Naming the external 'sacred truths' of capitalism2020-10-15
"In such a society, humans tend to use technology to try to overpower or control nature.
Such a perspective, however, is based on a number of assumptions about how the world operates and what the role of humans is, or should be.
Gordon and Suzuki (1991) referred to these assumptions as sacred truths with which we have all grown up. Included in these assumptions are beliefs such as...
- Nature is infinite
- Growth is progress
- Science and technology will solve our problems
- All of nature is at our disposal
- We can manage the planet
As it turns out, these assumptions are not only inaccurate, but behavior, practices, and policies based upon these beliefs now threaten the existence of human, animal, and plant life as it currently exists on the ᴘʟᴀɴᴇᴛ."
The above "sacred" truths
are outlined in Technology and the Quality of Life, 1996, 45th Yearbook. They are given as a trait of "humans" or "human society", but more accurately are a trait of capitalism and the capitaloscene than we internalize.
Peoples of what are called "affluent contries" are born or migrating into capitalism: as consumers and employees. The bargain for our attention and labor repays both: with the Spectacle, not quite shared but walked in lockstep; and the economic inequality and social distress that dogs us still.
Organized labor and production on egalitarian lines is one avenue of advance against the capitaloscene. This has been understood by many revolutionaries; including the Ukrainian Free Territories (UFT), IWW, IWA, Spanish CNT-AIT, Zapatistas, Black Panther Party (BPP), and Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (NES). These organizations, and others, emphasize women's liberation, racial equity, and the subordination of militant hierarchies or party appartus. For instance, in the foreward to "Autonomy Is in Our Hearts", John Clark introduces the excellent writing of Ian Fitzwater and the background to the struggle of the Zapatistas:
"The question of the nature of power is a crucial one for revolutionary politics. If there are to be institutions such as an army, an administrative apparatus, a party, or even a quasi-state apparatus, these must all be subordinated to the self-organized autonomous (self-determining) community. The Zapatista revolution is notable for addressing this issue in relation to an army, just as the Democratic Autonomy Movement in Rojava is significant for broaching it in relation to a party."
And, further on:
"One of the most revolutionary aspects of the Zapatista struggle against all forms of domination is its rejection of patriarchal authoritarian conceptions of society and social change and its commitment to the liberation of women, equality for women, and full participation by women at all levels of organization and decision-making."
These two excerpts assert that not one, but two very recent grassroots, social movements have achieved meaningful gains for large populations and territories, rejuvinating the social spirit & the land against capital. The extraction of surplus value by coerced labor, cursed the sacred earth.
All this despite overwhelming military and security assaults against them. As for racial equality, the struggles of the UFT, Civil Rights Movement, BPP, and IWW are more thoroughly documented - their echoes being frequently traced by ametuer scholars - and underscore the historical popular support for liberation, and material success against overwhelming odds.
Yet, these revolutions have in most historical cases stalled, and in modern cases appear 'stuck'. I.e., the conflict against the State & Capital are sustained, the resistance fierce; but the battle lines, while shifting, tend to seem shrinking.
Of course, there are historical liberatory movements alive and well today -- dormant echoes -- as well as fresh upstarts. In the United States, many tenant's unions and mutual aid networks are today making confidant strides in freedom. Further, autonomous protest movements like Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Black Bloc (BB) rage against capital's greed, and while electoral/reformist currents like the DSA and Green Party are allowed to race in the two-party league, they don't get the funding required to win. So-called revolutionary media act as much as media duchies as liberatory education, a material consequence of their roots.
Funding may be required for republican representation, but it is not required for political action, nor democratic decision-making.
Generally speaking, all the organizations discussed since quoting John Clark have not developed class consciousness, voluntary collectivization, and dual power in general over such a wide territory or for so long. The Zapatistas and NES are living exceptions.
The UFT, CRM, BPP, and IWW are all defunct or undercurrents. BLM and the BB's militancy does not match their regenerative capacity or organization. For this reason, they are sustained by consuming alienated products. They are not self-sufficient upon the land, as if savanah spears and stone slings could stand against capital's enforcers. Yet, electoral movements have also been disparaged here. What movement - of militants, political actors, producers, etc. is required to sustain the type of revolutionary drive to remake the capitaloscene?
We have covered many revolutionary movements, although obviously there are far more unrepresented. But one in particular deserves attention for addressing capital's bargain: we give our attention and labor, as consumers and employees, to capital. Capital repays our labor with alien wages, that we spend on alien mass-market products.
"Capital" in this context must be understood as an artificial intelligence, a very material organization composed of states and corporations whose memory and behavior is embedded in social, financial, and electronic memory. Military history. Legal records. Etc. These are physical things, being puppeteered by what some advanced sections call the "kyriarchy" or "capitaloscene". "Existential threat" is also applied. A constellation more than a real organization, capital's interests are autonomously staked and executed. After all, the police have mutual aid agreements, too.
The questions of why our global society represses the disadvantaged sex; marginalized genders & identities; chaotically subjugates labelled ethnicities (minority or majority, depending on the economic balance); the poor, unhoused and mentally ill; why it favors standarization and globalization over autonomous local production; have all been asked by many of the real examples named prior, and by politicians, generals, & economists of the school of capitalism to boot.
There is a large collection of civilizations still standing against capitalism: First Peoples. These must be protected by the information and industrial proletariat. Yet, there have always been insurgent strains of anti-feudalism, anti-monarchism, anti-capitalism, anti-bolshevism. Those reaching a critical mass can be understood as forming cultures indigenious to their time and place, by anarchistic evolution and mass social revolution. Besides the many historical organizations discussed, anti-capitalist currents could arguably include monastoic, buddhist, enlightment, and back-to-the-land movements. None can conscript like capitalism.
There remains the question of why the proletariat in advanced capitalist countries continue to support the system with labor and attention. The accusation that we do is devastatingly leveled by Rainer Shea. Furthermore, reference widespread reports of rebounding natural habitats & wild places in the wake of shutdowns & shelter-in-place orders issued by states during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Taking our foot off the gas immediately cools down the engine of our society, our brains; it cuts the exhaust being spewed into the world. Yet, self-awareness of this fact -- which is always bubbling under the surface of most critical humans -- has not broken them out of capitalism's hold or ways. Many either deny it out of adherance to their dogma, or accept it as an overwhelming force: internalizing alienation and anomie. An advanced section continues to develop themselves and community dual power daily.
But the critical addendum in the question, why the proletariat devotes to the system labor and information's material labor, attention, why we venerate capital's sacred truths despite knowing better, has not been asked by our contemporaries since the Situationists burst onto the scene.