by Daniel de Klerk
It is absolutely true that there is no such thing as “free stuff.” Everything has a cost and that cost can come in both the form of concrete labour or that of abstract value and means of exchanging.
The question of wealth distribution is never a question of simply wanting things for free and getting handouts, it is about the question of access. People want food, housing, health care and power over the organisation of own lives; they don’t want it for nothing, they want it to be within their means to access and use. It is not a matter of entitlement to meaningless luxury, it’s an articulation of real needs necessary for life.
People work their asses off under degrading, backbreaking, boring and mind numbing circumstances, selling away most of their life to be able to live it, or struggle without whilst being deprived of the most basic means to participate in society; while around them the mass of collective wealth accumulates in the hands of rich people and faceless institutions. These People (unlike some other people) are not asking for yachts, private jets, palaces and lifetime supplies of cocaine. Around the world, they’re asking for a roof over their head, food on their table, the health care they need and the real ability to direct the course over their own life. A demand for the most basic necessity for the continuation of *this society* and a demand that is increasingly regarded as impossible and unrealistic.
If life under capitalism becomes impossible then so the continuation of capitalism becomes impossible. The governments developed the welfare system in an attempt to solve this social question, not because we asked them too but because they hoped to stave off the inevitable.
Their last alternative is to export this struggle towards further points of the periphery. New sources of hyper exploitation: the people within the global south and within the centers of concentrated capital, migrant and prison labor fuel the ever increasing demand of cheaper labor and sources of wealth for the masses within the concentrations of capital. While within these concentrations, society is flooded with cheap credit and pushed into ever increasing debt to keep the process of production and accumulation running. These are the only ways to keep society running. But even there, they are only delaying the inevitable.
Every point of oppression and exploitation reveals a weakness and opens up an angle of attack. The more they rely upon oppression the more resistance to it hurts, the more they rely upon exploitation the more they depend upon the exploited. The more we organize and generalize our struggles the more powerful we become. The more we attack their means and mechanisms to undermine our struggle, the more we speed up the inevitable.
It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when and how. The future is not predetermined. Capital will fall, but will it fall because we smash it and its institutions and take everything for our own or it will fall because it squanders all resources and then collapses upon itself, leaving us to toil in the ruins of its civilization with a destroyed planet. Or will it break the confines of this planet and push it and human civilization into space, opening up new sites of oppression, exploitation, accumulation and struggle for the coming centuries?
Whatever we do, our choices are not meaningless. We are not passive victims of historical progress, but active subjects. What we do here collectively, will affect our futures.