There is very good reason to believe that, in a generation or so, capitalism itself will no longer exist – most obviously, as ecologists keep reminding us, because it’s impossible to maintain an engine of perpetual growth forever on a finite planet, and the current form of capitalism doesn’t seem to be capable of generating the kind of vast technological breakthroughs and mobilizations that would be required for us to start finding and colonizing any other planets. Yet faced with the prospect of capitalism actually ending, the most common reaction – even from those who call themselves “progressives” – is simply fear. We cling to what exists because we can no longer imagine an alternative that wouldn’t be even worse.
How did we get here? My own suspicion is that we are looking at the final effects of the militarization of American capitalism itself. In fact, it could well be said that the last 30 years have seen the construction of a vast bureaucratic apparatus for the creation and maintenance of hopelessness, a giant machine designed, first and foremost, to destroy any sense of possible alternative futures ….
Graeber is an anarchist who recommends a “jubilee” in which all monetary debts are forgiven.
As a mainstream social democrat, I probably don’t agree with Graeber’s that much. I don’t think our system is as fucked as he thinks it is, and I don’t know about mass debt forgiveness on that scale. But I don’t think that his positions are any more radical than what mainstream conservatives advocate in the Times, Kaplan, and (especially) Wall Street Journal every day: perpetual war, rule by corporations for corporations, and a return to pre-Enlightenment mores.