The New Irrationalism


John Bellamy Foster

ore than a century after the commencement of the Great Crisis of 1914–1945, represented by the First World War, the Great Depression, and Second World War, we are seeing a sudden resurgence of war and fascism across the globe. The capitalist world economy as a whole is now characterised by deepening stagnation, financialization, and soaring inequality. All of this is accompanied by the prospect of planetary omnicide in the dual forms of nuclear holocaust and climate destabilisation. In this dangerous context, the very notion of human reason is frequently being called into question. It is therefore necessary to address once again the question of the relation of imperialism or monopoly capitalism to the destruction of reason and the ramifications of this for contemporary class and anti-imperialist struggles.

Today, Reason demands that both exploitation and expropriation, and the related exterminist tendencies of our time, be overcome. That can only be accomplished, as Baran noted in the 1960s, on the basis of “the identity of the material interests of a class [or class-based social forces] with… Reason’s criticism of the existing irrationality.” The source of such an identity of “material interests with a class” currently lies primarily in the Global South, and with those revolutionary-scale movements everywhere seeking to overturn the entire capitalist-colonial-imperialist system for the sake of humanity and the earth.


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