Back in November the Paris summit on Climate Change was heralded with great fanfare as a sign of hope that at last the world was taking the environment seriously, and indeed commitments were made by the most developed industrial nations which did vindicate our hope. The United States, Russia, and Europe could say whatever they wanted to keep us happy, because they know full well that whatever they said was meaningless because they are no longer the powerbrokers. National governments, for the most part, now play second fiddle to global corporations, and the environment, along with human wellbeing, will ultimately be questions for them to address.
In the 80s Ronald Reagan stated his belief that Libertarianism; the removal of government interference from the economy, was the heart of the Capitalism, and at a time when pundits like Paul Mason are again announcing the death of Capitalism we are witnessing not its death but its metamorphosis. Cold War politics forged the marriage of Democracy and Capitalism in the Western ideological package as a counter balance to the growth of Communism in the East and Socialism in the West, and this union has become the Capitalism we recognise. It is not Capitalism that is dying. All we are seeing is the dissolution of its unhappy marriage to the ideas of Democracy.
Perhaps it makes more sense to think of Capitalism as a Peter Sutcliffe style serial killer. Like the psychopathic killer Capitalism is singularly motivated by its own selfish desires without regard for morality or even the lives of other people, and like Sutcliffe it is tempered by a need to appear good and respectable to its spouse. It was when Mrs. Sutcliffe went to bed or was otherwise absent that the Yorkshire Ripper allowed his inner monster out to play. Likewise, free market Capitalism has piggybacked on the high ideals of Western Democracy to the point in the relationship where the marriage itself has become a hindrance to the fun of the Libertarian psycho within.
With the greater ideological threat of Communism removed from the international stage Capitalism has been set free to come into itself. Democracy has outlived its usefulness to the project of Libertarian domination, and now, more than at any other time in the past century, workers and the environment are defenceless before its ambitions. Workers and the environment, as means of production and resources, are the hunters’ prey. Years of aggressive anti-Socialist politics in the West have shattered an already deeply divided global Left, leaving it painfully ill-equipped to deal with the encroaching menace. Our salvation is springing from below the political structures from the actions and activism of ordinary working people. Our Thermopylae is nearing, and unity must be created to meet the invader at the hot gates.
2 thoughts on “Peter Sutcliffe and Serial Killer Capitalism”
This is the best explanation I’ve come across to how (and why) things have changed so dramatically in the past three decades. Your analogy of a marriage is spot on – for those of us who grew up during the Cold War, democracy and capitalism *were* seen as a packaged deal, for obvious political reasons. Now that the west has ‘won’ (?), there’s no need to pretend any longer and capitalism has simply shed a connection that hindered its true goals. Very well argued.
Thank you very much indeed Lynn. Yes, Democracy and Capitalism are two very different things which were brought together against a common ideological enemy in the early twentieth century. Their long alliance has created the idea that they are two sides of the same coin, but, as the People’s Republic of China and recent free trade agreements have shown, Capitalism is quite capable of a life free from the limitations imposed by democracies.