As True As Ever

The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them. And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises?

On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.

Marx & Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1847

Everything they wrote there is 100% true. It’s as true now as it was over 150 years ago. Nothing has changed.

Paul Krugman notes that the capitalist crises lately seem to be getting worse and worse with each new one, just as Marx said. And the capitalists of course are always destroying the structures we set up to prevent new crises, thereby paving the way for more train wrecks.

Furthermore, those words ring particularly true in the light of the latest crisis, which was really just a reprise of a similar crisis with the Great Depression in the 1930’s. The capitalists didn’t learn from the Depression, and they won’t learn from this one either.

There are things that could be done to reduce the number of capitalist crises and to reduce their severity once they occur, but the capitalists will never do them because this requires limiting the profits of Capital.

In order to save capitalism or even make it work in the first place, the profits of capital must be limited. But the capitalists will never allow this and fight it with every fiber of their being. As soon as reforms are put in place, the capitalists go to work trying to dismantle them and never rest until they are torn apart. This then precipitates a new crisis which then furthers new reforms which the capitalists then dismantle again, creating new crises. It never ends, and no one ever learns.

Even social democracy does not seem to be a viable option because in the inevitable crises of capitalism, the capitalists demand that the whole social democratic ball of wax be melted down. When push comes to shove, as it has in Europe, one “socialist” party after another tears down the whole edifice that took decades of long hard fights to build up.

As correct as Marx is about capitalism, his alternative has not worked very well. This is still a major problem.


Filed under Capitalism, Economics, History, Left, Marxism, Modern, Socialism, US

3 responses to “As True As Ever

  1. You references to capitalism concentrate on the high profile large corporations or organisations. But capitalism is not only that.

    Do you have your own business? Do you employ staff? Do you have to cope, on a daily basis, with the myriad problems of making a living via your own business?

    This is also capitalism, and is not to be maligned.

    Not all capitalists are rich bankers.

    Come to think of it, not all capitalists are Jews, either!

  2. Good post. ‘
    I would argue a different track with this. You wrote – ‘In order to save capitalism or even make it work in the first place, the profits of capital must be limited’.
    I would argue that some (the percentage of which we are debating in this election) need to be reinvested in the ‘political’ world that allowed the capitalism to thrive in the first place.
    ‘Paying it Forward.’
    Investing the capitalism’s ‘fair share’ in the roads, the education system, the military, the police, fire, etc.
    Capitalism does not live in an isolated ‘bubble’ unto itself. It is part of a society.
    But that’s what this election is about.
    Should capitalism ‘pay’ to help support a society?
    Or should society ‘pay’ to support capitalism?
    Where is the balance in ‘shared sacrifice’?

    • Nyk

      ‘In order to save capitalism or even make it work in the first place, the profits of capital must be limited’.

      Adam Smith said that in a free market of close to perfect competition and perfect information, profit margins would quickly tend to be lower and lower. So you don’t need to DO anything to limit profits if you have a perfect-competition free market. The profit margins of large corporations are a measure of how far away we are from such an ideal.

      Half Sigma, another HBD blogger skeptical of the mainstream Right’s version of capitalism, writes:

      ( )
      “the basic tenets of Adam Smith teach us that no one can become a billionaire in a true free market with competition. If there were competition, people would imitate whatever the people making huge incomes are doing, thus bringing down their income to normal levels, to the amount of their true value creation.

      It would also, of course, point out that the poor are a different kind of value transferor; collecting welfare while not working is obviously a form of value transference. The system conspires against the middle class.”

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