CONTEMPORARY CRITIQUE OF CAPITALISM
The critique of capitalism should be based on two methodological postulates. First: the nature of a certain social (historical) phenomenon is determined by the tendencies of its development – of what it is developing into. Second: the nature of a social (historical) phenomenon conditions the nature of its critique. The nature of capitalism, that is, the tendency of its development as a destructive system, conditions both the nature of the critique of capitalism and the political strategy for the fight against capitalism. This is not to suggest the creation of a uniform way of thinking, but a way of thinking that endeavors to ask questions of an existential and essential nature. Such a way of thinking represents a contraposition to the ruling ideology, manifested in the “Coca Cola culture” that tends to marginalize the essential in order to assign a spectacular dimension to the marginal.
A concrete critique of capitalism cannot be based solely upon essential humanism; it must also be based upon existential humanism. The ideals of the French Revolution -
The “traditional” Marxist critique of capitalism, from the point of view of what-
The capitalist destruction of nature and man as a biological and human being has not had a significant influence on the development of the left-
As far as Antonio Negri is concerned, his view clearly illustrates the essence of his thought: “We cannot return to any other social form, nor can we proceed towards isolation. On the contrary, we must push our way through the Empire in order to reach the other side. Deleuze and Guattari claimed that we must accelerate the process of the globalization of capital and not oppose it. 'But which,' they asked, 'is the revolutionary road? Does it exist? To withdraw from the world market...? Or, perhaps, to take the opposite direction? To go even further, that is, with the market movement, decoding and deterritorialization?' The Empire can successfully be opposed only at its level of generalization and by pushing the processes it offers beyond their current limits. We must accept that challenge and learn to think globally and act globally. Globalization must be opposed by counter-
What are the “processes” offered by the “Empire” that should be “pushed”, what are their “current limits”, and what is there beyond “their current limits”? Here, Negri comes close to Marx's view that with the development of capitalism, its inner limitations will force it to self-
By becoming a global order of destruction, capitalism has created a global existential crisis. The West used to be synonymous with the “capitalist world”. Today, there are global centers of economic power that threaten Western domination as they conquer the world markets by increasingly destroying nature and man as a human and biological being. In the increasingly ruthless struggle for survival and domination, capitalist concerns destroy the foundations of humanity's future. We should again point out the fatal illusion that humanity can, as Negri claims, create a new world by following the path of capitalist globalism. Only by fighting against capitalism can the emancipatory legacy of civil society be preserved; by saving the germ of a novum from which a new society can grow. At the same time, it is only by fighting against capitalism that global destruction can be prevented. Capitalistically degenerated humankind cannot create a new world on burned down forests, hopelessly contaminated soil, polluted rivers and seas, nuclear waste dumps, in a scorching sun...
The increasingly dramatic development of capitalism as a destructive order contradicts Marcuse's view, expressed in his talks with Enzensberger (which is, in a way, Marcuse's political testament), that we should opt for “educational” and “defensive” tactics in the struggle against capitalism. Marcuse appeals to the “best formula” of Rudi Dutschke: “... a long march through the institutions is recommendable both beforehand and afterwards”. The development of capitalism proved both Dutschke and Marcuse wrong: the institutions of bourgeois society have become the means by which capitalist corporations realize their ecocidal and, on that basis, genocidal policies. Instead of a further radicalization of the critical and changing relationship to capitalism as an order with increasingly harmful consequences for life on the planet, Marcuse's (like Horkheimer's, Adorno's and Habermas') political thought contributed to an “abatement” and pacification of the struggle against capitalism. The “long march through the institutions” based on the notion that “capitalism should be changed from within”, has become one of the ways of sterilizing the struggle against capitalism and “purchasing time” for capitalist concerns, which brought the world to the edge of the abyss. The members of the Frankfurt School robbed Marx's thought of its revolutionary substance. Marx's thought was transposed from the sphere of a class struggle to the sphere of a theoretical analysis of capitalism, which blunted its critical and changing edge. Instead of being revolutionary, dialectics has become an analytical method.
Rather than developing workers' class-
The political theory of Oskar Lafontaine illustrates the adjustment of the critique of capitalism to the fight for power in the political arena of contemporary capitalism, dominated by a petty-
The Revolution of Hope by Erich Fromm is a typical example of how the nature of capitalism can be subjected to such a political project that involves man's renouncing the fight that could result in toppling the capitalist order. Rather than developing people's consciousness about the destructive nature of capitalism and the necessity to fight against it in order to preserve life on the planet, Fromm insists that man's goodness will lead to the “humanization of technology” and, thus, to the humanization of life. Like Marcuse, he also “threatens” humanity with fascism should it start a radical struggle against capitalism. Fromm's Revolution of Hope deals with the critical thought that seeks to confront the destructive capitalist mania with a radical political struggle and actually purchases time for capitalism. It is no accident that Fromm's book is entitled “The Revolution of Hope”. “Hope” obtains a mythological dimension and as such becomes the spiritus movens of the humanization of technology. What should become humanity's basic integrative force is not the hope that technology can be humanized, but the faith that capitalism can be defeated and life on the planet saved.
As for the contemporary communist movement, one of its most important characteristics is its dogmatism and mythological consciousness. Instead of an idea of the future reached in relation to capitalism as a totalitarian destructive order, their basis for a critique of capitalism is an idealized picture of the “socialist past”. Revolutionary consciousness lacks a vision of the future “since the future has already happened”. A fight for the “future” becomes a fight for “restoring” the past. Rather than an integrative visionary consciousness, we have a sectarian consciousness, which appears in the form of “Stalinists”, “Maoists”, “Trotskyists”, “Titoists”, etc. There is the personality cult, which is a way of alienating workers’ political being and libertarian potential on which the possibility of creating a humane world is based. At the same time, by abolishing visionary consciousness, communists deal with the dialectical way of thinking and become prisoners of a quasi-
A dogmatic way of thinking, based on progressism and the myth of the omnipotence of science and technology, also conditions the communists' dogmatic relation to sport. The critique of sport and Olympism is almost non-
The idea of communism should be emptied of its shadows of the past and offered a possibility for the development of its emancipatory potential. It should, above all, discard its thinking that based on mythological romanticism since it deals with a visionary consciousness without which there can be no future. At the same time, to restore the obsolete forms of the critique of capitalism stops people from understanding the destructive nature of capitalism and developing an appropriate critique and appropriate forms of struggle against capitalism. Communism has never existed, anywhere in the world. It is a possible future for humankind. Communism does not mean the end, but the beginning of a true history of humanity.
If we consider the importance of Karl Marx, as the most significant figure in the creation of the workers' movement, and his thought, as the basis for any critique of capitalism and a vision of the future, there is a question of political justification in criticizing Marx’s critique of capitalism. All the more so because capitalism produced such an existential crisis that it is doubtful whether we still have time for a “new” critique of capitalism that can integrate global political thought in the fight against capitalism and the creation of a new world. Can Marx's thought, in spite of its shortcomings, still be more beneficial to the workers' movement than the contemporary critique of capitalism, which is yet to be critically appraised and can cause confusion among the critics of capitalism who fight for a new world – and thus weaken the fight against capitalism at a time when the creation of a united and uncompromising global anti-
The increasingly dramatic ecological crisis created by capitalism, which affects more and more people, will inevitably lead to the immediate existential threat to humanity becoming the source of a critical and changing relation to capitalism. By becoming a totalitarian destructive order, capitalism stepped out from the theoretical and political framework of Marx's critique of capitalism, which insists on social justice and freedom, and, therefore, the contemporary critique of capitalism can no longer be reduced to Marx's critique of capitalism. Marx's thought is one of the concrete forms of the communist critique of capitalism and one of the concrete historical forms of the fight for a communist society. The historical continuity of the idea of communism must not be sought only in theory, but, above all, in the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat against capitalism. Marx's view that the “correct theory is the consciousness of a world-
Translated from Serbian by Vesna Todorović
English translation supervisor Mick Collins