Capitalism and the End of History

We are often assailed in the city with fly-posted signs proclaiming the ‘End of Capitalism’ and advertising public meetings hosted by an assortment of Anarchistic and Socialist groups to discuss this fabled Left Alternative to a broken Capitalist system. As the now obvious class war accelerates about us, and as the conditions of ordinary working people continue to deteriorate, there can be little doubt that Capitalism – as the prevailing social and economic paradigm of our time – is a broken system, but how much, really, is this brokenness of the system related to the final end of international Capitalism? Let’s begin by stating that Capitalism; the economic principle and ideology that wealth can forever continue to increase in a world of finite resources, was broken from its very conception. As a mode of existence it has never served the interests of the majority, but, rather, in impoverishing the many it has enriched the few. At no point in its history has it been otherwise. It has always been broken because it is fundamentally logically incoherent. Left, unfettered, to its own devices it can only be said to have run its course when the very last resources of the planet have been plundered and destroyed. Yet, that we know it to be broken does not necessarily determine it to be ending.


In economics, as in politics, we know from bitter experience that practices and policies do not always end because they are flawed. Any dysfunction, given enough environmental complexity, can last indefinitely. When we consider the advance of mercantile Capitalism we must accept that it is not a perfect machine. It is not always and everywhere efficient, but functions according to its own rules where and when it can. This patchwork of Capitalist practice means that pockets of resistance come and go, and within the structure itself there are set-backs like the current global economic depression. Capitalism then oscillates between varying degrees of success and varying degrees of failure – giving the march of Capitalism work to be doing indefinitely. From a distance the entire economic mechanism can look like a self-perpetuating machine. Its essential brokenness therefore may account for the rise and fall of social and economic resistance, and for most, if not all, of its set-backs, but even in its brokenness it works sufficiently well enough, through endless business cycles, to repair itself. What we must then reflect upon is the simple truth that there is nothing whatsoever inevitable about the end of Capitalism. It will not easily burn itself out. It must be burnt out.

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