Radical Reorientation

We are not spectators of history, lacking the ability to challenge the power structures of capitalism, be they military or financial, overt or covert. It is self-deceptive, therefore, to think of ourselves as borrowers, consumers, employees, competitors, nationals, or any other category that serves to distract, disempower, or divide us. It is worth repeating that a radical reorientation of human aspirations must do away with all power-preserving categories, socially and ecologically devastating historical constructions such as private property and wage labor. As conscious human beings, we are not bound to follow any dictate of the supposedly free market, nor do we have to adapt to unsustainable living conditions. We do not have to accept the unacceptable or give up our right to resist, because our lives are not for sale; our future is not a commodity. It takes certain kinds of experiences to act differently, but if we act as if capital had lost its influence on us, it is more likely that our actions will create the necessary conditions for our own emancipation.

What is necessary is a new normality, new values, and a fundamental shift in power – or, more specifically, a society freed from plutocratic practices, party politics, and military interventions. Removed from the governing of society, financial institutions would not be allowed to dictate our lives. Trapped within paywalls, corporate media would not be allowed to influence our sense of urgency and possibility. In a democracy built on substantive equality, no one is tracking our movements, collecting and selling user data, let alone hijacking our brains for the purpose of profit; armed forces are not used to undermine the right of citizens to assemble; and corrupt politicians are not in a position to legislate. The list can be made longer. Capitalism has lost much of its popular legitimacy, but this does not mean that our struggle against state and corporate power has become less relevant, nor does it signal the end of history.

We already know that accumulation of capital and concentration of power go hand in hand with human humiliation and planetary degradation. The converse is also true: social trust and an even distribution of empowering power are keys to a better world. Although not without its own challenges, the necessary transformation of society can only be radically democratic and radically creative, which literally means more power to change and more control over our lives. Ideally, democracy would go from being representative and intermittent to becoming direct and practiced on a daily basis, deeply concerned with the common good, countering all forms of oppression and violence. What and how we create together would be framed by new rules of social interaction, providing us with non-alienating alternatives to wage labor and monopoly markets, to shopping and sweatshops. What must emerge is a social order that is incompatible with institutionalized inequality and has power to cut the ideological roots of planetary unsustainability.