[Marxism] Joe Bageant on Dead Capitalism

David Thorstad binesi at gvtel.com
Thu Jul 22 17:39:15 MDT 2010

OK, so this is not a "true Marxist" critique of capitalism, but it 
resonates nonetheless. At least to me as an organic gardener. And as a 
former member of a left party (U.S. SWP). I clearly recall the polyanna 
view of agriculture that prevailed back when I joined in the late 
sixties in the agricultural state of Minnesota (and probably in the 
party as a whole). The SWP line was that the cruel and heartless 
elimination of the family farm by the capitalist system was actually a 
service in the long run to the revolutionary socialist movement, by 
removing an "inefficient" producer and consolidating agriculture in big 
farms run by agribusiness. Big capitalism in agriculture was supposedly 
actually helping to solve a problem that otherwise would have to be 
dealt with AFTER the "Socialist Revolution." Overpopulation, a 
tangential issue, was dismissed as a silly capitalist hoodwink. 
Socialism would be so rationally organized that it would have no problem 
producing food for however big the Earth's breeding population became. 
What a crock of bullshit.
     It amazes me today at how gullible and superficial "our" 
know-it-all-isms were in those days, pre-Earth Day and everything that 
has followed from it.
> Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball: Capitalism is dead, but we still dance 
> with the corpse (July 06, 2010)
> http://www.joebageant.com/joe/2010/07/waltzing.html
> As an Anglo European white guy from a very long line of white guys, I 
> want to thank all the brown, black, yellow and red people for a 
> marvelous three-century joy ride. During the past 300 years of the 
> industrial age, as Europeans, and later as Americans, we have managed 
> to consume infinitely more than we ever produced, thanks to 
> colonialism, crooked deals with despotic potentates and good old 
> gunboats and grapeshot. Yes, we have lived, and still live, 
> extravagant lifestyles far above the rest of you. And so, my sincere 
> thanks to all of you folks around the world working in sweatshops, or 
> living on two bucks a day, even though you sit on vast oil deposits. 
> And to those outside my window here in Mexico this morning, the two 
> guys pruning the retired gringo's hedges with what look like pocket 
> knives, I say, keep up the good work. It's the world's cheap labor 
> guys like you -- the black, brown and yellow folks who take it up the 
> shorts -- who make capitalism look like it actually works. So keep on 
> humping. Remember: We've got predator drones. After twelve generations 
> of lavish living at the expense of the rest of the world, it is 
> understandable that citizens of the so-called developed countries have 
> come to consider it quite normal. In fact, Americans expect it to 
> become plusher in the future, increasingly chocked with techno 
> gadgetry, whiz bang processed foodstuffs, automobiles, entertainments, 
> inordinately large living spaces -- forever.
> (...) Still though, the foundation of the world, including our entire 
> economic structure, is nature. This is clear to anyone who has ever, 
> planted a garden, hiked in the woods, gone fishing or been gnawed on 
> by chiggers./ In vis est exordium quod terminus./ Yet, not one in a 
> thousand economists takes nature into account. Nature has no place in 
> contemporary economics, or the economic policy of today's industrial 
> nations. Again, like the general American public, these economists are 
> not in denial. They simply don't know it's there. Historically, nature 
> has never been considered even momentarily because economists, like 
> the public, never figured they would run out of it. With the Gulf oil 
> "spill" at full throttle, the terrible destruction of nature is 
> becoming obvious. But no economist who values his or her career wants 
> to start figuring the cost of ecocide into pricing analysis. For god 
> sake man, it's a cost! With industrial society chewing the ass out of 
> Mama Nature for three centuries, something had to give, and it has. 
> Capitalists, however, remain unimpressed by global warming, or melting 
> polar ice caps, or Southwestern desert armadillos showing up in 
> Canada, or hurricanes getting bigger and more numerous every year. 
> They are impressed by the potential dough in the so-called green 
> economy. In fact, last night I watched an economist on CNN say that if 
> the government had let the free market take care of the BP gulf 
> catastrophe, it would not be the clusterfuck it is now. Now THAT might 
> qualify as denial. In the mean time, anthropogenic ecocide and 
> resource depletion, coupled with the pressures of six billion mouths 
> and asses across the globe, have started to produce -- surprise 
> surprise, Sheriff Taylor! -- very real effects on world economies. 
> (How could they not?) So far though, in the simplistic see-spot-run 
> American mind, it's all about dead pelicans and oiled up hotel beaches.
> (...) If we decide to believe the money economy still exists, and that 
> debt is indeed wealth, then we damned sure know where to go looking 
> for the wealth. Globally, forty percent of it is in the paws of the 
> wealthiest one percent. Nearly all of that one percent are connected 
> to the largest and richest corporations. Just before the economy blew 
> out, these elites held slightly less than $80 trillion. After the 
> blowout/bailout, their combined investment wealth was estimated at a 
> little over $83 trillion. To give some idea, this is four years of the 
> gross output of all the human beings on earth. It is only logical that 
> these elites say the only way to revive the economy, which to them 
> consists entirely of the money economy, is to continue to borrow money 
> from them.
> (...) From the outset, capitalism was always about the theft of the 
> people's sustenance. It was bound to lead to the ultimate theft -- the 
> final looting of the source of their sustenance -- nature. Now that 
> capitalism has eaten its own seed corn, the show is just about over, 
> with the nastiest scenes yet to play out around water, carbon energy 
> (or anything that expends energy), soil and oxygen. For the near 
> future however, it will continue to play out around money. As the 
> economy slowly implodes, money will become more volatile stuff than it 
> already is. The value and availability of money is sure to fluctuate 
> wildly. Most people don't have the luxury of escaping the money 
> economy, so they will be held hostage and milked hard again by the 
> same people who just drained them in the bailouts. As usual, the 
> government will be right there to see that everybody plays by the 
> rules. Those who have always benefited by capitalism's rules will 
> benefit more. That cadre of "money professionals" which holds captive 
> the nation's money supply, and runs things according to the rules of 
> money, can never lose money. It writes the rules. And rewrites them 
> when it suits the money elite's interests. Capitalism, the Christian 
> god, democracy, the Constitution. It's all one ball of wax, one set of 
> rules in the American national psyche. Thus, the money masters behind 
> the curtain will write The New Rules, the new tablets of supreme law, 
> and call them Reform. There will be rejoicing that "the will of the 
> people" has once again moved upon the land, and that the democracy's 
> scripture has once again been delivered by the unseen hand of God.

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