4 Replies to “ROFL of the Week”

  1. I’ve been thinking lately about the hopes of some writers (Sweezy included) that the looming ecological problems and resource shortages may force an end or at least radical rearrangement of capitalism.

    This seems plausible if you consider the physical limitations on endless growth, but I am increasingly worried that this is just a marginal and essentially inconsequential limitation for the system.

    After all, capitalism already existed in some form before the steam engine etc., because it had already figured out the key to eh surplus – labor, above all, and the nature’s inputs are only secondary in importance. To imagine that problems with the material inputs will shatter the system means to assume a total, complete, and sudden meltdown in all key resource availability. As much as I have a dark attraction to such apocalyptic scenarios, they just don’t seem likely, esp. now that resource extraction is a global process.

    Not only that, but resource problems can actually *strengthen* the system. Per Marxists, one of the key contradictions of capitalism is that it necessarily drives the socially necessary labor time to produce sustenance to essentially zero, which at some point should reveal the absurdity of the system.

    Well, if so, isn’t resource limitation actually postponing – perhaps indefinitely – such moment of reckoning? Resource and ecological limits simply mean that *the socially necessary labor time to produce sustenance will INCREASE*. If so, the rationale of the system will remain as solid as ever. The gradual increase in the starving masses will not faze anybody, as always.

  2. Marla, I agree that there will be nothing automatic about the early end of capitalism, if it ever comes. If people don’t organize and fight, it will not end well. But ecotastrophe is also a very real possibility, and the system can’t withstand too much increase in labor costs, either. In one sense, it has been able to radically reduce those only by substituting FF-based machinery. That will eventually not be possible on the present scale. Major resource wars are also possible, if not likely. Corporate capitalism is not capable of running world wars without huge expansions of state power. So, WWIII would probably end the system, one way or the other. People aren’t going through that again and coming out on such bended knees.

    Of course, television/mass media/marketing may be the force that delays the uprising past the point of no good returns…

  3. What is FF-based machinery?

    Btw., speaking of necessary expansion of state power, consider the current total lockdown of Boston. I fail to see how it is at all necessary to perform routine police work. There can be no doubt that the second suspect will be caught – his identity is known, he has no money or other resources, he is bound to fall in the net pretty soon.

    Why is it necessary to immobilize the whole city, have heavily armed convoys patrol the streets, and worst of all – perform door to door searches? (is there no such thing as the 4th amendment anymore)?

    Maybe I’m just paranoid, but I fail to see how is any of that necessary to resolve the case and catch the attacker/s

  4. And yes – the prospect of war is very likely. The only question is if it will be an all out, likely nuclear confrontation, or just endless and intensifying, proxy and direct, smaller scale hostilities all over the world (which is pretty much already the case, and eerily similar to Orwel’s depiction). After all, as many places in africa show, it doesn’t matter much if entire societies are melting down – it is not that difficult to provide sufficient security for the extracting operations, and ignore everything else around.

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