Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Modernity as a cultural system

Modernity and capitalism are fundamentally the same thing.

Continuous growth/expansion/colonization are at the root of modernity; capitalism is the engine and the power that makes it go. The attempts to make modernity work without capitalism are doomed to fail as contrary to the nature of modernity. But the 'proper' capitalist form of modernity is doomed as well -- by its own logic. The "growth" upon which it depends is a ponzi scheme – it can't go on forever – finite resources cannot sustain infinite growth – and, like a shark, when capitalist modernity stops moving, it dies.

Capitalism and plutocracy are fundamentally inseparable.
Plutocracy – government by and for the wealthy – is the form of government that goes along with capitalism as a form of social organization. When capitalism 'works,' it produces plutocratic government. Capitalism -- the organization of society so that money makes money -- could not exist in a real democracy because it necessarily concentrates money and power in fewer hands. That's how capitalism works – it concentrates power in the hands of the small percentage of people with the most money. And the fact that capitalism functions in the interest of a non-democratic minority is why it can exist only if the majority of citizens are bought off or stupefied with drugs and flashing lights.

Modernity, capitalism, plutocracy -- it's all of a piece and it's all coming to a dramatic end. Twenty years ago, it might have been accurate to say we were speeding toward a cliff with the accelerator on the floor. At this point, in 2011, all four wheels are over the edge. We're airborne. The question now is how to survive the wreck. And how to make sure the people in charge of causing the wreck are not in a position to wreak more havoc. The plutocrats trashed the globe with their industrial-financial ponzi scheme. As it collapses, they lose their power. The democracy demanded by free people doesn't take power from the plutocrats and does not assume the power the plutocrats lose. Instead, it constructs new, beyond-modern societies in which the kind of power plutocrats wield does not exist – it constructs true democracy.

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