the american class system. state of the union. the crisis of capitalism.

1 Apr

Marxism , revisionism

Is Marx right? There were some critics of Marx, like Eduard Bernstein in Germany, who believed that capitalism would get better, and that a revolution was not inevitable. He was called a ‘Revisionist Marxist.’ Later on, Economists rejected Marx.

So here’s an old essay on Marx that I wrote:

Marxist philosophy represents a revision of Hegelian dialectics. Meaning, the historical development from one stage in history to the next produces a synthesis of the two which is superior to either of them. The interceding stage (b) is subsumed into the synthesis (c ). Meaning, the historical movement from a) the capitalist model of unrestricted exploitation of labor and the environment leads to b) a worker’s rebellion against the expropriation of worker’s labor-time or labor-value by the bosses, the who work for the owners of the means of production, and to c) the final overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of a socialistic state, in which such exploitation has been absolutely overcome. Following the inevitable revolution, property was to be placed into the hands of the centralized state, and the dictatorship of the working-class established under the leadership of the Communist Party. That is the main thesis of the “Communist manifesto.” Only then would history truly begin, history in the sense of mankind’s self-aware control of its own development. What has until the revolution constituted history is merely the inevitable pre-conditions for socialism.

Marx’s theory of socialism, he believed, was historically inevitable; yet there was some argument among Marxists over whether the workers alone could come to the conclusion that capitalism must be overcome, or whether an enlightened intelligensia was the catalyst of revolution. Capitalism, Marx noted, would create conditions that were so intolerable to the working-class that they would inevitably revolt. He vehemently rejected the theory that capitalism could be reformed by law into something less repressive, less exploitative of the workers than existed in Britain during the mid-nineteenth-century. His collaborator, Engels was a capitalist traitor to his own class who funded Marx’s research on the factories and slums of Britain. They rejected reform because Marxism is not merely an analysis of industrial conditions, but a theory of history.

Marx believed that the ‘crisis of capitalism’ led inevitably to war amongst the colonialist powers over the exploitation of the resources of foreign markets. Such wars would prove to be so devastating that they would lead to a communist revolution in one or all of the modern industrial nations. Was Marx right? World Wars One and Two, Korea, Vietnam, and other wars were all fought by modern technologically-advanced nations over markets in the ‘developing world,’ and led to millions of needless deaths of innocents. It is acknowledged as a principle that capitalist enterprises must conquer markets, domestic and foreign. The multinational corporation represents a power superior to the State. These corporations must either expand and subsume their rivals, or else they will perish under social-Darwinian conditions. It is the ‘kill or be killed,’ ‘eat or be eaten’ ethos of unregulated free-market capitalism which has led us to our present ’crisis.’ Marx, however, didn’t foresee that a corporatist-model of capitalism would be developed in the 20th century, in which state and capitalist enterprises, working in tandem, would work to forestall a worker’s revolution through union-scale wages, education, healthcare, and other reforms. Nevertheless, despite these reforms, worker’s wages remain stagnant, and the government proves to be incompetent in its economic and foreign policies, which hurt them and the poor while the capitalist class of humanity laughs at them from their balconies.

A State-corporate coordination is what America developed during and after World War Two. This occurred in response to the crisis of capitalism in 1929, an event which plunged America and the world into the Great Depression. FDR’s “New Deal,” was his response to the economic crisis. However, government  and industry didn’t organize fully until the crisis of World War Two, which proved the necessity of corporate and state alliance in order to prevent the victory of foreign nations over the United States, and hence the destruction of capitalism.

Such a model of government, unions, and industry working together was certainly one of the factors which led to American and allied victory during the war. In essence, America developed a model that was still democratic in theory, but which mimicked certain aspects of the very totalitarian nations with which the US was then at war, including rationing, blackouts, the draft, and the censorship of the press.

To return to Marx: I assert that he was fundamentally a humanistic thinker, who believed that an alternative model to unrestrained laissez-faire capitalism was needed in order to save the human dignity of the workers. Adam Smith’s model of ‘laissez-faire’ free-market economics was and still is the guiding one of the capitalist class. But Marx studied British models of economics, and pointed out their fundamental flaws. He correctly saw that capitalism’s model would lead to vast concentrations of wealth and power in the hands of the few, which is occurring today thanks to ‘corporate mergers.’ He understood the increasing alienation of the working-class and the poor under such a system, which would lead to violent rebellions and conflicts, as workers across languages, cultures, and borders began to understand their class interest– which was a humanistic one– and in revolt they would finally achieve class solidarity. He foresaw that they would eventually reject the ancient regime, the old order of church and state, military and industry, school and factory, newspaper and theatre, all of which operated in conjunction within society to produce a culture that fostered capitalism. In the final analysis, a new economic order would have to replace the old one, in which intellectually-aware individuals would unite to help the workers arrive at a transcendent understanding of history, in which their role would be that of the hero, who would overthrow the capitalistic economic order.

The cultural superstructure mentioned above built upon the worker’s economic labor, which was undervalued. Hence, the continuing relevance of Marxist analysis to understanding the corrupt world we have inherited. The consumer society has largely replaced the old industrial model of capitalism, yet the exploitation of workers around the world continues. The capitalists boast about their ‘managerial system’ and their control of the mass media and the political parties, but they cannot prevent the perception of injustice across the spectrum of the class system.

American corporations have largely replaced the Midwest factory-system, and manufacturing has largely been off-shored to Third world nations. In the “developing world,” there are few or no labor-standards. These are the conditions that shall either inspire a new world-revolution, or shall lead to the world-decline of the West entirely, as the Third World asserts itself on the world stage. Elite intellectuals are tolerated by the capitalistic order only because they would provoke more trouble attacking them than in letting them be. Hence, I believe that a cultural revolution within the first world is needed because this is also a war not only over factory-conditions in foreign nations, but over the human mind and conscience. The more acts of opposition there are to ‘the system,’ the more consciousness that is spread through books, media and the internet, the more rallies and demonstrations that there are, the more the capitalists will tremble over their powerlessness to control public opinion. Doubtlessly they will attempt to influence it to an even greater degree than they presently do. Hence we must all work continuously and daily to make people understand how the system operates not in theory but in fact: for popular opinion can move mountains.

The superstructure of culture, family, religion, education, is built upon the structure of economic exploitation and environmental degradation, and the continuing alienation of the working-class of all nations. This entails the necessity for cooperation among environmentalists, Marxists, feminists, artists and peaceniks.

Workers of the world, Unite!

Sources:

Marx, Selected writings

David Harvey, The Crisis of Capitalism

Spark Notes, Das Kapital

The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels

Books that changed the world, Andrew Taylor

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2 Responses to “the american class system. state of the union. the crisis of capitalism.”

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