There is hardly a person alive or dead who has not been exposed to the passionate ideological conflict that has raged proper for the past century and a half, most of whom have taken a strong stance regardless of their familiarity with the particular details of either economic system. This war is hardly surprising as yet another manifestation of tribalism. As time goes on, I notice more and more that most people are primarily concerned with aesthetics in what ‘teams’ they join. For example, Joe Biden and Donald Trump hardly differ in any substantial way in policy, at least for the policy that really matters. In fact, in many policies, Biden is more right-wing than Trump. However, Trump says the quiet part out loud and doesn’t pretend. It is the visuals that matter to most, Trump is a wolf in wolf’s clothing while Biden is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This extends also to the political parties they are members of. I will not go on too long about the fact that there is hardly a practical difference in governance between the Republicans and Democrats, perhaps I’ll save that for another article. However, the point remains that appearances are everything.
What is the primary force driving human society in the modern world? It is not men or men’s profits, nor is it the veneer of collectivist altruism. Both of these are outward appearances and separate clothes worn by different forms of the same system. What drives humanity is an encompassing motivation, it is something that is a religion in the hearts of most men today. That is the technological system, technical development in all fields, in all facets, in all aspects of living, at all costs, for whatever end, and with whatever means, simply for the sake of doing it; if it can be done it must be done. Most technological developments appear to have more upsides than downsides in the immediate effects, so they will always be pursued whether or not they will be disastrous later on. Men are not the shepherds of technology in the modern world, but are shepherded by the technological system. Industrial economies are a means to pursue, coordinate, plan, and engage in this totality of technical development. Man is increasingly a middleman between technology and the world and eventually will be an unnecessary one.
If any readers are interested in learning about this force of technical development that guides men in all aspects, you can read about it in its entirety in the masterful work by french philosopher Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society. Getting back to the main topic of this article, here is an excerpt from chapter III of this work, ‘Technique and Economy’:
These elements of a given system, which are important in their specificity, lose importance, however, if, instead of isolating the system, we try to reintegrate it into the complex of society and into the general course of history. What then takes on importance are the elements in their relation. Relations are of the highest importance, not mere internal consistency. It is the connections between the economic system and the state (with its technical means, different classes, and structures in national form) which be come characteristic. And we do not mean here theoretical connections, but real ones resulting from the internal necessity of the regime. From this point of view, the corporate economy and the planned economy come singularly close together, to the degree that both systems (a) take a firm hold on the economy, (b) manage it on the basis of exact mathematical methods, (c) integrate it into a Promethean society which excludes all chance, (d) centralize it in the frameworks of nation and state (the corporate economy today has no chance of success except as a state system), (e) cause it to assume an aspect of formal democracy to the total exclusion of real democracy, and (f) exploit all possible techniques for controlling men. The kinship of the two systems is obvious in spite of differences in material structure. The end pursued by both the corporate economy and the planned economy, and the means adopted to reach this end, are identical. Only the outward forms change. It is useless to compare these forms. History will decide which form is best-best adapted to the common end.
Ellul believed that the planned economy would eventually become the preferred medium of the technical system, while other techno-skeptics like Kaczysnki believes capitalism is likely to hold out. However, both correctly recognize that it doesn’t really matter either way. The main function of the society remains the same. We can see clearly today if we look with open eyes that the west is not the individual free market it purports, the state already directs much of the planning of production, and it must do this in order to maintain technical efficiency in resource utilization and consumption. Of course the system is not perfect and there is much waste, but as the syste,,m develops and the technical system infects all aspects of life, which is has already done for the most part (people are obsessed with being as productive and efficient as possible in every facet of living and free time is increasingly looked down upon as a lapse in production and a deficit in social value to the technical system), it will be made increasingly more calculated.
The most common objection to this and to any western discussion of a planned economy is the material conditions of citizens in places like the USSR. While there were certainly major difficulties in the first half of the 20th century for the Soviets, much of what is believed by western audiences about the Soviet Union is hardly based in fact. This is not to say that I am a Soviet apologist because I am anything but. Despite being a country ravaged by war and the struggles of hyper-industrialization in such a peculiar place as Eastern Europe and Asia, the living conditions in the Soviet Union after most of the growing pains had subsided were completely fair. Certainly comparable if not better than the living conditions after that much industrialization had occurred in the United States. It must be kept in mind that Russia did not begin industrialization until the decades preceeding World War 2, whereas the United States had been industrializing for a century at that point. The struggles of industrialization faced by both the United States and Soviet Union, and the particular struggle faced by the Soviets in being invaded by the Nazi Whermacht, are not an indictment of planned economies or market economies, rather an indictment of the nature of industrialism.
I was once a Marxist and a passionate one at that. Marxism is in industrial ideology, and in this industrialist vision of society there is a reduction of centralization of capital and an establishment of hierarchy the end goal of Marxism, at least as Marx envisioned it, is what is now a separate branch of the leftist sphere, anarcho-communism. It is a result of the state withering away due to its lack of need to exist because there will be no class. The state is indeed an arbiter of class conflict; however, this is a large simplification of the role of the state.
As Ellul mentioned, the market economies of today, or any economy, has no chance competing except for as a state economy. This is because the tendency of the technological system is centralization. That is why, aside from greed (which plays a secondary role), accumulation of wealth occurs at the primary points of all industries. This centralization is a tendency because of the primary goal of technical development. In the goal to plan, coordinate, and execute technical development and production, a centralized body does it most efficiently in a technical sense. A centralized body is also much more capable of executing techniques for controlling men. These exist by necessity of the technological system’s need to find the most efficient way to do everything. An industrial economy that exists without degrees of centralization in planning and coordination has no chance of competing. It has been said by many people that the deciding factor in a particular form of society’s ability to exist is whether it can defend itself against other powers. Even if war is not currently happening, if and when it does happen and a society is not able to defend itself with equal or better technical ability than other societies, it will not succeed. Some may think this is in conflict with the previous article on guerrilla warfare, but like I said guerrilla warfare is not a magic bullet and has particular cases for successful application. Even if it can be effectively waged, if the society waging it does not have access to the technical means of supply, it will eventually fall. This is why the Taliban are able to continue to wage war against the United States, they have been supplied by Pakistan.
Considering the nature of the technical system, it is essentially certain that an anarchist industrial economy lacking centralization, however altruistic it is, cannot compete and thus cannot survive again standard state-run market economies or state-run planned economies. That is not to say that technical development wouldn’t happen, but it will be far slower than the economies that exist in lands ruled by states.
It is clear from the example of the People’s Republic of China as well as South Korea that explicitly planned economies are perfectly capable of competing and doing so with staggering success. Whether the planned or market economy will win out in being the best candidate to be shepherded by the technological system with the greatest technical efficiency is of little consequence. If one wishes to be able to be free from the necessary tendencies of the industrial-technological system, the entire system has to be done away with.
It is said that the USSR was not real communism, and that is correct. Communism as Marx envisioned is achieved globally and cannot take place in one state alone. Much of the motivations for support of Marxist economics is a reduction in human suffering or wealth disparity. While there may be less explicit private actors with massive capital accumulation, without a comparable level of resource centralization, a planned economy state will not be able to continue to compete with a market economy. However, with comparable centralization, planned economies fare just fine in technical development, such as the People’s Republic of China. Whether or not global communism can be achieved, even if it was achieved today, it matters little. If it remains an industrial economy the world will have no future after inevitable collapse.
Finally, to now do away with the common message of ‘capitalism cannot solve the climate crisis’. Neither can leftist economies; in fact, nor can any economic system address the complete destruction of our planet when the world remains industrialized. Any hope of being able to keep the industrial system and ‘solve’ climate change is a delusion of the highest order. You may be able to treat the symptoms of it for a time, but eventually when the industrial system inevitably collapses, or even if it has any meager amount of stress that interrupts the ability to treat the effects of climate change through geo-engineering, there is a great chance that all complex life on Earth will suffer destruction during that collapse. An aspect of this has been discussed in my previous article, The Most Dangerous Aspect of Modern Technology. I plan to discuss the entirety of the delusion around ‘solving’ climate change without the destruction of industrialism in a future article.
If the system breaks down the consequences will still be very painful. But the bigger the system grows the more disastrous the results of its breakdown will be, so if it is to break down it had best break down sooner rather than later.Industrial Society and Its Future, Kaczynski
Stay Safe – Normandie