As Hudis points out, Marx could not resist noting that inversion ("Verkehrtheit" in German) is "closely identified" with the German word for madness, "Verrucktheit."
How do you reform madness? How do you negotiate with it? Do you amend it here or there by a designed reordering of the "real" subject, only to see it reduced in the end to an abstraction? To even engage or continue to engage in the tweaking of such an enterprise, as Marx revealed, is ultimately futile for all of us.
The alternative to madness is to understand what Marx understood in his day. As Hudis explains it: We must put an end to capitalism itself, and it must be done by ending "the estrangement in the very activity of labouring."
Hudis writes that, with this initial understanding of where Marx has arrived, "we have reached the conceptual pivot of what Marx sees as the alternative to capitalism."
It is in the activity of laboring that we are all branded and chained, and enslaved, physically and mentally, to the unnatural monstrosity that is capitalism. It is precisely in this estrangement from human community that we are not free, no matter what the slogans and grandiose narratives proclaim. No wonder we are drowning in this madness!
But we can save ourselves in the very activity of laboring!
In contrast to the actual practices of capitalist societies and of totalitarian governments claiming to represent Marx's idea of freedom, both of which justify the repression of citizens in grandiose narratives, Marx's critique of capitalism, Hudis writes, as well as his "delineation of its alternative," are "rooted in a particular conception of freedom." For Marx, Hudis explains, "[f]ree development...is not possible if human activity and its products take on the form of an autonomous power and prescribe the parameters in which individuals can express their natural and acquired talents and abilities."
It's Time Now To Demand True Freedom!
Marx's Concept of The Alternative to Capitalism is a significant work for individuals and grassroots organizations, those who recognize in this historical moment an opportunity to seize Change and not merely T-shirts and banners with the word "Change." It is an important work for those who have had enough of the way things are; who are seriously interested in, or currently engaged in, various campaigns, from Stop and Frisk and Single-Payer, to corporate land grabs, education and prison activism; and who want to re-direct (or in some cases, resurrect) their labor and creative energies to achieving an end to the savagery of capitalism. That must be the goal for all of us who are unwilling to remain vulnerable to the silencing blows of the police matraque (baton) and the latest high-tech weapons of mass destruction.
Our time is now! It is now, because Marx's writings are generating interest and discussions around the globe. It is now, because people throughout the world are waking up to Hope--and not the Hope offered in political slogans. Around the world, people find their backs against the wall. (In this, we are a collective!) As Hudis notes, "[T]he phenomenon of capitalist globalization...the emergence of a global-justice movement...[and] the worldwide financial and economic crisis that began in 2008" have drawn new interest in Marx's work.
Today's global crisis of economic inequality has not only revealed the deep fault-lines that prevent capitalism from supplying the most basic human needs for hundreds of millions of people worldwide; it has also made it clear that the system has little to offer humanity except years and indeed decades of economic austerity, reduction in public services, and eroding living conditions.
What can a system such as capitalism offer us, when, as Marx's Concept of The Alternative to Capitalism asks, it has "clearly exhausted its historical initiative and raison d'etre" and its future for humanity can only offer "social and natural conditions" that are "bound to become worse than those afflicting us today"?
Freedom is the only option!
When you pick up Marx's Concept of The Alternative to Capitalism and start reading, you'll know you have to get to work. But then, isn't that the reason you are here, and why you are human?