Let us first see what a capitalist crisis is not.
That there are 950 million hungry people worldwide, that is not a capitalist crisis.
That there are 4,750 million poor people worldwide, that is not a capitalist crisis.
That there are 1,000 million unemployed worldwide, that is not a capitalist crisis.
That more than 50% of the world’s active population is underemployed or works precariously, that is not a capitalist crisis.
That 45% of the world population does not have direct access to drinking water, that is not a capitalist crisis.
That 3,000 million people lack access to minimum health services, that is not a capitalist crisis.
That 113 million children do not have access to education and 875 million adults remain illiterate, that is not a capitalist crisis.
That 12 million children die every year from curable diseases, that is not a capitalist crisis.
That 13 million people die each year in the world due to the deterioration of the environment and climate change, that is not a capitalist crisis.
That 16,306 species are in danger of extinction, including a quarter of mammals, is not a capitalist crisis.
All this happened before the crisis. What is it, well, a capitalist crisis? When does a capitalist crisis begin?
We are talking about a capitalist crisis when starving 950 million people, keeping 4.7 billion in poverty, condemning 80% of the planet to unemployment or precariousness, leaving 45% of the world population without water and 50% without services toilets, melt the poles, deny children help and destroy the trees and bears, is no longer profitable enough for 1,000 multinational companies and 2,500,000 millionaires.
What demonstrates the superior efficiency and resistance of capitalism is that all these human calamities – which would have invalidated any other economic system – do not affect its credibility or prevent it from continuing to operate at full capacity. It is precisely his mechanical indifference that makes him natural, invulnerable, essential. Socialism would not survive this contempt for the human being, as it did not survive in the Soviet Union, because it is designed precisely to satisfy their needs; capitalism survives and even strengthens itself with human misfortunes because it is not intended to alleviate them.
No other historical system has produced more wealth, no other historical system has produced more destruction. It is enough to consider these two lines in parallel – that of wealth and that of destruction – to weigh all their value and all their magnificence. This double task, which is theirs, capitalism does better than anyone else and in that sense its triumph is final: that there is more and more food and more and more hunger, more medicine and sick people, more empty houses and more families without ceiling, more work and more unemployed, more books and more illiterates, more human rights and more crimes against humanity.
Why do we have to save that? Why do we have to worry about the crisis? Why should we find a solution for you? The old metaphors of liberalism have all been revealed to be mendacious: the “invisible hand” that would harmonize private and collective interests counts coins in an armored chamber, the “trickle” that would irrigate the lowest layers of the subsoil if it is hardly capable of filling the One-handed bowl, the “elevator” that would go down faster and faster to rescue people from the ground floor has been left with the doors open on the top floor. The solutions that the rulers of the planet propose, and will apply, prolong, in any case, the immanent logic of the extended benefit as a condition of structural survival: privatization of public funds, prolongation of the working day, free dismissal, reduction of social spending, relief tax to entrepreneurs. That is, if things are not going well it is because they are not worse. In other words, if 950 million hungry people are not profitable, the number will have to be doubled. Capitalism consists of that: before the crisis, it condemns 4.7 billion human beings to poverty; in times of crisis, to get out of it, you can only increase profit rates by increasing the number of your victims. If it is about saving capitalism – with its enormous capacity to produce private wealth with public resources – we must accept human sacrifices, first in other countries far from us, then perhaps also in neighboring neighborhoods, then even in the house opposite, trusting that our bank account, our job, our television and our ipod do not enter the lottery of the superior capitalist efficiency. Those of us who have something can lose everything; It is in our interest, therefore, to return as soon as possible to normality before the crisis, to their dead elsewhere, and to their unfortunates without-any-hope.
A system that, when it has no problems, excludes half the planet from a decent life and that solves those it has by threatening the other half, works without a doubt perfectly, grandly, with unprecedented resources and forces, but it is more like a virus than a society. We may be concerned that the virus is having trouble reproducing, or we may rather think that the virus is precisely our problem. The problem is not the crisis of capitalism, no, but capitalism itself. And the problem is that this revealing crisis, potentially profitable for emancipation, reaches a population without conscience and a left without an elaborate alternative. Whether or not Wallerstein is wrong in his forecast of the end of capitalism, he is undoubtedly right in the anthropological diagnosis. In a world with many weapons and few ideas, with much pain and little organization, with much fear and little commitment – the world that capitalism has produced – barbarism is much more plausible than socialism.
That is why you have to get up on the islets of conscience and the organization clumps. Blocked Cuba, windswept Cuba, poor Cuba, uncomfortable Cuba, sometimes wrong Cuba, improvised Cuba, disciplined Cuba, resistant Cuba, enlightened Cuba, always human Cuba, keeps a third way open, today more necessary than ever, between the capitalism and barbarism. If we can’t help her, we can at least help ourselves by thinking of her with relief and thanks.