Surplus and freedom
in The capitalist mode of destruction
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This chapter explores the practical significance of the surplus. It begins by examining the questions of justice that class exploitation raises, and continues by addressing the relationship between surplus production and human freedom. Responding to the view of surplus as a society’s “index of freedom,” this chapter argues that only a classless, non-exploitative society could make use of the surplus at its disposal in a way consistent with human freedom. To do so, such a society would need to subject decisions regarding the size and use of the surplus to democratic deliberation. In making such democratic deliberation over the surplus central to the communist ideal, this chapter also begins a process of reconceptualizing communism that later chapters continue. Since democratic deliberation over the surplus – or over any other matter of public concern, for that matter – is inconceivable in the presence of racial and gender inequalities, however, this chapter also introduces a recurrent theme in this work, namely that abolishing class exploitation is not possible without also abolishing gender and racial oppression.

The capitalist mode of destruction

Austerity, ecological crisis and the hollowing out of democracy


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