Skip to main content

Marx predicted our present crisis – and points the way out

The Communist Manifesto foresaw the predatory and polarised global capitalism of the 21st century. But Marx and Engels also showed us that we have the power to create a better world.

by Yanis Varoufakis

Part 4 - It is our duty to tear away at the old notion of privately owned means of production and force a metamorphosis, which must involve the social ownership of machinery, land and resources

If the manifesto holds the same power to excite, enthuse and shame us that it did in 1848, it is because the struggle between social classes is as old as time itself. Marx and Engels summed this up in 13 audacious words: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

From feudal aristocracies to industrialised empires, the engine of history has always been the conflict between constantly revolutionising technologies and prevailing class conventions. With each disruption of society’s technology, the conflict between us changes form. Old classes die out and eventually only two remain standing: the class that owns everything and the class that owns nothing – the bourgeoisie and the proletariat.

This is the predicament in which we find ourselves today. While we owe capitalism for having reduced all class distinctions to the gulf between owners and non-owners, Marx and Engels want us to realise that capitalism is insufficiently evolved to survive the technologies it spawns.

It is our duty to tear away at the old notion of privately owned means of production and force a metamorphosis, which must involve the social ownership of machinery, land and resources. Now, when new technologies are unleashed in societies bound by the primitive labour contract, wholesale misery follows. In the manifesto’s unforgettable words: “A society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells.

The sorcerer will always imagine that their apps, search engines, robots and genetically engineered seeds will bring wealth and happiness to all. But, once released into societies divided between wage labourers and owners, these technological marvels will push wages and prices to levels that create low profits for most businesses. It is only big tech, big pharma and the few corporations that command exceptionally large political and economic power over us that truly benefit.

If we continue to subscribe to labour contracts between employer and employee, then private property rights will govern and drive capital to inhuman ends. Only by abolishing private ownership of the instruments of mass production and replacing it with a new type of common ownership that works in sync with new technologies, will we lessen inequality and find collective happiness.

According to Marx and Engels’ 13-word theory of history, the current stand-off between worker and owner has always been guaranteed. “Equally inevitable,” the manifesto states, is the bourgeoisie’s “fall and the victory of the proletariat”. So far, history has not fulfilled this prediction, but critics forget that the manifesto, like any worthy piece of propaganda, presents hope in the form of certainty. Just as Lord Nelson rallied his troops before the Battle of Trafalgar by announcing that England “expected” them to do their duty (even if he had grave doubts that they would), the manifesto bestows upon the proletariat the expectation that they will do their duty to themselves, inspiring them to unite and liberate one another from the bonds of wage-slavery.

Will they? On current form, it seems unlikely. But, then again, we had to wait for globalisation to appear in the 1990s before the manifesto’s estimation of capital’s potential could be fully vindicated.

Might it not be that the new global, increasingly precarious proletariat needs more time before it can play the historic role the manifesto anticipated? While the jury is still out, Marx and Engels tell us that, if we fear the rhetoric of revolution, or try to distract ourselves from our duty to one another, we will find ourselves caught in a vertiginous spiral in which capital saturates and bleaches the human spirit. The only thing we can be certain of, according to the manifesto, is that unless capital is socialised we are in for dystopic developments.

Source, links:


[1] [2] [3] [5] [6] [7]


Read also:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Stock market: one of the biggest frauds in the age of financial capitalism

globinfo freexchange
Lee Camp speaks with Tan Liu about his revealing book The Ponzi Factor, where Liu exposes all the big fraud of the stock market. Liu explains why the stock market, especially today, in the era of financial capitalism, is the purest definition of a Ponzi scheme:
The issue, of course, is profits from stocks and what makes a stock price move, is not the earnings and growth. It is actually money from another investor. Now, is there a connection at all with respect to earnings and growth and this price movement? Yes, it's called a speculative connection. It is not a legal one. It is not a logical one. It is not a definitive, or, a mathematical one.
The SEC defines three basic features of a Ponzi scheme:
One, it is an investment scenario. Two, the investment profits come from other investors. Three, the investors think the profits come from somewhere else.
What we can clearly observe every single day, every single moment the stocks are trading, is an event where the stoc…

How a group of economists undermined public institutions, paving the way to neoliberalism

An assumption had become a truth. The self-interested model of human behaviour, that had been developed in the Cold War to make the mathematical equations work, had now been adopted by these economists as a fundamental truth about the reality of all human social interaction.
globinfo freexchange
A group of economists in the early 70s arbitrarily adopted the self-interested model of human behaviour that had been developed in the Cold War, to explain the dysfunctionality of public institutions. This perception would become a powerful tool in the hands of the neoliberal ideology, carried by big banks and corporations, to demonize the state and dismantle any state control upon them at the expense of the societies.
In his documentary The Trap, Adam Curtis explains:
In the early 70s, the government bureaucracies in Britain began to collapse. Those around them blamed a growing economic crisis, but it was clear that something much more fundamental had gone wrong. What were supposed to be institut…

Italy, Greece, Deutsche Bank: heavy clouds of non-linear collapse gather again above Europe

globinfo freexchange
For nearly ten years now, the key decision centers inside eurozone are trying to hide the huge problems, pretending that the crisis is behind, in order to maintain a completely failed economic model, which also reveals, day by day, its authoritarian nature and despise against real Democracy. The totally problematic structure of eurozone makes things even worse.
In Italy, we had another political crisis and a constitutional coup because the new majority and potential coalition government is not likeable to the Brussels/Berlin axis.
In Greece, things are not looking better. The country is about to exit the IMF-type neoliberal program imposed by the Troika (ECB, European Commission, IMF), in August. Yet, the economy is still in very bad shape, drowning in stagnation, with unprecedented unemployment, nearly zero growth and a national debt at 180% of GDP, which is actually much higher than Greece's debt in 2010 (120% of GDP) when crisis hit the country!
In fact, the eu…

More evidence that the 2011 riots in Syria were sparked by a false flag operation

globinfo freexchangeIndependent journalist Eva Bartlett spoke with Lee Camp about her recent trip in Syria. Bartlett visited the hospital in Douma where many victims of the latest alleged chemical attack went to receive medical care. Bartlett spoke with a medical student who was working the day of the alleged attack, and actually confirmed the reporting by the veteran journalist Robert Fisk, according to which there was no evidence of a chemical attack.
Bartlett also went to Daraa, where the first protests took place in 2011, and spoke to people there. They confirmed what many other investigative journalists support. 

This is strong evidence that it was a false flag operation that actually sparked the subsequent riots:
In the initial protest, Daraa was named as the birthplace of the so-called revolution. And Daraa is a city in the very south of Syria, not a very large city, and a rather unlikely city for a so-called revolution to have started. But prior going to Daraa, I interviewed a do…

WikiLeaks reveals Italian officials had serious concerns about Italy's ability to participate in the monetary union already since the late 70s

The WIKILEAKS Public Library of US Diplomacy (PlusD)holds the world's largest searchable collection of United States confidential, or formerly confidential, diplomatic communications. As of April 8, 2013 it holds 2 million records comprising approximately 1 billion words. The collection covers US involvements in, and diplomatic or intelligence reporting on, every country on earth. It is the single most significant body of geopolitical material ever published. The PlusD collection, built and curated by WikiLeaks, is updated from a variety of sources, including leaks, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and documents released by the US State Department systematic declassification review.
globinfo freexchange
A 1978 cable from the US Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs to the Secretary of State, was monitoring in detail the Italian serious concerns on the perspective of Italy joining the European monetary union. It describes an atmosphere of anxiety insi…

What happens when a country decides to decouple itself from the US/Saudi axis of evil

globinfo freexchange
The role of Qatar and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East chaos is quite well known. Recall that in aletter of the Podesta email series, John Podesta admitted that both Qatar and Saudi Arabia were helping ISIS. Podesta also mentioned that the US should exercise pressure to these countries in order to stop doing it: “... we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.
Of course Hillary Clinton wouldn't do anything about this problem too, as in another letter of the Podesta email series, it was revealed that Bill Clinton was receiving "expensive gifts" from the Qataris!
As reported by Antimedia, in 2009 Qatar proposed a pipeline to run through Syria and Turkey to export Saudi gas. Assad rejected the proposal and instead formed an agreement with Iran and Ira…

How eurozone became a financial dictatorship

It all started with the silent coup against Ireland
globinfo freexchange
In 2010, Ireland experienced Frankfurt's political blackmail. On the 18th of November, where there was a governing council of the ECB in Frankfurt. The governor of the Irish central bank who sat on the governing council, called "Morning Ireland" which is the most important radio program in Ireland, to say that Ireland will need what he called a loan. He didn't warn the government about it and this created a massive panic.
Then, the next day, there was a letter written from the then president of ECB, Jean-Claude Trichet, to Brian Lenihan, the minister of finance at the time, saying that 'if you don't apply the so-called bailout program, by this opening of the markets the following Monday, we're going to cut off access to Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA)', which obviously would have collapsed the Irish banking system.
The ECB used the liquidity weapon in order to impose its terms o…

David Harvey: unless there is some real new thinking, another crisis is inevitable

globinfo freexchange
Chris Hedges spoke with David Harvey about the repeated crises of the capitalist system, which generate further instability, especially since the early 70s where we have the rise of financial capitalism and neoliberal ideology.
As Harvey points out:
Interestingly, in almost every crisis there has been a good deal of re-evaluation of exactly how to think about the economy, how to think about the relationship between state power and politics and all this kind of stuff.
Since 2007-08, is hardly any new thinking at all. And actually, we're trying to hang on. And we are trying to hang on because the oligarchy - which has all of the money, all of the power - is actually in a situation where it does not want any change. And until we confront the oligarchy, we're not going to find a way of exiting from this, apart from repeating what happened in 2007-08.
And the interesting thing when you look back, before 2007-08, and you see big financial crises in Argentina, in Braz…

Ecuador and Julian Assange in great danger as traitor Moreno is about to throw them into the hands of the US empire

Ecuador’s president, Lenín Moreno, shook up his cabinet and appointed six new ministers this week. The move appears to confirm what many of his critics on the Left have long suspected, which is that Moreno is moving the country increasingly towards the Right. That is, they say he is reversing the policies under the previous government, Rafael Correa, who pursued a fairly progressive agenda, particularly in foreign and economic affairs. For example, President Moreno’s new Minister of the Economy, Richard Martinez, comes directly from the country’s business class, where he worked as a consultant for the Chamber of Industry and Production, and he also was president of Ecuador’s Business Committee, which is the country’s main business association.
globinfo freexchange
Greg Wilpert of the Real News spoke with Guillaume Long, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador under former President Rafael Correa, about the rapid turn of the new Ecuadorian administration towards neoliberal policies…

The facts about Venezuela’s May 20th Presidential Election

Despite a high level of election transparency, one that Jimmy Carter called “the best in the world”, the US and its allies have accused Venezuela of election fraud. Caleb Maupin breaks down how Venezuela’s electoral system really works.
by Caleb T. Maupin
Part 3 - Accusations of Fraud
Despite the stringent safeguards in place to protect Venezuela’s election integrity, international media based in Western countries have widely claimed the election was fraudulent. Those claiming that the results are illegitimate have cited prior statements from SmartMatic, a corporation based in London that manufactured Venezuela’s voting machines. An official statement from SmartMatic claimed the 2017 Constitutional Referendum vote showed “tamper evident.” Statements from SmartMatic have been vague about how exactly the results were illegitimate or what malpractice took place.
Tibisay Lucena, president of the National Elections Center (CNE), says the claims from SmartMatic and its Chief Executive Antonio …