Indeed, many of the basic processes exhibited by the individual cell -- ingestion, metabolism, growth, excretion, reproduction, and so forth -- are seen at every level of living organization, from the cell, to the multicellular organism, to simple and then great populations, up to and including the whole biosphere. The analogy is self-evidently a rich and compelling one....I have been trying to think of the earth as a kind of organism, but it is no go. I cannot think of it this way. It is too big, too complex, with too many working parts lacking visible connections. The other night, driving through a hilly, wooded part of southern New England, I wondered about this. If not like an organism, what is it like, what is it most like? Then, satisfactorily for that moment, it came to me: it is most like a single cell.
What is capitalism, in this analogy? Capitalism is the logic of a cancer cell. It is the prioritizing of growth to the exclusion of all else, regardless of the consequences for the "organism" as a whole. The capitalist class is a cancer on the aggregate social body. While the rest of the body labors to perform its varied functions -- all essential for the well-being of the whole organism -- a disproportionate share of vital nutrients is commandeered by the tumor and diverted into its own excessive and chaotic growth, until the process consumes, cripples, and destroys the entire organism.
In still another sense, an elemental theme is recapitulated as one moves from lower to higher levels of social organization. Marx describes the "class war" -- the inherently conflicting interests of working class and the capitalist. It is clear that at the most concrete and local level (say, a factory owner and his workers), the capitalist holds the power, which the workers must submit to, or cope with as best they can.
What is still true but far less obvious is that as capitalist power relations are echoed throughout ascending levels of society, one winds up with a national power structure just as favorable to the capitalist class in relation to the working class, as the individual worker-capitalist relationship is to the individual CEO or factory owner.
The working class is roughly 4/5 of the population. The various layers of the middle class comprise most of the rest, while the capitalist class is less than a percent. Based on these general estimates alone, it should evoke astonishment that there is no such thing in the United States as a "workers' party." Instead, workers are compelled to vote for candidates of one of the two officially-sanctioned capitalist parties, both of which exist primarily to promote the interests of the richest Americans. This arrangement is papered over with silly fluff in which each party purports to represent the interests of "all Americans" -- a posture so ludicrous that it's difficult to even say it with a straight face. And of course, if you live here, and have heard it all your life, you become so accustomed to the idea that we only have two parties, that it begins to seem "natural." Yet there's really nothing natural about the fact that the 99% of the population who are not in the capitalist class are nonetheless compelled to vote for one of two parties which BOTH primarily serve the interests of the richest 1% -- often to the detriment of most of those 99%. It's deeply revealing, when one pauses to consider it, that in the United States, this arrangement is reverently referred to as "democracy."
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