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Fighting the Last War – a Response to Chris Hedges

March 14, 2011

A response to Chris Hedges’ “Tolerating the Intolerant“.

I like the work Chris Hedges does. I do. Naomi Klein too. But it seems to me that to apply a 19th century model – Marxist class struggle – to the 21st century reality doesn’t work.

Just for starters, it assumes that the economy still works as it did 200 years ago. It doesn’t. The economy is global, electronic, instantaneous, and  autonomous, meaning it operates as an integrated system not controlled by a wealthy elite class of human beings, but as a complex system designed to exploit economic opportunities in ways no single human or small group of humans can control. To couch it in popular culture, Skynet employs banks, not bombs in its war against humanity.

We could go on for a very long time on this idea, but briefly, I don’t think it’s useful to invoke and advocate class warfare. Our society simply doesn’t look at all like the society of 19th century England in which Marx lived. Everyone in every class acts to enrich themselves. That is the inevitable product of a society based on accumulation.

It is easy, and natural, to attack other groups of people, whether for race, religion or income. It is not so easy to identify and address the actual source of the very real crisis we face as a species and as the dominant players on the planet. In my mind, it is the basic economic process of accumulation that has been at the heart of human society since the adoption of agriculture that is the problem.

We will not return to hunter-gatherer communalism, nor tribalism, nor feudalism. Rampaging industrial capitalism is clearly killing us and the planet. Democratic socialism was a good transitional system and has bought us some time, but it is clearly fighting the inherent flaw in being based on the nation-state structure. [Does anyone really believe that any of the social-democratic nations are actually in control of their economies?]

The adaptation for survival, should we chose to adopt it, will not be designed from old ideas and ideologies but will emerge as a natural evolution from the actual existential environment into something that doesn’t yet exist and has never existed before. If we succeed, there is as yet no word for what comes next. If we fail, the word is extinction.

[All graphics by Rockwell Kent]

One Comment leave one →
  1. March 29, 2011 6:42 am

    I think the line:

    “Rampaging industrial capitalism is clearly killing us and the planet”

    would be be a very good sub-title for Pax Lupo.

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