Capitalism, the Absurd System

Here’s an article you should read in its entirety, but I especially liked this section:

The unwillingness, so common among U.S. progressives, to embrace a critique of capitalism, to take it to its radical conclusions, including the necessity of a serious class struggle, has another unfortunate political consequence. It opens the door to phony right-wing populist movements seizing the mantle of “radical” opposition to the status quo. With the economic system off-limits to criticism, attention necessarily gravitates to government as the root of all evil. The state must therefore be the source of the peoples’ problems; and indeed, it seems very seldom to operate in their real interests. It is the state, after all, that imposes taxes that seem to provide ordinary people few benefits; runs deficits, the burden of which falls disproportionately on those who gain the least; and controls the military and police. In today’s Tea Party ideology, engineered principally by the right, capital is deemed natural, while the state is unnatural—imposed from without on those who would otherwise be free. The social crisis is then seen as a crisis of too much government, too much interference by state interests in the natural order of things. Capitalism is treated as an elemental force, like the wind and tides, or a mere byproduct of human nature. The reality of power in today’s society is hidden behind the mist generated by this false “naturalism.”

We have not forgotten the basic realities of class. We know that most of those self-identified as part of the U.S. liberal-left are very privileged, relative to the larger working population. The liberal-left is heavily entrenched in the professional-managerial stratum, or the upper middle class. Many of them are employed by the state. Theirs is a class reality that ties them in innumerable ways to the system. They may want significant change, but most of the liberal-left is materially linked, in a way that the vast majority of the population is not, to the existing power structure. Nevertheless, there is no imaginable path toward socialism in the United States today, in which a considerable portion of those who currently constitute the “liberal-left” do not play an important role as key initiators and supporters of a general revolt in society.

The current state of U.S. politics might be described as one in which the right has gained more power by moving right. The left needs to gain more power by moving left. If this means increased political polarization, so be it.

That’s exactly right. The so-called progressive movement is actually conservative, because it wants to maintain the status quo. Its members want to maintain what they have, and they’re never quite as concerned about everyone else.

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