Opposing Austerity Is Not Enough

The election of Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, the re-election of Syriza in Greece, the emergence of Podemos in Spain, and the candidacy of Bernie Sanders in America, among other political movements, newly elected politicians, and activism, are evidence of the popular rejection of austerity politics in the western world. However, opposing austerity is not enough. While it is clear to all that the policy proposals on offer by the likes of social democratic politicians and political parties would be beneficial to labor, and to the detriment of capital, the fact remains that these policies are too extreme for the ruling class and not extreme enough for the working class.

Not to mention that should the state be used to shift public spending away from the subsidization of profits for capital toward programs and other social services intended to raise the living standards of working people capital will undoubtedly flow into those areas of the economy unaffected by anti-austerity reformism creating speculative bubbles that will inevitably burst and drop us all back into the position in which we currently find ourselves. Excluded from this analysis is also the impact that such a period of stimulated economic growth would have on the environment and the eventual impact of climate change. For surely the laws of thermodynamics still apply in that any short term decreases in social entropy are merely being transposed onto longer term increases in environmental entropy.

In the past capitalism has been able to reorganize the long term negative consequences of the system’s own internal contradictions through the expansion of markets, imperial super-exploitation in the periphery for the sake of capital accumulation at the center, and so on. But now there is nowhere else for capitalism to go, nor is there anywhere else on the planet for the system to dispose of the environmental degradation caused by the rapid movement of investment capital and resource exploitation. Capitalism has gone global in the last few decades and now faces a truly systemic crisis not seen, perhaps, in the history of its existence. The choice we have before us truly is socialism or barbarism.

While one cannot map out in advance a world historical revolution the likes of which would be necessary to overthrown capitalism one can hope that the emergence of people and movements witnessed in the last few years are the first battle cries of a new rebellion against class society. In the west under the auspices of the war on terrorism we have been given a choice between the fundamentalism of the middle eastern anti-imperialists and liberal parliamentary democracy. We must see through this false choice and instead build our own future through the use of all available tools. Again, merely opposing austerity and the status quo is not enough. We must develop our own alternative.

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