Marx’s Fifth Success

In his fascinating article called “Marx Was Right: Five Surprising Ways Karl Marx Predicted 2014”, Sean McElwee says:

No less an authority than the Wall Street Journal warns, “Lately, the U.S. recovery has been displaying some Marxian traits. Corporate profits are on a tear, and rising productivity has allowed companies to grow without doing much to reduce the vast ranks of the unemployed.” That’s because workers are terrified to leave their jobs and therefore lack bargaining power. It’s no surprise that the best time for equitable growth is during times of “full employment,” when unemployment is low and workers can threaten to take another job.

This makes sense, but I’d like to point out that another way to get bargaining position for workers is to make it possible for them to exist in some dignified way without a job.

And since there are not enough jobs to go around even in our overheated excessive and wasteful economy, it makes no sense to ruin (and anger) people just because they lost a round of musical chairs.


  1. In history, it was relatively easy to move from Europe to less populated places like US, so the apparent cornucopia of natural resources has become more established view in there. It's a finite planet though and it would be nice if people understood this pretty much worldwide. Of Marx's errors, imo the greatest one was he didn't ever (to my knowledge) find out how his style of communism could be established, if it could. In soviet Russia they I guess (at first) tried it, but pretty soon the power-grabbers (J.Stalin&the lot) transformed the state to Authoritative version of (some) communistic ideals. Meanwhile fascism developed in overpopulated Central Europe and much of the 20th century history happened between these. Capitalism prevailed, where resources weren't as limited as in Soviet or pre-war Europe, as people are more willing to take risks when there's a chance of improving social status by it's mechanisms, unlike the rigid structure of a Communistic party, where people were always watching for each others errors (thinking of tea party, slip from the ideals and you're out). This stuff connects to so much, it could be a title for the book 'Marx after 170 years' or some such.

  2. " make it possible for them to exist in some dignified way without a job". Absolutely--I'm glad someone finally said it. In a world, or at least a country, where <2% produce all the food and probably <10% do all the manufacturing we should be living in a utopia where everyone's basic needs are met--instead, we have 1% reaping all the benefits of this increased productivity. We need to revise our tax structure and provide people with a guaranteed minimum income (something I believe Nixon proposed) so that these benefits are distributed more widely. Given that businesses don't need people, we also need to expand the public payroll, rather than shrink it (more teachers, research, more commitment to higher education). Some might call that wealth redistribution--Mandela called it social justice. What we have now is the rich stealing from the poor.

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