Tag Archives: Capitalism

How to end Poverty and Slavery?

The discussion of the talk show is in Hindi/Urdu language. Program host: Dr. Buland Iqbal and guest: Zeeshaan.

Courtesy: Rawal Tv >> Password, ep 113

Advertisements

@ where Marx went wrong ?

By Iqbal Latif

Marx was the best thinker but he thought that the world will not move forward and has frozen that will continue with extreme suppression of labour. Marx & Engels in the Communist Manifesto in 1848 said ‘the proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working Men of All Countries, Unite! ‘

Marx could not believe that workers in a century plus will become partners in firms like MSFT INTEL Google and FB and 🍎!

Marx could not imagine mental cerebral capacity of man will create a trillions of $ worth universally 24/7 connected economy that will be managed not by 18 hours a work day dungeons labour force but intelligent servers.

Marx never thought that Apple and like of those will make huge extraordinary complexes to get the best out of workers not wretched conditions.

Marx thought that entrepreneur will extract the last drop out of the workers body. He could not imagine a capitalist state agreeing on 36 hours work week!

Marx had no idea of an economy based on service! ‘Employees Holidays’ are a huge industry, that he never thought or could imagine. An employee or a worker today enjoys the same holidays as his boss in a fair capitalist society.

Marx never thought that accumulated wealth by largest billionaires will be transferred freely without a war to the next generation of mankind not to their children. Gates Buffet Zuckerberg phenomenon. This was not envisaged in his Das Kalital!

There was no concept in Das Kapital of a capitalist state taking care of the basic education health and shelter of every child from cradle to the grave!

Marx thought that the grain of ‘Historical Exploitation of man’ is genetically homed in and if will continue. That actually did not happen, the world thinking changed 180 degree.

The only place where such exploitation continues are the Marxist countries like North Korea and Cuba! Freedom of action is curtailed. Deng freed the Chinese nation from exploitation of the state in the name of Great Leap Forward.

I think forget about complicated jargon what destroyed Marxism was benevolence of the state ‘ the kind of state education system, the NHS and the housing policies of capitalist states plus a punitive taxation structure where multiplication of unbridled wealth is checked and not allowed to be transferred without hefty cuts.

It was Deng who destroyed Marxism more than anyone else next was Yeltsin!! These issues highlighted above cannot be answered by Das Kapital – it is like the Genesis that went time barred with emergence of Hubble and LHC Couldron. There was no room left for 6/6000 days creation by a super creator.

Courtesy: Above article adopted from Social media.
Via – Facebook

Karl Marx Was Right

By Chris Hedges

 

Karl Marx exposed the peculiar dynamics of capitalism, or what he called “the bourgeois mode of production.” He foresaw that capitalism had built within it the seeds of its own destruction. He knew that reigning ideologies—think neoliberalism—were created to serve the interests of the elites and in particular the economic elites, since “the class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production” and “the ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships … the relationships which make one class the ruling one.” He saw that there would come a day when capitalism would exhaust its potential and collapse. He did not know when that day would come. Marx, as Meghnad Desai wrote, was “an astronomer of history, not an astrologer.” Marx was keenly aware of capitalism’s ability to innovate and adapt. But he also knew that capitalist expansion was not eternally sustainable. And as we witness the denouement of capitalism and the disintegration of globalism, Karl Marx is vindicated as capitalism’s most prescient and important critic.

In a preface to “The Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy” Marx wrote:

Read more » truthdig
See more » http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/karl_marx_was_right_20150531

A genuine alternative to capitalism is needed.

The pink tide

BY AASIM SAJJAD AKHTAR

MUCH has been made, and rightly so, of the Latin American left’s resurrection since the turn of the century. Which is why the resounding electoral defeat suffered last week in Venezuela by arguably the most well-known leftist current in the continent — what is known as Chavism — demands serious interrogation.

An opposition united only by its desire to overturn the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’ originally spearheaded by late president Hugo Chavez won two-thirds of the seats in parliament in the polls held on Dec 6, the first defeat for the ruling United Socialist Party since Chavez came to power in 1999. The setback is significant, but it is important to bear in mind that Venezuela’s is a presidential form of government so executive authority continues to lie with the ‘Chavistas’, and specifically the man who took power after Chavez died in 2013, Nicolas Maduro.

It might not be the best analogy but Venezuela’s politics will now be characterised by a dichotomy similar to that which exists in the US where a Democratic president regularly squares off against a Republican-controlled Congress. That having been said, political conflict in Washington pales in comparison to what has persisted in Venezuela in recent times — the electoral reverse will intensify what is already a heavily polarised political climate.

The first explanation for the setback is the most obvious one – Maduro is not Chavez. While I think it is misleading to exaggerate the roles that individuals play in fomenting political transformation, the successes of the Latin American left, both of the current variety and in previous eras, have always featured charismatic leadership. Think Arbenz, Castro, Guevara and Allende. Chavez was of the same mould. After his death, some of the lustre of the Bolivarian Revolution was inevitably bound to wear off.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1227059/the-pink-tide

Portuguese elections: shift to the left – crisis of the establishment

Stephen Hawking Says We Should Really Be Scared Of Capitalism, Not Robots

By 

According to world famous physicist Stephen Hawking, the rising use of automated machines may mean the end of human rights – not just jobs. But he’s not talking about robots with artificial intelligence taking over the world, he’s talking about the current capitalist political system and its major players.

On Reddit, Hawkings said that the economic gap between the rich and the poor will continue to grow as more jobs are automated by machines, and the owners of said machines hoard them to create more wealth for themselves.

Someone asked:

Have you thought about the possibility of technological unemployment, where we develop automated processes that ultimately cause large unemployment by performing jobs faster and/or cheaper than people can perform them?

In particular, do you foresee a world where people work less because so much work is automated? Do you think people will always either find work or manufacture more work to be done?

Hawkings replied:

If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.

The insatiable thirst for capitalist accumulation bestowed upon humans by years of lies and terrible economic policy has affected technology in such a way that one of its major goals has become to replace human jobs.

If we do not take this warning seriously, we may face unfathomable corporate domination. If we let the same people who buy and sell our political system and resources maintain control of automated technology, then we’ll be heading towards a very harsh reality.

Courtesy: U.S. Uncut
Read more » http://usuncut.com/news/edit-complete-hw-stephen-hawking-says-really-scared-capitalism-not-robots/

—- – –  – – –
More details » Huffington Post
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/stephen-hawking-capitalism-robots_5616c20ce4b0dbb8000d9f15?ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000067

Robert Reich on Why Capitalism Needs Saving

“The real issue is whether capitalism is organized for the benefit of the society as a whole or for the benefit of a small group,” says Reich

BY

Economic inequality is shaping up to be one of the central debates of the 2016 election: Those on the left – most notably Bernie Sanders – decry the increasing wealth and power of those at the very top of the economy, while others are left behind. Those on the right respond that this upswing in inequality, however regrettable it might be, is the natural result of free markets.
Few have looked at this issue as closely as political economist and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. In his new book, Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few, he tackles this obsession with free markets. He argues that there is no such thing as a free market, and that the basic rules of capitalism – laws surrounding property, monopoly, contract, bankruptcy and enforcement – are really driving inequality.

See more » Rolling Stone
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/robert-reich-on-why-capitalism-needs-saving-20151007
Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/robert-reich-on-why-capitalism-needs-saving-20151007#ixzz3o1e5X5Xn

The end of capitalism has begun

Without us noticing, we are entering the postcapitalist era. At the heart of further change to come is information technology, new ways of working and the sharing economy. The old ways will take a long while to disappear, but it’s time to be utopian

By 

The red flags and marching songs of Syriza during the Greek crisis, plus the expectation that the banks would be nationalised, revived briefly a 20th-century dream: the forced destruction of the market from above. For much of the 20th century this was how the left conceived the first stage of an economy beyond capitalism. The force would be applied by the working class, either at the ballot box or on the barricades. The lever would be the state. The opportunity would come through frequent episodes of economic collapse.

Instead over the past 25 years it has been the left’s project that has collapsed. The market destroyed the plan; individualism replaced collectivism and solidarity; the hugely expanded workforce of the world looks like a “proletariat”, but no longer thinks or behaves as it once did.

Continue reading The end of capitalism has begun

Is Conscious Capitalism Possible?

Is Conscious Capitalism Possible? It’s Time For A Revolution Of Consciousness

by

There is a lot of talk about the possibility of “Conscious Capitalism” these days and some “life coaches” that I know are going into corporations trying to raise consciousness and create a warmer working environment.

My question always is —what is their motivation? And are they just going where the money is?

I have written about conferences like Wisdom 2.0 and efforts to bring mindfulness into the workplace, especially in the tech arena, but the trend against such positive endeavours is frightening.

Seduced by technology and seeking “control,” we have empowered companies to take our privacy and sanity for granted.

Read more » Collective Evolution
Learn more » http://www.collective-evolution.com/2015/02/16/is-conscious-capitalism-possible-its-time-for-a-revolution/

Why Marxism is on the rise again

Capitalism is in crisis across the globe – but what on earth is the alternative? Well, what about the musings of a certain 19th-century German philosopher? Yes, Karl Marx is going mainstream – and goodness knows where it will end

By The Guardian

Class conflict once seemed so straightforward. Marx and Engels wrote in the second best-selling book of all time, The Communist Manifesto: “What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.” (The best-selling book of all time, incidentally, is the Bible – it only feels like it’s 50 Shades of Grey.)

Today, 164 years after Marx and Engels wrote about grave-diggers, the truth is almost the exact opposite. The proletariat, far from burying capitalism, are keeping it on life support. Overworked, underpaid workers ostensibly liberated by the largest socialist revolution in history (China’s) are driven to the brink of suicide to keep those in the west playing with their iPads. Chinese money bankrolls an otherwise bankrupt America.

The irony is scarcely wasted on leading Marxist thinkers. “The domination of capitalism globally depends today on the existence of a Chinese Communist party that gives de-localised capitalist enterprises cheap labour to lower prices and deprive workers of the rights of self-organisation,” says Jacques Rancière, the French marxist thinker and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris VIII. “Happily, it is possible to hope for a world less absurd and more just than today’s.”

That hope, perhaps, explains another improbable truth of our economically catastrophic times – the revival in interest in Marx and Marxist thought. Sales of Das Kapital, Marx’s masterpiece of political economy, have soared ever since 2008, as have those of The Communist Manifesto and the Grundrisse (or, to give it its English title, Outlines of the Critique of Political Economy). Their sales rose as British workers bailed out the banks to keep the degraded system going and the snouts of the rich firmly in their troughs while the rest of us struggle in debt, job insecurity or worse. There’s even a Chinese theatre director called He Nian who capitalised on Das Kapital’s renaissance to create anall-singing, all-dancing musical.

Read more » the guardian
See more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jul/04/the-return-of-marxism

Conversation Between Noam Chomsky, Paul Craig Roberts and Rob Kall part 1– the future of capitalism

Conversation Between Noam Chomsky, Paul Craig Roberts and Rob Kall part 1– the future of capitalism

By

Excerpt;

NC: Well the first point to mention is that we’re very far from a capitalist economy and have never been one — it’s a state capitalist economy with substantial state intervention that, in many respects from basic research and development to manipulating interest rates to determining the laws that administer regulations that permit CEOs to pick their own boards and hence to enhance their salaries, and thousands of other ways. What’s the future of it? That depends on how the public will respond to the circumstances in which there are. I mean, there is an institutional logic which will perpetuate things in a certain direction, but it is not graven in stone. It has been in the past, and can be in the future, influenced, modified, even radically changed by public engagement and action. And there’s no way to predict that — those are matters for action not for speculation.

Rob: OK, Paul?

PCR: Well I think that’s a very insightful view of it. All I would add is that in more recent years, the private interest groups seem to have taken control of the government. Wall Street, Military Security Complex, Agribusiness, the extractive industries — their campaign donations elect the House, the Senate, the President, and they then write most of the bills that Congress passes and the President signs, so it’s a form of state capitalism in which the capitalists seem to have the upper hand.

I think that greed has run away with them to such an extent that they have let it undermine the domestic economy on which they themselves depend. For example, they greatly increased profits in managerial or executive performance bonuses by offshoring so many of the middle class jobs, not only the manufacturing jobs but the professional tradable service jobs, such as software engineering, research, design — these things have left, or a large percentage of them, and it erodes consumer purchasing power. The middle class is damaged, the kids who graduate from university expecting jobs find that jobs are offshored, they’ve got debts, increasingly the big retail box stores just offer part-time employment — you can’t form a household on one of those jobs. You can’t get married, buy a house. You have to work two of those jobs, some people three. There are no benefits, no pension. The years of zero interest rate, in order to save the big mega banks, have caused the retired element to have to draw down their savings because they don’t get any interest income, and so inheritance for children is disappearing. And so the whole system has become a house of cards.

Massive debt/money creation is not matched by the increase in real goods and services. As Chomsky said, interest rates are rigged, the gold price is rigged, the stock market is a bubble, the dollar is a bubble — in a way it’s a house of cards. And the power of the United States rests, to a substantial extent, on the dollar being the world reserve currency. And yet, when you create massive new dollars to support quantitative easing but the goods and services don’t increase, you worry the whole world about their dollar holdings. And then you step in and threaten other countries with sanctions? That gives them an incentive to leave the dollar payment system, which means the demand for dollars drops.

So, I think the whole thing is a house of cards and that change could come from a substantial collapse that simply totally discredits the elites from both parties; and some kind of collapse of that extent would give room for the sort of thing Noam mentioned — that people could get back in and be determining factors in the process and some kind of new leadership could arise.

Read more » OpEdNews
Learn More » http://www.opednews.com/articles/Transcript-Conversation-B-by-Rob-Kall-Capitalism_Climate_Greed_Predatory-Capitalism-140928-11.html

The biggest threats to American workers

By 

A century ago, roughly one-third of U.S. workers toiled in agriculture. Now just 1.5% do. Yet agricultural output has skyrocketed, and the United States, after feeding itself, has plenty of food left over to export.

That explosion in agricultural productivity is considered a crowning achievement of 20th-century capitalism. Yet a similar trend that may now be underway in manufacturing and even the service economy isn’t viewed with the same reverential awe. Instead, the rise of robots and computers in place of workers looms as one of the great challenges in capitalism’s next century.

Read more » Yahoo News
https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/the-biggest-threat-to-american-workers-162716201.html#more-id

Thomas Piketty’s Capital: everything you need to know about the surprise bestseller

The radical economist’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century has angered the right with its powerful argument about wealth, democracy and why capitalism will always create inequality. Not read it yet? Here’s what it means

By The Guardian

That capitalism is unfair has been said before. But it is the way Thomas Piketty says it – subtly but with relentless logic – that has sent rightwing economics into a frenzy, both here and in the US.

His book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has shot to the top of the Amazon bestseller list. Carrying it under your arm has, in certain latitudes of Manhattan, become the newest tool for making a social connection among young progressives. Meanwhile, he is beencondemned as neo-Marxist by rightwing commentators. So why the fuss?

Piketty’s argument is that, in an economy where the rate of return on capital outstrips the rate of growth, inherited wealth will always grow faster than earned wealth. So the fact that rich kids can swan aimlessly from gap year to internship to a job at father’s bank/ministry/TV network – while the poor kids sweat into their barista uniforms – is not an accident: it is the system working normally.

If you get slow growth alongside better financial returns, then inherited wealth will, on average, “dominate wealth amassed from a lifetime’s labour by a wide margin”, says Piketty. Wealth will concentrate to levels incompatible with democracy, let alone social justice. Capitalism, in short, automatically creates levels of inequality that are unsustainable. The rising wealth of the 1% is neither a blip, nor rhetoric.

To understand why the mainstream finds this proposition so annoying, you have to understand that “distribution” – the polite name for inequality – was thought to be a closed subject. Simon Kuznets, the Belarussian émigré who became a major figure in American economics, used the available data to show that, while societies become more unequal in the first stages of industrialisation, inequality subsides as they achieve maturity. This “Kuznets Curve” had been accepted by most parts of the economics profession until Piketty and his collaborators produced the evidence that it is false.

In fact, the curve goes in exactly the opposite direction: capitalism started out unequal, flattened inequality for much of the 20th century, but is now headed back towards Dickensian levels of inequality worldwide.

Continue reading Thomas Piketty’s Capital: everything you need to know about the surprise bestseller

Malnutrition in Pakistani children, its causes, consequences and recommendations

Madam, malnutrition is a pathological condition resulting from deficiency of one or more nutrients and has a wide range of clinical manifestations. Children are amongst the worst-affected groups. In 2001, it was noted that malnutrition caused 54% deaths in children living in developing countries.1 The World Health Organization through the Millennium Development Goal 4 has recognized that improved nutrition is crucial in reducing the under-5-years mortality,especially in the developing countries.2

Laying its special emphasis in our part of the world, the percentage of malnourished children is highest in Asia with 70% of undernourished children living in this part of the world. In South Asia, one out of two preschoolers is underweight and has stunted growth.3 In Pakistan,33.03% (CI= 27.96-38.54)of children under the age of 5 are underweight, 53.38% of the children are stunted and wasting has been reported in 11.52% of the children,4 which clearly shows that the nutritional status in this country is poor.Goiter caused by iodine deficiency is also common with the highest cases reported in Pakistan, India and parts of Indonesia.3
Marasmus, Kwashiorkor or Marasmus Kwashiorkor will probably develop in a child who is malnourished for a prolonged period of time leading to an increased mortality. Children who are undernourished are more susceptible to the effects of infectious diseases compared to children who are adequately nourished.1 Infections can in turn lead to more undernourishment as food intake is decreased during infection and this turns into a vicious cycle.
One of the possible causes of such status could be declined production of food.1 Many landscapes that were once fertile are deemed barren due to environmental pollution caused by mankind. This in turn leads to less land that is available for farming and ultimately food production per acre is insufficient to touch base with other countries. Poverty, unawareness, population growth, political instability, loss of food stock due to poor harvest and natural calamities are some of the important factors causing malnutrition amongst children. Malnutrition in Pakistani children has been directly linked to illiteracy of mothers, low family income and larger family size.5 Maternal undernourishment is also a contributing factor to babies being born with low-birth-weight.1 The increased basal metabolic rate due to acute and chronic illnesses may also precipitate the pre-existing malnutrition.

Read more » JPMA
http://jpma.org.pk/full_article_text.php?article_id=3324

The New 1% isn’t just the Rich, it is the Spoiled Oligarch Heirs (Krugman)

Economist Paul Krugman explains how the United States is becoming an oligarchy – the very system our founders revolted against.

Bill Moyers interviews Paul Krugman

” Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, a 42-year-old who teaches at the Paris School of Economics, shows that two-thirds of America’s increase in income inequality over the past four decades is the result of steep raises given to the country’s highest earners.

This week, Bill talks with Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, about Piketty’s “magnificent” new book.

“What Piketty’s really done now is he said, ‘Even those of you who talk about the 1 percent, you don’t really get what’s going on.’ He’s telling us that we are on the road not just to a highly unequal society, but to a society of an oligarchy. A society of inherited wealth.”

Krugman adds: “We’re seeing inequalities that will be transferred across generations. We are becoming very much the kind of society we imagined we’re nothing like.” ”

Courtesy: http://www.juancole.com/2014/04/spoiled-oligarch-krugman.html

The New York Times – A Return to a World Marx Would Have Known

Doug Henwood is editor of Left Business Observer, host of a weekly radio show originating on KPFA, Berkeley, and is author of several books, including “Wall Street: How It Works and For Whom” and “After the New Economy.”

I don’t see how you can understand our current unhappy economic state without some sort of Marx-inspired analysis.

Here we are, almost five years into an officially designated recovery from the worst downturn in 80 years, and average household incomes are more than 8 percent below where they were when the Great Recession began, and employment still 650,000 short of its pre-recession high.

Though elites are prospering, for millions of Americans, it’s as if the recession never ended.

How can this all be explained? The best way to start is by going back to the 1970s. Corporate profitability — which, as every Marxist schoolchild knows, is the motor of the system — had fallen sharply off its mid-1960s highs. Stock and bond markets were performing miserably. Inflation seemed to be rising without limit. After three decades of seemingly endless prosperity, workers had developed a terrible attitude problem, slacking off and, quaintly, even going out on strike. It’s no accident that Johnny Paycheck scored a No. 1 country hit with “Take This Job and Shove It” in 1977 — utterly impossible to imagine today.

This is where Marx begins to come in. At the root of these problems was a breakdown in class relations: workers no longer feared the boss. A crackdown was in order.

And it came, hard. In October 1979, the Federal Reserve began driving interest rates toward 20 percent, to kill inflation and restrict borrowing, creating the deepest recession since the 1930s. (It was a record we only broke in 2008/2009). A little over a year later, Ronald Reagan came into office, fired the striking air-traffic controllers, setting the stage for decades of union busting to follow. Five years after Johnny Paycheck’s hit, workers were desperate to hold and/or get jobs. No more attitude problem.

The “cure” worked for about 30 years. Corporate profits skyrocketed and financial markets thrived. The underlying mechanism, as Marx would explain it, is simple: workers produce more in value than they are paid, and the difference is the root of profit. If worker productivity rises while pay remains stagnant or declines, profits increase. This is precisely what has happened over the last 30 years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity rose 93 percent between 1980 and 2013, while pay rose 38 percent (all inflation-adjusted).

The 1 percent got ever-richer and more powerful. But there was a problem: a system dependent on high levels of mass consumption has a hard time coping with the stagnation or decline in mass incomes.The development of a mass consumer market after Marx died, with the eager participation of a growing middle class, caused a lot of people to say his analysis was obsolete. But now, with the hollowing out of the middle class and the erosion of mass purchasing power, the whole 20th century model of mass consumption is starting to look obsolete.

Borrowing sustained the mass consumption model for a few decades. Non-rich households borrowed to buy cars, buy food, pay medical bills, buy ever-more-expensive houses, and so on. Conveniently, rich households had plenty of spare cash to lend them.

That model broke apart in 2008 and has not — and cannot — be revived. Without the juice provided by spirited borrowing, demand remains constricted and growth rates, low. (See also: Europe.)

Raising the incomes of the bottom 90 percent of the population through higher wages and public spending initiatives — stifled since Reagan starting putting the squeeze on them — could change that. But the stockholding class has resisted that, and they have a lot of political power.

And an extraordinarily lopsided economy is the result. We didn’t expect that the 21st century would bring about a return of the 19th century’s vast disparities, but it’s looking like that’s just what’s happened.

Courtesy: The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/03/30/was-marx-right/a-return-to-a-world-marx-would-have-known?smid=fb-share

Bosnia rocked by third day of anti-government unrest

By Dado Ruvic, TUZLA, Bosnia

(Reuters) – Protesters set fire to a government building and clashed with riot police in Bosnia on Friday in a third day of unrest over high unemployment and two decades of political inertia since the country’s 1992-95 war.

Demonstrators smashed windows and set fire to the offices of the local government in the northern town of Tuzla, while in the capital, Sarajevo, police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse a crowd of several thousand.

Protests were called for Friday in towns and cities across Bosnia, in a sign of growing anger over the lack of economic and political progress since the country broke from Yugoslavia in the early 1990s and descended into war. More than one in four of the country’s workforce were out of a job in 2013.

Read more » Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/07/us-bosnia-unrest-idUSBREA160UU20140207

Marx Was Right: Five Surprising Ways Karl Marx Predicted 2014

From the iPhone 5S to corporate globalization, modern life is full of evidence of Marx’s foresight

By 
There’s a lot of talk of Karl Marx in the air these days – from Rush Limbaugh accusing Pope Francis of promoting “pure Marxism” to a Washington Times writer claiming that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is an “unrepentant Marxist.” But few people actually understand Marx’s trenchant critique of capitalism. Most people are vaguely aware of the radical economist’s prediction that capitalism would inevitably be replaced by communism, but they often misunderstand why he believed this to be true. And while Marx was wrong about some things, his writings (many of which pre-date the American Civil War) accurately predicted several aspects of contemporary capitalism, from the Great Recession to the iPhone 5S in your pocket.Here are five facts of life in 2014 that Marx’s analysis of capitalism correctly predicted more than a century ago:

1. The Great Recession (Capitalism’s Chaotic Nature)

The inherently chaotic, crisis-prone nature of capitalism was a key part of Marx’s writings. He argued that the relentless drive for profits would lead companies to mechanize their workplaces, producing more and more goods while squeezing workers’ wages until they could no longer purchase the products they created. Sure enough, modern historical events from the Great Depression to the dot-com bubble can be traced back to what Marx termed “fictitious capital” – financial instruments like stocks and credit-default swaps. We produce and produce until there is simply no one left to purchase our goods, no new markets, no new debts. The cycle is still playing out before our eyes: Broadly speaking, it’s what made the housing market crash in 2008. Decades of deepening inequality reduced incomes, which led more and more Americans to take on debt. When there were no subprime borrows left to scheme, the whole façade fell apart, just as Marx knew it would.

2. The iPhone 5S (Imaginary Appetites)

Marx warned that capitalism’s tendency to concentrate high value on essentially arbitrary products would, over time, lead to what he called “a contriving and ever-calculating subservience to inhuman, sophisticated, unnatural and imaginary appetites.” It’s a harsh but accurate way of describing contemporary America, where we enjoy incredible luxury and yet are driven by a constant need for more and more stuff to buy. Consider the iPhone 5S you may own. Is it really that much better than the iPhone 5 you had last year, or the iPhone 4S a year before that? Is it a real need, or an invented one? While Chinese families fall sick with cancer from our e-waste, megacorporations are creating entire advertising campaigns around the idea that we should destroy perfectly good products for no reason. If Marx could see this kind of thing, he’d nod in recognition.

3. The IMF (The Globalization of Capitalism)

Marx’s ideas about overproduction led him to predict what is now called globalization – the spread of capitalism across the planet in search of 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.” While this may seem like an obvious point now, Marx wrote those words in 1848, when globalization was over a century away. And he wasn’t just right about what ended up happening in the late 20th century – he was right about why it happened: The relentless search for new markets and cheap labor, as well as the incessant demand for more natural resources, are beasts that demand constant feeding.

4. Walmart (Monopoly)

The classical theory of economics assumed that competition was natural and therefore self-sustaining. Marx, however, argued that market power would actually be centralized in large monopoly firms as businesses increasingly preyed upon 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.” It was only later, in the 20th century, that the trend Marx foresaw began to accelerate. Today, mom-and-pop shops have been replaced by monolithic big-box stores like Walmart, small community banks have been replaced by global banks like J.P. Morgan Chase and small famers have been replaced by the likes of Archer Daniels Midland. The tech world, too, is already becoming centralized, with big corporations sucking up start-ups as fast as they can. Politicians give lip service to what minimal small-business lobby remains and prosecute the most violent of antitrust abuses – but for the most part, we know big business is here to stay.

5. Low Wages, Big Profits (The Reserve Army of Industrial Labor)

Marx believed that wages would be held down by a “reserve army of labor,” which he explained simply using classical economic techniques: Capitalists wish to pay as little as possible for labor, and this is easiest to do when there are too many workers floating around. Thus, after a recession, using a Marxist analysis, we would predict that high unemployment would keep wages stagnant as profits soared, because workers are too scared of unemployment to quit their terrible, exploitative jobs. And what do you know? 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.

In Conclusion:

Marx was wrong about many things. Most of his writing focuses on a critique of capitalism rather than a proposal of what to replace it with – which left it open to misinterpretation by madmen like Stalin in the 20th century. But his work still shapes our world in a positive way as well. When he argued for a progressive income tax in the Communist Manifesto, no country had one. Now, there is scarcely a country without a progressive income tax, and it’s one small way that the U.S. tries to fight income inequality. Marx’s moral critique of capitalism and his keen insights into its inner workings and historical context are still worth paying attention to. 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 uniteyou have nothing to lose but your chains,” has yet to lose its potency.

Courtesy: Rolling Stone

Chomsky on Anarchy & Anarcho-Syndicalism

By Sean Nevins

WASHINGTON (VOR) — Recently, Radio VR took a trip to Cambridge, Massachusetts to sit down and speak with Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky of M.I.T.

Dr. Chomsky is famous the world over for his work in linguistics but moreso his political philosophies and beliefs. He is a self-described anarchist, and more specifically, an anarcho-syndicalist.

Radio VR discussed a number of issues with Dr. Chomsky, including anarcho-syndicalism. Specifically, we inquired into what it is, how it arises, and how it can be applied by people that want to affect positive change in the world.

The transcript is below:

Sean Nevins: I kind of want to start off by asking you to briefly describe what is anarchism and more specifically anarcho-syndicalism?

Noam Chomsky: Well, I think the best characterization that I know is given by one of the leading thinkers and activists in the modern anarcho-syndicalist world, Rudolf Rocker, who described anarchism, in general, as not a specific set of beliefs that provides particular answers to all the questions that can arise, but rather what he called ‘a general tendency in the history of humanity’ which aims to inquire into the nature of social, economic, political structures to determine, to detect structures of hierarchy and domination and to challenge them to demonstrate their legitimacy. They are not self-justifying and if they cannot defend their legitimacy on some plausible grounds then to dismantle them and reconstruct then from below. And to do this in the context of the existing society, developing alternative institutions that are more free and more just in the hope of moving on to a world of free associations of workers’ communities controlling their own institutions, their own fate in association with one another of various kinds of federal arrangements and so on. That is the basic thrust of anarchism. Altogether it is my view and of anarcho-syndicalism in particular which is designed for complex industrial societies.

Sean Nevins: So, you are talking about workers controlling their own work and controlling the enterprises of that work and expanding out into the community?

Noam Chomsky: It’s one of crucial aspect of it. In fact, anarcho-syndicalism kind of shades off into left anti-Bolshevik Marxism. People like Anton Pannekoek, Paul Mattick, Karl Korsch and others have sympathetic relationships and ideas and the great anarchist achievement like the 1936 Spanish Revolution before it was crushed, did have the strong and sympathetic support of left Marxists who felt a community of interests and commitments.

Sean Nevins: Workers controlling their own work — How is this organized? And how does it arise?

Noam Chomsky: Well, it’s all over the place. First of all it is a constant development takes place all over. There were efforts in Eastern Europe, for example, in self-management in Yugoslavia. Right now in the United States, in the old decaying Rust Belt, where industries are collapsing, they’re being replaced, to a certain extent, by worker owned and partially worker-managed enterprises. There is one huge institution that’s Mondragon, a great conglomerate in Spain which is worker owned and the manager is selected by workers but not actually worker-managed which is a collection of heavy industries, banks, hospitals, community living and so on.

Sean Nevins: Do they arise, kind of, spontaneously and is there a system that regulates how the workers organize themselves, like maybe in the US, like they do it one way, and then over in Spain, [at] Mondragon, they’ll do it a different way. Is there any kind of vision?

Noam Chomsky: There is no leadership or Bible, things develop on the basis of the circumstances that exist. So the conditions in Rust Belt in Northern Ohio and in Catalonia and in Aragon in 1936 are quite different and the backgrounds are quite different. But there were similarities in the way the take-over by working people, peasants of their own lives proceeded.

Sean Nevins: Let’s say that Mondragon wants to have an association with somebody in the Rust Belt…

Noam Chomsky: That is what is happening in fact. I don’t know how far it’ll go, but one of the major US unions, the steel workers, has now entered into some kinds of interactions with Mondragon to try to work out ways to develop Mondragon-type system in the old industrial sections of the US and revive them on the basis of worker-ownership and community-ownership in control.

Courtesy: YouTube

Nick Hanauer: MILLIONAIRE INVESTOR: “If the Rich Were Job Creators, We’d be Drowning in Jobs Today.”

By David Harris GershonFollow for Writing by David Harris Gershon

Nick Hanauer is a very rich, wildly successful business man. His company, aQuantive, was purchased by Microsoft in 2007 for $6.4 billion. He founded gear.com, which merged with Overstock.com, and he was one of the first investors in Amazon.com in the 1990s.

Hanauer knows opportunity.

Hanauer also, it seems, both understands and is willing to articulate what most of our country’s wealthiest citizens refuse to acknowledge: that it is the middle class which creates jobs through demand, and that our country’s richest members of society need to be paying more in taxes so as not to undercut and destroy those Americans who ultimately determine our nation’s economic health.

Hanauer was interviewed recently by Henry Blodget of Yahoo! Finance, and it is an interview I highly recommend be viewed in its entirety. (I’ve embedded it below.)

Why? He displayed, in a number of shining moments, the type of progressive economic stances that our country needs to hear more from those within the one percent who view the current economic inequalities that exist in our country as both unsustainable and wrong.

For example…

Here’s Hanauer responding to the argument that taxing the rich at higher levels is akin to punishing the most productive members of society, those who drive job creation:

There’s this idea in our society that rich people are job creators, and if you tax them more, then they’ll create less jobs. This is simply a misunderstanding of how the economy works – it’s actually the middle class that creates the jobs with the demand that forces businesses to increase employment.

Read more » Daily KOS
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/02/09/1063329/-MILLIONAIRE-INVESTOR-If-the-Rich-Were-Job-Creators-We-d-be-Drowning-in-Jobs-Today

via Facebook

David Simon: ‘There are now two Americas. My country is a horror show’

The creator of The Wire, David Simon, delivered an impromptu speech about the divide between rich and poor in America at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney, and how capitalism has lost sight of its social compact. This is an edited extract

The last job of capitalism – having won all the battles against labour, having acquired the ultimate authority, almost the ultimate moral authority over what’s a good idea or what’s not, or what’s valued and what’s not – the last journey for capital in my country has been to buy the electoral process, the one venue for reform that remained to Americans. Right now capital has effectively purchased the government
By

America is a country that is now utterly divided when it comes to its society, its economy, its politics. There are definitely two Americas. I live in one, on one block in Baltimore that is part of the viable America, the America that is connected to its own economy, where there is a plausible future for the people born into it. About 20 blocks away is another America entirely. It’s astonishing how little we have to do with each other, and yet we are living in such proximity.

There’s no barbed wire around West Baltimore or around East Baltimore, around Pimlico, the areas in my city that have been utterly divorced from the American experience that I know. But there might as well be. We’ve somehow managed to march on to two separate futures and I think you’re seeing this more and more in the west. I don’t think it’s unique to America.

I think we’ve perfected a lot of the tragedy and we’re getting there faster than a lot of other places that may be a little more reasoned, but my dangerous idea kind of involves this fellow who got left by the wayside in the 20th century and seemed to be almost the butt end of the joke of the 20th century; a fellow named Karl Marx.

I’m not a Marxist in the sense that I don’t think Marxism has a very specific clinical answer to what ails us economically. I think Marx was a much better diagnostician than he was a clinician. He was good at figuring out what was wrong or what could be wrong with capitalism if it wasn’t attended to and much less credible when it comes to how you might solve that.

You know if you’ve read Capital or if you’ve got the Cliff Notes, you know that his imaginings of how classical Marxism – of how his logic would work when applied – kind of devolve into such nonsense as the withering away of the state and platitudes like that. But he was really sharp about what goes wrong when capital wins unequivocally, when it gets everything it asks for.

That may be the ultimate tragedy of capitalism in our time, that it has achieved its dominance without regard to a social compact, without being connected to any other metric for human progress.

We understand profit. In my country we measure things by profit. We listen to the Wall Street analysts. They tell us what we’re supposed to do every quarter. The quarterly report is God. Turn to face God. Turn to face Mecca, you know. Did you make your number? Did you not make your number? Do you want your bonus? Do you not want your bonus?

And that notion that capital is the metric, that profit is the metric by which we’re going to measure the health of our society is one of the fundamental mistakes of the last 30 years. I would date it in my country to about 1980 exactly, and it has triumphed.

Read more » The Guardian
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/08/david-simon-capitalism-marx-two-americas-wire

New French president to limit CEO pay at state owned businesses

by

François Hollande’s 75% tax rate is still going to struggle due to the ease of moving out of France (or any country besides the US) but bringing a dose of fairness is going to be much easier. There will be plenty of complainers who will suggest how difficult it will be to attract top talent but there is even more evidence that shows paying top dollar (or euro) does nothing to attract top talent.

For years we have seen one company after another bump up pay to attract the next Steve Jobs or whatever other CEO of the day is being described as the greatest leader ever. The reality is there was only one Steve Jobs. The others command superstar pay but more often than not, they under-deliver. (We only need to look at Bankia as one recent example.) They’re always billed as the leader who will take the business to the next level, but the only thing going to the next level will be the executive pay.

Since Hollande is a Socialist, this change will no doubt trigger a storm of criticism and howling from the so-called free market “capitalists.” As in the same free market capitalists who all thought it was important to bail out the lifestyles of the bankers and keep the quantitative easing policies that have been all about free money for bankers to gamble. There hasn’t been anything close to a free market or raw capitalism for years so spare me any arguments about socialism. We’ve had it and it has been socialism for the 1%.

If we are ever going to bring some balance back to society, we’re going to need a lot more action like this. We’ve tried excessive CEO pay and it simply does not provide an acceptable ROI. More on fat cat pay from The Guardian:

Read more » America Blog
http://americablog.com/2012/05/new-french-president-to-limit-ceo-pay-at-state-owned-businesses.html

Pope Francis Calls Unfettered Capitalism ‘Tyranny’

by Joshua Holland

Earlier this month, Laurie Goodstein reported for The New York Times that Pope Francis’ softer rhetoric on hot-button social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage were causing conservative Catholics no small amount of chagrin.

It looks like they can expect more cognitive dissonance, according to this report in The Guardian

Pope Francis has attacked unfettered capitalism as “a new tyranny”, urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff.

The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, amounted to an official platform for his papacy, building on views he has aired in sermons and remarks since he became the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years in March.

In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the “idolatry of money” and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens “dignified work, education and healthcare”.

He also called on rich people to share their wealth. “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills,” Francis wrote in the document issued on Tuesday.

“How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”

In a sense, the new pope is just grappling with the reality he faces. Polls show that American Catholics, at least, agree with the pontiff’s position that the church focuses too much on social issues. And Francis recently commissioned a survey of Catholics around the world to see where they fall on these questions.

Meanwhile, Dominic Barton, the Managing Director of McKinsey & Co., writes in today’s Wall Street Journal: ”In 2012, the top 1% of earners in the US collected 19.3% of the country’s total household income–an all-time high… The disparity is growing rapidly as well. Incomes of the top 1% grew by 31.4% from 2009 to 2012, compared to just 0.4% for the remaining 99%.

Continue reading Pope Francis Calls Unfettered Capitalism ‘Tyranny’

Seattle City Councilmember-elect Kshama Sawant told Boeing machinists; “The workers should take over the factories, and shut down Boeing’s profit-making machine”

Seattle City Councilmember-elect shares radical idea with Boeing workers

By Gary Horcher

SEATTLE — Seattle City Councilmember-elect Kshama Sawant told Boeing machinists her idea of a radical option, should their jobs be moved out of state

“The workers should take over the factories, and shut down Boeing’s profit-making machine,” Sawant announced to a cheering crowd of union supporters in Seattle’s Westlake Park Monday night.

This week, Sawant became Seattle’s first elected Socialist council member. She ran on a platform of anti-capitalism, workers’ rights, and a $15 per-hour minimum wage for Seattle workers.

On Monday night, she spoke to supporters of Boeing Machinists, six days after they rejected a contract guaranteeing jobs in Everett building the new 777X airliner for eight years, in exchange for new workers giving up their guaranteed company pensions.

Now Boeing is threatening to take those jobs to other states. “That will be nothing short of economic terrorism because it’s going to devastate the state’s economy,” she said.

Sawant is calling for machinists to literally take-possession of the Everett airplane-building factory, if Boeing moves out. She calls that “democratic ownership.”

“The only response we can have if Boeing executives do not agree to keep the plant here is for the machinists to say the machines are here, the workers are here, we will do the job, we don’t need the executives. The executives don’t do the work, the machinists do,” she said.

Sawant says after workers “take-over” the Everett Boeing plant; they could build things everyone can use.

“We can re-tool the machines to produce mass transit like buses, instead of destructive, you know, war machines,” she told KIRO 7.

Sawant says she was referring to “drones” when speaking of war machines. Still, she says even as they work on the lines, building airplanes daily, she believes Boeing workers are under siege.

“Workers have to realize, they have more power than they think,” she said.

Courtesy: Kirotv.com
http://www.kirotv.com/news/news/seattle-city-councilmember-elect-shares-radical-id/nbxbC/

Occupy Wall Street’s debt buying strikes at the heart of capitalism

In buying debt so cheaply and writing it off, Occupy has revealed the illusory and circular nature of owing money

By

Across the United States, 2,693 people have received a letter in the last few months, which identified a debt and read: “You are no longer under any obligation to settle this account with the original creditor, the bill collector, or anyone else.” This is the work of the Rolling Jubilee project – a non-profit initiative which buys personal debt for pennies on the dollar in the secondary market (where debt is sold to companies who then resell it to collection agencies) but then simply cancels it.

When the Occupy movement came into being in the summer of 2011, its critics said that a lack of identifiable objectives and strategy for achieving them meant it was doomed to fail. This was a monumental underestimation of its potential impact. Two years on, the debate about the ethics of corporate capitalism in its current form, the fairness of the remuneration of those at the top, the widening wealth gap and the morality of tax avoidance is alive and well. The concept of the “99%” is now part of the collective consciousness. All this is, in no small part, down to the fuse lit by the Occupy movement.

However, another significant aspect of the movement – dismissed as being woolly – was that it brought like-minded people together and allowed a dialogue which identified common strands. This appears to have evolved into several focused and practical initiatives. One of the most significant, and perhaps the most threatening to the status quo, is the Strike Debt group, of which the Rolling Jubilee project forms part.

The idea is that, those freed from debt and those sympathetic to the movement, then donate into the fund to keep it “rolling” forward; hence the name. The fund has already raised $600,000 and has used $400,000 of this to purchase and cancel an astonishing $14.7m of debt, primarily focusing on medical bills. This strikes at the very heart of the system, not only by using its own perverse rules against it, but critically by revealing the illusory and circular nature of debt.

Capitalism requires a layer of cheap, flexible labour to operate optimally. It is not a coincidence that the most successful global economy, by any traditional capitalist measure, is an authoritarian quasi-communist state. Many, myself included, have been arguing that our current predicament is not crisis-consequent austerity, but a permanent adjustment. David Cameron on Monday confirmed as much. The great lie, peddled by Thatcher and Reagan, was the idea that we could all be middle class, white-collar professionals within a neoliberal economy. It was simply not true.

Continue reading Occupy Wall Street’s debt buying strikes at the heart of capitalism

Billion Dollar Pay Check? 10 CEOs in America Break All Records for Executive Pay

“I have never seen anything like that,” says the author of the report on CEO pay.

For the first time ever, the 10 highest-paid chief executives in the US all received more than $100m in compensation and two took home billion-dollar paychecks, according to a leading annual survey of executive pay.

Read more » AlterNet
http://www.alternet.org/billion-dollar-pay-check-10-ceos-america-break-all-records-executive-pay

Oligarchs — new dictators of the 21st century

BY Christian Caryl

WASHINGTON: Earlier this month, the investment bank Credit Suisse published its annual survey of global wealth. The bank’s report is filled with illuminating findings, but one in particular caught my eye. It has to do with the distribution of assets in Russia, where, as the report notes, a mere 110 people own a mind-boggling 35 per cent of the country’s entire wealth. At the same time, 93.7pc of Russians are worth $10,000 or less.

As the report notes, this makes Russia the country with the greatest wealth disparities in the world. Americans, who are now increasingly concerned about deepening inequality in their own country, might seek some consolation from this dismal conclusion. Even under present circumstances, wealth in the United States is still spread a lot more evenly than that. Things could be worse, right?

Well, maybe. But I see little cause for jubilation. Russia is merely the most extreme case of a worldwide trend that potentially represents one of the greatest threats that democracy faces today: the spread of oligarchy.

The problem isn’t just that some people in today’s world are fabulously rich. It’s that disproportionate wealth increasingly goes along with disproportionate power. Russia, again, offers a textbook example of the dangers. Back in the 1990s, a handful of politically well-connected business tycoons managed to profit from their close relations with Boris Yeltsin’s Kremlin by taking advantage of the privatisation of the country’s industrial jewels — above all its vast oil wealth. Those magnates weren’t shy about exploiting their economic power to political ends. They bankrolled Yeltsin’s re-election as president in 1996, controlled ministerial appointments, and dictated government policy. No wonder these businessmen-cum-politicians were soon dubbed the “oligarchs.” (”Oligarchy” is Greek for “government of the few.”)

Continue reading Oligarchs — new dictators of the 21st century

Russell Brand: ‘Revolution Is Coming… I Ain’t Got a Flicker of Doubt’

British comedian goes off on failed paradigm, talking egalitarianism, consciousness, and filthiness of profit with the BBC

– Jon Queally, staff writer

The British left weekly New Statesman has taken a chance on an up-and-coming rogue editor, but the actor-comedian and newly welcomed progressive-minded firebrand Russell Brand seems so far to be a brilliant and elegant choice.

Tapped to guest-edit the magazine’s ‘Revolution’ issue this week, Brand is making waves both for his feature-length essay on the topic but also with a televised interview that aired Wednesday night on the BBC with veteran Newsnight anchor Jeremy Paxman.

Read more » Common Dreams
https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/10/24-6

About 60 percent of Russians see communism as good system – poll

About 60 percent of Russians believe there were more positive than negative aspects to life in the former Soviet Union, an opinion poll suggests.

Of the 1,000 people whom Russia’s Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) interviewed by telephone in a survey last month, 14 percent said the word communism had percent “very pleasant,” “positive” or “wonderful” connotations for them and 12 percent said they were nostalgic about the Soviet era.

Communism was just a thing of the past for 11 percent, but the same proportion believed communism meant good and stable life.

Read more » http://rbth.ru/news/2013/10/12/about_60_percent_of_russians_see_communism_as_good_system_-_poll_30755.html