Revolution #204, June 20, 2010

Capital Personified and the Gulf Oil Catastrophe

"They're Licking Their Chops"

The following is from a talk by Raymond Lotta on June 8, 2010 at Revolution Books in NYC. The title of the talk: "A Capitalist Oil Spill…A System Not Fit to Be Caretaker of the Planet…And the Revolution We Need!"

Capitalists don't look ahead over decades and generations. When Texaco set up operations in Ecuador [where it dumped 19 billion gallons of toxic waste] it was looking over its shoulders—at the competition, and at opportunities for quick money making. The horizons of capitalism are short term. Capitalism is an anarchic system. There is no conscious, society-wide planning to meet social need, or to cope with the many-sided effects of what is produced and how those things are being produced.

And let me talk about the private-ness and the competitiveness and the profit-driven nature of capitalism by going to today's business section of the New York Times. Here we have this unprecedented oil catastrophe. And what are the other oil companies doing? Are they sharing their expertise? Are they bringing in their oceanographers? Are they bringing in their oceanographic equipment and technology? Is that what they're doing? Is that what Exxon is doing? Is it "all hands on deck" to solve an environmental catastrophe? No. They're seeking to take advantage of the situation.

This is what the New York Times says today: "Given the plunge in BP's share price the company has lost more than a third of its new value since Deepwater Horizon blew. Some bankers and analysts say BP is starting to look like takeover bait. The question is who would buy BP given its enormous potential liabilities? Shell and ExxonMobil are both said to be licking their chops."

This is capitalism. This is what it means. Marx in volume 1 of Capital says that the capitalist is capital personified. This is such an important insight by Marx. In other words, capitalism is not driven and governed by the whims and ambitions of greedy capitalists. Although they are greedy and they have their whims and they have their ambitions. Marx is actually saying it's the opposite, that the capitalist—is capital personified.

The capitalist is just the embodiment of the nature of this system—the domination by a minority of private owners over the mass of producers, the relentless private pursuit of profit, the accumulation of capital, to wage the competitive battle. The capitalist as an individual, as a breathing organism, is simply the embodiment, the personification of this basic relation of capital, a system that's driven by the need to pursue profit, to make profit, ever greater profit—because that's the law of the jungle and this is a system which can only exist by enslaving the mass of humanity in a wage relation, in a relation of exploitation and domination, that robs the masses of people of their humanity and initiative.

The capitalist is the personification of capital. Now, why did I go through this? Because—I've set this up for you—two weeks ago, did anyone see the testimony by BP, Halliburton and Transocean before Congress? What did they do? BP comes on first and says, look it's not our responsibility, it was Transocean, the people that operated the rig, they were at fault. The Transocean representative got up, he said, it's not our fault, it's Halliburton, you see those were the guys that were responsible for putting the concrete in for sealing the well. Then they went back and they brought this Halliburton guy back in, and they said, what about that? He said, no it's Transocean, because they were operating the rig. And then they brought the Transocean guy back and he said, no it's BP, they were the ones who had the lease to extract the oil.

The capitalist is the personification of capital. That's what this is about. They call it the "blame game" on CNN—but what this was, was the actual expression of the private-ness, the boundaries of ownership, control and profit of these units of capital. And again, I ask you, was it "all hands on deck" to solve this environmental catastrophe? Oh no, Oh no—because Shell and ExxonMobil are licking their chops. Think about that.

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