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CAPITALISM IS IN CRISIS. ITS ALTERNATIVE, SOCIALISM, AROUSES FEAR

Creato: 05 Dicembre 2012 Ultima modifica: 17 Settembre 2016 Visite: 3657

A bit less than four years have elapsed since the bursting out of the subprime slump, and the global economy that only a few months ago, most of the (economic) analysts forecasted in strong and resolute recovery, is instead on the edge of a precipice.

The massive amount of liquid assets injection, carried out in these years from all central banks and particularly by the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank , if, from one side, has fostered the rescue of the global banking system, on the other side, has marked a very strong acceleration to the growth of sovereign debt so to render it unbearable for many countries.

As a matter of fact, Greece, Portugal and Iceland are already in default, but the list  is destined to lengthen up to include, in the short and middle term, also countries with high industrialization rate like Italy, and according to some analysts, even the United States.

The need to avoid sovereign debt default and with it that of the big international banks that hold it, induces states to launch financial manoeuvres that strike heavily, beyond what remains of welfare, also wages, salaries and pensions. Therefore, right in the moment during which manoeuvres are required to favour its hurling back, the aggregated (goods) demand shrinks reverberating its negative effects on employment. Thus, also GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and national income shrink, and interests on debt instead of lowering, grow further on up to cause, in the correlation between debt and national income, a reduction of the denominator (national income), greater than that of the numerator (debt) and so debt instead of reducing itself, grows further on. Exactly as it has happened in Greece.

The fear that Greece may not remain an isolated case and that, manoeuvre after manoeuvre, slump may spin on itself and sinks the whole global economy in a disaster without records in modern capitalism history, is thus not at all groundless.

It is so to such a point, that even inside the bourgeoisie itself, grows the number of those that realize that much more is needed and, like the American multibillionaire Warren Buffett, call for the introduction of extraordinary income taxes, even of some consistency, on large personal estates, on private incomes and for a tax on financial transactions (Tobin Tax).

Instead, in the variegated area of the so-called left, things swing from proposing again, in the “Keynesian” way, the state intervention in economy, to the idea of a new development mode and of a capitalist accumulation centered on so-called alternative energies (green economy). The French economist Serge Latouche ventures still further off. Moving from the premise that crisis arises from discrepancy between exiguousness of available resources, enclosed there in Earth, and the boundlessness implied in the capitalist accumulation process (D-M-D’), he augurs an economic model centered on decrease. Or rather, as a last expectation, a kind of capital simple reproduction without a change of the capitalist form of production. So, supposing that this thing is possible, it is a matter of capitalist reproduction form anyway. (1)

Dominates, in a word, the idea that capitalism may be followed only by… capitalism. In some extent modified, but always and only capitalism, although the structural limits that impeach its transitoriness are always more obvious.

Contrarily to what assert its coryphaeuses, the crisis in which it is casted down, has sprung from an incurable contradiction that is inherent to the capitalist accumulation process, that determines what Marx has called the law of average profit tendency to fall (The Capital – Book III – Chapters 13th, 14th and 15th). Tendency, because the contradictions themselves that put it in action, generate in the meanwhile also antagonistic causes “that hamper, slowdown and partially  paralyse this fall”.

It occurs however that cyclically, notwithstanding these antagonistic causes, in the goods production it may be determined an average profit rate such not to guarantee an adequate increase in value of the produced capital. It may, that is to say, take place a capital over accumulation.

Differently from the economic trend crisis, that for the most various reasons may concern one or more fields of the production system, but do not threaten the regular unwinding of the whole of capitalist accumulation process, these, exactly because they threaten it in its complex, are defined by Marxist political economy criticism structural crisis or of the capital accumulation cycle.

The present one started to show itself already in the first years of the seventies of past century, and has had as epicenter the United States. Till now it has been faced increasing up to the unbelievable, the grade of exploitation of working force, one, if not the most important of the antagonistic causes. Thing made possible from concurrence of different factors: the introduction of microelectronics in production processes, the world unification of labour-force market, that has increased to the unlikely the “reserve industrial army” , and has raised competition between workers themselves. Let alone delocalization of most part of industrial production in areas with a labour-force cost hundreds of times lower than that of the capitalist metropolis.

From this point of view, the expansion of the financial sphere, is then a result of the so-called real economy crisis, and not the cause as commonly it is thought and it is meant to be believed. On the other hand, as a contribution it has been fostered in a conclusive way by the liberalization of the financial markets and of the production of fictitious capital, started in the first years of the eighties from Margaret Thatcher’s Great Britain and, followed hot on the heels, by the Ronald Reagan U.S. administration, with the twofold aim to favor shifting, in entrance and in exit, to the capitals connected to the industrial delocalization processes and to drain towards the capitalist metropolis, growing shares of plusvalue extorted from labour-force on global range.

In this way, the contradictions from which the crisis originates, have been in some way contained and managed enabling its expansion in time and space. Nevertheless, in confirmation that it is a matter of a structural crisis, monetary base is equal to eighteen times the world GDP (in 2007 it was thirteen times) to which it must be added a mass of financial derivatives of which the real amount is not known.

In modern capitalism history, crises of this nature have already taken place twice: in 1873 and in 1929. Both have been overcome only thanks to two world war and, in both cases, a new accumulation cycle has started only after a massive destruction has taken place of previously produced capitals.

Now, if we reckon that those crises, concerned only the few industrialized areas of the planet, and in both cases, those production fields that were just born, and that would turn out then as the crucial fulcrum of the capitalist production for all the twentieth century, whilst today the sole susceptible of further significant developments is the ICT (Information and Communication Technology) sector, that at every of its improvements wipes out hundreds of thousands of jobs, it is understandable the fear of those that do not even exclude the breakdown of the entire human society, and its sinking in a kind of Middle Ages capitalism.(2)

It contributes to it, also the fact that the only hint to the building of a socialist society, or rather to the only possible alternative to the disaster that announces itself, evokes economic disasters as much dramatic let alone ghosts of “Orwellian” remembrance.

Even in some analysts, that as well mean to refer themselves to the Marxist political economy criticism, and do not deny the structural character of the crisis, it is possible to grasp a kind of horror to hint to it , they have recourse rather to any sort of euphemism when not even to circumlocutions so obscure that it results to be a list of trivial commonplaces.

An example. “Old “Keynesian” recipes  –  writes Paolo Cacciari on il Manifesto (Italian leftist daily newspaper) of October, 29th, 2011 – do not really have any more edges of enforcement in a structural crisis of this dimension and quality. Reformist politics, even those more cautious, are cut out both on the economic, social and ecological model versant, and on the wealth distribution one. It is by now clear that the answers can get out, only coming out from the market rules and dogmas. We should think to another kind of wealth, to another kind of welfare, to another kind of working, to another kind of relationship between people that should not be the one that passes through the wallet. And here is what we should do : - If we tried to put care and fruition of common properties (water, land, woods, natural heritage, but also cultural heritage: knowledge, learning) to the centre of our idea of society, we would be easily able and with great individual and everybody’s satisfaction to do without the GDP obsession –“ And so on for a whole article in which not only the word socialism does not appear, but whatever reference to the fact that without revolutionary break of the capitalist system of production and without ending wage labour slavery, to talk of “care and fruition of common properties” is like talking about angels’ sex.

In a word we are at the presence of an absolutely true paradox of history, for which when the capitalist production system shows all its limits and confirms, with the burst out of its contradictions, its temporariness, socialism is a word without purport. To this thorough depletion of sense of the word socialism, has surely contributed the Stalinist counter-revolution. Stalinism, first has succeeded in selling off as socialism one of the fiercest forms of capital dictatorship and then, with its fall, has sanctioned also its failure.

But not only Stalinism. To it, have contributed also, at least in the more advanced economic areas, the powerful development of big industry and the affirming with it of the modern forms of imperialistic domination that made possible the growth of middle classes, the birth of welfare and a certain economic wellbeing, spreading even between wide layers of working class right in the areas in which the working class and the socialist movement was born and developed itself.

The overall of these circumstances, has disclosed to the dominating ideology an immense prairie in which it could rove, to affirm the absoluteness of the capitalist production system, so that it is the sole possible way of production of wealth as such.

So that which had to be the alternative to a production system, that for more than a century nothing else had done than increase exploitation and extreme poverty, has lost much of its appeal strength, and the deceitful idea that modern capitalism, if well ruled, can assure in the meanwhile large profits and widespread welfare to all the social corps, has deeply rooted even in the consciousness of the working class. So also huge masses of have-nots, which of that wealth had just heard of, today yearn for reaching the so-called Western countries that to their eyes appears to be the true Eldorado.

This idea is so deeply rooted that the capitalist production system doesn’t have an alternative, that even today that the crisis rages and bourgeoisie itself recognize openly that widespread wealth era has closed for ever, it is common opinion that it is always better to pay the very high prices, that the rescue of capitalist system requires, than to take risks in something that when all is said and done, has been a failure.

On the other hand, also those few daring, that talk clearly of the need of breaking off of the capitalist production system as a premise for the building of a socialist society, do it re-proposing the socialist alternative in the same terms with which it has been depicted for all long the nineteenth century: the solution of the economic problem of proletariat deducting the production forces from the profit logic devoting it to the fulfillment of the needs of the community.

Socialism is not only the solution of an economic problem

Revolutionary Marxism has always considered the building of the society in which the worker, once abolished the bourgeoisie property of production means “… Receives  from society a voucher that demonstrates that he has given service for a certain amount of work – and with this voucher (he) draws from the social depots an amount of consumer goods corresponding to the value of his work. The same amount of work he has given to the society under a procedure, he receives it under another procedure” (3) as the necessary phase of transition from capitalist society to a communist and this for two fundamental reasons. The first because only the achievement of communism “society will be able to write on its flags: from each one according to his skills, to each one according to his needs” (4) and therefore only in it will be eliminated whichever inequality between individuals that constitute it. The second because, having eliminated exploitation and social inequalities, in it will disappear also what is, maybe, the fiercest of slaveries, the one that Marx defines “the slavish subordination of individuals to labour division” (5). In other words. It will be removed for good what has been the premise of the different forms of property that has followed one another in history and above all the division in classes of society, so that individuals find already at their birth “foredoomed their life conditions. (they)have assigned from the (social)class their position in life and with it their personal development…” (6); that for proletarians as members of a subdued class, takes to be foredoomed to waged labour slavery that is to say to become a commodity. As a matter of fact, then, not owning anything else than their labour-force, (they) have assigned can live to the sole condition that they may be able to sell it at the best possible price. But to sell ones labour-force means, as a last expectation, to sell most part of his time; it is necessary, therefore, that these sellers to live cease to exist as individuals to become a commodity between those many, one thing between the others.    

To proletarians, then, for a condition forced to them by chance, it is denied prior to, the possibility as individuals, joining forces with other individuals, to give birth to a community in which to be able to develop themselves, through work that is the human activity that “par excellence” distinguish humans from all other animals, as individuals free from any slavery. Instead, in the social formations until now existed, they are free – as young Marx pointed out – only in the unwinding of their “animal functions as eating, engendering and at most still to inhabit a house, to get dressed… What is animal becomes human and what is human becomes animal”. (7)

Class is for them a real shirt of Nessus that once that it has tightened around their body doesn’t give means of escape. Only for the members of the dominating class, as holders of the property of production means (8), the class to which they belong assures those conditions to be able to develop themselves and assert themselves as free individuals both in comparison to their class and in comparison to the society as a whole.

“In community substitutes – writes Marx - that have existed until now, in the state etc. [in which- editor’s note]… personal freedom existed solely for the dominating class individuals [meanwhile- editor’s note]… for the dominated class it was not only a purely deceptive community, but also bonds”.  (9)

In class divided society, in a word, freedom can’t take place without subjection, free development of individuals can’t exist without exploitation of other individuals.

Socialism, as a transition stage from the capitalist society to the communist one, not only is that social formation, in which it is possible the fulfillment of the needs of the collectivity without exploitation of the workers; but, in the way in which it renders thus possible, (it) sets also the material bases so that it may be fulfilled the greatest revolution in history, that consists in rendering: “impossible everything that exists independently from the individuals, in such way that this is nothing else that the result of previous generations of the individuals themselves” )10). What until now has made them, in the most varied forms, always and solely slaves.

With communism. Thus, not only capitalism takes end, but also that era, started a lot before capitalism itself, in which fate of individuals has always depended from the case that established inclusion in one or in the other social class or communities substitutes.

In this meaning only communist revolution is an authentic  one, as for the first time in history of humanity, individuals “acquire their freedom in their joining forces and by means of it.”

when not even pure madness. On the other hand it developed itself, at first, in a complete spontaneous way, in consideration of the different natural attitude of individuals and, afterwards, imposed itself as an impressive meaning for the increase of labour productivity and of wealth production in general. It doesn’t arouse wonder, so, that undoubted advantages which resulted from it, have for a long time easily concealed that it was also the most powerful mean of separation of individuals between each other, and of submission of a part by another. The deception has started to reveal itself with the birth of big industry and  the growing mechanization of productive processes that has progressively transferred to the machines’ system most of the knowledges and of the duties once specific to workers, it has transformed them ever more as a pure accessory of the machine.

Today, with the introduction of microelectronics in the productive processes and the transfer to the machines’ system, a part from almost all totality of manual work and of a large part of intellectual one, almost all labour has resolved itself in the simple mechanical repetition of very easy learning. And exactly for this reason already today, due to easy interchangeability of duties, the same worker may be employed one day in a car plant, the following one in a food canning factory and the further following one – maybe with a “project agreement” (Italian low cost and temporary work contract – editor’s note)- in the town council registry office, and nothing may forbid the alternating between them of individuals, in the ambit of the community freely founded by themselves, in the unwinding of the different duties. It prevents it solely that cursed division in classes of the society for which individuals find themselves “foredoomed their life conditions, they have allotted from the class their position in life”. To capitalists, moreover in lesser numbers, maximum freedom to develop in the best of the ways and of the possible of worlds their personality, to all others the conviction to be servants to the machines. Thus, with the “revolutionization” of actual social relations not only the economic conditions of proletariat would change, but, for the first time in human history, conditions would be created to remove the premise of every form of slavery. To return, as a real possibility not springing from thought that thinks itself, a sense to the word socialism, is today possible, on condition that it should proceed to a critical revisitation of all previous elaboration on the so- called transition stage developed by revolutionary Marxism and particularly Marx in his already quoted Critique to the Gotha program and from Lenin in State and revolution. It is required to go back to it because it has been produced when what today is reality at that time it was science-fiction (the writing of Marx dates back to 1875, and Lenin’s one to august of 1917). On the other hand, since the building of a communist society does not develop starting from an idea, that is to say on own basis, but starting from capitalist society, that elaboration has necessarily allowed for reality and of the reached  grade of development by the productive forces at that time, let alone of the real possibilities of widening of the socialist revolution on world scale.

The socialist revolution, as a matter of fact, as capitalism, developing itself, has determined a growing interdependence and dependence of productive systems and single country markets between themselves, cannot in no way come true in the enclosure of a single country or even of  a single economic area, but if it remains restricted it is doomed relentlessly to defeat. It was worth already at Marx and Lenin times, today it is in incommensurably bigger size.

It is enough to think that whole productive cycles have by now global dimension, in the way that they start in one part of the world and, crossing various countries, end in the opposite side, otherwise to the abyss that separates the modern communication system from the one of the ending of the 19th and beginning of 20th centuries, to realize how much different are, as to then, the conditions in which a possible socialist revolution may arise and develop; and why, communism until now has appeared as a landing bounded on the background of an historic perspective of long term, kind of a spirit conquest. On the other hand, at those times, to be able to receive in exchange of a certain amount of labour an equivalent amount of goods enough to satisfy at least the vital needs of every one was already a big conquest.

Today it is not anymore so. The further development of the capitalist mean of production, has granted it such an urgent topical subject to underline as never before now its being – as may say Marx – “ an absolutely material fact” and not the product of metaphysical speculations.

Its topical subject and necessity can be checked even in the bare daily life: the working day that, in spite of machines’ modern system, instead of reducing to a few hours per day, lengthens unbelievable every day more; the machines, at this able to unwind almost all duties more exhausting that once were on charge to the workers, instead of being instrument of their freeing from hard work has become very refined source of oppression and slavery. (11)

And, thanks to its development, the more rises their capacity to produce wealth, the more poverty grows up to lap at this point also wide shares of petty bourgeoisie and middle class.

Yet we may fall in the most coarse mechanism if we thought that only for this the dominating class ideology, that considers capitalist production processes as the only one and the best possible and consequences of its structural contradictions, as natural events, is meant ineluctably to dissolve. It takes a more accurate critique of modern capitalism and consequently also of the socialist revolution problems, between which the one of the transition to communism is for sure of fundamental importance. And so that proletariat may attain to make socialist revolution its society project to oppose at the dominating class one, the party is need. But on this question, for many ways even more thorny of the transition one, we will return on this magazine next number.

Notes

(1) In regards of this see K. MARX – Capital: Critique of the Political Economy – 1st book – chapter 21st.

(2) They make reference to the essay of J. DIAMOND Collapse, how the societies choose to die or to live -

Where the author for crumbling intends “a drastic reduction of the number of the population and/or of

The political, economical and social complexity, in an extended area and during an elongated lapse of

Time”.

(3) K. MARX – Critique of the Gotha program.

(4) Ibidem.

(5) K. MARX – The German Ideology.

(7) K. MARX – Economic and Philosophic manuscripts of 1844.

(8) Here it occurs to us the obligation to specify that, being right the critique of the Communist Left and

Particularly of the Italian one, the nationalization, given the existing production relations, doesn’t

Mutate the bourgeoisie character of the property.

(9) K. MARX -  The German Ideology.

(10) Ibidem

(11) With the new organization of labour based on the system World Class manufacturing (WCm) all the

Movements of the worker, even his physiological needs , are programmed and subordinated to the

Movements and the timings of the machines, so that to reduce to the minimum arte what Marx calls

Porousness of labour.

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