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Pandemic: Collapsist Emergency! Ecosocial and historical characterisation
During the months of May and June 1938, on the eve of the outbreak of World War II and in the face of the imminent victory of Franco's forces in Spain, Trotsky finished writing his manuscript "Lessons from Spain: Last Warning". In this text, faced with the prospect of the formation of a popular front in Britain bound to replicate the mistakes of the Communist Party and Spanish anarchism which had collaborated with Franco's advance, Trotsky characterises the revolutionary process in Spain (which had not yet been completely defeated) as a last chance for the struggle of the workers and popular sectors to stop not only Franco's victory, but also the consolidation of the positions of fascism in Europe and the course towards world war. According to Trotsky, the fate of the Spanish revolution would mark a turning point in the course of the international situation and the class struggle in the world. In other words, if Spain was lost, then world war would be inevitable. However, Trotsky's foresight in calling the Spanish process a "last warning" for the revolutionary forces to adopt a correct policy to stop fascism (which for Trotsky meant the adoption of a programme combining the tasks of armed struggle against Franco with those of the expropriation of the bourgeoisie and the seizure of power by the workers) did not fall from the sky. On the contrary, it was the culmination of more than a decade of analysis and political activity in which Trotsky, with an almost prophetic perspective, had announced the course that the rise of fascism would take in Europe and set out, step by step, a series of policies to confront it.
More than eight decades after Trotsky issued this warning regarding Spain, the development of the current epidemic of covid-19 constitutes today another kind of "final warning" in the historical process, this time not in relation to the imminent danger of any particular world war or political movement such as fascism, but in relation to something potentially far more devastating than anything seen in modern history. Not the collapse of the economic system and the world market, but their ultimate disintegration; not the crisis of nation states and their characteristic political regimes, but their implosion and impending fall; not the victory of one or another historical agent of the modern class struggle, but the disintegration of its fundamental actors (e.g. in the case of the industrial labour movement) and the demise of the structural pillars that make it possible. In other words, not the development of another "classical" period of crisis of capitalism (like those of the recent past), but the opening of an era of collapse of the capitalist mode of production and modern urban-industrial civilisation itself, all this in the framework of an accelerated decomposition of the eco-social conditions of reproduction of the contemporary world and the onset of a phenomenon of mass extinction of terrestrial life. This time, however, we have no great revolutionary leader to warn us of this threat. This time, this deadly danger is advancing, just as Hitler, Mussolini or Franco once advanced, in the context of an almost complete strategic blindness at the level of the programmes of anti-capitalist organisations around the world.
The end of the world market, the implosion of national states, the disintegration of the working class and the structural pillars that make the contemporary class struggle possible, the collapse of the capitalist mode of production and modern civilisation? Indeed! This is what the spread of the current coronavirus epidemic and the unprecedented international impact it is having on the course of social relations, the economy and world politics has begun to show, as we shall see in the course of this article, on the historical stage. Yes, the present pandemic crisis has acquired the character of a turning point in the historical process which, expressing itself as a first "collapsist juncture" in modern history; that is, a first multi-systemic crisis (or failure) of industrial civilisation (something like a first "cardiac arrest" of modern society), constitutes a true foreshadowing of the kind of economic, social and political dynamics that will mark the course of human history during this century. Those economic, social and political dynamics, totally unprecedented, which will be sculpted by that new "master of history": the collapse, the new driving force of the historical process. That novel demiurge of the underworld which, like a new Hephaestus out of the realms of capitalist Hades, is preparing to take control of the reins of human destiny. Those reins (the reins of economy, social relationships and politics) which will be wrested by Collapse from the hands of his brothers Revolution and War, those guiding principles of modern historical dynamics which, like an Athena and Ares of contemporary history, had hitherto maintained, unbeatable, the hegemony of the historical process. (Continue reading in the link below)
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