Saturday, 8 May 2010

Age of Apocalypse: From Four Horsemen to Jubilee

The Counterfire website has just published Neil Faulkner's 'Global crisis and anti-capitalist revolution'. It is the longest article we've yet published. It is also one of the best and most important.

Neil takes on the really big issues from a bracingly revolutionary perspective. His writing has plenty of verve and it was a pleasure to read the drafts. I recommend making time to read it in full, but meanwhile here's an extract.


An ancient Biblical myth sees the end of the world heralded by the appearance of four horsemen – the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, representing Conquest, Slaughter, Famine, and Death.

The prospect before humanity today can seem truly apocalyptic. Late monopoly-capitalism has developed the productive forces of the global economy to an unprecedented degree. But these forces are not subject to democratic control and rational planning; they are propelled by the economic and military imperatives of competitive capital accumulation. In consequence, despite their potential to emancipate the whole of humanity from material need, they now threaten the opposite: the survival of industrial civilisation itself.

The ignorance, cupidity, and irresponsibility of our rulers in the face of this crisis are rooted in the irrationality of the system. Climate catastrophe, economic slump, and imperialist war have their roots in the madness of the market: the blind economic and military competition which propels the nation-states and mega-corporations of monopoly-capitalism.

This madness produced the First World War, the Second World War, and the horrors of Stalin’s gulags and Hitler’s extermination-camps. The history of the last century argues unequivocally that the system is deeply pathological, irrational, and destructive.

Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, the compound crisis of contemporary capitalism again threatens the lives of hundreds of millions and the well-being of billions of the world’s people. It is perhaps the most serious crisis in human history.

Another ancient Biblical myth was sometimes counterposed to that of the Four Horseman. In this version of the Apocalypse, the culmination was a popular Jubilee. Tax-collectors and landlords would be swept away. Slaves and serfs would be set free. The land would be restored to the people who worked it. A new Golden Age of freedom and plenty would begin.

To turn Apocalypse into Jubilee in the early 21st century, four things are required:

1. We have to understand the necessity for total system change. Only by linking different campaigns, protests, and struggles together in a general assault on the system that is at the root of humanity’s problems can we hope to solve them.

2. We have to understand the centrality of the working class to any serious strategy for system change. Only by mobilising the majority of ordinary working people can we find the power to confront and defeat corporate capital and the nation-states.

3. We have to connect the anti-capitalist protests of the activist minority with the general anti-capitalist mood of the discontented majority, so that fresh, larger, more powerful forces are drawn into protests, strikes, and demonstrations.

4. We have to foster this rising anti-capitalist movement until it swells into a new world-revolutionary wave comparable with, and greater than, those of 1789, 1848, 1917, 1968, and 1989.

Another world has become an absolute historical necessity. Another world is possible. The revolution is, in this sense, an ‘actuality’.

But it is not a certainty. It has to be fought for. Its achievement depends on what all of us do. And the historical stakes have never been higher.

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