In the very first issue of SHIFT magazine the Berlin-based group TOP delivers fragments of their critique (http://shiftmag.co.uk/?p=73) of the anti-G8 mobilisation in order to "make a foreshortened critique of capitalism history'" (TOP). A sympathetic cause indeed to challenge antisemitic currents and nationalist floods (not only) in that movement. Unfortunately TOP fails to deliver a striking critique of those positions. In some cases they provide a wrong explanation and in other cases critique is replaced by moral appeals and warnings. In this reply we aim to provide arguments against these shortcomings hoping to aid TOP's cause which we subscribe to (This article first appeared in SHIFT Magazine #2 (cf. http://www.shiftmag.co.uk).).
Any reasonable analysis of capitalist societies must include a critique of private property in the means of production. Most Marxists would agree. But it takes two to tango. The capitalist mode of production cannot be completely self-sufficient. It's ridden with prerequisites, and it is the state that introduces and maintains these prerequisites. Contracts can serve as examples: Any contract that is executed depends on the assumption that the contractors will stick to its specific terms and conditions. The state imposes sanctions for breach of contract. If it wasn't for these sanctions, contracts would not be counted as the near-guarantee that they are taken for. This is a fundamental example of how any economic activity depends on the state, mostly in cases of non-compliance.
Historically, capitalism has been in crisis over and over again and the results of the most recent one are yet to fully unfold. A common theory on the Left and among Marxists about the current crisis and modern crises in general is as follows: the growth in financial capital has come about because productive (and commercial) capital has been in crisis since the 1970s and has proven itself incapable of capitalising sufficiently. Capital cannot be invested in productive capital and thus flees to the speculative sphere of finance to sustain itself.
Critique's failure does not usually derive from peoples' inability to see the misery around them; work, unemployment, war, hunger, racism, toxic waste, sexism, drowning refugees, homophobia, stress, to name but a few. Everybody knows and almost everybody resents these facts. However, as quickly as most people offer pity, they offer wrong explanations why these facts keep surfacing in the "most human of all societies".