Marx Remembered Everyday!
The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.
Marxian and traditional orthodox economics could be distinguished mainly on three points, namely; (i) the orthodox economists accept capitalism as eternal order of nature while Marx regards it as passing phase in transition from the feudal economy of the past to the socialist economy of the future, (ii) the orthodox economists argue in terms of a harmony of interests between the various sections of the community while Marx conceives of economic life in terms of conflict of interests between owners of means of production who do not work and workers (proletariat) who owns no means or property. In reality above two points of differences are not unconnected. For example, if the system is taken for granted and the shares of the various classes in the social product are determined by inexorable natural law, all interests unite in requiring an increase in the total to be divided. what is known as size of the pie is increased so each could get more share in the pie. However, if the possibility of changing the system is once admitted, those hope to gain and those who fear to lose by the change are immediately ranged in opposite camps resulting in the class conflict.
The orthodox economists unconsciously, on the whole identified themselves with the system and assume the role of its apologists, while Marx consciously sets himself to understand the working of capitalism in order to accelerate its doom by overthrowing it. The system contains inbuilt contradictions within itself which must lead to its disruption. Marx saw the periodic crisis of trade cycles as symptoms of a deep-rooted and progressive malady in the vitals of the system.
Since Marx's days development in economic analysis have taken place which enables economists to detect three distinct streams thoughts in Marx's treatment of of crises: (a) the theory of reserve army of unemployed labors due to fluctuate relationship between the stock of capital offering employment and and supply of labor leading go unemployed army. That could be seen in developed countries since 2008 crises resulting in over 10% unemployment, (b) the theory of the falling rate of profit which shows how the capitalists' greed for accumulation stultifies itself by reducing the average rate of return on capital, and (c) there is theory of the relationship of capital-goods and to consumption-good industries which shows the ever-growing productive of society knocking against the limitation upon the power to consume which is set by poverty of the workers. This could be seen in India's jobless growth mainly contributed by expansion of speculative financial sector, service section and capital intensive luxury goods beyond the reach of workers and common man leading to creation of two Indias: Rich and Poor!
Since the WWII the academics economists, without paying much attention to Marx's analysis of capitalism,have been forced by the concrete reality of the modern world to question much of the orthodox apologetic, and recent developments in academic theory have led them to position which in some respects resemble the position of Marx far closely than the position of their own intellectuals forbears.
The modern theory of imperfect competition, though formally different form Marx's theory of exploitation, has close affinity with it. Similarly, modern theory of crises has many points of contact with the third line of argument, distinguished above, in Marx's treatment of subject,and allows room for something resembling the first. However, the second line of argument appears to be confusing and redundant.
In fact, since 2008 worldwide economic crises Noble Laureates like Joseph Stieglitz, Paul Kugman accepted failure of Neo-classical economics. Till to date, the crises is not yet over in spite of partial nationalization of failing banks and corporations by way of bailouts from public money there does not seem to be any sign of recovery. In fact, free market economy has been thriving on it appears there has been socialization of losses and privatization of profits and localization of wages.
Since the advancement of a new theory of industrial economics with separation of ownership and control now the corporations held by millions both the owners and employees/workers. Further the classes are not as crystallized as they were during the 19 century industrial revolution that Marx witnessed. The ownership of means of production has changed from a sole ownership to partnership and then to a loosely held corporations causing confusion who are the owners and employees. And to complicate matters further the emergence of a huge middle class that Marx had not witnessed. Given the overlap of classes and a huge middle class and petty bourgeoisie class it is worth inquiry into the traditional labor theory value? There has been more rhetoric than substance as to development in Marxian economic theories since the WWII. However, no doubts Marx left a lasting impact on capitalism and influence on man kind and its welfare which brought so many reforms for labor which was highlighted in the US President Franklin Roosevelt's speech on Flint Street sit down . No doubt, the nightmare quality of Marx's thoughts gives, in bedeviled age,an air of greater reality than the gentle complacency of the orthodox academics.
On the operational side strategy for revolution is hardly talked about in party school and entire focus of the communist parties is on the tactics to show allegiance to bourgeois democracy once they pledge to destroy. If they are so much committed to democracy one wonders how far Leninist notion of democratic centralism is relevant? The failure of USSR model of socialism also raises the question whether the Socialism in one country could sustain for along time in a globalized world. And most importantly, if central committee of a communist party is derailed as ideas become material force then what is the mechanism to correct the obsolete party? In fact, Party bureaucracy in India has taken over in India ever since the non-working class non-peasant leadership has got on the top even without capturing the power, people are intrigued whether any lessons have been learnt from the USSR model? Finally, the debate of permanent revolution as Trotsky's advanced v/s transition of the revolution via cultural revolution with the involvement of masses is still relevant to complete the dialectics as nothing is absolute. These are some questions remains unanswered!
Prof. S Deman