Do you like where you are financially in life currently? Are you happy with the exchange of power and wealth gap between the poor and the rich? What do you think is wrong with this country’s overall look at the way it handles its finances? I ask these questions because a person by the name of Karl Marx, the father of socialism and communism who was an economic theorist and philosopher. Marx theorized that capitalism would inevitably impoverish the globe, all the while dollars were a focus on too much profiting the money into their own back accounts. It seems that the social classes are at each others throat and economic crisis seems unavoidable. “Accumulation of wealth at one pole is at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole,” Marx wrote.
Some say he may be right. A study done in September by the Economic Policy Institute says that the median annual earnings of a full-time male worker in the US in 2011 was at $48,202 which was smaller than it was in 1973. Between 1983 and 2010 74% of the gains in wealth in the US went to the top richest 5%, on the other hand 60% suffered a decline, the EPI calculated. What would Marx say today? “Some variation of: ‘I told you so,’” says Richard Wolff, a Marxist economist at the New School in New York. “The income gap is producing a level of tension that I have not seen in my lifetime.” Tensions between the social classes are on the rise, the perceived split between the “99%” and the “1%” with us the regular every day working class being the “99%” and the “1%” being the top portion gets the crumbs after the rich are done with them. A Pew research Center Poll released in 2012 says two-thirds of the respondents believe the US suffers from “strong” or “very strong” conflict between the rich and the poor. This is a 19 point increase from 2009 making its ranking the no. 1 reason for division in society.
In countries like China, France and Holland, where capitalism is the law of the land. The land is now facing the backlash of the air bubble, vacuum that decades of greed and power have set. In those societies much like our own the poor and middle class are disheveled told “Pick yourself up by your bootstraps,” all the while watching the top percent shave away the “boot strap”. Some countries have had enough, in Holland planned to hike the income tax rate as high as 75%. The idea was shot down, but the determination to is to show they are on the side of the “common man”. In China the social divide is more evident even though it is being marked as “workers paradise” by the US since it has cheap labor. 8 out of 10 workers believe that the “rich get richer while the poor get poorer”. “People from the outside see our lives as very bountiful, but the real life in the factory is very different,” says factory worker Peng Ming in the southern industrial enclave of Shenzhen.“The way the rich get money is through exploiting the workers,” says Guan Guohau, another Shenzhen factory employee. “Communism is what we are looking forward to.” Unless the government takes greater action to improve their welfare, they say, the laborers will become more and more willing to take action themselves. “Workers will organize more,” Peng predicts. “All the workers should be united.”
China is at a point of social unrest, even though that has been some attempt to help the conditions for the workers. Increase in wages, tougher labor laws for more protection, but workers say this is still not enough and government is on the side of big business, not the workers. China’s proletarian dictatorship is under scrutiny and the populace has become distrustful. Communists “openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions,” Marx wrote. “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.” Protesters, says Jacques Rancière, an expert on Marxism at the University of Paris, aren’t aiming to replace capitalism, as Marx had forecast, but merely to reform it. “We’re not seeing a protesting classes, call for an overthrow or destruction of socioeconomic systems in place,” he explains. “What class conflict produces today is called to fix systems so they become more viable and sustainable for the long run by redistributing the wealth created.”
According to an article in Rolling Stone there are five specific indications that show Marx was right about capitalism over 100 years ago. The first thing the article mentions is the Great Recession, in which Marx explains this is a by-product of greedy, relentless profit driven businesses. In the pursuit of this company’s mechanized their workplaces, producing more goods, but squeezing wages from workers so much purchasing the products they created seems unimaginable. Marx coined the phrase “fictitious capital” -this can be interpreted as stocks and credit default swaps. The housing market crash came from decades of the subprime borrowing scheme.
” A contriving and ever-calculating subservience to inhuman, sophisticated, unnatural and imaginary appetites.” Marx made this reference when he talked about the way capitalism focused on high value for essentially frivolous products. In the article Rolling Stone makes reference to the IPHONE 5, but really any product made in this technological age can be counted in as a product we never endingly look to upgrade or keep adding advancements to the original. It’s like our hunger for the next “newer” product mirrors our own unsatisfactory discontentment with keeping things the way they are. As human were never satisfied and we keep looking for the goal or marker to reach instead of finding appeasement with what we accomplished.
Globalization was also apart of Marx’s theories about overproduction leading to searches for new markets.
“The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe,” he wrote. “It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere.” Marx wrote about this back in 1848 when the concept was hundred years away. He was right about what happened and why it happened. The never-ending pursuit of cheap labor and new markets along with an unrelenting demand for natural resources.
Marx believed with that the market power was more centralized in large monopoly firms as businesses “eat up” each other. This might have struck his 19th-century readers as odd: As Richard Hofstadter writes, “Americans came to take it for granted that property would be widely diffused, that economic and political power would decentralized.” Mom and Pop shops are taken over more and more by elephantine corporations like Wal-Mart and small banks have been taken over by the likes of J.P. Morgan. Start up are constantly being vacuumed into megacorps.
Last Marx believed that wages would be held down by a “reserve army of labor,” in which he explains by using classical economic techniques: Capitalists prefer to pay as little as possible for labor, which is easy when the worker pool is overflowing with available candidates. In this market, Marx predicted that when the recession hit says that high unemployment would keep wages stagnant and workers are less likely to challenge it in fear of losing their jobs. “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.” 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.
As Robert L. Heilbroner writes, “We turn to Marx, therefore, not because he is infallible, but because he is inescapable.” Today, in a world of both unheard-of wealth and abject poverty, where the richest 85 people have more wealth than the poorest 3 billion, the famous cry, “Workers of the world unite; you have nothing to lose but your chains,” has yet to lose its potency. To me Marx as pragmatic as he was prophetic in his messages. While his accuracy is not spot on the mark with all the woes of or economy. He probably didn’t get to see unions, importing, exporting of goods, the bailouts and the healthcare system setting the parcity away from undeniable collapse. We still look as Marx’s work and believe that the key into his style of cuneiform is realizing what he indicated to us over a century ago. Rome wasn’t built-in a day,but it can end in a much shorter time than one.