We now have a government led by Rishi Sunak. When I wrote this blog Liz Truss was Prime Minister of the UK and I was able to describe her policy as ‘ striving to be more profoundly linked to the financial system with no pretension of ‘levelling up’’. Now Sunak is in charge, the commitment to ‘levelling up’ has been reasserted. We might well ask why there has been this very dramatic change of policy and may be fooled into thinking that there has only been a change of personalities. The deep divisions within the Tory Party that have opened up since they failed to gain a majority in the 2010 election has now reached a new stage. Reading what I have to say about the capitalist state being defined by the apparent division between the ‘economic’ space and the ‘political’ space you may remark this latest turn under Sunak, where it is clear that policy intervention into the economy is the order of the day, seems to contradict what I have said. However the definition holds true even though the basic paradigm that the definition alludes to seems to be being modified. I will follow this piece in another blog with observations about what this might mean.
It has become clearer over the past few weeks that what really determines policy in the current system is the financial institutions. On the other hand, a mass popular movement is emerging based on a co-ordinated and united sense of agreement by trades unions whose members have mobilised for action and whose key proponents have launched a public campaign ENOUGH IS ENOUGH to join and interconnect with other resistance organisations such as Stand Up To Racism, Peace and Justice, People’s Assembly, Stop the War. In addition there are many others that could be considered even more significant, groups that are oriented by the climate crisis, by energy prices, against deportations. There is now a complex array of resistance organisations that are mobilising and sometimes interconnecting. Attention will start to move more emphatically towards the political space and this is why it is timely to think about the state.
I set out to write about the state because, in the immediate situation here in the UK, the movement of resistance and for change (the movement of resistance, of course, might not be a movement for change!) will go through a process of what might be described as ‘politicisation’. In other words, the economic struggle will be moved into the political space; it will engage with and articulate itself within the relations of the state and those relations surrounding the state. In order to understand this movement and how it might go, it seems to me to be necessary to have a realistic idea of the state. This means that you have to see these ‘state’ relations as being historically produced and this will bring you to the conclusion that the capitalist state is a specific form of organisation that separates the economic space from the political space. How this separation takes place and how it has developed can, as far as I can see, only be understood by understanding how this state is a patriarchal state. In other words it is thoroughly permeated by hierarchical and binary structures. How this has come about can only be understood by being clear about what patriarchy is, what male dominance is. This also is an historical phenomenon. To be able to see how patriarchy gave birth to capitalism is to understand how a ruling structure that mainly imposed its rule from ‘external’ oppression, the use of brute force, albeit justified and sanctified by hierarchy, came to ‘disperse’ itself into the ‘internal’ structures of individuals (their beliefs, values and outlook). For structures of behaviour and assumptions to become effective in people’s outlooks and feelings about themselves, forms of thought and mentalities had to be generated and shared. In other words for this ‘dispersal’ to take place it had to inculcate forms of self-rule and conformity. One aspect of this process was to persuade through argument and practice that the ‘self’ is divided into an ‘economic’ self and a ‘political’ self. With the advent of capitalism the state structures – the system of rule – was internalised. This is the meaning of the freedom of the individual and its connection with the sanctity of private property. But also it entails forms of thought that divide our reality into ‘spiritless’ matter and ‘immaterial’ spirituality thus influencing deeply how we know the world and ourselves. The inculcation of mechanistic forms of knowledge is an adjunct of the domination of reproduction by production.
We are more aware of the invasive aspects of the system when we see the way, in its most recent stage of development that accompanied a renewed globalisation of capitalism, the destruction of the ‘self’ has proceeded apace. It seems contradictory at first that the ‘self’ is destroyed by individualisation. As the deeper penetration of the capitalist system of rule into the intimate life of the population has advanced, individuals have been persuaded to marketise themselves. They present themselves as bundles of competences for the labour market and are able to select from a basket of identities in the consumer market. The disappearance of any system, including capitalism, and the presentation of the economy or the market as natural is the outcome of what is called neoliberalism. However this form of rule is itself invisible as a system. This has accompanied the subsumption of the state as the marketing department of finance capital. The different nation-states are now pitted against each other in competition to see how they can lower labour costs and attract inward investment from corporate entities.
The nature of the state and specifically the nature of the capitalist state derives from this history. Its binary structures and its hierarchies can be deceptive. Becoming embroiled in its operation without changing its structure will end up with the continuation of oppression. What recent events have shown is that the most powerful element in determining what the capitalist state can and cannot do is the financial market. Unless the movement for change can break the separation between the economic space and the political space and insist on a transformation of the state that enables democratic control to be exerted over the disposition of capital wealth then movement towards a ‘better’ world will fail. This means that the sanctity of private property has to be rejected. Through democratic participatory processes people must be able to dispose social wealth and invest this wealth according to their perceived needs.
The idea that working people can get a better deal within the current system does not take account of the fact that the capitalist state system is organised to reduce the cost of the production of human labour power to the minimum possible level. This form of production (of human labour power) is called reproduction. It is mainly carried out by women. This should alert people to being able to see the connection between capitalism and patriarchy from another angle.
The idea that the effective presentation of demands involves ‘speaking truth to power’ is completely self-defeating. It is another consequence of the myth that this power can be left in tact if the truth becomes the basis for action. The political system and the media are functional in their present form only if they are lying and are able to deceive people.
At the inception of the current UK regime after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 the UK imperialist project had already started. The exploitation of the earth’s resources were facilitated by navigation, weaponry and a sense of European racial superiority inculcated by the Crusades 400 years earlier. The restored monarch, Charles II, was a shareholder in the Royal African Company. This was the organisation that conducted the trade in human beings that supplied the slave plantation of the Americas. As this major source of capital wealth flowed back to the imperial homeland it had a double benefit: the wealth itself and the distinction that the system was able to draw between the white ‘free’ labourers and the black slaves. This lowered the price of labour at home. The population racialised as white were offered this ‘supremacy’ as they were thrown off the land and deprived of their indigeneity. This further enforcement of the capitalist system of rule reached a kind of nadir when the black slaves were ‘freed’ and, in order to justify the compensation money paid to the owners, the ‘scientific’ elaboration of racist ideas was advanced. When the slave-owning regimes declared the freedom of the individual they included the freedom to own slaves. After all they were their private property. John Locke the esteemed philosopher so influential in the development of empiricism and a forerunner of the enlightenment, a humanist and major influence on the foundation of the UK state, the writer of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, was an administrative officer for the Royal African Company. This should alert people to the connection between racism, patriarchy and capitalism. It is for this reason that this history is best looked at from the point of view of those people whose direct ancestors experienced this exploitation.
These thoughts of mine are fumbling towards an understanding of what is at issue in the present situation. They are not original but a jumble and regurgitation of my reading of the thoughts of others. Please help by emailing your response, objections and corrections. There may be others far wiser than I who are working things out, please put me in touch.
Watch out! The movement for social justice and against inequality is constantly moving into the political arena. Because of the nature of the capitalist state this process can be dangerous to the forces of resistance and for change. At the moment, Autumn 2022, the cutting edge is the struggle for better wages and conditions by the trades unions. But there are many other movements of resistance. Particularly those who were galvanised by the youth rebellion against climate change that manifested itself as Friday School strikes. One such movement, Extinction Rebellion has not only proliferated internationally but also has diversified itself into other forms of struggle and protest than those used in its initial actions. The capitalist state, of which the UK state is a version and local variation, developed as a way of sustaining the capitalist system of rule through co-option, channelling social energies directed towards change into the institutional structures of the state and thereby defusing and defeating them. The examples are many. Here are two. We saw, at the beginning of the 1970s, a formidable movement of resistance, to the Tories’ anti-trade union legislation (the Industrial Relations Act), to new technology and job insecurity in the dockers fight against containerisation, to the issue of pay increases being eaten away by inflation in the 1972 and 1974 strikes by the National Union of Mineworkers. At the climax of this struggle the Tory government called an election and ask the country to decide: was it the government or the miners who should govern the country? In February 1974 the Labour Party was returned as the largest parliamentary party but could only attain a majority in Parliament through a pact with the Liberal Party (the Lib-Lab pact). They gained a parliamentary majority in October, in the second election of that year. So it looked like the Labour movement had won a political victory. This Labour government failed to substantiate and move forward this massive movement of resistance and by 1979 the Tories won a majority. They were led by Thatcher and had a renewed political agenda. In 1926 the movement of unity amongst working people, through trades unions and communities, culminated in a General Strike, principally in support of the miners. The leadership of the Labour Party and the trades union movement called it off just as it looked as if it might be successful. By 1931 the Labour Party was in a national government which, when it failed, led to a return of the Tory Party. The question of how ‘economic’ struggle gives rise to ‘political’ struggle will dominate in the upcoming period (from the Autumn and Winter of 2022).
In the current period, political success depends on the participation of millions and millions of people in actively constructing a movement with demands that have been thought through and composed from the bottom up and the top down. Politics is far too important to be left to politicians. At a recent ENOUGH IS ENOUGH live meeting in North London, the organisers divided us into six break-out groups to further discuss the six ENOUGH IS ENOUGH demands. The conversations were vital explorations of the implications of policy. This ‘thinking through’ should be happening in every constituency in the country. Perhaps it is. The danger is that as the movement grows and the Tories disintegrate (by no means certain) the Labour Party will move to the left to scoop up its traditional support and the manifesto will be left to the ‘leadership’ and ‘head office’. The Labour Party, possibly appearing to be leaning to the left, will be returned as the largest party on a wave of anti-tory sentiment but will fail to carry forward the movement for change. The resistance movement will therefore fail to make a better society. Better that there should be 650 manifestos, worked out by people who can popularise their deliberations, checking their formulations at local meetings or with randomly chosen people and use these documents to hold electoral candidates to account, than there is only a handed down list of policies, worked out through marketing and media processes. Anyway the popularly worked out ‘manifesto’ demands, if they followed a commonly agreed format, could be collated nationally and this charter could then be used to strengthen local consensual movements. If not this, then how can a process of politicisation be carried through? How can defensive resistance struggles be turned into mass democratic action?
Political struggle is aimed at changes in the behaviour of the state or its transformation. The capitalist state’s significant feature is the separation of ‘economics’ from ‘politics’. The former is assigned to civil society whereas the latter is conducted in and around the state. But this relationship is deliberately made confusing. The state system including civil society is developed from capitalism. But capitalism is a development of patriarchy.
It is difficult to understand how the capitalist state works if its link to patriarchal structures are not brought to light. This also involves a recognition that capitalism is not an economic system but a system of rule. This system of rule derives from the way patriarchal structures are dispersed and internalised as capitalism comes to dominate society. Capitalism is a dispersal of patriarchy into the micro-cellular structure of society. This means the state structures are only in the last instance enforced by command and brute force. The system is such that we inhabit it and it lives inside us. It constructs itself in our feelings about ourselves that are as deep as our sexuality. It influences the sense of our own power and capability and the way we relate to each other. The system is soul- and self-destroying. The mode of exploitation of women and of nature restructures the inner life of the population. This is further deepened by the institutionalisation (that is the living out of values and ideas at an unconscious level, at the level of an unquestioned basic assumption) of racism and white supremacism. It is the reconstruction of the human individual as a competitive creature.
Why is the universal suffrage representational system the ‘natural’ form of the capitalist state?
The state is expected to protect people against economic insecurity but it is being weakened by increasing indebtedness. The people who might benefit from protection are the majority of the population whilst those that benefit from the indebtedness are the rich and those connected to, or reliant on, the global financial system.
The constitution of the UK state is centred on the political authority of the monarch in Parliament. Any movement for change has to begin to undermine the centrality of this institution.
The state is best viewed as a set of relations rather than as an instrument or machine or control room. It is a complex of agreements, of performative acts of avowal and contractual consent, enacted in procedures and rituals.
The illusion that it is a neutral instrument and that it can be used in its present form to change society leads to its continuation as a means of oppression. The state absorbs, condenses and defuses opposition and resistance. Political parties become instruments of the state by organising themselves according to universal suffrage electoral processes. They mimic the hierarchies of the state in the choice of candidates to represent them. These representatives if elected are then incorporated into the state project by the oath of allegiance to the monarch that they make on entering office. However this does not mean that these processes are ineffective as vehicles for change. But they have to be understood.
Characteristic of the modern capitalist state is the separation of the political space, where equality must appear to exist, from the economic space, where it is essential that it doesn’t.
The modern capitalist state is constructed to ensure the persistence of economic inequality by creating a space where political equality can be enacted. The key function of the capitalist state is to ensure the reproduction of the conditions of production. These include the supply of the cheapest and most docile labour force and the assurance of profit-making so capital wealth can be accumulated and invested. The state must mitigate the tendency for the rate of profit to fall. This tendency is endemic to capitalist social and economic organisation.
Capitalism is the dominance of quantity, as an emblematic coordinate of male power. The male ‘take over’ was a significant moment in the development of our species (modern humans, Homo Sapiens Sapiens). From the neolithic revolution approximately 12,000 years ago hierarchical and territorialised forms of social organisation took over from a society infused with the rhythm and organicity of human females. The capitalist state is best seen as a form of social organisation developed from these hierarchical forms. It is a set of relations whose energy is produced by the appropriation of women’s power. Production systematically dominates reproduction. This manifests itself as the operation of a collective assumption, like a kind of common sense. The process is continuously operational and resonates in every level and in every cellular component of social organisation. Men take women’s power and that becomes their power and they use it to dominate society. The state dominates society in the capitalist state by institutionalising the domination of the economy which it makes appear as natural and free.
In the UK it is the power of the financial institutions that is the major obstacle to change. Evidence of the so-called power of the markets is being dramatically demonstrated in the mid-October 2022 when this is being written. The power of finance is incompatible with democracy. It is people who should decide through democratic institutions where investment takes place. It is in the character of money and the emblems that are used to assure value (the monarch’s head) that the perversions of sovereignty are made manifest. The right to produce money in this way was granted to the Bank of England when it was established in 1694 in exchange for the monarch’s right to raise money for war, in that instance it was the Anglo Dutch Coalition against the French.
In the capitalist state the political space as a space of equality is directly and organically linked to the maintenance of the necessary inequality of the economic ‘space’. This is how and why universal suffrage representative democracy grows organically from the capitalist system. This is effected by the apparent division between the state and civil society and the construction of a democratic link between them. It makes capitalism appear to be only an economic system rather than a system of rule. It sustains the myth that the state system could replace one economic system for another and remain in tact. The proliferation and internalisation of patriarchy, the collectivisation of the oppression of women ensures each home is a little kingdom and that the domination of reproduction by production continues at an ever deeper, wider and more effective level. The internalisation of the patriarchal system in the capitalist system of rule is a foundation for the destruction of the self that late capitalism has perfected. A major factor in this disintegration is the division of the economic aspects of the self from the political aspects. The workforce must present itself as free human beings ready to produce commodities and services utilising the tools and infrastructure privately owned by the boss class. In this commodity-producing system the workers’ time is a commodity produced through households in reproductive processes undertaken mainly by women. The state must make this reproduction as cheap as possible.
You can see in the development of the universal suffrage system in the UK state how the adult population has been brought gradually into the constitutional project by the extension of suffrage. First property-owning adult men (1867), then all adult men and some women who had passed beyond the general age of childbirth and who qualified as owners or co-owners of property (1918) and then all adult men and women (finally in 1928)
The state is constantly withdrawing from society, appearing to leave it alone and only safeguarding the freedom of the individual and the sanctity of private property. This leaves the securitisation (Police, army, intelligence services) aspects of the state in tact and eats into the protective, caring (education, health, social care) aspects. The underlying myth is that if the state could diminish itself, the social space would become even freer and people would allow their nature to develop and would prosper. This myth has become particularly current in the period of universal suffrage democracy in the West where the development of the New Deal and the Welfare State seemed to hamper ‘natural’ profit-making functions. A heightened process of individualisation is associated with neoliberalism, especially in the most recent period when the media has been dispersed through social networks. This system has successfully used the study of psychology to break down the ‘self’ and to reconstitute the individual as freely able to promote itself as a bundle of competences and to constitute itself from a basket of available identities. One aspect of the human creature that the system has exploited is the tendency for human beings to judge their own behaviour with a different optic than that which they use to judge the behaviour of others.
The later stages of the process that accompanied the arrival of universal suffrage democracy saw the cementing of the relationship between marketing, the media and electoral processes. This advanced the disintegration of the self and entailed deeper forms of commodification. The elements of the state and patriarchal structures were imprinted into the sense individuals had of themselves.
The power over people’s bodies, over life and death, the right to order bodies to be or not be in certain places at certain times and the right to access the private space of people’s property and persons, constitute the ‘regalian’ power deriving from kingship. It is mainly this aspect of the state which leads people to think that it is a machine or instrument.
All the processes of agreement, of contract, of institution-building, of rituals, of procedures, of the specification of spaces and the enforcement of sovereignty are tied to, and energised by, the (divine) right to commit violence, ultimately to destroy human bodies. This is why war is the zenith moment of capitalist state power.
The organisation of killing pulls all other state activities into order. It organises and orders them and gives them their place. The power to define territory and to specify spaces requires and obtains the submission of the population. It defines what activities can take place in the spaces. Ultimately this is where violence and its sanctification make their deal, come to terms with each other, condone each other, mutually re-enforce each other, become complicit. This is what centres the state and what lies at its centre. In the UK it is the monarchical throne in Parliament, the source and centre of ultimate executive power.
The capitalist state form is binary. The outer visible processes, parliament and the government administration, enable the partial ‘veiling’ of the central authority, the power over life and death, of the monarch, the king patriarch. The ‘veiling’ enables this ‘regalian’ power to be held more securely. So the state can be described as a series of spaces, organised in relationship to each other, that are formed and related to each other through agreements, contracts, affirmations, rituals, displays, procedures and meetings. At the centre of this arrangement of ‘relational’ spaces is the core space from which authority emanates. This means that the monarchical ‘court’ system underpins and underlies the work of government and the ‘democratic’ institutions and is disguised by them.
Men formed and territorialised their power in the course of ‘taking power’ from women. The oppressive exploitation of women and nature is organised through the creation of sacred spaces more powerful than the space that was dedicated to safeguarding the reproductive movement of the original modern human (Homo Sapiens Sapiens), the menarchal hut, the space of women’s first menstruation. This was ritually guarded by women’s collective ‘power’ in the original modern human groups. Coalitions of human females regulated the lives of the early modern human groups. Men’s spaces needed to be symbolically more powerful than this. They needed to subsume the reproductive space.
The initial take over of power from women by men is associated with the development of animal husbandry and crop cultivation during the neolithic revolution approximately 12,000 years ago. This was effected by physical force, but it could not be successfully accomplished without processes of justification and sanctification. Women had to be coopted as well as oppressed. Men had to replace women as the holders of symbolic power. This might be expressed in a number of ways: men took away women’s magic in order to use it for their own ends and create their own magic. The key figures in the male hierarchies were the warrior chief and the shaman priest. These roles could be combined or be played out in mutual justification, sanctification and enforcement. It was only at the end of the Roman Empire that kingship structures congealed into a functioning political form of rule based on the divine right over certain territories. The king in holding ‘regalian’ power asserted sovereignty by divine right. The great gift of Christianity to this proto-imperialist, emergent nation-state building was to construct a figure that was half god and and half human. The ‘roles’ of warrior chief and shaman were played out in the group organisation that surrounded the figure of the king in what formed itself as a court. The warrior group developed into the warlords, the noblesse d’epee, and the priesthood developed into the noblesse de robe. In the UK system the monarch is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces and the Head of the Church of England. As the form of the patriarchal state advanced, the organisation of the aristocracy into the lords temporal and the lords spiritual developed into the army and the church. As the process of secularisation accompanied the democratisation of the state the church’s function of sanctification and justification was separated out and dispersed further into apparently autonomous institutions: the education system, the media and the charity sector.
Beneath the rational, secular, democratic set of relations that constitute one level of the functioning of the state: the public administration, the justice system, public services, health systems, education systems, there is another underlying and intersecting level: the structures and processes of the monarchic court. This is the binary system that is so characteristic of patriarchy and was made necessary in the successful ‘take over’ of power and influence from women. At every level and in every aspect of these relational structures the original oscillation between the warrior leader (military commander, leader of the hunt) and the shaman (chief priest, hierarch) resounds. In the structure of the democratic institutions the alternation between the Tory and the Labour parties replicates this movement. The enactments and displays capture and train the imagination of the population. Also what appears to be entirely superficial and decorative, the parades and ceremonies of the state, in fact relate to the sanctification and authorisation of violence that lies at the centre of the system. This is like a mesmeric dance. The monarch that sits at the centre of the court as a source of divine authority sanctifying the violence that holds the structure together is hidden by the overlay of democratic structures (local authorities, Mayors, national parliaments, UK parliament) and this is then decorated by the paraphernalia of the royals, mediatised and humanised in a series of romances, rows and scandals and displayed in ornate parades and processions. The glamour of the decorative layer is a way of convincing the population that they are people just like anybody else, that they have no ‘real’ power. It is this quality of being symbolically essential on which the whole system is based. They ‘appear’ to be glamorous and powerful so we know that they are not. But in fact they are. The real power lies with the democratically elected parliament but in fact it doesn’t. All the members of this completely business-like assembly have sworn an oath of allegiance to the monarch. This is why the elected members from Sinn Fein in Ireland refuse to take their seats. Who do these members of parliament serve? The monarch or the people? In a dazzling inversion it turns out that the monarch is the people (the soul of the people?). Thus sovereignty is secured.
What is the nature of power in our society? Male power is like that of the hunter. When a hunter attacks and kills an animal he or she takes the power of the animal. The hunter’s power is the power of the animal. The hunter gains life by the death of the animal. The hunter is powerless without the animal. The original power of life appears to be women’s power of reproduction. Men have power only in so far as they take power from women. In capitalism the vital source of profit is the production of surplus value through the organised exploitation of human labour power. The reproduction of labour power is the crucial element in the production process. This is even more essential than the accumulation of capital. The exploitation of reproductive processes by productive processes – this may clarify how capitalism is obsessed by what is called ‘growth’ – must be guarded by the capitalist state.
The structure of the state and all the relations which compose it are ‘held together’ i.e. dynamised/ energised by the space where violence is sanctified, the space of sacrifice, where the issue of the control over life and death is enacted.
An example in the UK state is the organisation known as the Knights of the Garter. They are the intimates of the sovereign, they can notionally enter the monarch’s bed chamber, the death bed and birth bed. They are the officials of the funerary and coronation rites. They are the sanctified warrior leaders.
The constraint that is encountered by democratic forces of change that might initially formulate economic demands, demands for a different allocation of social resources, and then express themselves through the universal suffrage system, is composed of two elements. Firstly, the effective power of Parliament, its access to ‘regalian’ power (power over life and death, monopoly of violence) has to be channelled through the monarch. Secondly, its power over capital wealth (the power to gain access to private spaces and ‘private’ wealth) is held in check by the state’s institutionalisation of the freedom of the individual and the sanctity of private property. This latter is underpinned by the political equality incorporated into the electoral system. These two elements are deeply linked and are secured through the internalisation of the system. This produces individuals that are compliant and who abide by a common sense that they had no part in making and that appears to them as natural in so far as they recognise in this individual freedom the limits of their own mortality.
When our social life reaches its fullest realisation the state will no longer be a set of relations through which people will hold power over other people. The state will no longer be a power separate from, nor above, society. The question is how to transform the state in order that it can serve real social needs.
Through what seemed like chance events the movement against austerity which was sparked by the student revolt of 2010 brought Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party in 2015. This was accompanied by the large-scale increase in Labour Party membership making the party a vehicle of mass popular activism. This meant that the complex consensual tides of feeling and all the diverse organisations of resistance had a focus, reflected in the main opposition party. The attack that was launched against this by the ‘establishment’, especially after the ‘near miss’ election of June 2017, was unprecedented in its ferocity, depth and extent. It was a unique situation where a popular mass movement was impacting on the heart of the UK state. This story should act as a warning about the movement from economic struggle to political struggle. The two-party system – government and opposition – is another aspect of the defensive binary structures of the state. The Labour Party is a part of the UK state.
There is a narrative that only militant action – rank and file action, local direct action – from below, from the bottom up, can possibly create the movement of liberation we need. There is also a narrative that social change can only happen by engaging in legislative representative parliamentary politics. These two positions are not exclusive of each other. The ‘bottom-up’ movement can be characterised as ‘economic struggle’ and the ‘top down’ as ‘political struggle’. But this repeats the separation on which the capitalist state is dependent. The problem with this is that the capitalist state is organised in such a way that these two aspects of social change are kept separate and are reflected in the division between civil society and the state. The capitalist state is formed by its key functions: to guard the freedom of the individual and to enforce private property. These two principles (individual freedom and private property) are affirmed as absolutely natural and directly ensure that those that own nothing but their labour power are free to sell it and that those that accumulate private capital wealth are free to invest it. So the political state only intercedes in the ‘economy’ to restore natural rights (freedom of the individual and private property). This binary structuring that pervades the capitalist state has been evolved to disempower movements for social change by re-channelling the energies of which they consist.
We are dealing with a system of rule, capitalism, that cannot simply be characterised as an economic system. It is a system that is extensive and intensive. It creates the forms of our society, our social formation, in doing so it penetrates deeply into our souls and our being. Capitalism is the development of patriarchy. It is a productively widespread and internalised system of rule and self-rule. People all over the world are struggling against its impacts. Ironically they are sometimes doing so by adopting its values and attempting to enrich themselves and are spurred on to do so because it seems natural and a part of their manhood or womanhood and particularly because it offers a means of individual survival. However also people are communicating and sharing and co-ordinating their actions against the system. They are realising their collective power. We are caught within the limits of the nation-state but this political form can offer protection and opportunities to consolidate change. People’s aspirations transcend societies, countries and nation-states and our human lives are linked. Liberation can not just happen to individuals nor to individual societies. But it cannot manifest itself other than through these forms of social organisation.
The movement of change will be simultaneously ‘bottom up’ and ‘top down’. The waves of disruption and renewal will be like seismic oscillations that will enable people to shake free of the encumbrances and obstacles, the existing institutions and mentalities. Human knowledge – the ability to observe, reflect, experiment and transform – and our aspiration to satisfy deep needs are unstoppable. New mentalities are growing that repair the separation of human beings from the earth and see us as a part of nature. The need to relate and to repair as an integral part of resistance and change is being recognised.
Capitalism is a dispersal and internalisation of patriarchal structures and advances the domination of quantity and brute force over all other qualities. One major encouragement is that history moves not so much in a straight line as in a spiral, continuously returning to similar positions at different stages. Homo sapiens sapiens learnt at its very inception, that Alpha Male behaviour had to be, and could be, contained and suppressed. This was to do with the survival of the species. In fact this was the significant and decisive factor in its development. This was due to the deep collective wisdom of human females. Of course we are not in the same situation but some of the practical lessons can be learnt from reflecting on this deep human history.
Now in the autumn/Winter of 2022 in the UK the movement of resistance and opposition can transform itself effectively into a political movement and alter the balance of forces in the political space, reorganising the institutions and relations of state power. Or it will be re-channelled and co-opted by the state.