Beyond "Anti-Globalization": Towards a Deeper Understanding of Capital and the State

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From First Issue of Black Star North zine

Capitalism has within its inherent logic always contained a motivation to ruthlessly expand. The Anti-Globalization movement is therefore false in asserting that the present phase of capitalism is somehow new. The way in which it is occurring may be new (states/countries have increased control over the populace, while the state itself has lost some control over capital and trade), but capital has always contained such a drive to expand its domain. Since its inception the logic guiding capital has been to "grow or die." This mentality and material manifestation has permeated throughout its history.

To relate it to my own region where I live in Portland, Maine, a local business by the name of Java Joe's owns in addition to two coffee shops a "local" Ben & Jerry's (which was recently bought out by a national corporation of which I'm not sure of the name); again demonstrating the always expansive drive of capitalism. Put into perspective, this illustrates the nature of capitalism related to my own particular locale. In correspondence to the global context, the current manifestation of capital is a spatial reorganization eroding the sovereignty of nation-states.

Most Anti-Globalization activists as well as anarchists have unfortunately fallen into the trap of promoting the sovereignty of the nation-state over that of the globalization of capitalism. Both the nation-state and capitalism, however, need to be examined theoretically and subsequently attacked. Our analysis and actions must also take into consideration the operation of capital on both a global and local scale. Such an understanding is needed so we don't end up becoming part of reformist or nationalist campaigns. We also need to recognize implicitly that when we attack a financial manifestation of capital such as the World Bank, IMF, or WTO we are doing simply that-- attacking merely one aspect of the many headed capitalist beast.

The center of capital lies not merely in its exchange or financial sector, but also in its production center-- the point whereby most of us are forced to reproduce our own humiliation and enslavement. This being said, my point is not to fetishize the workplace as a superior sight of struggle, but to consciously recognize it as a potential breaking point for a world without capital, work, law, mass technics, etc. Often times an understanding of the degradation caused by reducing ourselves to the demands of capitalism is lost to rebelling on behalf of the poor and dispossessed masses of the Third World. While oppressed people around the globe certainly deserve our solidarity, we often neglect a more theoretical and reflective understanding as to why we may decide to lob bricks through windows. In order to build a coherent and effective opposition to capital and the state, we must recognize the brutal state and capitalist restructuring forced upon the poor and dispossessed of the global south through institutions such as the WTO and IMF (and soon the FTAA if the rich get their way), as stemming from the same system that creates the internalized alienation we in the north feel every day at work, in school, and on the cold streets of our concrete cities and plastic suburbs. Capitalism's growth is also responsible for the increasing instances of gentrification and poverty in U.S. cities and rural areas.

Among the Anti-Globalization movement there exists a theme of middle class pluralism-- justice, freedom, equality, fairness-- whereby the diversity of people existing on the planet are coalescing against "global capitalism." What is missing in this is an explicit reference to class. Thus we have middle class liberals fighting against "global capitalism" but ignoring the insidious nature of local capitalism, while at the same time failing to recognize class dynamics. This isn't however to say it's the fault of individuals as such but more the fault of the non-profits and liberal organizations. The individuals involved in such organizations are often manipulated and are not encouraged to think critically. Subsequently the relation of capitalism to our everyday lives is reduced to an evil, shadowy dominating "global capitalism" where the people of the Third World are forced to accept the dictates of such capitalist restructuring. While this is part of the puzzle, many pieces remain missing. Capitalism is a social relation affecting everyday life in its "global" and "local" manifestations. While working, our living activity is reduced to dead time whereby we seek relief only to return home, watch TV, go to bed, and start the process over again. Taking it out of the context of wage labor, we experience the same existential void in the absence of community wrought by the competitive and machine-oriented nature of modern capitalism.

Saying this, the task should not merely consist of blindly embracing the "Anti-Globalization" declaration of solidarity against "Global Corporations" and "Global Capitalism," but should seek to deconstruct the mythology inherent in its deference to the local against the global. Anarchists, Autonomists, and Anti-capitalists existing as an oppositional current shouldn't reduce their own efforts against such to a mere "Anti-Globalization" or even "Anti-Capitalism" without a conscious recognition of class and its relational dynamic to the capitalist totality. As demonstrated, capitalism is not a mere thing out there in the Third World, but a social relation conditioning the totality of our relations and everyday life.

Our critical solidarity to rebels in the Third World should extend from perhaps an understanding of our mutual enslavement to capital and the state. While more physically alienating in the Third World, our relationship to capital in the First World tends to be more psychologically alienating (the service economy, for example). This understanding should form the reference point for solidarity, rather than consist merely of a call for an amorphous rebellion on behalf of Third World rebels.

To this end, we must develop a deeper understanding of capitalism. This must stem from a self critical and collective inquiry. Only then can we develop an insurrection consonant with the world we have a desire to live in.


for a copy of Black Star North zine, please send $2 and a couple stamps to:
Mutual Aid Portland
PO Box 7328
Portland, ME 04112

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