“Ed, that’s soldier’s headed our way, we’re gonna have to move”. Sure enough the soldier is trudging down the road towards us, unshouldering his rifle and looking, even from this distance, distinctly narked. Ed doesn’t directly acknowledge my warning, except with a barely discernible movement of the head, focussed as he is on his camera shot. He knows I know that he’s heard me and he knows that as I haven’t yet added the “...now!” intensifier, that he has a few more precious seconds to finish the shot, as the camera pans over the ruins of Eastern Kobane against the backdrop of Mishtenur Hill. It’s 2:30 in the afternoon of Thursday 19 March on the Turkish side of the border with Syria and Kobane.
[Chapter from AK Press "The End of the World as We Know It?"]
In a blurry black and white photograph from Italy in the 1960s, a worker rides a Vespa past a factory wall on which is scrawled operaist graffiti "Il Vietnam è in fabbrica" - Vietnam is in the factory. Today it would be more likely to find "The factory is in Vietnam" on the walls of the long-closed factory. Yet these two moments are not unconnected. So how did we get from the fall of Saigon to the fall of Lehman brothers, from Nixon to Obama? The answer from much of the Left seems to be "financialization", understood not as a materialist process, but as fulfillment of the Communist Manifesto's apocalyptic vision that "all that is solid melts into air."
Financialization, credit, debt become immaterial, intangible factors, things of air and fiction, in the process becoming explanations that explain nothing. Trying to step back from such ultimately unsatisfying interpretations, this chapter begins the attempt to outline a materialist history of how the global capitalist system has evolved since the demise of the post-WW2 Bretton Woods system in the ruins of Saigon, to the present day rise of China as the world's foremost industrial power and the onset of stagnation and decline of the West.