The new cultural trends that have been emerging since the outbreak of the pandemic combine apocalyptic messages and an exacerbated drive for commodification.
First it was truck drivers and cutting workers in Britain and not long after they were joined by healthcare workers. Then, alarms about the cost of “extreme turnover” and the lack of sufficient workers in hospitality and services were raised from the US. The EU, country by country, reported similar headlines. Now news of “labor shortages” is coming even from South Korea. The talking heads of capitalism and the opinion machinery, from Krugman to Fintan O’Toole, respond with a change in their discourse on labor.
The Anglo-Saxon press keeps the origin of Covid’s virus -SARS-CoV-2- as an open question. Scientists however realized long ago that the theory of “escape from the laboratory” has no material basis. The theory of animal origin, defended in the WHO report, strengthens and, far from excusing Chinese capitalism, reveals its most anti-human contradictions… and those of capitalism in general.
A civilizational crisis such as the one capitalism is undergoing is necessarily expressed through culture: from the disappearance of Art in its strict sense to the daily experience of (social) defeatism and the vital emptiness reflected in all the great cultural products of our time. But withthe US abandoning Afghanistan amidst a thousand speeches about the so-called end of the American era one wonders whether we are also facing the decline of American culture, which has been globally hegemonic since the end of the second imperialist world massacre.
This week, in Spain, the ruling against two parents who murdered their two children in Valencia was heard; in the Canary Islands, the corpse, more than 1km deep in the sea of one of the girls who had been kidnapped by her own father was discovered; and in Catalonia a woman confessed to the murder of her own daughter out of spite for her ex-partner and father of the girl. We must ask ourselves why these heinous crimes keep occurring, what produces them and why 20 years of laws and public policies against gender violence have apparently been to no avail.
Vegetarianism, veganism or soylent are not only supermarket choices, they are ideologies fueling a dietary policy. This is not a historical novelty: the ideological apparatuses of antiquity and feudalism already used dietary politics as a tool of power and political domination.
The Italian superminister for climate change began his mandate by going against meat and dairy consumption; the Spanish government in its 2050 plan, presented yesterday, endorses Greenpeace’s doctrine and proposes to halve consumption by raising prices; in Germany ending cheap meat is one of the main proposals of the Green party, which is likely to head the next government. Meat, dairy and other high-quality protein foods are well on their way to becoming luxury products. With the Green Deal, the diet of the working class is once again the terrain of class struggle.
It is common to ascribe a labor theory of value to Das Kapital. But this is incorrect. In fact the opposite is the case. And the difference matters, and very much so, for understanding what capitalism really is and how to fight against it under today’s conditions.
The success of Science of Well-Being, a course taught by Yale University on the Internet to nearly three and a half million students, has become one of the cultural phenomena of the pandemic.
It leaped from Twitch to social networks and from there to the news and the international press: a celebrity youtuber, El Rubius, said he wanted to move to Andorra in order to pay less taxes. Big discovery: over a third of the resident population in the small Pyrenean state are Spaniards and a good part of them define themselves as tax exiles. A flurry of false debates ensued. Are those departing wealth creators? Do taxes redistribute wealth? Do we have less health care or worse schools because of tax evaders? Would the system be better if more taxes were levied?
We have a class, Proletariat, whose struggle, even unconsciously, asserts the possibility and the necessity of the communist future. And which, being completely and universally denied, can only be understood in each moment and in history as a whole, in relation to that future made present by its struggle. In other words, the particular relationship of the proletariat with the future is permanent and constant… even during the darkest periods. For our class there is no longer any stable accommodation possible in present society. The future is everything.
In some of the messages we received from our readers from different parts of the world, this second wave seems to be setting a turning point. In places where struggles seem to have receded after the first wave or failed to develop and gain momentum tamed by union control, the spectre of demoralization looms large.
The more contradictions the system suffers, the more difficult it is to maintain accumulation, the more it needs to atomize and deny us as a class. In doing so, it also destroys what would allow us to better resist the daily consequences of such exploitation: from solidarity among friends and neighbors to family relations, to such basic things as eating decently or keeping our morals up. One cannot separate struggles in the workplace from action in the neighborhoods to defend ourselves from the effects of atomization and to strengthen our capacity for grouping and resistance.
The American ruling class say we are “sighing with relief”. Actually, that is something even they can’t do
The intellectual and moral sterility of the rising blocs today is such that the old churches see their opportunity. The Vatican offers itself as an ideological partner to the European aspirations it encourages and participates in. And so we see the apparent paradox of a European anticlerical left shouting «Long live the Pope!» in the parliaments facing national-catholic right-wing extremists, aligned with the USA, who dream of an anti-Pope. It would be difficult to think of something more grotesque if both parties, supposedly confronted by the application of the right to life to fetuses, did not coincide in denying it to millions of people in their eagerness to «save the economy». That is to say, saving the profitability of capital.
If we accept that whatever supposed “balance” between an “acceptable” number of deaths by Covid and the monetary costs of a new confinement is humanitarian and sensible, what will stop them from using the same cost-benefit morality to justify war?
The culture of a decadent society sterilizes, idiotizes and kills. And this, at this point, is a true rampaging meat grinder leaving only desolation in its wake.
Underneath all this ideological unhinged charivari there is a materiality that can be summed up in two terms: incompetence and incapacity. Incompetence both of the bourgeoisie and it’s theorists to imagine a progressive future, and of the petty bourgeoisie to find a way of articulating its interests capable of dragging the rest of the social whole, that is, to organize and create what they themselves call a people.
It is significant that the current crisis is also an ideological crisis, that is, a crisis of the discourses that underpin the social domination of capital. It shows the historical exhaustion of the state capitalism in which we live. It is the other side of its inability to prevent the devaluation of capital.
US is loosing its power to encourage new global ideologies and movements. The renationalization of production chains also means the renationalization of information agendas and imaginaries.
The insistence on “neoliberalism” was in fact the insistence on the validity of an “alternative capitalism”, reformed and allegedly possible. In other words, it was not even reformist, because reformism intended the possibility of overcoming capitalism through reforms, and these only aspired to make it livable… without managing to be less utopian and therefore reactionary.
Capitalism is definitely an upside-down world and “social justice” is the most cynical expression of this absurdity. Reducing contagion by closing factories is presented as being in the particular interest of the workers, while avoiding further damage to corporate profits would be the “common good”. The common sacrifice is thus, always and in any case, that of the workers: some “recovering” hours when the health crisis subsides, others going to work because their work is essential… so that the average profitability of national capital does not suffer.
Just as with Economic Theory and its experts , social knowledge and the needs of capital diverge because human needs and capital accumulation are increasingly antagonistic. The “expert” then becomes a stuntman whose task is to justify policies and to reassure the population.
The 8th of March, “International Day of Solidarity among Proletarian Women,” was born in 1910 from the Second International, in order to promote the mobilization of proletarian women, an indissoluble and necessary part of the universal class and the emancipatory movement of the working class. It was originally a mobilization for universal suffrage through the organization of working women in the class struggle. Century and a bit later, it is something very different.