From Last and First Men
Capitalism was easy. Now comes the hard part. At a time of rising social crisis in the outcome of globalization, the place of capitalism is coming under intense scrutiny. It is ironic, and this has always been so, that at its moment of triumph, everything turns sour with the culture of markets, and its manic style. The defenses of capitalism, beside their mirror image in the debates over communism, have tended to seem irrefutable given the evidence of economic transformation, the mesmerizing ideology of laissez-faire. There the Hegelianized propaganda of the ‘end of history’ has created a powerful set of illusions. But now suddenly the prospect that we are all ‘dead by economy’ changes one’s view of the matter as the point of no return seems to have arrived in the form of the Faustian endgame in the accelerating destruction of the ecological base, and the dire scenarios of global warming. All at once the charge of utopianism, so often applied to the communist idea, flips to capitalism itself.
The rise of postcapitalism has to be more than an economic movement. It has to be able to create a cultural mix of elements yielding a new genesis of the arts, philosophy, (post-)religion, and the liberation of politics from mechanical machiavellianism of the prior era. Why does politics always default to psychopathic logic, covert agencies and murder? How could the debasement of the American System have occurred so rapidly?
For many the globalization of markets has nearly destroyed the planet and yet a large majority has still not seen any real benefits from capitalism. The whole project was a gamble, and Marx/Engels accepted the wager, but now we have to measure winnings and the usual predictable high losses at the suddenly arriving endstate.
We had a few brief years after 2008 in a ‘great recession’ to preach sobriety, but now the system still in partial stall is dosing out the same old puke economics of jobs, growth, and the rest of it. Our position now seems to be: the more the economy recovers the worse it will be for men of the future. We have sold them down the river.
Meanwhile, it is possible technological advances can repair the biosphere, but the movement toward postcapitalism cannot cease even for a moment.