imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Capitalism Criticism: Inexorable Struggle for Survival

by Werner Seppmann Friday, Jul. 08, 2005 at 3:00 AM
mbatko@lycos.com

"The civilized foundation of cooperative human life is furtively undermined by the capitalist form of organizing society.. Rational objectives often capsize into social irrationa-lity.. Unemployment is a form of violence.."

CAPITALISM CRITICISM:

INEXORABLE STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL

The process of de-civilization advances faster and faster. A half-hearted capitalism criticism will not stop this de-civilization.

By Werner Seppmann

[This article published in: Junge Welt, 6/25/2005 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.jungewelt.de/2005/06-25/004.php.]




Capitalism criticism long made taboo is discussed again. However the “strong” words readily accepted by large parts of the public never reach the core of the problem. The economic mis-developments that were Muntefering’s immediate theme were not related to the socially destructive character of the capitalist reproduction character of the capitalist reproduction dynamic and its unrelenting capital accumulation. Identifying intellectually the social polarization and processes of exclusion and impoverishment as the elementary law of the capitalist way of socialization was also carefully avoided.

This “capitalism criticism” is an “overture” to a “new” reformism. Everything deserving criticism in the current crisis development including the subjugation of human life interests under the calculus of short-term profit maximization is considered a “deviation” from an organized system of human metabolism with nature acceptable in principle and worth defending. In a certain way, Muntefering’s intervention reflects an interpretation within the movement of globalization critics that – ignoring essential points – strives for a socially compatible and ecologically “sustainable” organization of the capitalist “modern age”.

Such analyses prove increasingly inadequate for the intensified problems. The present crisis has started a dynamic of socio-cultural self-destruction that can hardly be stopped by partial measures. The civilized foundation of cooperative human life is furtively undermined by the capitalist form of organizing society.

Several aspects of this tendency of socio-cultural self-destruction are very striking:

Individual advantages are often only gained at the expense of others through the structural conditions in the economy and society. The concentration on immediate profit leads to neglect of many long-term aspects.

Rational objectives regularly capsize into social irrationality on account of the dominant structures of economic life. According to capitalist “efficiency criteria,” it is “reasonable” to exclude surplus sellers of labor power without thinking about the resulting social disorganization phenomena.

The universalization of violence and the decay of cultural standards mark the capitalist-dominated world system. Militarily-flanked hegemonial strategies are reflected in the aggression escalation in the interior of “developed” countries.

The capitalist form of developing productive capacities is connected with reduced prosperity for broad sectors of the population. Poverty and neediness are spreading globally and within metropolitan societies despite increased social wealth.

Meaningful work on which social reproduction and individual identity are based is denied an ever-larger part of the population. They are excluded from elementary social connections.

People are often told to their faces that they are not needed economically any more and are socially useless according to the prevailing rules of the game. The “superfluous” are increasingly socially marginalized and forced to zones of neediness. The readiness of the dominant block to actively encourage social division has a striking background. The number of persons necessary for surplus value production has rapidly decreased and will continue decreasing. There are plausible estimates that sufficient jobs will only exist for 20 percent of the working population in the foreseeable future.

INSTRUMENTALIZATION OF PERSONS

In its consequences, unemployment is an act of violence, an attack on the integrity of working people. The unemployed are humiliated and exposed to an inner-psychic conflict through the devaluation of an essential orientation pattern to which they are hardly equal any more in a climate of intensified competition and social contradictions. In its pressure to optimize conditions, capital has torn asunder social connections and instrumentalized people for exploitation. Life contexts imparting feelings of reliability and mentally stabilizing people and forms of solidarity have been destroyed by the pressure of working- and living conditions in risk capitalism in the purgatory of “deregulation” and “flexibility.” “Besides national resources, the capitalist modernization process”, the social-psychologist Gotz Eisenberg writes, “also consumes those assets of tradition on which broken continued existence depends, the identity-giving connections, family, moral standards and all the virtues of `little people’ who form the social cohesion of society.”

The pressure of crises and change instilling fear is the lever for adjusting living conditions and human feelings and thoughts to the exigencies of a radicalized commercializing economy. The institutionalization of insecurity guarantees the universal controllability of the “whole person,” leading him or her to be completely integrated in the self-valorization cycle of capital.

Intellectually understanding their contradictory life situation is hardly still possible for people in risk capitalism through the structural “inscrutability” of social conditions. Orientation models that are just to reality are lost to them through the ruin of the class milieu. Experiences of social threat and exclusion have their correspondences in feelings of powerlessness and syndromes of anxiety leading to further damage of mental powers of resistance and stability.

FLEXIBILITY AND UNSCRUPULOUSNESS

Whoever is not socially marginalized is forced to a fragmentary “identity” through the functional principles of a “flexible” capitalism. People must be maneuverable and unscrupulous if they do not want to break down. They must be morally “disposable” and “able to cope with a heavy workload” if they want to master their life within “deregulated” social conditions. As positive qualities, the French philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard, a pioneer of a “post-modern thinking,” identified subjective demands for a “contemporary” existence: “elasticity, tolerance and maneuverability.” That such qualities of “post-modern” people, their “flowing identities” and “pliable psyches,” correspond exactly to the demand process of a “neoliberal economy” does not occur to this pseudo-critical stylish philosophy.

While flexibility and agility are urged as qualities of subjects, ruthlessness as a maxim of social conduct and practical persuasiveness has a new categorical imperative: “Act so your interests can prevail without regard for the consequences.” An attitude prepared for conflict in this social environment is demanded of people as well as an obsessive relation to themselves. A US bank manager speaks of a “progressive capitalism whose raw and brutal climate imposes a strict discipline on participants.” A pressure to self-commodification, an instrumentalized capitalist individuality and a personality structure oriented to the competitive society are envisioned. Whoever does not succumb must constantly try to give his best. He may not stop since social existence can only be secured by striving forward.

Everyday subjects are divided in their identity structure and fragmented like the social conditions surrounding them by the dominant pressure of adaptation and the often contradictory demands. Reliable orientation points as prerequisites of self-determined life are hardly available to them any more. They are driven and ruled by objective pressures. They often see themselves confronted with threatening social situations (job- and existential uncertainty) to which they are only able to react with resignation and desperate rage. In their helplessness, large parts of the population are susceptible for irrational worldview fragments, authoritarian interpretation models and racist delusions since they promise a deceitful orientation security and psychic relief in a world experienced as inscrutable and threatening.

With its humiliations and threats, the dominant capitalist life praxis is in contradiction to the personal obligations of a middle-class society that once inscribed universal prosperity and the rationality of social conditions on its flag. Instead, it produces social contradictions and a technocratic rationality with a destruction tendency that can hardly be restrained.

Through the radicalization of profit strategies, a confrontation climate is generalized. A great pressure for action prevails that does not consider either individual ability or social orientations. An egoistic élan of enforcement has become normality. With visible pride, a manager of the media corporation Bertelsmann told the press about his conduct in rehabilitating a merged rival through job cuts. I “shot according to the motto: Even if it strikes an innocent one, it is responsible. The innocent must also be moved.” Individual and social conditions are no longer in keeping with the times. The businesses constantly increase their profitability. But whoever is over 50 will be removed from occupational life. Living conditions in globalized capitalism are marked by the inexorability of the struggle for survival, the absolute emphasis on performance and the ruthless striving forwards. The consequences are repression and elimination of the weak and superfluous.

BETWEEN COMPETITION AND VIOLENCE

The repression- and exclusion strategies marking economic life dominate the social climate even in the private areas. They form the breeding ground for collective and individual forms of violence, for a “culture of hatred” (Hobsbawm) that can hardly be controlled and that increases in extent and intensity and has become a “foregone conclusion” in many social areas.

Through a universalized pressure of existence and probation, a hostile attitude toward fellow-persons develops since they are experienced as the “opposition” to their own interests. In a situation of high unemployment, everyone is felt to be a rival for the scarce jobs. Consideration is seen as an obstacle to success through the deregulated performance expectations. The result is a brutalization of behavior patterns and a decay of socio-cultural standards. Capitalist competition- and crisis pressure, internalized striving for success and self-oppression, institutionalized exclusion and socio-cultural “pathologies” form a dense plexus of causes and effects. Therefore the aggressive youth who hits his fellow-student lying on the ground is only a reflection of that “successful” manager who pockets extra-bonuses for destroying many jobs. “Like acid rain, the cynicism and amorality of the big bounty-hunters seep through from the top of the (social) pyramid to the middle” (J. Ziegler).

The increasing brutalization of social relations is described in the everyday consciousness with the terms “social coldness” and “cut-throat society” or “elbow society.” Even in the kindergartens and elementary schools, an uninhibited competitive conduct in everyday life is encouraged. Children are urged to “use their elbows.” From the second grade, schools sort students as to whether they see the connection of competition, learning readiness and personal advancement through the demands of schools and the pressure of parents.

THE PRESSURE OF CONSTANT TESTS

The grave economic forms of contradiction only represent one side of capitalist reality. Individual distress, enforced mental conformity and social estrangement are closely connected with the development of social crises. The consequences of this emotional instrumentalization and disciplining of human subjectivity have not been emphasized enough in leftist discussions. Mental injuries are massively produced and emotional devastations are caused by compulsive forms of self-discipline. The competition- and adjustment-pressure of social performance represents a permanent contradiction to human needs of personal development.

Whoever can no longer keep up with the speed of the “performance-oriented society” and cannot stand up to the psychic suffering resulting from increased demands and the feeling of latent insecurity flees – often at the price of self-destruction – to legal and illegal drugs. Addicts (estimated at 150,000 in Germany) are only the most visible expression of this problem complex. The millions of persons dependent on alcohol and tablets are a clearer reflection of the pathological state of a society in which people feel isolated and lost despite highly developed communication possibilities.

Many people suffer under social relationlessness and ruthlessness, uncertain future perspectives and the unrelenting pressure to perform. They are burnt out and feel their life is meaningless despite their constant effort. They sense they are missing something essential in their lives and have been driven without living themselves. The conditions change at a speed that only a few can follow. The “flexible person” is uprooted (R. Sennett) since social bonds stand in the way of an economic self-exploitation and the demanded universal availability that often requires unlimited commitment of time and geographic mobility.

FEAR OF CHANGES

The dominant socialization principles prove less and less adequate to current problems and are artificially kept alive at the price of increasing contradictions. The inability to react appropriately to existential problems is an expression of a fatal circle of alienation and self-estrangement that unites rulers and ruled in developed corporations. Because the struggle for survival absorbs all intellectual and mental strength, creative socio-cultural competence cannot develop any more to the necessary extent. A normative and emotional vacuum arises since more and more intellectual and mental energy must be mobilized to repress the elementary contradictions. Inner and outer threat scenarios are “cultivated” to divert from the social contradictions. What earlier was the “threat from the East” is today “Islamic terrorism” that imperialist policy itself nourishes and whose “combating” takes the form of an authoritarian structuring of many social areas. The “state of emergency” insidiously becomes normality.

The assumption that every strategy for solving problems flows into a system question is strengthened within the dominant block along with the inability to think beyond daily affairs and develop perspectivist orientations. Deficient future orientation and incapacity for consistent political organization complement one another. Because change perspectives are taboo, tendencies of social disintegration can develop their own dynamic and condense to a fundamental crisis of civilization. Possible and necessary change is obstructed, the problems intensify and society in its totality is destabilized. Then problems of civilization decay move into the center of social reality.

[The author has published “Dialectic of De-Civilization. Crisis, Irrationalism and Violence” (1995) and “Actuality of Capitalism Criticism” (2003).]

Report this post as:

LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 6 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
But what do we do? Meyer London Friday, Jul. 08, 2005 at 7:26 AM
The answer B_A Friday, Jul. 08, 2005 at 3:29 PM
'Cubans are starving.' Sheepdog Friday, Jul. 08, 2005 at 4:41 PM
Future of Capitalism Chop Chop Friday, Jul. 08, 2005 at 5:56 PM
sorry, johnk, but you'll have to do better than that IP Freely Saturday, Jul. 09, 2005 at 10:06 AM
BTW IP Freely Saturday, Jul. 09, 2005 at 10:08 AM

Local News

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A12 5:39PM

lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Xyloglossie attitudinale A23 8:07AM

Shadowgun Legends Hack and Cheats A23 7:24AM

What does the Quran Say About Islamic Dress?? A21 4:15PM

Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée A20 11:22AM

The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion A20 7:14AM

Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service A19 5:52PM

The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally! A19 4:01PM

The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder A19 11:48AM

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges A09 4:18AM

Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes A08 10:33PM

Amy Goodman interview on cell phone safety A08 10:29PM

Mesa, Arizona police officer kills unarmed white man A08 9:50PM

Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes A08 9:48PM

Paraphysique de l'autorité A08 12:11AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy