rediscovering Marx

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I made a recent recommendation to investigate non-capitalist economics; others have come to the same conclusion, such as Richard Wolff in his essay Rediscovering Marx in a Capitalist Crisis. Wolff writes that "Capitalism's defenders have variously sought to kill, repress, ignore, or otherwise marginalize Marxism and Marxists." Although "Marxist analyses continued to be excluded from the mass media and Marxists from academic and political positions," he sees the Great Recession as helping to break the hold of economic groupthink on American society:

Thirty years of systematic and often successful anti-Marxism agitation are fading in politics, the media, academia, and beyond. A new generation discovers and wrestles with the diverse richness of that tradition's insights. [...] Once Greenspan's "new economy" had collapsed in 2008, exposed as the same old crisis-prone capitalism, Marx and Marxism were rediscovered yet again. The Marxian tradition was found to be helpful in understanding the crisis's causes and costs and in finding solutions that entailed alternatives to capitalism.

A large component of this reevaluation is the continued effect of income disparity caused by wages no longer rising in tandem with productivity--or, in Marxist terminology, as workers' surplus value being siphoned upward to further enrich the wealthy:

From the 1970s to 2008, as productivity gains combined with stagnant real wages, corporate profits soared. [...] The post-1970s squeezing of the American worker financed unprecedented prosperity for US capitalists. They and their associates enjoyed a new "gilded" age. Extreme personal wealth among them became the object of media adulation that cultivated mass envy. The US at the end of the 20th century replicated for a new group of capitalists what Rockefeller, Carnegie and their ilk had achieved at the end of the previous century. Corporate boards of directors could also spend lavishly on computerization, research and development, and costly shifts of production facilities abroad. They generously lubricated politicians to better control government at all levels, just as flat wages and household turmoil turned workers away from civic affairs to concentrate on jobs and families. Capitalists thus could and did make government much more responsive to them in enhancing the conditions and profitable outlets (lower tax burdens, technical change, immigration, job exports, etc.) for their exploding surpluses. Workers felt ever more alienated from politics and resentful of politicians.

Will ours be known as The Age of Ressentiment?

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on December 31, 2010 10:03 PM.

reading the Constitution was the previous entry in this blog.

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