Stephen Hawking’s question

Updated: 21 May 2008, 23:27

Originally written: 10 July 2006

British mathematician and astrophysicist Stephen W. Hawking, at the request of Yahoo Inc., posed a question on Yahoo, in early July 2006.

Stephen Hawking’s Question:

How can the human race survive the next hundred years?

In a world that is in chaos politically, socially and environmentally, how can the human race sustain another 100 years?

Although an obvious attention-getting scheme, there is nothing necessarily wrong with that. If attention is drawn to serious questions, and to serious answers, society can be served. Any of capitalism’s bootlicking propagandists could have written that, but it is nonetheless true.

Capitalism has shown itself remarkably resilient. That is mostly due to the tremendously inventive nature of the working class, and the ability of capitalism to trick our class into believing the wildest social fantasy. Socialists of one hundred years ago would probably be astounded that workers are still being fooled, and that capitalism still reigns supreme.

The current longevity of capitalism — several hundred years — suggests that it could last another hundred. It might not be pretty, but capitalism has never been pretty. An ugly, brutal child, it remains an ugly, brutal multi-centarian.

The human race may survive another hundred years under capitalism. But why choose the worst of two possible futures for us and for our children?

We can move forward, or remain stuck in a 19th and 20th century time warp. We can take back the wealth we have created, and use it to build a society fit for humanity. We can build a society fit for people who have solved problems which our forefathers could not even recognize as problems.

We have the technology, today, to solve all or most of the major problems of society. We can significantly reduce the workday, and make what remains, safe and enjoyable, as difficult as that may be to comprehend in today’s world of employment. But capitalism’s propagandists, at full volume, incessantly, tell everyone that socialism is not a practical society.

Capitalism causes pollution, war, poverty, and sickness. But despite all of that, we are told that capitalism is a practical society! If you listen to capitalism’s apologists, production of wealth is dwarfed by all of the effort necessary to deal with the administration and problems thrown up by capitalism. They do not phrase it that way, but they frequently point it out. Capitalism is only considered practical because people ignore capitalism’s immense waste and interminable problems.

When we eliminate profit and thereby either eliminate, or allow us to solve, these problems, we will be able to improve society more than any of us can even imagine.

This is not magic. This is not utopia. This is hard science, and soft behavioural science.

Capitalism has built upon previous class divided societies to present us with the stepping stones to a new society. That sounds like promises past. Promises which were fulfilled! Feudalism created stepping stones steeped in the blood of peasants. The new class of capitalists enlisted the peasants, tradesmen, and workers, to again bloody the stones for the triumphal march of capitalism onto the scene of history. Those feudal stepping stones led the way to a utopia for the capitalists.

There has been enough blood on the stepping stones. It has always been ours — we who do not rule. We cannot remove the bloodstains from the stones, but we can use them to end, forever, the class division in society. We can ensure that no more blood will be spilt upon those stones. The working class is the last class to be freed. We must free ourselves, and in so doing, create real freedom for everyone, for the first time, forever.

For as long as capitalism has reigned, the working class has paid for socialism. For as long as feudalism reigned before that, the serfs paid for socialism. Those who do not rule have paid for socialism since the dawn of class divided society.

We paid for it when we died in the factories. We paid for it when we worked seven, eight, nine, and ten hour days to produce surplus value — profit — for the capitalists.

We have paid for it. When will we take it?
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