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The People’s Tribune interviewed Nelson Peery of Chicago regarding the currently developing recession. Peery has written extensively on economics and social revolution. He is the author of Black Fire: The Making of an American Revolutionary, and Black Radical: The Education of an American Revolutionary.

People's Tribune: What is the difference between the previous recessions and today?

Nelson Peery: The developing recession is part of a process. It is not an isolated thing. The recessions of say the 1980s or 1990s were part of the process of U.S. imperial expansion. But this thing is part of a process of  change in the way social wealth is produced. Therefore this recession is different. It's part of a process that will lead to worldwide depression, not just recession. What we are seeing is not just overproduction, but a change in the way wealth is produced. In other words, we cannot eat up the excess production and go back to work. From now on, jobs will be filled by automated production. So the recession is part of that process of epochal economic change, not part of capitalist expansion.

People's Tribune: Do you see the end of capitalism on the horizon?

Peery: First, I want to define capitalism. Most people think capitalism is a political thing. Capitalism is an economic system where the workers sell their ability to work for money and use that money to buy back some of that production. Today, automation is making huge inroads into that process and the ability of workers to sell their labor power is decreasing. Fewer people are needed to produce more and more goods. The functioning of the economy is what is changing capitalism. You can't circulate the goods. So, yes, the capitalist system is coming to an end. But what kind of society replaces it is up to what people think and do.
People's Tribune: What kind of new society do you envision?

Peery: There's a difference between dreams and vision. We can only do what is possible. Vision starts off by asking what is the real world? What are the means of production and what can they do? For example, at the end of the Civil War, there was the same means of agricultural production in the South as before the Civil War. Some had a vision of creating a South of yeomen farmers. It was possible to change the class relations to where those same means of production could be the basis of democracy. But some had a vision of slave-like conditions without the legality of slavery. People had to battle over vision. They established near slave-like conditions without slavery. The point is you have to make a vision out of what is possible given your conditions. Everybody has a vision. Today the means of production are changing. Vision involves choice.

My vision is a world where we’ll see the end of “work” as we understand that term today. I often wonder who in the world passed a law that says work is an obligation of humanity? I do not believe that work is an obligation. Social contribution is an obligation. For example, under the conditions of a cooperative society, building a house can be great fun. Under this capitalist society it is absolute drudgery to build a house. We will need social contribution -- not work. When we talk about work it is associated with producing for someone else. We don't have to have that kind of society.

Needless death
Luis Rodriguez. PHOTO/DONATED

Perhaps when the stories are lost and the dream is a dry river and what makes the flesh sing is a long-gone prayer, we may find our true names;

Perhaps when the earth’s rotation stops, when the moon has wilted, and the sun’s rays scorch down this squandered ground, we may uncover our inner eye;

Perhaps when the poisons that once were our sustenance and the radiation that once gave us light, now foster our insatiable hungers and an abiding darkness, we may know what really feeds and guides us;

Perhaps after we’ve created so many borders, so many walls, and conjured up even more laws to make even more lawless, we may realize it’s ourselves who’ve been made illegal, it’s our spirits we’ve alienized;

Perhaps when parents lose their final grasps on their children, they will finally grasp that their sole purpose is to bring loved, healthy, and understood children into this world—to re-seed and remake the universe, better and more holy each time;

Perhaps when the wars in the names of countless Gods that look and act like those who evoke them finally end, we may realize that God is the unnamable, unobtrusive wind that caresses our cheeks, the rain that falls on us all, and the very air that enters our lungs, our blood and brains so we can name whatever God we want;

Perhaps when all the textbooks and written histories and science papers cease, we’ll understand that nature, and our own natures, are the source of all knowledge, language and histories, and we’ll always be able to re-write them, re-imagine them, and re-weave them into the world;

Perhaps when love has become the embers of what we hate, the residue of what we’ve destroyed, we’ll know that love is the stream that flows through each and every one of us, the water we thirst for in the deserts of our days, the ocean from which all our tears, full of salt and unmet desires, surge and flow.

-- Luis Rodriguez

This article originated in the People's Tribune
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