It’s safe to assume we’re all feeling pretty crappy after the most recent supreme court ruling overturning Roe v Wade, right? Well I hate to say it, but what is actually happening in the US is much deeper than the loss of bodily autonomy for women. What we’re witnessing in real time is capitalism in crisis. If it wasn’t already obvious, hopefully it’s crystal clear now. We do not live in a democracy. Sure we have popularity contests that cost millions, and even billions, of dollars depending on the office, but the elected leaders who purchase their positions of power do not represent us (the laboring class). They represent their wealthy donors (the ruling class). The facade of elections simply serves as a way to hide our government of, for and by the oligarchs. That being said, we’re currently witnessing the ruling class openly undermine the democratic political system designed to keep us enslaved to capitalist rule. By using an unelected body of judges to overturn the constitutional right to an abortion that is supported by a majority of people, and on the heels of an election where a majority of voters turned out for politicians who support access to safe abortions, the ruling class is giving us a glimpse at how weak their economic and political systems truly are. The overturning of Roe is an essential step the capitalist class had to take in order to preserve itself and it is only going to get worse from here.
Less Imperialism = Less Profits
Capitalism is defined by the need for never ending profits. Traditionally it has been the role of the US government, via the military and CIA, to ensure endless profits by opening new markets in developing countries for exploitation by US corporations. Today, however, American Imperialism is on the decline. A few examples of this decline are the failed US backed coup in Venezuela, proxy war with Russia via Ukraine, failed Summit of the Americas, and jailing of the former Bolivian president for participating in a US led coup in 2010.
With this decline, a new multipolar world order is on the rise. Much of the global south is aligning with China who is offering a different path than that of the US. Where allegiance to the US is marked by exploitation of domestic markets by multinational corporations, China is offering an alternative choice defined by mutual benefit. From the commitment to build 1,000 new schools in Iraq or the massive infrastructure investment known as the Belt and Road initiative linking nearly all of the Asian continent and much of the global south, a new option is available to the world.
The global community is quickly pulling away from the system of exploitative capitalism that is exported by the US. This new world order deprives US oligarchs their usual means of pursuing more profits.
At this point you might be thinking “ok, so American Imperialism is on the decline. How does that relate to Roe v Wade? Capitalism can’t possibly be at fault for the loss of bodily autonomy. Radical Right wing ideology has been trying to strip this constitutional protection for decades. It has to be religious fanatics. Not capitalists.”
Economics Gives Rise to the Political
True, radical right wing ideology is winning, but it is important to acknowledge that it is only winning because the ruling class is allowing it to. The marriage between the radical right and the ruling class is a relationship of convenience. For a number of reasons I won’t go into here, much of the voting base that makes up the political right does not consider, or merely accepts as unchangeable, the material conditions of their everyday lives. They instead define themselves by the social issues that are fed to them via their religious and political leaders. Have you ever noticed that even when right wing voters win elections they’re still angry? The election of Donald Trump couldn’t ease their anger and hatred towards “the other.” This is because social issues will never improve the material conditions of their everyday lives. Social issues may define them and their communities, but it will never materially improve their lives. They may be thrilled to have Trump as president, but they still don’t have access to health care or a livable wage.
The ruling class depends on this. As Karl Marx teaches us, it is economics that gives rise to the political. As long as the wealthy can keep this voting base obsessed with the political (social issues), and ignorant to the economic, they can maintain their power over society. This is especially true given that our political system disproportionately favors land over people and capital above all else.
(Quick side note: the liberal left does this as well in order to protect capitalism, but that is a convo for another column).
This is further evidenced by the ruling class's attitude towards social issues. Truth be told, the wealthy know how to use social issues to their economic advantage. Meaning they understand how economics is foundational to the political. Just look at how multinational corporations handle racial and gender equity. They’re more than happy to celebrate pride month or make big public statements saying Black Lives Matter. When Roe was overturned they were tripping over themselves to virtue signal their support for reproductive healthcare by offering to financially cover the costs when employees need access to abortion services. The ruling class will enthusiastically point to their Black, Brown, gay, transgender, female or non-binary work forces in order show support for these communities while simultaneously making donations to extreme right wing politicians who want to marginalize these same communities. The ruling class only cares about social issues as long as it serves their economic interests. They will accept equity and diversity so long as it does not affect the economics of capitalism.
The radical right wing stance on abortion is a natural ally to the economic interests of the ruling class when it needs to create more for-profit markets. When it is marketable, the wealthy appear very socially liberal. When profits are in jeopardy they will quickly ally themselves with conservatives.
The Big Picture
So to bring this back to Roe v Wade let’s recap. US Imperialism is on the decline. This denies capitalists their traditional means of accessing new markets they can exploit and extract profits from. This decline is pushing the ruling class to look for new markets within the US. What better way to create a new for profit market than to use a radical political base, hyper-focused on social issues, to turn rights and protections into for-profit business ventures.
The overturning of Roe has implications so far reaching we’ve barely scratched the surface in public discourse. The right to privacy, bodily autonomy, marriage equality, access to reproductive healthcare, freedom from religious oppression, and more fall within the scope of Roe. These are only surface level examples that do not fully capture the loss of individual liberties we are currently experiencing.
The important takeaway is these rights guaranteed to us by the constitution are being stripped away and will soon be offered back to us via a monthly subscription. “You don’t want your health insurance provider to have complete access to all your medical records? For $59.99 per month we’ll give you privacy and protect your medical records!” We could easily brainstorm more ways that capitalism will sell our rights back to us but I don’t want to depress you anymore than I already have. Considering how human suffering is already a for profit venture (ex: health care, housing, poverty) it’s easy to see how dark our future is going to become if we continue to allow capitalism to exist. The need for more profits cannot be overcome by small incremental reforms. As soon as the profits of the ruling class are threatened by system change our rights will begin to look more like business opportunities and not constitutional guarantees. It is quickly becoming the only place left for capitalism to extract more profits.
We Can End Capitalism
To try and end on a more positive note I’ll point out that while dark days are ahead we are witnessing the decline of capitalism. It cannot go on forever and if we read the classical texts of socialism/communism we can clearly see that society goes through natural states of movement. Society will never reach a stage of full development where nothing ever changes. Capitalism is not the end stage of societal development. It is simply one phase that comes before the next one and the next stage of development is socialism. We can speed this transition if we begin to see our neighbors through the lens of class struggle. Stop classifying your fellow laborers as Dem/Rep or liberal/conservative. Instead consider them for the allies that they are. Class struggle is the most fundamental fight there is. The more we understand this the easier it will be to unite and overthrow our oppressors.
This article was republished from Candler Red.