How capitalism ends

First published on 14 September 2020.

There are several dimensions to the supposed demise of capitalism. There are two developments and two critical contradictions behind the system’s present afflictions. Capitalism may end, however, in two different ways—one of which less an end to capitalism than a return to a different form of capitalism. Lastly, if capitalism is to truly end, it will be as a result of a politics of the class exploited by it, the proletariat, expressed in the socialist slogan, “expropriate the expropriators!”, and in the message from antiquity, “revive the republic!”. Let me explain.

Meet Karl Marx, a socialist, and predictor of the end of capitalism.

I/ Two decisive developments:

1. The return of the proletariat in lumpen form;

2. The return of the nation-state in nascent form.

II/ Two critical contradictions:

1. Of class—Between the bourgeoisie and the lumpenproletariat; and

2. Of the state—Between the nation-state and the world economy.

III/ Two alternative avenues:

1. Return from global capitalism to territorial capitalism; or

2. Rise of civic socialism at the moment of transition.

IV/ Two pillars of proletarian politics:

1. Class redistribution; and

2. Civic recognition.

V/ Two messages:

1. Expropriate the expropriators (that is to say, the system of expropriation — the privatising market economy); and

2. Revive the republic.

How might this dialectic be resolved? How might the practices of class and citizenship be fused? This is the next step along the path to a polity of reciprocity, against exploitation in all its forms.

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