An apocalyptic mode has descended upon me in recent weeks. The winter is always a difficult time for me, as it is for a lot of people living this far North, but the usual doldrums have been intensified by the depressing social and political situation so many of us are finding ourselves in. The culprit of this situation is clear to me; it is primarily economically determined and its name is capitalism. But understanding the particularity of the crisis had eluded me for some time. After all, for the rich to get richer it would seem that they need people to buy more products so that they can profit and so it would seem like a broadly Keynesian approach would be attractive to THEM (to use the negative name for the ruling class, since it seems more and more difficult to even point them out anymore). Such an approach is attractive to me too! I would prefer to not live under harsh austerity measures, which threaten to turn me and my friends into a permanent debtor class and to increase the suffering of those who were already worse off, or see the profession I’ve been training for disappear in the name of belt-tightening.
Does anyone really believe THEY are worried about inflation? The current “jobless recovery”, a very soft name for a harsh reality, reveals the underlying vindictiveness of the capitalist class towards both the working class and the middle class, who inexplicably buy the austerity line. As they continue to magically make profits they refuse to redistribute that wealth along even the softest Social Democratic means and punish workers and professionals for something the capitalist class themselves caused. It’s a true anti-humanism and I finally gained some understanding of it through reading Alberto Toscano’s “Chronicles of Insurrection: Tronti, Negri, and the Subject of Antagonism” in the edited volume The Italian Difference: Between Nihilism and Biopolitics (available for free through the Open Access publisher Re.Press). In the article he discusses Mario Tronti, the virtually unknown theorist of workerism, and his description of the unilateral relation of capital to the workers. In other words, capitalism is dependent upon workers to function in real terms, but nonetheless “the political history of capital is the history of the successive attempts of the capitalist class to emancipate itself from the working class.” Capitalism, too, has it’s theory of antagonism and utopia: “capital is concerned with the dialectical use of antagonism, whose ultimate if utopian horizon is the withering away of the world class the untrammled self-valorization of capital”.
For some time now my working mythic-model for capitalism, especially through the technology of money, has been the Golem (which Hardt & Negri use in Multitude). However, if Tronti’s description of the separation of workers and capital is true, and it does seem to me to explain the current intentional attempts at a jobless recovery and destruction of any secure, non-precarious career for workers, then this myth doesn’t do it for me. Instead, capital is not a Golem, but Cthulhu and the capitalist class are his priests. It isn’t just the workers anymore, capital wants to be free from all humanity.
“If we don’t get them, they gonna get us all” – Dead Prez