In the age of despair, is there any other way to live than to abstain from capital?

▲ Kim Seung-ho, CEO of Cyber ​​Labor University following Jeon Tae-il

I read a book called Automobile Despair Factory. This book is written by a Japanese journalist and writer named Satoshi Kamata, who worked as a seasonal worker at a Toyota factory for six months. The other side of the Japanese automobile industry, which was famous for its ‘lean’ production method, seen through this book was shocking. As Marx said in , you can only see how profits are produced only when you enter the factory wall where it says ‘excluded from entry’, there was an invisible hellish labor process outside the factory. This is the story of a time when people trembled all over the world that a promising new millennium was about to begin, and when they said, “It’s digital!”, when informatization is achieved, material abundance and democracy are all about to come. In January of that year, Kim Dae-jung changed the name of the party to the Millennium Democratic Party.

Since then, we are celebrating our 22nd New Year. The Moon Jae-in administration is once again bargaining for a rosy fantasy, saying it is a ‘great social transformation’ or a ‘digital transformation’. Yoon Seok-yeol is also keeping pace, saying, “I will build a digital platform government.” However, rather than these arms of hope or Shim Sang-jung’s New Year’s address, “Let’s never despair,” the words of a cafe keeper, “Unsure hope and sure despair,” touch my skin.

As the new year begins, I keep hearing only depressing news. Shinsegae chaebol head Jeong Yong-jin posted an article with a picture of China’s Xi Jinping and put the hashtag ‘Destruction’, and the next day posted an article with a picture of North Korean Kim Jong-un, adding, “My destruction is only for the children living above us.” How many people died in the war of kinship and how many people suffered and died under the fascist rule in the name of that ‘Gyeonggong’? But suddenly, the vice chairman of a chaebol calls himself the trumpeter of ‘destruction’. It is an aspect of Korean society that is shifting to the right, and it is also a sign that it is shifting to the extreme right. In this respect, Korea is becoming more like Japan. In 2007, Satoshi Kamata published a book called (Walking in the Fields of Injustice), a collection of reports he had written for decades.

The editorial in the New Year’s issue of The Economist begins like this. “Americans are worried about the stability of their democracy. Approximately 40% of politically active people describe themselves and other tribal members as demons, and 60% believe that other tribal members pose a threat to America. More than 80% think this system needs to be ‘significantly changed’ or ‘completely reformed’… Many scholars are warning that there is a risk of civil war.”

As can be seen from this, advanced capitalist countries such as the United States and Japan have reached a point where they can no longer sustain the current social system. Korea, which has recently entered a developed country, cannot be an exception here. Members of the ruling class, drunk on the success of capitalization, simply do not realize this.

It is not because of the climate crisis that capitalism has become unsustainable. This misdiagnosis leads to wrong prescription. Capitalism was becoming unsustainable because of the social crisis long before it became unsustainable because of the climate crisis. Look at the phrases ‘the factory of despair’ and ‘the society of despair’ mentioned by Satoshi Kamata. In addition, climate crises occur through social conditions. Humans do not individually interact with nature and engage in production activities before exchanging and distributing products with others. Before entering into production, it establishes a certain social relationship, and under such a certain relationship of production, production activities that establish a relationship with nature are performed. Therefore, without changing this capitalist relationship of production, we cannot change the relationship between humans and nature, and we cannot solve the climate crisis. Nevertheless, there is very little trend in Korea’s progress that identifies capitalist production relations as the main culprit of the climate crisis and focuses the struggle on it.

Even when diagnosing that capitalism is the cause, many people give the wrong prescription. The writer of a recent Hankyoreh newspaper column titled ‘New Year’s Dream – Goodbye to Capitalism’ said, “How about making this year the first year of starting the work that anyone who can think has already said, but no one is actually implementing? To say goodbye to an old and terrible capitalist system like this greedy old man.” And to this end, “consumption must be moderated within the extent to which it can satisfy basic food, clothing and shelter and cultural needs at a frugal level. And the production activities that solve the basic food, clothing and shelter are gradually transferred from the realm of capital and markets to the realm of cooperative living communities, and the activities of capital are only for the continuation and restoration of the earth’s ecosystem, in the production area of ​​substitute products or in the high-tech area that requires high technological integration. should be reduced to Proposing such an alternative is, as he said, a dream in the sense that it does not aim for capital abolition and does not foresee transformation through class struggle.

Capitalism is now heading towards extinction. In 2022, the U.S. will shift from ‘quantitative easing’ to ‘quantitative austerity’. The U.S. central bank has supplied $4 trillion (4,800 trillion won) of funds to the market over the two years since 2020. As a result, stock and real estate prices soared, while raw material prices and consumer prices are skyrocketing. They even raised a pseudo-economic theory that there is no risk of inflation even if the currency is released indefinitely. If ‘quantitative austerity’ is implemented, the suffering of those who do not exist will be exacerbated, as experienced during the financial crisis. Even if prices skyrocket due to loose money as it is now, the suffering of the weak will be exacerbated. What if I do nothing? It’s a catastrophe. Therefore, changing the economic policy can never be a solution. There is no other way than to transform the capitalist system and hasten the death of capital.

CEO of Cyber ​​Labor University following Jeon Tae-il ([email protected])

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