December 30, 2020
You didn’t need to experience a hellish 2020 to know that our system of global capitalist domination does a pitiful job of meeting the needs of the vast majority of people in the U.S. and on the planet as a whole. But 2020 has shoved the madness up to new and heretofore inconceivable levels.
While billions globally, and tens of millions in the U.S., face joblessness, hunger, impoverishment, homelessness, untreated sickness and death – effects exacerbated if not directly caused by the Covid-19 pandemic – we are simultaneously witnessing an astronomical boom in the wealth of a teeny-tiny fraction of the population.
2020 comes to a close on the largest and most painful contraction of world economies since the Great Depression of the 1930s. At the same time, Wall Street – home base for national and global financial oligarchies – is flush with cash, courtesy of a U.S. Federal Reserve that seems to equate speculative profit-making with a healthy and thriving economy. Hence a booming stock market, of late busting records every day, sits superimposed on a historically unparalleled extent of human suffering.
Socialists and anti-capitalist activists more generally have long pointed to the “contradictions” of an economic order that prioritizes profits over people and uses its financial power to dominate not only government, but virtually every social sector. What we’re seeing now, however, is not simply a series of manageable systemic tensions, but rapidly growing evidence of systemic breakdown beyond the capacity of captured governments to manage.
This is not contradiction; this is system failure. That we haven’t recognized it yet doesn’t make it any less real.