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The iron grip of power on the population

SILENT FORCE – a Marxist study of the economic power of capitalism
Forfatter: Søren Mau
Forlag: Klim forlag (Danmark)
CAPITALISM / The economic sphere, just like the political sphere, is a set of social relations within the domination system – something the author Søren Mau addresses.


The scientist and philosopher Albert Einstein is among many other things remembered for the quote: «We can not solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them». The quote can be use-oriented transformed into a question: can we solve the problems we face within the same institutions that formed the framework and the pillars of society when we created the problems?

What is it about a "monster" that characterizes the DNA of capitalism?

That question became a guiding star when I read Søren Maus' book Silent compulsion – we are under «dumb compulsion», dreamy and consciously asleep in the surrounding organized society: We must move away from global warming, it will of course mean a change of course based on a new way of thinking. But what is it about a "monster" that characterizes the DNA of capitalism that the world community must bring to life? Should capitalism be tamed, adjusted and regulated, or can its inherent dynamics of perpetual expansion not be possible? And so what?

The economic power

COP26 in Glasgow tried to find a conclusion to stop global warming. As with pandemics, so too with global warming – it's about life on the planet. The economy is global, but the world community stands without «a body» or a body that globally matches a global economy with global decision-making power. Will it then be possible to continue – in the interest of future generations – to hold on to hopes for a climate solution within the COP system?

In Denmark has Silent compulsion contributed to a renewed interest in Marxism or rather to an immersion in capitalismour being. Here, the left wing has for many years been focused on the parliamentary solutions. And combined with the fact that the development of theory and practice on the parliamentary left wing has been frozen for many years, old models for restructuring have been dusted off.

Pelle Dragsted (author of the book Nordic Socialism, now also in Swedish translation) wants, with a focus on cooperatives and a democratic economy, to "take back power everywhere". Anders Blok (co-author of The sustainable state) from the Climate Change Council has, if anything, maintained the system of international and national institutions that is available today. The same position is held by editor-in-chief at Information, Rune Lykkeberg. He does not even reject a solution within the World Bank's (IMF) reality.

Søren Mau himself wants a change, which is anti-capitalist. For him, negotiations in the COP system can be OK, as long as there is progress, from the point of view of the social movements. But the perspective for a restructuring lies for Mau in connecting the struggles of the social movements and in the movements' local and "decentralized planned economy".

Soren Mau
Soren Mau

In a global world, global conversations about the way to a sustainable transition are necessary. Across the oceans today, for example, Ted Trainer and John P. Clark discuss eco-socialism and eco-anarchism. Perhaps it could be inspiring for restructuring agents in Denmark to participate here – and connect with more international problem solutions.

The subtitle of Mau's book reads: "A Marxist study of the economic power of capitalism". Mau's mission with the book is thus capitalism, where the reading of Karl Marx becomes the way to understand. Mau has found the quote from Kapitalen's first volume, which has provided the book's title. The quote also contains the object of investigation, which is Mau's entire mission with the book. To study, analyze and present the economic power, which is inherent in capitalism. The quote reads: "The mute coercion of economic conditions seals the rule of capitalism over the worker".

What then consists of the core structure of capitalism with the logics, structures and dynamics that form part of capitalism's being, regardless of historical or geographical variations? On such a theoretical journey, the reader is confronted with a critique of the entire theoretical field of political economy, where the social conditions hidden behind the economic categories are unraveled.

A wake-up call

For an entire generation, the financial crisis in 2007-2008 was like a wake-up call, and then also constitutes the motivating factor for the systems thinking that lies behind the book. Mau notes that in the 1990s and up to 2007 – i.e. after the fall of the wall – a certain "fragile" optimism prevailed. But today that optimism is replaced by "a dark feeling of a coming disaster". Like "an oncoming train in a narrow tunnel", not least climate change is the cause of the sensation, which is now more or less recognized globally. But it just goes on... because "profit in this world is more important than life".

Optimism is the vehicle for "a dim feeling of a coming disaster".

And moreover, according to Mau, the "crisis" in 2007-2008 was not really a crisis at all. One crisis on e.g. the residential area does not necessarily express a crisis for the power of capital. The crisis is an expression of a kind of test of strength between different interests. A lack of housing for the city's employees (hospital, school, police, etc.) can be addressed in many ways, but is rarely framed in its full context, where the "crisis" also constitutes a manifestation or test of capital's rule.

Capitalism as a system of domination

Capitalism as an economic system maintains through violence and ideology a hegemony by silent coercion. Yes, even when ideological and violent power is absent. We are all subject to a silent compulsion, which from childhood has eaten you into every single one of the body's cells and has become part of our breath.

But the economic power of capitalism represents a dominionsystem. Therefore, Marx's critique of political economy appears absolutely indispensable as a starting point for the theory of the economic power of capital. It also implies a rejection of the idea that "the economy is an ontologically separate sphere of society, governed by a particular economic logic or rationality".

The economic sphere, just like the political sphere, is a set of social relations within the system of domination, where the social relations appear as power relations, which are expressed either as violence or ideology.

The desire to reform capitalism has – on various political platforms – been full of emotion and social indignation since the infancy of the labor movement. ReformismIn that connection, it has included demands for not only measures that could lead to less social inequality in society, but also the introduction of improvements in health, education and in the social area. In addition, there is a special initiative with the establishment and development of cooperatives in almost all areas of society – and this has happened all over most of the world.

Niels Johan Juhl-Nielsen
Niels Johan Juhl-Nielsen
Juhl-Nielsen resides in Copenhagen.

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