The ongoing process of the globalization of the world economy is an unmitigated disaster -- for the environment, for the laboring masses of the Third World, now increasing directly employed by multi-national corporations or local firms producing for them, at wages and under conditions reminiscent of those in the capitalist metropoles at the time of the industrial revolution, and for the working class of those self-same capitalist metropoles, many of whose jobs have either disappeared, migrated to the so-called Third World, or who must accept a drastic reduction in their standard of living as a condition for retaining those jobs.
However, the protests against globalization -- in Seattle, in Quebec, in Prague, in Genoa, and now in New York -- seem to be animated by the belief that globalization is a policy CHOSEN by the political and economic elites, by the ruling class, a policy that can be replaced by one more ethical, more just, if only sufficient public pressure can be brought to bear. Whether that pressure is electoral or violent, in the boardrooms or on the street, so long as it is animated by the belief that globalization is a choice, that the ruling class can be pressured into changing its policies and behaving ethically, it will be futile and achieve no results. No less than earlier forms of wage-labor and a commodity economy, the epoch of monopolies to take but one example, globalization is the outcome of tendencies inherent in the capitalist system, the unfolding of its inner logic and "lawfulness" -- a logic imposed on the capitalists themselves. As Marx pointed out in Capital: "...the immanent laws of capitalist production confront the individual capitalist as a coercive force external to him." Governments, central banks, corporations, in the capitalist metropoles today, can no more reject globalization and its imperatives than they can disregard the need for profit.
It is the capitalist law of value that determines the immanent tendencies of the economic system and that determines the range of options open to individual capitalists and to national economies. In the capitalist metropoles, in the US, for example, the sole alternative to a policy of globalization is one of protectionism, a closed economy, which will sacrifice the high-tech industries (and their jobs) in a desperate effort to save jobs in certain dying manufacturing industries (textiles, steel, etc.). In the Third World, the equivalent of protectionism is import-substitution, a command economy, autarky, often entailing the complete militarization of society. Quite apart from the failure of such policies to provide a basis for economic development, such policies involve the most brutal exploitation of the working classes of those societies by their ruling elites and single parties. That is the path of fascism and Stalinism; the program of Islamism today. Like the path of globalization, a policy of autarky and militarization obeys the logic of capital.
Without a recognition that globalization is not a choice, but an imperative, so long as the capitalist law of value presides over the world economy, all protest against it will be ultimately meaningless. So long as the system of wage-labor and commodity production is not questioned, globalization will not be halted -- no matter how many people are in the streets or how violent the protests. If the frenetic course to more globalization -- and the disasters it brings in its wake -- is to be stopped, then the basis of these protests must shift from opposition to globalization to opposition to CAPITALISM, to wage-labor, the law of value and the commodity economy.
The future of capitalism is more and more misery and violence. Capitalism has outlived its usefulness for humanity. It was born in conditions of scarcity and needs scarcity to thrive. The lack of it means not abundance and the eradication of poverty but overproduction and crisis. Because human productiveness is now so developed, this crisis can only become deeper and unleash more destructiveness in the forms of terrorism and counter-terror, civil wars and wars of agression. The alternative to this grim perspective is at the same time very simple and enormously complex: to produce for human needs instead of for profit. Technically, this is more possible than ever. The fast development of information and communication technology has made it a lot easier. There is no doubt that it is feasible to create abundance in regard to the basic needs of all humans, and not just the basic needs, and to organize production so that all able-bodied people can work and there is a lot of free time for everyone -- and to find in the exploration of that leisure-time itself an endless source of creative activity. Of work, you might say, although it's not imaginable that 'work' would still resemble what it is today, when the elimination of drudgery becomes the conscious goal of society. But what this requires above all is the conscious will of humanity to make it real, to organize and control this revolution. We believe that this will can only be forged in struggle, in revolt against the class whose existence depends on the perpetuation of the absurdity of production for profit. Only the autonomous struggle of the working class, the great majority of society whose work makes the wheels of the world economy turn and whose will can stop them and change their direction, provides this hope.
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