Opportunity in collapse

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Opportunity in collapse

 

What will happen when the state collapses? Will society descend into lawlessness, or can we seize the opportunity to let our human potential flourish?

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Opportunity in collapse: the horizon of the post-apocalyptic

The American literary critic and Marxist political theorist Frederic Jameson famously remarked that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. But what we don’t often consider is how capitalism influences our end-worldview.

The horizon of the post-apocalyptic is usually bleak: isolated individuals trudging through the wilderness, surviving only through violence, cunning and mutual distrust. The human race, without the coercive machinations of the state, descending into a brutal barbarism where every relationship is pragmatic, rationally calculated and based on nothing but self-interest.

Our cultural output throbs with this notion of the “evil anarchic”. Take any post-apocalyptic or future dystopia film of the last few decades and you’ll be sure to find dialogue referencing the degeneration of the human spirit or a scene exemplifying the impossibility of co-operation.

The concentration camp in Children of Men is miserable and threatening. The market in Soylent Green is vicious. The Road, The Book of Eli, the Harlan Ellison novel A Boy and His Dog — all are predicated on the concurrent collapse of civilization and rise of the evil anarchic. On the idea that the state can only be abolished by an apocalyptic act, and that its absence necessarily gives way to nefarious gang rule and brutal violence.

When the state collapses

We must question whether this narrative is accurate. Does collapse necessarily lead to misery? Can the state only be abolished by an apocalyptic event? Is the choice between apocalypse and hierarchy a false one?

We must question because this end-worldview justifies our present social order. Capitalism in all its cruelty becomes an inevitable reflection of man’s barbarous nature. The state and its use of force are justified in that they tame us, impelling us to defy our selfish natures. Evil becomes the province of the unshackled individual, free of society and legal consequence.

Indeed, the horrors of ISIS are trumpeted so vehemently by the Western press precisely because they fit this narrative: that without law, order and the state we would run rampant. That capitalism, although unfair, is not as bad as things could be. That fear-induced conservatism is the only sensible political orientation.

However, if we venture a few hundred miles north of where ISIS are destroying treasured cultural artefacts and beheading foreign journalists and aid workers, we find ourselves in Rojava; the autonomous region of Northern Syria. Famed for their heroic mixed-gender defence of Kobane, the residents of Rojava, who are majority Kurdish but also include Christians, Arabs and Yazidis, have achieved what most would have thought impossible: a social revolution based on feminism, ecology and grassroots democracy in the heart of the Middle East....

http://www.occupywallstreet-byplatlee.info/opportunity-in-collapse-the-h...

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quote:

Seizing the opportunity

Asserting an optimistic, or at least malleable view of human nature is essential for the radical. Not only does it alleviate the instinctual nervousness towards change that many people feel, but it undermines the naturalization of capitalism — the notion that our current system is simply a pragmatic reflection of human nature and the way the world is.

We often forget that the vast majority of people know in their gut that the world is unfair; that a few have too much and most have too little. Their barrier to action is rarely lack of knowledge but instead lack of hope. The feeling that capitalism, inequality and injustice are inevitable. The idea that to struggle for a better world is naive, and that if the system were to collapse, a far worse tyranny would rear its head — that of the individual unleashed.

So here we must go further. Not only should we argue that human beings have the capacity for good and evil and that the natural world isn’t always cruel and vicious, but we must emphasize that the darker sides of our nature are often unleashed not when social order breaks down, but in precisely the opposite situation: when order and hierarchy are most rigorously

maintained.http://www.occupywallstreet-byplatlee.info/opportunity-in-collapse-the-h...