April 16, 2021
“Capital” is so often defined as “the means of production,” but out of the realm of formal instruction it mostly means “money.” This distinction is more important now than in the nineteenth century. Now, money itself is often the means of production, and the thing produced, especially in the US of A, is more money.
Marx’s take on things is still valid, but, considered in the light of today, it’s a bit dated. The distinction between “worker” and “owner” is blurred. Capitalism eludes a fair reckoning by providing more stuff for workers to own and by changing the conditions of workers as necessary to keep them from rebellion–TV, sports, commodified sex & violence, common purposes, like war, climate change and so on, removal of poorhouses from the civic scene, diddling with education so it becomes an extension of the capitalist ideal, careful rewriting of history (and demonizing of altruistic and collective ideals and aspirations, of “communism” and “socialism” specifically).
The very idea of fairness is inimical to most economic activity. If textbooks say economics is about the distribution of limited resources to unlimited appetites, that’s as misleading as defining capitalism as a means of production. Marx lived in a time that was still giddy from the Enlightenment, that brief period when the scales of superstition, belief in magic and the irrational tenets of religion came off the eyes of western civ, to be replaced by the tangible wonders of science and technical innovation. These things were occurring on a background of rigid social class and ruthless employment practices, amplified by the possibilities of capitalism, which was an incredibly powerful engine for development and profit.
As fewer warm bodies are needed to accomplish work, as the population grows, as the costs of providing sufficiency for so many become oppressive to the wealthy, the concessions to the once-clear portion of humankind that was the “working class” become odious to the ownership class. Labor unions are attacked, starved, subverted and run out of town (a biggie, a hugie), humanism and progressive studies are stricken from curricula, and, basically, more money and cleverness are devoted to propaganda, distraction and the many forms of mind control.
To the One Percent, a return to the precepts of feudalism becomes more attractive. The Bushes, Cheneys et alia are very upfront about this, as noted in the secretly recorded talk Romney gave to his candlelit supporters before the 2008 election.
Karl was so wrong in many ways. Oppressed people don’t just rise up for fairness and equality. They have to be goaded–hard–and instructed on what they must do. The Sixties and Seventies thought they could do this with dope, sex, rock and war resistance, with a wholesale rejection of mom & dad’s attitudes, but when tour buses and Hell’s Angels invaded San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury District, the writing on the wall stopped saying “peace” and “off the pigs.” It became “clean up your act and get into your sales-cubicle,” because that was the new factory. The old factory had gone off to Japan, then China, then any place that could raise a work force cheaply.
We needed a new Karl Mark, but the Tom Hayden’s of the period were marginalized by hostile media, and friendly media were being eliminated. The magic of the Haight quickly lost its lustre. The Berkeley Co-op, largest in the land, succumbed to ugly internal battles and ended its mostly fabulous run of fifty years.
The rich & powerful flexed their muscles and clubbed the incipient revolution to death.
Marx was a son of wealth and privilege. It seems there’s a limit to how far a decent, humanistic aristocrat can take things. Then it’s up to the ordinary folk to come out–to come out and lose, and lose, and lose, and lose–until they win.
Please read “Hayden’s” as “Haydens” and forgive my illiterate mistake.
Terrific video and history lesson.
Informative comment by Mr. C log.
How about a video on Malthusianism?
Over 200 million murdered, billions enslaved, failure in every country all over the earth wherever tried.
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