Commentary on Political Economy

Wednesday 25 May 2016

The Miserable Life of Worms or, the Society of Savage Capitalism

Hegel’s diatribe against the liberal State – delivered obliquely by reference to the Roman State under the emperors in The Philosophy of History– is perhaps as impassioned as it is devastating:

We observed the

Romans proceeding from the principle of abstract Subjectivity,

which now realizes itself as Personality in the recognition of

Private Right. Private Right, viz., is this, that the social unit as

such enjoys consideration in the state, in the reality which he

gives to himself — viz., in property.

There is nothing wrong with Subjectivity, says Hegel here. But Subjectivity cannot be “abstract”; it cannot, that is, assume a Personality that stands against the State even as the State is necessarily the political expression of not just human society, but of human society as an ineradicable aspect of human being. “Extra Ecclesiam, nulla salus” was the Scholastic saying encapsulating this very thought: there is no safety, indeed no life is possible, outside of the Church – and by “Church” here we understand the State. The individual taken abstractly, outside of its “sociality” realised in the State, is only an empty, phantomatic abstraction.

Such a condition is Roman life at this epoch: on the one

side, Fate and the abstract universality of sovereignty; on the

other, the individual abstraction. “Person,” which involves the

recognition of the independent dignity of the social unit — not

[G.W.F. Hegel, The Philosophy of History, 336]

on the ground of the display of the life which he possesses — in

his complete individuality — but as the abstract individuum.

For the State is the “objective” being of Subjectivity: the State allows the individual to realise its individuality fully – its “complete individuality” - because no individuality is complete outside the State. Equally, a State that fails to objectify, to realise, to make real, the incipient sociality of individuals – such a State is a non-State, it is tyranny or anarchy, not a democracy, as the Greek philosophers had realised early in the story of our civilisation.

It is the pride of the social units to enjoy absolute importance

as private persons; for the Ego is thus enabled to assert

unbounded claims; but the substantial interest thus

comprehended — the meum — is only of a superficial kind, and

the development of private right, which this high principle

introduced, involved the decay of political life.

But a State made up of abstract Subjectivities, made up purportedly, in law alone, of isolated individuals, of “private persons”– such a State already abdicates ab initio all claims to being “the living political body”, that is to say, the political realisation of the individualities of its members:

The living political body

that Roman feeling which animated it as its soul — is now

brought back to the isolation of a lifeless Private Right. As, when

the physical body suffers dissolution, each point gains a life of

its own, but which is only the miserable life of worms; so the

political organism is here dissolved into atoms — viz., private


Liberalism, which is the political ideology of capitalism and its bourgeoisie, rests entirely on the notion of a society of “individuals” whose existence is dissected into private property, on one side, and personality (opinions, beliefs, “life-style”), on the other. The interaction of these “individuals” is made possible, so far as private property is concerned, by the exchange of goods and services through the market mechanism – and, so far as personalities go, by the public sphere of “life-styles” and the pursuit of a myriad “rights” and “isms” (animal rights, environmentalism, feminism, gay rights, transgender rights, animal rights, refugee rights, right to housing, right to work and so on ad infinitum). The cohesion of this “society of individuals” is ensured and guaranteed by the liberal State which is the product of a social contract between individuals inter se (between themselves) whereby the function of the State is to keep separate the private sphere of the exchange of goods and services between individuals from any interference on the part of the public sphere. And the powers of the State must be kept to the minimum necessary to ensure the independence of the private sphere from any such possible interference from the public sphere.

A necessary corollary of this premise is that the State must remain “neutral” with regard to the social contract, that is, to the private rights entered into by the individuals collectively and inter se in erecting the State as the arbiter of their private property by guaranteeing their possessive rights. Again, this “neutrality” of the liberal State with regard to the enforcement of private rights between individuals can be assured if and only if there is a rational scientific basis on which the exchange of goods and services between individuals in the private sphere can be guaranteed to maximize their individual welfares.

Hence, the Political existence of the State can be legitimized only through the possibility of a scientific operation of the private sphere – that is to say, only through the possibility of a scientific Economy by means of which the State can orient and legitimize its enforcement of private property rights as well as the non-interference of the public sphere with the private sphere. This is the essence of the “science” of Political Economy. The liberal State is founded on possessive individualism – and Political Economy enables it to become a State of Law or a “negative State” whose function and powers are confined to ensuring the separation of the private economic sphere from the public political sphere.

The foundations of the liberal State therefore rest, first, on the legitimacy of private property rights; second, on the possibility of a scientific determination of the exchange of these private property rights between individual owners; third, on the recognition on the part of individuals that are party to the social contract that such a scientific determination exists, and finally on their agreement that it can be administered scientifically by the liberal State without any political interference from the public sphere. Thus, the scientisation of the economy is a condition for the neutrality of the State. But this scientisation is still entirely dependent on the agreement on the part of individuals that not only such a science of economics is possible but also that individuals are sufficiently rational to accept this scientisation as a way of maximizing their self-interest or individual welfare or private property. Yet here the notion of self-interest – which is egoistic, selfish and therefore irrational - clearly comes into conflict with the notion of science – which is by definition rational in the sense that it appeals to an “interest” that goes beyond self-interest!

It follows that the neutrality of the State and the scientisation of the private sphere – of the Economy – requires the conscious supersession on the part of individuals of their individual self-interest and egoism in favour of the adoption of rational-scientific measures to direct the Economy. Yet, such a rational recognition is itself ineluctably and incontestably an exquisitely “political” choice that is entirely independent of any “scientific” discourse and certainly independent of the private sphere of economic self-interest. Therefore, such an agreement can originate in and derive from the public sphere alone – from the political sphere of beliefs and opinions, of culture and “life-style” – and not just from the “rational-scientific” sphere that presumably governs the private sphere.

But here the insuperable difficulty arises that it is impossible to see how a “society” of selfish individuals can ever give rise to one of rational individuals. Indeed, it is far more likely instead that – far from agreeing on a scientific and rational conduct of the neutral State – the egoistic, self-interested individuals of a liberal society will rather manipulate the public sphere – the Political – in a way that “privatizes” the beliefs and opinions, the culture and the life-styles, in an endless pursuit of “rights” that far from converging toward a political consensus will diverge into a maelstrom of irreconcilable conflicts! And that is precisely what we are witnessing now with the spread of what we have dubbed “savage capitalism”.

It follows therefore that the hermetic separation of the private sphere – the sphere of private property and private rights, of the Economy – will contaminate the sphere of public opinion, pushing it into a virulent pursuit of private claims that quickly and inevitably lead to the disintegration of the State and of the polity, of the society. This is why even Kant – who certainly shared the liberal creed – referred to bourgeois-capitalist society as the “ungesellige Gesellschaft” – “unsociable society”, a contradiction in terms in which private interests lead to the dissolution of the body politic. It is why Schopenhauer – the philosopher of philistine individualism par excellence - thought it was sheer madness to think that the liberal State, or any State at all, could ever be founded on a “social contract” rather than be pure Police. But a State that has become so “negative” that its sole function is to protect “private rights” – such a State must perforce earn Hegel’s scathing and apocalyptic condemnation:

The living political bodyis now

brought back to the isolation of a lifeless Private Right. As, when

the physical body suffers dissolution, each point gains a life of

its own, but which is only the miserable life of worms; so the

political organism is here dissolved into atoms — viz., private


Life under the liberal State has become just that: “the miserable life of worms”.

Thursday 19 May 2016

The Self-Destruction of the Liberal State

One of the worst aspects of liberalism is that it is an ideology. Worse still is the fact that the bourgeoisie itself believes in this ideology – that, after all, is the secret of its power. According to this ideology, a free society is one founded on individualism. There are two aspects to the life of an individual: one is the “wealth” that an individual possesses, what is known as “self-interest”; and the other is the “public” facet of an individual’s life which is made up of social relations and beliefs and opinions. The bourgeoisie believes that a society is free if and only if it can keep the private aspect of the lives of its individual citizens entirely separate from their public aspect. And this neat separation can be achieved only upon condition that at least one of these two aspects of individualism can be optimised scientifically. Given that it is impossible, by definition, to have a “science of belief and opinion” (science cannot be, by definition, a matter of opinion), it follows that only the private sphere – the sphere regulating the maximisation of individual wealth – can be determined scientifically.

Indeed, the very “freedom” on which the liberal State prides – freedom of expression, of opinion and belief and life-style - itself is dependent on the “necessity” of the private sphere. Only if the individual pursuit of self-interest can be regulated “scientifically’ will it be possible for individuals to indulge in and enjoy “freedom of expression” in a manner that does not interfere with the functions of the liberal State. And vice versa, only if the private sphere can be regulated “scientifically” can the liberal State maintain its “neutrality” in the public sphere. But this is so if and only if both the powers and the functions of the State are confined to (a) the protection of individual self-interest – which can be done purportedly “scientifically” -, and (b) to the avoidance and prohibition of any interference by the public sphere against the private sphere. In a liberal society, the State can enforce the “liberties” of its citizens only upon condition that their self-interests can be determined through a neutral-scientific social mechanism for their optimisation – the market mechanism -, and that their opinions and beliefs do not interfere with this mechanism. It follows necessarily that the two spheres can be kept separate if and only if the State is “neutral” and, as a corollary, the “neutrality” of the State can be assured if and only if the State limits its powers and functions to ensuring (a) the scientific operation of the market mechanism and (b) the non-ingerence or non-interference of the public sphere with the private sphere. (Given that the private sphere is determined scientifically and technically, it is impossible for it to interfere with the public sphere if it is governed scientifically.)

It is self-evident that the liberalist ideology presumes that it is in the self-interest of each and every individual to ensure that the Economic, the private sphere, is insulated from the Political, the public sphere. This insulation of the two spheres is the foundation of liberalism: political economy on one side and freedom of expression on the other: - necessity here and freedom there. Clearly, then, the constitution of the liberal State must be founded, first, on the necessary conflict of individual self-interests, and, second, on the equally necessary agreement of all its individual subjects on the neutrality of the State and on the necessity of applying scientific principles to the private sphere. This is the basis of the rationalist scientific and secular roots of liberalism. Liberalism is the theory that the social antagonism of individual economic self-interest is compatible with political "freedom" even though quite evidently the "market mechanism" is founded on "the fever of self-interest" (Hegel) and is therefore in blatant contradiction and antithesis to the “agreement” of individuals to (a) the scientific basis of government and (b) to the presumed “neutrality” of the liberal State. It is this inner contradiction that liberalism cannot resolve because the capitalist interests it represents lead to "conflict", to "crisis" (Schumpeter) - however much liberalism may wish to homologate economic equilibrium with political stability and "liberty".

The contradiction, the fatal flaw at the heart of liberalism is that it is impossible to separate Politics from Economics – and therefore the liberal State, far from being “neutral” and “rational” must necessarily be “partisan”. The presumed neutrality of the liberal State – the confinement of its powers to the tutelary function (Nietzsche), that is the protection of private rights from political interference either by the State or by other individuals – turns the public sphere also into a private sphere in the sense that public opinion under liberalism must be thoroughly de-politicised so that the public sphere, the Political, becomes just as much a private sphere as the sphere of economic individual self-interest, the Economic.

And because of this de-politicisation of society under the “night-watchman State” or “State of Law” of liberalism, it is clear that the citizenry, the public sphere, can no longer form or dictate the political will of the State. The liberal State then becomes a mere arbiter that does not and cannot express the political will of its citizens. This is why “democracy”, understood as the privatisation of the public sphere through its self-enforced separation from the private sphere of self-interest, is the modern form of the decline of the State. If by democracy we understand not the active participation of every citizen to the formation of the State (the freedom of the ancients) but rather the passive enjoyment of “personal liberties” or “private rights” (the freedom of the moderns), then the fate of the liberal State – its Ohnmacht or powerlessness – is sealed once and for all!

A society that is founded on capitalist social relations of production quite simply must rely on a liberal State. And that is for the reasons we adduced above: such a society must be founded on (a) individualism, (b) individual rights, (c) the strict separation of property rights from freedom of expression, and finally (d) the limitation of State powers to enforcing both these rights (property and expression) in such a manner that freedom of expression does not interfere with property rights. But what this means is that the “neutrality” of the liberal State with regard to the private sphere of property rights leads to the privatisation and therefore the de-politicisation of freedom of expression – and hence to the de-politicisation of society. If freedom of expression is legally barred from interfering with the economic institutions of capitalism and if the liberal State is charged with the function of preventing such “political” public interference with “private” economic decisions, the inevitable outcome of this State neutrality is that the liberal State is entirely incapable of mediating the inevitable “political” repercussions of “private” economic decisions on the “public” sphere of personal expression and life-style, which equally inevitably must either be given a say on the regulation of private property rights or else – in the absence of such political representation – must lead to the revolutionary or otherwise violent overthrow of the liberal State!

Either the Political is allowed to interfere with the Economic, in which case the liberal State must be abolished; or else both the political and economic institutions of capitalist society will be torn asunder by conflicts and antagonisms that the liberal State is constitutionally unable to mediate and resolve. Either way, the liberal State is doomed to wither or to be overthrown and superseded. This is the self-dissolution (Selbst-aufhebung) of the liberal State.

Saturday 14 May 2016

Savage Capitalism and the Fall of Liberalism

Liberalism is the ideal form of the capitalist State. And liberalism is in dire trouble at the moment across the globe. To find out the causes for the decline of liberal governance the world over, we need to understand what liberalism is. Liberalism is not democracy. The essence of liberalism is to minimise the role of the State in society so as to preserve the rights of individuals and ensure that these individuals meet their minimal obligations to society - obligations that, in turn, are aimed at preserving individual rights. Therefore, liberalism can be defined as the minimal political association required for a society to maximise the freedom of individuals in society.

The core of liberalism, then, is individualism. Liberalism is the political form of possessive individualism. The liberal State represents the contractual union (contractum unionis) of individuals amongst themselves to erect a neutral enforcer - the liberal State - of their individuals rights. Thus, in exchange for the alienation of their absolute (lawless) individual freedoms, individuals obtain the preservation of their partial individual freedoms whereby no individual is allowed to interfere with the freedom of other individuals. Hence, the contractual union of separate individuals becomes the contractual subjection of protected individuals to the State whose task it is to enforce their individual "rights" - that is, their individuals "freedom" as limited by the "freedoms" of all other individuals. The contractual union now becomes a contractual subjection (contractum subjectionis) to the liberal State.

The liberal State is therefore a "negative State": it is mere Police. Its essential role is confined, limited to the preservation and enforcement of individuals "rights" - what in the pre-statual period were individual "freedoms" now curtailed to the extent necessary to preserve the "freedom" of all individuals. What, then, is this "freedom" that is protected by the liberal State - and therefore what are the "rights" instituted by the liberal State? It is here that liberalism quite evidently becomes the ideal State-form of a capitalist society. First of all, the pre-statal "freedom" of individuals is no longer protected because it is lost in the contractual transition from individualism to liberalism. What "freedom" individuals lose or alienate in this transition they now acquire in terms of "liberties" or "rights". Liberalism divides society into two spheres - the public sphere and the private sphere. The public sphere is everything that does not interfere with the private sphere. And the private sphere is the sphere of individual possession of wealth, what is known as private property or estate. The liberal State is therefore the State of private estates.

The public sphere is everything that the private sphere is not: public freedom is exclusively "freedom of expression". In other words, in the liberal State the public sphere is the freedom to say and do everything that does not interfere with private property or the estates of individuals. In the liberal State, "freedom" is the liberty to say and do everything that does not interfere with the institution of private property. The duty of individuals in a liberal State is to maintain the liberal State by not interfering with private property.

Three insurmountable problems immediately arise: first, how is the entitlement to private property determined at the time of the setting up of the contractual union that leads to the liberal State? Second, how is the use of this property to be regulated once the liberal State is erected? Third, how can forms of "expression" that threaten to interfere with private property be regulated, and vice versa? It is here, at this fateful juncture, that the "science" of economics comes into being by pretending and presuming to be able to define "scientifically" how private property rights ("endowments") can best be utilised to maximise individual welfare. Yet, as we have shown repeatedly and amply on other occasions, no "science" of economics can achieve this "scientific" separation of private property and individual welfare from the remainder of social life - quite simply because "welfare" itself cannot be defined independently of political life. Put simply, whereas economics pretends to be the scientific form of Political Economy whereby the Economic can be separated neatly from the Political so as to legitimise the neutrality of the liberal State, no such "scientific" separation of private and public spheres is possible! And this ought to be utterly evident to anyone who revises our summation of the liberal State. The liberal State is dead and buried ab ovo, in utero - from birth.

The death throes of the liberal State that we are now witnessing have their origin in and are the emanation of this flawed foundation or constitution of the liberal State.

Thursday 12 May 2016

The FT's Islamist Clowns At It Again - the FT bans ny comments again!...And Closes Roula Khalaf's Column To Further Comments....

The FT have closed the comments section to an article by Roula Khalaf maintaining that the election of Mr. Khan, a Pakistani Muslim, to mayor of London was evidence of the tolerance and meritocratic leaning of Londoners. Nothing could be further from the truth. Both Ms. Khalaf and another FT commentator, Janan Ganesh, whom we have dubbed "Baba Ganoush" for the insipid stupidity of his social commentary - both these characters display the culpable insensitivity of the Western capitalist bourgeoisie to the apocalyptic disruption caused by so-called "globalisation" - that is, by the craven avidity of Western capital in debasing the living standards of their citizens.

Capital - the bourgeoisie - deludes itself that capitalism is a politically "neutral", and therefore "tolerant", economic system that, by virtue of "the self-regulating market" is capable of letting the political sphere also regulate itself simply by not interfering with scientific economic arrangements - presumably those that benefit the accumulation of capital and therefore the bourgeoisie. In the liberal theory of Benjamin Constant - which we have reviewed in this Blog -, capitalists, and therefore "all citizens", are able to discipline their governments against interfering with the "market economy" by removing investments from delinquent nation-states.

Yet this theory is obviously incapable of explaining how simple capital flight can lead to the disciplining of nation-states if all nation-states begin to succumb to capital flight. Far from "re-balancing" political systems, capital flight is more likely to destabilise them and to lead to extremist governments. It is even less clear how capitalist nation-states can use free trade and capital mobility against less liberal nation-states - such as the Chinese dictatorship and the Middle Eastern theocracies - that merely pay lip service to free-market ideology but instead abuse them for mercantilist purposes, distorting trade only to bolster their own autocratic and dictatorial powers mostly against their own people.

This is the Trojan Horse that Western liberal bourgeoisies, in the name of "liberalism", have allowed within their own citadels undermining thus the very stability and threatening the very existence of their supposedly "democratic" liberal regimes. Liberalism is thus hoist on its own petard. This is a danger that we have sought to expose in this Blog repeatedly by examining the philosophical origins of Western liberalism as the essential ideology of capitalist industry, trade and society. The imminence and seriousness of the threat to millenary Western values of democracy, freedom and enlightenment is all too evident and too real. In the name of enlightened "tolerance" we are required to suffer the intolerable, in the name of "merit", we are meant to tolerate oppression and social disruption and upheaval, in the name of "multiculturalism" we are persuaded to adopt values that are pernicious to our very idea of human progress and freedom and emancipation.

Not only are these Western bourgeois myths insufferable and intolerable; they are also false and self-destructive. We must fight them with every fibre of our being - and so we shall.

Roula Khalaf together with Baba Ganoush - I mean, Imran Khan, no, that Ganesh imbecile - is attempting to soft-soap us with the kind of insidious garbage that makes the mullahs in Iran and the Saudi royal pigs truly proud: and that is the fable - nothing more than a fable - that "Islam is compatible with Western values" (really?) even if this idiotic duo of fanfare commentators acknowledge that "Islamophobia is on the rise". Contradiction in mid-breath! The reality is that western bourgeoisies - through "globalisation" - want to assuage and inure Western people to the Islamo-fascism and Asian totalitarianism that would enrich them at the expense of the democratic aspirations of Western workers and even progressive sectors of the bourgeoisie. They wish us to accept the unacceptable - the intolerable living conditions and misery and slavery that obtain throughout Asia and the Middle East. Know what? It ain't gonna happen. Turmoil is growing...."there is music in the cafes at night....and revolution in the air". Not only the FT, but the City bourgeoisie are so completely out of touch with the political hurricane that is about to hit them that they even take pride in what most Europeans view now as a clear and present danger, as an open threat not just to their living standards but to the millenary values on which their civilisation is founded. One must be entirely blind not to see that Islam and Western progressive values are entirely incompatible. And that what these fanatics try to peddle as "co-existence" is nothing more than an attempt to inure us to the standards of slavery and oppression that obtain in the Middle East and in Asia.

 Khan's election, against a City plutocrat (Goldberg or "gold mountain"!), far from showing the possibility of "co-existence" with Islam, exhibits in plain view the chasm that separates the City of London and its starry-eyed cringeful "progressive left" of the Labor Party from the true needs and political will of the country. It is the most blatant example of what Max Weber and Nietzsche called "Ohnmacht" - a will to powerlessness and political and social suicide that mercifully is not shared by the vast majority of Europeans who - in total despair - are turning to so-called "populist" movements - but movements that will shake the bourgeoisie just as much as they will destroy any residue of democracy in Western capitalist nation-states. Sleepers wake!

Wednesday 11 May 2016

Janan Ganesh or, Baba Ganoush and Savage Capitalism at the Financial Times

Janan Ganesh is a spoilt child of the bourgeoisie. So much is evident from the rotten mephitis that he posts each week on the Financial Times under the benevolent eyes of his editorial paymasters. Baba Ganoush...oops, I meant Janan Ganesh (ha!ha!ha! I misnamed him for a Lebanese condiment!) and his bestial trivialities - too easy to demolish for me even to contemplate doing so, and thereby wasting my all-too-valuable time - would not be so nefarious but for the fact that the FT simply has too many of these good-for-nothing son-of-bitches who should be sent to Saudi Arabia for a shariah whipping. Another such weirdo kiddo on the FT payroll is Simon Kuper. I invite friends not to read their garbage but, if possible, to complain to the FT every time their mephitis is exhaled from the pink pages.

Tuesday 10 May 2016

Comment On Janan Ganesh's Column in the FT

 Under the pretence of journalistic neutrality, in what is truly a galling abuse of press freedom, the nincompoop who is authorised by the FT to write this obscene dross does immense harm to critical thought. And that not because of some intrinsic merit in the hidden zealotru he peddles, but rather precisely for the reason that his comments are nothing more then garish trappings trappings wholly devoid of rhyme and most of all of any reason. Ganesh is a pompous prig (or should I say, prick?) whose commentary is an incensing foul offence to anyone with a conscience. In his world, in his deluded perspective, no evil, no abuse, no oppression is what it is: - evil, abusive, oppressive. Instead, Ganesh turns even the most diabolical crimes of the bourgeoisie into the neutral outcome of some sort of postmodernist charade of "progress", into something to which, however much it may victimise us, we ought to surrender without a struggle, without a fight - like lambs to the slaughter - in precisely the same way in which the Nazi dictatorship sought to persuade German society to accept extermination as ineluctable evolution.
I issue a warning and a challenge to Ganesh to visit my blog at eforum21 to check my counter-commentary to his insensate ravings. I have done it before with other egregious agents provocateurs of the FT - and I will do it again. Let's see how long this newspaper tiger lasts!

Saturday 7 May 2016

The Nemesis of the Liberal Bourgeoisie

Someone’s “nemesis” is not, as it is currently misconstrued, simply someone’s “enemy”. A nemesis is much more than just an enemy, just an accidental foe. A nemesis is the avenger of the Gods, it is the divine retribution called forth by the blasphemous “pride” or “hubris” of those the nemesis has been sent to quell and destroy. There is therefore a necessary dialectical link – not merely an accidental one – between hubris and nemesis: hubris is hubris because it invites its own nemesis: this is the dialectical foundation of Greek tragedy. Tragedy arises from an all-too-human failing – that of being blind to our human limits, and therefore of trespassing on the territory of the Gods. What the liberal bourgeois media dub as “populisms” are the nemesis of the bourgeoisie, liberal or conservative: they are the necessary (hence, “divine”) retribution for a social class that has used its political power to destroy the political organisations of the working class around the globe. Yet the capitalist class, the rule of capital, cannot subsist without the effective antagonism of the working class. Not workers, but workers organized as a class, are the “motor” of capitalist accumulation. Once the process of accumulation is carried too far, mainly through the dismantlement of working-class cohesion, capitalist industry must come to a grinding halt through insufficient “aggregate demand” and therefore through “excess savings”. But the consequent deterioration in the living conditions of workers makes the restive working class and the growing numbers of pauperized middle-class citizens easy prey for demagogues whose only aim is to seize political power for its own sake. That is the point at which the Reason and Civilised Values of the “enlightened bourgeoisie” come crashing down – and the liberal bourgeoisie, so besotted with its “eternal values”, meets its own nemesis.

That point, my friends, is exactly where we find ourselves now. In its unceasing effort to conceal the brutality of the wage relation and to deflect its pernicious outcomes, the bourgeoisie is keen to trumpet its adherence to abstract ideals such as “liberty, equality and fraternity” as well as “humanity”. At the same time, however, its culture industry – from Hollywood to the mass media to “social networks” – relentlessly propagates and inculcates the savage brutality of capitalist daily life – starting from the compulsion to work, starting from “the dictatorship of the factory”. What we have, then, is an apparently “democratic society” and an “authoritarian workplace”. It is, as it were, as if the bourgeoisie constantly hid its dictatorship at work (“the base”) through the smoke and mirrors of “life-style” (“the superstructure”). Yet in reality the two cannot be held separate for very long: no matter how long the bourgeoisie seeks to present the society of capital as a consumerist paradise, the brutal reality of exploitation, of wage labour as the ineluctable fate of human existence in the society of capital, must eventually break through the thin veneer of “consumer choice” (of Facebook, Netflix and Apple Apps, to be clear).

The brutal and ineluctable reality of capitalist social relations is that you cannot “save the environment” if most workers have to drive to get to work, you cannot have “safe neighbourhoods” if workers are condemned to a life of unemployment and upheaval, you cannot have “peace” if most people have to struggle each day purely in order to survive – physically as well as psychologically. The reality is that capitalist accumulation requires a surplus of living labour so as to force workers to alienate their living activity every day “in exchange for” so-called “wages” – which are simply the equivalent of their own objectified living activity. The greater is the ability of workers to emancipate themselves from the rule of capital, the greater is the need for the bourgeoisie to expand the pool of available living labour so as to compress and repress the political emergence of the working class. To give an indication, just consider the fact that in the last thirty years the size of the global working class has more than doubled! And while Western capital enabled the Chinese dictatorship to enrich itself by exploiting and expropriating hundreds of millions of its own people, at the same time it dismantled the political organisations of its own working class which now finds itself “competing against” the wild excess of human factory fodder that has been created overwhelmingly in Asia. Only now that it is meeting with its own “nemesis” is the Western bourgeoisie awakening to the possibility that its “liberal democratic society” may no longer be “liberal”, let alone “democratic”. The fatal delusion of the bourgeoisie has always been to confuse “liberalism” and “free markets” with “democracy”. – Without realizing instead that “free markets” are dependent on the most “illiberal” and “undemocratic” market of all: the labour market! The “market”, that is, where human beings are coerced into alienating their living activity, their “labour”, in exchange for the products of their own living activity – in exchange for “wages”! This is the tragic paradox on which capitalist industrial civilization rests – and the hard reality that summons it to its nemesis.