Jim Culleny: Did Marx have it right?
In an example of how things can turn — not on a dime maybe, but on a kopek or a dollar— it could be Karl Marx was right after all.
Marx’s assessment of capitalism’s tendency to inevitably suck the marrow of the masses, might be turning out just as he predicted. If your patriot heart recoils at this, think “austerity” for the masses congruent with a metastasizing wealthy elite — a brood growing fewer and fatter.
Wall Street has gloated over the demise of communism because it left the planet wide open to capitalism’s financial strip-mining — wide open to the same rapaciousness found in communist corruption — as if capitalist corruption was part of God’s plan.
But if God is in his heaven flushed with pride at the likes of Sheldon Adelson or the Koch brothers, Lucifer may have had it right. But that’s unlikely. Whatever may be God’s plan, unbridled capitalism is probably not any more a part of it than unbridled communism. Class warfare is class warfare — no matter who’s lobbing mortars.
So why this fresh assessment of Marx?
“With the global economy in a protracted crisis and workers around the world burdened by joblessness, debt and stagnant incomes, Marx’s biting critique of capitalism — that the system is inherently unjust and self-destructive — cannot be so easily dismissed. Marx theorized that the capitalist system would inevitably impoverish the masses as the world’s wealth became concentrated in the hands of a greedy few,” writes Michael Schumann in Time Magazine
“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.”
The tactics of the rich and their mouthpieces is insidious. It would not be a stretch to imagine an apparent sociopath like Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, turning over his own mother to the Koch Machine to be waterboarded until she confessed where she hid her last Social Security check so it could be turned over to Goldman Sachs to be voucherized (at a fraction of its pre-privatization value).
The moral compasses of men like Cruz are tuned always to the magnetism of excess and power. Their smug duplicity is a symptom of their sociopathy.
Take this by Cruz: “(The Democrats’ budget) does nothing to solve the enormous challenges facing Social Security and Medicare. Every one of us would like to see those critical bulwarks of our society strengthened ...”
Is there anyone within broadcast reach of Republicans who believes Cruz really means they’d like to see Social Security strengthened? You’d have to have had your head stuck in Sean Hannity’s think tank for the past 10 years to buy that.
“You only have to look at what conservatives have been saying since these programs were enacted to understand that they do not believe that the government should administer these programs. Ted Cruz has called Social Security a Ponzi scheme. He supports the Ryan dystopian nightmare plan,” writes Digby at Hullabaloo
I’d rather dine with an honest small-time crook than sit elbow-to-elbow with Cruz.
Cruz and those who share his values would prefer to have unregulated capitalism permanently established as the final solution — the most effective way to strip the nation and the planet naked in order to line their closets with thousand-dollar suits.
The flip side of Marx’s “dictatorship of the proletariat,” I’d argue, is the “hegemony of the loot n’carryit” — looters of the commonwealth who hoard wealth, sending it to the Cayman Islands to keep it from governments of common people who might use it to revitalize infrastructures, improve public education or to provide the means to keep most of the world population out of gutters, jail or homeless shelters.
It’s a mean morality that elevates acquisitiveness to a fundamental virtue.
Poet Dante Alighieri introduces us to the avaricious in his “Divine Comedy.” They toil in hell’s fourth circle eternally pushing boulders in the same way their hoarding while alive left the rest of the world’s population to struggle under the daily weight of their poverty:
“The goods committed into fortune’s hands,
For which the human race keeps such a heap!
Not all the gold, that is beneath the moon,
Or ever hath been, of these toil-worn souls
Might purchase rest for one.”
But poets can throw out cautionary tales until the sacred cows come home without making a dent in the gold-plated skulls of bankers or the buck-bound heads of corporations.
Again from Shumann, “… the consequence of widening inequality is what Marx predicted: class struggle is back. The working class is growing angrier and demanding their fair share of the global economy. From the floor of the U.S. Congress to the streets of Athens to the assembly lines of southern China, events are being shaped by escalating tensions between capital and labor to a degree unseen since the communist revolutions of the 20th century.”
Culleny lives in Shelburne Falls, works in construction, is a singer/songwriter, and has done commentary for National Public Radio. His email address is email@example.com.