Capitalism has fully captured the political sphere into its existential orbit. Man’s political being has been alienated from him and absorbed into a „public sphere” that is now the private property of corrupt party oligarchies. The „public sphere” has become a vehicle for eliminating sociability, with its implications of a community of emancipated political beings. The citizen is reduced to a part of the voting machinery, with „elections” providing a „democratic” legitimacy to the ruling order. The political sphere has become a political circus, and the „political struggle” between parties is now a struggle for power between the most powerful capitalist groups. The elections are always won by capitalism, while workers remain defeated.
The economic sphere of capitalism has become the undisputed totalizing power over all social life. It confronts the citizen as a constitutive agent of (bourgeois) society and reduces him, through the „consumer” way of life, to a depoliticized and depersonalized subject. A vast majority of citizens in the most advanced capitalist countries live in debt‐ slavery. What „freedom” can man enjoy if he is literally a slave to the banks and thus to the current capitalist order? His life, as well as the life of his family, is immediately conditioned by his „indebtedness”. For millions of citizens in the most developed capitalist countries, „freedom” is just the choice between prison, begging and suicide.
The destruction of nature and its transformation into man’s enemy constitutes the destruction of humanity’s emancipatory legacy, the possibility of creating a humane society and developing man as a humane and natural being. By destroying nature, capitalism makes man increasingly dependent on it and thus reduces the existential space necessary to realize the emancipatory potential of civil society. The increasingly dramatic destruction of the fundamentals of human existence leads to the rise of new forms of totalitarianism. The creation of a „new world order”, under which the most powerful capitalist concerns intend to destroy the institutional structure that enables citizens to express their sovereign political will and defend their existential interests, is brought about by capitalist destruction. The rise of totalitarianism goes hand in hand with the destruction of life: capitalism destroys democratic institutions and the germ of a novum created by bourgeois society and establishes a global fascism based on an ecocidal terrorism. In this context, the political struggle of the oppressed is degenerated with their criminalization, with their resentment over being coerced into large‐scale, murderous violence. By destroying the emancipatory legacy of civil society, capitalism destroys the critical‐changing and visionary mind, moral reasoning, spirituality, man’s erotic and social being – all the qualities that make man human ‐ and, thus, calls into question the very existence of the visionary and changing practice necessary to realizing the objective possibilities of creating a new world.
„Indirect democracy” implies intellectual elitism and thus an intellectual „elite” that mediates between man and the world and makes the decisions that determine the future of humanity. The members of the French Enlightenment and Classical German philosophers, as well as the philosophers belonging to the school of English Liberalism, maintained that the world should be pervaded by the mind through the rule of an „enlightened elite” over „common citizens”. They sought to shape modern reason as the expression of an idea of the world of the newly elevated bourgeois class that will mediate between man and the world, and as an undisputed criterion for determining „truth” and „correct conduct”. Reason can no longer be the privilege of the intellectual „elite”, it must become man’s basic right. All the more significant was the intention to „return” reason to the people by eradicating the class order, for man’s ability to relate to the world and the future in a reasonable way is not only a basic preconditions of human freedom, but also a basic preconditions for humanity’s survival.
Instead of a new „great philosophy”, which would mediate between man and the world, thereby forming the basis of human self‐consciousness and the starting point for social practice, people must develop a way of thinking that will lead their thinking about vital existential and essential issues and enable them to develop a combative sociability to bring an end to capitalism and create a new world. Only within a political struggle can reason take on a changing dimension. Without everyday political engagement, reason, in itself, regardless of its „quality”, can only hinder the struggle for survival and freedom. In this context, people should not use philosophy to mystify and defend the ruling order. Reasonable people should become the leading force in the demystification of capitalist „progress” and the creation of a vision of the future. It is in this context that Marx’s XI Thesis on Feuerbach, together with the idea that the „correct theory is the consciousness of a world‐changing practice”, reveals its true value.
The increasingly dramatic threat to man’s immediate existence is the basis for the integration of the objective and subjective factors of changes. Capitalism’s existential menacing, perhaps, explains a concern expressed by Martin Jay to Marcuse in The Dialectical Imagination: „Indeed, to make this short digression, the key question of the possibility of a change in a society that controls the consciousness of its members remains in the major part of Marcuse’s later work, especially in One‐Dimensional Man, as a disturbing issue.“ (31) Capitalism can control the consciousness of its citizens and depoliticize them only as long as it offers them the possibility of participating in the development of a „consumer society”, as long as it can reduce them to a „consuming mass”. The development of „consumer society“ is immediately conditioned by the severe devastation of natural resources and the creation of climate changes that seriously threaten the survival of a growing number of people. These processes will inevitably call into question the consumer fanaticism and conformist consciousness, which are, in actual fact, the most important instruments available to the ruling order for pulling citizens into the spiritual and social orbits of capitalism and keeping them under control. In this context, a call for „justice” takes on a new relevance. It implies the right to a healthy environment, to clean air and water and healthy food… The immediate existential threat caused by the destruction of nature, as well as the deepening economic and social crises that affect an ever larger number of „middle class” citizens, undermines the petty bourgeois spiritual sphere that „protects” man from any responsibility for global demise and leads to the development of a critical thinking and increasingly radical forms of struggle against capitalism. A positive aspect of the development of capitalism as a totalitarian destructive order is that it imposes the existential necessity for a reasonable alternative, forces man to become a totalizing life‐creating being, and, as a global order, leads humanity to integrate its efforts to create a reasonable and humane world.
All forms of mediation between man and (his) world will be obviated by man’s becoming an active participant in the management of social processes. As an authentic being, man should, in close cooperation with other people, become the creator of his own world. It is about the affirmation of existential humanism, based on a life‐creating relation to the world as the basis for determining man’s being. In spite of the increasingly aggressive brainwashing man undergoes on a daily basis, the growingly acute existential crisis compels people to turn to essential issues and begin to think in a serious, that is, a reasonable way. The immediate threat looming over the lives of more and more people enables the broadest layers of society to be pervaded by reason and to take control over their social lives. The ever‐deepening crisis of capitalism creates concrete social conditions under which the critical and visionary mind can become a concrete possibility for „ordinary” people, those whose existence is ever more directly and dramatically jeopardized by capitalism. Only a reasonable man can foresee and prevent the consequences of the development of capitalism, and only a reasonable man can create a reasonable world. The a priori character of a possible socialist revolution gives reason a superb political significance.
Capitalism has brought humanity to the edge of the abyss, rendering the „traditional“ theoretical discussions meaningless. It confronts man in the most direct way, compelling him to grasp the essence of capitalism without a mystifying theoretical mediation. Conditions have been created for discarding the way of thinking and the ideas that serve to relativize destruction and turn concrete issues into theoretical questions – thus mutilating the active power of a changing intention. The only meaningful thought is the one that directs man to fight for survival, whereas the creation of a new world involves a confrontation not only with capitalism, but also with the consequences of capitalism as a totalitarian destructive order. The increasingly threatened and thus increasingly dangerous environment leads to the experience of a global demise becoming the driving force of political practice, thereby replacing theoretical considerations. Capitalism has discarded all ideological masks and demystified the truth. Man no longer needs science or philosophy in order to understand that capitalism destroys life along with man as a human and biological being. Capitalism, itself, as a totalitarian destructive order, has created an excellent starting point for a critique of capitalism that, at the same time, represents an undisputed guideline for the political struggle: the truth has become survival, while the struggle for the truth has become the struggle for survival. This immediately conditions the relation between theory and practice. The increasingly dramatic destruction of global life means that „changing of the world” amounts to preventing its destruction. Social phenomena obtain a concrete (affirmative and negative) meaning only in terms of efforts to stop the destruction of life and to create a new world. Only a political practice that eradicates the causes of global destruction is legitimate, only the practice that abolishes capitalism. When the relation between theory and practice is viewed in this way, to increase the certainty of human survival becomes a necessary, though insufficient, condition for verifying the correctness of political practice. This qualification is necessary because the destruction of „superfluous” populations, as advocated by representatives of the contemporary „new world order”, cannot be accepted as a way to increase the certainty of human survival.
A difference should be made between naive and realistic optimism. A naive optimism has a fatalist character and is based on the principle of tout va bien, which implies existential apriorism and an idealized conception of man. A libertarian optimism, based on existential apriorism, is a side‐step in the struggle for a future. It offers false hope and, so, masks the true nature of capitalism, hindering the struggle for survival. It posits that though capitalist globalism has its bad sides, it will nevertheless result in a better world. A realistic optimism is based on a realistic analysis of the tendencies of global development and man’s will to create a humane world. It appears in relation to the destructive tendencies of capitalist development and is based on a reasonable man’s struggle against capitalism to create a new world. The mounting destruction of life and the rapidly approaching deadline for preventing global extinction abrogate a naive optimism and produce, on the one hand, a capitulating consciousness, coaxing humanity toward death, and on the other hand, an increasingly radical consciousness that refuses to reconcile itself with global annihilation. This consciousness is not humanist in itself, that is, it does not appear only in the form of a leftist movement that seeks to abolish capitalism; it rather appears in the form of a rightist movement that seeks to preserve capitalism at any price and sees the „solution” to the survival of humanity in the destruction of „superfluous” populations (the theory of the „golden billion”).
By dramatically threatening human survival, capitalism poses increasingly difficult existential and essential challenges to humanity. Contemporary visionary consciousness is not solely based on the nature of man as a universal creative being of freedom and on an emancipatory potential for the creation of a new world, derived from bourgeois society; it is created, above all, response to the consequences of the development of capitalism as a destructive order and its destructive possibilities. This informs a concrete vision of the future. In this context, the fatal character of the theory of „scientific socialism” becomes obvious because it does not regard capitalism as a concrete historical phenomenon. In other words, if socialism is a „necessity”, then capitalism cannot be a destructive order. The theory of „scientific socialism” only contributes to the development of a fatalist consciousness based on existential certainty. The demise of capitalism is a necessity, but it not certain to lead to the creation of a humane world. The demise of capitalism can be the introduction to the creation of a new (communist) society, but it can also bring about the destruction of the entire world. Ultimately, a humane world is possible only as a result of the political struggle of the working class and young people. This struggle opens future horizons.
In view of the fact that „indirect democracy” has become an anti‐libertarian and anti‐existential order, there is a need to create a political system that will be based on direct political involvement of the citizens. Direct democracy in the form of self‐government, as the broadest social movement, is the only existential and, as such, the only authentic political alternative to capitalism ‐ though not as an expression of the political voluntarism of a bureaucracy (as was the case in „socialist” Yugoslavia), but rather as a concrete historical alternative to a destructive capitalist totalitarianism.
The increasingly dramatic ecological and economic crises in the most developed capitalist countries are producing new political movements that, despite lacking a clear class leadership or anti‐capitalist direction, contribute to citizens’ political activism and, in so doing, create the possibility for their direct involvement in the management of social processes. A growing number of citizens’ initiatives are incipient forms of a political struggle whose ultimate aim is to abolish the alienated and corrupted political sphere and introduce direct control over social life by citizens acting as emancipated political beings. For now, these movements do not have the political strength and intensity necessary to bring down capitalism, but their spread indicates that growing number of citizens have come to realize that capitalism is an obsolete order and the creation of a new world is necessary.