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(en) [Italy] Going beyond capitalism By ANA (it, pt) [machine translation]

Date Wed, 1 Jul 2020 09:46:50 +0300

The COVID-19 pandemic, with infectious processes running out in Italy and other countries, but in full development in many others in the world, brought with it the evidence of the structural limits of capitalism. Limits obviously understood as the capacity to satisfy human needs in general and not as the ability to enrich a few at the expense of the vast majority of humanity: from this point of view, capitalism works very well and one could hardly think of anything more efficient, even if, as they say, you never end up with the worst. ---- As is well known, the pandemic has led to the closure of most economic activities considered non-essential and many of them, even in the so-called Phase Two, will reopen at a reduced rate of operation, those that can be allowed, of course, since it is very likely let it be the definitive closure of many of them and, in fact, many activities have already closed their doors. Their employees were and will swell the ranks of the unemployed, along with many of their small "employers", with the many individual activities and the many other employees made redundant by the many companies that resume activities on a reduced basis, keeping only part of the activity in activity. workforce in charge before the pandemic.

The general situation was described in early June by the usual ISTAT report (Istituto nazionale di statistica) which described the situation in April 2020 and which was analyzed in the previous article. Here, on the other hand, we will try to make more general considerations, also in the sense that the situation we are going to describe does not depend on the specificities of each country individually.

Firstly, as we said, capitalism is a machine that produces remarkable inequality: from this point of view, the so-called "crises" are not, in fact, from a systemic point of view, but, on the contrary, a moment of development of the very inequalities beyond the previous level. Let us begin to see things from the point of view of small and medium entrepreneurs: all economic crises - and even more the biggest ones like the one you see and, above all, you will see the various local effects amplified by their international character - are an opportunity to unleash the business concentration processes.

Take a trivial example, but one that can easily be extended to economic activities of any other type: gyms. A large part of them have not yet reopened and many are selling their machines, as the considerable restrictions imposed by the various decrees of reopening would make profit margins completely insufficient, if not negative. They only reopened those that have a capital reserve behind them, in order to be able to support a period of reduced income, in order to attract customers to closed gyms and, in the medium term, remain in the market under reduced competition and possibly acquire control of abandoned gyms, reopening them under their own brand name, possibly including former owners as employees. As we said,

Let us now think from the point of view of employees or self-employed workers comparable to the former by income bracket. As we have seen from ISTAT data, the crisis is also hitting them hard, both because many people have lost their jobs and because their income has significantly decreased: just think, to give just two examples, of those who now expect the Supplemental Income Benefits Fund as main income and those who, as formally self-employed workers, saw their income reduced as a result of their performance at work.

The thing, unfortunately, seems to be only at the beginning: the decrease in circulating income will lead to the triggering at the macroeconomic level of the Keynesian "(de) multiplication" phenomenon[2]. In other words, the decrease in purchases due to the decrease in consumption by those who can no longer spend as before, runs the risk of triggering cascade mechanisms - production activities placed in crisis by this contraction in demand for goods and services will react with more layoffs (if not actual closures with widespread job losses), which will trigger more demultiplier effects, which will result in more income losses, etc. All this in a scenario of a globalized economy for a long time, so that the demultiplier phenomena described are not closed within each country, but, on the contrary,

The prospects that we see for the future of most of humanity, with the exception of that small slice that will take advantage of the phenomenon of business concentration, are therefore nothing pink: this is the scenario that, worldwide, we will have to face very soon, willingly or not. In what way?

Remaining within the logic of capitalism, there would be the prospect of obtaining income redistribution policies from a Keynesian perspective. In concrete terms, using the income of the rich social strata to finance forms of income support for the overwhelming majority of humanity, both directly - through existing or similar income - and indirectly - expansion of social services with the formation of new jobs and the gratuity of these services.

This, precisely, as we said, remaining within the logic of capitalism and its distortions that, as we have seen, the policies of the welfare state of the "golden thirty years" only managed to temporarily cushion and only as long as the power relations were relatively favorable , reaching a quick and easy end as soon as the ruling classes regained control of the situation, leaving their "animal spirits" free to vent again[3]. Rather than reasoning from the point of view of a definitive overcoming of man's dominance over man, it would be necessary to take advantage of the situation to propose again at a mass level a radical disruption of the current economic system towards a self-managed society, economically based on the principle Lucreciano "of each according to their possibilities,

In reality, however, only the latter is really possible: the ruling classes have always given up some of their power only when they were afraid of losing it completely. This is what Malatesta brilliantly expressed in the pages of this same newspaper: reformists, when apparently successful, are only successful because revolutionaries have reached such strength that they seriously fear a radical overcoming of today's society[4].

The general interest of the dominated classes, therefore, is to give breath and legs to a struggle that aims at a really different and possible society, that overcomes this game of massacre that is the current society, the hierarchical society.

Enrico Voccia


[1] https://www.istat.it/it/files//2020/06/CS_Occupati_disoccupati_APRILE_2020.pdf

[2] https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moltiplicatore_keynesiano

[3] http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/spiriti-animali_(Dizionario-di-Economia-e-Finanza)/

[4] MALATESTA, Errico, Le Due Vie. Rivoluzione riforme? Libertà o Dittatura?, in Umanità Nova, 12 August 1920.

Source: https://www.umanitanova.org/?p=12391
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