[...] If higher wages were all that is necessary, Marx would have been no more than a wordy and over-philosophical union activist. The problems, however, are much bigger: the wage relation and capitalist social relations themselves. The point is not to redistribute capitalist value, but to overcome it, to destroy it as the relation that rules the world.
The idea that capitalism will persist as long as the rule of value holds is Marx's essential lesson. This is not a majority opinion, and is easily taken as dismissive of "reformist" efforts to improve working conditions and the distribution of income. I don't mean to suggest such efforts are useless because they are not "radical" enough. Clearly, any effort on the part of labourers (and unemployed people) to improve the material conditions of their everyday lives is worthwhile. My point is that the fundamental problem with capitalism as a mode of production is not ultimately addressed by the redistribution of capital.
[...] The whole point of paying workers well is to keep the system going--in fact, there is a theory in orthodox economics that says this is exactly what "fair" wages do. So as a social justice strategy, wage demands are key. As a social transformation strategy, they are insufficient.
Yet it must be said that this still does not suggest an obvious reason to reject the idea that if workers were paid "fairly"--presumably at least as much as capitalists--then no one would want to be a capitalist anymore, or would have no self-interested incentive to be one, and the whole mode of production would fall apart. In other words, we might use the wage relation to overcome the wage relation. [...]
[...] however "radical" we might imagine our politics, we must recognize ourselves in it. If we cannot see in it the actual material and social constraints experienced by real living individuals and groups in their everyday attempts to make and remake a way to be in the world, then we will never find a way out of it. If we cannot understand that capitalism, and the agency of the billions of people who have little "choice" but to embrace it, is a product of far more than the trickery and ill-will of a few, an effective mass-based anticapitalist politics is in my mind a pipe-dream.
[...] This is what Gramsci and Poulantzas, in their own ways, said too. At present, the state, within its territory and in its participation in multilaterial institutions and contracts, is the essential means by which capital's hegemony is legitimized and protected. Consequently, it is the principal institutional means by which to influence the distribution of the material means for human well-being. At least in the near term, the state's legitimacy as the mechanism of distribution is axiomatic: it is the legitimate mechanism of distribution within its territory because it is the state. Via a suite of widely accepted domains of responsibility--taxes, fiscal spending, monetary governance, social programs, labour regulation, market oversight, etc--the state is the distributional centre of gravity. If mass anticapitalist movements are to emerge in the global North, at least, then anticapitalists must work to gain control of this hegemonic distributional mechanism. [...]
[...] Some, of course, hedge their bets, saying capitalism is "the best we can do," or the "least bad" way of organizing our political economic lives. That, it seems to me, is horseshit, and not a shred of evidence supports it. At my most generous, I might grant that capitalism, relative to what came before, is among the better ways developed thus far, but [...] why would we accept something because it is the best "so far"? Imagine if we had stopped at leeching or slavery because they were the best methods for medicine and agriculture we had developed "so far".
[...] The most fundamental problem with capitalism, and the reason it must be rejected, is that it is structured, in its very operation, to make it impossible for millions and even billions to be free in any meaningful sense. The critique of capitalism has little to do with how well it provides for the people of the world relative to what came before (feudalism, slave-plantations, etc.), or with a need to defend the disastrous attempts to resist it (Stalinist "communism", faux-socialist kleptocracy, etc.). Anticapitalism has to do, rather, with the fact that capitalism is not good enough. It is unacceptable.
connects with my thoughts on capitalism as this adolescent stage
diss inspo for the conclusion (that the current system of info capitalism is unacceptable because of the lack of freedom)
[...] Against the postmodernist suspicion of grand narratives, we need to reassert that, far from being isolated, contingent problems, these are all the effects of a single systemic cause: Capital. We need to begin, as if for the first time, to develop strategies against a Capital which presents itself as ontologically, as well as geographically, ubiquitous.
re: things like mass shootings
[...] The abstract processes of decoding that capitalism sets off must be contained by improvised archaisms. lest capitalism cease being capitalism. Similarly, markets may or may not be the self-organising meshworks described by Fernand Braudel and Manuel DeLanda, but what is certain is that capitalism, dominated by quasi-monopolies such as Microsoft and Wal-Mart, is an anti-market. Bill Gates promises business at the speed of thought, but what capitalism delivers is thought at the speed of business. A simulation of innovation and newness that cloaks inertia and stasis.
For precisely these reasons. accelerationism can function as an anti-capitalist strategy-not the only anti-capitalist strategy, but a strategy that must be part of any political program that calls itself Marxist. The fact that capitalism tends towards stagflation. that growth is in many respects illusory, is all the more reason that accelerationism can function in a way that Alex Williams characterises as 'terroristic'. What we are not talking about here is the kind of intensification of exploitation that a kneejerk socialist humanism might imagine when the spectre of accelerationism is invoked. As Lyotard suggests, the left subsiding into a moral critique of capitalism is a hopeless betrayal of the anti-identitarian futurism that Marxism must stand for if it is to mean anything at all. What we need, as Fredric Jameson-the author of 'Wal-Mart as Utopia'-argues, is now a new move beyond good and evil. and this. Jameson says, is to be found in none other than the Communist Manifesto. 'The Manifesto,' Jameson writes. 'proposes to see capitalism as the most productive moment of history and the most destructive at the same time, and issues the imperative to think Good and Evil simultaneously, and as inseparable and inextricable dimensions of the same present of time. This is then a more productive way of transcending Good and Evil than the cynicism and lawlessness which so many readers attribute to the Nietzschean program.' Capitalism has abandoned the future because it can't deliver it. Nevertheless, the contemporary Left's tendencies towards Canutism, its rhetoric of resistance and obstruction, collude with capital's anti/meta-narrative that it is the only story left standing. Time to leave behind the logics of failed revolts, and to think ahead again.
[...] what characterizes a capitalist economy is that this surplus of time and energy is not simply released, but must be constantly reabsorbed in the cycle of production of exchange value leading to increasing accumulation of wealth by the few (the collective capitalist) at the expense of the many (the multitudes).
Automation, then, when seen from the point of view of capital, must always be balanced with new ways to control (that is, absorb and exhaust) the time and energy thus released. It must produce poverty and stress when there should be wealth and leisure. It must make direct labour the measure of value even when it is apparent that science, technology and social cooperation constitute the source of the wealth produced. It thus inevitably leads to the periodic and widespread destruction of this accumulated wealth, in the form of psychic burnout, environmental catastrophe and physical destruction of the wealth through war. It creates hunger where there should be satiety, it puts food banks next to the opulence of the super -rich. That is why the notion of a post-capitalist mode of existence must become believable, that is, it must become what Maurizio Lazzarato described as an enduring autonomous focus of subjectivation. What a post-capitalist commonism then can aim for is not only a better distribution of wealth compared to the unsustainable one that we have today, but also a reclaiming of 'disposable time'-that is, time and energy freed from work to be deployed in developing and complicating the very notion of what is 'necessary'.
In the months after the election, the media focused on tech leadership. Who did or did not trek to Trump Tower? How much diversity of opinion was there in this room of white people? How far would they Lean In to fascism? Who cares?
We focus on the rank and file, because the reality is that meaningful change to the system that brought us Trump is not going to come from the people whom that system made billionaires. Meaningful change must come from below--from the workers who write the code that generates those billions to the workers whose service makes their coding possible.
The current arrangement might seem natural and immutable. But, as one of our favorite futurologists once said: so did the Divine Right of Kings.
referring to Ursula K Le Guin