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/leftypol/ - Leftist Politically Incorrect

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In How the World Works, Paul Cockshott argues that the global decline in birth/fertility rates and resulting stagnation of economic growth will create an existential crisis for capitalism in the 21st century. A crisis of profitability where investment will only be enough to compensate for depreciation and the cheapening of capital stock in the economy, but not to create more value and therefore capitalism will enter a terminal stage. Anyways, do you think capitalism can come to an end this way? How do you think it can? Will capitalism make it past this century? Discuss.


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If historic calculations of profitability are accurate, there was a 20% drop in industrial profitability over the course of the 20th century, and across various industries the rate of profit now stands at ~10-15%. If these trends are consistent and predictable, there is no possible way that capitalism will be able to stop the drop to 0% this century. Industrial investment depends upon profitability, and when there is none left to be found you simply will not have industrial capital ("capitalism") anymore. The system of investment in wage labor for production for exchange will be replaced by something else. Whether that ends up being socialism or something else is harder to predict.


Capitalism as we know it (neoliberal rentier capitalism) is pretty much fucked. In my view, it would be fucked regardless of declining birthrates, but the declining birthrates obviously make it worse. That said, it's not just gonna die, it's going to sort of very slowly grind down. The folks who are running this don't see capitalism (or even its worst extractive financial aspects within a nation) as optional, and so they seem to still be parsing the question as "neoliberalism vs. authcap." America isn't going to see its problems and return to higher taxes on wealth and extraction, more functional regulation of corporate mini-states, etc. - they might bring back welfare in some form, but I'm not really counting on it now. I think America will skip all that, sell off public assets cheap, and go Russia-mode rather than solve its problems or reconsider capitalism itself.

Even Georgism could actually solve a lot of the internal problems with what amounts to just radical tax reform, and they won't even do that because landlords are big campaign donors who have a lot of capital. All the things which would seem politically or economically logical on the whole are avoided because they aren't thinking in those terms.

So capitalism is fucked. Its inefficiencies are increasingly damaging, the value of its extraction is falling, its capacity to produce is dropping, etc. and it'll probably be like that for a couple hundred years at least, just gradually getting worse even though it could be getting better if priorities changed a bit. It's unlikely that it will be replaced with anything in the foreseeable future.


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>Anyways, do you think capitalism can come to an end this way?
Sure, if there would be no major technological advancements (or wars) that could massively cheapen the capital stock (like fusion).

>How do you think it can?

Simple math. You have two people in a family. To simply reproduce on a given population level the average family would need to have 2 children minimum. The average across various countries that are not a backwards tribal shithole (that is a sample of billions of people) is lower.


The demographic sealing for capitalism that Cockshott describes is the iron fist of destiny, racing towards us from the future, that will assert the political economy of labor above all else. Depending where you live it will impact somewhere between 2035 and 2070. Multi/trans-national capitalism will be done by 2050-55.

The question is how smoothly that change will go. I can imagine that socialist systems like China or economically reformist social democratic systems where the ideological superstructure doesn't treat the political dominance of capital as an absolute, will just cross over with minor hick-ups and some rough patches.

However places where the political dominance of capitalism is too deeply entrenched, for these the change-over might not go well. There's probably going to be some new versions of fascism, lots of war-mongering, and of course there will be societies where a ruling class manages to use means of repression to become like a terminal parasite that kills the host society. All of those represent variations on violent self-destruction. These will represent capitalism going out with a societal collapse before giving rise to the political economy of labor.

There will be a lot of fall-out on top off the consequences of the damaged biosphere. So even though capitalism is going to be mostly finished by mid 21st century, it will probably take until early to mid 22nd century until all the wounds are healed.


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I once read this paper that argued that capitalism without profit could degenerate into a fully vampiric, rentier economy reminiscent of exploitative systems of the past. But it would be politically inviable because capitalism would no longer have a justification to maintain itself, since the bourgeois would have become a purely rent-seeking class without function.


You mean basically what we've lived under for the past 50 years? Why do you pretend neoliberalism and Nazism are anything less than full cannibalization of capital to feed the suet of their screamers? Nothing in the past 50 years works. They literally build shit to fail so people will keep buying ever-crappier products, get them addicted to drugs, force them to pay fines and fees and for spurious "health" treatments, then gouge the public treasury to feed their favored enterprises with all the shit that is plundered, all to build a machine that is designed to depopulate the world and make it unlivable. The entire apparatus is set up to make us suffer, for no particular purpose.

It's funny how the edgelords of leftypol always pull their punches when it's not about "radicalization", but it's leftypol so of course it's fed-infested garbage.


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>I once read this paper that argued that capitalism without profit could degenerate into a fully vampiric, rentier economy reminiscent of exploitative systems of the past. But it would be politically inviable because capitalism would no longer have a justification to maintain itself.
Over a longer time-span productive capital has more leverage than rentier capital, that's why the industrial bourgeoisie won against the feudal lords, despite of those having total control over all political institutions. It might be possible for rentier capital to capture the state apparatus of entire countries, but then those countries would loose influence internationally. So it's probably not just political viability, but also material reasons.

>You mean basically what we've lived under for the past 50 years? Why do you pretend neoliberalism and Nazism are anything less than full cannibalization of capital to feed the suet of their screamers? Nothing in the past 50 years works. They literally build shit to fail so people will keep buying ever-crappier products,…

You are correct, however you have too look at this over time, the effects of this system have not finished manifesting.

The long term consequence of degrading the population is declining fertility and that means that labor power will become scarce, and all the stress that's harming the brains of people means less technology innovation. The neo-libs chose profits in the short term and in the long term the proletariat gets all leverage and the pendulum will swing the other way. And when it goes it'll really go.

>to build a machine that is designed to depopulate the world

I think their initial goal was to shorten the lives of workers so they die before they can get a pension. This was kinda stupid because an unhealthy population that dies off earlier has a proportionally shorter "productive life phase".

However there are parts of the ruing class that does want depopulation, because they think that class society can't be upheld for more than about 1 billion people. They basically looked at history and there are like thousands of years where class society is rarely challenged in a major way, and during that time the population stays around 1 billion. And then comes modernity, population rises and all of a sudden there are really big and powerful socialist projects that got very close at killing off class society.

They probably are correct that class society has a population limit above which it can't function. But the real reason why there are no big socialist projects threatening to end class-rule in the middle ages is because the productive forces are too primitive to build a functioning socialist system. The middle ages still have all the same attempts at superseding class-rule but they always fail at building a new society because they lack the sufficiently advanced means of production to do it. And keeping the population down with Malthusian attacks against human thriving wasn't really what did it.

The neoliberal system is predicated on a imperial bourgeoisie being able to win class struggle against their domestic labor-force because when proles strike the imperial bourgeoisie can sustain it self from imperial-super profits and wait out the labor strikes. Because the neo-liberal system also allowed capital to offshore the means of production, that also functions like a capital strike withholding investment. However that had unintended consequence of undermining the imperial power of the core.

The result of the geopolitical effects of the neo-liberal system will be such that when the (depopulation/degradation) labor-supply-crunch hits, the imperial-super-profit-powered class-war-stamina of the big bourgeoisie will be at a minimum. And they'll get the double whammy. So while we do live in the ghoulish vampiric canibalistic phase of capitalism that began 50 years ago, we can already see the wall (of neolib making) at the horizon where the ruling class will go splat when it collides with it.



From Malthus on, the democidal intent of imperial capitalism is no great secret. The idea that they want you to marry and reproduce is very alien to what capitalism has meant historically. There are very few pronatalist ideologies in existence, and when they exist they are short-lived and never really followed. It is very difficult to force people to make children they do not want. The Romans faced this problem throughout their history, and eventually did face demographic decline.

There has never been a period of human history without waves of death and despair. From tribal intercine wars and ritual sacrifice to the wars of ancient city-states and warbands, to famines and plagues and the great game of imperial politics, to the regular massacres of slaves and serfs that were a feature of feudal life, to the capitalist enclosures, to today's eugenic dictatorship, humanity has always lived under a death cult. The world where this didn't apply is the fiction, the dream that is always out of reach, even though it is woefully apparent that we never had to do any of this. If someone is close to finding a way out, a terrible force in the human race - and it is something within the human race alone - compels it to return to its inexorable path. This idea would be formalized in modernity - and that's what they call "historical progress". The world, and many of the people individually who have souls and lives, has been trying to tell us this whole time that the way we think about politics and life doesn't work and cannot work, but the human spirit returns to Monke so to speak. That's what humanity is, and it refuses to change… so, here we are.

Capitalism was never a "total system" with an intent of its own. It is a situation, and one that was largely outmoded during the 20th century. The vestiges of capital exist in the petty bourgeois, squeezed out of existence and made to comply with the world to come in one way or another. Those who refuse will neither live nor die, but exist in a vague nightmare where they cannot speak of what has been done to them and to the world. The institutions of today are designed to select for the eugenic creed and eliminate all other potential worlds, so that historical progress can be locked in and made permanent.


Yeah I was about to say this sounds oddly familiar


What is clear is that the fictions that were encouraged for the past 50 years can no longer operate - and really they ceased operating some time ago. 2008 brought new fictions and a gigantic cash grab. We were told to ignore how much was transformed under Obama, as if history were still repeating a cycle from the 1980s and 1990s. As the world changed, in the ruling ideas nothing ever can change. Their next mystification was to claim that history is now truly frozen and nothing new is possible, as the bottom falls out.

When you look at capitalism, it was never a singular "capitalism" whose core mechanisms are unchanging and absolute. Capitalism as a situation - and what we are really referring to is the free trade empire centered around Britain - adapts every generation and with every crisis, in which the chief actors guide institutions to their preferred outcome. That is inherent to the entire project of political economy, where before the economic plans of states did not have to concern mass politics or mass involvement. In the past, most of humanity were out of sight and out of mind in one way or another, and they were regulated less by coin then by fixed social roles that could not be abolished by money. A slave was a slave even if he managed to buy manumission, one of the carrots extended to mitigate slavery. No one forgets the taint of having been a slave, or the taint of "blackness" that came to be an idea in the empire, among the various other marks of class. The same is said of indentured servants - at some point, there is ceiling dictating how far someone could rise. Class mobility was certainly possible, and there was a great mobility of class assignments as the poor were sorted during the 19th-mid 20th century. By 1970, the sorting was done, and the filtering and purging began.
To give you an idea of class mobility - the idea of a black ex-slave ruling a country was rare but thinkable in the Haitian Revolution. It was a reality the empire had to accept, no matter how much it disgusted them. The success of the empire is to make the idea of such a rebellion inadmissible, a fantasy even in thought let alone action. It's why American policy has been to shit on the very idea of Haiti, because that is the example of everything the empire is set up to prevent. Any other example suggesting a similar abolition of institutions had to be reversed. You can see with the revisionist histories of the American Civil War what they want. Now they've proceeded to revise the history of the second world war and Nazi slavery. At the time, many people writing about the war had to contend with reality, despite the thought leaders' immediate mystification. Too many people lived through the war and saw enough to know what this really was. Those who were imprisoned in the camps could speak. Those who fought in the armies of the period, who liberated the camps, reported exactly what they saw. The Germans who were operating the camps admitted what they had done, because there was no way they could possibly lie. Nazis from the grunts to the policy makers were made to admit, with proofs, what they did, and at the time they said matter-of-factly that they did this and had no compunction about doing so. It was necessary in the post-war order to edit that history, because if any further investigation happened, it would be clear who funded the Nazis, and who benefits from the social experiments the Nazis carried out. Everything the camps do comes back to oligarchs funding eugenics as a global movement, and the same things the Nazis did were done in much of the world. Not one great empire of the period could claim they were not beneficiaries of the war against the weak, and were not party to eugenics. Eugenics, after all, started the war and pushed it along, against the interests of everyone else. Eugenics is the empire, and the world wars established that fact. The greatest mystification was to lock this in by claiming that eugenics was over in 1945. Those who suffered under eugenics at the time knew damn well they would continue to be hunted. The Soviets who fought for their lives certainly knew they were going to put through another round of bullshit, and so they had incentive to say the truth about all of this. The truth, sadly, does not count for much. It took them a couple of generations to seed the new thought-forms but by 1980 it had promulgated enough that the older generation, who remembered the world before eugenics won, could not resist this historical progress. Their children would be alternatively sacrificed or promoted in the first wave of eugenic consolidaton, and their grandchildren would be thrown away. Our cohort would be the final filtration point, and it is in the 1980s that depopulation truly begins.

It's like living in an alternate history to hear these people act like eugenics just started again. We've been living in this terror all along and we're not allowed to even say that this is what happens. It's insidious.


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