Capital and Creative Potential

This was a paper written for class. Based solely on Braverman’s Labor Monopoly and Capital.

Broadly, the task of this paper is to think through several questions pertaining to the manner in which capitalism interacts with human nature. The four fundamental questions which will guide the direction of this discussion are as follows, in order of logical relevance:

  1. What constitutes human nature according to the Marxist purview, and why does Marxism offer crucial insights to this effect?
  2. In what ways does capital – as a social relation, shaping the contours and relationships that comprise society generally –capturehuman creative capacity and use it to its benefit?
  3. In what ways does capital thwart human potential, pertinent to the questions raised above?
  4. Given these questions and normatively speaking: what could the alternative to capital look like as far as human creative/productive potential is concerned?

The case will be made that capital hinders explosively creative powers that are innate to humankind’s productive capacity. It does so by way of focusing on, and exploiting, very specific aspects of human potential to the exclusion of a wide array of other important aspects. This may seem obvious to Marxists and much has been written on the subject; the next step will be to show how fundamental one’s alienation – from the full range of human creative potential – really is. This dynamic remains a bedrock foundation upon which capital, as a social relation and capitalism, as a global productive system, rests. As the saying goes (whose source I cannot corroborate, unfortunately): most people live lives for which they are overqualified.

This argument will be shown theoretically, at multiple levels of abstraction. Primarily, the excellent work of Marxist sociologist and revolutionary socialist Harry Braverman will prove useful. At the moment, two questions remain un-answered, though: what are the stakes of this discussion? For what reason(s) is it important to more deeply understand, and parse through, these questions? Firstly, capital imperatively induces the working class to sell their labor-power to a capitalist, on pain of starvation. A piece of the broader process called ‘exploitation,’ this relationship between labor and capital leads to two forms of alienation, on part of the laborer. The first is alienation from the commodity or service she is producing. The second is what can be called alienation from oneself. Put differently: alienation from one’s own creative capacity, in the abstract. This will be elaborated upon later.

Secondly and more broadly, capital shapes the social landscape through which both the working and capitalist classes navigate, historically and in the day-to-day. The alienation to which the worker is subject is not borne out of the mal-intent on part of the capitalist. Exploitation needs not devious capitalists. Rather, exploitation necessarily requires both forms of alienation described above. It therefore becomes normal and explained away with expressions like ‘such is life,’ for example. Put another way: the alienation workers experience (for the duration of their lifetimes) becomes a fact unquestioned – a reality with which either they can cope or accept as truth. Over time, alienation becomes an ingrained piece of human experience, one that is taken for granted, as if it had existed since time immemorial. ‘Human nature,’ then, as people come to understand it, becomes something it is not fundamentally, at least in part: definitively competitive, self-interested, downright cruel, cold, and unforgiving. The unfortunate  term ‘homo economicus’ encapsulates precisely this kind of human: one who rationalizes his way through every calculable step of his day based solely on self-interest rather than cooperation, solidarity, and – more fundamentally – empathy.

What Marxism has on offer is not just a useful description of the labor process and alienation along these lines. Marxism does not just include a particular way of looking at and qualifying human nature. The normative vision which nestles itself within the Marxist corpus includes reclaiming human nature, in its freest form, unhindered and unfettered.

What is Human Nature?

What constitutes human conscious and active comportment, by rule of biology? The task of answering this question has been subject to much interesting and useful inquiry, as well as obfuscation and bullshit. We can generally define the criteria of human nature as firstly that which distinguishes humans from other organisms along these lines. Secondly, we can establish that human nature refers to the manner in which humans think, act, and interact with one another.  But before delving into human nature specifically, it will prove useful to establish that which is common to all animals, and proceed from there:

All forms of life sustain themselves on their natural environment; thus all conduct activities for the purpose of appropriating natural products to their own use … But to seize upon the materials of nature ready-made is not work; work is an activity that alters these materials from their natural state to improve their usefulness (31).

It goes without saying that there are some forms of life which do not ‘work’ in this sense, though other forms do, such as the beaver, the bird, the orangutan, and other complex organisms with varying forms of intelligence and complexity expressed in their execution of tasks and reproductive strategies.

However, humans are distinct from other organisms in the following ways, listed in logical order: 1. ‘Work as purposive action, guided by [exceptional] intelligence’ (34). ‘The directing mechanism [of human work] is the power of conceptual thought, originating in an altogether exceptional central nervous system’ (32). As Marx states: ‘[Humans] presuppose labor … rais[ing their] structure in imagination before [they] erect it in reality’ (31); 2. ‘Culture with continuity of experience.’ Humans possess an ‘ingenious form of tutelage: [an] ability to manage symbolic representation … in its highest form, articulate speech’ (33). The ability to symbolically represent purposive action guided by intelligence provides the foundation for culture and the intergenerational continuity of ideas, upon which later generations of humans can add and develop; 3. The dissolution of the unity of conception and execution (35). This is to say, ‘where the division of function within other animal species has been assigned by nature and … in the form of instinct, humanity is capable of an infinite variety of functions and division of function on the basis of family, group, and social assignment’ (34). Adam Smith and other enlightenment economists famously, and correctly, referred to this as the ‘division of labor;’ 4. Labor-power. The human capacity to perform work is distinctly human, not just for the reasons already mentioned. Firstly, because it ‘represents the sole resource of humanity in confronting nature;’ secondly, because it can be used as a ‘factor of production;’ and, thirdly, because the distinction between labor-power and some distinct form of potential energy (such as oil) ‘is a difference upon which the entire economy turns’ (35). This is to say that each human who contributes her capacity to work contributes to a socially complex and interrelated productive process, which requires – in some form – the participation of all humans.

Discussed so far are the fundamental ways in which human productive activity remains distinctly human (both historically and immediately). Above are the principles which distinguish human activity from all other animal activity, from the standpoint of the highest level of abstraction. Before proceeding, it is crucial to note that humans engage each other socially, like a number of other animal species. But humans engage socially in far more complex ways than – say – orangutans. This is not to obfuscate the numerous ways in which orangutans and humans are biologically and socially similar; in fact, the congruencies can be astoundingly alike. But it is quite clear that humans have mastered nature in ways no other animal has in the history of biology, as far as we understand it. In this sense, and following from point (4), it can be said that humans have to a certain extent ‘freed’ themselves from the trappings of instinct. The ramifications of this fact are crucial. Firstly, ‘human labor becomes indeterminate, and its various determinate forms henceforth are the products not of biology but of the complex interaction between tools and social relations, technology and society’ (35); and secondly, we can narrow our focus on labor abstractly (as we have already done), but more importantly on labor shaped by capitalist production and its logical parameters. Now, the discussion can turn toward how capital captures and uses human nature to its benefit.

 How Does Capital Capture and Use Human Creativity?

Like all other ‘productive modes’ preceding capitalism, capital itself possesses its own distinguishable set of rules. This can be referred to as capitalism’s ‘internal logic.’ Labor-power has always played a role in productive society since the dawn of humankind; its incorporation in production has always been required. Though what makes capitalism so historically unique is its employment of labor-power, namely: ‘the purchase and sale of labor power’ (35). Braverman identifies three crucial generalized rules which flow from this fundamental fact. Firstly, workers are alienated from the technologies with which production is executed; secondly, Law requires that workers do not ‘dispose of their own labor-power’ unnecessarily; thirdly, the whole point of employment and production is to ‘enlarge the unit of capital,’ which – by law, and necessarily – belongs to the capitalist, or employer (36). From the get-go, humans’ productive potential is required by capital, though this is not saying anything new about production, historically – regardless of whichever mode of production predominates.

Specifically speaking in terms of capitalism however, there are two ways in which people fundamentally relate to it. The employer’s (capitalist) goal is to enlarge capital, converting a sliver of it to wages, which are owed to the worker who works for him. He privately owns the physical plants, offices, schools, and properties on which labor is carried out; he as well owns the technologies which accentuate the productivity and efficiency with which work is done. On the other hand, the worker rents his labor power out to the capitalist for a stipulated period of time, agreed upon ‘voluntarily’ by both parties in the form of a contract. The worker sometimes owns private property himself, in the form of houses (once he has paid off the mortgage), cars (so long as he is not leasing or renting them), and small-commodities which enable him to go to work in the first place, replenish energy he spent working, and live in relative (dis)comfort. This relationship where the capitalist employs workers who create value based on the time they spend working and the diligence, efficiency, and productiveness must require the capitalist’s willingness to engage in it. For if he does not ‘work’ like the worker, what is his purpose? This is where ‘exploitation’ comes in; the capitalist expropriates a chunk of the value (known as capital, or surplus value) created by the workers, reinvesting it in his enterprise, moving it offshore if he likes, starting a new firm, or keeping it all for himself and his Bugatti collection. Looking at capitalism as a system motored by the investment of numerous capitalists, it becomes clear they all engage in competition with one another. The goal is to profit (enlarge capital) as successfully as possible.

Importantly, it must be emphasized that the worker does not sell his labor, but his labor-power. The employment of non-human activity in the productive process is basically identical to the employment of labor itself; given an animal can only perform a discrete set of tasks, if not only one (38). Because human labor possesses an exceptional cultural quality to it, as described previously, and an imaginative and purposive character, an infinite range of productive tasks may be created by the capitalist for execution by the worker. Moreover, human work possesses an intrinsic malleability, shapeable in ways that animal labor is not, fundamentally. This is how human productive capacity is captured and used by the capitalist, for his advantage. The question now becomes: how does capital, according what has been so far described of the labor process under capitalism, thwart the full potential of human creativity?

Capital’s Thwarting of Human Creativity

Before answering the question raised, it is important to re-establish that human nature is necessarily creative in ways that set humans apart from other organisms, even those with higher forms of intelligence and strategies for navigating the physical and subjective world around them. It is not enough to say – alone – that capital thwarts creativity, or ‘the full potential of human creativity,’ even though this is very true. It must be argued – from the Marxist perspective and from its normative vision – that if capital somehow impinges upon one’s creativity in a manner that is fundamental, it also impinges on that which makes one human. Capital therefore impinges on human nature in the following ways, listed in logical order: 1. Capital alienates the worker from the means of production and the object being produced; 2. Following this, capital alienates workers from the full extent of their own creative potential as exceptionally productive individuals and as a class of individuals who relate to capitalist production in a very specific way; 3. Workers – at home – are alienated from one another (in their own families) from the means of their own social reproduction and the activity which encompasses social reproduction; and 4. Workers fundamentally – and humans more generally regardless of class – are alienated from one another, the communities they could otherwise create for themselves, the families in which they are raised, and others with whom they may share immediate and long term interests.

(1). The most fundamental ways in which workers are alienated from the means of production and commodities (objects of production they produce) is elaborated upon by Braverman in his discussion of Taylor and scientific management and their effects. This principle has already been discussed briefly. Here is where we will flesh out precisely what this means. Already introduced is the ‘separation of conception from execution’ (79). This is to say that the worker does not enter her place of work with the intent of performing the tasks she must complete as she sees it necessary. The tasks to be completed are decided upon by management and the capitalist himself. What differentiates capitalism from feudalism is that capitalist production is carried primarily by profit (as opposed to subsistence), or the accumulation and enlargement of capital. The terms for employment, the object being created and the service the worker provides therefore is decided upon by the capitalist. The worker has not one say over these determinations. She therefore enters her place of work firstly because she must, unless she prefers starving, and secondly because she has what the capitalist needs: labor-power. It therefore does not matter to the worker what she creates, despite the fact that she’s the one doing the creating, day in – day out. This is the manner in which the worker is removed from the object being created.

Within this removal, or alienation, is another form of alienation: the alienation from the productive process itself and the means with which production is carried out. Braverman refers to this as the dissociation of the labor process from the skills of workers. ‘Management assumes the burden of gathering all of the traditional knowledge which in the past has been possessed by the worker and then of classifying, tabulating, and reducing this knowledge to rules, laws, and formulas’ (78). These determinations are not encumbered by the worker, but by either the capitalist or the management he employs, should his firm require management. Because the productive process is bound by the parameters of capital enlargement, it must constantly be revolutionized toward greater efficiency, productiveness, ease, and inexpensiveness. The labor process therefore becomes ‘rendered independent of craft, tradition, and the workers’ knowledge. Henceforth it is to depend not at all upon the abilities of workers, but entirely upon the practices of management [and/or the self-interested will of the capitalist]’ (78).

The worker therefore enters her place of work as just another piece of machinery, albeit more malleable, disposable, and disinterested. Granted, a worker may enjoy what she does and the wage she receives, though these facets are not required by the capitalist. It is only required that the worker performs the task or provides the service she is asked to provide. While this may seem more apparently true for manual labor, it is just as true for mental labor. For example, a worker who is employed at a call-center produces a good that is mostly mental (this is why we call it a ‘service’ as opposed to a commodity); she talks to clients, answers phones, troubleshoots, etc. It need not matter to the person calling, nor to the capitalist that she is stationed in Bangledesh, despite being hired by a British firm. It need not matter that she enjoys or hates the work itself. It simply matters that she does it based on the demands of the process as designed by management. Moreover, she herself does not own the desk at which she sits, the headset with which she is provided, and the very property on which she works every day. All of these things the capitalist owns and permits workers to use them for however long his productive endeavor requires. So the worker does not own that which she produces or provides and she does not own those tools which she uses to make the product or provide the service. For her time and energy, she gets a subdivision of the value she and her colleagues create collectively, while the capitalist – who organizes all of this – appropriates the value he sees fit. These forms of alienation, both from the product being produced and the process by which that product is produced necessarily lead to the next forms of alienation.

(2). Capital alienates workers from the full potential of their creative capacity in the following ways. Firstly, they take the organization of production (discussed above) as given (89); secondly, they are necessarily de-skilled and the totality of their creative potential is excluded by the capitalist so they may focus a very specific aspect – or aspects – of their productive capacity toward performing a specific task, for the benefit of the enterprise (90); and thirdly, they are habituated to follow the previous principles, and more broadly habituated to the capitalist mode of production (96).

Workers must take the organization of work, as dictated by management and capitalists as given, for their labor-power is employed only to complete the tasks they must complete. This is self-evident, flowing from the previous discussion, and requires no further explanation. If they questioned the ‘for-granted-ness’ of the organization of their work, they can either leave the job, be fired for insubordination, or join the ranks of management to work on how to specialize, organize, and execute the tasks carried out at the workplace. The most important point, however, lies in the second: workers’ skills and tasks are constantly ‘specialized’ to the utmost degree, so the division of labor is most efficient, productive, and inexpensive. ‘Specialization’ – or the division of working labor to this effect – has ‘emptied [craftsmanship] of its traditional content’ (90). Increasingly, work has become specialized, accentuating the degree of alienation from the product and productive process experienced by the worker. Traditionally, ‘the conceptual and design functions were the province of craftsmanship, as were the functions of furthering the industrial arts through innovation’ (91). This is no longer the task of the craftsman, who has been rendered by capital to become a worker, selling his labor-power to a capitalist for a wage.

Finally, working humanity – throughout capital’s history – has been transformed into a labor force, a mere ‘factor of production’ (96), which requires a huge degree of habituation to this effect. Following this trend, an explosion of study has been developed – and is constantly revolutionizing itself – to address not how work is organized, but how to induce the working class’ cooperation with/in the capitalist mode of production (97). Braverman discusses ‘industrial psychology’ and its early role in this process. It has reinvented itself through the decades and centuries to address problems of ‘high turnover rates, absenteeism, resistance to the prescribed work pace, indifference, neglect, cooperative group restrictions on output, and overt hostility to management’ (97). This has resulted firstly with the implicit and widespread acceptance of conflating the ‘interest of civilization not with the immense majority of workers, but with those who manage them’ (98). Secondly, with the increasing need to equip management with control – of a ‘single stroke’ – over their workers. Even without these academic disciplines and societal structures, which nestle in the most prestigious universities, think-tanks, and policy making milieus around the world, the capitalist market coerces workers to this effect, by definition. Because capitalism fundamentally shapes the manner in which people relate to one another, the manner in which people live their lives, and the manner in which the whole of society is organized, the working class is necessarily subject to coercion, manipulation, and policies which ensure the successful reproduction of capitalist society.

(3). Workers are alienated from their own self-reproduction at the home. This is so because once a worker turns in, she returns to her living space (if she has one to call her own) where the fundamental tasks of de-compressing from work, re-energizing for the following work day must take priority. She buys food which she did not produce herself; watches a television with its inundation of advertisements, neither of which she produced herself – and which produce a sense of comfort and encourage passivity; engages with her family whom she can only experience outside the workplace where she spends the majority of her day. Capital shapes the home-life where ‘social reproduction’ takes place. Social reproduction refers to those tasks which must be completed by the worker, which ensures her livelihood and continuity as a breathing, functioning human being.

The term ‘social reproduction theory’ is understood differently among sociologists, broadly speaking. The type to which we are referring is the Marxist conception, loosely outlined above for our purposes here. Marxist sociologists and feminists such as David McNally and Tithi Battacharya have developed enormously on the topic, though we are not required here to go as in depth as they have usefully done. Importantly, these scholars have pointed to several important features within the social reproductive sphere which are pertinent. Firstly, social reproduction historically has divided tasks in the home along gendered lines, with women traditionally taking on a number of household, home-keeping tasks; secondly, both social reproductive labor and productive labor embody an inseparable, though contradictory whole over which the broader process of capital accumulation establishes itself; thirdly and relatedly: ‘bosses have an interest in [ensuring] social reproduction,’ though not necessarily in the workers’ interests (Battacharya, 29).

The gendered nature of household labor which fits in the sphere of social reproduction is fundamentally salient for understanding alienation along these lines. Historically, women have taken on the role of child-rearing under capitalism, which has centered their experience and capacity to work around the daily issues of childcare, finding healthcare for their children, tending to the family’s sick, and ensuring the cleanliness, livability of the house. This continuity of experience among women necessarily separates them from men who have historically taken on the role of ‘breadwinner,’ as the story goes. This has enormous ramifications for the subjective experience of women, as opposed to men (and vice-versa). But the difference is not just subjective, bringing us to the second point, which is more material. Men have traditionally worked to create surplus value, while women have traditionally worked to create a different kind of value at home (closer to ‘use-value’), unpaid, and often taken for granted. This material and subjective gap between men and women have given rise to amazingly terse ideologies about women, men, and how the two ought to relate to one-another. The ideology of gender has normalized what ultimately is a form of labor division, housed within the orbit of capital accumulation: Certain family members sell their labor-power to secure a livelihood, while the others ensure that that livelihood can produce the next generation of workers. It follows that men and women are not only alienated from one another in profoundly subjective and material ways, but they are alienated from their own children, lovers, family members, and friends, so long as the inducement to sell one’s labor-power fundamentally predominates as an imperative. It follows that capitalists have a very specific stake in ensuring social reproduction takes place, but to their own benefit. It therefore comes to pass as world capitalism further neoliberalizes that a single wage cannot feed an entire family, throwing women into the formal work force, while as well coming home to carry out the traditional (ideologically embedded) needs of the family to which she belongs. A wealth of information and theorizing has been expanded upon with regard to this specific development. One of the most unfortunate outgrowths of the neoliberal era as far as social reproduction is concerned is that as families feel ‘the squeeze’ so to speak, gendered violence has proliferated both at the workplace and in the home (36). Not to mention, the capitalist’s growing willingness to (re)commodify social provisioning (which includes removing socialized healthcare, socialized childcare, public education, and the like) has enormous ramifications for the world’s working class (34).  What we have seen from capital, in neoliberal form, is the drive to push back social provisions and a drive to de-commodify goods/services as far as the capitalist sees appropriate. This push has been enormously successful for capitalists, who have reaped unprecedented profits in the United States, for example, while the working class’ wages have more or less stagnated, since the 1970s. On top of that stagnation is a greater participation of women in the workforce.

(4). The picture of humanity under capital thus far painted is not very pretty. To return to Braverman, what we have employed is the Marxist purview, which seeks to look at production (labor’s creation of value) as fundamentally about humans, rather than price fluctuations, stock readings, and values (35). From the individual all the way up to the societal, capital – as a productive arrangement – fundamentally requires innumerable forms of alienation, so much so that we are habituated to them as if they were normal and necessary. While every capitalist competes with one another for a greater market share, each worker competes with the next, offering his labor-power for as cheaply as possible. Capital therefore induces (though it does not require, in the abstract) an infinite array of intersecting bifurcations among the working class, and humanity more generally – just as the labor-process exploits only few of the infinite possibilities housed within humankind’s creative capaciousness. Differences of skin color are elevated to differences in kind, promulgating forms of oppression ranging from racism to what some on the left have begun to call ‘ableism.’ Because capital requires competition, cold and calculating, at its most bedrock level, we are constantly habituated to consider and exaggerate the differences among us more than our similarities. And often, we invent differences without even understanding how or to what end.

What Could an Alternative Look Like for Creativity?

Here and finally, we turn to Marxist sociologist Erik Olin Wright, who outlines excellently the normative vision housed within the walls of Marxist thought: ‘At its core, class analysis within the Marxist tradition is rooted in a set of normative commitments to a form of radical egalitarianism’ (2). He identifies three theses along these lines: 1. Human flourishing would be broadly enhanced by a radically egalitarian distribution of the material conditions of life; 2. Under conditions of a highly productive economy, it becomes materially possible to organize a society in such a way that there is a sustainable radically egalitarian distribution of the material conditions of life; and, 3. Capitalism blocks the possibility of achieving a radically egalitarian distribution of the material conditions of life.

The danger in these sorts of discussions of ‘alternatives’ on the left is that they are often pre-figurative (necessarily difficult to grasp and grapple with), unreasonably idealistic, and sometimes downright ridiculous. What Marxism has on offer is its practical venture of building a radically egalitarian society, fundamentally based on production for need, rather than profit. This project is considered ‘practical’ based on Wright’s second thesis; the material capacity to build such a society – in fact – exists. What lacks is the political will, on part of those whom capital benefits. Other barriers are those innumerable ways in which the working class remains necessarily divided, as if by nature (alienation, in its multitudinous forms). This would explain why more than enough food calorically is produced every year to feed each person comfortably in the world, yet a billion or so people starve and suffer from the worst forms of malnutrition. This would explain why the world’s subaltern poor dehydrate in the several-hundred millions, despite the fact that more water (once perfectly fine for drink to begin with) is used more in the ‘core’ capitalist countries than anywhere else, by a dozen-fold, if not more.

But this discussion is not necessarily about those important contradictions and mass-crimes. It is about human nature and humankind’s creative potential and how alienation centrally thwarts them. In a radically egalitarian world where production is carried out based on need; in a world where the worker is not imprisoned by the dictates of capital-accumulation, a wealth of possibilities remains undiscovered, as far as human creativity is concerned. Already beneath capital, a numerous admirable creations and use-values abound. But the regime of exchange-value stifles the collective participation of the working world in the creation and use of some of those use-values, as has been shown. Not to mention, the manner in which basic necessities – sucked into the orbit of exchange and surplus values – become only available if one has the means to consume them. It therefore goes unnoticed quite often that a great deal of destruction and death is otherwise wholly avoidable.

A society based on the radical egalitarian distribution of the material conditions of life would include the following core mechanisms: 1. Production based on subsistence, rather than profit; 2. the participation of workers in the productive process based on Marx’s basic, ethical maxim: ‘to each according to need, from each according to ability’ (3); 3. the collective and democratic ownership of the means of production and property; and 4. a state, or federal administrative body directly beholden to the democratic ownership of the means of production, and the ability to distribute goods in a manner that is egalitarian, and radically so. It flows from these mechanisms that the removal of the market imperative to enlarge capital would be done away with. Workers would necessarily have much less of a cumbersome workday (as their main purpose would not be to create surplus, but use-values), and the capitalist class would cease existing. The collective participation in the productive process is very hard to sketch at this point in time cosmetically, though it would indeed enlarge the amount of free time.

In that free time, the worries of having to survive by way selling one’s labor-power would cease as dictates for how to live one’s life: carefully, timidly, and with a constant fear for the future. One’s alienation from the productive process and the product itself would decrease greatly in terms of oppressiveness, and would cease being a centerfold of production and society more generally. In that greater free time, those who wish to study biology can spend their time innovating vaccinations, making bigger, less cash-strapped advances toward ending cancer, and studying Life on this planet, perhaps on others. One who’d rather spend more time with his family would have the opportunity to do so, perhaps raising his very first daughter. One with a particularly sharp predisposition for musical taste and talent could study and create music, and share it with those who’d like to listen. And certainly those who’d like to spend their time participating in local administrative functions, the egalitarian distribution of commodities and use-values, would be able to do so without having to be rich, useless, and white.

A recent discovery of a piece of an ancient human hand  suggests that the human ability to make and use complex tools may have originated nearly 500,000 years further back than scientists had previously thought. Though the hand belongs to our species’ predecessor (Homo erectus), it suggests anthropologically that our origins as cooperative humanoids, capable of using an exceptional creative, purposive brain, date back hundreds (rather than tens) of thousands of years prior to agricultural society’s dawn. Regardless of otherwise interesting prehistory, a wealth of anthropological study suggests our humble beginnings, leading up to the advent of class society, was predominantly cooperative and subsistence based. Existing for roughly 600 years, capital is wholly anomalous in the span of human civilization, and it has managed to not only stifle our fundamental creative capacity which has an enormously rich history, but it has managed to hurl the planet itself toward ecological ruin.

Given all of this, the task of Marxists is not just to explain, as correctly as possible, the exploitation and alienation to which most of the world is regularly subject, but elaborate upon how capital is fundamentally anti-human, both in the moral and biological sense. Morally, the choice stands not only for itself, but for everyone who wishes to be decent. Biologically, it is evident that capital removes us from the manifold and perhaps undiscovered elements of human nature. It is evident capital requires one’s own alienation from his imaginative power, which is unprecedented in the history of the world, as we understand it.

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