The spiral of the capitalist crisis

Image: Axel Vandenhirtz


Considerations on the historical process of the aggravation of contradictions in the development of capitalism

The imperialist wars, the serious crisis of international relations between capitalist nations, the neo-fascist extreme right offensive that is growing in several nations of the western world, including Brazil, express the structural crisis of the capital system as a whole. And they spread not only through the world of economics and finance, but also through all domains of social, political and cultural life in the face of the deepening of the fragmented and, at the same time, totalizing, irrational and anarchic character of capitalist production. An issue that shapes contemporary history, the increasing degradation of human life as an inevitable consequence of the mode of reproduction that shapes the various experiences of the human condition.

In general terms, we can say that we are facing a new way in which capital is starting to operate, not only to expropriate and confiscate the possibilities of realization of the social being who works, but also to maintain control and domination over all who produce and generate wealth. It is at this stage that individuals are exhausted, threatened by the relentless demands that manifest themselves in horrendous situations of public health pandemics, uncontrollable destruction of nature, unemployment, misery and a deepening crisis in the scale of values ​​and subjectivities of society. bourgeoisie that fulfills the functional role of ensuring the cohesion of the social, cultural and moral fabric.

It is in this context that the proliferation of depression and suicides emerges, expressing the decrease in the ability to feel pleasure in life and a sense of happiness in the face of the fragmentation of social experience, under a reality in which capitalism leads the individual to consider that he is the only source of meaning for himself, emptying the relationships and public spaces that allow him to share in a collective and social way the very meaning of life.

A process that generates immense relationships of alienation with their real world, isolation and emptiness, at the same time that resentments and frustrations of individuals grow before their own lives, which are found in an increasingly brutalized social reality, where the violence and the sense of solidarity between individuals is emptied. This irremediably implies a decomposition of capitalist sociability and a clear relative weakening of the State and institutions that have the function of guaranteeing legitimacy and social and political cohesion.

The description of these phenomena can only be understood in greater depth if we place ourselves within the framework of the capitalist system in the face of its unavoidable contradictions, which are exacerbated and frighten humanity, which currently finds itself fearful of the irrationality and destructiveness generated by the system to face internal barriers. and external that capital itself poses to itself, and sees them as a challenge and a need to overcome them. And it always aims to seek solutions to respond to reproduction difficulties that hinder its objective needs to feed and feed back its own mode of production, avoiding strangulation of the system.

The strategy pursued to overcome the aforementioned barriers and limits, which are immanent to capital itself within the framework of its historical crises, as Marx says, tends to reappear recurrently and on a more powerful and complex scale in the world economy within the world's devaluation of the capital that is faced with its falling profitability even before the covid crisis.

Palliative solutions, sometimes through the injection of public funds into the economy to avoid deep recessions, sometimes through neoliberal reforms, although they served to stop the destructive process of devaluation in the short term, have not been able to contain the contradictory movements at this stage of development of capitalism. For this very reason, since the 1980s on a world scale, two interrelated phenomena have begun: the discrepancy between the growth of global financial assets in relation to the slowdown in global GDP and low profitability, producing devastating economic, social and political realities.

The solution found to contain the bloodletting, the neoliberal reforms to cure this crisis that has been dragging on since the 1970s, engendered the erosion of the legitimacy of the structures of liberal and formal democracy. At the same time, it has demonstrated its inability to solve, in a structural, strategic and stable way, the problems caused by its own development within the framework of the so-called “virtuous globalization”, which has been stuck and without a clear way out for the future since the 2007-2008 crisis. This crisis had its origin in the overaccumulation of capital that had been getting worse since the end of the last century and has exploded in recent times with the process of concentration and centralization of capital with monopolies and oligopolies of industrial companies, which have become more dependent on financial capital. and its corporations.

With that, we can say that we are facing the corollary of a historical process of the aggravation of the contradictions of the development of capitalism. From its origins as a European phenomenon, it was structured around “primitive accumulation” (Marx, 2013), and advanced further through the colonial and neocolonial violence that characterized mercantilism and the capitalist empires of the XNUMXth and early XNUMXth centuries, which they aimed at the occupation of territories, looting and spoliation of natural resources (raw materials) for industry and the conquest of new markets.

At the same time that it generated, in an integrated and global way, a perverse expropriation of the social workforce subjected to subhuman relations, which over time takes on an apparently different nature, but without changing its essentiality: the subtraction of the full development of the human condition to meet an internal, organic logic of accumulation and profitability on a national and global scale.

Thus, from the beginning of the XNUMXth century to the present day, the development of capitalism and imperialism, characterized by an unequal and dependent relationship between nation-states and the imperatives of the world expansion of the capitalist economy, expresses a violent contradiction that grows constantly and cannot be overcome within the institutional framework of liberal democracy in capitalist societies. Because, with the growth of new and old existing internal and external barriers in the course of the dynamics of the productive forces, reproduction and expansion for the increase of capital accumulation, it became impossible to guarantee stability and balance between the nature of capitalism and the institutionality of so-called “democratic and republican” reality.

It is a reality that has been expressing itself no longer as a “trend” but as present facts that we are experiencing, and it extends within what the social democrats and the social-liberal left call “democratic capitalism”, or the construction naive idea of ​​a “green capitalism”, where it is assumed that there is a lot of money to be made and enormous possibilities for lucrative business. A logic in which everything is carried out in harmony with the ecosystems and the demands of development, production, progress and consumption; conditions in which everyone benefits in a “friendly”, “responsible” and rational relationship.

By abstracting the existence of the imperatives of capital compulsion within the laws of competition, which operates to meet the needs of accumulation and profitability, these currents of thought end up not taking into account the expansive and uncontrollable dynamics of the capitalist process that develops from irrational, amoral and exempt from any ethical standard and any humanistic pretension. A dynamic that is scathingly and penetratingly synthesized by Marx: “Accumulate! It's Moses and the prophets! Industry supplies the material that savings accumulate. So save, save, that is, convert as much surplus value or by-product as possible into capital! Accumulation for the sake of accumulation, production for the sake of production, in this formula classical economics expressed the historical vocation of the bourgeois period” (Marx, 1977: 677). And when this dynamic is at risk, does not prosper and its movement is threatened, the bourgeoisie that embodies and personifies these interests unleashes, on the political level, all its coup-mongering and repressive fury to destroy resistance – even those with moderate, progressive characteristics. and reformists.

This process develops through the economic and political power of the State that aims to restructure capitalism, which currently takes place through the neoliberal form in a radicalized stage of application of its principles and macroeconomic policies to counteract, amazingly, the serious consequences caused by the internal dynamics of the ontological determinations of the logic of capital. That impacts the whole of society and its social relations of production.

It is an irrational movement with no turning back, where the capital appreciation process begins to reveal and deepen its contradictions, exposing its structural and historical limits of real appreciation centered particularly on productive activity. All of this worsens from 1970 onwards, when a change in the organic structure of capital takes place, reversing the hegemony and the command of valorization towards the control of its financial fraction, which finds its last refuge in the fictitious and rentier world.

This is the basis on which neoliberal macroeconomic policies are founded in the capitalist world, led by hegemonic Western imperialist countries, having as their flagship the prevalence of money on a global scale of speculation and financialization of the economy, society and human life. And of course, it relies on the State to foster and build militarization with ultra-advanced war technologies from nation-states and which, in inter-imperialist international disputes, aims to use it to guarantee hegemonic interests. As a result, the possibility of new wars marked by geostrategic interests grows in international relations, such as China and Russia, which challenge the supremacy of the North American capitalist superpower and its allies.

Indeed, unlike Ellen M. Wood's analysis, the fact that these nations are dependent on the world market with the national bases of rival states does not constitute an impossibility of reaching the verge of an international conflagration of total war.[I]. Because, although today there is a greater complexity in the relations between nation-states, shaped by international relations and the form of globalized reproduction, it cannot be interpreted as an absolute obstacle that makes the confrontation of fratricidal wars unlikely that will drag all of humanity to a scene of horrors.

Thus, we must understand that the basis for explaining this phenomenon and trends lies elsewhere, stemming from a need to operate the goals of valuing productive and fictitious capital in its dialectical and contradictory relationship on a world scale. This is expressed in the deepening of inequality, in the objective and concrete social relations of oppression and exploitation of the social being divided into classes all over the world. That throughout history has been configured as relationships that have become universal and dominant in the form of material, social and cultural production of life, in short, of human existence in the dark tunnel of the means of capitalist production that has expanded through an accumulative process of goods material and financial wealth

This movement always relied on the State, which since the beginning of the XNUMXth century has become hypermilitarized and with unimaginable forms of social and repressive control. Ready, if necessary, to crush internal and external enemies who resist or threaten the expansion of national and international interests of the bourgeoisies of imperialist nation-states, personifying the hegemonic control of the world reproduction of material and non-material commodities.

However, it should be noted that in this full historical development of capitalist society none of its contradictions were resolved in the sense of a stable and balanced adequacy between the objective needs of accumulation of real capital values ​​with and the demands for the satisfaction of social well-being. But, even so, there have never ceased to be theoretical, political and ideological efforts aimed at justifying the capitalist order and giving the nature of this development a natural and infinite dimension.

In terms of more classical ideas, this was the case of the normative thinking of political economy and classical philosophy (Adam Smith, Ricardo, Hegel, Hobbes, Kant and Locke), which resulted in the creation of a universalist utopia of bourgeois ideology on the reality of capitalist societies. However, as in the past and currently, the followers of this thought are faced with the sharpening of the contradictions and destructive consequences that produce the aforementioned utopia.

For this very reason, it is illustrative to point out that the foundations of the supposed freedom of the market as a condition sine qua non for the existence of political freedom and “universal” capitalist democracy, it has become a fiction coated with countless farces of supposed natural balances of the market and the realization of the particularities of individuals based on private property and bourgeois democracy. For, the essence of this universality goes beyond its apparent characteristics of the real and immediate world, its formal character of freedom under capitalism since it resides in the competitive pursuit of profit as a reason for being and existing.

Even more so when we consider that history is an open and complex process, since the second half of the XNUMXth century and the beginning of the XNUMXst, when it is possible to demonstrate that the idea of ​​linear “universal progress” in terms of Eurocentric thought is nothing more than a fable , an ideological construction that only serves to justify existing production structures[ii]; which historically resulted in patriarchalism, racism, the capitalist social order constructed through a specific form of sociability, where social subjects move like zombies without a clear and certain direction. Meanwhile, the “masters of the world” pathetically and tragically play the role of protagonists in endless wars, leading humanity to the sunset of its development.

But far from a close end that moves in a linear and spontaneous way, the social and political forces that personify and support these interests will resort to all means to “save” the system. Not mattering, of course, the damage that this policy will cause, since at the political level they are willing to support the advance of neo-fascist forces, militarism, terrorism and political repression as a defense against the reactions of civil society and the social classes that are forced to pay the price of the crisis itself, in addition to supporting the hegemonic neoliberal order plunged into a financial, fiscal and economic crisis of nation-states that find themselves with no way out.

For, the economic resources used, like credit capitalism with the purpose of reviving the banks and fictitious capital, generating a political framework capable of "stabilizing" the bourgeois "democratic" regimes, no longer work, they are no longer capable of to pacify the interests of bourgeois factions and social demands.

Indeed, we are entering a time of crisis of legitimation of capitalism that marches erratically to suspend or, at least, contain the lack of control of this situation of crisis. To this end, it seeks, on the one hand, to resort to the unlimited use of money from central banks that print money and more money in sufficient quantity to quench the thirst of capital in order to save it from bankruptcy and restore its profitability; on the other, it imposes neoliberal reforms, raising the rate of exploitation within the framework of a “globalized” economy that is extremely predatory in the face of the needs inherent in production that struggles against the regeneration and conservation of the natural environment. And as it should be, all of this is operated through the instrumentalization of State policy to expand and share the advantages between transnational and national companies that have captured financial institutions and political organizations worldwide with the objective of guaranteeing their strategic economic interests.

For this reason, it is clear why capitalists are willing to challenge the laws and limits of the system's relationship with nature, converted into an object of appropriation and expropriation that meets the imperatives of capital in its logic of reproduction and accelerated accumulation of generation of both “real” and fictitious value in their contradictory, immanent, and dialectical unity. As a spiral movement that affects social cohesion itself and the real factors necessary to maintain the legitimacy of the social order and its State. Meanwhile, without any rational control, they continue to privatize all public and social goods, lower wages, cut rights and deepen the lack of necessary conditions for social well-being in all areas. All in the name of “austerity”, of “fiscal control” to effectively “save” or “improve” life and the economy, towards the resumption of its development with unlimited increase in profitability.

As neoliberal ideologues and the corporate media say, this is the way out, the future that awaits us; are always spreading supposed economic “resumes” to demonstrate that everything is nothing more than a matter of cycles in the development of the economy of the capitalist mode of production, since speculative bubbles will soon be overcome and enter new stable periods of economic growth. achievement of new levels of values ​​and profitability on a national and global scale. Such hopes, in the first place, do not concern the recovery of the living conditions of the classes that truly produce social wealth, which, through the social force of work, set in motion the social and economic machinery of the system that is today immersed in into stagnation, characterized by generalized declines in profitability and in the accumulation of capital originating from the production of real values ​​of productive activities.

The greatest expression of this impasse is the undisputed result of the emergence of financialization that resulted from a displacement of the productive sector as a central and hegemonic fraction to give way to fictitious capital. Which reflects a new context in which capital has to be daily intoxicated to support the uncertainties and imbalances fostered by the characteristics of its fictitious fraction, devoid of real values ​​and material foundations for its reproduction, and which now, in order to continue existing and balancing itself, it needs the sharpening of its own contradictions, generating frequent scenarios of economic and political crises within the bourgeois order that opted for the liberal pattern of development; many dependent and peripheral countries, limited by a subordinate insertion in the world economy, find themselves in an aggravated way in a process of deindustrialization, primarization and financialization of the economy. In addition to renouncing a national project of scientific and technological development and state control of its main sources of energy and natural resources.

In this way, the construction of a single logic and ideology of social and material development dominant in society was engendered, constituted by a “specific form of capitalism” and social conscience, materially anchored and sustained in increasingly disposable production and social relations. , provisional in which the crisis becomes capital's state of being and reproducing itself. However, “its persistence is due to the fact that it is objectively constituted (and constantly reconstituted) as an inevitable practical conscience of class societies, related to the set of values ​​and strategies that try to control the social metabolism in all its principles and aspects”.[iii]

Along this path, other peoples and subaltern classes – outside Eurocentric references and the social metabolism of the dominant order – are virulently prevented from developing a social conscience that envisions the idea of ​​becoming subjects that transform reality and their lives. In this way, what the dominant classes of capitalist and imperialist countries, as well as those of dependent nations, have done until today is to keep the subordinate classes without political and economic protagonism, converting history into the history of the winners, that is, of the dominators, colonizers and imperialists.

This was the obvious result of the “modernization” process led by the logic of capital that the West imposed on the rest of the world as an expression of a supposed “new civilization” that would have its central point of development and irreplaceable hegemony from the capitalist West. Which would presumably lead the world to full democratization modeled and hegemonized by the West, with the main actor – from the Second World War onwards, the North Americans and their imperialist vassals of the European Union and allies.

With this, according to liberal ideologues, resuming Kant's philosophical and political idealism, "universal peace" would be reached, founded and supported by the paradigm of the universality of capitalist democracy, where civil society would be forged in each State in a free and republican manner governed by by international law and political, ethical and moral rationality.[iv] But contrary to the political expectations and liberal ideologies of the past and current times, when an attempt was made to impose, mainly from the 1990s onwards, a new narrative of history, freeing itself from the structural class nature of society, its immanent contradictions are sharpened and replaced the truth in real, concrete terms that exposes the innards of the system itself.

Attempts to divert our attention to ideological and philosophical quarrels have become futile, since they are phenomenal representations of the capitalist world seized in a detached way from its economic and social materiality to produce theoretical arguments that are not serious about the essence of the crisis of societies capitalists.

As a consequence, a crisis of political perspectives and ideas of a global nature took shape, and the greatest expression of this reality appears with the thought of the “end of history”, of “postmodernism”, of the “end of ideologies”, “end of history”. of work” and even of the “class struggle”; in addition to propagating the superiority of neoliberalism and the “third way”, which leads to social liberalism as the new political and ideological path to follow. Regardless of the nuances between these theoretical and ideological strands, as a whole they see the ongoing changes as the birth of a “new era” without political and social rupture, revolutions and wars between classes and imperialist powers.

On the one hand, these ideas hide a total pessimism in relation to the outside world, on the other hand, they fear, even if, sometimes in an unconfessed way, that the discontent engendered by the crisis could reach the social bases and cause radical revolts and against the order, which is why the “third paths” that prevent the intelligentsia to draw socialist conclusions from the crisis. In effect, they have become disguised ideologies of order, useless propaganda, academicist and detached from the socio-material and political determinations of the crisis that convulses the capitalist social structure in its entirety.[v]

We cannot fail to understand that there is an unavoidable tendency from the strategic point of view of the capitalist dynamics in our time, which demonstrates ever more profound contradictions and open conflicts between the aspirations of the very logic of the transformations of capital, of its real realization and expansion economy with the bourgeois-democratic liberal political regime. In other words, one cannot deny the fact that substantial changes have taken place in the dynamics of capitalist production, marked in its history by the “productivist” character, expansive and extensive development. Particularly in the post-World War II period, when capitalism was still capable of incorporating broad masses into its production process, creating different models of social protection and granting income concessions to work and sustaining a greater degree of spaces of freedom within the framework of democracy capitalist bourgeois.

However, what we have today is the increase of the internal barriers that grew within the logic of the development of the productive forces and the expanded reproduction of capital, hindering the inclusion of broad working masses in its production process with the objective purpose of obtaining a greater profitability in an accelerated regime of production and consumption. For this very reason, one ends up, necessarily, entering into economic and political impasses with the liberal capitalist democratic regime itself that the bourgeoisie built in the historical relationship of the class struggle, as a functional and necessary way to disguise the dominance of the bourgeoisie and impose its rule. political and economic hegemony.

But, these political-economic relations do not mean, as many functionalist and liberal sociologists affirm, the end of bourgeois democracy. Therefore, its political form within the framework of the reproduction needs of capital, based on exploitation and oppression, requires, at the formal and institutional level, a democratic legal-political configuration for its own legitimation and construction of social consensus around the form of the economic order , social and political. This is what is sought to be guaranteed through regular elections, regulated in increasingly restrictive terms by the State and its powers, which are subordinated to the imperative needs of the development of capitalism. This is the main issue to be studied and debated, because in the current context of the crisis of capitalism, liberal democracy has been increasingly restricted, limited, or when not, authoritarian under the direct control of governments with neo-fascist or simply right-wing bias. conservative and reactionary.

This being so, it is necessary to take into account that the crisis of bourgeois democracies is the dialectical expression of the historical limits and barriers faced by capital with its form of democratic political mediation of formal legitimation. On the one hand, the processes of universalization of capitalist imperatives and, on the other, their relations with territorial spaces and their States, which complement each other in a tense and contradictory way based on more specific interests for the organization of the world for capital and political forces. hegemonic in its process of universality of reproduction.

And that, given this fact, the system requires regimes along the lines of a “specific democracy”, compatible with the requirements and objective needs to reinforce capital in facing its own crisis, in addition to seeking to control the national States to guarantee the conditions and material needs functioning of the maintenance of the system in its dynamics of concentration of wealth; which presents itself with a predatory character within capitalist production, generating every day movements of “metabolic rupture” with natural and human conditions, inseparable for its reproduction within the mode of production itself.

Therefore, it should be noted that the dynamics of this movement has not been able to control all the coordinates of the development of history in capitalist societies, of the conscience and actions of those “from below” in the whirlpool of contradictions and crises that have always erupted in the form of overproduction, coupled today with the modality of artificial creation of financial values. A dynamic that, unlike some interpretations of right-wing intellectuals, as well as of social democracy – even in the face of new information technologies and digital automation that quickly allow the circulation of money – the recent crises do not derive per se from the contradictions of fictitious capital, of money and more money, as a self-sufficient, autonomous and self-propelling logic that manages to convert itself into a virtual form.

Recent crises, such as that of 2008, which apparently took on a financial form, originate, above all, in the specific logic determined by social property relations and in their form of social reproduction responsible for the creation of real values. Contrary to this understanding, the analysis of political economy would be lost in a fiction of money that reproduces itself out of itself: money plus money without materiality and social relations of production, without concrete values ​​of work.[vi].

For this very reason, capital permanently seeks to restore the fall in the rate of values ​​through the destruction of existing capital and means of production, including the social force of labor, which is subjected to complete subsumption so that this logic can follow in a dominant manner, with its apparently unshakable process of social and material autophagy.

When moved by these imperatives, capital acts through the blind drive of destruction and annihilation: imperialist wars, precariousness and generalized overexploitation of work, overwhelming destruction of nature, unlimited privatization of public goods (education, health, culture, arts) and, finally, of the human condition itself. At the same time, it transforms the true social producers of wealth into subjects subjected to intensive and extensive conditions of expropriation of the workforce.

Converting them into elements carrying a logic that are forced to march aimlessly, desolate and with feelings of failure that remind us of the characters in Samuel Beckett's plot in Waiting Godot,[vii] where they await an improvement, a stable and balanced change in reality and life that never comes. A present and future that expands in a darker way with the growing decrease of more than 50% in the income of workers around the world, in addition to social inequality and the increase in poverty that configures a lethal, homicidal crisis that destroys life in all the parts of the world.

For, by developing in an objective and variable way, capital without retreating from its profitability objectives, even confronting old and new barriers to its reproduction, seeks to impose its interests with fire and iron. This is what has been happening following crises since 1970, with the increase in global inflation, public and private indebtedness; which continues with broad difficulties in growth and recovery of the average annual rate of profitability that drags on in decline after the “golden age” of profitability (1950-1965), entering a period of depression resulting from an overaccumulation controlled by the hegemony of capital fictional and rentier that operates insatiably and globally.

But even so, with the worldwide extension of the development of capitalism in productive chains that go beyond borders, the final solution to the internal and recurrent problems of the crisis can only be achieved, albeit limitedly – ​​at the national level, because it is on this territorial basis that finds the greatest possibilities of solving problems through the political and economic intervention of the State in its favor.

But, in the face of major global trends in technological innovations, climate change, international immigration, rising unemployment and deepening social inequality, it is increasingly doubtful, or even unlikely, that the strategy to contain the corrosion of capitalism can be stopped. The internal contradictions and the crisis of its legitimization as a social order and of its bourgeois-liberal democratic political regime will hardly find a way out in the short or medium term in the face of possible social and political upheavals that tend to emerge massively.

Furthermore, it is necessary to consider that the wars and destruction practiced by capitalist nation-states or a group of western imperialist countries since their origin in the late eighteenth century, until 1945 and the present day, have always been the expression of historical contradictions of capitalist societies, where social struggles and conflicts determined by class objectives and economic interests shaped the international social and economic order. This in different phases and, in many aspects interconnected: mercantilism, colonialism, neocolonialism and, finally, a supposed virtuous era of “globalization” that had its expansion free of hegemonized capital and safeguarded in economic and political conditions uncontestedly directed by the USA and its allies, who share the dividends of expropriated wealth in the capitalist world.

The devastations arising from this logic of production, social and material reproduction, generate: deforestation, desertification, ecological destruction, exodus, misery, hunger and extinction of social rights operated within this accumulation of wealth for almost two centuries by capital in its mercantilist colonialist phase , contemporary neocolonialist and neoliberal, which produced in its wake of development and modernization, an unimaginable reality of slavery, racism, torture, deepening exploitation and mass genocide. And as it could not be otherwise, the actions of expropriation, looting and theft carried out by the economic and military powers of the nation-states, which fought and continue to fight each other, whether through military confrontations or direct actions of piracy , technology wars and energy sources on the world market.

These are not realities, interests and logics tied to a dead past, without interaction with the historical present – ​​but rather linked to the bowels of the functions of capital and its social relations that are expressed in a particular way in our time. The determinations of this process deepened in all its contradictory and irresolvable dimensions in the current framework of the system itself. For this reason, contrary to being considered as fictional representations of a non-existent reality, typical of cinematic adventures of Hollywood's cultural ideology, they appear as meanings of a dialectical and concrete totality that is no longer able to camouflage the contradictions, content and objectives of political power, economic and military than in inter-imperialist disputes that jeopardize the very survival of humanity.

But even so, the ideologues of the system do not want to recognize the failure of their utopias and illusions contained in the political economy that seeks to base the constitution of the system and its logic of reproduction. The attempt of normative classical thought, until today, through philosophy and economics, resulted in the creation of a universalist utopia of bourgeois liberal thought, like Smith and Ricardo who later, as well as their followers, had to face the contradictions and consequences of the historical burdens and misconceptions of the aforementioned utopia.

The idea of ​​defending a universal, free and competitive market freedom as an essential condition for political freedom and expression and as a condition for the construction of a “universal society”, founded on the autonomous equilibrium of the market, has become a coated fiction. of innumerable farces of supposed natural balances of the market and realization of the particularities of individuals.

However, this classic normative thought was born as a critical reason of its time, and which seeks to build a narrative of the civilizing process governed by the imperatives of capital. While the neoliberal theorists and ideology that began in the XNUMXth century, with Ludwing Mises, followed by his brilliant disciples Hayek and Friedman, who led a fight against Marxism, socialism, the welfare state and trade union and political organizations of left, do not intend to transform the world as their masters and inspirers wished. Here there is no longer a future or utopia, or the pretense of ideas that point to the construction of a new society; it only remains to accept, manage the system, ensure its “functionality” according to the dictates of capital that is in a structural crisis, without being able to show – as in the past – any virtuous solution to its need for permanent and incessant profitability .

For this very reason, in the face of this historical dilemma, capital as a social and finite subject begins to operate the complete subsumption of the human being, work and nature to the rational dictates of the logic of money, speculation and financialization of the way to reproduce and maintain itself. become dominant and hegemonic. But, in this world of appearances of naturalized “social Darwinism”, there is no peace or unshakable security, as Marx says, the greatest barriers of capital come from within, “the true barrier of capitalist production is capital itself”, that is , given the difficulties and barriers he faces to continue as a universalizing model of social and material reproduction, he “constantly seeks to overcome these barriers that are immanent to him, but he only overcomes them by means that put these barriers before him again and on a more powerful scale” .[viii]

This phenomenon is commonly represented by confrontations that permeate hegemonic interests of capital imperatives from covert actions of sabotage, wars in hybrid and outsourced modality, as well as in the direct form of economic sanctions. Which fully demonstrates the fact that the hegemonic centers of Western capitalism have lost the global capacity to easily impose their moral, cultural and aesthetic standards on other peoples. This constitutes a specific ideological dimension that goes back to the history of capitalism since the XNUMXth century.

This is because, since the modernization of capitalism, this cultural and ideological dimension that emerged in the form of the Eurocentrist model of truth, rationality, legitimacy and legality of the capitalist bourgeois order was also dragged into the dungeon of the structural crisis of capital and its civilizing model. . Hence, its function of placing itself as the only theoretical reference, concepts and solutions to the problems of our historical reality, slowly fades away. Likewise, its function of hiding the nature of capitalism, of preventing knowledge about its contradictions, finitudes, laws and determining factors, also lost its strength in the political, ideological, cultural field that prospered through liberal thought and ideology.

Resistance to western imperialism grew, it was organized in blocks of countries, calling into question the naive thesis of western super-imperialism led by the US. This, as before, is no longer able to dismember countries and easily appropriate natural wealth and carry out divisions between colonizing and imperialist countries. This is how the world bourgeoisie has always used the spoils of its own conquests obtained through violence and slaughter in great banquets and pomp, rebuilding borders, inventing countries, destroying and dividing cultures and ethnic groups.

But, as Marx points out in several passages of The capital (book I, volume III),[ix] until the end of the XNUMXth century, capital in its logic of accumulation was realized in the market through antediluvian forms, that is, embryonic mechanisms of how capital circulated in pre-capitalist economic formations. That is, in the essentially money-trade form and in the usurious form, sucking like a parasite – in the rubble of the previous mode of production – the forms of property, production and work that still exist without the complete subjugation of work. However, in the long term, commercial and usurious capital, bearing interest, acts discreetly as a factor for the dismantling of these older forms of production and commercial relations prevailing in the colonial system, paved the way for the establishment of industrial capitalist production and the subsequent development of capital. fictitious.

In this way, we can say that this entire ideological framework and classical liberal thought and its updated version of neoliberalism, throughout the history of capitalism, has always acted to hide or gild the pill of cruelty, structural logic and social relations that evolved throughout history. capitalist modernity and today. Commonly, it always appears as an exponential manifestation of the “progress” of a unique and irreplaceable model of civilization.

However, it must be clarified that the destructive and perverse imperatives inscribed in the social and material metabolism of these societies, mediated by the nation-state, were never something accidental, circumstantial, they are part of the very form of creation and recreation of the world system characterized by unequal relations, asymmetric and dependent relationships between central and subordinate nations within the system. These are, inevitably, objective relations of interests that are imposed through rules and hierarchies of power and hegemony in which the autonomy, sovereignty and development of nation-states are completely captured by big capital and its expansionist interests.

For this reason, the need for global cooperation among nation-states, in order to carry out economic, social and political measures for the reduction of hunger in the world, unemployment, the strengthening of public rights that guarantee the population free access to education, health, housing, transport, water, culture and environmental preservation as universal rights and goods, which point to an unlikely strategic perspective of achievement. The dismantling of all these elements that constitute inalienable rights to human life, as well as employment, indicate that capitalism has collapsed, revealing that it is not only exploitative and anarchic, it also confiscates the possibilities for the development of human life itself in its fullness.

In the same way, the historical experience of the relationship between democracy and capitalism has not been able to guarantee its promises, it has failed, it has become incapable of maintaining social peace and justice through economic development, even if the increase in inequality continues to exist. Social. The fact is that the market cannot absorb true social justice and equal rights between individuals and classes within the framework of the capitalist and bourgeois State, since these are counterproductive and incompatible conditions to harmonize with the imperatives of capital. Even more so if we take into account that the new capitalist expansion is profoundly marked by social, economic and political polarizations that deepen uncontrollably.

Therefore, on the one hand, all liberal-democratic illusions and left-wing segments that dream of the possibility of a genuinely more humane and democratic capitalism by means of Keynesian policies for the economy fall to the ground. This is because, what we have today is a social and economic relationship that has exhausted itself – although it remains dominant – and has been manifesting itself only as brute force, implacable and profoundly excluding and destructive.

On the other hand, there remains the conviction of the socio-historical necessity and possibility of building a new corporate project with an effectively socialist policy, beyond class collaboration and capital; finally, to avoid being captured by the liberal-bourgeois ideology, what Gramsci called political-ideological transformism of the left and of the people's fighters attracted by the moderation that requires the bourgeois institutionality and imperatives concerning the survival and continuity of its social and economic order.

*Eliziário Andrade is a professor of history at UNEB.


[I] Wood, Ellen Meiksins. The empire of capital. Boitime, 2014.

[ii] Amin, Samir. Eurocentrism. Critique of an ideology. São Paulo: Lavrapalavra, 2021

[iii] Meszaros, Istvan. The power of ideology. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2004, p.17.

[iv] KANT, Immanuel. To Perpetual Peace (1795). Porto Alegre: LP&M, 2008.

[v] Andrade, Eliziario. transformism from the left. Curitiba: Editora Prismas, 2017.

[vi] David, McNally. Turbulence in the World economy, Monthly Review, v.51, n.2, 1999, p.41.

[vii] Samuel, Beckett. Waiting for Godot🇧🇷 São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2017.

[viii] Marx, Carl. Capital – Critique of Political Economy. Book III. Abril Cultural, 1983, p.189.

[ix] Marx, Carl. The capital: book I. Brazilian Civilization, Rio de Janeiro, 1971.

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