The Extractive Circuit

Ajay Singh Chaudhary in The Baffler (image © Jul Quanouai):

THE MACHINERY—THE ACTUAL FORM AND FUNCTION—of twenty-first-century capitalism is an extractive circuit which quite literally crisscrosses the world. Its global value chains stretch through physical infrastructure and “frictionless” financial flows at the speed allowed by fossil fuels; telecommunications;  and geophysical, technological, psychosocial, and bodily limits and “optimizations.” It connects economically and ecologically dispossessed agricultural communities in the Global South with regimes of hyperwork in the Global North; rare earth “sacrifice zones” with refugees; migrant labor with social reproduction; ocean acidification and atmospheric carbon with profitable opportunity. It has required the transformation of states; it has ripped through biomes and through flesh. Capital often appears and is treated as a historical abstraction; this is doubly true of globalized, financialized capital. The extractive circuit is the leaden reality of a global human ecological niche organized for maximal profitability—no matter how difficult or costly to maintain. Its realities underscore the generalization of a colonial social relation in socioecological terms, even as older modes of imperialism and neocolonialism are hardly swept aside. Its speed, frenzy, coercion, and brutality reach into the very heart of the imperial metropole, far beyond where such relations were already present. Feelings of exhaustion—depression, desperation, fatigue, exasperation—course through its wirings, neurons, biochemicals, and sinews.

At every “node” along such a circuit, “inputs”—ecological, political, social, individual—are extracted and “exhausted.”

More here.