A discussion of “partocracy”, defined as “a modern type of developmentalist oligarchy” characterized by the abrogation of popular sovereignty by a political class largely based on the declining and insecure middle classes, which acts on behalf of the needs of economic expansion but is based on an extensive network of patronage relations, establishing a regime in which “fear is used as an instrument of government” to impose “a policy of resignation”, together with an analysis of how this regime differs (e.g., decentralized vs. centralized corruption) from fascism, despite certain similarities.
A discussion of the intellectual forebears of the anti-growth movement, including Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, Ivan Illich, Donella Meadows, Fritz Schumacher and even Rosa Luxemburg, narrating the history of the ideas they represented until their ultimate recuperation and distortion by the contemporary anti-growth movement, led by “an enlightened lumpenbourgeoisie” that prefers “the established order to popular unrest”, and which, dispensing with the more visionary features of the ideas it appropriated, instead proposes technocratic reforms and the continuation of capitalism, thus revealing this movement to be a “renewable illusion” and “an auxiliary weapon of domination”.
A critique of the anti-growth movement, which the author depicts as a reformist movement promoted by middle class elements threatened by economic marginalization, who want to “put capitalism on a diet” rather than abolish it, and seek to return to the good old days of the Keynesian and statist social market economy, only this time based on the imputed imperatives of an ecological state of emergency, in order to breathe new life into the declining fortunes of their doomed class which, however, because of its incoherence as a hodgepodge of competing interests, only does the work of the ruling class by fostering a sense of fear in the population and diverting dissent into innocuous channels.
In Part 1 of this book originally published in France in 1995, Claude Bitot addresses capitalism’s imminent contradictions from the perspective of Marx’s theory of the falling rate of profit and in the context of the role of automation, rising productivity and relocations since the crisis of the 1970s, and concludes that capitalism has entered a stage of permanent crisis he defines as “the end of its cycle”; in Part 2, he discusses some of the ideological and social consequences of this crisis that signal the definitive decline of the republican and secular values that characterized the rise of the nation state in the springtime and maturity of capitalism.
Anselm Jappe reflects on the significance of the ongoing crisis of commodity production and the reactions of mainstream commentators, the representatives of the “anti-neoliberal” left, and ordinary people, the role of credit in prolonging the system’s death throes, and the pitfalls of blaming scapegoats for what is actually a systemic collapse, and the “fundamental crisis” of the “value-form”, caused by the immanent contradictions that lie at the heart of the system of commodity production, which we should not save but destroy as quickly as possible in order to make the “leap into the unknown” of “a more human society”, or else endure worse barbarism to come.
Anselm Jappe rejects the traditional concept of politics and proposes a post-political politics appropriate for the crisis conditions of our time, a politics whose task is to “at least preserve the possibility for future emancipation against the dehumanization imposed by the commodity” and is based on a combination of non-representational direct action, the rehabilitation of the idea of sabotage, and anti-capitalist theory that transcends the fixed boundary between praxis and theory, without succumbing to the temptation to seek immediate results by yielding to traditional political attitudes and methods.
A brief review of the history of the “value critique” current and its antecedents, with particular emphasis on its relation to the tradition of the critique of modernity, technology, and the ideology of progress, as well as a discussion of the capitalist recuperation of the “transgressive” cultural politics that emerged during the 1960s and 1970s partly in connection with the search for a replacement for the proletariat as “revolutionary subject”.