The Re-Rise of Marx

“(Karl Marx is) the most accurate prophet in all of history, there should be no doubt about this.” – Richard Metzger, written on Boing Boing.

I hope the current financial crisis leads to a new generation of people reading Marx and those of us who have read him before should be re-reading him.

As David Harvey says in the below video, the G20 governments are just trying to re-boot the same kind of capitalism we’ve had before which has seen a series of collapses over the last 30 years, each collapse leading to the bankers being bailed out by the taxpayers and walking away scott-free so they can do it all over again, “sticking it to the people”, as Harvey says. Rampant consumerism is to blame for our problems and Marx predicted this 150 years ago. Propping up the old regime isn’t the answer. We need a new model. And we need to start figuring out what that model might be. We need to pressure our leaders to start thinking about it, talking publicly about it, not just propping up the old broken system.

Read Marx’s DAS KAPITAL along with David Harvey here.

5 thoughts on “The Re-Rise of Marx

  1. You assume that we live in a capitalist society which I refute. Government spending approaches close to 50% of GDP in many so called ‘capitalist’ societies. Most world economies are mixed economies in which the ideas of Adam Smith and Karl Marx play an equally important role.

    Governments are as much to blame as the greedy bankers. They happily took tax revenues of 30% or more from companies which they knew were making unsustainable profits. They took those taxes in order to fund extravagant state spending plans. Much of that spending was made up of social programmes which Marx himself advocated and would have approved of.

    This crisis isn’t about greed. It’s about short-termism. Politicians and bankers alike have horizons which rarely stretch beyond four or five years (ie the next election for politicians or the next job for bankers).

  2. Charlie, while I agree that we don’t live in pure capitalist societies, I think it’s important to recognize that the socialist-style programs we have in our countries are really just risk mitigation strategies. The wealthy elite have learned over the last 200 years that if you allow the proletariat to get TOO hungry and TOO desperate, they will rebel. So they provide a certain amount of sustenance, just enough to keep people with food in their bellies and a roof over their heads (well, most of them, anyway).

    Don’t you think the short-termism is driven BY the greed? The “engine” of our economies is built around capitalistic ideas – the pursuit of wealth for private individuals or a collection of private individuals – and not about sharing the wealth of society equally amongst everyone. That’s a capitalist society by definition.

  3. “The “engine” of our economies is built around capitalistic ideas”

    I just don’t agree with that. Governments have enormous control over corporations, the “engines” of our economies. The government exerts this control to achieve social aims.

    If communism is all about the people controlling the means of production then I’d argue that to a large extent governments do control the means of production in our modern so called capitalist societies.

    Subsidies, corporate taxes, corporate laws, labour laws, regulation and, increasingly at the moment, direct government intervention are all examples of governments controlling the means of production.

    It’s a big claim but I’ll stick my neck out and say that our economy is as communist as it is capitalist.

  4. Charlie

    I think it’s the other way around – our corporations run our governments. You don’t get to be elected in a western country unless the corporate media gives you adequate coverage. They can make or break any politician’s campaign by choosing to focus their energies on positive or negative (or zero) coverage.

    And governments can’t enact laws without the same support from corporations and the corporate media.

    Communism is about the masses controlling the means of production and property. If Australia was a communist country, then we wouldn’t have the massive wealth divide between the wealthy elite and the rest of the country.

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