Capital’s 21st Century Endgame: Building a Planet-Wide Opposition
A Reading and Discussion Group with
The Capital Studies Organizing Task Force
THIS CLASS IS POSTPONED UNTIL LATER IN THE 2018/2019 SEASON
The conditions capital is making for all life on earth is playing out like a science fiction endgame. An international movement with profound social force that absolutely brings an end to this game is imperative. This critical reading/study is a beginning. Other related sessions will happen over the next few years. We will begin by studying two relatively recent works that trace the history of capitalist/imperialist development leading to where we are currently positioned as the world approaches having a population of eight billion: an updated Planet of Slums by Mike Davis and Samir Amin’s The World We Wish to See. In the fall we will take up Ernest Screpanti’s Global Imperialism and the Great Crisis: The Uncertain Future of Capitalism and more.
Right now, a handful of individuals control as much wealth as half of the world’s population – an accumulation of capital made possible by the labor of the global working classes, past and present, and accompanied by rollbacks of democratic rights, increasing precarity of labor through
automation and multiple other factors, and never-ending imperial wars. Our aim is to better understand the dynamics that have led to the global spread of capitalism, while also analyzing the successes and failures of global opposition to capitalism and imperialism, so we can become conscious political actors and help shape strong enough social movements worldwide that can overcome capitalist exploitation, permanent wars, and the destruction of our planet.
The World We Wish to See
The World We Wish to See presents a sweeping view of 20th century political history and a stirring appeal to take political culture seriously. Amin assesses the potential and limitations of the many movements to confront global capitalism in the 21st century. Amin explains that effective opposition must be based on a “convergence in diversity” of oppressed and exploited people—whether workers, peasants, students, or any other opponent of capitalism and imperialism. What is needed is a new “international” that has an open and flexible organizational structure to coordinate opposition movements around the world.
Planet of Slums
Davis presents an account of the rapid rise of the world’s slums. According to the United Nations, more than one billion people now live in the slums of the cities of the Global South. In Planet of Slums, Davis explores the future of a radically unequal and explosively unstable urban world. From the sprawling barricadas of Lima to the garbage hills of Manila, urbanization has been disconnected from industrialization, and even from economic growth. Davis portrays a vast humanity warehoused in shantytowns and exiled from the formal world economy. He argues that the rise of this informal urban proletariat is a wholly unforeseen development, and asks whether the great slums, as a terrified Victorian middle class once imagined, are volcanoes waiting to erupt.
The Capital Studies Organizing Task Force are workers and allies who gather frequently to study the three volumes of Marx’s Capital, in order to be concrete in our analysis of capital and to better inform the class struggles against capitalists and their collaborators.