* Drafts & Translations *

"Catastrophes": Way of life of Capital

article translated from "Parti de Classe" n°7 - April 1987 (organe en France du GCI)

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Seveso, Bhopal, Chernobyl, Sandoz, etc - a long list. These were not blunders, but are part of the inescapable tendency of capitalist production. Leftists, greens and all kinds of philanthropic packs of wolves, mobilize and shout through the spectacle of poverty about the lack of information, lack of safety precautions, media blackouts. Confused debates ensue about the responsibility of public bodies and organisations, whining about the excesses of capitalism and proposals for miraculous solutions to adjust the capitalist order, as if the dangers of nuclear technology or the chemical industry were not one of the fundamental expressions, among many others, of the horror of capital's domination.

They get indignant about this state of affairs and demand clean and rational capitalism, led by Science. Science and rationality are merely research for profit. Science, the "whore" of Capital. Capitalist waste corresponds to the rationality of capital, whose raison d'etre is the production of capital. Chemical industries and civilian and military nuclear industries do indeed represent a threat for humankind because of serious, irreversible pollution, in particular because, by the logic of its system, capital generates submission of the totality of humankind, especially proletarians, as well as natural resources, to its anarchic functioning.

However, it is in all areas of daily life that capital, incessantly in search of greater profit, mutilates and massacres individuals through this technology of prostitution.

Capital is the concentration of population in cities so one can no longer breathe, the incessantly increasing mass of individual cars, air and water pollution, etc.

Capital is also industrial injuries, deaths due to increasing poverty, doctored foods, town planning with overcrowding into poky little holes in an universe of concrete, great famines never due to natural causes, but to capital, which undermines non-profit-making agriculture, constructs dams and cities on high-risk terrain, etc.

Economy(ies), profits...

Capital is never innocent in catastrophes. They are not the product of fate, but of the race to profit, to profitability. Catastrophes are directly provoked and worsened by social causes.

In the past:

Primitive man, just like the animals, picked and consumed fruits that nature produced itself; and just like the animals, he avoided the natural raging of the elements which he was incapable of controlling and the phenomena which threatened his life.


The emergence of capital and commodity-production supposes the domination of man on nature. The variety of the earth's natural products and the need to use them, to save them, played a decisive role in the history of the development of commodity relationships and those between man and the "natural environment".
Beyond each one's particular gravity, catastrophes express a more general situation. Military and technical development and the race for profit impose the logic of profit and profitability, to the detriment of proletarians.

Capital, hungry for over-work, ends up not only extorting the greatest possible amount of work-force from the living, to the extent that it shortens their existence, but makes good business out of the destruction of dead labour (equipment, buildings,...) in so far as it allows the products still useful (only for the needs of proletarians) to be replaced by new living labour.

When catastrophes destroy dwellings, cultures, etc., they destroy a certain wealth. This lost wealth was an accumulation of past work. To eliminate the effects of the catastrophe, it is necessary to have a huge mass of current, living labour. It is more beneficial for capital not to invest in maintenance, security,... On the other hand, reconstruction allows it to "use" living labour, therefore to exploit proletarians. Capital, in its logic, has to annihilate still useful dead labour - destruction of things that are no longer profitable for it - whose only usefulness is to satisfy needs.

"Capital, oppressor of the living, also assassinates the dead."

In the past:

The bourgeoisie glorified science and technology by presenting them as an absolute good and spread the idea that society can put humankind in the best conditions to struggle against the difficulties of the natural environment, by way of technical, scientific and productive development. It is progress, it declared, that will resolve all the problems of humanity and proletarians must submit to this new divinity and serve it.


The more progress has developed, the more the living conditions of the proletariat have worsened.
"Revolutionary history will not define the capitalist age as the age of the rational, but as that of junk. From all the idols that man has known, those of modern progress and technology will fall from the altars with the greatest crash." - Marx -
Capital must be destroyed, there is nothing else that can be done with it.

The theory according to which the technical forces of production will be useful to future generations by the prodigious productivity of work once capital and its constraints of profit have been annihilated, in fact signifies ever-increasing exploitation for the proletariat today.

Capital, in its frantic struggle for valorization, can only be progressive (that is to say destructive), always producing more to valorize without taking human needs into account - the race to profit inevitably entails the destruction of the whole of humanity.

However, it is not suicidal, so it produces its own humanitarian organizations to struggle against its own excesses.

When the capitalist class realized that its cosy existence was at risk of being threatened by the rotting monster, environmentalism appeared. Ecologists are merely regulators of capital, they are an integral part of the State. Their myopia and their impotence forbid them to go back to the real causes and especially to tackle them.

It is not man in general, nor society in general, which are responsible for the poisoning of nature and man's life, but a precise mode of production, governed by precise laws, characterized by the generalization of the production of commodities by way of wage labour. Pollution, disasters, etc. are only aspects, consequences of the development of commodity-production, of the frantic race of capital for its valorization.

The ecologists' drivel systematically praises nature and all that is natural.

"By drivelling too much about nature, one gets to the point of idealizing the state where naked men scratched the ground with their nails to find edible tubers." - Marx -

It's not a question of advocating a return to "nature" and "natural conditions".

It is not about planting three trees in the concrete or instituting upper legal limits on the progressively stupefying effects and slow death by asphyxiating pollutants. Environmentalism represents the reaction of capital to its own excesses, its attempt to control and limit its anachronistic destruction.

Environmentalism addresses its appeals to man and to society in general, to all willing to listen. It is worse than ineffective because it is indignant about some of the effects of capital and yet takes good care not to tackle their causes. Speaking to everyone, it drowns the proletariat in a general unity of all citizens.

It is as absurd and criminal to claim that capitalism can be clean and non-polluting as it is to claim that there can be capitalism without oppression, without massacre, without poverty, etc. As long as capitalism exists, it will exploit and oppress men, and as long as it exists, it will devastate nature. It is necessary to finish with and to destroy this society, and the proletariat must break all solidarity with capital and rediscover the terrain of class struggle.

"The immense river of human history also has its threatening and irresistible floods. When the wave increases, it roars against both dikes that shut it in. On the right hand is the conformist dike, for the conservation of traditional and existent forms - a continuous passage of priests chanting in procession, of cops on patrol, of schoolmasters and charlatans spouting official lies and the class scholastic. On the left hand, the reformist dike: members of "popular" parties, professionals of opportunism, members of parliament and chiefs of progressist trade-unions are crowded in there. Bandying insults on both sides of the current, both processions claim to possess the recipe to see to it that the powerful river continues its suppressed and forced course. But at the great moments of history, the current breaks all hindrances, overflows its banks and "leaps", as the Pô at Guastalla and at Volano, towards an unexpected direction, sweeping away both sordid gangs in the irresistible wave of revolution, reversing dikes of all kinds, and giving to the society, as to the earth, a new face."

Amadeo Bordiga: Humankind and terrestrial crust.

Internationalist Communist Group (ICG)

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