Marx my Word

March 26, 2013

Karl MarxIn an example of how things can turn —not on a dime maybe, but on a fat silver dollar at least— it could be Karl Marx was right after all.

Having been dismissed by the mullahs of capitalism as an evil crank, Marx’s assessment of capitalism’s tendency to ultimately and  inevitably suck the marrow of most of us, may be turning out just as he predicted. If your patriot heart recoils at this, just think “austerity” for the masses simultaneous with a metastasizing  wealthy elite, a tumor growing faster and fatter.

Wall Street has gloated over the global demise of Communism because it has laid the planet wide open to its financial strip-mining; tar sand sitewide open to the same rapaciousness shown by communist corruption, as if capitalist corruption was a form of decadence closer to God. To hear some ministers of American religion tell it, this is in fact the case: capitalism’s corruptions are somehow favored by the Lord over that of evil communism because capitalism must be part of God’s plan.

For Evangelicals, for instance, “… it was unthinkable that capitalism led to class conflict, for that would mean that God had created a world at war with itself. The evangelicals believed in a providential God, one who built a logical and orderly universe, and they saw the new industrial economy as a fulfillment of God’s plan. The free market, they believed, was a perfectly designed instrument to reward good Christian behavior and to punish and humiliate the unrepentant.” —

If this is so— if God is in his heaven blushing with fatherly pride at the likes of Mitt Romney, or Sheldon Adelson or the Koch brothers, Lucifer may have had it right —hope would demand that not be so. Whatever God’s plan may be, unbridled capitalism may not be any more a part of it than was unbridled communism. Class warfare is class warfare no matter who’s lobbing mortars.

Michael Shumann (Time Magazine) gives us the latest in class news and throws in Marx’s prediction concerning future life under capitalism. It has an eerily real ring.

wealth distribution marxWith the global economy in a protracted crisis,” Schumann writes, “and workers around the world burdened by joblessness, debt and stagnant incomes, Marx’s biting critique of capitalism — that the system is inherently unjust and self-destructive — cannot be so easily dismissed. Marx theorized that the capitalist system would inevitably impoverish the masses as the world’s wealth became concentrated in the hands of a greedy few, causing economic crises and heightened conflict between the rich and working classes.

” ‘Accumulation of wealth at one pole is at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole,’ Marx wrote.”

There’s an insidiousness in the tactics of the rich and their mouthpieces, such as apparent sociopaths like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), that makes it possible to imagine them turning over their own mothers to the Koch Machine to be water-boarded until they divulge where mom hid her last social security check so it could be turned over to Goldman Sachs to be voucherized at 1/4 of its pre-privatization value. The conspiracy of lies that seethes from the mouths of these characters is blatant in its shamelessness. Their moral compasses are tuned always to the magnetism of excess and power. Thier smug arrogance is a symptom of their sociopathy.

Take this by Cruz: [The Democrats’ budget] does nothing to solve the enormous challenges facing Social Security and Medicare. Every one of us would like to see those critical bulwarks of our society strengthened, and right now those programs are careening toward bankruptcy.”

Is there anyone within broadcast distance of Republicans who believes that Cruz really means they’d like to see SS strengthened? You’d have to have had your head up Sean Hannity’s think tank for the past ten years to buy that one.

“Republicans do not want them ‘strengthened’. This is not just a matter of semantics. You only have to look at what these people have been saying since these programs were enacted to understand that they do not believe that the government should administer these programs at all. In fact, Ted Cruz has called SS a ponzi scheme. He basically supports the Ryan dystopian nightmare plan.” —Digby at Hullabaloo

I’d rather dine with an honest petty crook than spend an evening too close to the sleaze of Cruz —even Jesus seemed to prefer the virtue of Mary Magdalene to the likes of King Herod’s wife.

tarsands oil spillSo Ted Cruz and those who live by his values would not shrink from having unregulated capitalism permanently established as the final solution —the most efficient and effective way to strip not only the nation, but the planet, naked in order to line their closets with thousand dollar suits.

The flip side of Marx’s “dictatorship of the proletariat” (a prediction which did not pan out), it may be argued, is the “hegemony of lootn’carryit” —which is to say the hoarding of riches by looters of the commonwealth who haul it off to the Cayman Islands for safekeeping, i.e. to protect it from the governments of common people who might use it to revitalize infrastructures, improve public education, or simply to provide the means to keep the larger part of the world population out of a life in gutters, jails or homeless shelters.

It’s a mean morality that elevates acquisitiveness to a national virtue.

Dante , on the fourth circle of the Inferno of his Divine Comedy introduces us to the avaricious. They toil eternally pushing boulders around in much the same way as their hoarding of wealth while they we alive left the rest of the world’s population to struggle under the daily weight of their poverty:

The goods committed into fortune’s hands,
For which the human race keeps such a heap!
Not all the gold, that is beneath the moon,
Or ever hath been, of these toil-worn souls
Might purchase rest for one.”
……………………………. —Dante Alighieri

dante 4th circlers

But poets can throw out cautionary tales until the sacred cows come home without making a dent in the gold-plated skulls of bankers or the buck-bound heads of corporations.

And so, “…the consequence of (the) widening inequality is just what Marx had predicted: class struggle is back. Workers of the world are growing angrier and demanding their fair share of the global economy. From the floor of the U.S. Congress to the streets of Athens to the assembly lines of southern China, political and economic events are being shaped by escalating tensions between capital and labor to a degree unseen since the communist revolutions of the 20th century.” —Shumann

by Jim Culleny
for the West County Independent
Shelburne Falls, MA.

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One Response to “Marx my Word”

  1. Tim Says:

    Nice essay. Couple of points.

    Whilst the *words* “dictatorship of the proletariat”, appear in Marx’s writings, he often in his actual political pronouncements *rejects* the idea. Either as a programme or as an ideal. He remained ambivalent. It was Lenin that elevated the notion into an

    In any case, I think that Marx is read most profitably if all the “metaphysical” bits are excised – and translated into the language of modern day social science: economics, political economy sociology, economic history etc.

    This includes the millenarian eschatology – derived from Hegel amongst others – that informs a lot of Marx’s work and thought.

    Marx would be the first to tell you that he must be understood in historical context. And that the 19th century Capitalism of his day differs significantly from that of the early 21st century.

    “Neo-(or maybe “post”) Marxism” – and fellow travelers- is possibly best found in the writings of such figures as David Harvey; David Graeber; various parts of Chomsky; Richard Wolf; Jurgen Habermas; Giovanni Arrighi; Andre Gunder Frank; Michael Mann; Roberto Unger.

    And above all, the magisterial thought and work of Immanuel Wallerstein and his school of World Systems Analysis.

    I would recommend Wallerstein’s “Utopistics: Historical Choices of the 21st Century” as a starting point and introduction.

    Kind regards.

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