Saturday, 13 October 2007

Murray Bookchin quote on capitalism

Despite being a moderate lefty, I've always found this quote from the American libertarian socialist and ecologist Murray Bookchin (who sadly died last year) very inspiring, and to me it nails way we feel when we are affected by marketisation. I'm sure I could pick it apart for the narrative structure and subtle psychological prompts that make it work, but that would rather spoil it, wouldn't it?

What compels me to fight this society is, of course, outrage over injustice, a love of freedom, and a feeling of responsibility for perpetuating and enlarging the human spirit - its beauty, creativity, and latent capacity to improve the world. I do not care to come to terms with an irrational society that corrodes all that is valuable in humanity, that eats away at all that is beautiful and noble in the human experience.

Capitalism devours us. At the molecular level of everyday life, it changes us for the worse, and it compels people to make extremely unsavoury rationalisations for why they believe things they know - or at least they once knew - are false and for doing things that are trivialising and dehumanising.

When we struggle against capitalism, we are really struggling against our own dehumanisation, and once we become fully cognisant of that, then the danger of surrender to the system reinforces our resistance. As revolutionaries, we are fighting not only for a better society but for our very humanity.

Page 346, Anarchism, Marxism, and the future of the left.


cwm said...

That's a good quote. He was very articulate. I just wrote a lengthy essay about Bookchin called
Being a Bookchinite

Tom P said...

Interesting article. More of a social democrat myself though!

Charlie Marks said...

Funny, isn't it. Social democrat meant something else about a hundred years ago... I consider myself a Marxist, btw. Or should that be Marksist?

Say Tom, what d'you make of what's going down in Scotland under the SNP. Good, bad, or what?

Tom P said...

Hi Charlie

Interesting question is whether those who were 'social democrats' at the end of the 19th/start of 20th century would actually have the same label now.

Society is very different now, both in terms of living standards and in terms of our experience of trying altentaive methods of economic management (ie central planning). I wouldn't be surprised if therefore social democrats in the meaning of the term then wouldn't end up as social democrats in the sense of the terms now.

Good question about the SNP. Really don't know what to make of it. I am worried (as someone who lives in England) at the prospect of an independent Scotland on the basis that it would mean England ruled by the Right. But equally interested to see whether they can push further Left.

Charlie Marks said...

I'm all for an independent Scotland. What social democrats forget is that we live in an imperialist state -- the British Empire didn't end with decolonisation, and some of it has yet to be completed. As for England being some kind of Tory one-party state, I doubt it - that's what we've got already!