The Carnivalesque Rebellion Issue

Crack Capitalism

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

78 comments on the article “Crack Capitalism”

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friends of Aris...

Ins't ron paul a advocate of capitalism? Hmmm if anything he'd only help you repaint these "walls"

either way society doesn't need a leader to a better society we need an example of one. Shall we get started?

friends of Aris...

Ins't ron paul a advocate of capitalism? Hmmm if anything he'd only help you repaint these "walls"

either way society doesn't need a leader to a better society we need an example of one. Shall we get started?

Camilo Martin

Yes, we can (pun unintended) create cracks in the wall.

However, there is one problem I have to stress, and is one of very big importance to our success. Many laws are and will keep helping the walls on crushing us.

Fighting capitalims' advance will be ever the more unlawful.

In other words, be prepared to be clandestine about your acts within the system, and moreover try to make the system vulnerable to others' "crimes".

On the other hand, boycott is a useful tactic when applied with strategical malice.

Camilo Martin

Yes, we can (pun unintended) create cracks in the wall.

However, there is one problem I have to stress, and is one of very big importance to our success. Many laws are and will keep helping the walls on crushing us.

Fighting capitalims' advance will be ever the more unlawful.

In other words, be prepared to be clandestine about your acts within the system, and moreover try to make the system vulnerable to others' "crimes".

On the other hand, boycott is a useful tactic when applied with strategical malice.

Graham Peterson...

The advance of capitalism is more accurately characterized as the advance of humans, since humans after all created capitalism. And its walls expand and contract as the growth of the economy slows and speeds, but in the long run capitalism has done more to expand the boundaries of what is possible in the world than anything.

The argument accounts for government, family, and other social institutions otherwise considered to be exempt from the capitalist system. A thorough review of the purveyors and analyzers of markets shows that the mechanics which make markets tick can be shown to make myriad levels of human behavior tick as well.

When two people trade, they do so because it makes them both better off, not because they are forced to by a government monopoly on violence cloaked as democratic capitalism, not because they are tacitly coerced by a social system propagated by elites whose interest is their own, onto a poor whose interests are assumed more noble.

We trade love, microwaves, favors, and of course $7.95 for an issue of Adbusters magazine because we are social, because we all benefit and consistently create a more optimal world, one whose walls expand relative to periodic contraction. We trade because we are human, not because we are capitalists. And we advance the boundaries of what is and what is possible in the world, creating not cracks in the walls of scarcity of information, resources, marriages, but dealing with those walls rationally and moving them sometimes carefully, sometimes recklessly, outward.

The project of finding another way to live beyond capitalism is a project of finding a way to live beyond being human. It is a project humanity has pursued to perfect its insufferable imperfection since humans were human, but it is a project that must recognize its own slow gains, while always accepting that those gains are made from being human and imperfect.

Graham Peterson...

The advance of capitalism is more accurately characterized as the advance of humans, since humans after all created capitalism. And its walls expand and contract as the growth of the economy slows and speeds, but in the long run capitalism has done more to expand the boundaries of what is possible in the world than anything.

The argument accounts for government, family, and other social institutions otherwise considered to be exempt from the capitalist system. A thorough review of the purveyors and analyzers of markets shows that the mechanics which make markets tick can be shown to make myriad levels of human behavior tick as well.

When two people trade, they do so because it makes them both better off, not because they are forced to by a government monopoly on violence cloaked as democratic capitalism, not because they are tacitly coerced by a social system propagated by elites whose interest is their own, onto a poor whose interests are assumed more noble.

We trade love, microwaves, favors, and of course $7.95 for an issue of Adbusters magazine because we are social, because we all benefit and consistently create a more optimal world, one whose walls expand relative to periodic contraction. We trade because we are human, not because we are capitalists. And we advance the boundaries of what is and what is possible in the world, creating not cracks in the walls of scarcity of information, resources, marriages, but dealing with those walls rationally and moving them sometimes carefully, sometimes recklessly, outward.

The project of finding another way to live beyond capitalism is a project of finding a way to live beyond being human. It is a project humanity has pursued to perfect its insufferable imperfection since humans were human, but it is a project that must recognize its own slow gains, while always accepting that those gains are made from being human and imperfect.

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