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The Return of Karl Marx

As the Americans hem and haw about the perils of socialism or semi-socialism or quasi-socialistic thinking, book sales of Marx have been downright skippy since the financial crisis broke out like bad rash. Turns out Marx was acutely prescient in charting the capitalist implosion.

History classes have long told the story of the author of Das Kapital and his indictment of the bourgeois have’s. His advocating for handing over the means of production to workers to create a society that could deliver the greatest good to the greatest number is a pillar of Marxian socialism. He saw the decline of a minority ownership of capital as an inevitably flawed status quo that was impossible to maintain over time. Modern-day nods to Marx have popped in everthing to the December sit-ins in Chicago-area factories to the current trend of boss-ransoming in the French workplace. And agent provocateur Christopher Hitchens writes about the revenge of Marx is this months Atlantic.

But, as Foriegn Policy explains, where Marx could best apply today is in our thinking about capitalism. As much as many on the left might think we are approaching a post-capitalist age, the post-capitalist age is shaping up to look an awful lot like, well, capitalism. The reformist actions taken toward reinventing the markets are grounded firmly in the capitalism’s sly and destructive genius, from bank rescues to trillion-dollar G-20 infusions.

Part of the American politician’s reticence to speak of any policy within a thousand miles of socialism could be semantic. As former Swedish Finance minister Lief Pagrotsky explained to Big Think, what Americans often think of as socialism really isn’t socialism at all. In the European context, he said “to me it means almost nothing. The word has lost its content because it has been used so much for so different purposes in so many different countries.”


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