British Thatcher is well-known as a politician who ushered in the neoliberal era. “I always think I can win,” he said. So no one in this world can subdue me.” In fact, he waged a war against the Argentine military regime over ownership of the Falklands and won. This earned him the title of ‘Iron Lady’. But there are more important things in his words. He said this in an interview with a magazine in 1987. “There are individuals and families, but society? There is no such thing.” His ideas were called Thatcherism. Neoliberalism is an ideology that completely denies the social. Putting the private in the place of the social, and private property, more precisely capitalist private property, in the place of the social property.
However, neoliberalism is not alone in denying the social and putting the private in its place. Capitalism itself has it as its principle. As Bernard Mandeville puts it in his book The Fable of the Bees: Private Sin and Public Interest, “Each one pursues his own private interest. it is a vice But the result is also beneficial to society.” It is also true that in the early days of capitalism, this pursuit of private interests played a role in developing the productive forces of society in spite of barbaric primitive accumulation. However, if all members of society pursue their own personal interests, society will ultimately be destroyed.
In any object, there is a phase of creation and development, and there is a phase of decline and annihilation. If the capitalist mode of production was also being created in England in the early 18th century, when Mandeville lived, it is declining or disappearing in the global village of the early 21st century. In such an era, while the positive role of capitalism in the development of productive forces is weakened, the negative effect that destroys society increases.
According to the results of a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center twice last year with 18,850 adults in 17 developed countries around the world, the most valuable things in life are family (38%) and job (38%). 25%) followed by material happiness (19%). Human and social values such as society, community, and human freedom and dignity were not high to them. Among them, this tendency was even more severe in Korea, a capitalist society. Koreans rated ‘material happiness’ the most, followed by health and family.
Karl Polanyi viewed capitalism as developing the productive forces, but with the problem of destroying the society that underlies them. And when this destruction of society reaches its limit, a reaction occurs and a ‘great transformation’ that protects society takes place. People say that this huge shift occurred after World War II. So, could such a huge shift happen even in today’s capitalism? Such a shift occurred after World War II because capitalism had enough room to accumulate capital even after implementing policies to protect society in the rising phase. However, capitalism after the neoliberal era withdrew the social protection measures it had provided. Yet, structurally, it was unable to escape from the swamp of low profits, savings, and low growth. Even this collapsed in the financial crisis that started in the United States in 2008, and zero growth became the new normal.
Capitalism cannot take measures to protect society and restore social reproduction because it cannot afford to accumulate in this way. Look at the global low fertility! Then, as the disintegration of society accelerates, the accumulation of capital also stops. And capitalism that does not accumulate cannot be sustained. The reason is as follows. “The development of the productive forces of social labor through the accumulation of capital is the historical mission and justification of capital. It is by this that capital unconsciously creates the material conditions for higher forms of production.”
The term ‘historical mission’ comes to mind here. When we say ‘historical mission’, the phrase ‘historical mission of national revitalization’ comes to mind as mentioned in Park Chung-hee’s National Education Charter. We do not know if we have such a historical mission, but it seems that the historical mission that Marx spoke of clearly exists for the capitalists and the bourgeoisie.
If the capitalist class has such a historical mission, wouldn’t the working class have it? In his book The German Ideology, Marx argued that the proletariat had a historical mission distinct from that of the conventional classes. The next turn in human history will be for the working class to become masters. The working class cannot be a class that exploits others because it is the absolute majority, not the minority. We must create a classless society without That was the historical mission of the working class.
Capitalism not only erases society from human consciousness, but also history. All I need to do is fulfill my happiness and material desires at this moment. But what are the consequences of forgetting history? It is forgotten that society has a history and that the capitalist mode of production is a historical entity just like any other mode of production or economic social formation.
Social consciousness without historical consciousness is powerless. This sense of history has long since disappeared in our labor and progressive movement. As Francis Fukuyama declared, I think history is over after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But history cannot end. This materialistic view of history is the essence of the scientific world view. Without this view of history, nothing can match capital. They criticize capital, but are not convinced that the death of capital is inevitable. So it becomes opportunism.
Capitalism has historically been a relative, finite mode of production. At a time when capitalism is screaming in the end, mankind must think about the death of capitalism and a new history beyond it.
CEO of Cyber Labor University following Jeon Tae-il ([email protected])