Capitalism, Socialism, and Existential Despair

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~(((( T h e B u l l e t ))))~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1989 ... January 31, 2020
_________________________________________________

Capitalism, Socialism, and Existential Despair

Chris Wright

Decades ago, Edward Said remarked that contemporary life is characterized by a "generalized condition of homelessness." Decades earlier, Martin Heidegger had written that "Homelessness is coming to be the destiny of the world." Around the same time, fascists were invoking the themes of blood and soil, nation, race, community, as intoxicating antidotes to the mass anonymity and depersonalization of modern life. Twenty or thirty years later, the New Left, in its Port Huron Statement, lamented the corruption and degradation of such values as love, freedom, creativity, and community:

"Loneliness, estrangement, isolation describe the vast distance between man and man today. These dominant tendencies cannot be overcome by better personnel management, nor by improved gadgets, but only when a love of man overcomes the idolatrous worship of things by man."

Over a hundred years earlier, Karl Marx had already understood it was capitalism that was responsible for all this collective anguish. "All fixed, fast-frozen relations… are swept away," he wrote in the Communist Manifesto, "all new-formed ones... become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned." Home, community, the family, one’s very relation to oneself -- all are mediated by money, the commodity function, "reification," exploitation of one form or another.

And now here we are in 2020, when the alienation and atomization have reached such a state that it seems as if the world is in danger of ending. The phenomenology, the "structure of feeling," of living in this society is that everything is transient and "up in the air," human survival itself is in question, a hectored, bureaucratized anonymity chases us from morning till night, nothing really matters, no one gets their just deserts. Young people are refraining from having children. There is certainly no collective sense of belonging -- that’s long gone. We’re les étrangers, passively consuming distractions as we wait for the other shoe to drop.

Meanwhile, we read of little else but agonized suffering, from children in cages to rainforests burning, from opioid epidemics to rampaging neofascists.

Continue reading

Share on Facebook

Follow us onr0

Forward to a friend: this link

r39
powered by phpList

Login Form