ASCENDANCE/DECADENCE OF CAPITALISM
Capitalism was progressive during its ascendance i.e., in its formative stage. During this phase, all its necessary formations and reformations were progressive, even though it emerged having been drenched in sweat and blood. Consequently, both the capitalist and working classes were sprouting at their decisive point in time. They were growing – evolving. All the productive forces – means of production, instruments of labour and labour-power, were developing within the womb of its newborn relations of production. Hence here the working-class movements for formation/reformation were progressive simply because the elimination of capitalist relations, which were just taking shapes, was out of the question, even though consciousness about its negation i.e., socialism in its seminal juncture began to appear as working-class ideas and interests besides the ruling ideas and interests of the capitalist class. Both the classes were involved in severing feudal relations of production and installing capitalist ones. This was the epoch of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. This was inevitable, simply because, “No social order is ever destroyed before all the productive forces for which it is sufficient to have been developed, and new superior relations of production never replace older ones before the material conditions for their existence have matured within the framework of the old society. “Mankind thus inevitably sets itself only such tasks as it is able to solve since closer examination will always show that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution are already present or at least in the course of formation.” – Marx, http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1859/critique-poleconomy/preface.htm “
As soon as this process of transformation has sufficiently decomposed the old society from top to bottom, as soon as the labourers are turned into proletarians, their means of labour into capital as soon as the capitalist mode of production stands on its own feet, then the further socialization of labour and further transformation of the land and other means of production into socially exploited and, therefore, common means of production, as well as the further expropriation of private proprietors, takes a new form. That which is now to be expropriated is no longer the labourer working for himself, but the capitalist exploiting many labourers. This expropriation is accomplished by the action of the immanent laws of capitalistic production itself, by the centralization of capital. One capitalist always kills many.
Hand in hand with this centralization, or this expropriation of many capitalists by few, develop, on an ever-extending scale, the cooperative form of the labour process, the conscious technical application of science, the methodical cultivation of the soil, the transformation of the instruments of labour into instruments of labour only usable in common, the economizing of all means of production by their use as means of production of combined, socialized labour, the entanglement of all peoples in the net of the world market, and with this, the international character of the capitalistic regime. Along with the constantly diminishing number of the magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolize all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too grows the revolt of the working class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organized by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself. The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under it. Centralization of the means of production and socialization of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.
“The capitalist mode of appropriation, the result of the capitalist mode of production, produces capitalist private property. This is the first negation of individual private property, as founded on the labour of the proprietor. But capitalist production begets, with the inexorability of a law of Nature, its own negation. It is the negation of the negation. This does not re-establish private property for the producer but gives him individual property based on the acquisition of the capitalist era: i.e., on cooperation and the possession in common of the land and of the means of production.
“The transformation of scattered private property, arising from individual labour, into capitalist private property is, naturally, a process, incomparably more protracted, violent, and difficult, than the transformation of capitalistic private property, already practically resting on socialized production, into socialized property. In the former case, we had the expropriation of the mass of the people by a few usurpers; in the latter, we have the expropriation of a few usurpers by the mass of the people. “- Marx, https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch32.htm
For world socialist revolution to occur two interrelated conditions must mature – the subjective condition i.e., the revolutionary will and organization of the working class on a world scale and the objective condition i.e., a comprehensive material maturity of the productive forces for abundance. Until the end of the 19th-century, revolutionary replacement of capitalism was impossible since these necessary conditions were not yet ripe.
However, by the beginning of the 20th century, the situation reversed. Capitalism has entered into its era of decadence. Decadence – because, then onwards, the revolutionary situation (objective condition) remains ready but the revolution has not happened owing to immaturity of working-class consciousness and organization (subjective condition).
As Marx announced, “At a certain stage of development, the material productive forces of society come into conflict with the existing relations of production or – this merely expresses the same thing in legal terms – with the property relations within the framework of which they have operated hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces, these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an era of social revolution.” http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1859/critique-pol-economy/preface.htm
Thus, mankind has reached the “era of social revolution” but the revolution is yet to begin. Capitalism has gone into its phase of global crisis cycles and anarchy leading to world wars involving capital against capital, fomenting national prejudices and pitting workers against workers to slaughter one another, destroying productive forces on all contending sides and producing misery, poverty, pauperism, waste, pollution and environment destruction. This is, however, not to say that capital has come to a dead halt. Capital’s nature of exploitation, appropriation and accumulation of surplus value continues as long as it exists.
In fact, “the nature of capital remains the same in its developed as in its undeveloped stage,” says Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Moscow 1974, p.272, footnote 3.
Capital develops unevenly through concentration and centralization. And for that matter capital is still going on accumulating globally whereby one capital kills many giving rises to gigantic conglomerates. Accumulation is going through destruction and annihilation. This is reactionary. This is decadence.
Productive forces have developed to the stage of both actual and potential abundance for all. But the working-class consciousness and organization have remained subdued under the domination of capitalist ideas and interests – constantly and crushingly campaigned by all-pervading “right”-“left”-“centre” chronicles and ideologies. They comprise all various belligerent factions of capital. Although they use different names and slogans on their banners, they don’t have any scientific alternative to capital’s devastatingly continued reproduction. They are mere reformists of all various hues. We have experienced enough of such things. And enough is enough! They have given capitalism a century-long anachronistic existence. Measures that were once very necessary and useful for the maturation of the system have already more or less accomplished their tasks and grown old and intransigent. The material productive forces of society have come into conflict with the existing relations of production. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations have turned into their fetters or, in other words, the productive forces have outgrown the production relations.
As Marx and Engels declared in advance long ago in 1848,
“The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them. … And here it becomes evident, that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class of society, and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an overriding law. It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state, that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this bourgeoisie, in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society.” (Manifesto of the Communist Party, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1977, pp. 42, 48)
In advance because “consciousness can sometimes appear further advanced than the contemporary empirical conditions so that in the struggles of a later epoch one can refer to earlier theoreticians as authorities.” (Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, I. Feuerbach, Collected Works, Vol. 5, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1976, p.83)
The history of the past hundred years has shown us that the reformist movements around the world have not only gone futile but also have increasingly grown reactionary by providing capitalism with a new lease of life by the entire capitalist media which has baffled the people as a whole. Above and beyond, the leftists and the Leninists have extremely confused the workers who actually defend capitalism by its left-wing. Now we need a change – a radical change at the foundation of society – and more – a change of the base-structure-superstructure of society – lock, stock, and barrel.
This brings forth the precise task of the present-day socialists to hasten the revolution by rousing class consciousness through education and organization of the working class worldwide. The working class is not required to establish any eternal truth or to realize any far-fetched ideal, but to set free the elements of the new society with which the old collapsing capitalist society itself is pregnant. “… the proletariat can and must emancipate itself. But it cannot emancipate itself without abolishing the conditions of its own life. It cannot abolish the conditions of its own life without abolishing all the inhuman conditions of life of society today, which are summed up in its own situation.” (Marx and Engels, The Holy Family, 1845, CW, Vol. 4, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1975, p. 37). Once again: “The proletarians cannot become masters of the productive forces of society, except by abolishing their own previous mode of appropriation, and thereby also every other previous mode of appropriation.” http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communistmanifesto/ch01.htm#007
Remember Marx’s famous pronouncement:
“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.” (Theses on Feuerbach, 1845, Marx Engels CW, Vol. 5, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1976, p. 5)
Binay Sarkar 16/07/2013
World Socialist Party (India)