The capitalist mode of production and the social relations necessary for its existence is a terrifying dynamic process. Capital, by its very essence, is value in perpetual search of additional value, produce by the workers in the process of production. The unquenchable thirst for additional surplus-value (unpaid labor) is the fundamental motor of economic growth, technological revolution, ‘research and development’ spending, improvement of communications, ‘third-world’ aid’, the sales drive and market research. A corresponding quest for individual enrichment appears at the core of every level of bourgeois (capitalist) society, together with increasing alienation of workers and all human beings, and a growing threat that the fores of production will be transformed into forces of destruction. Paradoxically, mankind increasingly loses control over its own products and productive endeavor at the very moment when its mastery of nature and natural forces seems to be developing by leaps and bounds.
Following the flow of commodities (containing surplus-value produced by the workers) produced by the capitalist mode of production, a ‘spiraling movement’ of growth is unleashed– a veritable avalanche. The sale of commodities outside the factory at their value enables profit to be realized and additional capital to be accumulated. More capital begets more surplus-value, which in turn begets more capital. Obstacles on the road of self-expansion — such as the enforced lingering of commodities in the sphere of circulation, or the protracted character of the production process itself–are swept away by the avalanche, thanks to social division of labor within the capitalist class; the appearance of commercial and banking capital; and the constant striving to accelerate the transport of commodities, build up a world-wide system of communications and reduce the length of the circulation process to a minimum. An immense mountain of commodities is distributed with lighting speed around the globe, so that a steadily growing stream of value (money capital) may be concentrated in the hands of an ever smaller percentage (if not necessarily a shrinking absolute number) of the world’s active population. Today’s real masters are to be found in probably no more than 1,000 or 2,000 firms the world over.
This frenetic search for additional wealth in order to create even more wealth becomes increasingly divorced from basic human needs and interests, increasingly opposed to the ‘production of a rich individuality’ and the ‘rich development of social relations’ encompassing all human beings. But the process cannot continue smoothy and uninterruptedly: capital is powerless to overcome the basic contradictions of the commodity and private property. From both sides, the contradictions of production for its own sake (i.e. production in order to augment the profits of those who own the major means of production) must lead to periodic discharge in huge social and economic convulsions.
Following the social explosion initiated in the Western world by the financial crisis of 2008 in the United States, the severe generalized recession since then has confirmed Marx’s basic analysis of capitalist production. Capitalist growth cannot but be uneven, disproportionate and unharmonious. Expanded reproduction necessarily gives rise to contracted reproduction. Prosperity inexorably leads to over-production. The search for the philosopher’s stone which would enable market economy (i.e. private property, i.e. competition) to coincide with balanced growth, and mass consumption to develop apace with productive capacity (despite the capitalists’ drive to force up the rate of exploitation) –this search will go on as long as the system survives. But it will be no more crowned with success than that which has already been conducted for more than 200 years. The only possible remedy for economic crises of over production and social crises of class struggle is the elimination of capitalism and class society. No other solution will be found, either in theory or in practice. There is no sign that it will be contradicted by current or future developments.
*by Ernest Mandel (Edited introduction to Capital vol. 2 Penguin Classic edition)
I am coming to put you on trial and I shall be a ready witness against sorcerers, adulterers, perjurers, and against those who oppress the wage-earner, the widow and the orphan, and who rob the foreigner of his rights and do not respect me, says Yahweh Sabaoth.
Disaster for the man who builds his house without uprightness, his upstairs rooms without fair judgement, who makes his fellow-man work for nothing, without paying him his wages, who says, “I shall build myself a spacious palace with airy upstairs rooms,” who makes windows in it, panels it with cedar, and paints it vermilion. Are you more of a king because of your passion for cedar? Did your father go hungry or thirsty? But he did what is just and upright, so all went well for him. He used to examine the cases of poor and needy, then all went well. Is not that what it means to know me? Yahweh demands.
Psalms 149: 4-9
For Yahweh loves his people, he will crown the humble with salvation. The faithful exult in glory, shout for joy as they worship him, praising God to the heights with their voices, a two-edged sword in their hands, to wreak vengeance on the nations, punishment on the peoples, to load their kings with chains and their nobles with iron fetters, to execute on them the judgement passed — to the honour of all his faithful.