Monday, June 27, 2011

Leonardo Boff: Terminal Crisis of Capitalism?

I reproduce here (my translation from the Spanish original) an important new article of Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff, who, to my surprise, pretty much nails it this week with his article ¿Crisis terminal del Capitalismo?[es] (Terminal Crisis of Capitalism?):

I have been postulating as of late that the ongoing crisis of Capitalism is more than circumstantial and structural: it is terminal. Has the end of capitalist ingenuity, able to adapt itself always to any circumstance, finally arrived? I am conscious that very few people sustain this thesis. Two reasons however bring me to this interpretation.

The first reason is as follows: the crisis is terminal because all us, but particularly Capitalism, have trespassed the limits of Earth. We have occupied, predating, all the planet, undoing its subtle balance and exhausting its goods and services up to a point that it is not anymore able to replace on its own what has been stolen. Already in the mid 19th century, Karl Marx wrote prophetically that the tendency of Capital was in the direction of destroying its two sources of wealth and reproduction: Nature and Work. That is what is happening now.

Nature effectively is being subjected to a great stress, as it was never before, at least in the last century, not counting the 15 great extinctions that knew through its history of more than four billion years. The extreme phenomena that can be verified in all regions and the climate changes, which tend to a growing global warming, talk in favor of Marx' thesis. Without Nature how is Capitalism going to reproduce itself? It has hit an insuperable limit.

Capitalism makes work precarious or does without it altogether. There is a lot of development without work. The producing computerized and robotized industry produces more and better, almost without any job at all. The direct consequence is structural unemployment.

Millions of people will never reach at all the realm of work, not even as reserve army. In Spain unemployment reaches 20% of all population, and 40% of the young ones. In Portugal it 12% through the country and 30% among the youth. This means a severe social crisis, like the one that ravages Greece nowadays. All society is sacrificed in the name of an economy made not to attend human demands but to pay a debt with banks and the financial system. Marx is right: exploited work is not anymore source of wealth, machine is.

The second reason is linked to the humanitarian crisis that Capitalism is generating. In the past it was limited to peripheral countries, today it is global and has already reached the central ones. The economic question cannot be solved dismantling society. The victims, interwoven through the new communication avenues, resist, rebel and threat the existing order. Every day more people, specially youths, do not accept the pervert logic of Capitalist political economy: the dictatorship of finances, which, by means of the market, forces the submission of states to its interests, and of profiteering of speculative capitals, which circulate from one pocket to another obtaining benefits without producing anything at all, except more money for the rentiers.

Capitalism alone created the venom that can kill itself: by demanding from workers an each day better technical formation, so they could be at the level of accelerated growth and greater competitiveness, it unwillingly created people able to think. These, slowly discover the perversity of the system that skins people in the name of a purely material accumulation, that shows itself as heartless by demanding more and more efficiency up to the point of bringing workers to a deep stress, to desperation and, in some cases, suicide, as happens in several countries and also in Brazil.

The streets of several European and Arab countries, the "indignant" that fill the squares of Spain and Greece are expression of a rebellion against the extant political system, towed by the markets and capitalist logic. The Spanish youths cry: "it is not any crisis, it is a robbery". The thieves are established in Wall Street, in the IMF and the European Central Bank, that is: they are the high priests of globalized and exploiting Capital.

As the crisis worsens, throughout the whole world will grow the multitudes that do not bear anymore the consequences of overexploitation of their lives and the life of Earth and will rebel against this economic system that now agonizes, not because of aging but because of the power of the poison and the contradictions that has created itself, punishing Mother Earth and afflicting the lives of its sons and daughters.

Note: after doing all the translation I realized that the article was already translated in the same blog. However I like better my own version (though admittedly not perfect either), so I'll leave this one as it is, and you can check Boff's own(?) translation anyhow here: Is the Crisis of Capitalism Terminal? The original version, published in June 22, was in Portuguese.

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