“Humans who still dream of being human”: John Holloway at Left Forum
I took the always trustworthy advice of our pal Corey Reidy at the Baltimore Indypendent Reader and listened to audio of Left Forum’s closing plenary, especially John Holloway’s brief talk. She was right: It was pretty amazing. Below is a transcribed portion of what John had to say (some transcribed by me, some by the Independent Reader). Below that is a recording of John’s talk. Check out Corey’s article for audio of the whole closing plenary.
Enough, enough of saying it is the capitalists who are to blame, that it is the bankers’ fault. The very notion is not only absurd, but dangerous because it constitutes us as victims. Capital is a relation of domination. The crisis of capital is the crisis of domination: The dominators are not able to dominate effectively. And then we go into the streets and tell them that it is their fault. What are we saying? That they should dominate us more efficiently? It’s better to take the simpler explanation and say that, if the relation of domination is in crisis, it is because the dominated are not docile enough; they are not prostrating themselves sufficiently. The inadequacy of our subordination is the cause of the crisis.
Capitalism is not just a system of injustice. It is a system of accelerating exploitation, a system of intensifying destruction. This can be theorized in many ways…. But what it means is that capitalism is a dynamic of attack. There is an unending drive to go faster, an unending transformation of what capitalist labor means. And this means not only an intensification of labor in the factories, but the ever increasing subordination of all aspects of life to the logic of capital. The very existence of capitalism is a constant turning of the screw–and crisis is quite simply the manifestation of the fact that the screw is not being tightened fast enough.
Somewhere, it is meeting resistance. Resistance on the streets and in the squares, perhaps. Organized resistance, certainly. But also, it may just be the resistance of parents who want to play with their children, lovers who want to spend an extra hour in bed, students who think that they can take time to criticize, humans who still dream of being human.
We are the crisis of capital. We who do not bow low enough. We who do not run fast enough.
The other option is saying “No, no,” to capitalism. “We will try to build a different sociality.” … If capitalism cannot provide the basis of life, then we must do it in other ways; by forming networks of mutual support… This is a lot more complicated and a far more experimental way forward, in which there is no correct line, there is no revolutionary purity. Quite possibly, our prefigurative forms of sociality are not yet strong enough to ensure our survival and there have to be compromises. But that is clearly the direction in which we must push—clearly the direction in which we are pushing and are being pushed. This world we are trying to create. This world without answers. A world of “asking, we walk.” A world of experiment. But we are guided by our “No!” to the inhuman, obscene, destructive system of capitalism. And guided by a utopian star distilled from the hopes and dreams of centuries of struggle.
Crisis, then, confronts us with these two options: Either we take the highway of subordination to the logic of capital, in the clear knowledge that this leads directly to the self-annihilation of humanity, or else we take the hazardous paths—many paths—of inventing different worlds, here and now, through the cracks we create in capitalist domination. And as we invent new worlds, we sing loud and clear that we are the crisis of capital. We are the crisis of the rush toward human destruction…and proud of it. We are the new world that is pushing through. Get out of the way capital!