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Comment and Opinion

ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: La réalité capitaliste est pire que sa caricature...

by Marie-Jean Sauret, psychoanalyst, university professor

The capitalist reality is worse than its caricature...

Translated Saturday 3 October 2015, by Adrian Jordan

The capitalist system has the objective of optimising results. In the current form, that means always creating more financial capital – capital alone, and not improving the quality of life of those whose society it structures.

We might however be astounded that such logic has not ultimately destroyed scientific research, artistic creation, agriculture and industry: this is partly because something has to be done with the money and there is a limit to speculation. But for that, and the fact that agents of capitalism themselves must eat, entertain themselves and have a social life, it may have been so. It all revolves around making money.

There are three types of agency: direct beneficiaries - owners, not only of manufacturing plant and workforce, but capital financiers - they who do not want money – because they have too much to know what to do with – but want more money; then there are politicians at the service of capital - they who make the laws dictated to them by those with money, they who apply these laws, they who govern in the interest of the rich: this includes governments, politicians, but equally, all those who appropriate the right to rule by profiting from the system (bankers, media, bosses and managers, certain intellectuals etc); and finally the many inescapable multitude of thankful little hands, that must be appeased, and who are the ultimate producers of the wealth which must be prised from them, leaving no trace whenever possible... Us, then. To which, perhaps, it would be best to add they who have already been rejected because they are useless: the homeless, the inept, the old, asylum seekers, illegal immigrants; and, quite simply, the detritus from the system who do not die fast enough. In a sense, they disturb public order simply by existing and deserve having coercive measures be used against them... until such time as some clean-up company finds a way to exploit this new source of revenue!

This outline seems simplistic. And however, it is the one exposed by the Greek affair: the financiers and their accomplices will crush those little hands down to the last, and they will also crush any political action that could lead to thoughts that the system might better serve the people: that the aim could be to live well, to allow each to be well housed and to eat properly, to care for themselves, to grow, to find amusement and to relax; to enjoy being with their children, with their family and friends; in short, “good living”. Capitalism has come to the point where, to continue on the road to profit, the fact that it kills and will go on killing can no longer be hidden, and regardless, it has killed from the beginning: austerity kills directly (the untended ill, the hungry and the very poor) and indirectly (suicides and victims of crimes for survival). However, overexploitation, the march to profit, not only destroys biodiversity and wastes the earth’s resources, but also destroys whole populations. In this context, the complicity of mass media ideologues, in inventing arguments that fool no one, in order to justify the unjustifiable (from Le Monde to Libération, via several TV and radio columnists and, alas, several France Culture programs, to give just a few examples), is always evident: they still believe that capitalism will reward them, except in reality they are just the scientistic cronies of paranoid religions wanting to claim their slice of the cake...

Capitalism has found its means through the marriage of technoscience and the market, and by utilising the economy to force the balance-sheet to be substituted for the law. The methods of alienation which have led to the docile acceptance of this replacement of the law are well known: desires are captured by the market, which then draws those susceptible into a life of infinite consumerism, which will leave them interminably frustrated. This captivity is accompanied by indoctrination via ideological anthropology, which supports the capitalist discourse: everyone wishes to compete with the man-machines that they are becoming.

This death culture culminates in the transhumanist ideological scheme of a system which functions “alone” according to mathematical algorithms, in which the participants would themselves be “enhanced humans” (see Ray Kutsweil’s Google project). They who find themselves living in the preceding evolutionary stage, we - who would have undergone this mutation - have a name: “chimpanzees of the future”. This is, however, exactly the opposite of what should be advanced. In regard to evolution, the human is an imperfect animal: we compensate for this imperfection with culture and the invention this arouses: be it for our perpetuation, be it for our auto-destruction. The chimpanzee is a “completed anthropoid”. Its margins of evolution are very limited. The Google project envisages simply ridding humans of that which makes us human - to make us submissive slaves of a pre-confessed totalitarianism. The repeated affirmations by European leaders during the Greek crisis - which outranked democracy according to the economic exigencies dictated by the mathematical formulae of the Troika - show however fantastical transhumanist theses are, they nonetheless have criminal efficacy. One could therefore prescribe laws changing retirement age so as to make it unattainable, or which seek to balance the social security system by increasing contributions without giving any return. The ideal system would have only debtors, consumers and, zealous, quasi-mechanical, servants.

Yet however, some still resist – from Syriza to Podemos (whatever our feelings for each of these movements), without forgetting the thousands of solidarity-based initiatives to be found here and there. It is regrettable that the issues and the urgency of the struggle do not present themselves to everyone in the same fashion: some ways of pursuing politics – in opposition to the system – in fact promulgate the problems, in that the system has become accustomed to dealing with them (by handing out more crumbs (wages, minor power sharing, 15 minutes of TV...)), and paralysing the best of intents. Equally, calls for innovation to start an “economic recovery” and allusions to future horizons between 2015 and 2050, make us believe that the system is fixable and we have time for such. Between now and then, after the Greeks, there will be plenty of time for them to settle their score with other people.

Now is the time to reject this deleterious system: this is the minimum requirement for unfettering actions of solidarity, and opening up a new future.


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