Was Marx Right?

Dr. Michael LaitmanOpinion (Umair Haque, London-based consultant and author, Director of Havas Media Labs):

  • Immiseration. Marx claimed that capitalism would immiserate workers: he meant that labor would be ‘exploited’ — not just in a purely ethical sense, but in a narrower economic one: that real wages would fall, and working conditions would deteriorate. How was Marx doing on this score? I’d say middlingly: wages in many advanced economies — notably, the most purely capitalist in a financialized sense — have failed to keep pace with productivity; not for years, but for decades. (America’s median wage has been stagnant for roughly 40 years.) In macro terms, labor’s share of income has plummeted, while the lion’s share of growth has accrued to those at the very top.
  • Crisis. As workers were paid less and less, capitalism would be prone to chronic, perpetual crises of overproduction — for they wouldn’t have the means to purchase or invest in enough goods to keep the economy humming. As Marx put it, there was likely to be ‘poverty in the midst of plenty.’ …
  • Stagnation. Here’s Marx’s most controversial — and most curious — prediction. That as economies stagnated, real rates of profit would fall. How does this one hold up? On first glance, it seems to have been totally discredited: corporate profits have broken through the roof and into the stratosphere. But think about it again, in economic terms: Marx’s prediction concerned ‘real profit,’ not just the mystery-meat numbers served up by bean counters, and chewed over with gusto by ‘analysts.’ …
  • “Alienation. As workers were divorced from the output of their labor, Marx claimed, their sense of self-determination dwindled, alienating them from a sense of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment. How’s Marx doing on this score? I’d say quite well: even the most self-proclaimed humane modern workplaces, for all their creature comforts, are bastions of bone-crushing tedium and soul-sucking mediocrity, filled with dreary meetings, dismal tasks, and pointless objectives that are well, just a little bit alienating. …
  • “Commodity fetishism. A fetishized object is one which is more than a symbol: it’s believed to have actually the power the symbol represents (like an idol, or a totem with magical properties). Marx claimed that under industrial age capitalism’s rules, commodities became revered talismans, worshipped through transactional exchanges, imbued with mystical powers that give them inherent value — and obscuring the value of and in the very people who’ve worked labored over them in the first place. It’s one of Marx’s most subtle and nuanced concepts. Does it hold water? Again, I’ll merely pointing to societies in furious pursuit of more, bigger, faster, cheaper, nastier, now, whether it’s the retail temples of America’s mega-malls, or London rioters stealing, not bread, but video games.”

My Comment: Marx was right in the fact that he believed that only human education and upbringing would lead a person to the transformation of the capitalist system into a true socialist, and if it happens violently, by external pressure (a revolution), and not by the freewill of the corrected people, there will be a German or Soviet-style Nazism.

Related Material:
Karl Marx On The Influence Of The Environment
“Marx Was Right: Five Surprising Ways Karl Marx Predicted 2014”
“Marx’s Revenge”

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