We need to recognise from the outset that prisons are not there for the reasons they are said to be there. In truth, they do not morally reform lawbreakers. They do not protect society from violent criminals. They are not retributive institutions. All of these rationalizations of the prison system are myths. This paper will refute each in turn, and then explain the underlying function of the prison system which has not yet been recognised.
“Fascism,” the West European movement that achieved its greatest strength in Germany and Italy between 1922 and 1944 under the leadership of Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini, and “neo-conservatism,” the dominantly American movement that has achieved its greatest strength in the United States and Britain in the late 1970’s and the early 1980’s under the leadership of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, arise out of historical circumstances that are strikingly similar in nature. In each case, political power is won by a relatively sudden rightward swing of a minority of the eligible electorate towards a war-like leader, backed by a media-lavished bloc of fiercely ideological partisans of old-line values and national military glory. In both cases, the social context of this unusual and dramatic turn towards the political right is one of perceived and objective cultural crisis. Economically, the shape of this crisis in 1930’s Germany and 1980’s America is eerily similar. There is a precipitous decline in effective demand for industrial commodities; great and growing unemployment; a steep rise in family-farm indebtedness; an unprecedentedly large and increasing public debt; a long-term, “runaway,” postwar inflation; a series of severe balance of trade deficits; historic stock market plunges; and a jolting succession of nonproductive mergers of large corporations and failures of small businesses.
The Cancer Stage of Capitalism is a modern classic of critical philosophy and political economy, renowned for its depth and comprehensive research. It provides a step by step diagnosis of the continuing economic collapse in the US and Europe and has had an enormous influence on new visions of economic alternatives.
John McMurtry argues that our world disorder of unending crises is the predictable result of a cancerous economic system multiplying out of all control and destroying ecological, social and organic life – a process he describes as ‘global ecogenocide’. In this updated edition he explains the ‘social immune response’ required to fight the ‘macro cancer’, something which has already been shown in developments such as the Occupy movement and the democratic social transformation of Latin America.
In an official global culture increasingly destructive of life, this book shows the necessity and possibility of building a sustainable society based on a universal commitment to life and nature.
Free markets are often presented as the sole solution to poverty and human development. But the global market is inefficient and life-destructive, writes *John McMurtry*.
The article begins with an overview of the historic moment of ‘the end of the Cold War’, and of the paradoxically deepening moral, social, and environmental problems posed by the military system. It demonstrates that historical and contemporary analyses of defence and war have dogmatically presupposed the military paradigm, and have therefore failed to recognize the self-reproducing structure of coven premisses and inferences upon which it rests. In laying bare this underlying system of unreason, the analysis demonstrates that the military paradigm’s ultimately self-contradictory concepts of ‘security’ and ‘defence’ repose on unstated interests of social and political rule. Proposing new distinctions between pathological and life-enabling forms of war, and between guilty and innocent combatants, the argument develops alternative, non-military principles of war to guide rational and moral agency
‘This text challenges conventional ideas of ”defense and security” and provides a springboard for alternative thought and action on war. It is a reflective, crystalline critique of the military paradigm, but perhaps more importantly, reveals a new and cooperative way of understanding war.’
– Dr. Allan Connolly, Canadian Physicians
for the Prevention of Nuclear War (CPPNW)
‘I think this work is brilliant.’
– Dr. Alex Michalos, author of The North
American Social Report
‘A brilliant, ground-breaking investigation of the deep structure of war-making and the war-making mentality so central to our culture.’
– G. A. Cohen, Chichele Professor of Social and
Political Theory, All Souls College, Oxford
Forms of consciousness have been a central object of philosophical investigation from the doctrine of Forms or Eidos proposed by PLATO (427–347 B.C.E.) to the “forms of consciousness” or Bewusstseimformen excavated by Immanuel KANT (1724-1804). In both cases, they are construed as transcendental, a priori structures of thought. Plato’s Forms are directly apprehended by the intellect in an eternal, supersensible realm of Ideas. Kant’s forms of consciousness constitute an internally regulating framework processing experiential inputs as conditions of their intelligibility. What is remarkable is that in neither of these defining cases of philosophy’s inquiry into forms of consciousness, nor in the subsequent philosophical tradition, has there been recognition of underlying structures of consciousness which organize mental life in accordance with socially presupposed principles of what is good and bad.
As the sea is to the fish, so competition is to life. It is the formative medium through which life moves, reproduces, and dies. If we ask what form or bearer of life is not the result of competition, we are hard pressed to find an exception. Competition is like time: we seem unable to exist outside of it.
There is a hidden war of value codes in the world today. On the one hand, there is the life code of value: Life → Means of Life → More Life (L → M of L→ L1). On the other hand, there is the money code of value: in its classical form, Money → Commodity → More Money ($ → C → $1). In its carcinogenic form, this sequence becomes: Money → More Money → More Money ($ → $1→ $2 → – $n). The latter money sequence of value is decoupled from any commitment to life function and is driven by the lending and investment cycles of banks. This paper demonstrates the carcinogenic properties of this sequence at the social level of life-organization.
The second part of the paper proposes a remedy. The first step consists in making the government-conferred privileges of banks – creating money by credit and lending others’ money stocks at compound interest – accountable to society’s life requirements. The second step consists in returning central banks to their constitutional mandate of lending to governments rather than alienating this function to private banks. The article concludes by arguing that the great obstacle to Canada’s and other countries’ economic well-being is the abdication by governments of their sovereign powers over society’s money supply, and the long cultivation of public ignorance on this ultimate issue of public policy and value decision.
Department of Philosophy
University of Guelph
Bank of Montreal Distinguished Visitor Lecture, Trent University, March 13, 1997. Read More