“If we have no
business with the construction of the future or with organizing it for
all time, there can still be no doubt about the task confronting us at
present: the ruthless criticism of the existing order, ruthless in that
it will shrink neither from its own discoveries, nor from conflict with
the powers that be.” — Karl Marx
Video with English subtitles:
Edward Snowden, a former employee of American intelligence agencies, lost faith in his employers and provided the world with revelations about the continuous, global surveillance of citizens by the NSA and other intelligence agencies. The political reactions and the excited public debates about the inextricable conflict between “freedom” vs. “security” leave no doubt: Snowden’s disclosures are not just about any field of politics, but a core area of the free democracies. State authorities in the USA and elsewhere justify the surveillance of e-communications by saying that they have to guarantee the security of their citizens in addition to freedom, and that 100% of both is not possible at the same time. They insist that the control and controllability of each and every person is part of freedom. They are quite right – and that tells us something interesting about the great value of freedom.
A lecture by Peter Decker from the German Marxist journal GegenStandpunkt
... is not a commodity!
“Education is not a commodity!” (poster against tuition fees)
“Water is a public good, not a commodity!” (petition right2water.eu)
“Health is not a commodity!” (a criticism of health care privatization)
“Housing is not a commodity!” (slogan against gentrification)
Now and then, critical people get annoyed at some point because an important commodity is given a price that those who need it can no longer afford. It is certainly their mistake that they present their objections against reality as if reality itself would prohibit this high-ranking good from being made a business item. But they do notice that the purpose of making money with a good in principle excludes those who need an object from meeting their need and that this condition must be met before the exclusion is lifted. In short, they notice that the commodity form of goods is hostile to needs.
Just ask yourself: for which good would it make sense to be a commodity? Food, maybe, or maybe not? What is actually so useless and unimportant that it might be a low-key commodity?
Criticism – what’s that?
Shouldn’t criticism be constructive, helping to improve what it criticizes? Do we just want to be negative? It is not our program to contribute well-intentioned suggestions for the success of what we criticize:
that people have to work for an employer because they need money to survive, and anybody who seeks employment has to live under the constant pressure of making themselves completely suitable for the demands that a capitalist economy makes on them;
that if they lose their lousy job they don't have enough money to live on and need to find a new job right away – because employees gain nothing by working for others and their poverty is never escaped;
that this endangered existence is the necessary basis for wage labor;
that this dependence is reproduced on a worldwide level as the whole planet is subsumed to its logic and there is more and more absolute impoverishment as the free-market economy sorts out those who are useless for it;
that the entire globe is analyzed for what is good for business, so that some areas are useful for industry and four fifths of the world have no other use than supplying raw materials;
that nature and the sources of life are also resources for business, so the air, water, food supply and even the weather are ruined in a sustainable way.
These are not unfortunate side effects, “problems” that our politicians must continue to work on. The causes are also not:
something called “neoliberal,” “financialized,” “hyper-,” or other hyphenated capitalisms;
a moral defect of the capitalists called “profit greed”;
corrupt and irresponsible politicians;
and certainly not the unwillingness in each of us “to begin with one's self” in order to improve the world.
All these are inevitable consequences of an economic system, the so-called free market economy, which aims at nothing as trivial as providing for human needs, but only and exclusively the accumulation of capital.
Because one cannot make this system better – on the contrary, it already functions too well! – we have no suggestions for improvement. We insist that these problems exist because of the system.