Friday, 2 November 2018

The Coming End of Civilisation

Our past few contributions have sought to address a problematic that, alas, confronts the coming destruction of the ecosphere and the equally inevitable regression of human civilisation to a barbaric state that it has never experienced before, except perhaps in very circumscribed settings (we may think of the Black Plague in Europe from late feudal times to early modern times).

We have sought to identify and highlight the principal components of this now inevitable cataclysm as a result of the socio-economic and political “dynamic” of capitalism. And we have done so by pointing out, first, the dependence of capitalist industry on the growth of the working population well beyond the limits sustainable by our ecosphere and the cataclysmic political conflicts, within and between nation-states, that these developments entail and engender.

One of the chapters of our exposition is the nihilism engendered by the capitalist fetishism and reification of “science” and “ nature”. So, what we are presenting below is a shorthand summary of the salient points of our argumentation. - Followed shortly, as promised, by the final chapters on “Descartes ‘s World”. Cheers.

Capitalism is the command over living labour through its fictitious exchange with dead objectified labour. Any necessary living labour required over and above its free reproduction is surplus labour. Capitalism is therefore the accumulation of political power over living labour through dead labour. It is the accumulation of surplus labour. But because a worker can work only so many hours in the day, capitalist accumulation requires the expansion of the actual labour force and of the reserve army of labour – which entails the absolute expansion of the working population by means of the reduction of the living labour necessary for its reproduction as a proportion of the working day. The workers seek the expansion of the individual daily necessary labour and the containment or reduction of the working population. The individual capitalist seeks to reduce the proportion of the workday going to necessary labour for his own workers and to expand it for the workers of other capitalists so their workers can consume more of what he produces.

To reduce necessary labour and accumulate surplus labour, capital requires the scientific-industrial enterprise. Thus, the early development of the scientific enterprise, mistaken universally for an autonomous intellectual or “scientific” development, is really entirely dependent on the expansion of capitalist industry and commerce. Natural philosophy based its “method” entirely on capitalist industry not on its “pure” science but mistook this for precisely such a “pure” activity of scientific research.

Misconceptions of Science and Origin of Bourgeois Nihilism - A Summary

1. That there is such a “thing” called science. That science is a specific reality or dimension or ability in human being – as distinct from a “scientific enterprise “, that is to say, a set of highly specific practices dependent on social relations of production adopted for the reproduction of human societies.

2. As a corollary, that science is the process of the discovery of “truth”, of “objective reality” and not a specific “enterprise” related to human social relations.

3. As a result, that science is a technical activity independent of human social relations and choices.
4. That scientific research and findings are necessarily “progressive” and of benefit to humanity – precisely because they are deemed to be “true” in the sense of “objective” – that is to say, independently of their effect on human society.

5. Finally, that scientific enterprise is entirely objective and does not depend on the manipulation of the life-world – of human reality and environment (“nature”) - in the “demonstration” of its “truth” – that is to say, in the (artificial reality) of experimentation.

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