The production process
So capitalism is just the particular way that the production process is currently organised.
But what do we mean by the term “production process”?
At its most basic level, it means human interaction with the natural world, with the aim of creating something useful.
That may seem airy-fairy, but it accurately describes what is going on whenever someone uses a stick to dig up wild roots to eat or when a civil engineer uses a computer to design a bridge. The latter example may seem far removed from nature, but everything the engineer uses came at some point from nature, i.e. from land or a water source.
The war industry
Everything produced requires natural resources. And of course, since the production process is owned/controlled by competing capitalists, competition for resources, trade routes and markets is the inevitable result. This in turn leads to another major diversion of human energies – into the war industry, which is a constant accessory to the profit system.
And remember, under capitalism the rush is always on to produce ever more stuff, ever more cheaply, sucking up resources in a largely unregulated manner.
But take note – the pressure comes from industrial production not from consumer choices or ‘too many people’. It is the inner workings of capitalist production that prevent us as a society from administering the earth’s resources in a rational manner and that may, unless we act, end in catastrophe for all of humankind.
Does it have to be like this?
Before you came across the SPGB, you must have already known that we live in a class-divided society and on a planet criss-crossed by national boundaries.
As we have all grown up with the capitalist form of production, we could be forgiven for thinking that there is no other way to live, even though this system only really got going about 200 years ago.
It would appear that the economic instability, inefficient use of resources and a continuous threat of war that go hand in hand with the profit motive and its market system are an inevitable part of life,
But are they? How ‘natural’ is the society that we live in today?
Next: About class ➡️