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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Economic Ramble/Rehabilitating Marxist Critique

First, a little quote, from Wiki-Answers:

” Marx felt that capitalism through industrialization had increased the productive capability of the world's economy far beyond that ever witnessed before. Never the less, he also felt that capitalism created two competing classes of people. One, was the bourgeoisie who owned and controlled the means of production and hired wage laborers. The other was the proletariat, who were common workers who owned nothing but the right to sell their own labor. Capitalism's very nature would ensure that eventually, these classes would struggle against one another to the point where the class of workers would get large enough and oppressed enough that it would overthrow the bourgeoisie, seize the means of production from it and end the economic system known as capitalism. The system of socialism would be ushered in and gradually evolve into pure communism.”

So far, so good.
Where I part company with Karl is in his version of that Enlightenment Universalisation…All, or Nothing. Reading, and(hopefully) understanding Marx, does not indicate Total Agreement with All of His Ideas.And reining in Corporate Capitalism does not require an abandonment of Capitalism.
The Value of Marx…and the reason he is Verboten in the US…is in his critique of “Capitalism”….in this, he was prescient…spot on.
He said that Capitalism leads to Monopoly, which is akin to Feudalism, rebooted.
Adam Smith, of course, said much the same thing…but this is conveniently ignored.
Instead of allowing this critique, the PTB all but outlawed any critique.
So Marx’s Vision played out, just the way he said it would.
Giant Conglomerations of Wealth, and therefore Power, sit astride the world, sucking the Life out of it….and all us regular folks get trampled in the process. We have no recourse.
The Myth says that the USA is a Capitalist Country, as God intended.
That Hard Work, Bootstraps and Tenacity will inevitably lead one to the upper echelons of Wealth.
Every Man a CEO.

We have flirted with actually implementing this, many times.
Turns out that Capitalism is more successful in this regard(wide distribution of the Means of Production) when Giant Conglomerations of Wealth are held in check…by who else? Government.

I had my formative years under HyperCapitalism. Reagan Revolution. Trickle Down. Supply-Side. All Government is Evil. Drown Government in a bathtub.
In the late 90’s, being interested in Politics, I came to realize that there was an awful lot of hollering and gnashing of teeth about various economic prescriptions.
I was essentially Clueless about all things Economic.
So, I did what I always have done when I didn’t understand something….I read.
I started with a large, contemporary College Intro Econ Textbook.
Cover to Cover,with Sloan and Zurcher’s “Dictionary of Economics” to hand.
I quickly realized that the authors of the Textbook were almost entirely Utopians. They were describing a Perfect System, that did not exist….especially in regards to High Finance(the so called “FIRE Economy”…finance,Insurance, and real estate).
I then read “the Worldly Philosophers”, compiled and edited by Heilbroner…this contained selected texts, and editorializing commentary, from everyone from Malthus to Ricardo, Marx, Smith, Keynes, Hayek…
At this point, more such information made our current paradigm, and the words we use to describe it, even more nonsensical.
At one of the numerous Library Book sales, I happened on a worn, hardbound edition of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations…$1!
I read it twice, cover to cover…again, with various dictionaries and textbooks to hand.
What I found is that Smith’s Vision was not Utopian, in the least. It was entirely Rational.
It also had little to do with the Current Paradigm.
As chance would have it, another Library Sale procured me a worn, hardbound copy of Marx’s Das Capital….$2.
Again, cover to cover, twice, with the now usual reference material.
I was amazed, to say the least. Both are quite dense tomes…Marx, more so, due to the translation problems, from German to English(I had long experience with this phenomenon, due to my love of Philosophy).
I soldiered on.
It appeared that Capital was an extension of Wealth…the two were Complimentary to each other….and once one got past the inflammatory language, on both sides, and the esotericism, they were calling for much the same thing.: Widespread Distribution of the Means of Production.
Marx went on, of course, to go crazy…essentially abandoning the Worker Class to perceived Ignorance and Powerlessness…and, therefore, all but insisting that the State would usher in Socialism. He, and the folks that followed him, abandoned the Democratic Parts.(I know I’m playing fast and loose. Shoot me!) Lenin was the worst, in this regard…the upshot was, that the People were regarded as too stupid to take care of the Excesses of Capitalism. Lenin, and the USSR resulted…and the “debate”, as well as the Introspection…devolved into Black and White Hysterics.
Later, a man on Latoc, Jerome, turned me on to another of Smith’s books…”Theory of Moral Sentiments”…which made the same case as I was led to.Smith and Marx went hand in hand…and Unregulated Monoploly Capitalism leads to Feudalism…or, as Jerome called it, “Mercantilism”.
From Wiki:”
Mercantilist policies have included:

  • Building a network of overseas colonies
  • Forbidding colonies to trade with other nations
  • Monopolizing markets with staple ports;
  • Promote accumulation of gold and silver
  • Forbidding trade to be carried in foreign ships;
  • Export subsidies;
  • Maximizing the use of domestic resources;
  • Restricting domestic consumption with non-tariff barriers to trade.”

I think, rather, that we “enjoy” a Hybrid of all of these…Capitalism(the Corporate Monopoly Kind), Socialism(largely for the Corps(e)), and Mercantilism…with a lot of other caveats and inconsistencies thrown in, for good measure.
Reverse-mercantilism[45] is an economic system which strives to increase corporate wealth and monopoly by subsidizing some corporate entities while regulating, taxing and controlling borders (blocking outsourcing and creating tariffs) for all competitors.”
At the base of How We Do Things, is Marx’s Critique…”Capitalism” has evolved almost exactly as he predicted.
Instead of the Current Paradigm, I advocate a Democritisation, of Everything!...including the Means of Production.
Instead of the Monopolisation, Centralisation, of Everything…which is How We Do It, Now…

Corporations are the Parasite that sits on our Collective Neck.
They are a holdover from Monarchical Economics…Feudalism, meet the Modern Era.
While there are reasons, sometimes, to employ such creatures…to get specific things done efficiently…they should never be given the Power they enjoy, today.
The rub, is that these Creatures were Created by….shudder…Government.
This feature is almost totally forgotten, and ignored, by those who Run the Show.
The anti Government rhetoric and policies of the Right, have no problem with this sort of Government Activity.Socialism for the Rich is Fine.
It is only when the Masses get all “Uppity”, that the PTB(which leans Right, at best) trots out the AntiMarx Wagon.


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