If you read a biography of Karl Marx you have to wonder if he didn’t like capitalism simply because he was terrible at it—he lived his entire life in debt. Marx was descended from eminent lines of rabbis, but harsh anti-semitic laws convinced his father to convert, and all of Marx’s life his venomous tongue was quick to utter some horrifying maxims about Judaism.
Marx looked at history, discarded philosophy, religion, ethics, nationalism, and said to look at the people. Each of society’s movements from slavery to feudalism to capitalism can be traced to a ruling class extracting wealth from the people, be it a slave, serf, or factory worker. Even though all the ‘wealth’ was coming from the workers, they were still at the mercy of hte ruling class because they didn’t control any of the means of production. In Marx’s view religion (“opium of the people” ), patriotism, laws, culture, and morality all are merely means of keeping the worker in his place and support the production process. This superstructure ties everyone to material thinking and desires, therefore perpetuating the cycle of exploitation of the working class. Revolutions happen as a result of new technology, and a conflict of the classes occurs whenever society switches to new means of production, but the workers always end up at the bottom of the totem pole because they are in, by definition, a class society. Marx postulated that because capitalism rested on a class system, revolution and victory by the workers was inevitable, because only in a classless society could said revolution be avoided. Because capitalism produces so much, it is a necessary precursor for socialism to occur. Marx did not consider Russia or Germany for his revolution, because they didn’t have sufficient industrial resources, he thought Communism would take place in England and France first. Here’s what has to happen for the revolution to take place:
- Falling profit rates and accumulation of capital
- Increasing concentration of economic power
- deepening crises and depressions
- High unemployment (“industrial reserve army” )
- Increasing misery of the proletariat
(from Todd Buchholz). Marx’s biggest flaw comes from the assumption that all value comes from the worker, or labor. He ignores entrepreneurship, land, capitol. Profits that Marx dubbed exploitation are actually crucial in insuring future investment and growth. The revolution never came because, however bad this economic slowdown is or how slow gigs come in the summer, workers are orders of magnitude better off than they were before. The rich get richer and the poor get richer; productivity enables total output to rise and benefit everyone. Also the worker is no longer completely separated from th emeans of production, and through things like stocks and bonds can indirectly own means of production.