The Defence of Humanity Requires the Radicalisation of Popular Struggles

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1684 ... October 10, 2018

The Defence of Humanity Requires the Radicalisation of Popular Struggles

Samir Amin

In August this year, the acclaimed socialist writer and activist Samir Amin (1931-2018) passed away. Born in Egypt and educated in Port Said and Paris, he eventually settled as director of the Third World Forum in Dakar, Senegal from 1980. Samir was author of numerous books including his well-known Accumulation on a World Scale (1970), De-Linking (1990) and Capitalism in the Age of Globalization (1997), and more recent texts such as The Liberal Virus (2003), A Life Looking Forward (2006), From Capitalism to Civilization: Reconstructing the Socialist Perspective (2010), and many others. Amin was a central figure in the pantheon of thinkers from the so-called Global South who reworked Marxism and the... theories of imperialism to examine the dynamics of capitalism and the world market from the territories marginalized -- but integral -- to global accumulation. We publish here one of Samir Amin’s important assessments of the challenges of political resistance to global neoliberalism -- first published in the 2009 Socialist Register.

Compared with preceding political systems, capitalism has historically fulfilled certain progressive functions: it has freed the individual from many constraints imposed by earlier systems, it has developed productive forces on an unprecedented scale, it has fused multiple communities into the nations that we know, it has laid the foundations of modern democracy. Yet all these achievements have been marked and limited by capitalism’s class nature: the ‘free’ individual is in fact nothing more than ‘a well-off male bourgeois’, while the persisting patriarchate has kept most of the female half of humanity in subordinate positions. In the opulent centres of the system, capitalism has no longer much to offer beyond a consumerism that is alienating and destructive and of the relationships of human fraternity, blocking the genuine emancipation of women, and the liberating dimension of the practice of democracy. It must be made clear that its ‘advantages’ are also distributed in an increasingly unequal manner under the dictatorship of plutocracies, supported by their monopoly over the media, reducing democracy to practices devoid of meaning and scope, and thereby destroying its legitimacy. The forceful opening of new fields for the expansion of the dominance of the established plutocracies -- the privatisation of public services (education, health) and the infrastructures which provide for basic needs (water, electricity, housing, transports) always end in the exacerbation of inequalities and the destruction of the fundamental social rights of the popular classes. The short-term rationality of calculating the return on equity is an invitation to an explosion of criminal or potentially criminal developments (especially through biogenetics).

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