Class suicide and the end of capitalism

by Jehu

The existential barrier of the Left is that it wants to abolish all the contradictions of wage labor without actually abolishing wage labor. Somehow, the Left believes it can get rid of inequality, poverty, racism and a host of social ills connected with wage slavery, yet continue to sell its labor power to capital much as before. Even the best minds on the Left assume the sale of labor power is an innocent commercial transaction that has no connection to its results.

There is nothing that can be done about this because the sale of labor power is, in reality, exactly like the sale of any other commodity. You can replace labor power by any other commodity — an apple, a car or a pair of shoes — and the transaction is identical in each case.

The typical Leftist asks an entirely logical question: If selling an apple or a car doesn’t necessarily lead to inequality or poverty, why would it be different for the sale of labor power? Indeed, millions of commodities are bought and sold every day without any evidence these transactions necessarily lead to inequality or poverty. The Leftist is, therefore, completely correct to believe the sale of labor power is no more the cause of poverty than the sale of any other commodity.

How are you even going to challenge this view?

Well, you can’t; it makes perfect sense. What possible evidence can you offer that exchanging some coins for labor power has a different effect than exchanging some coins for apples? In fact, we have no evidence for this, because, as simple commercial transactions, the first transaction is in every respect identical to the second. Since both transactions are in every respect identical, the Leftist will never figure out that one transaction leads to poverty but not the other.

Of course, what matters is what takes place after each of these identical transactions, but no Leftist has either the patience or inclination to look beyond it.

Instead, if poverty exists, the Leftist assumes this must be due to some external factor having nothing to do with the transaction itself. This gives rise to a host of superstitious beliefs poverty can be addressed by paying a higher price for labor power or campaign reform. Poverty may be the result of the terms of the transactions or the result of political intervention into market exchange.

It must be emphasized that nothing can be said or done to convince the Left otherwise about the causes of poverty and inequality. These superstitions are not invented in their heads but are provided to them daily in a host of examples. Wages are low and get lower each day, adding to the evidence that low wages cause poverty. While political corruption is rampant, adding to the evidence that some politicians have their thumbs on the scales in favor of the rich.

Thus, no amount of evidence can ever convince the Left the cause of poverty and inequality is wage labor itself. The simple fact is capitalism just does not work in a way that makes its connection to poverty and inequality obvious to anyone.

Is there a solution to this existential barrier for the Left? I don’t think so. No theory, even one backed by mountains of evidence, can ever overcome how things appear in capitalist society precisely because the way capitalism works appears completely natural to us. Which is to say the very forces that impoverish us also appears to us as the means to overcome poverty; the very forces that produce inequality also appear to us as the means to abolish inequality.

We are therefore forced to conclude that if capitalism does not of itself collapse without any positive proletarian political action, there is absolutely no hope this positive political action will bring it down.

And that, unfortunately, is the good news, folks.

The bad news is that the proletariat will likely exert itself to its utmost to prevent capitalism from collapsing; since, as must be obvious, the collapse of capitalism means no proletarian will be able to sell her labor power. The collapse of capitalism is essentially a class extinction level event for the working class and it will fight to avoid this horrific fate.

The worker will, therefore, do everything within her power to prevent capitalism from collapsing, even if this means she must accept her increasing impoverishment. No one can look at what happened at GM and Boeing and not realize the truth of this argument. To save themselves and protect their jobs the most organized sections of the working class literally sacrificed their own children’s futures.

It follows the shit-storm about to be unleashed on us by our own hands is really quite understandable. Capitalism will indeed self-destruct, but this destruction will, in all probability, be realized through a working class suicide that finally makes capitalism impossible. The working class will accept starvation to keep their jobs and this will ultimately bring down capitalism.

The Marxist idea the working class must commit suicide as a class may be romantic to imagine, but it will not be pretty to experience.