Tuesday, 11 February 2020

THE EXHAUSTION OF GLOBAL CAPITALISM

As we have sought to outline repeatedly on this Blog, capitalism is ultimately dependent on overpopulation and overconsumption. Essentially, in its endless (and therefore end-less, that is to say, without purpose and goal, blind and irresponsible and irrational) quest to maximise profits to accumulate capital, global capitalism exasperates the reproduction of workers and surplus labour force and, consequently, the consumption of produced goods, to the point where it exhausts all available resources such that systemic crises are inevitable. The results of concentrated populations of workers - particularly in Asia where the populations are more pliant and more easily dominated - leads to dangerous levels of human density, interference with fauna and flora, poor hygienic standards, rapid deterioration of health and nutritional standards, and so forth.

The ultimate result of this exhaustion of the human and natural environment is the kind of pathogenic crisis that we are witnessing now in China, but that will spread rapidly to the rest of Asia and Africa where medical resources are virtually non-existent. But there is yet another kind of "pathogenic crisis" that capitalism induces. First of all, as we have often stressed, the Chinese Empire under the totalitarian Dictatorship of the Communist Party is not a capitalist economy although it is integral part of the global cycle of capitalist production. As such, Chinese Dictators and their vast Party membership represent loyal servants of Western capital in subjugating their unfortunate fellow Chinese (especially those of non-Han race such as the migrant workers); and at the same time they serve as a Fifth Column prepared to obtain citizenship in Western democracies (a) to protect themselves against possible insurrections in China and (b) to steal and appropriate illicitly resources that are available only in the far wealthier advanced capitalist economies of the West.

But what the Chinese Communist Party cannot offer, because of its totalitarian nature, is the kind of social solidarity and civil society institutions that are instead an integral part of Western capitalism. The utterly complete disintegration of Chinese society is now on display due to the Coronavirus crisis - so we will not go into this aspect of the analysis here. The more interesting point from a socio-theoretical viewpoint is that Western capitalism finds its theoretical foundations (in political theory and in economics) precisely on the fundamental assumption (in Thomas Hobbes and Adam Smith) of the basic non-existence of civil society - and therefore on the supposition of a purely "mechanical" market mechanism that ensures the orderly reproduction of that society. Both in the political theory of Thomas Hobbes and in the economic theory of Adam Smith, civil society is entirely absent because human beings are treated as totally self-interested atomistic individuals acting at arm's length from one another so that their interactions are purely "contractual" or synallagmatic. In both these theories, the State is the ultimate guarantor of the salus publica, of social peace. The State is mere Police! And yet we know from our studies that Western capitalism is in practice and in reality dependent first and foremost on the "formal legal freedom" of its labour force - on the formal legal freedom of its workers who are entitled to "democratic representation" in parliamentary institutions so as (a) to set a market wage rate and (b) to have voice in the direction of consumer products and (c) in ensuring that capitalists - not the State! - are the ultimate competitors for their labour services.

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