The globalized world is engendering global crises. Many of these are sparked off by the great power circles that, in their voracious attempts at swallowing the whole of society, end up eating each other up. The chief axes of the capitalist system, in its neo-liberal imperialist stage, are to be found in financial capital. Capitalism is an all-embracing, excessive and amorphous system that is at once dehumanizing and chaotic. It lacks ideals and is aims only to engulf, own and control everything.
Neo-liberal capitalism has gradually divested States of their identities. Governments, in turn, have become mere police headquarters for the world’s main power centers, turning a deaf ear, willingly and not, to the interests of the majorities they supposedly represent. Scientific and technological breakthroughs result in the lay-off of millions of workers, technicians, intellectuals and professionals. Everything seems to indicate that people are superfluous and that Capital can and ought to be an end in and of itself. But we know that the bourgeoisie cannot exist without the working class, in the same way that slave-owning society needed slaves to subsist and the nobles of yesteryear depended on the work of serfs.
In the midst of a crisis that is not exclusively economic and financial (though it is plenty of both), the world’s superpowers, headed by the United States and its European allies, wage protracted wars with far-reaching consequences with the aim of securing control over all of the natural resources on the planet. Afghanistan, Iraq and, more recently, Libya, are cases in point, places where internal discontents where channeled to favor the interests of the world's imperial government.
Recently, I came across a saying that spoke of the impossibility of moving a game piece without displacing the remaining pieces. It called to mind the movement of the planet's tectonic plates, structures that gradually and inexorably shift and change positions. This explains why the great financial superpowers can ultimately fry in their own oil. At the very least, it is something we are seeing in the popular protests known as "Occupy Wall Street" (OWS), which advances under the slogan of: "we are the 99 percent."
The movement, which began in New York, spread to other US cities and ultimately reached Europe. It is a protest against the system, not against a transitory state of affairs. Financial capital created a system which is turning against itself with a vengeance. New information technologies, deployed as means of domination, are now telling the world, through independent channels and social networks, the truth of what is happening.
Does it not strike a surreal note that a worker is forced to pay higher taxes that his boss? What are governments doing to stop, control and regulate the disproportionately vast power of large corporations and banking institutions? The interpretation offered by the massive and growing protests spearheaded by “The Outraged,” as they are also referred to, betrays the crisis of the capitalist order. Lacking in all ideology save the maximization of profits and utilitarianism, the system has also discredited the representative democracy model. An electoral process represents nothing beyond the mere "right" to elect the new police officers tasked with protecting property and repressing those who chose to rebel.
Occupy Wall Street reached Europe at a time when the movement is gaining momentum in the United States, and the repressive measures implemented against it are growing in proportionate fashion. In the midst of an economic and banking crisis, massive sums from the Treasury were given out to save many financial institutions. However, cutbacks on social security and massive lay-offs are on the rise, and the aid offered the less economically and socially privileged continues to dwindle. These people have no other alternative other than taking to the streets and having their voices heard.
A number of phenomena clearly reveal who the targets of the protests are. On November 11, during an unprecedented event in Charleston, South Carolina, a group of protesters took the USS Yorktown airplane carrier to interrupt and force Minnesota representative and Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, a protégé of the ultraconservative Tea Party, to leave the dais where she was delivering a speech. Bachmann was forced to flee, in the midst of protests against financial power centers, the Republicans and Tea Party, and in favor of what they call 99 percent of US citizens.
While the United States and their most committed allies wage their wars in the Middle East and threaten to set up new missile systems near Russia and spark off a new conflagration (against Iran, this time), the majorities are taking to the streets in the very bosom of their societies. It is a time in history where we must return to the dusty bookshelves and reread Marx, to be able to understand these phenomena clearly.
Where is neo-liberal capitalism heading? Towards an assured and implosive self-destruction? Can it be re-invented with a more human face? It would not be wise to predict the dates of historical events, though there are signs that something epochal may occur in the not-so-distant future. The best course of action appears to be the acceptance that the current state of affairs has become unbearable to the vast majorities living in the industrialized nations, and that the power centers will not be able to repress them, not even with the vast arsenal at their disposal. In the meantime, the Occupy Wall Street movement continues to advance, like a lit fuse, searching for the gunpowder that will spark off the final explosion. When, where and how the implosion will occur depends on a series of real and inevitable probabilities that are difficult to predict. Everything seems to indicate that it will happen soon.Translate by: Silke Paez Carr