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Unprofitable of the World, Unite!

by Robert Kurz Thursday, Dec. 30, 2004 at 6:57 PM

Capaitalism is a threat to humanity, not a chance.. The logic underlying this system is simple and brutal. Only what is profitable is entitled to live.. Capital is insatiably greedy for human labor to transform labor into more and more capital..


By Robert Kurz

[This essay originally published in: ND 5/2/2003 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,]

Capitalism is a threat to humanity, not a chance. Even many higher income folks slowly recognize this now. The logic underlying this system is simple and brutal. Only what is profitable is entitled to live. Profit alone is not enough. Capitalism must move at the height of the standard of profitability. This measuring rod is set higher and higher in finance capitalism.

Two results are inescapable: Firstly, capital is insatiably greedy for human labor to transform labor into more and more capital for the irrational end-in-itself of exploitation. From this view, people are material, “labor power” and nothing more. Secondly, labor is only “important” on the level of profitability. The capitalist greed to suck dry human vitality underlies this standard.

This core brutality lurks in the unconscious of the system. This brutality is so terrible that no one wants to see it, no manager, no politician and no ideologist. Nevertheless it exists and declares” all persons incapable of work are on principle unworthy of life. This could include all children and young persons who are not yet capable of work even if they will be burnt out as labor material as soon as they can run. This could include all sick persons, disabled and so forth who represent mere cost factors and all senior citizens no longer able to work who could be somehow exploited on their deathbeds. Finally, there are the unemployed who are “superfluous”. The capitalist logic passes this judgment over individuals and over spheres and institutions. Training, education, care, intercession, the public health system, art and culture and so forth appear as dead costs that can be eliminated.

Obviously every society that executes this logic would immediately collapse. The logic of capital is as blind and insensitive as a physical process. Since capitalism keeps humanity as material for its own insatiable desires, it must be outwitted somehow. Originally only women were considered competent for survival and thus for the “unprofitable necessities”. The exploitation process does not spurn feminine flesh or “nerve, muscle and brain” (Marx). However a double burden is charged to women whether in the state-capitalist societies of the former eastern bloc, the western centers or the slums of the third world. For them, the reproduction-grind continues for the capitalist part of life “unworthy of life”.

The women alone would have long collapsed under this burden or the society would have disintegrated. Therefore the state must strengthen the secondary areas of “life unworthy of life” outside of profitability through taxes, fees and insurance systems, that is by tapping the profitable exploitation process. This process was regarded as more or less “social”. The historical capitalism criticism was largely limited to the quantity of this tapping while the dreadful base logic remained untouched in the dark. This was possible (with crisis-laden interruptions) as long as the exploitation process was understood historically as advancing and more and more profitable labor was drawn in. This expansion came to a standstill with the third industrial revolution. The measuring rod of profitability is set too high. More and more persons capable of work fall through. As a result, the tapping of exploitation for the secondary areas dried up.

The long hidden Medusa-head of the innermost capitalist logic is visible. All over the world, the “unprofitable” experience their relative or absolute “worthlessness”. The long-term unemployed, children, young persons, the disabled and senior citizens are struck with iron consistency. This happens faster or slower but inexorably according to the land and world market situation. Even in relatively “rich” capitalist Germany, insurance benefits are driven down, medical services, care of the aged and the sick are thinned out, social pensions blamed and kindergartens closed. The plaster falls from the walls in the schools; teaching aids are outdated and gone to seed. No end can be seen in the planned cuts. The whole social reproduction is affected.

“Agenda 2010” is an agenda of the profitability mania that knows no social or moral limit since its scope is very narrow. The political and economic class appeal only to the silent capitalist social physics. The helpless old capitalism criticism dies out. The former specialists for social improvement have changed to cosmetic limitations of damage in deteriorating conditions. Assistant gravediggers of human society have arisen out of the supposed gravediggers of capitalism. The old union-social democratic role has inverted to the opposite under the new historical conditions. Describing the expected result of the weak rebellion against “Agenda 2010” as a rotten compromise would be flattering.

Where the capacity of government had to be sacrificed in the name of social resistance, social resistance conversely is sacrificed in the name of capacity of government. The social resistance will not stand by this agenda. What is praised as sacrifice for the alleged preservation of “unprofitable” areas of life is only a part of the way into the historical cul-de-sac of the capitalist auto-cannibalism. This system cannot outwit itself any more in its hostility to life. The absurd profitability itself must fall. Unprofitable of the world, unite!

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