and hoping for the
    growth engine to restart. Although the global crisis first
    manifested itself in the sphere of finance and banking, what’s now
    engulfing the world is far more than a financial crisis, it is the
    inevitable and now unpostponable outcome of the contradictions of
    capitalist production itself. In just three decades, capitalist
    production and its inherent contradictions have been utterly
    transformed by the vast global shift of production to low-wage
    countries, with the result that profits, prosperity, and social
    peace in imperialist countries have become qualitatively more
    dependent upon the proceeds of super-exploitation of living labor in
    countries like Vietnam, Mexico, Bangladesh, and China. It follows
    that this is not just a financial crisis, and it is not just another
    crisis of capitalism. It is a crisis of imperialism. (pp313-314)

    The interaction between living labor and nature is the source of all
    wealth. Capitalism’s frenzied exploitation of both has resulted not
    only in a grave social and economic crisis, but also in a spreading
    ecological catastrophe. Rising concentrations of CO2 in the
    atmosphere, along with the rest of the filth generated by capitalist
    production and dumped on land and into rivers and oceans, are
    already causing extreme weather conditions across the Global South.
    Capitalism’s tendency to exhaust labor and nature is as old as
    capitalism itself, but like its voracious appetite for cheap labor
    and its dream of circumventing production altogether through
    financial alchemy, all of its destructive tendencies are reaching
    their most extreme expression at the same time. The capitalist
    destruction of nature means that this is not just capitalism’s
    greatest-ever crisis, it is capitalism’s final crisis, an
    existential crisis for humanity. From here, then, all roads lead
    into the crisis. This, in the words of Cuban revolutionary leader
    Raúl Valdés Vivó, is “un crisis sin salida del capitalismo,” a
    crisis with no capitalist way out. The only way forward for humanity
    is to “begin the transition to a communist mode of production. . . .
    Either the peoples will destroy the imperialist power and establish
    their own, or the end of history. It is not ‘socialism or
    barbarism,’ as Rosa Luxemburg said in 1918, but socialism or
    nothing.” (p315)



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