In a post-capitalist world how will we establish a system which provides for the needs of all? The solution to this in a world with mechanized labor is clear: luxury communism
The failing of the American liberal lies not in his or her message, which purports to be one that is anti-oppression and anti-capitalism. The failing of the American liberal in recent times has become one which must be expanded well past the traditional thinking of a non-radicalized populace. The liberal encourages in his passivity a state and capital system which allows for the expansion of a system he proposes to be opposed to. The passive act of being governed by voting rather than exercising self-governance can be heard in the election time rallying cry of “you don’t get to complain if you don’t vote”. On the contrary, you enter into a social contract with your vote that allows for the state to claim a legitimacy over your persons.
If, as Deleuze would propose, all of humanity is comprised of machines which desire then it is safe to assume that any government which governs justly can provide for all of these desires, a failing of all current socio-political systems. If we operate under the Weberian theory that all states are inherently violent, then it must also be logical that any returned violence would be not an act of violence, but legitimate self-defense. If the state behaves violently, we must believe that this behavior opposes at least one desire of its populace, the need for safety. If in order to be legitimate a state must provide for the desires of its populace, then we must also assume that the state as it currently exists is not legitimate.
If an authority is illegitimate in one facet, then it must also be considered illegitimate holistically. How do we establish a system which imposes legitimacy and self-governance? Through Deleuzian and Marxist theory this principle of illegitimacy can be demonstrated and a solution can be presented.
Capitalism tends toward the automation of labor, a situation clearly designed to be untenable for labor as job loss becomes increasingly common. Here capitalism loses its legitimacy. As machines that desire, we have the evolutionary tendencies to seek food, sex, and shelter. We can suppose that the cost of pursuing these tendencies will no longer be able to be satisfied through the means of labor. Any claims that capitalism might have to legitimacy will have fallen through, necessitating a horizontal re-evaluation of capitalism.
In a post-capitalist world how will we establish a system which provides for the needs of all? The solution to this in a world with mechanized labor is clear: luxury communism. A system where not only the needs but the wants of a populace have been met without the exchange of capital. In the event that capital was no longer needed for survival, then we can imagine a society which is not only post capitalist, but also post mandatory labor. This creates a situation in which all pursuits of a populace are not only allowable in free time, but equitable in aggregate. Thus creating a society in which all desires could be equitably met in a way that still allows for a populace to be provided for.
Not only that but if we assume that the primary forms of capital which people can account for are economic, social, and political, with most subsets of these falling into one of these overarching categories, then we can assume that they are all tied to one another. It is unreasonable to expect that under a neoliberal democracy any person of low economic capital can be assumed to have high social or political capital. As we eliminate the need for economic capital we can speculate that the prevailing winds of self-governance will allow each person to effectively become a nation unto themself. The problem with capitalism is not in its habitual deterritorialization, but in the act of re-territorializing. The breakdown of nation states is inherent to capitalism as it seeks new ways to expand and interact with the world around it, creating a simultaneous advantage and disadvantage or a system which lacks internal cohesion. As these nation states which practice capitalism see globalization and as a result the breakdown of themselves, they give rise to the individual as a nation and thus the rise of self-governance.
Social capital is more difficult to quantify, as social capital varies for each individual based on the distinct groups that they may be involved in. For systemically disenfranchised groups this issue becomes entirely insignificant as they are discriminated against at large, and lack the social capital of an empowered group. With the rise of political capital and economic capital we might see the creation of more equitable social grounds, thereby increasing their standing in all three of the primary forms of capital.
By moving past capitalism we arrive at a situation wherein unbridled creativity becomes not just possible but plausible. In a post mandatory labor society the only labor which remains is that of our choosing, fostering an environment in which creation will no longer be profit-based but invention for its own sake. Imagine this world no longer focused on the development of minor improvements to products to sell but instead focused on the creation of items that push the boundaries of what they can be.
Art, likewise, will see a rebirth as artists, no longer hindered by the necessity of putting food on the table to survive, will be able to create in peace. It is hard to imagine a situation in which an artist who relies exclusively on art to survive will not be forced into a situation where they must pander to survive. With the elimination of the need for capital we will have the opportunity to see a new period of artistic flourishing; giving us the potential to be launched into a period of a new renaissance, though a first birth would be more accurate; the chance to for the first time in history to see a period of creation and labor for its own sake and not as a method to attain capital.
It is clear that science and art are not supported by capitalism; rather, they are hindered by it. It is not capitalism that produces our greatest creations, it is instead labor which provides us with these advancements, and capital which limits their release to prevent failure. Without the imminent threat of failure to a company, and with the cooperative principles of communism the abilities of labor will no longer be constrained by the destructive forces of capital, but will be free to expand at the rate that is possible. Taking the acceleration of capitalism to its logical end wherein it splinters itself, we will have reached a point where humanity is allowed an opportunity for self-governance while surpassing the limits provided by capitalism.
Michael Petrucelli is a 22-year old student pursuing degrees in sociology and political science with a focus in political theory.