I first started staring at our planet through google earth shortly after I began deliberately smoking large volumes of cannabis. I’d smoke as soon as I got home from work, load up earth, all labels off, and just look, really fucking look. And I could see it. I could see capitalism. Hours would go by, often I wouldn’t eat, certainly I wouldn’t cook, that would be a waste of time that could be spent trying to understand the whole damn planet.
We spend too much time thinking of the earth through maps. Maps have an agenda, maps strip out everything except what is deemed important: we see the world not as it is but through internalised political maps or worse, road maps; the earth reduced to a google street map. We lose a sense of what those maps are: selected features to simplify and accentuate understanding of one particular feature, not the earth itself. We have lost touch of what the world is.
The Science of Dialectical Materialism revolves around seeing and understanding the connectedness of all matter and the constant motion, and what better way to see anything, to see capitalism in motion, than from the sky? To actually observe it. Watch it. Stare at it with righteous loathing, with incandescent rage, with a transcendent hatred so strong you think you can bring about its destruction through strength of thought alone.
I believe that if Engels and Marx had access to detailed zoom-able scrollable satellite imagery of the entire globe the would have revelled in it in the same way I do. They would have used it in the same way I do, to pummel a sense of scale into my consciousness, no matter how horrific. To conjure up disgust at the near incomprehensible volume of suffering that capitalism entails. To fill myself with extreme fear and paranoia at the shadow of violence that hangs over every human slave to capital. To send my heart-rate soaring as I understand the need for communism now, not tomorrow, not later, not when the “time is right” but right fucking now, because every second that goes by under capitalism is another second of evil at the planetary scale. Another second of oppression, death, pain, suffering, theft and rape, torture and murder, another second more of the existence of a hell constructed to cover an entire planet. Always I’m overwhelmed, often I feel sick, sometimes I cry, depending on the strain and how much I’ve smoked sometimes I have wonderful, terrifying, beautifully conscious panic attacks that render me near paralysed in paranoid terror.
Humans deal on local scales, scales relevant to their immediate material circumstances. Radiating out beyond what we can touch, hold, count on ten fingers, fit inside our field of view things becomes progressively harder to truly comprehend. The further away from these circumstances the further away we are from true consciousness of what is really entailed; the microscopic, the atomic, the planetary, the galactic, these are concepts for which our scales of reference are laughably inadequate. For us, for matter that has barely gained consciousness of its own existence, a million deaths really is just a statistic.
We relate large scales beyond our absolute conscious understanding to multiples of things at a scale we do have a conscious sense of, the much ridiculed football pitches, Eiffel towers, elephants and double decker buses. But beyond a basic consciousness of true scale of the earth there is a more important thing to see. The urban legend went that the great wall of china was the only man made structure visible from space, laughable! Every human structure is visible from space; this is a human planet, it is hard to find a place where we are not present. The earth is not a pristine blue marble falling through space, the earth is a self made Tartarus, a Coruscant in the constructing, and only through taking perspectives beyond our human limitations can we gain a truer sense of the human suffering, pain and death that capitalism inflicts on us and on the earth itself.
When you say that capital blankets the entire globe, do you really understand what that means? To a conscious Marxist-Leninist, browsing the world through Google Maps gives over seven billion reasons for the need for communism. At its best it’s overwhelming in a way no individualist “true life story” ever can be. At large scales slavery and death might become just statistics, but when seen from the sky, as a whole or in a larger part, these “statistics” demonstrate their material reality.
Screen-shots don’t do the process justice, you really need to play around yourself, zooming and panning, swooping and diving across the surface of the planet, an avian dialectical materialist. Nevertheless I’ve selected some of my “favourite” views to try and share with others the importance for communists to take the time to look at capitalism from a distant vantage point, and to try and share something that for me is one of the most powerful, transcendent experiences possible.
And then it’s late, the cannabis is wearing off, I’m tired, I have to work tomorrow, I turn off the computer, consciousness recedes, the world contracts to my immediate material circumstances, the horror fades, the fear drains away, the urgency lessens, but I know what I’ll be thinking about at work tomorrow.