Another World is Possible

Capitalism’s defining feature is its need to create greater and greater amounts of surplus value. It can only do this successfully through commodification and its necessary movement of abstracting out all concrete characteristics other than an object’s ability to produce surplus value. This is the only use value that capital truly acknowledges. Because of this, it makes no difference to the capitalist what is produced, how it is made or what harm comes from its production. The worker without health insurance who becomes sick can be replaced by another who is healthy at the same or potentially lower rate. The chicken that is genetically engineered in such a way that it can barely stand upright because of its large breasts is more commercially profitable and thus, better than the non-genetically modified chicken. Neither the fate of the worker or the chicken matters to capital.

This illustrates the need to uproot capitalism. It is a cruel system that can never work for human or natural interests as its sole purpose is to continually produce. A supply of one good is totally consumed, so it is then time to look to a new source of surplus value. Capitalism’s rapacious nature is such that it will continue to destroy the bases of life beyond the point where it loses profitability. There is no hope that it can or will regulate itself.

The world has recently seen the growth of celebrity of Greta Thunberg and other young environmental activists who are calling for a change in the way in which human beings interact with the natural world through events like school strikes and Thunberg using her celebrity to get the message out that the status quo will destroy the planet. While not yet a Marxist movement, these efforts illustrate an important step forward as they show not only the negative of climate change, but also indicate that another world is possible. These young people who will have to disproportionately bear the burden of capital’s frenzied activity to extract as much value as possible, have taken the first step of saying “no” to the current system and are just beginning to think about what an ecologically sustainable society might look like. Perhaps most encouraging is Thunberg’s statements which seem to indicate that she is beginning to see the interconnected nature of capitalist oppression. For example, in discussing the Black Lives Matter Movement she says that society “passed a social tipping point, we can no longer look away from what our society has been ignoring for so long whether it is equality, justice or sustainability.” As she and many other young activists take to the streets and public airwaves demanding change, people should critically support their message and encourage them to think deeper about what a new society should look like.

Certainly, the Covid-19 crisis begins to show that another world is possible. Carbon emissions this year are estimated to be between 4.4-8% less than last year. This would be the lowest levels since World War II. Wild animals have been seen roaming urban spaces devoid of people. These sorts of things show that people have not really reached a point of no return, and that there is still time to avoid the worst, however, this reprieve is only temporary.

But natural science has penetrated all the more practically into human life through industry. It has transformed human life and prepared the emancipation of humanity even though its immediate effect was to accentuate the dehumanisation of man.


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Vol. 54, No. 24, Dec 12 - 18, 2021