There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.
V. I. Lenin
In 2018, we wrote that imperialist capitalism was "on the verge of the largest crisis in its history", and that this will result in extinction if left unchecked. Last year, we clarified this, stating that the "final crisis is here", in reference to Marx's prediction that capitalism abolishes itself as a mode of production. With the coronavirus pandemic, these predictions seem somewhat inarguable. As the Marxist economist Reese put it in a piece recently published on our platform, if "all these converging factors – near-zero prices, flat productivity growth, unsustainably high debt, zero interest rates, exhausted currencies – do not constitute a final breakdown of the system, then what will?"
This is thus the guiding premise of our thinking on the coming period. And we must stress that this crisis is of an historically unique character. Whilst we understand and are - in some places - sympathetic to, the analogies popularly drawn between the Great Depression and the scale of the economic crisis, the rise of Trump and the rise of Hitler, or the Cold War and developments in the conflict between particularly China and the US are simply incorrect. With the onset of the final crisis, more the spiritual successor to the fall of Rome than anything yet experienced in capitalist history, the essential truth of Marx's characterisation of history as nightmare can be glimpsed.
The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language.
The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852).
It is with this observation in mind that we must approach our present moment. The social forces and process which today confront us are not that of the 20th Century, but that of the 21st - that of now. They hold considerably different premises which must be grasped if we are to make any headway in our present conditions. To put this simply: the scale of the crisis has pushed a capitalism without any recourse to salvage itself into a process of complete collapse. Accordingly, the ability of any capitalist political project to assert itself coherently is all but destroyed. This is to say that what is guiding our moment is not a dominant social force, but chaos, collapse and the eruption of every social tension.
This is clearly seen in the US, which is - at time of writing - undergoing a social collapse, with indiscriminate violence from state forces, and Trump both labeling anti-fascism as domestic terrorism and threatening to deploy the army. Whilst it is clear that Trump is trying to assert a fascist rule in the US, it is equally clear that the fascism he offers has no clear path to asserting itself as anything resembling a durable society. The terror offered by the state is of an unconscionably violent depth and scale, but it has no political formation behind it beyond Trump's vanity, the particular cult he has chosen this moment to throw his support behind - QAnon - believing that he has been sent by God to save the United States. Other strands of US fascism even hold the chaos today gripping the nation as their objective, with some factions advocating to attack whoever possible simply to "make the situation worse". Even should Trump succeed in establishing this dictatorship, it will be built on sand, the mass unemployment, disenfranchisement and deprivation resulting from capitalism's collapse depriving it of any resolution to any social contradiction but the bullet; the ecological crisis ensuring that it meets with a swift end. In this sense, fascism is today the vanguard of social collapse and extinction. It is the violent roar of a system headed for the grave.
These essential premises, which may roughly be described as a realpolitik of the collapse, form the essential contradictions which will be examined in our next three documentaries, Collapse, American Carnage and Camps of Dependence. The first of these pieces, Collapse, was largely finished production before the murder of George Floyd, and concentrates on the general process of collapse before this historical rupture, outlining the nature of the crisis shocked into motion by COVID-19 as the final breakdown. The second piece, American Carnage, will look at the murder of George Floyd and the enormous processes it has set in motion. The third, Camps of Dependence, will consider the collapse of the social care sector in Britain in detail, outlining the nature of its collapse and the eugenicists which have helped prompt it. Each of these pieces is intended to draw out an analysis of the nature of our historical period. We expect them all to be finished within the coming month.
Before concluding this short preface, we wish to highlight what has necessitated it. Already in 2020, we have lived through two enormous historical ruptures - the first as a result of the pandemic, the second a social explosion. The task of analysis in such periods often suffers, with any formulation at risk of becoming an anachronism within but moments. Our work over the coming period, whilst focusing upon general processes, will undoubtedly contain certain particular details which quickly lose their significance. This is but a consequence of the pace today imposed on history by collapse - a pace faster than even Lenin could have foreseen. In three months, the capitalist world has fallen into its death agonies. Centuries are unfolding in hours.