Saturday, 18 December 2010

Marx Forces His Way Back

For most of his lifetime, the bourgeoisie tried to ignore Marx. After his death, like most revolutionaries, they tried to tame his memory, to incorporate him, whilst at the same time spending billions of dollars and millions of hours of the time of the brightest bourgeois academics trying to provide arguments against him.

At an academic level they failed, and in place of the vibrant living Political Economy of Marx,they introduced the "Dismal Science" of Economics, whose vision was deliberately limited within safe bounds, into a myriad of micro studies into price formation and markets, that could only ever attempt to provide a description of everything in detail, but an explanation of nothing even in outline. An explanation required not just an acceptance of the factor allocation assumed by orthodox economics, but an historical evaluation and analysis of how and why that allocation came about. It was an Economics that knew the Price of everything and the Value of nothing.

But, Marx's theory was so sharp, so penetrating of the very laws that govern Capitalist Society that nearly 130 years after his death they still cannot bury him. The outbreak of the Credit Crunch, and the subsequent recession came promptly after the "End of History" had been announced by the ideologists of the bourgeoisie, whose limited vision could see no potential for any further human development beyond it. All those who once more had accepted the idea that Capitalism was a self-regulating system were given a serious reminder by the ghost of Marx, haunting them like Old Marley, and presenting them with the apparitions of Capitalism Past, Present and Future. A rash of interest in Marx followed just as it did in the 1960's.

If you want a couple of books to read over Christmas there are two, which are by no means Left-wing, but nevertheless interesting in their own right. Both are forced to pay homage to Marx. The first is Crisis Economics by Roubini and Mihm. It ought to be compulsory reading for the Government. In it, they write,

“Marx was the first thinker to see capitalism as inherently unstable and prone to crisis....Capitalism is crisis,” the authors conclude, in agreement with Marx. In part this reference was a shot across the bows of Nicholas Taleb, whose book the Black Swan, saw Capitalist Crises as rare events that overturned previous conceptions.

The second book is by Taleb himself, and in it Taleb also pays homage to Marx when he writes in – The Bed Of Procrustes,

“Karl Marx, a visionary, figured out that you can control a slave much better by convincing him he is an employee.”

This last comment was almost enough to give CNBC's Joe Kernen a connery in this video.

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