2005-22: The crisis of western capitalism behind the left and far right radicalism

By Dimitris Konstantakopoulos

First of two articles

In a previous article we have rried to explain the rise of the extreme right in Europe, in its various forms, as a result of the deep crisis of world (western) Capitalism. The same is true of the rise of the radical left, where and when we witness it. It is simply impossible to understand what is going on now in the world if we don’t take into consideration the crisis the globally dominant Western capitalism has been facing since 2008. The depth of this crisis is comparable to the depth of the two biggest crises in the history of capitalism, those of 1873 and 1929.

Those two crises have produced in the past the drive to imperialism, as a way out of the crisis (analysed in a magnificent way by Hobson and Lenin in their classic works on imperialism). They produced also WWI and II, the Russian and the Chinese revolutions, and the rise of Nazism in Germany.

Social interests and psychological factors constitute a great barrier in acknowledging the depth and the potential consequences of the crisis our world is facing. An equally important obstacle is the very serious intellectual (and moral) decline we are living in, reminiscent in a way of the descent of the ancient world into the Dark Ages. In particular, political and social critical thought has declined dramatically since the ‘80s of the last century, especially in the context of the “end of history” period opened with the triumph of capitalism on the ruins of the USSR and its bureaucratic “socialism”.

We acknowledge or we do not aknowledge the crisis and its depth, it exists objectively. We are then right to wait events as dramatic as the ones the two previous crises have produced. In reality we have already been witnessing them since the beginning of the century. The European debt crisis, the cascade of wars in the Middle East, the increasingly important and threatening ecological crises, and the COVID crisis all have a systemic character. And now we are already, whether or not we want to aknowledge it, at the beginning of a new, sui generis world war, launched by NATO as a reaction to the Russian military intervention in Ukraine.

All those phenomena are not separate “accidents” of some sort. They are the symptoms of a global system more and more unable to regulate itself without producing more and more destruction, as has happened in the past with WWI and II, which permitted a development of the productive forces only after destroying them massively.

But there is not only similarity: there is also a crucial difference between the present and the two previous crises. Humanity has now unimaginable means of destroying life on earth. And even if it does not use them to commit suicide, it will anyway end its existence in a not so distant future, if it does not take very radical steps to reform itself, adressing in particular climatic change and other threats to the natural environment which has sustained superior forms of life on earth. Such radical steps seem beyond the capacity of the present global system. They require profound systemic change if humanity is to survive. This was already very difficult before the Ukrainian crisis. But if the cold and hot wars which begun go on they will destroy any possibillity of international cooperation thus rendering certain the destruction of our species as a result of the climatic change and the other existential threats we are facing.

This information is becoming more obvious by the day now. But it is so terrible, that people are refusing to let it really enter their brains. They prefer to continue business as usual, reproducing what they know from the past and not taking into account that, for the first time in the history of humanity, its survival cannot be considered as granted.

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