Killing capitalism without replacing it with something else
Wolfgang Streeck has written a fascinating essay titled, “How will capitalism end? I think it is a must read for anyone who wants to shake the cobwebs of routine thinking from their head and open up a bit of room for thinking differently about the present crisis and its ultimate outcome. There are four outstanding observations in particular that I wish to draw attention to:
- “I suggest that we learn to think about capitalism coming to an end without assuming responsibility for answering the question of what one proposes to put in its place.”
- “[There] is today no political-economic formula on the horizon, left or right, that might provide capitalist societies with a coherent new regime of regulation, or régulation.”
- “[Disorganized] capitalism is disorganizing not only itself but its opposition as well, depriving it of the capacity either to defeat capitalism or to rescue it.”
- “[Capitalism’s] defeat of its opposition may actually have been a Pyrrhic victory, freeing it from countervailing powers which, while sometimes inconvenient, had in fact supported it.”
Interesting enough, although his argument is fascinating, Streeck can’t seem to take his eyes off purely superficial expressions of the crisis. There is stagnation, inequality, private appropriation of the public sphere, corruption and a breakdown in the Post-World War II order. Examined closely, it would appear this isn’t a critical examination of the process of capitalistic collapse; it is a series of mainstream media headlines. Thus, Streeck offers a very interesting observation — capitalism is killing itself with its own success — based on paltry, almost banal, evidence.
While Streeck argues there is no political-economic formula to provide capitalist societies with a coherent new regime; he never investigates the possibilities for a path outside political-economy. Capitalist political-economy, argues Streeck, is shaking itself apart and anti-capitalist political-economy seems, at best, only to mediate the process. But, in the end, all Streeck has told us is that no political-economy (capitalist or anti-capitalist) offers a way out of the present crisis. He leaves it here, as if he has thoroughly investigated every possible future.
But suppose we do not aim for a new regime of regulation? Suppose we neither want to defeat capitalism nor rescue it? Suppose, as Landian accelerationism proposes, we do not wish to act as a countervailing power, but an accelerating one? And suppose, in acting as an accelerant to capitalism, we do not intend to put anything in its place?
The very idea that we should be solely concerned to accelerate capitalism headlong into its inevitable demise without any concern for what comes after it is sure to loosen the bowels of our Marxists imbeciles, but what comes after capitalism is not foreshadowed by anything we imagine today.