Why it is reasonable to be anti-capitalist

Man always made war; man is fundamentally selfish; capitalism always existed and always will exist; Despite its defects, the capitalist system is the least bad of the systems; Capitalism is the only model that has demonstrated its abilities. All other societies ended in catastrophes. These statements that are heard everywhere, and for a long time, fulfill a very precise function: to nullify any serious debate, any critical analysis and any alternative proposal to the economic model in which we live.

Accepting these statements prevents us from seeing what is fundamental: we live in a world based on exploitation, poverty and inequalities. We also live in a world that is immersed in a global, planetary crisis, unprecedented in the history of humanity. These statements, by leading us to retreat into ourselves and to fatalism, also prevent us from becoming responsible citizens who put their energies and intelligence at the service of an emancipatory project.

If we want to fight social injustice in the most efficient way possible, it is necessary to deconstruct, combat and overcome these assertions that are nothing more than antiphrases and preconceived ideas. It is necessary to accept that humanity must find the means to advance in a concrete way through another path other than capitalism. It won't be easy at all. The road will be long and with multiple obstacles, but it is the only solution if we want to build that other possible world, socially just and respectful of nature. Nowadays, being anti-capitalist is urgent, necessary and reasonable.

1. Being anti-capitalist is simple, coherent and morally fair

First of all, what does it mean to be anti-capitalist? According to the dictionary, he or she who opposes capitalism is anti-capitalist (1). But what is capitalism? It is an economic and social model whose fundamental values ​​are: profit, private ownership of the means of production, competition, and economic growth.

Indeed, being anti-capitalist is very simple: it is only being against the fact that profit, private ownership of the means of production, competition, selfishness and economic growth constitute the fundamental values ​​that determine our human societies.

Being anti-capitalist is not the same as being a communist, Leninist, Stalinist, Trotskyist, anarchist, or other "-ists" of this type. Being anti-capitalist does not mean "defending" regimes such as Stalin's Soviet Union, Pol Pot's Cambodia, Mao's China or today's China. Being anti-capitalist does not mean rejecting "progress" and living miserably, refusing to accept everything that comes from this society. Living in a system and being against it is not the same nor is it incompatible.

To be anti-capitalist is to think that these values ​​(profit, private property, competition and growth) should not and cannot constitute the basis of a socially just society, respectful of nature, supportive and emancipatory for humanity.

2. The capitalist system failed to improve people's lives

On the side of the defenders of capitalism, one often hears statements such as: Obviously, capitalism is not perfect, no system is. But we must not forget that capitalism has allowed an improvement in living conditions for millions of people. For example, people have never reached such an advanced age. Let us also not forget that it is thanks to capitalism that millions of people were able to access technologies such as television, aviation, cars, mobile phones, and the Internet.

It cannot be denied that there is a grain of truth in that statement but it is very small, almost minuscule. Because? We must begin by remembering that most of the wealth that some of us benefit from was created on the basis of the exploitation of people and the plundering of their natural resources. What has been the price paid for allowing a minority of human beings to “benefit” or “enjoy” a high standard of living and the so-called “progress”? How many wars, how many crimes against humanity, human and ecological catastrophes have been necessary to achieve such "progress"?

On the other hand, capitalism is current in almost all economies on the planet and has become globalized, that is, all these economies are interconnected. This implies that a serious assessment of capitalism can only be done on a global scale and the question must be asked: how many human beings have benefited and are really benefiting from this system? Let us remember here that according to the World Bank more than half of humanity lives in poverty. For these 3.000 billion beings, the concern is not television, the Internet or other technological goods. It is about working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, to obtain enough resources for the family to survive, simply to not die. And if we talk about "reaching an advanced age", we must not forget that all United Nations reports show that life expectancy fell in several countries, reaching, for example, 41 years in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In the South as in the North, the majority of citizens, social movements and international institutions admit that the current situation is inhuman and intolerable. Millions of human beings cannot satisfy their fundamental needs. They lack drinking water, sufficient food and decent accommodation, and they also lack access to healthcare and education. Therefore, the capitalist system failed to improve people's lives or put an end to the great plagues that make humanity suffer. Worse still, in the last thirty years, that is, since the implementation of neoliberal capitalism, the situation has deteriorated in both the North and the South of the planet. When considering the situation from a global point of view, the balance of capitalism is extremely negative.

3. The crisis we face is, neither more nor less, a crisis of the capitalist system

The current situation (social, economic, ecological...) is terrible, since it has been deteriorating over the last thirty years, and that is the reality that must be taken into account. Furthermore, another fundamental question must be asked: How will the situation evolve in the short or medium term? Which direction are we going? Towards an improvement or a worsening? Without being a fortune teller, the answer to this question is quite obvious. It is painful but we must accept it honestly and without falling into catastrophism: not only is there a risk that the situation will continue to deteriorate but it may even lead to mere human survival being in danger. It is clear that humanity must face several crises of unprecedented planetary scope: food, financial, economic, ecological, migratory, energy, and civilizational crises.

When one investigates the details of these crises, one quickly realizes that they are not the result of "bad management" or the absence of rules, but rather the product of nature and the logic of capitalism itself. A system whose only objective is maximum short-term profit, whatever the social and ecological consequences caused. This analysis offers us an additional reason to be anti-capitalist, and to seek, find and implement solutions that are framed in a process of rupture against this system and that, therefore, place the satisfaction of fundamental needs at the center of all options. political and economic.

4. Capitalism cannot be humanized

Another very important question is whether capitalism is capable of reversing this trend. According to the dominant discourse, we should make reasonable a capitalism that would have gone crazy. The financial crisis would be the result of unacceptable behavior by some capitalists and therefore it would be about "saving capitalism from the capitalists." To reverse the current trend and get out of the crisis, we should re-found capitalism, humanize it, returning to greater regulation.

Now there has been a change in relation to the neoliberal discourses of the last thirty years. But we must be careful not to confuse speeches with reality. State interventions in the economy, such as rescue plans for the financial sector, are not intended to defend the popular classes, but rather to save the capitalist system to resume growth and, consequently, restore the profits of the capitalists. It is about managing the crisis by regulating the system provisionally to avoid total bankruptcy, and then distributing on the same bases as always. The chances of them managing to relaunch growth are slim. All the figures and all the reports from international institutions indicate that, without radical change, we will enter a deep and long crisis. The banking and financial sector continues; the economic has become widespread. The crisis is now global.

In any case, within the framework of the current correlation of forces, there is no government that puts system change on the agenda. It has not done so until now and is not preparing to do so. What governments are preparing (and have already started) is to make workers and people pay for the crisis. It is about applying the usual recipe, that is, the privatization of profits and the socialization of losses. For them, the issue is resolved by waiting for the crisis to end and for business to re-emerge. Is that founding capitalism again? Is that what we want? Some limited rules, a bit of interventionism, speeches about the need to put an end to tax havens. However, no measure stated is truly urgent to avoid the worst at this time, but rather to relapse into an even deeper crisis in the coming years. And we say: No!

In a long-term perspective it is not possible to humanize or rationalize capitalism. There is no “good” and “bad” capitalism. The search for maximum short-term profit, private ownership of the large means of production, the unlimited exploitation of workers, speculation, competition, the promotion of individual private interest to the detriment of collective interest, the frenetic accumulation of wealth by a handful of individuals or wars are inherent characteristics of the capitalist system. Capitalism does not have a human face but that of barbarism. Capital cares little about the destruction of the planet, whether children work, whether people eat or not eat, whether they have a home or not, whether they have medicine when they get sick or a pension when they get old. No, none of that matters to capitalism. To confront the crisis it is necessary to go to the root of the problem and implement alternatives as quickly as possible to end the capitalist system.

5. Utopia is not what it is said to be

Capitalism is not capable of realizing this "alternative", since it cannot guarantee the universal satisfaction of fundamental human needs. Capitalism cannot and does not want to get involved in the great social and ecological challenges of our time. Once this idea is accepted, the logical thing is to consider abandoning capitalism and building another model. And it is at this moment that the fight against capitalist ideology really begins. Indeed, the great victory of capitalism is having managed to instill in the majority of minds the idea that another model is not only impossible but, above all, very dangerous.

“You don't have to dream. Capitalism always existed and always will exist. There have always been wars and there always will be. There has always been poverty and inequalities and there always will be! Those who claim otherwise are utopians. We must look at the truth in the face: man is fundamentally selfish and since the dawn of time he has always sought profit and capitalism assumes it. Capitalism is the natural order of human societies. Creating another model in which everything was shared is not only unthinkable but would automatically lead to a catastrophe. Just look at what happened in Russia with its 100 million deaths to be convinced of this.”

At first glance, these ideologies have an overall coherence and permeate our daily lives in such a way that it is not easy to fight against them. It is not easy but it is possible and it is necessary to do it.

First: It is necessary to remember that capitalism, in its current form, has existed for just three centuries. On all continents, civilizations developed during the preceding millennia that did not know capitalism. It did not always exist, it was born in the interstices of feudal society a dozen centuries ago and came to dominate the Western scene in its industrial form just two years ago. In other parts of the world, its imposition was later. Therefore, it only represents a minimal part in the history of our humanity. Capitalism has not always existed and will not exist forever. On the other hand, it is about the pure survival of humanity. And this can be organized in another way, without capitalism.

Second: Since it was created by man, it can be said that capitalism is a human model. But, above all, it is necessary to add that capitalism is inhuman, since it feeds everything that is most negative in man: competition, selfishness, individualism, etc. Make no mistake, competition and selfishness, on an individual level and in moderation, have nothing wrong and can even have some positive aspects. There is selfishness in each of us, no one can deny it, but there is also solidarity and altruism. And that is the most important thing: do we live in a society that nourishes and reinforces solidarity and cooperation or in a society that does so for competition and selfishness? In a more general way, we must ask ourselves if selfishness and the search for profit, which are the basis of the capitalist system, can be the engines of the construction of a socially just society, respectful of nature, supportive and emancipatory for humanity. Of course not!

Third: It must be stated categorically that the society we must build must not, in any case, resemble the so-called socialist experiences of the 20th century. Although the Stalinist regimes in the Soviet bloc, Pol Pot's in Cambodia or Mao's China are traumatic experiences that must be criticized with energy and seriousness, we must not forget that external factors have systematically been underestimated in the explanation of the failures of previous socialist experiences. It is evident that a socialist system, that is, a system that puts social needs above those of capital, contradicts the interests of capitalists. If it were certain that a model based on cooperation and exchange cannot work, then why have the capitalist powers dedicated so much time, energy and money to ideologically combat, politically destabilize, financially suffocate and militarily overthrow the regimes they Did you want to go down that path? Why were Patrice Lumumba in the Congo, Salvador Allende in Chile, Mossadegh in Iran and Thomas Sankara in Burkina Faso assassinated by the Northern powers? They did it because these leaders wanted to apply policies that went against the logic of profit. Why were Mobutu, Pinochet, the Shah of Iran or Compaoré supported technically and economically for more than thirty years? Because they agreed to maintain a system based on the transfer of wealth from the working classes to the capitalist classes.

And weren't Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, the expansionist and militarist Japanese regime (before and during the Second World War), General Franco, General Salazar, the apartheid regime enthusiastic followers of capitalism? They were responsible for tens of millions of deaths.

Finally, to those who affirm that thinking about another model and acting to implement it is not realistic, we must simply answer that what is not realistic is to think that humanity will be able to continue living within the current model. Let us remember that the balance of capitalism speaks for itself: it has brought nothing but poverty, inequalities and an exhausted planet. Consequently, it is necessary and urgent to abandon this model and invent another. Another model is possible and we must think collectively about how to implement it. It is an affront to human creativity to think that we are not capable of doing it. Humanity needs a utopia that, instead of being a brake, is an engine to break with the logic of fatality and propose concrete measures, here and now, and at the same time offer interesting perspectives for the human community.

6. We must reinvent XNUMXst century socialism

Faced with the dramatic experiences of real socialism of the last century, the society to be built, which could be called socialism of the 21st century or ecosocialism, must constitute a deeply democratic and self-managed response to the negative experiences of the past. Faced with this global crisis of the capitalist system, it is necessary to implement anti-capitalist, socialist and revolutionary policies that necessarily integrate the feminist, environmentalist, internationalist and anti-racist dimension. It is necessary to articulate these different dimensions in a coherent way so that they are fully integrated into the projects of 21st century socialism.

It is absolutely possible to guarantee social justice in Belgium, in Europe and anywhere in the world. It is absolutely possible to move towards a model that, respecting nature, ensures that each person has adequate housing, quality food, decent and well-paid work, social protection, access to health, education and transportation. However, we have to go further. We must establish a true democracy. Of course, political democracy, where citizens take part, specifically, in the major choices that determine the nature and functioning of our societies. But economic democracy is also needed where another distribution of wealth is possible, which is combined with control of this wealth by those who produce it, that is, the workers in the cities and the countryside.

But that won't come alone. It will need to be a conscious and collective choice. At the moment it is true that there are not enough forces to overthrow capitalism. But in all parts of the planet and on different scales, social, economic, democratic, original and self-managed alternatives are being launched. More and more people think that we have the right to live in a system other than the capitalist order. More and more people think that another world is not only possible, but that it is necessary and urgent to build it here and now. As citizens of the world, our task is to use these concrete experiences and fight in the best way to build and organize all anti-capitalist forces.

It is about building a model in which the needs of the people are at the center of political decisions. A world in which cooperation, mutual aid, sharing and solidarity are more important than competition and competition. A world where there is space for debate and where citizens are no longer considered ignorant. Although there is no reason to rejoice about the crisis, since it will hit (and already hits) hundreds of millions of people, both in the North and the South of the planet, it nevertheless has an advantage: it breaks all the neoliberal ideologies and shows the true face of governments that systematically act in the interests of the rich. We need to look around us and reappropriate politics. Politics are not governments. Politics is not complicated nor is it a matter for specialists. Politics is us, with our differences, our knowledge, our energy, our creativity and our poetry.

7. Struggle does not cause sadness. On the contrary

With injustices so great and us so weak in relation to power, it is often heard, particularly among young people who are trying to change things, that the task is impossible and that, inevitably, the only result will be to make us sad. It isn't true. Analyzing the world in which we live, becoming aware of its deeply unjust character and making the decision to fight as best we can against that injustice is to understand the place we must occupy in society, and the role that, with humility, we can play. This, instead of saddening us, should allow us to become aware of ourselves and give meaning to our passage on earth.

Have to fight. Collectively demand measures that go against the interests of capitalists and those who support them. It will be necessary to mobilize and be on the street. It will be necessary for the people to regain control of their future. The revolution will be made in the streets and at the polls. As Marx remembers, it is up to the people to liberate themselves and for themselves. The road will be long and full of obstacles. The model we want will remain an unfinished process full of contradictions, failures, but also joys and victories. However, the path is as important as the ideal we want to achieve. And it is not because we are going against the current that we are walking in the wrong direction. Marx tells us that the history of humanity is the history of class struggle.

No one needs the certainty of victory to undertake (a fight) or of achieving success to persevere (in it). www.ecoportal.net

Author Olivier Bonfond - Translation Virginia de Romanet y Griselda Piñero . Published in www.cadtm.org


(1) This is the definition given by Le Nouveau Petit Robert of 1993. In the DRAE the term does not exist

1 comment on “Why it is reasonable to be anti-capitalist”

  1. I fully agree with the article, in addition to rethinking the form of active participation in the territory, assembly, horizontal, also respecting free expression no matter how simple or innocent it may be... everything serves to grow... I am aware that I may not see substantial changes in this life but I console myself with the fact that my grandson may do it, that is, the changes will come slowly but they will come... there are more and more groups and assemblies. self-convened people who are defending territory, proposing alternatives... denouncing and resisting... and it is evident that we are bothering capitalism because the response is harsher, that is, more repression by national and provincial governments... what is important to me is the inner work that each of us must do, to be more assertive and supportive... control the ego, and enhance the values ​​that unite us...

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