Crack Capitalism

Is there a way out of the apparently unstoppable advance of capital?

Pakistani flood victim Mohammed Nawaz hangs onto a moving
raft waiting to be rescued. (Paula Bronstein, Getty Images)

We are all in a room with four walls, a floor, a ceiling and no windows or door. The room is furnished and some of us are sitting comfortably, others most definitely are not. The walls are advancing inwards gradually, sometimes slower, sometimes faster, making us all more uncomfortable, advancing all the time, threatening to crush us all to death.

There are discussions within the room, but they are mostly about how to arrange the furniture. People do not seem to see the walls advancing. From time to time there are elections about how to place the furniture. These elections are not unimportant: They make some people more comfortable, others less so; they may even affect the speed at which the walls are moving, but they do nothing to stop their relentless advance.

As the walls grow closer, people react in different ways. Some refuse absolutely to see the advance of the walls, shutting themselves tightly into a world of Disney and defending with determination the chairs they are sitting on. Some see and denounce the movement of the walls, build a party with a radical program and look forward to a day in the future when there will be no walls. Others – and I among them – run to the walls and try desperately to find cracks, or faults beneath the surface, or to create cracks by banging on the walls. This looking for and creation of cracks is a practical-theoretical activity, a throwing ourselves against the walls and also a standing back to try and see cracks or faults in the surface. The two activities are complementary: Theory makes little sense unless it is understood as part of the desperate effort to find a way out, to create cracks that defy the apparently unstoppable advance of capital, of the walls that are pushing us to our destruction.

Is the advance of capital unstoppable? Can we create cracks? Leave your comments for what we (and everyone) could do during this November’s Carnivalesque Rebellion November 22–28.

John Holloway is the author of Change the World Without Taking Power, a book about the Zapatista movement. His most recent book is Crack Capitalism, Pluto Press.