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Reply #19: To what extent has the history of the last 30 years [View All]

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Alcibiades Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-31-11 10:17 PM
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19. To what extent has the history of the last 30 years
been a vindication of Marx? I have in mind Volume III of Capital, which is something of a hodge podge, cobbled together by Engels out of scraps, but also one of my favorite works by Max, in part because of Engels' heavy editing (he's more readable) and in part because it represents Marx's most advanced ideas on the subject of advanced capitalist development.

Here are a few passages that seem remarkably prescient: contrary to the common opinion that Marx has somehow been falsified by history, they make it clear that Marx has himself falsified this common opinion of his work. I've been thinking about these particular passages for the past decade or so, and they have provided a pretty accurate roadmap of the development of our economy since, say, 1979.


The capital itself, which a man really owns or is supposed to own in the opinion of the public, becomes purely a basis for the superstructure of credit. This is particularly true of wholesale commerce, through which the greatest portion of the social product passes. All standards of measurement, all excuses more or less still justified under capitalist production, disappear here. What the speculating wholesale merchant risks is social property, not his own. Equally sordid becomes the phrase relating the origin of capital to savings, for what he demands is that others should save for him. The other phrase concerning abstention is squarely refuted by his luxury, which is now itself a means of credit. Conceptions which have some meaning on a less developed stage of capitalist production, become quite meaningless here. Success and failure both lead here to a centralisation of capital, and thus to expropriation on the most enormous scale. Expropriation extends here from the direct producers to the smaller and the medium-sized capitalists themselves. It is the point of departure for the capitalist mode of production; its accomplishment is the goal of this production. In the last instance, it aims at the expropriation of the means of production from all individuals.

Think about that for a moment: advanced capitalism tends toward the expropriation of the means of production from all individuals. Isn't this exactly the political and economic program of Wall Street and their allies in government?


The two characteristics immanent in the credit system are, on the one hand, to develop the incentive of capitalist production, enrichment through exploitation of the labour of others, to the purest and most colossal form of gambling and swindling, and to reduce more and more the number of the few who exploit the social wealth; on the other hand, to constitute the form of transition to a new mode of production. It is this ambiguous nature, which endows the principal spokesmen of credit from Law to Isaac Preire with the pleasant character mixture of swindler and prophet.


In these bits taken from Chapter 27, and throughout Part V of Volume II of Capital, it is not the emiseration of the proletariat that ultimately leads to socialism, but the tendency of capitalism to, in the end, create one powerful bank that controls all production and credit. The process that leads to this is one of lurching from one credit-fueled crisis to another. Isn't that exactly what we have been going through since at least the S&L crisis of the 1980's?
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