Paul Mattick Jr dropping science
Brandon Jourdan: I can’t really remember—oh, so there was, really, one kind of fun moment for me at the conference in the Q&A, when you were asked: “What do we have to do?”—and so I’m just going to ask you that again.
Paul Mattick: The question was what would I like to see happen—and my answer was the abolition of wage-labor and the destruction of the state, which is of course a kind of a flippant answer. But what I mean to say is that I really think there is no solution to these problems, but one which is as fundamental as that. Now it seems like a weirdly old-fashioned thing to say, but that might just be because of my age, maybe now for many younger people it isn’t old-fashioned anymore: to say, “You really have to get rid of capitalism. Capitalism cannot deal with these problems.” Even if capitalism manages to grow again, I do not think that the economy will be able to grow at a rate which will make possible high enough employment levels to sort of afford lives to people that workers got used to in the developed countries in the 1950s and 60s and even 70s. So I think from the economic point of view, the medium- and long-term perspectives are very bleak, and I think from the ecological point of view, the medium- and long-term perspectives are catastrophic, and there simply is no possibility to get out of this without actually changing the social system.
And that means that you must end the ownership and control of the productive system on which human life depends by that minority of humans who control it, and for whom everybody else has to work if they are lucky enough to be able to do so. There is no way out of it. So that’s why, when somebody said at the conference “But what, short of that, could you do?”, the only thing that I could think of to say was: then you have to try to get a job, because other than that you have to survive as well as you can. Those are the choices: either on an individual basis or on a national basis or a group basis, you know, if you are white people, or men, or Europeans, or Northern Europeans, you can try—maybe you can do better than some other group. Or as a particular individual, you might be able to live better than another individual. So you can try to do as best as you can for yourself as an individual, or you have to somehow, together with other people, fundamentally alter the existing social system. And by alter, I mean really destroy it and create a new system: a system of a radically different type, which would be based on the collective democratic control of the interaction of human beings with nature—that the economists call “production”, but which you could also call the “daily life.”
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