As capitalism collapses around the world, it’s morphing into corporate totalitarianism, where the subordination of the lower classes and the continued rule of the elites is enforced by brutal police control. The destabilization of the climate, the threat of a world war as a result of Western capitalist imperialism, and the self-inflicted decline of capitalist economies worldwide isn’t convincing the ruling class to throw out the current system. It’s convincing them to make society more unequal and repressive.
This is what the creation of America’s surveillance state is about. It’s what the militarization of the police is about. It’s what the detainment and harassment of immigrants from law enforcement is about, since these things set a precedent for doing the same to all workers and poor people. It’s why the president has the power, as granted by Obama under Section 1021 of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, to indefinitely detain Americans without charge or trial. The ruling class has created a police state as a pre-emptive defense against an uprising, and against the looming economic and environmental breakdowns.
Fascism, which these authoritarian measures embody, is the true face of capitalism. As has been shown in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and our current era of populist authoritarianism, fascism is the nakedly tyrannical form of capitalism that societies fall into when capitalism collapses. And because fascism is only the logical conclusion of the police-enforced class exploitation which capitalism equates to, authoritarian leaders can always find support from the capitalist class. This is why autocrats like Recep Erdogan and Vladimir Putin have used capitalism to bolster their power, and why the world’s plutocrats are increasingly allying themselves with neo-fascists like Brazil’s new president Jair Bolsonaro.
The result of this alliance is a descent into barbarism. Bolsonaro has threatened genocide against Brazil’s indigenous populations and planned to enact torture and military dictatorship. Authoritarians around the world are taking away women’s rights, eroding democracy, and normalizing the anti-Semitism and xenophobia which preceded the Holocaust. The Trump era’s rise of hate crimes,escalations of immigrant detention and ICE abuses, and expanded giveaways to corporations represent a transition into an Americanized fascism, where corporate tyranny is practiced openly and is infused with a culture of hate.
When the climate crisis, extreme inequality, looming world war, state repression, and rising neo-fascism of our era all originate from capitalism, the only way to win a better world is to defeat capitalism itself. It’s not possible to stop climate change under capitalism, because the capitalist incentive to maximize profits will drive corporations to continue the mass production of carbon emissions even when they’re using green technologies. Because capitalism depends on class hierarchy, the rich will always dominate society as long as we allow for capitalism to exist. And even if capitalism is reformed in the United States, billions around the world will live in poverty as powerful capitalist nations continue to engage in imperialism and neo-colonialism.
A revolution won’t come from trying to reform capitalism, or by working within the capitalist Democratic Party. The progressive Democrats in Congress are having their agenda consistently blocked by Pelosi, causing Chris Hedges to assess that The vaunted new populist members of Congress will be no more than window dressing, trotted out, like Sanders, to trick voters into thinking the Democratic Party is capable of reform. With an estimated 11 years being left to avoid runaway global warming, and with the looming threats of fascism and world war, there’s no time for compromise. There needs to be a mass movement which transforms society’s political and economic apparatus towards serving the collective good.
The nation’s most important industries, from healthcare to the big banks to the Internet, need to be nationalized. The concepts of rich and poor need to be ended by systematically making it impossible for an upper class to exist. And corporations need to be taken out of the control of elites and put in the hands of the workers as a whole. As the Marxist professor Richard Wolff has explained while advocating for this democratization of the workplace:
Most of the actually existing’ socialist experiments to date unraveled in part because they never transformed the organization of their workplaces. They more or less replaced private shareholders and boards of directors with state officials and they more or less substituted planned distributions of inputs and outputs for market exchanges. What they did not do was to radically alter the internal organization of workplaces in a specifically socialist way.
This would avoid the mistakes of past state socialism while accomplishing socialism’s goal of putting production, distribution, and exchange into the control of the people. The transition into this would be easy, and polls show that millions of especially younger Americans now support the abolition of capitalism. The only thing stopping socialism’s implementation is the absence of a large-scale, unified movement that breaks the power of the capitalist class.
History has shown that only around 3% of a society’s population needs to participate in a revolt for a dictatorship to be overthrown. We can make the effort towards socialist revolution reach these proportions easily. Record inequality and widespread poverty have made America ripe for social unrest. Americans are seeing rebellions against corporate capitalism happen in Europe in the form of the Yellow Vests. Some kind of uprising is inevitable in the United States, and the coming economic crash could be the catalyst. We need to channel this unrest into a nonviolent direction which focuses on dismantling the capitalist apparatus.
The state of the world makes it clear: humanity can either descend into barbarism or transition into socialism. The latter outcome is still entirely possible.