The idea that capitalism is so entrenched in our belief system that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism has been well documented (see Mark Fisher’s book on the subject for example). We are in a system so all-encompassing that it can be hard for many people to out what exactly could replace it. How those on the left can take people with them towards a better system becomes a very hard task when people cannot be convinced that there is anything better. People are so caught in the moment that past, present and future are blurred as one.
I was speaking to someone recently about how bad things are generally in economics and politics. They started talking about the desire to end government. They didn’t want one party to be replaced by another; they simply wanted government to end. I expected a discussion about direct democracy, democracy in the workplace and a local focus to politics and community but they hadn’t made that leap. They didn’t fancy the possibilities for a new system. The usual concerns about trying to achieve a more equal system started to emerge. Can we trust people to work together for the good of all? Wouldn’t someone or a party eventually try to seize power? Wouldn’t we just end up with government again?
In the end they came to the conclusion that this system has to go but that there is nothing to replace it. But this was just a stepping stone to a more astonishing viewpoint: “I’m looking forward to the end of the world.” At first I thought this was just a glib point but they went on to explain how total annihilation feels like an inevitable consequence of capitalism. The “fact” that there is nothing to replace capitalism and the “fact” it is destroying us went hand in hand in a logical sequence towards the apocalypse. So here we are: the problem of capitalist realism could be morphing into something else. People know the system needs to go because it is destroying the planet, promoting war between nations and destroying communities. But if you don’t know what to replace it with and you hate the harm it causes there’s only one option left. Getting the Capitalism-Triggered Annihilation out of the way feels like a logical conclusion and a way to finally get some peace.
- Three good points from Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism (auerfeld.wordpress.com)
- How Occupy reinvented the language of democracy (roarmag.org)
- The catastrophic and the post-apocalyptic (syntheticzero.net)