Skip to content

we have the world to win

May 25, 2013

So I was thinking today, with all of our technological innovations and productive capabilities, why don’t we live in a world of material security for all? What’s stopping us?

The obstacle, in my opinion, is an increasingly outdated mode of production. Our productive capacities are such that we no longer have a material necessity for capitalist wage labour and artificial scarcity, but the demand for profit creates an economic system that consistently depresses our productive capabilities and produces artificial scarcity, limiting the production and consumption of commodities to only that which can realize profit. We have reached an epoch of material abundance via the technological advancements and innovations of the past, but the old masters are refusing to let go of their death grip on wealth and power, their ownership of the means of production, finance, etc., stalling our transition to a post-capitalist society. We have reached an epoch of material abundance via the technological advancements and innovations of the past, but the old masters are refusing to let go of their death grip on wealth and power, their ownership of the means of production, finance, etc., stalling our transition to a post-capitalist society.

I think this attitude partially has its roots in the early days of capitalism, being influenced by a combination of factors including the emergence of the ‘Protestant work ethic’ in conjunction with the enclosure of English commons, anti-idleness and poverty legislation, poorhouses, and the transition of people (often forced) from serfdom into wage-labor. In this process, the idea of making money, and especially the idea of capital accumulations (“The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas” and all that Marxist jazz), took on a moral framework in which being idle (i.e., not making money) was seen as something immoral and sinful. In essence, wage labour became something almost sacred. And this attitude wasn’t just limited to the growth of capitalism in Europe, but made its way to the New World as well. For example, the ethics of hard work and accumulation can be found in the writings of Benjamin Franklin, who coined the phrase “time is money”:

Remember, that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labor, and goes abroad, or sits idle, one half of that day, though he spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reckon that the only expense; he has really spent, or rather thrown away, five shillings besides. […] Remember, that money is the prolific, generating nature. Money can beget money, and its offspring can beget more, and so on. Five shillings turned is six, turned again is seven and threepence, and so on, till it becomes a hundred pounds. The more there is of it, the more it produces every turning, so that the profits rise quicker and quicker. He that kills a breeding sow, destroys all her offspring to the thousandth generation. He that murders a crown, destroys all that it might have produced, even scores of pounds.

It may seem like there’s no alternative, that we’ve reached the ‘end of history’ and the final phase of our socio-cultural evolution; but I honestly believe we have the capacity to create a world characterized by equality and material abundance in which things like distinctions of rich and poor and oppression truly become superfluous. I think this is precisely what Marx meant when he wrote, “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.” The world he foresaw is a world of material abundance and social equality that no longer revolves around the realization of profit, with production primarily benefiting one class of owners, but the needs of all.

Advertisements

From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: