Dying capitalism is beset by contradictions. The dull compulsion of the hidden hand is not working. It is left naked and exposed. The increasing anarchy of the market in the age of imperialism is now compounded by the terminal crisis of overproduction. Capitalism has exhausted its historical mission, to create the embryo of socialism, and is now destroying nature, the material base of its own existence. Crises accumulate and overtake it threatening the future of humanity.
Marx’s metabolic rift foresaw the breakdown between nature and society. The working class as part of nature is the only force capable of making a revolution to restore the unity of nature and society. The ruling class is desperate to smash the revolution with fascism.
But who will resist this destruction? Only humans who are an integral part of nature as they once were before the onset of class society – that is the Commune. Marx in Grundrisse spoke of the commune as a society in which collective ownership land and labour ruled.
The original commune corresponds to what is now called the lineage mode of production in which matrilineage is the organising principle. Work and the product of work is allocated by ‘mother right’ among kinfolk according to their productive ability and reproductive need.
The overthrow of the ‘mother right’ created the first class divided society, the patriarchal mode of production, where men exploited women’s productive and reproductive labour as domestic slaves. But Marx and Engels did not acknowledge the existence of a distinct patriarchal mode, nor its survival embedded in the later tributary and capitalist modes.
Yet as an exploited and oppressed class confined to slavery, women fought against their defeat. Their resistance to patriarchy over 10,000 years is the historical thread that carries the life of the Commune through successive dominant modes as women’s class struggle for liberation.
This was true of the Commune of Paris 1871 when women played an active role in the insurrection against the reactionary capitalist patriarchy of France. It was also true of the Russian revolution of 1917 which laid the foundations for an international Commune only to have the promise of world revolution destroyed by global counter-revolution.
Today the essence of the Commune is kept alive in the growing struggle against capitalism’s drive to destroy the historical power of the proletariat to end rotten capitalism as the last class society to make way for the return of the Commune.
Neoliberalism was the last chance for dying capitalism to restore profitable production. It failed to exploit workers sufficiently to make enough profit to avoid the onset of terminal crisis. The restoration of Russia and China as rampant capitalist rivals only prolongs the agony.
As capitalism decomposes, it exposes the rotting corpses of previous modes of production in its bowels. Slavery, serfdom and unfree wage labour return with all their reactionary cultural crap rising to the surface. Nationalism, racism and sexism eat away at the material gains of the class struggle since the 19th century, provoking the long overdue backlash as nature reacts to capital’s barbarism.
Marxists recognise the class war between labour and capital as the contradiction between nature reproducing itself, and capitalist society destroying nature. This contradiction is expressed as the class struggle for the socialist revolution to end capitalism, to return to nature and create the conditions for a post-capitalist future.
It was clear to the young Marx as a student of the scientific advances of the enlightenment, that capitalism was its own worst enemy and would end up as the anarchic, self-destructive mode today. The rise of the irrational, the cult of the individual, mired in the particularity of nation, race and gender, acts to destroy the secular, scientific, and universal truths of life in the material world.
The battle to defeat the Climate deniers and the Covid deniers illustrates perfectly how ignorance of science and reason, expressing itself as a cultural war, is really the class war between humanity, reproducing itself within nature, against capital’s destruction of nature.
This contradiction between labour and capital puts the working class on the side of nature. Humanity must restore itself as nature and return to its material roots to wage the class war. Our survival depends on winning this war, ending class society and building the international Commune.
Forward to socialist revolution and the International Commune!
Dave Brownz is TDBs guest Marxist blogger