We are living in a world that is overwhelmed with crises. We live in a world threatened by mass extinctions brought on by ecological destruction. We live in a world permanently at war, fueled by the need of corporations and banks to amass ever-greater profits. We live in a world where corporations and banks bring in record profits while millions of people who are willing and able to work can’t find jobs. Millions of people around the world face poverty, homelessness, hunger, disease while the richest 67 people own more wealth than the bottom half of the world’s population combined.
These crises are not simply the results of poor decisions by so-called world leaders. These crises are the permanent features of the capitalist system, a system that has far outlived any usefulness it may have ever provided – a decaying system that must be completely transformed.
A System of Misery and Exploitation
Capitalism is a system under which all the resources humans need for our survival are privately owned. The very purpose of producing anything under capitalism is to make a profit. Profit isn’t the result of creativity and ingenuity. Profit comes from one source: exploitation. The only way profit is made is through exploiting workers all over the world. The more work that can be squeezed out of people and the cheaper that labor costs, the more profit can be made. The more workers are unemployed, competing for ever-fewer jobs, the cheaper those workers’ wages. In its endless drive for profit, the system of capitalism constantly imposes exploitation and misery on the world’s population.
A System of Constant War
We live in a world ravaged by endless war. The estimated death toll from wars in the 20th century was 187 million, not to mention the millions of people whose lives were ruined in the aftermath of these wars. War, devastation, domination – these are all necessary for the functioning of capitalism. The world’s banks and corporations rely on war as a means to dominate regions of the world, to murder resisting populations, and overall, to impose their rule over the people of the world.
A System of Death Around the World
Today the U.S. spends 47 percent of the entire federal budget on the military, about $1.3 trillion dollars per year. This is more than the military spending of all other countries in the world combined. The U.S. government maintains about 900 military bases in 150 countries around the world.
The impact of these wars for domination has been horrific. The U.S. wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have ripped these countries apart, killing millions of people. The population is now divided along religious and ethnic lines and ruled over by groups who use these identities as a means of control, turning the entire region into a war zone.
In the last decade, under the banner of the so-called “war on terror,” in addition to the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. government has carried out military strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Mali, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Syria and other countries. The U.S. military continues a reign of terror using drone-strikes and targeted assassinations, killing mostly innocent civilians with every strike.
This violence is not an accident. This violence is the normal functioning of a system of imperial domination which ensures that the banks and corporations maintain their profit. This system is responsible for terrorizing and killing millions of people all over the world – and the U.S. military stands at the head of this violent system of exploitation.
A System of Ecological Destruction
There have been five mass extinction events on earth where most of the larger plant and animal species were wiped out. The last mass extinction event killed the dinosaurs. An asteroid crashing into earth and drastically changing the climate caused that extinction. Now we are living in what could be the sixth extinction. But this time, our species would be the cause of disaster as well as a victim.
Scientists explain that ongoing carbon emissions into the atmosphere are causing a worldwide change in climate patterns that threaten another mass extinction event. The extreme level of environmental devastation, greenhouse gas emissions, climate change and global warming are leading to an acceleration of habitat destruction and species extinction at rates that have never been seen before.
The ultimate cause of severe climate change is not simply carbon emissions but the capitalist system that profits from them. Capitalism is a system that must increasingly produce in order to sell more to continuously turn a profit. And the fossil fuel industry, along with all of the industries that are tied to it, is not simply some small piece of the global economy, but is the vast majority of it. This includes the energy industry, agriculture, transportation, pharmaceuticals, the banking industry, shipping, plastics, armaments, and more. These are industries that make trillions of dollars every year. The people who own this wealth are the ruling class around the world, and their governments exist to represent their interests at all costs, even potential mass extinction.
As a species, we have arrived at a crossroads. The ruling class has no choice but to try to maintain capitalism, even though it is incompatible with a climate that can sustain life. Either we put an end to capitalism or we will likely have to face our own extinction.
A System of Divide and Conquer
To maintain their control, those in power have always used a “divide and conquer” strategy – pitting one group of people against another. Divide and conquer is a mechanism used by elites to maintain their position, to keep the rest of us angry and frustrated and powerless. It can lead us to turn against each other instead of organizing ourselves to fight back against the system that supports their dominance.
In the U.S., one of the main divisions is based on race. Often we are told “things have always been this way,” but this is an outright lie. Racism hasn’t always been a part of human existence – racism began as a way to justify slavery.
A society based on artificial scarcity and inequality must ensure that some get more and most get less. A society run in the interests of a tiny minority must keep the majority divided and turn people against each other. One way is to seem to reward one group for accepting the degradation of others. Racism has been a very effective strategy to do this. Race has often stood in the way of people coming together to make a collective fight for a better life. The prejudices coming from the racism of this society haven’t been aimed just at Black people. The ignorance and hate that racism is based on knows no limits – it can be used against anyone who can be labeled as different or “other.”
A System That Must Be Replaced
As long as capitalism continues, the crises we see around the world will continue as well. A future under capitalism is simply a future of more crises, more misery, more exploitation, more wars – a future that is guaranteed if the capitalist class remains in power. Continued efforts at trying to reform capitalism will run into the same dead ends they have in the past. This is a system that can’t be reformed to ever meet the needs of humanity.
The future of humanity cannot be left up to the tiny elite who own the world’s resources. Our future depends on us, on ordinary people, on the millions of workers who make this society and our world run. Collectively we have the power to put an end to capitalism and run the world in our own interests, not for the profits of a few.