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Climate catastrophe and `freedom of consumption'

by Thomas Meyer
It is not five to twelve, but five past twelve, as philosopher Slavoj Žižek writes. The fact that climate change is a fact (the details may well be debated) and poses a serious threat to humanity is something that the last fool should have realized by now.1 It is also clear that the emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gases must be radically and rapidly reduced.
Climate catastrophe and 'freedom of consumption' - On the misery of (late) bourgeois 'discourses on freedom

by Thomas Meyer

[This 2022 article is translated from the German on the Internet,]


It is not five to twelve, but five past twelve, as philosopher Slavoj Žižek writes (Žižek 2022, 285). The fact that climate change is a fact (the details may well be debated) and poses a serious threat to humanity is something that the last fool should have realized by now.1 It is also clear that the emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gases must be radically and rapidly reduced if the climate catastrophe is not to assume even more catastrophic proportions. This implies not only a complete transformation of the infrastructure, but also a complete change or upheaval of the way of production and life. Thus, a program of abolitions and shutdowns would be in the offing. The 'locomotive' of productive force development burns everything in its path. Pulling the 'emergency brake', as Walter Benjamin put it, is inevitable, unless one wants to risk or accept the death of the 'passengers' (cf. Böttcher 2023).

Apart from how one could abolish the capitalist mode of production, how for this purpose a corresponding 'transformation movement' would have to be set up, which 'transitional society' (?) would have to be approached (and be it that 'the train' is only stopped), however, the problem of the affective defense of these facts by many people arises. The knowledge that could really be known and should lead to a rethinking and 're-action' is affectively pushed back. The (decades-long) downplaying or denial of climate change and the dissemination of propaganda and disinformation by think tanks, corporations and the media falls on fertile ground (cf. Quent, Richter, Salheiser 2022).

The critique of one's own identity (work, consumption, home ownership, etc.), which is necessary for a rethinking and a change of action, is avoided by invoking a vulgar bourgeois concept of freedom. Freedom is reduced to the freedom of the consumer, which must not be restricted under any circumstances; just as little as the freedom to produce what is to be consumed. (Bourgeois) freedom, on the other hand (cf. Lepenies 2022), originally had to do with 'responsibility'; it was about limiting and modernizing domination (checks and balances, protection against arbitrary state or judicial power, freedom of religion and publication, enforcement of private property, production of security, etc.2); it was about shaping and disciplining people so that they could become a 'useful' part of a community or society. The freedom of one citizen ended where the freedom of another citizen was violated. It was not about unlimited consumption, but about renunciation of consumption, inner-worldly asceticism, affect control. This was interpreted by some as a process of civilization.3 Not a few philosophers held the view that man could not be free if he gave himself over to his passions without restriction. He who is at the mercy of his passions, who follows them directly, is not free but a slave. However, passions were not only judged negatively, they could, guided by 'reason', also prove to be 'useful' for state and economy.

Now 'developed capitalism' (since about the Fordist boom) no longer depended on saving subjects who (had to) practice renunciation of consumption, but on consuming subjects who wanted to buy every bullshit that was produced4 (and even sensible things turn out to be bullshit in capitalism: planned obsolescence and the like - so that money is fed into the exploitation process G-W-G' as soon as possible). As propagandistic 'means of motivation' (so that the now mass-produced goods can also realize themselves as value) for this the spectacle of advertising serves, with which all the world is littered (today above all 'individualized' in the form of 'apps' etc.). Work, performance and 'well-earned' consumption became the central identity of modern capitalist societies (especially of the 'middle class'; the car as a famous 'status symbol': cf. Kurz 2020 & Koch 2021). Self-denial and discipline in working life were rewarded or 'compensated' by the fact that through one's own performance one could privately carve out a 'successful life' for oneself, which found its confirmation in being able to afford or buy this and that (vacation, car, home + 'home at the stove'). The ecological costs of Fordist mass consumption were generally not of interest even then (or were dismissed as leftist propaganda, as by Ayn Rand, for example: Rand 2017, 352ff.).

This consumerist self-centeredness was further exacerbated under neoliberalism, in which people were turned back on themselves and urged to permanently optimize themselves in order to submit to the imperatives of the (labor) market 'freely' and 'self-determined' as 'responsible citizens' who do not allow themselves to be 'patronized'. The 'responsible citizen' finds his freedom in submitting himself completely enlightened and self-determined to the capitalist dictates of crisis, and still interprets this as self-realization and self-optimization. The freedom to consume is supported by the freedom to realize oneself in submission and to shit on all those who can't keep up (anymore); those who are considered 'underachievers' or even 'work-shy' and fail in the competition are just 'unlucky'. The society of total competition (i.e. competition on all levels), i.e. of 'individual self-responsibility', of the 'entrepreneurial self' is a hothouse for antisocial affects of all kinds. The narcissistic social character proves here to be the precondition and result of unbridled consumer capitalism (cf. Wissen 2017 & Jappe 2022).

Thus, in developed capitalism, consumption no longer primarily aims at commodity-like satisfaction of needs, but is above all identity-forming. In this regard, Philipp Lepenies writes (referring to Zygmunt Bauman): "The individual no longer pursues his own needs, but satisfies desires that have been awakened in him by the producer side and that, in extreme cases, obey only the pleasure principle. As soon as the longings for certain products can be constantly renewed and adapted, consumption becomes an endless vicious circle. Individuals succumb to the illusion that they can define their personality and identity, even their social status, through consumption. Consumption becomes an island of stability, one's own identity a function of consumption. If a certain desire is denied, people perceive this as an attack on the person they want to be" (Lepenies 2022, 234, emphasis TM). Therefore, nothing enrages the bourgeois reactionary more than that some 'Left-Green' people question his unrestricted freedom of consumption or want to prohibit or even 'take away' something from him (whereby one must also be able to afford freedom of consumption, poor people cannot: cf. Mayr 2021). It is seen as an attack on one's own identity (what a joke, when these people at the same time shout against the 'identity politics' of the left or left-liberals). The bourgeois reactionary has earned all this himself, has worked hard for everything and therefore it is also his 'natural human right' to buy and consume what he likes. Therefore it does not work at all if the 'high achiever' is 'patronized' by the state or some alleged communists or eco-socialists (and at the same time he claims for himself to patronize the freedom of others with his freedom or to bully them, for example Hartz IV recipients).


It is undoubtedly correct and necessary to criticize the bourgeois freedom of 'earlier times' in the sense that it was effectively the freedom of the white and male propertied bourgeoisie and that its realization had to take place within the framework of the capitalist 'enclosure of bondage' (Max Weber). This will not be elaborated en détail here (see for example: Losurdo 2010, Hentges 1999, Kurz 2004 & Landa 2021). What is decisive here is that invoking one's own so-called freedom has the effect of not wanting or being able to seriously deal with problems. The perspective of the individual's freedom as a monad of consumption and work, of an immediate self-centeredness, prevents from the outset being able to engage with problems that require a social perspective, i.e. one where the 'individual' would have to transcend his or her narrow-minded self-centeredness. Contradictions and dissonances are thus avoided and covered up with verbiage and affective indignation. Finally, the aggressive self-centeredness of 'consumer freedom' and often accompanying defense of fossil capitalism - which, not coincidentally, is often part of androcentric identity - Cara Dagget coined the appropriate term petro-masculinity (2018) - points to an inherent 'possibility' of bourgeois freedom itself, that is, to the possible turning of freedom into unfreedom. As Andrea Maihofer writes, "The common neoliberal rhetoric of the individual self-responsibility of each person now means that freedom is understood by many to be only individual freedom at all. Currently this becomes clear in the protests against the Corona measures, when for example with the slogan: 'My health! My decision!' the right to individual freedom is claimed, not to wear a mask [...] to generally evade the requirements - no matter what the consequences are for oneself or for others. [...] Thus, freedom is not only understood exclusively as individual freedom, but also explicitly rejects any responsibility related to the social consequences of one's own actions. That is, the concept of freedom is increasingly used explicitly in an anti-emancipatory sense. This is not a new phenomenon, however. Not only has an authoritarian understanding of freedom always been present in (right-wing) conservative to right-wing extremist discourses, but this danger of turning into unfreedom has been inherent in the bourgeois understanding of freedom from the very beginning" (emphasis in the original). No great surprise, then, that "in the name of freedom, right-wing conservative to right-wing extremist social actors not only legitimize growing social inequalities, social exclusions, and divisions, but also claim the right to exclude and discriminate against others in the name of freedom" (Maihofer 2022, 327).

Freedom is thus not understood as something social, as a historical social relation, possibly also not as an idea to be realized by hitherto oppressed and discriminated minorities or classes, but as something that an individual subject possesses and is willing to assert against others, without regard to possible consequences (thus this 'freedom' has a 'business' character - consequences are 'externalized' or ignored, cf. on this also: Amlinger & Nachtwey 2022). It is precisely the freedom to be autonomous, i.e. to make use of one's freedom to submit to systemic constraints without the guidance of another. A fundamentally social- and ecologically-ignorant 'view of life' is already almost a necessary consequence and prerequisite for a successful 'adaptation performance'. This freedom, as it was propagated especially in neoliberalism as a 'leading culture', is thus nothing else than being able to autonomously fit into heteronomous conditions. The 'autonomy' consists in flexibly taking into account the tremendous dynamics of the exploitation movement of capital and the increasing existential insecurity, in order to always remain profitable and exploitable, so that one can count oneself among the 'high achievers' and naturally derive certain claims for oneself from this. These claims can consist in a 'well-deserved' unlimited consumption (certainly limited only by the available money or the amount of credit), but also in the fact that one sees oneself empowered to always see oneself as the actual victim. This is probably the origin of the blatant affectation ('prohibition politics', 'ecodictatorship', etc.) when there is talk of introducing a vegetarian day in the canteen, limiting speed on freeways or abolishing domestic flights. In no case should one's own habits be reflected in any way, certainly not in connection with a certain mode of production that is destroying the planet. Philipp Lepenies once again comments on this: "However, the planned measures that the irritant words 'ban' and 'renunciation' evoke today are - and this must be clearly emphasized - reactions to the decisive fundamental crisis of our time and an increasingly urgent need for action. Not the complete change of behavior according to a certain ideology is the goal; not the equalization and suppression of other life courses. Behind ban and renounce proposals is the attempt to mitigate or reverse negative effects of our consumer behavior, which have also led to the climate catastrophe and continue to exacerbate it. The ideas for prohibition and renunciation do not stem from a perverse and sadistic desire to prohibit and call for renunciation for no reason. They are concrete proposals for saving our climate" (Lepenies 2022, 263f.).

Bans and restrictions can refer to the problem that certain production and consumption are ecologically problematic and should be abolished. It is similar to environmental protection measures: They are immanent stopgap measures that are (or must be) enforced by the state, but they do not penetrate to a radical critique of the commodity form, the self-purpose of capital accumulation. If the ecological crises are not to become further catastrophic, it makes perfect sense to insist that prohibitions and restrictions be enforced politically. It is important to make the immanent limits and contradictions recognizable in the process. Of course, such bans and restrictions can aim to merely 'paint capitalism green' and place the responsibility on the individual, the supposedly autonomous individual (cf. Hartmann 2020). Also, debates about 'healthy and sustainable nutrition' or the like may contain a paternalistic and puritanical moment (here, some liberal critics of nudging etc. are partly right5). However, consumption cannot really be separated from production, both of which have a specifically capitalist character. Here, Lepenies would have to be criticized when he writes about "consumption behavior" and its critical questioning (and stays with it). With regard to the "already in the simple commodity form inherent disintegration of production and consumption" with the consequence of the degradation of the "consumption competence of people" Robert Kurz writes in his book against postmodern lifestyle leftists (some of whom were so narrow-minded in the 90s to have celebrated consumption as an allegedly subversive act - 'the consumer as dissident', they said in all seriousness): "Capitalist consumers are de-skilled precisely in this capacity because they have already been de-skilled as producers. As illiterates of social reproduction and/or specialized idiots, they consume in a de-aesthetized, functionally oriented social space. From the grotesque incomprehensibility of the often real-satirical instructions for use to the perpetual 'uncomfortableness' of public spaces, this disqualifying expropriation of consumption competence is evident at all levels. The professional idiots are always also consumer idiots and vice versa. The universalism of commodities can therefore not correspond to a universality of individuals [...]" (Kurz 1999a, 155ff.).

What is to be consumed is present in a reified form, it is the materialization of the value abstraction; the 'addressee' is the disenfranchised, isolated and alienated subject. 'Use-value', often asserted only as a promise of use-value, is shaped and realized by managerial rationality. Not the common production of use-values, which can be crunched together, is the goal, but that on the managerial level a single capital asserts itself in the competition by the successful sale of the goods and thus books 'profit' for itself, in order to then be able to continue with the production and realization of (sur)value forever (G-W-G'-W'-G''...). The goal of production is mediated on the overall social level with the irrational and abstract purpose of the overall capitalist event, to increase capital/money for its own sake. What happens with the goods after the sale, whether the promise of use value is really kept - if this was not only clumsy propaganda anyway -, where the individual parts for the production of this commodity came from and how these were produced again etc., does not interest the individual capital, just as little the disposal of the same and all ecological consequences (these appear to the individual capital only afterwards in the form of state interventions and regulations - if at all!)

The consumer has the freedom to insert himself and to buy what is to be sold. What can be chosen for consumption has already long been 'decided' as a choice by the valorization process of capital. In the words of Robert Kurz: "On the other hand, however, the general capitalist commodity form expropriates not only the competence to consume, that is, the ability to use things universally in their social context and their sensuous qualities, but also the determination of the content of what individuals have to consume. Since they produce what they do not consume, and consume what they have not produced (even if only in the sense of an institutional communal determination about the content of production), they become, even in consumption, objects of managerial rationality, to which nothing is further away than human self-determination" (ibid.).

There is no social understanding about the content of production and consumption. The freedom of the consumer is therefore a chimera. It is a mirage that one must be able to afford. It is the reverse of the 'freedom of the assembly line worker'. The 'responsible consumer' can only choose what has already been put in front of him anyway: "Demand never determines supply, but always the other way around. If it were otherwise, then the members of society would have to agree in advance on the satisfaction of their needs and then organize production; in other words, in the social-institutional sense (not directly from the activity of the individuals) there would have to exist an identity of producers and consumers. Then, of course, demand would no longer be a demand for commodities, but the direct social discussion, negotiation and realization of the structures of need" (ibid.). This is where a critique of consumer behavior would have to start, however, if it did not want to pronounce prohibitions and renunciations alone and appeal to an abstract common responsibility or to a kind of socio-ecological public spirit.

When talking about needs and their realization, this has to be done in the context of the form-determinacy of needs by capital. For certain needs, the compensatory character of consumption is obvious. However, necessary social and material needs and their realization are also determined by capital. Of necessity, the realization of necessary needs must still be demanded and fought for in the capitalist form (affordable housing, for example), but it is by no means necessary to perceive them in this form or to naturalize their capitalist form. The question here is what 'necessity' actually stands for. Adorno notes in this regard in his Theses on Need (1942): "The idea, for instance, that cinema, along with housing and food, is necessary for the reproduction of labor power, is 'true' only in a world that directs people toward the reproduction of labor power and forces their needs into harmony with the profit and domination interests of entrepreneurs" (Adorno 2015, 394) or at the level of the overall social context with the imperatives of capital accumulation. Necessity is thus relative, as it implies a necessity for the bourgeois subject.

On the one hand, needs are compensatory, since their realization promises identity and self-realization through freedom of consumption - and insofar necessary for the readjustment and reproduction of human beings as variable capital -; on the other hand, the realization of truly necessary social and material needs is counteracted by the form determination of capital. Their realization, if 'materially' sufficiently available at all or affordable by the needy, is capitalistically adjusted, as can be seen, for example, in the capitalist housing system: On the one hand, for the better-off, a fenced-in bourgeois home of one's own (i.e., the idiocy of the socially isolated bourgeois nuclear family), the construction of which is defended by some as an elementary human right; on the other hand, concrete boxes constructed in such a way that the individual 'housing units' can have nothing to do with each other socially. Both are depositories for containers of labor power - housing goods.

Housing and eating are necessary, in contrast to, say, air travel and individual transport, in that they refer to generic properties of human beings. However, 'generic property' is not to be understood in a naturalizing way here. In Agnes Heller's words, "'natural needs' [... ] refer to the simple preservation of human life (self-preservation). They are 'natural necessities' simply because man, without satisfying them, cannot maintain himself as a mere natural being. They are not identical with the animal needs, because man as a natural being needs for self-preservation also such conditions (heating, clothing), for which the animal has no 'need'. Thus, the needs necessary for the preservation of man as a natural being are also social [...]. The manner of satisfaction socializes the need itself" (Heller 2022, 18f.).

Although nature and thus 'natural needs' cannot be absorbed into 'discourse' or conceived only as something 'socially constructed', both are always already mediated by society and history. In Adorno's words: "Every drive is so socially mediated that its naturalness never appears directly, but always only as produced by society. The appeal to nature in the face of a need is always merely the mask of denial and domination" (ibid., 392). Naturalizations usually had to do with the legitimation of domination. Whereas in the Middle Ages, for example, domination and hierarchy were justified with 'God', in bourgeois 'enlightened' society this was done with 'nature' (or with what one thought to have grasped of it). In this way, racism, sexism, eugenics, and others were 'scientifically' justified (see, for example, Reimann 2017, Gould 2016, Weingart et al. 1992, Honegger 1991).

It is precisely the specifically capitalist socialization of needs and their realization that must come into the focus of critique if certain consumptions and productions are to be restricted or banned. These alone may fizzle out as ineffectively as state environmental protection laws; but it does not change the fact that the corresponding discourses as to why such abolitions and shutdowns would have to be addressed are related to the climate catastrophe and the urgent need for action - and it is precisely this insight that is a priori affectively repelled. But an abolition of the capitalist mode of production, of the self-purpose of capital accumulations (and thus also of all senseless or insane consumption), cannot be envisaged or even made conceivable if people cannot detach themselves from their 'consumer identity' (and from their identity as 'achievers'), do not reconsider their affects and also justify their bigotry with a completely stupid concept of 'freedom'; a concept of freedom that always means their freedom and is meant to maintain and enforce their status quo (if need be, with compartmentalization and violence: Koester 2019).


The realization of needs that are not offered by the market and/or are not profitable, the planning and discussion of production contents that are not determined by the exploitation movement of capital, are not a component of bourgeois freedom: "the claim to conscious social sociality is considered a sin against the holy spirit of an asocial, blind social machine that has been declared again and again to be natural law" (Kurz 1999b, 645). Any attempt, even any claim or thought, to want to plan production and not leave it to the so-called spontaneity of the market (which implies nothing other than fundamentally short-term thinking) was always suspected of totalitarianism. A concept of freedom that included freedom from social need was considered by bourgeois ideologues like F. A. Hayek to be a path to servitude (ibid., 644ff.). Instead, Hayek sees submission to the imperatives of the market as the epitome of freedom. Anything else, he argues, leads to the gulag (this is how simply Hayek's redundant works can be summarized). The framework in which bourgeois freedoms are realized is the exploitation movement of capital: "Nothing may be thought, written, done, or made that would go beyond this society [...]" (Adorno 2015, 395). One gets recognition (and even this has to be fought for and is by no means self-evident - even worse than having to be a subject is not being allowed to be a subject, although so far there is no alternative to having to be a subject), provided that one successfully proves oneself to be an agent of abstract labor. The civil liberties and thus also the human rights are thus valid only under reservation (if they are valid at all - as is well known, capitalism also runs without them). Their validity and enforcement is dependent on a successful accumulation of capital and thus on a financing state, by which people are previously incorporated as variable capital and by which they are administered as subjects of the state. In the crisis, this caveat becomes particularly evident if people's existence is to be profitable. Bourgeois recognition thus presupposes a fundamental non-recognition of people as corporeal beings. This is very clearly shown (besides the situation of refugees and the "punishment of the poor": Böttcher 2016 & Wacquant 2004) by euthanasia debates. For example, active euthanasia has been legal in Canada since 2016. Initially, this was intended for people who are terminally ill and whose imminent death is foreseeable. However, choosing euthanasia is by no means 'only' for the terminally ill, but also for people who are lonely or poor, who do not want to be a burden on their family, or who simply no longer see any sense.6 Economists rejoice that the costs of the health care system are thereby reduced!7 Euthanasia, which is anything but 'self-determined', does not even stop at Long Covid (!) patients: "The Canadian Tracey Thompsen (50) suffers from Long Covid and is unable to work. For two years, the former cook has had to struggle with chronic fatigue and other severe symptoms. She can hardly cope with her everyday life. Therefore, she has now applied for active euthanasia. The reason she gives is that her savings would only last for five months. She does not really want to die, but the hopelessness of her situation and the lack of financial support have led her to do so. "8 Patients who cost a lot are persuaded or pressured to opt for the less expensive (!) euthanasia: "In fact, in Canada, people with severe disabilities can choose to be killed even if there is no other medical problem. Human rights groups complain that the country does not provide safeguards. Nor are relatives allowed to be informed. Instead, health personnel are urged to suggest assisted killing even to those who have not considered the procedure on their own. Not surprisingly, people who need costly treatment but do not receive adequate state support are targeted here. "9 So-called bioethicists and pediatricians (!) also called for the expansion of euthanasia: "Some Canadian pediatricians and bioethicists argue in an essay published in the Journal of Medical Ethics (!)10 , for example, that killing on demand should be classified as a palliative end-of-life treatment and thus be part of health care. Consequently, the 'treatment' would also not have to be preceded by any special information or forceful determination of the ability to form a will. If euthanasia is now considered to be part of health care, the question arises as to why it should not be offered to everyone, including minors, according to the authors of the essay. Physicians should be required to make patients aware of all the options available to them as part of health care - thus including active euthanasia. The authors further argue that minors capable of giving consent should be allowed to make decisions without parental consent, if necessary. "11 The 'self-determined' liquidation of people as "part of health care"! Orwellian neo-speak really cannot be any more perfidious than this!!!

The euthanasia discourse in Canada thus had a similar course as that in the Netherlands (van Loenen 2009). However, this was "more ruthlessly and rapidly pursued" in Canada (Yuill 2022) than elsewhere. In the Netherlands, the legalization of so-called euthanasia did not lead to an end to the debate; rather, the debate then really took off: if euthanasia is granted to the terminally ill, why not to the disabled or mentally ill? If it is granted to old people, why not to young people? If it is granted to the terminally ill, why not to depressives or simply to people who no longer see any meaning in their lives because they are lonely? Or because they are poor. Or threatened by homelessness (!!)!12 It is not chronic pain, disability or illness that drive some people to 'euthanasia', but poverty and lack of perspective. Not because they want to die, but because they see no way out.13

Those who are superfluous for capitalism and those who are not (more) exploitable are denied all right to exist; above all - and this is particularly disgusting - legitimized by bioethics or similar. How disgusting that euthanasia henchmen even dare to publish a propaganda brochure for children!14 So that children learn to regard it as 'normal' that grandpa or the disabled brother are murdered for reasons of cost? In the end, the 'superfluous' and 'human cost factors' are to be 'disposed of' just like unsold tomatoes. Freedom in capitalism is in the last instance nothing else than the freedom to die!

So one still dares to talk about freedom and self-determination without realizing and radically criticizing the logic of the capitalist social system at all, which always objectively calls both into question and makes the submission and internalization of the exploitation imperatives of capital the precondition of all freedom and self-determination! This all the more, if the speech of freedom and self-determination is in the sense of consumption freedom. No thought is wasted on how the capitalist mode of production (and thus the mode of consumption) prepares and destroys man and nature for the "monstrous end in itself" (Kurz 1999b, 648) of capital accumulation. For the bourgeois philistine, everything should remain as usual (although it is more and more obvious that nothing will remain as it is). Under no circumstances should one's own freedom of consumption, freedom of vacation or the like be called into question. In order to stop or at least (!) mitigate the climate collapse, all kinds of things have to be questioned...

If, on the other hand, there should be talk of freedom, then in a completely different sense. In the words of Robert Kurz: "Freedom would consist solely in the fact that the people who come together for the reproduction of their life do this not only voluntarily, but also consult and decide together about the content as well as about the procedure. [...] Such freedom, which would be the exact opposite of liberal universal servitude under the dictates of labor markets, is in principle practically possible at all levels and aggregations of social reproduction-from the household to the transcontinental networking of production" (ibid.). There would have to be a social agreement on what, how and for what purpose production should take place without ruining the planet - and not in order to accumulate capital, even if it is 'green' capital. Climate protection and economic growth are not compatible, as even some Greens have realized by now (e.g. the Taz editor Ulrike Herrmann, who in her new book advocates a war economy, as it existed in the UK during World War II, as an alleged means to overcome capitalism and its destructive exploitation dynamics; for a critique see Konicz 2022a). The fact that people no longer have to sacrifice themselves and nature for the monstrous end in itself of capital would be, so to speak, the basis for real freedom and self-determination, which, however, would have nothing to do with bourgeois freedom and self-determination (a fortiori not with the so-called freedom of consumption), since the latter are nothing other than the freedom to servitude and self-utilization; also to self-blasphemy and finally - as the euthanasia debates show with clarity - the freedom to death.

To evade the radical critique of the existing and the crises and catastrophes that go along with it through affectation and freedom mumbo-jumbo in order to hold on to a historical model that is being phased out is indeed somewhat suicidal in the medium to long term; 'freedom to die' can thus hardly be an exaggeration. To conclude in Tomasz Konicz's words, "The adherence of late capitalist ideology to the existing, which is obviously in the process of decay, thus comes close to a suicide, a suicide out of fear of the death of capital. Ultimately, death is unconsciously sought as a way out of the increasing social contradictions that, after all, pervade every individual. The nothingness of death thus becomes the last rest in the face of the escalating contradictions of the late capitalist permanent crisis and the accompanying abyss between increasing renunciation of drives and social requirements that can hardly be fulfilled anymore. [...] The death drive latently inherent in capital, manifest in its lethal crisis, wants to transfer the world into nothingness, into the yawning void that forms the concrete substance of the real abstraction value. It is a subjectless nihilism that unfolds due to the crisis: The world is to be made equal to the black eye of the value-form, which is at the center of the whirlwind of rampant accumulation of dead wage-labor that has been devastating the world for some 300 years. Consequently, everything that cannot be pressed into the commodity form and exploited by sale on the market will be consigned to destruction in times of crisis rather than loosening the grip of the world exploitation machine on man and nature. The destruction of unsaleable goods in times of crisis, which in the meantime are also increasingly withdrawn from the access of impoverished people by corresponding legal regulations (for example, by laws against 'containerizing'), forms only the obvious outflow of this urge for self-destruction" (Konicz 2022b, 79f.).
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