However stable things may seem in some parts of the world, we’re entering a new era of crisis and uncertainty.
Capitalism has never been as pervasive as it is now. The previous generation experienced alienation, suffering from the dissonance between their roles in production and their sense of themselves; the current generation is characterized by identification with economic roles that are diffusing into every sphere of life. Yet at the moment of its triumph, capitalism is more precarious than ever.
All the peace treaties of the 20th century have expired. The higher wages Henry Ford offered his workers have vanished with the jobs themselves; unions have been outflanked by globalization; the socialist nations of the East have transitioned to free-market capitalism while the social democracies of the West are being dismantled. But those compromises weren’t just ways to avoid confrontation–they also served to perpetuate capitalism. Ford’s wage increases enabled his employees to buy products and keep the pyramid scheme expanding; unions prevented capitalists from impoverishing their consumer base. Now that capitalist have abandoned their former means of co-optation and self-perpetuation, the future is up for grabs. The old alternatives have been discredited, but new revolutionary ideas are bound to come to the fore.
Capitalism is predicated on the endless accumulation of profit, but this profit has to come from somewhere. Once you bleed workers dry, the rate of profit falls, causing the market to stagnate. Until recently, it was possible to solve this problem by constantly drawing in new resources and populations. Now capitalism has spread across the entire world, connecting everyone and rendering any crisis truly global. At the same time, industrial production is reaching its ecological limits, while technological progress has rendered much of the workforce redundant, creating an increasingly restless surplus population.
Capitalism has been on the brink of crisis for decades now. Extending credit to a broader and broader range of the exploited has been a way of keeping up consumption while the workforce gets poorer. Investors have shifted their wealth into financial markets, hoping to profit on speculation now that profits from material production have plateaued. The vast majority of innovation has centered in new immaterial markets: information, branding, social networking. All this has only succeeded in delaying the day of reckoning.
The financial downturn of 2008 wasn’t a fluke, but a sign of things to come. It’s not simply a matter of waiting until things return to normal. The next phase of the crisis might not hit the US for years or decades, but it’s on the way. Already, the capitalist economy is barely able to offer people decent jobs, let alone meaningful lives; even measured by its own materialistic criteria, it isn’t working.
Insofar as the economy is the concrete manifestation of the values and hierarchies of our society, a financial crisis heralds a crisis of faith in the system itself. A new wave of unrest is about to arise.
In periods of turmoil, people reevaluate their assumptions and values. Of course, we can’t be sure what the outcome will be; even if capitalism collapses, what comes next could be even worse. Right now it’s extremely important to set positive examples of what it means to resist and what the alternatives to capitalism might be. During social upheavals, people’s notion of what is possible can shift very quickly, but their notion of what is desirable usually changes more slowly. This explains why grassroots uprisings often settle for demands that are much less radical than the forms adopted by the uprisings themselves: it takes a long time for our imaginations to catch up with reality.
If it’s quiet right now where you live, that doesn’t mean it always will be. Think ahead to the upheavals on the horizon: when they arrive, what will you wish you had done to prepare? How can you maximize the likelihood that they will turn out for the best?
There was a master teacher named Jesus, called the Christ from Nazareth. He was a cutting man, a radical revolutionary. The people’s profit. He formed a revolutionary party that was later called Christian. During his life in Rome, oppression and misery were inflicted on the masses by a few of bloated plutocracy. His mission was to do the will of the God of Abraham; which is always justice, truth and right for man among man. Among his tasks were to see the people educated in the liberation of peace, call other radicals to willingly dedicate themselves to the work and oversee the social and just society being established in the Creator’s way. Impeding this freedom, like today, was a whole world of culture, legislation, tradition, education and practices erected on Rome’s economic and political foundations, which, through its political apparatus, imposed an iron will on the majority.
Jesus is calling many to the revolution for justice! Education is the first phase of all revolutions. Be informed. Learn about the Creator. Get involved!
*excerpt from Work: Capitalism. Economics and Resistance
The Nazarene Journal
Edited and republished by the Nazarene Messianic Party
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