So, You Want a Revolution?
Worried about the state of the planet and what capitalism is doing to it? Want to do something about it? But what?
– Burn down a bank, maybe?
You could do, but there’s a lot of banks, and even if you burned them all, they’d just build them again.
– Kick a copper, perhaps?
Maybe, but they can kick harder than you can, every time.
– Bring down the government?
And get a different government in? Or get martial law?
– Start a revolution then?
Now you’re talking. But what kind of revolution? That is the question….
Opponents of capitalism are used to having their names dragged through the mud by the state but we don’t need to help the bastards do it in practice. Anybody who kicks in the window of a bank or a fast food joint is handing the state a propaganda victory on a plate.
You can’t bring down capitalism in the street. At best you can temporarily annoy it. Is that worth getting busted, or busted up, for? Don’t kid yourself that mayhem and rioting is a real threat to capitalism. Modern states have massive coercive power, and they can stand a lot more heat than you can deliver, and they can dish out a lot more heat than you can take.
To be dangerous to capitalism, we have to win the war of ideas, in the newspapers, on TV, amongst our friends and co-workers, in our groups, in our own head. And we have to be united about what we want after capitalism, and united about how to get it. Otherwise, the grim truth is that we really won’t get past Go.
For a revolution to be any good, you have to be for something, besides being against capitalism. Some people are just against big capitalism (WTO, IMF, World Bank, multinationals, etc) as if somehow ‘small’ national capitalism is a completely different thing, and perfectly nice. It’s not. They’re the same. Let’s have a definition: capitalism is production for sale on a market with a view to profit.
Instead of that we could have: cooperative production for use and free distribution on the basis of need. This would involve: no markets, no money, no commodities, no private property, no rich class and poor class, no Third World and First World, no profit-led profligacy of any description, no ecological destruction, no famine, and no war.
Think that’s unlikely? It isn’t. Capitalism has taken us as far as it can go, but there’s a lot further we can go without it. It doesn’t really matter whether you call it post-capitalism, world socialism, or post-scarcity anarchism, it is feasible and desirable. And given that some scientists are talking about a point of no-return for environmental destruction being reached, the word ‘urgent’ springs to mind too.