Wednesday December 08, 2021

Unavoidable collapse

August 09, 2021

A cursory glance at the state of today’s world will give pause to anyone wishing to celebrate humanity’s progress. In fact, evidence abounds that the possibility of a reversion to barbarism should not be rejected as too far-fetched.

We live in a period of great global complexity, confusion and uncertainty. We are in the midst of a whirlpool of events and developments that are eroding our capability to manage human affairs in a way that is conducive to the attainment of a political and economic order based on stability, justice and sustainability. Indeed, the contemporary world is fraught with perils and challenges that will test severely humanity’s ability to maintain a steady course towards anything resembling a civilized life.

For starters, we have been witnessing the gradual erosion of socio-economic gains in much of the advanced industrialized world since the late 1970, along with the rollback of the social state, while a tiny percentage of the population is wealthy beyond imagination that compromises democracy, subverts the “common good” and promotes a culture of dog-eat-dog world. The pitfalls of massive economic inequality were identified even by ancient scholars, such as Aristotle, and yet we are still allowing the rich and powerful not only to dictate the nature of society we live in but also to impose conditions that make it seem as if there is no alternative to the dominance of a system in which the interests of the rich have primacy over social needs.

In this context, the political system known as representative democracy has fallen completely into the hands of a moneyed oligarchy which controls humanity’s future. Democracy no longer exists in any meaningful sense. The main function of the citizenry in so-called “democratic” societies is to elect periodically the officials who are going to manage a system designed to serve the interests of a plutocracy and of global capitalism. The “common good” is dead, and in its place we have atomized, segmented societies in which the weak, the poor and powerless are left at the mercy of the gods.

The above features capture rather accurately, in my view, the socio-economic landscape and political culture of “late capitalism.” Nonetheless, the prospects for radical social change do not appear highly promising. Darkening times, strangely enough, have never favored the Left. And today’s Left appears preoccupied with identity politics and culture, while unified ideological gestalts guiding social and political action towards the building of a new socio-economic social order are sorely missing. What we may see then emerge in the years ahead is an even harsher and more authoritarian form of capitalism.

Excerpted: ‘Is Humanity's Return to Barbarism Unavoidable?’