IS CAPITALISM A CRIME?
More and more people can see new constraints on our freedom. They see widening inequality and the threat of ecological disaster growing. Are these problems caused by the Capitalist system? We are putting the system on trial in The Capitalism Tribunal.
Name of the defendant
STADT WIEN AND URBAN PLANNING AUTHORITIES as well as REAL ESTATE SPECULATION COMPANIES like VESTWERK.
Bill of indictment
I submit as Darren Sutton (Artist-in-Residence at mo.e, Vienna, Jan-May 2016) as part of mo.ë collective.
Gentrification, as an agent of capitalism must be challenged for legitimising the transfer of the wealth of the community, to the private accounts of speculative developers. Further, this process must be challenged in a profound and systemic way as it is our values, thinking and human creativity that is taken when financial capital is given greater value than human capital.
mo.ë is an independent arts collective based in the 17th district of Vienna. Its arts space and studios are under threat of closure and eviction in the face of a speculative redevelopment as the old factory is converted into private property luxury flats. For 5 years mo.ë has driven an enormous arts, music and cultural programme reaching into and out of the local and international creative and intellectual community. It has played a key role, along with many others to develop the local area from deprivation to the thriving desirable condition it is now in. All this has happened on basic short term project funding and largely on the passion and energy of the creative community.
In 1984 the german artist Joseph Beuys claimed ‘Human creativity is the true capital. The ability that underlies work is capital. Money is not an economic value at all! The connection between ability and product represents the economic value. This explains the formula of the expanded definition of art: ART=CAPITAL.'
We accuse Stadt Wien and Vestwerk, but more we accuse all urban planning authorities, in partnership with speculative real estate development companies, of destroying the true capital of vibrant communities - social cohesion, independent economy, creativity and culture - by claiming real estate and converting this wealth into private gain through luxury developments. Gentrification is an agent of capitalism, that has become an entirely normalised and legitimate aspect of modern living, yet it is a destructive force that collects wealth of the many into the banks and offshore deposits of the few. That this happens in a democratically elected system and in the name of progress, is all the more the problem, indicating it is systemic and hence needs profound redress.
True capital = kunst = human creativity, must be placed at the heart of any democratic system. It is people that are our capital not money, and this is the role of all citizens and governments to cultivate. That this is not happening either in Wien or across the world calls for a systemic reappraisal of how we are living. Capitalism is accused, but as socially engaged artists and thinkers we ask more questions about how all citizens may engage in shaping change in their own lives or the society, and in line with Joseph Beuys we call for engagement with our thought system to accompany this reappraisal.