The most important task for the humanist intelligentsia is to develop in contemporary man a self- consciousness that will provide humankind with the possibility to survive. The humanist intelligentsia needs to point out the increasingly dramatic consequences of the development of capitalism as a destructive order, as well as the existing objective possibilities for the creation of a new world. At the same time, it needs to develop a political strategy that will become a starting point for the creation of global forms of political struggle that would impede the destruction of life on the planet and create a new world.
The critique of capitalism should observe two methodological postulates. First: the nature of a certain social (historical) phenomenon is determined by the tendencies of its development – of what it develops into. Second: the nature of a social (historical) phenomenon conditions the nature of its critique. The nature of capitalism, that is, a tendency of its development as a destructive system, conditions both the nature of the critique of capitalism and the political strategy for the fight against capitalism. This is not to suggest the creation of a uniform way of thinking, but a way of thinking that endeavors to ask questions of an existential and essential nature. Such a way of thinking represents a contraposition to the ruling ideology, manifested in the “Coca Cola culture” that tends to marginalize the essential in order to assign a spectacular dimension to the marginal.
A specificity of the contemporary historical moment, that is, a specificity of capitalism as a system of destruction, also conditions the specific view of the past. The ruling ideology sterilizes the libertarian and change-oriented charge of philosophical thought and reduces it to a lifeless “history of philosophy”, which becomes a vehicle for the destruction of the libertarian and life-creating power of reason. Critical theory, based upon existential humanism, needs to create the possibility for “reviving” the creative and libertarian spirit of our ancestors by engaging it in the fight for survival and for the creation of a new world. In the struggle for the survival of humankind, the thinking of the past has to realize its own humanistic, i.e., existential and libertarian, potential. The deepening crisis of existence forces man to focus on basic existential issues and, in that context, to integrate the libertarian and cultural heritage of humankind and to rid it of any “tails” that only weaken the combat and drive the mind astray. “Fullness of humanity”, in the sense of perceiving man from a historical prospective, is conditioned by increasingly dramatic existential challenges. The libertarian past needs to become a source of man’s life-creating energy in the struggle for the survival of humankind. “Return” to the mythological past is justified only for the revitalization of libertarian and life-creating myths. Otherwise, it amounts to driving reason astray, and is, regardless of personal motives, of an anti-existential nature.
A concrete critique of capitalism cannot be based solely upon essential humanism, but must be based upon existential humanism as well. The ideals of the French Revolution – Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité – present a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for the future. The struggle for preservation of life on the planet and for increasing the certainty of the survival of man as a cultural (social) and biological (natural) being represents a conditio sine qua non of the struggle for the future. Instead of the Marx’s notion of “alienation” (Entfremdung), the key notion in the critique of capitalism should be destruction. Marx’s revolutionary humanism emerges in relation to capitalism as a system of non-freedom, injustice, and non-reason, and advocates freedom, social justice, and a reasonable world, which means that it appears in the essential sphere. Existential humanism emerges in relation to capitalism as a destructive order that annihilates nature and man as a biological and human being – and places the struggle for the survival of the living world in the foreground, which means that it appears in the existential sphere. Affirmation of man as a creative and libertarian being is a response to the world where man is alienated from himself as a creative and libertarian being. The assertion that man is a life-creating being is a response to the world based upon the destruction of life: the struggle for freedom becomes the struggle for survival. The struggle for a reasonable world does not only represent an essential, but also an existential challenge. At the same time, Hegel’s (Marx’s) dialectic can be accepted only conditionally as a starting point for the development of a critique of capitalism, for its (historical) pyramid of freedom is founded upon existential certainty.
The “traditional” Marxist critique of capitalism, from the point of view of what-is-yet-to-be (Bloch’s noch- nicht-Sein), is of an abstract nature. The concrete nature of the capitalist positive also conditions the nature of the negative, which is a critical consciousness and a political practice based on it. Contemporary man cannot attain an appropriate historical self-consciousness starting from an absolutized and idealized anthropological model of man as a universal creative being of freedom, but starting from the existential challenges that capitalism, as a destructive system, imposes on man. Man’s becoming a human being (what he, in his essence, is – a totalizing libertarian, creative and life-creating being) and the world’s becoming a human world are conditioned by capitalism’s becoming capitalism (that is, its turning into what it, in its essence, is – a totalitarian destructive order). A concrete future cannot be grounded in what man desires to do based on his own true human needs, but in what man must do for humankind to survive. The essential level of the future is directly conditioned by existential challenges. The development of capitalism has caused further impossibility for the future as a product of the man’s free (visionary) creative practice (Bloch’s “openness“), but is conditioned by consequences generated by capitalism as a destructive order. Objective possibilities for the creation of a new world, and the possibility for the realization of man as a universal free creative being, are conditioned by the developmental capacities of capitalism as a destructive order. This is the basis for a concrete dialectic of the future. Decimated nature, mutilated man, the accumulated destructive powers of capitalism that could momentarily destroy humankind – this also represents an objective situation that inevitably conditions the probability of the future and its planning. Man does not assign to himself tasks that he can complete, as Marx asserts, but it is capitalism that imposes a crucial task on man: to preserve life on the planet and to save humankind from destruction. Being a match to the historical task imposed on man by capitalism means facing up to capitalism as an order that destroys life.
For Marxist theoreticians, an empty stomach is man’s key existential driving force. Typical is Bloch’s position that “in the foundation of planning should lie hunger, poverty and scarcity”. Capitalism fills the stomachs of its subjects while destroying nature and degenerating man as a natural and human being, turning him into a waste disposal whose role is to destroy as much as possible of the increasingly poisonous surrogates of “consumer” civilization. As for the inborn aggressiveness of man as a living being, capitalism transforms man’s vital aggressiveness into destructive power. The potentially change-oriented energy of people, deriving from their increasing dissatisfaction, becomes, by means of capitalism’s vital and ideological sphere, a spiritus movens of capitalism. Need for life is being transformed into need for destruction. Criticizing Hegel, Bloch rightfully points out the fact that in history not all negations are necessarily a move forward. However, he fails to realize that the capitalist negation leads towards the destruction of the world. Not a word on capitalism as a destructive order, nor, in that context, about consciousness of the possible destruction of life as an essential content of revolutionary consciousness. Anticipation of the future, as a concrete anticipation of a concrete future, must anticipate the development of capitalism, that is, the consequences generated by capitalism as a destructive order that unavoidably condition the freedom of man, and, along with it, the possibility of a future and its concrete nature.
There are two historical bases of human interconnecting: spontaneous, that is, man’s need for other men (man’s erotic nature, symbolically “love“), and repressive, primarily related to providing immediate existence (labor and all it conditions, symbolically “duty“). In previous historical periods, complying with the repressive basis of human interconnecting was to the detriment of human interconnecting. By becoming homo faber, man restrained and was losing his own authentic human characteristics (erotic nature), which culminated in the capitalist society that became a “technical civilization” within which not only the dehumanization but also the denaturalization of man has taken place. As a totalitarian and global order of destruction, capitalism has imposed the issues of necessity and freedom in a new and far more dramatic manner. Man’s most important existential duty is no longer labor per se, but to struggle for the preservation of life (and the labor related to it). Struggle for survival has imposed itself as a contemporary “realm of necessity”, and on this foundation, man as a totalizing, life-creating being will develop. Contemporary capitalism has “unified” the existential with the essential sphere: the fight for freedom becomes an existential necessity, and the struggle for survival a basic libertarian challenge. Spheres of labor, art, and play are no longer starting points of libertarian practice. Instead, the starting point is man as a totalizing being that perceives his entire life on the existential-essential level, that is, in the context of the fight against capitalism, which has transformed natural laws, social institutions and man into a vehicle for the destruction of life. In that context, labor, through which man’s creative (life-creating) powers are being realized and the true human world created, becomes an essential activity. As the present day production of commodities (goods) concomitantly represents the destruction of life, in that very same way, in the future society, production of commodities will mean production of healthy living conditions and the creation of a healthy man. In the future, the basic task of humanity will be to re-establish environmental balance and, thus, create living conditions in which man can survive. Development of productive forces, the very labor processes, spare time activities, practically all life – will be subordinated to it. In such conditions, competition that has been reduced to struggle for victory through the achievement of a better result (record), as in sports, will remain merely a part of the pre-history of humankind.
What should constitute the new quality of interconnection between people on the basis of struggle for the preservation of life on the planet is the very same thing that should provide incentives for the development of human foundations for human interconnections, which means that it should be conditioned by one man’s need for the other. The fact is that capitalism transformed all social institutions, and the entirety of life, into a vehicle for the growth of profit, that is, for the destruction of life. In order to survive, man has no one to address for assistance but another man: sociability is an existential imperative. In the dialectic sense, man as a fulfilled social being becomes a totalizing life-creating being – in relation to capitalism as a totalizing order of destruction. In that context, one of the basic Marx’s theses from “The Communist Manifesto“, claiming that “the freedom of each is a basic condition for the freedom of all”, could be rephrased. Starting from the fact that humankind is jeopardized when the life of each man is jeopardized, one can arrive at the thesis that the survival of each represents the basic condition for the survival of all.
Capitalist totalitarianism is the most perilous form of totalitarianism ever created. It is based upon the total commercialization of nature and of society. Each part of the planet, each segment of social and individual life has become an integral part of the destructive capitalist growth mechanism. Life itself becomes a totalizing power that shapes the character of men, their consciousness, interpersonal relationships, their relation to nature… Other historical forms of totalitarianism are either manifested as related to the idea of the past, or a certain transcendental idea, or an idea of the future – all of which open possibilities for critique. Contemporary capitalist totalitarianism is based upon destructive nihilism: it annihilates both the idea of transcendence and the idea of a future (past) and thus it also annuls the very possibility of establishing a critical distance from the existing world. At the beginning of its development, capitalism generated a visionary consciousness that not only opened space for the development of capitalism, but also for overcoming it (More, Campanella, Hobbes, Bacon, Owen, Fourier…). By becoming a totalitarian destructive order, capitalism exterminates visionary consciousness and creates a totalitarian positivist consciousness – to which corresponds the concept of the “end of history” and “the last man” (Fukuyama). Capitalism abolishes history, transforming historical time into mechanical occurrence, that is, into a positive nothingness. Simultaneously, capitalist periodicity is not only of an anti-historical, but also of an anti-existential nature. Capitalism destroys the very possibility of a future: it appears in the form of a capitalistically degenerated u- topos.
Capitalist development of productive forces does not enhance the certainty of human survival, as Marx argues, but questions it more and more dramatically. Therefore, instead of engendering optimism, capitalist “progress” generates fear of the future. The most perilous characteristic of capitalism is related to the fact that, from the results of life-destruction, it creates a source of profit and, thus, a basis for its own further development, where man’s creative powers become a vehicle for the development of the destructive powers of capitalism and for acceleration of the destruction process. Capitalism has become a self-reproducing mechanism of destruction, which, to the living world, represents what a malignant tumor represents to an organism: it extends its own lifetime by devouring all that provides humankind with a chance for survival. This does not refer only to the systematic, but to the ultimate destruction of life on the planet.
Contemporary man does not only face the ideological, military and police terror of the governing order, as used to occur in the past, but also the accumulated destructive powers of capitalism. The spirit of destructive barbarism dominates capitalism, conditioning both the activities of the ruling class and its defense strategy. Usage of atomic, hydrogen and neutron bombs, lethal viruses, starvation of populations, pollution and devastation of water supplies, etc., (that will exterminate hundreds of millions of people and irreversibly contaminate the natural environment) represents – for the capitalistically degenerated international plutocratic “elite” – a “justified measure”, if in that manner the existence of capitalism can be prolonged. In order to prevent the fall of capitalism, the fanatics of capitalism are ready to destroy humankind and life on the planet. The NATO aggression on Serbia in the spring 1999, which compelled Serbia to become a part of the American “new world order”, demonstrates the actual nature of capitalism. More than 32,000 depleted uranium missiles were dropped on Serbia, thus causing a contamination of the natural environment equivalent to the effects of more than 470 of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Seven years after the bombing of Serbia, the number of people with cancer has increased by 40%, with a tendency towards a dramatic increase in the number of diseased and deceased. In the course of the next 500 years, the life of people living in the bombed areas will be directly conditioned by the consequences of nuclear contamination of the soil, water, air, animals, plants… What happened to the citizens of Serbia occurs all over the planet. Their future is predetermined by consequences generated by destructive capitalist barbarism of a global and totalitarian nature.
Capitalism destroys the emancipatory legacy of civil society and the concept of novum, and establishes a “new” fascism. The champions of contemporary fascism are not the groups of young people “adorned” with Nazi symbols, but capitalist corporations that, generating the increasing existential and, therefore, overall social crisis, generate the fascist ideology. The ruling principle of monopoly capitalism, “Destroy the competition!”, is a generator of the contemporary fascist practice both in the economic and in the political spheres. The capitalist destruction of nature and of man as a cultural and biological being conditions the foundation and strengthening of the most reactionary political forces. Not only the possibility of a new society, but also of a “new” (ecocidal) barbarism, is being established within capitalism. Within capitalism itself there exists a conflict between these two tendencies. It is both the basis and the framework of the contemporary class struggle, which is not solely about fighting for social justice, but also for survival. Marx himself indicates a possibility for establishing a (long) period of capitalist barbarism (as well as the possibility of common ruin for both the ruling and the labor classes), however, this position does not have substantial enough a significance in his theory (and is, therefore, without any obligatory nature) for Marx to elaborate any such possible forms of development of capitalism and the corresponding forms of political struggle against it. At the same time, potential capitalist barbarism, according to him, is not of a destructive, but of an anti-libertarian nature. Marx fails to perceive that capitalism, in its essence, represents an ecocidal barbarism, of a technical form, and, consequently, that capitalists are ecocidal barbarians.
The capitalist system’s ecocidal attitude towards nature generates the genocidal attitude of the most powerful capitalist states towards “third world” nations. Particularly those developed states whose consumption of commodities is several hundred times larger than consumption in the underdeveloped world; those who spend far more foodstuff and energy on their household pets than billions of people in “third world” countries do to survive; those who have been destroying life on the planet for several hundred years and building their own “progress” on the systematic eradication of “primitive peoples”; those who invest increasingly large sums of money each year in burning down mountains of foodstuffs while millions of children throughout the world die of starvation; those who use grain for the production of fuel, those who stir up consumer euphoria in their own environments and block food production in underdeveloped countries in order to force them to purchase their grain crop surpluses and thus tighten even further the debt-noose around their necks – they especially spread fear of “endangering the planet by over-population”. The thesis of “over-population” of the planet becomes a tool for attaining legitimacy for the extermination of entire nations so that the most powerful capitalist corporations can eventually get hold of raw materials and energy resources.
Capital’s ruthless attitude towards nature and humankind generates man’s ruthless attitude towards other men. Driven by capital’s ecocidal frenzy, the average citizen (petit bourgeois) in the West is characterized by an increasing lack of receptivity to the suffering and the “human rights” of other nations. The leading Western TV channels cover the rescue of a stranded whale for days, where millions of dollars are being invested – in order to impress the international audience with their “care for the living world” – but they never even consider reporting on the horrendous dimensions of misery and poverty in “third world” countries, which are an immediate consequence of the economic fascism to which those countries are exposed. Those scenes “are not interesting for their audience”. And this is true. The overstuffed and idiotized petit bourgeois of the “free world” does not want to confront the consequences of his own insatiable craving for consumption and devastation, in the same way that the average German petit bourgeois did not want to (and does not want to even now) know anything about the horrible crimes committed by the German army in World War II, particularly about the “death camps” where in a monstrous manner millions of children, women, and elderly people were killed…The alarming truth is that in the eyes of the today’s German petit bourgeois Hitler committed one single “mistake”: he did not win. And this conception is not a remnant of the past but a product of capitalist development, which deteriorated and destroyed the German natural environment to such an extent that the notion of the conquest of “living space” (Lebensraum) is being more and more dramatically imposed as a basic existential issue. Ecocidal capital is what invigorates ghosts of the Nazi past, once again pushing German youth towards them, young people idiotized by the “Coca Cola culture” and dazzled by consumer fanaticism, youth that could once again serve as a tool for the extermination of “lesser races”, or, as the contemporary rightist propaganda in the West prefers to put it, of “peoples with no culture” (those being all the nations interfering with the achievement of the West’s neo-colonial interests).
It should not be forgotten that the development of capitalism is based upon one of the most atrocious crimes ever committed: the eradication of the North American Indians. What gives a specific dimension to that crime is the fact that American capitalists turned the extermination of the Indians into a multi-billion dollar “business”. It did not suffice that the North American natives were exterminated in the most brutal manner, but they had to be reduced to “despicable murderers”, and as such became “stars” in the Hollywood film industry. Indians, victims of the largest genocide in human history, became symbols of evil, while those who massacred millions of Indian children became the incarnation of audacity and goodness. The extermination of the Indians represents a symbolic obliteration of life lived in harmony with nature. “Heroes” of the “Wild West”, such as Buffalo Bill, are an incarnation of the ecocidal spirit of capitalism: the monstrous slaughter of the buffalo becomes a legendary “pastime” and inviolable pattern of behavior for the youth in the U.S.A. and Europe.
The “crisis of the left“ as an organized political movement has resulted from the conflict between capitalism and the emancipating patrimony of civil society, in the course of which all those political movements and concepts that open a possibility for the creation of a new world are being degenerated and eliminated. The “crisis of the left” is actually a crisis of civil society’s political institutions, because capitalism, as a totalitarian order, has drawn the entire “public sphere” into its own interest-orbit and thus instrumentalized the process of political decision-making. Politics has turned into one of the technical areas of capitalism and, as such, into business – just like all the other areas of social life. Capitalism has turned the political sphere into a political market where each party strives to optimally sell its own political program (political commodities) and to convert its social influence into cash, starting from the interest of bureaucratized and corrupt party oligarchies. Political parties have become private property of their “leaders”, as is the case with many trade unions and other organizations that provide a merely formal opportunity for the mobilization of citizens for the protection of their human and civil rights.
An immediate effect of the corruption of (nominally) “leftist” parties is the establishing of an increasingly large anti-capitalist movement that does not consent to a dominant role for parties belonging to the political establishment. The original leftist thought, the one that insists on freedom and social justice, is mostly present among the most deprived working layers and the young – those who are vitally interested in the realization of the original leftist ideas. Therefore, every effort is being made by the ruling regime to eliminate the oppressed from the public sphere and de-politicize them, and to transform their children – in stadiums, in pop star concerts, in disco clubs, by means of the Hollywood entertainment industry – into zombies, drug addicts, delinquents, fascists… Capitalism endeavors to destroy man as a social being and, in that context, all authentic forms of political (social) organizing of citizens, and to transform man into an atomized laboring- consuming idiot who will base his behavior upon a “logic” of destructive irrationalism.
The confusion over what “the left” is creates a bourgeoisie, which strives to annihilate the labor movement by embracing the ideas of the left and transforming them into demagogical slogans, thus trying to present itself as a “combatant for workers’ rights” and consequently weaken the actual left. A typical example of leftist demagogy is Hitler’s political campaign during the Weimar Republic period. The same political logic is being applied by the contemporary bourgeoisie. The leftist demagogy should “bridge” the growing gap between the bourgeoisie and the labor layers, and should also create confusion in which any notions about the future would disappear.
Though leftist thought is more and more present at Western universities, it is ghettoized and transformed into a vehicle for annihilation of the political struggle of the oppressed. It turns basic existential and essential matters into “philosophical” and “theoretical” issues and thus deprives them of a concrete social and historical substance. The struggle for survival and freedom is being replaced by “theoretical debates” and endless “dialogues” that disfigure critical consciousness and hinder change-oriented practice. Political combat against capitalism is degenerating into “science projects” and “philosophical conferences”, – where everyone within his own field of expertise deals with the consequences generated by capitalism while not touching its origins. Intellect is being removed from concrete social reality and ghettoized in faculties, institutes, workshops and congresses. Concrete existential and essential issues become subjects of theoretical debates, and, as such, by means of specific linguistic expressions, a privilege of “intellectuals”. Philosophical thought becomes a formalistic thought, a distinctive technique of thought of a positivist and, therefore, anti- libertarian and anti-existential nature. The “intellectual sphere“ becomes an institutional form of the citizens’ deprivation of critical reason and of their right to brainpower – and, as such, the basic form of their spiritual and, consequently, every other enslavement.
“Consumer society“ represents the last offensive of capitalism and announces its complete and definitive disintegration. It prolongs the life of capitalism by annihilating man as a cultural and biological being, as well as by annihilating nature. This is what determines a specificity of the contemporary left: the victory of the left has become the necessary condition for the survival of humankind.
As for the concept of the reasonable world, it represents not merely a humanistic desire, but an existential imperative as well. Only a reasonable man can demolish capitalism and create a new world. Therefore, the annihilation of man as a reasonable being represents one of the most significant tasks of the ruling order. In that context, capitalism annihilates humanist education and the humanist intelligentsia. Capitalism generates, on the one hand, “white collars” – a technical intelligentsia, the leading force for the destruction of the planet, reduced to specialty-idiots, and on the other hand, “blue collars” – a manipulated labor force deprived of a basic education. The consequences are more and more visible. After so many years of life within capitalist civilization and after such “progress” achieved within it, an increasing number of people become victims of the gloomiest ideologies, the morbidity of which by far exceeds anything seen thus far in history. Several thousand “Satanist” and similar cults are active in the United States of America alone, which is an immediate consequence of the ruthless obliteration of human spiritual integrity. “Consumer society” throws a man into the abyss of spiritual desperation, where dark forces await offering to “fulfill his needs” by means of the kind of manipulation that capital applies to transform him into a brainless “consumer”. For the man lost in the darkness, even the burning stake represents a source of light and a guidepost.
All the symbols by which man could once distinguish his own human image and attain, at least partially, his own humaneness, have been disfigured by the capitalist propaganda machinery. The commercial message “Coca-cola, it’s the real thing!” is given the status of a supreme philosophical stance; a detached pork head laughs inciting the man to buy parts of its body; toilets are advertised by means of outstanding artistic creations; champion sport teams become commercial billboards for producers of tobacco and alcoholic beverages; the greatest artists are being used as vehicles for communication of commercial messages; the nude female body in a humiliating position makes an inevitable part of a “successful advertising campaign“; very young children are being exposed to the most repulsive forms of advertising manipulation… All that possesses or might possess a human (cultural) value becomes a tool for rendering man worthless. By privatization of the public media, capital offers citizens “democracy” in the form of “a room of distorted mirrors”: in one of the mirrors man can observe “himself” as a crazed “consumer”; in another as a frantic “spectator”; in a third as a maniacal “murderer”; in the forth as a robotized “champion”… All possible efforts are being made to prevent him from perceiving his actual libertarian and creative image.
Along with the further development of the existential crisis, the governing regime creates an increasingly aggressive “entertainment industry” by means of which it intends to keep man “in a good mood” (in accordance with the principle “Don’t worry, be happy!”), in order to impede the human experience of his own existence, his confrontation with his own misfortune and his pursuit of the ways towards liberation from it. What we have here is the “Titanic syndrome”: as the ship sinks – the music gets louder. Using all available means, the major media make every effort to immerse man in the swamp of “Coca Cola culture”, for only at a point when man poses the question of future, when he becomes aware of the scale of global destruction – only then does the entire threat of established “progress” become obvious. It is not by accident that the new generations are, for the first time in history, more badly educated than were their parents. In the most developed capitalist country in the world, the U.S.A., over one hundred million people are practically illiterate. At the same time, the increasingly aggressive and inhuman commercial video clips become “spiritual food” for people. “The average” citizen of the U.S.A. receives over 3,000 commercial messages a day. The school system, as educational institution, faces a growing crisis. The entire cultural heritage of Western civilization, as well as the humanist achievements of other civilizations, is endangered. What we are facing here is development dictated by the governing system with the task of adjusting the intellectual (educational) level of citizens to its own existential interests, hindering the development of a critical mind that points out both the peril that capitalism represents and the opportunities for the creation of a new world generated within civil society.
The fact is that man has developed production capacities to such an extent, and has become sufficiently skilled (proficient) as to be able to take into his own hands not only production management processes, but also the administration of all social existence. Therefore, the ultimate liberation of humankind from oppression and existential uncertainty is no longer a fantasy, but a realistic prospect. The basic objective of the entertainment industry is to impede the forming of an active, change-oriented connection between established technological development and man’s endeavors to utilize it in order to fulfill his own actual needs and provide a more certain future. The increasingly ruthless attacks by the capitalist media on critical reason represent a capitalist response to the growing devastation capitalism generates, and to the already established objective possibilities for man to step beyond the capitalist world into a civilization of freedom. Mafia gangs, “kings” of the underworld, leaders of “Satanist” cults and fascist clans, owners of the entertainment industry (where sport occupies the most significant position), dealers of narcotics, major religious organizations, writers of horoscopes and other “clairvoyants” and fortune-tellers – all of those playing a part in the obliteration of mind capable of confronting the established destructive processes – are all “natural” allies of capitalism. Metaphysical mysticism and religious fanaticism represent the other side of a “technical civilization” that deprived life of its significance and transformed man into a vehicle for the reproduction of profit. In contemporary capitalism, referring to God actually represents one of the forms for the petit bourgeois to renounce his own responsibility for the destruction of the world. Major religions have become a vehicle for the annihilation of civil society’s emancipating patrimony and for the obliteration of faith in the possibility of creating a just world – if we fight for it.
Developing man’s “normal” needs up to a pathological (self-destructive) extent, capital endeavors to transform man into a consumer-destructor, and to generate “new needs” aimed at extending the markets (areas of destruction). Maniacal and destructive hedonism has become spiritus movens of social life. The velocity and intensity of the “fulfillment of needs” are being dictated by the needs of the capital, and ultimately, by the dynamics of its turnover. According to Allen Bloom, author of “The Closing of the American Mind”, life has been transformed into an incessant, commercially arranged masturbation machinery. What we have here is such a sort of “needs fulfillment” as causes the degeneration and destruction of man. The genetic distortion of man is going on, that could result in such mutations as would allow the creation of the “ideal citizen”, “adjusted” to the requirements of the governing order of destruction. Man’s degenerated “needs” become a propellant for the development of capitalism. Concurrently, there are a growing number of interpositions to their fulfillment, of an unsurprisingly commercial nature. The very manner of need-fulfillment becomes technical, which only indicates the fact that man perceives himself more and more as a robotized and less as a natural and human being.
The model of “successful sexual intercourse” is a typical example of the capitalist degeneration of instincts and of the destruction of man as a social being. “Sexual intercourse” is being reduced to the techniques of “love making”, where the partner’s body becomes a tool for achieving orgasm – along with the usage (interposing) of a growing number of “devices”. “Successful sex” in a “consumer society” requires: adequate lighting, mirrors, bed, mattress, pillows, linen, rugs, curtains, TV, video, camcorder, porn films, sexy underwear, appropriate drinks, special food, dishware, home audio system, CDs and cassettes, adequate bathroom, towels, soaps, cosmetics, air conditioners, contraceptives and manuals for their application, remedies to cure consequences of those, potions for stimulation of sexual ability and devices in a form of prosthesis and artificial penises (which vary in dimension, color and swiftness), belts, chains, handcuffs, wigs, whips, artificial teeth, breast-pump (the latest “hit” given the increasing number of artificial breast implants), blood pressure measuring device, light and heavy narcotics and, of course, the appropriate “partner”. Along with the impoverishment of the world of true love and interpersonal respect, the “world of sexual fantasy”, generated by capital, becomes more and more prosperous.
Sterilization of the life-creating (fecund) power of living creatures has become a universal principle of capitalist development. Capitalism obliterates man as a biological being by depriving him of the ability to be a fecund being. Men and women contain fewer and fewer of the organic ingredients required for fecundity. The polluted environment, poisoned water and foodstuffs, the spoiling of the biological rhythm of the organism’s functioning, increasing existential uncertainty that incessantly keeps man in a condition of stress – they all result in increasingly serious corporal and mental damage. The recuperation of life-creating ability by man as a fecund (life-creating) being represents one of the most important tasks that capitalism poses for man.
The ruthless devastation of the social fabric represents another major characteristic of capitalism. A growing number of people live alone (in large cities of the most developed West European countries almost one-half of the citizens live in a “single member household”), while a sense of loneliness generating the worst forms of social pathology assumes epidemic proportions. While in some industrial sectors the workday had to be shortened, the need for a “mobile” labor force has increased, which means that individuals in a position to be at the company’s disposal at all times have an advantage while applying for a new job. And those are the ones “liberated” from all social and, in particular, family obligations. A growing number of women expose them to “voluntary” sterilization in order to “win employer’s confidence” – and get a job. The official duration of the workday becomes, more and more, a non-mandatory form. The subordination of all life to the growing velocity of capital’s reproduction is one of the key causes of the dramatic reduction in the birth rate in developed capitalist countries.
Speaking of family, capital annihilates the biological ties between parents and children. More specifically, in a growing number of cases, one cannot use the term “parents” because paternity, as well as maternity, are being obtained by means of a cash-for-commodity transaction: an individual intent on becoming a “parent” purchases at the market “child generating material” (along with a mandatory “commodity quality guarantee”), contracts (most often through a newspaper ad) renting a uterus and after a nine-month period “is provided” with a child. Traditional inter-family relationships are being annulled by transgender transformation of parents and other household members. Thanks to medical “progress”, by means of a surgical intervention, a mother becomes a man, a father a woman; brother turns into a girl, and sister into a boy… This “progress” is never ending. Medicine will soon be in a position to provide the opportunity to a man who “feels like a dog” to even look like one (or like a horse, a swine, a rhinoceros…). This will represent the ultimate outreach of “freedom” that capitalism, riding on the wave of scientific and technological “progress”, will offer to citizens. What sort of possibilities will open there? Try to imagine a rugby match between bulldog-men and boar-men: what a performance!
The myth about “omnipotent science and technology” is the ruling regime’s favorite vehicle for preserving the already considerably shaken confidence in the “progressive power” of capitalism. Similar to Hitler’s propaganda machinery at the time of the agony of the Nazi regime, the current propaganda machinery of capitalism attempts to convince the world that scientific and technological “miracles” will save it from destruction. Until recently, nuclear power plants were a symbol of “progress”. Now, like specters of death, they have become symbols of the destructive nature of capitalism. Abominable cargos are being transported throughout the “free world”, hundreds of thousands of containers packed with the most poisonous nuclear waste have been dumped into the oceans thus far. The planet is warming up, glaciers are melting, the level of the ocean is rising, the ozone layer is vanishing, climate is changing, soil is more and more polluted, forests are disappearing, drinking water has become a “strategic raw material”… It has turned out that even the most horrifying natural disasters represent merely innocuous phenomena in comparison with ecocidal terrorism to which capital exposes nature every day. When the dimensions of the destruction expected to result from the further development of capitalism are taken into consideration, one can conclude that even the most primitive human communities are superior to capitalism. The fight against the illusion that it is possible to prevent the global Apocalypse within the capitalist system, by means of science and technology and “environmental projects”, is one of the most important tasks of the humanist intelligentsia.
Marcuse’s concept of the “liberating transformation of nature” attains a concrete historical dimension only when it refers to the process of capitalism’s destructive “transformation” of nature. In capitalism, the spirit (Geist) by means of which nature attains self-consciousness (Hegel) has been abolished by technology that possesses not only an anti-spiritual (anti-intellectual) but also an anti-existential nature. It is a form within which the natural forces have been instrumentalized in a capitalist manner and turned into an anti-natural power. The “liberating transformation of nature” is not only of a libertarian, but also of an existential nature. The key defect of mere nature is not that it is non-intellectual, but that it cannot prevent the destruction of life on Earth. Preventing the instrumentalization of natural forces for the purposes of the destruction of life, and the preservation of life on Earth through the preservation of nature as a life-creating whole by means of its humanization – this is a crucial task for humankind. Not the liberation of man from nature, but the liberation of man and nature from capitalism represents the basic condition for both freedom and survival.
Historically perceived, man was becoming a man primarily through confronting existential challenges. The nature of those challenges conditioned the way they were solved and, thus, had an immediate impact on development of man. The existential challenge capitalism imposes on man is the largest and the most dramatic one he has ever faced. Never in history has man confronted a task related to the preservation of life on the planet and to preventing the annihilation of humankind. It is a challenge that supersedes the classical humanist anthropologic definition of man as a universal creative being of freedom. A specificity of capitalism as an order of destruction conditions both the specific nature of the man that defends it, and the specific nature of the man that attempts to oppose it. Capitalism generates a destructive man that becomes a vehicle for the development of capitalism, that is, for the destruction of life. Concurrently, capitalism generates the increasingly militant anti-capitalist man who identifies the meaning of life in destroying capitalism and preserving life on Earth, through the creation of a new world. An increasingly intensive destruction of life results in a more and more ruthless conflict between these two types of men, which actually represent the contemporary class division of the world: a class of destructive fanatics of capitalism and a class of reasonable and uncompromising combatants for the survival of humankind.
The turning of capitalism into a totalitarian destructive order conditions man’s turning into a totalizing life- creating being – for whom the emancipatory (libertarian, cultural) heritage of humankind represents the basis for critical self-consciousness and creative (life-creating) will-power. In the struggle for the preservation of life and the creation of the new world, man will become a true man. He is not a mythological man who will, like a present-day Phoenix, ascend from the ashes of capitalism, with his wings unharmed. He is a concrete man who will experience the consequences of the destruction of nature with his entire being, for he represents its organic part. Therefore, creation of the new world requires man’s (self)purification and (self)development – man is becoming a humanized natural (life-creating) being. Instead of cosmic energy (Nietzsche), which is merely a metaphorical presentation of monopolist capitalism’s vital power, within man the life-creating forces of humankind will start to run. “The will to power” will turn into a desire for freedom and survival.
In the struggle for the preservation of life on Earth by the creation of a new world, humankind will be so united that it will supersede all forms of mediation that have kept man apart from other men and turned him into a “tool” of “superhuman” forces for the achievement of anti-human goals. Instead of moral principles, upon which a repressive normative consciousness is being developed and used for the preservation of the ruling order, man’s essential and existential necessity for another man will become the basis for interpersonal connecting. The anti-globalization movement has a historical and existential meaning solely if it represents an integral part of the international anti-capitalist movement. It does not rely upon one social subject of changes alone, as was the case with the industrial proletariat of Marx, but upon a widespread social movement that comprises all the deprived and all those conscious of the fact that capitalism leads humankind into destruction. Movements for the emancipation of women, hundreds of millions of solitary people whose lives were ruined by capitalism – they are all potential members of the movement that will fight against capitalism. At the same time, the decline of the “welfare state” will re-trigger class conflict in the developed capitalist countries. Immediate participation in the political articulation of the contemporary proletariat and other layers and groups ruined by capitalism – this represents one of the most important tasks of the movement. The international anti-capitalist movement needs to unite all those political forces and political movements of the world that oppose contemporary imperialism, which is not only of a genocidal but also of ecocidal nature. At the same time, it needs to have a critical stance towards developmental programs in any part of the world that are based on the destruction of nature and aim at developing a consumer mentality.
We are not suggesting the development of a distinctive intellectual “elite” that would declare itself “the conscience” of humankind and thus become a group alienated from “ordinary” people, but a commitment by people conscious of the destructive nature of capitalism and willing to dedicate their lives to the struggle for the preservation of life and the freedom of humankind. A genuine humanist intelligentsia needs to light the road to the future. In the context of an increasingly dramatic existential crisis generated by capitalism, it needs to become a lighthouse that will shine with an expanding glow, as the darkness generated by capitalism grows thicker. The Promethean principle has become a basic existential principle. That is why it is of crucial importance not to make compromises and not to adjust to the current political situation. A compromise results in the loss of the ability to create light – without which humankind will vanish into the darkness of destructive capitalist nothingness.
English translation supervisor, Mick Collins
Paris, E-mail: email@example.com