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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Anonymous

I posted your comment on reddit.com/libertarian , I really enjoyed reading your cogent thoughts about what capitalism is. Though I agree that most readers here are incorrect, I think we all agree on more than we think we do.

"a government monopoly on violence cloaked as democratic capitalism" , this is where we can all come together. The evils of capitalism are allowed/requested/protected by deals with big government. Though certainly some people will always attempt to gain at the expense of others, most don't. I ask you, readers of Adbusters, do you trust yourself? Do you trust your friends?

And no, it's not different. Because everyone reading this knows that there are people they can trust, we can accept that most people are trustworthy, and in a society without a totalitarian-leaning state good people like you and I would be free to make ourselves heard and shape our lives without interference, leading to a more moral, fair, equitable future.

Libertarians, anarchists, and socialists ought to be friends. Though we have different words to describe our personal utopia, they are compatible, and can at least exist side by side. Until then, we all share the goal of tearing down the extant power structures that surround us, and close in; the walls of this article are made of government.

Anonymous

I posted your comment on reddit.com/libertarian , I really enjoyed reading your cogent thoughts about what capitalism is. Though I agree that most readers here are incorrect, I think we all agree on more than we think we do.

"a government monopoly on violence cloaked as democratic capitalism" , this is where we can all come together. The evils of capitalism are allowed/requested/protected by deals with big government. Though certainly some people will always attempt to gain at the expense of others, most don't. I ask you, readers of Adbusters, do you trust yourself? Do you trust your friends?

And no, it's not different. Because everyone reading this knows that there are people they can trust, we can accept that most people are trustworthy, and in a society without a totalitarian-leaning state good people like you and I would be free to make ourselves heard and shape our lives without interference, leading to a more moral, fair, equitable future.

Libertarians, anarchists, and socialists ought to be friends. Though we have different words to describe our personal utopia, they are compatible, and can at least exist side by side. Until then, we all share the goal of tearing down the extant power structures that surround us, and close in; the walls of this article are made of government.

hamo_bu

Problem with libertarians is that they have this crazy unproven belief that no regulation and free market are answers to all problems. Free market is great 99 percent of the time, but it is that one percent that could mean the end of civilization.

For one, libertarians have never given a satisfactory answer to the problem of externalities. Free market will put fish into every store in the country, but it will not protect oceans from overfishing. Once I asked a libertarian about overfishing and he recommended that we privatize oceans.

Libertarians believe that consumers and market have magical powers. Bad and dishonest companies would magically get no business. Consumers would instantly know which airline has safest planes and would pay premium to fly with them. Every insurance consumer would be a top notch actuary and have the inside data on claims and reserves.

Apparently, free market sucks at long term planing. Even companies sacrifice long term goals to make quarterly numbers only slightly better.

And where does dishonesty and crime fit into the libertarian utopia? Surely, the same profit motive that incentives business to produce and serve customers would also incentive crime and dishonesty.

Libertarians assume that all actors in the market always act in their own best self interest. Is that really true? Who elected to become fat, alcoholic or to shop impulsively on credit card? Capitalism will find a way to exploit any human weakness and even to create needs where there are none. Now libertarians would say that government should not protect people from choices that they are freely making, but that would assume that those choices are freely made. People don't actually want to be fat, or to buy stuff on impulse. They cannot help themselves most of the time, and they recognize that their behavior is self destructive, but they can't stop themselves.

Libertarians assume timely changes in price in response to change in demand or supply. That is not how world works however. When I was unemployed, I would have gladly worked for less than I was making, or even for free. But what was I supposed to do? Do I send a resume saying "embedded engineer willing to work for minimum wage"? Nobody would take me seriously.

I could go on and on.

hamo_bu

Problem with libertarians is that they have this crazy unproven belief that no regulation and free market are answers to all problems. Free market is great 99 percent of the time, but it is that one percent that could mean the end of civilization.

For one, libertarians have never given a satisfactory answer to the problem of externalities. Free market will put fish into every store in the country, but it will not protect oceans from overfishing. Once I asked a libertarian about overfishing and he recommended that we privatize oceans.

Libertarians believe that consumers and market have magical powers. Bad and dishonest companies would magically get no business. Consumers would instantly know which airline has safest planes and would pay premium to fly with them. Every insurance consumer would be a top notch actuary and have the inside data on claims and reserves.

Apparently, free market sucks at long term planing. Even companies sacrifice long term goals to make quarterly numbers only slightly better.

And where does dishonesty and crime fit into the libertarian utopia? Surely, the same profit motive that incentives business to produce and serve customers would also incentive crime and dishonesty.

Libertarians assume that all actors in the market always act in their own best self interest. Is that really true? Who elected to become fat, alcoholic or to shop impulsively on credit card? Capitalism will find a way to exploit any human weakness and even to create needs where there are none. Now libertarians would say that government should not protect people from choices that they are freely making, but that would assume that those choices are freely made. People don't actually want to be fat, or to buy stuff on impulse. They cannot help themselves most of the time, and they recognize that their behavior is self destructive, but they can't stop themselves.

Libertarians assume timely changes in price in response to change in demand or supply. That is not how world works however. When I was unemployed, I would have gladly worked for less than I was making, or even for free. But what was I supposed to do? Do I send a resume saying "embedded engineer willing to work for minimum wage"? Nobody would take me seriously.

I could go on and on.

ervin

march on wall street, squat there, shut it all down, flood the streets with people who are as mad as hell and don't want to take it any more. when the bullets start flying and we hold our ground and the numbers swell then hopefully somebody will have an answer. till then be ready!

ervin

march on wall street, squat there, shut it all down, flood the streets with people who are as mad as hell and don't want to take it any more. when the bullets start flying and we hold our ground and the numbers swell then hopefully somebody will have an answer. till then be ready!

Anonymous

Unless that person doesn't have health insurance. In which case our society is happy to let him die already. Change is needed regardless of the minor casualties.

Anonymous

Unless that person doesn't have health insurance. In which case our society is happy to let him die already. Change is needed regardless of the minor casualties.

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