My grandmother did not like politics being discussed at the table. It was like conjuring war, and with fear in the body, the food does not settle. Nowadays the word capitalism happens to me, it goes around in my head, but I never know which table to place it on, it is as if it were choking me.
This month I have met the Virgen de la Muela in the parish of San Cristóbal de Boedo. My mother was born on the day of the feast of the virgin, August 8, but until now she had only told us about the feast, not about the virgin. And that she has it easy, because frequently the conversation about the recurrent loss of one of her dental prostheses comes out on the table and, in addition, she has a neighbor across the door, on the other side of the mat, a dental clinic, which is what really saves her. Religion no longer saves nor is it the opium of the people, as we were able to see when the meager departure from Sunday mass was present. I begin to think that capitalism is the people’s own opium: it creates artificial and fiscal paradises, generates addiction and suffering, debt and kills. It is almost like God, it is not named but it is present everywhere: in the working conditions of our daughters, in the mental health of those around us and their kits of psychotropic drugs; in the housing and electricity markets, in the fearful and defensive attitudes of the people, in the climatic emergency situation, in prisons, on the borders and in the new geographies of exploitation.
To speak of capitalism is not only to speak of economics, nor of past times, nor of Marx, nor of being from The Party, nor from the defeated side. It is talking about our things of eating and living. It is knowing where you are even if you publish the advertisement of your life on the beachfront on your Instagram profile and in store surveys to place yourself in an aspirational social class rather than a real one.
The capitalist strategy in its look Neoliberal is not only economic, it sneaks into your wardrobe, injected into your veins, into subjectivities. It encourages us to transform our behaviors to be able to individually assume the risks involved in a debt that the system itself generates at the same time that it is charged in our lives. From “inclusion through employment” we have moved to “inclusion through finance.” And in that family photo we all come out: salaried, unemployed, self-employed, rentiers, without papers and pensioners. The social risks assumed collectively by the welfare state become increasingly the responsibility of each person and their individual risk of indebtedness, the work of women and their ability to generate primary social networks of support. We transform into clients or users in debt of capitalists, drug traffickers and administrations. As the sociologist and philosopher Maurizio Lazzarato says, privatizing the supply of services means eliminating the political dimension of social demand and its collective form. The State, once freed from the expectations, rights and equality that struggles entail, will be able to assume the functions that neoliberalism has reserved for it: it will become a strong State for a “free economy”, deregulated and predatory; a strong and authoritarian state for the weak (the dispossessed) and weak and submissive with the strong (the proprietors).
The capitalist strategy in its look ultraliberal and neo-fascist is in favor of a strong state, on the one hand, to repress and wage war on minorities, migrants, women, sexual dissidents and of all kinds, and, on the other, to build the market, the company and especially the property in a biocidal direction. Following Lazzarato, the capitalist strategy uses democracy as an empty shell because, in these circumstances, they are favorable to it. It does not retain the aspect of the conqueror or the imperialist as in the colonization era: it prefers to retreat within the limits of the nation-state and hide behind a tangle of parent and subsidiary companies and international trade and investment treaties. He is rather defensive, fearful, anxious, aware that the future is not on his side. Anti-Semitism has given way to the phobia of Islam and migrants. With the new fascisms, the agenda remains that of neoliberalism with a touch of nationalism. There is an air of family that runs through capital and fascism, that the 20th century has brought to light and that the 21st century proposes again, in new forms. Through racism and sexism, the system makes possible the false promise of making every white man an owner in fear of being robbed: “They steal our jobs, our women, invade our territories …”.
Racism, sexism and, where appropriate, war and fascism are the only ones capable of ensuring the political continuity of expropriation and plunder when the situation hardens, when the more autumnal times of capitalism require wrapping your body with new layers of human tissue.
I hope that the Virgin of La Muela, wrapped in her white cloak, knows how to repay the debt that the capitalist system has with her and take care of Pilar when winter arrives. Pilar, the woman of more than 80 years who takes care of herself, her house and the church, who returned to her village to take care of her sick mother after migrating to Germany to work in a chain in textile manufacturing for more than 15 years. I lost confidence in religion and capitalism when I was young and almost evenly, but the Virgin of La Muela has made me sympathetic because she brought a smile to our table and allowed me to talk about capitalism in my own way.