Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Are we there yet?

Is there still some life in these old bones?

The bourgeoisie has, through its exploitation of the world market, given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of reactionaries, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilized nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations.
--The Communist Manifesto (1848)

and then, the emerging contradictions:

Mankind’s productive forces stagnate. Already new inventions and improvements fail to raise the level of material wealth. Conjunctural crises under the conditions of the social crisis of the whole capitalist system inflict ever heavier deprivations and sufferings upon the masses. Growing unemployment, in its turn, deepens the financial crisis of the state and undermines the unstable monetary systems. Democratic regimes…stagger on from one bankruptcy to another.

The bourgeoisie itself sees no way out…In the historically privileged countries, i.e., in those where the bourgeoisie can still for a certain period permit itself the luxury of democracy at the expense of national accumulations (Great Britain, France, United States, etc.), all of capital’s traditional parties are in a state of perplexity bordering on a paralysis of will.

…International relations present no better picture. Under the increasing tension of capitalist disintegration, imperialist antagonisms reach an impasse at the height of which separate clashes and bloody local disturbances…must inevitably coalesce into a conflagration of world dimensions.…
--The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International (1938)

With some reason, Barbara Ehrenreich, noting the 160th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto, observes that capitalism, at least for now, is the only game in town. But in this vast, cavernous casino that we call globalization, the hubbub at the slots and the tables is turning to hysteria, the crowds are scrambling for the exits--and even the house is losing. Is another world possible?

No comments: