Capitalism: "Horror Without End"

texasexplosionThe stream of distressing news seems to flow endlessly: School shootings from Colorado to Connecticut. Factory collapses and explosions from Bangladesh to Texas. Terrorist attacks from Pakistan to Boston. Crumbling infrastructure from Mexico City to Minneapolis. Kidnappings and torture from Ciudad Juarez to Cleveland. War and civil war from Syria to Somalia. Mass unemployment from Greece to California. What is at the root of this seemingly unstoppable wave of human misery, uncertainty, and chaos? What can the working majority of society do about it?

The Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin once characterized capitalism as “horror without end.” For Americans living in the postwar years, this may have sounded like a bombastic exaggeration. If you forgot about World War II and turned a blind eye to the wars, revolutions, and counterrevolutions raging across Asia, Latin America, and Africa, things were getting better, at least in basic material terms. Sure, the capitalists were raking it in like never before, and the poison of racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia continued unabated, but life was getting incrementally better for millions of workers, especially when compared to the 1930s. Then, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, we were told that history itself had ended, and that capitalism, while not perfect by any means, was the best we could hope for. In the words of Margaret Thatcher, “There is no alternative.” So we had better get used to it—and be willing to trample our brothers and sisters underfoot if we wanted to get ahead in life.

But things change. From growing support for same-sex marriage and equal rights for immigrant workers, to a majority of young people saying they prefer socialism to capitalism, the worldview of millions of Americans is changing. There is a profound shift taking place, despite the inevitable confusions in the absence of a clear alternative. Despite the apparent apathy and distraction, people are beginning to realize that the horrors which mar our lives are symptoms of a rotten and diseased socio-economic system. In a healthy and vibrant system, which is growing across the board and raising everyone’s quality of life in harmony with the environment, such living nightmares would become a distant memory. Instead, the nightmares are recurring and multiplying. As long as the profit motive of capitalism pervades human relations, the monstrous inhumanity we see around us will only get worse.

Most crimes can be traced to poverty, alienation, precarity, and despair. The rising tide of austerity will only exacerbate the situation. It is estimated that as many as 2.2 million more Americans would have jobs were it not for austerity. Now Obama aims to do what no Republican has ever accomplished: cut Social Security and Medicare. How can deeper cuts possibly address the root cause of the problems we face?

sacrifice colorBut the Marxists are not pessimists. While understanding and explaining the bitter reality of the present, we are filled with unquenchable revolutionary optimism for the future. We have a burning confidence in the working class and the youth. The potential to turn the situation around is enormous. Following on the events in Wisconsin and the Occupy movement, the ongoing wave of fast food worker strikes and walkouts is just the latest symptomatic indication that the simmering discontent will sooner or later burst to the surface on a massive scale.

From slavery to feudalism, all previous societies believed they were the final word in human social, economic, and political organization. But the Roman emperors and feudal despots learned the hard way that change does indeed happen. Those societies too were polarized along class lines and wracked with pessimism and decay in the years before their collapse or overthrow.

The wave of violence and brutality sweeping the U.S. and the world is shocking and horrifying. Every class-conscious worker and youth is repelled by the horrors of this system. A diseased system leads to a diseased society. A disease demands a cure. It’s time we did something to put an end to it. It’s time we added capitalism to the museum of relics of human history. This is why the WIL and the IMT are fighting for socialism. We invite you to join us to fight for this perspective.



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