The earth is round and capitalism is its problem

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By Alysson Leandro Mascaro*

Knowing in order to act reaches its highest expression in Marxism as science e revolution. Such articulation is the dynamic quadrant of the possibilities, impasses and contradictions of capitalist sociability. In some moments, from the XNUMXth century until now, the failure proved to be uncontrollable to the mechanisms of capital's ideological constitution. Openly or deliberately, revolutions, uprisings, protests, struggles took place. The overcoming of capitalism, however, can only be done by giving meaning to such effervescence of the failure of social reproduction: the overcoming of the forms of capital.

Such forms – commodity, value, State and law – are not castles to be maintained by changing the guard, nor monuments to be better modulated, but destroyed in favor of a new sociability. Socialism, being from each according to his ability and to each according to his need, has nothing to do with center-left couplets like income distribution, republicanism or better public policies. It is about the radically other and new in sociability, for which, as a rule, ideologically, subjectivities are not prepared.

The central plexus of the impotent pain of classes, groups, movements and individuals in contemporary times lies in the problem of ideology. One suffers, and this in absurd degrees and dosages of existential horror. Failure and crisis are written unmistakably on the faces of most of humanity. However, the ideological constitution goes well.

Capitalism reproduces, in its webs, the fullness of intelligibility and the general desire of present societies. Against this, conscience claims are not enough – and they are even innocuous. Ideology does not operate on the level of conscious or autonomous wills. Its inscription is in the unconscious, drawn as it is from the most ingrained practices of materiality and constitution – not from eventual distortions or alienations – of subjectivities. The struggle, then, must take place on this ground.

Ideology is material. Concrete social relations are all established through historically specific social forms. Life, interactions, possibilities and interdictions are thought and calculated from such materialities whose forms are determinant. Money is the universal calculation not because of a deformation of individuals – avaricious, self-interested, selfish –, but because, effectively, social relational availability is entirely determined by money. What is called avarice or meanness is just an exacerbated quantification of the same general forms constitutive of capitalist sociability that permeate everyone.

Because it is material, ideology does not support a counter-ideology sustained only by will. There is no ideological counterpart. It is ahistorical for all subjectivities constituted by itself. Capital, materially, totalizes the possible, providing coercion and the dimension of bonds. Desire and repression are intrinsic to the specific form of capitalist social reproducibility. For this reason, as a rule, when one seeks to break out politically against the given framework, the positions of the left fall on the same constituent social forms: more rights, recognition, access to the State, new public policies. The state political form and the form of juridical subjectivity operate the vast field of conservatism and capitalist reformism.

Post-Fordist capitalism, whose crisis drags on like a particular and virtually excellent dynamo in its terms of accumulation and regulation, has wiped out all the counter-ideologies that have risen up to that point in world societies. Leninism and Sovietism collapsed under the weight of the declaration of horror at the transition to another mode of production. Critical energy was directed towards micro-resistance, preventing the cultivation of revolution as the desired model of social change. Between distancing from other possibilities and modulations of desire and transforming impetus, the last few decades have seen ideology reign without any contrast that would materially threaten it.

The ideological spreads through an immediate relational materiality, also forging an intelligibility about itself. In this sense, ideological apparatuses are its decisive key. The materiality that gives the subjects a positive constitution of intellection is done through apparatus. Hearing, seeing, reading, touching, it is constituted subjectively. Therefore, family, religion, school, university, arts, books, newspapers, magazines, radio, television, internet are the constituent ideological instruments.

Its forms, its owners, its commands, interdictions, suggestions, desires and repressions are the engine of the forging of subjectivities. Capitalism is victorious without contrast because it largely and decisively controls the number of ideological apparatuses. Exploitation and its flaws do not find subjects who recognize them, or, if they do, they never blame capitalism itself, but politics, politicians, corruption, immorality, the left, etc. Criticism is subject to forms. Ideology does not allow a counter-ideology to prosper because ideological apparatuses constitute the possible intelligibility of criticism itself.

Left-wing governments around the world, in these first decades of the XNUMXst century, always operated through the internal desire of the quadrants of the forms of capitalist sociability. They did not break with the ideological apparatuses that are the enemies of revolutionary struggles. They didn't do it because they are not governments of revolutionary movements.

In fact, within capitalist social forms, there can be no revolutionary governments. But if one wants to sustain a further passage to revolutionary social transformation, popular, labor or progressive governments must overcome their own limitations and contradictions by constituting critical intelligibility for the masses. Ideological apparatuses, therefore, are crucial elements of progressive action in search of the continuity of struggles to overcome capitalist forms.

Crisis and failure are reiterated throughout capitalism. The world war of 1914 and the economic crisis of 1929 could have given rise to socialism all over the world; spawned Nazism. The crisis of Fordism could have led to the overcoming of the commodity form; generated the dominance of a world rentier class against the world itself. Crises and failures are repeated today.

On the few occasions when they are so large as to cause strong popular movements or even left-wing governments to erupt, they should serve as an opportunity to energize national and international struggles, materially operating ideological apparatuses that constitute subjectivities and desires. In order not to drag on chicken flights that always generate energies of non-overcoming resistance and subsequent disappointments due to their failures, it is necessary to begin to unify the struggles of the people and what is called the left for a single intelligibility: the critique of capitalism. The earth is round and capitalism is its problem.

*Alysson Leandro Mascaro He is a professor at the Faculty of Law at USP.

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