Commentary on Political Economy

Sunday 16 July 2017

Socialismo o Muerte

The old revolutionary cry that spurred Cuba's insurrection against the brutal dictator Batista was meant to pose socialism as a just cause for which it was worth fighting even to the point of risking death. Socialism or death - either achieve socialism or die in the attempt - because socialism was seen as a definable empirical goal that could be attained in this life, not in the afterlife.

The fundamental assumption that sustained this "faith" in the attainability of socialist ideals was the view that the inherent contradictions of capitalism itself would inevitably lead to the triumph of the socialist republic. This teleological theory of capitalist historical development reached its apex in the social theory of Karl Marx. But as we have shown throughout our most recent posts, it is precisely because this positive definition of socialism has been made arguably improbable by the very development of capitalism historically - that is to say, by the fact that far from leading inexorably to socialism, capitalist social relations of production lead to the destruction of human society and indeed of the ecosphere -, it is because of this that the war-cry "Socialism or Death" has now taken on a much more frighteningly explosive connotation: and that is that even though socialism itself may not be ideally achievable, the destruction and overthrow of capitalist rule is all the more imperative in the negative sense that either we destroy capitalism or else we shall all inevitably perish! Either we slay this monster, or else it will destroy the earth! Nowhere in his otherwise unequalled analysis of capitalism did Marx show any awareness of this negative involution of capitalism to the point where it would threaten the very survival of humanity!

It is not our aim here to regurgitate the complex arguments that we have advanced in our last few posts - in particular those on "capitalism as relative overpopulation"; suffice it to say that those who oppose "globalisation" or "free trade cosmopolitanism" to "protectionist populism" have failed to understand (a catastrophic intellectual failure) that it is the very capitalist logic behind "globalisation" that produces the proto-fascist "reaction" of so-called populism. There is no antithesis, let alone contra-diction, between globalisation and populism: both are intrinsic products and effects of capitalist social relations of production! The failure to see this is at best an intellectual failure and at worst a form of guilty connivance with the forces of reaction. The sooner we all realise this intrinsic interdependence of capitalism and proto-fascist movements, the sooner we shall be able to combat these congenital monsters that threaten the future of human life on earth.