JAMES PETRAS: Trends to Barbarism and Prospects for Socialism

The Rising Tide of Barbarism

Introduction

Western societies and states are moving inexorably toward conditions resembling barbarism; structural changes are reversing decades of social welfare and subjecting labor, natural resources and the wealth of nations to raw exploitation, pillage and plunder, driving living standards downward and provoking unprecedented levels of discontent.

We will proceed by outlining the economic political and military processes driving this process of decay and decomposition and follow with an account of the mass popular responses to their own deteriorating conditions. The deep structural changes accompanying the rise of barbarism become the basis for considering the prospects for socialism in the 21st century.

The Rising Tide of Barbarism

In ancient society ‘barbarism’ and its carriers ‘the barbarians’ were envisioned as threats by outside invaders from outlying regions descending on Rome or Athens. In contemporary Western societies, the barbarians came from within, among the elite of society, intent on imposing a new order which destroys the social fabric and productive base of society, converting stable livelihoods into insecure deteriorating conditions of daily life.

The key to contemporary barbarism is found in the deep structures of the imperial state and economy. These include:

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