The Structural Genocide That Is Capitalism

Garry Leech, an author who had previously penned a book on the FARC insurgency in Colombia (2011), has assembled a forceful denunciation of the status quo with Capitalism: A Structural Genocide. In essence, he argues cogently in this work that the devastating structural violence experienced by societies subjected to the rule of capital since its historical emergence – and that particularly felt by the world’s presently impoverished social majorities – is, instead of being an aberration or distortion of market imperatives, central and inherent to the division of society along class lines and the enthronement of private property.

Even a cursory examination of the depth of human suffering perpetuated historically and contemporarily by the hegemony of capital should lead disinterested observers to agree with Leech that the catastrophic scale of violence for which this system is responsible can be considered nothing less than genocidal, however shocking such a conclusion might prove to be.

In this book, Leech guides his readers through theoretical examinations of the concept of genocide, showing why the term should in fact be applied to the capitalist mode of production. He then illustrates capitalism’s genocidal proclivities by exploring four case studies: the ongoing legacy of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in Mexico; the relationship between trade liberalization and genetically-modified seeds on the one hand and mass-suicide on the part of Indian agriculturalists on the other; material deprivation and generalized premature death throughout much of the African continent and the global South, as results from hunger, starvation, and preventable disease; and the ever-worsening climatic and environmental crises.

Leech then closes by considering the relevance of Antonio Gramsci’s conceptions of cultural hegemony in attempting to explain the puzzling consent granted to this system by large swathes of the world’s relatively privileged people – specifically, those residing in the imperial core of Europe and the United States – and then recommending the socialist alternative as a concrete means of abolishing genocide, while looking to the Cuban and Venezuelan regimes as imperfect, but inspirational experiments in these terms. In sum, while I take issue with some of his analysis and aspects of his conceptualization of anticapitalist alternatives, his work should certainly be well-received, read and discussed by large multitudes.


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