The year 2022 is the year 3 of Sars CoV 2 and the year 270 of climate change dating from 1750. But the year we should pay attention to is the year 530 of the Capitalocene, dating from 1492, the time. most critical in human history to date.
Before Columbus found his “new world,” the world was not globalized. Asia was a continent in its own right from Beijing to Babylon. China has never bothered to go beyond trade links to Africa. The Ottomans never entered the heart of Europe. Europe itself was a relatively arid peninsula on the outskirts of Western Asia that forced Viking raids into the “new world” without the means to establish lasting settlements.
Thus, the Capitalocene marks the beginning of European society colonizing the world and nature to launch global capitalism. Colonization turned Europe into the capitalist engine room sucking up masses of value from the “new world” to create its wealthy hordes.
Why was the Capitalocene so important? Precapitalist societies have gone from communes to empires, and sometimes back, as if in a closed circuit. For the first 200,000 years, humans lived in what are best described as communes, organized horizontally in egalitarian societies around the mother’s lineage. Survival depended on a society run on collective lines and a gender division of labor where “mothers reigned”.
Historical variations in these relationships were exceptions that proved the “rule.” Some marginal lineage societies have remained relatively unchanged (eg Polynesia). For the most part, they represent points in the transition from lineage society to class empires, which may have lasted for 40,000 years, where the development of human herding and warfare allowed for the gradual formation of a male ruling class accumulating wealth as a tribute.
These latter societies were characterized by the vertical movement of tribute from producers to ruling classes who built city-states and paid tax collectors, military and religious castes to maintain their dominance. They were also unstable because there were limits to the extraction of tribute set by nature and by internal rebellions or foreign wars. Most collapsed or were defeated in the war when they could no longer afford the costs of a heaviest militarized state.
This is why, when Europeans first colonized the world, they found both commons and class empires at various points of development or collapse in this closed cycle. Europe itself was a mixture of factional feudal states inherited from the demise of the city-states of Rome and Athens. Its need to get out of poverty and debt encouraged the formation of free port cities housing the new middle class of traders, the bourgeoisie and merchant adventurers, sponsored by the indebted feudal class to colonize the “new world” as sources of hope. new riches.
What European colonizers found in Asia, Africa and the Americas was a treasure trove of natural and existing wealth, gold, silver and many other commodities, a crystallization of centuries of past and future unfree labor. , including slave labor. But instead of the new wealth being blown on the ostentatious consumption of the aristocracy, most of it was distributed as money financing the growth of capitalist production in the cities and the land.
This is why 1492 marks the beginning of the Capitalocene – the globalized grabbing of natural resources, including labor power, which created the conditions for a developed industrial capitalist production from 1750. These conditions were the exploitation of the surplus labor force of landless workers by landowners. means of production, for profit in the European states and in the colonies.
In the year 530 of the Capitalocene, what are our prospects in 2022? Are we not late, in year 3 of Sars CoV 2, and in year 372 of the climate catastrophe, by a year zero for the return to the Municipality? Not a journey through time 40,000 years ago, but a journey through Galilean time in the future of the Municipality.
Kim Stanley Robinson in Galileo’s dream used his dreams of time travel to Jupiter’s moons as a device to peer review his groundbreaking science as he faced the Rome Inquisition for rejecting dogma of the Sun’s movement around Earth.
Yet today we are faced with an equally fatal social inquisition against Karl Marx. Post-modern anti-science movements suppress most basic scientific knowledge of the humanities’ journey around the sun as inhabitants of the Earth. We can use today’s science-based time travel to show the predicted outcome of our species becoming extinct, as well as survival and regeneration.
Let us therefore make 2022 the Year Zero for the return of the municipality to Earth, and the beginning of the end of 15,000 years of class society destroying the balance of nature. The new commune is embryonic within dying capitalism in the form of scientific knowledge which leads to the overthrow of the Capitalocene and creates the conditions for the return of society to nature.
Dave Brownz is TDB guest Marxist blogger