GUT #7: The Three Ages Of Marx

 

“The emancipation of the German is the emancipation of the human being. The head of this emancipation is philosophy, its heart is the proletariat. Philosophy cannot be made a reality without the abolition of the proletariat, the proletariat cannot be abolished without philosophy being made a reality.”

Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law, 1844

 

Clearly, the fate of Germany and German people were fundamental to Marx’s conception of world crisis and subsequent revolution.  Consequently, no-one can deny the centrality of conflict between Continental Germany and Anglo Saxon nations in shaping the global history that followed Marx.

 

Marx proclaims ‘The German’ as lynchpin of his (war on) philosophy, and his politics. If the emancipation of The German is the emancipation of humanity it must follow that the emancipation of humanity is not possible without the emancipation of The German. And if the emancipation of humanity is not possible without the emancipation of The German, it must follow that the emancipation of The German is a precondition for the emancipation of humanity. If The German is not emancipated, then humanity cannot be.

 

But in light of the subsequent collapse of German civilisation and the Holocaust we have no choice but to conclude that the liberation of humanity within the terms described by Marx has become an impossibility. How can German ‘workers’ ever lead the world to liberation now? How can they ever be trusted? They are forever discredited; they have built an historical prison from which they can never escape. If the Marxist liberation of humanity  were ever to be resurrected, then  The German  will first have to be liberated from the Holocaust. How can that happen?

 

Marx’s anti-philosophy is a Turin shroud – a two dimensional image we can lay over the shape of history to see where design fits the real form and where it does not. Two world wars have blown much of The German corpus to smithereens- the remains only barely touch Marx’s design for the future here and there. The lines of Marxism sag downward and warp- just shadows on a sheet, supported by nothing. The whole world can see that the image above does not match that of the body beneath it.

 

The prospect of Marxist revolution in Germany and the Anglo Saxon territories was delivered the final coup de gras  by WWII. In Germany Marxists were literally expunged from  the political system. (All that is solid melts into air…) If you were alive in Germany after the conclusion of the Second World War it was de facto proof  that you were not a Marxist, nor had you ever been. Correspondingly, in the Anglo sphere the battle to preserve and rehabilitate German culture and morality was understood as existential necessity. All Saxons- left and right understood that whatever sentence Germany served, they also would jointly serve it even if they were dressed as Germany’s jailers. Marxism’s  political witness could testify  just how far The German had fallen short of  the potential of the 19thC. Anglo Saxons  had no wish to hear it and no wish to let anyone else hear it either.

 

It was as if the world deliberately set out to prove all the fallacies of Marxism and humiliate Marx with the demonstration. Marx argued that the material basis of a society is the foundation of all the structures of that society. The more materially advanced a society is, the more advanced it is in every way – this is the material basis for the possibility of communism. But the world wars culminating in the Holocaust proved conclusively that this is not the case.

 

No matter if  civilisation and material advancement were supposed to be betrothed from birth, The German instead made a black marriage between technology and barbarism. The nature of that barbarism is moral, it  is fascism. It is simply not credible to be asked to believe that a German ‘worker’  can rape,murder and rob Jews and others because he does not understand  his ‘historical role in the class conflict’. After the Holocaust the German worker could never again be portrayed as the hero of history.

 

“It is not a question of what this or that proletarian, or even the whole proletariat, at the moment regards as its aim. It is a question of what the proletariat is, and what, in accordance with this being, it will historically be compelled to do.”

The Holy Family, 1844

 

If Marx wanted to divorce the worker from any conception of morality here was his success in spades! Now the German worker was forever more the very epitome of immorality. The millenarian claim that in the end workers would overthrow capitalism and right the world  is shown to be no more real than the neo liberal claim that markets self regulate  for the benefit of everyone. These are competing statements of faith in the future made in the midst of day to day disaster.  Marx refused to accept the centrality of morality and morality was the wheel on which Marxism was broken.

 

But  just as Marxist revolution and Marxist anti-philosophy  became impossible in Germany and western Europe, so Marxist economics became an absolute necessity. The collapse of Marx’s war on  philosophy made possible the emancipation of Marxist economics. Marxism as revolutionary religious ideology was decapitated. The denuded stump of Marxism, no longer the preserve of political radicals, would serve radical elites instead.

 

And so we finally come to the old man, his final day on earth passing in an armchair by the fire. Marx is Scrooge the old miser and if Marx is Scrooge then Engels must be Marley, co-conspirator in the enterprise. Unlike Dicken’s  novel,  neither  is troubled by apprehension or remorse- after all  what have they to fear? Engels is wealthy and so Marx and his family are well provided for. Both are adamant there is no God, no justice and no retribution.

 

Nevertheless, retribution comes.  I will briefly visit Marx in his death chair  with these three spirits: The First, Second and Third Age of Marx in the hope that something of Marxism itself can be reproached, reproved and perhaps even redeemed.

 

The First Age Of Marx

 

“The emancipation of the German is the emancipation of the human being. The head of this emancipation is philosophy, its heart is the proletariat. Philosophy cannot be made a reality without the abolition of the proletariat, the proletariat cannot be abolished without philosophy being made a reality.”

Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law, 1844

 

Fresh from early adventures in poetry and fiction, young Marx embarks upon his critique of Hegel’s philosophy. He expressly endorses Protestantism and Luther in whom Marx sees  a herald that proclaims the advent of- himself! And Germany is the centre of the real intellectual universe; the proof and testing ground for Marxism.

 

‘My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. …. With him it is standing on its head. It must be turned right side up again, if you would discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell.’

Afterword to the Second German Edition of Capital (1873)

 

Marx is convinced that he has found in his method- the principle of turning Hegel around, the irrefutable answer to everything that had gone before. The anti-thesis to every thesis. All he has to do is apply his method with militant rigour for answers to appear, as straightforward as a chemical titration.  Like young Scrooge, hard  eyed Marx is determined to build his empire free from the hypocrisy and confusion of those that surround him. In particular, free from his father’s hypocrisy and cowardice. The capstone of this empire and Marx’s ascension to high priesthood will be the conscious forsaking of  morality itself. And Marx manages to convince himself that morality will in turn graciously release him from any mutual obligation that might remain.

 

The Second Age Of Marx

 

 ‘Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by its opponents in power? Where is the opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?

Manifesto of the Communist Party

 

We find Marx in 1848 fresh after the publication of the  Communist Manifesto.  At face value  here is Marx in full pomp; Marxism and communism are storming Europe he claims, and national bourgeoisies are powerless and terrified. Here Communism is acceding  to the universality it claims right before our eyes. But  look closer and there is something very wrong here:

 

…It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Spectre of Communism with a manifesto of the party itself. ‘

Manifesto of the Communist Party

 

Apparently what is abroad in the world is not actually communism but a ‘spectre’ of it. Somehow Marx has lost control of his creation, so he is forced to set out in the manifesto the principle of communism. But this creation is the product of reaction not of principle. In fact, the world has produced a thesis  and the Communist Manifesto must be  produced to refute that thesis. It must therefore be antithesis. Marx has codified within his manifesto his original error.  The manifesto  appears in the form of a work of principle- a concise statement. But  it is not what it appears to be. It is in reality a reaction- antithesis and is as limited as a reaction-antithesis.

 

For decades the Communist Manifesto masquerades as a work of principle until the appearance of Das Kapital. Because Communist Manifesto and Kapital are two halves of the same delivery,  the world has to wait until the appearance of his deformed afterbirth reveals the extent of Marx’s misconception.  Kapital is as it is, because  Manifesto fails to be what it claims to be.  The afterbirth, Kapital, is as massive as the birth, Manifesto, is undersized. The afterbirth Kapital, is as red and bleeding as the birth, Manifesto, was pale and anaemic. If the manifesto were truly a work of original defining principle there would never have been the need for Kapital as it was. There would never have been a need for Kapital at all. Now towards the end of his second age, Marx washes up for a short while in Paris  – spiritual home of every  émigré revolutionary and officer of a failed army.   Soon he will relocate permanently to England, and his descent will be complete.

 

In the year 1842-43,…I first found myself in the embarrassing position of having to discuss what is known as material interests…When the publishers of the Rheinische Zeitung conceived the illusion that by a more compliant policy on the part of the paper it might be possible to secure the abrogation of the death sentence passed upon it, I eagerly grasped the opportunity to withdraw from the public stage to my study.

Marx, Preface to the Critique of Political Economy (1859)

 

The Third Age Of Marx

 

Marx did not want to deliver his most famous work; ‘Das Kapital’ in the form that he did. It was an agonising decades long spasm of labour forced on him by the circumstances he contrived in his second age.  Kapital was a massive undertaking whose fundamental objective was impossible to achieve because ‘Das Kapital’ does not represent the triumphant victory and validation of Marx’s theory. It actually represents Marx’s  terms for agreeing to withdraw from the struggle for intellectual supremacy. Das Kapital is a formal resignation letter in which the author offers  peace terms to the world. Negotiating defeat and hailing it as victory is hardly novel in history; is it so surprising that Marx did the same?  Once Marx  lost the battle for philosophical supremacy  the world was pleased to let him pick consolation prizes from what remained.

 

There are three volumes of Kapital but Marx is the actual author of only one: Capital, Volume I (1867). Volume II,  ‘The Process of Circulation of Capital’, and  Volume III, ‘The Process of Capitalist Production as a Whole’, were constructed by Friedrich Engels and others  from notes.  This inevitably coloured  emphasis, context, and overall meaning of these subsequent two works and thus the entirety. In this amalgam of interpretation and construction is the real birth of ‘Marxism’ as separate and opposed to Marx’s specific thought.

 

‘Das Kapital’ took prodigious amounts of effort and time. Marx’s correspondence to Engels and others show varying  enthusiasm for the project requiring frequent comfort and encouragement , not to mention  financial support:

 

 “the thing is proceeding very slowly because no sooner does one set about finally disposing of subjects to which one has devoted years of study than they start revealing new aspects and demand to be thought out further”.

 

Bouts of despair on Marx’s part are often   explained by reference to the sheer size and complexity of the project. The narrative  of Kapital, largely accepted even by Marx’s opponents, is one of overwhelming ambition, more or less accomplished according to your view.  But  in light of  Marx’s own description  we must ask: For every page that was finally written, where are the ten or a hundred pages that could have been written but were not?  Why was Marx driven to write ever more and doomed never to have written enough?

 

Last Words Are For Fools

 

The purpose of analysis is to establish ownership of a principle. When an analysis fails all we are left with is an accumulation of description. Analysis has self defined boundaries  but description by its nature is boundless. When analysis uncovers the  point of principle it is complete.   ‘Kapital’ is only description and not analysis because nowhere in this work does Marx secure ownership of the principle. It must forever be incomplete, no matter how large it is. Nowhere does Marx actually seize the initiative. His analysis of the world never secures the point of principle and completes. Kapital is the consequence of this failing. Had Marx been able to seize the initiative  years before, or at any time, he would never have been in the position of having to write Kapital in the first place!

 

Had Marx had won the war of philosophy he could have dictated terms to the world. Instead he is reduced to sifting through what the world can offer in consolation, effectively making  a list of all the intellectual property  he can claim. Everything except that which he most wanted. Das Kapital is Marx searching though a mountain of words and numbers  for something of  value commensurate to that which he has already lost…

 

Finally, at the end,  Marx is credited with:

 

‘Get Out! Last words are for fools who haven’t said enough!’

 

Perhaps here in his final moment is comprehension of the argument I have been making.

 

And,most telling of all:

 

‘If I were merely to consult my own private inclinations….There could…be no better time for scholarly undertakings…what has happened over the last ten years must have increased any rational being’s contempt for the masses as for individuals to such a degree that ‘odi profanum vulgar et arceo’ [I detest and repudiate the common people. Horace] has almost become an inescapable maxim. However all these are themselves philistine ruminations which will be swept away by the first storm.’2

 

Marx looking for the chaos of revolution to sweep away his very thought processes themselves…

 

1 and 2

Marx-Engels Correspondence 1858

Marx To Ferdinand Lassalle In Düsseldorf

Source: MECW Volume 40, p. 268;
First published: abridged in F Lassalle. Nachgelassene Briefe und Schriften, Berlin, 1922.

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G.U.T. #4

 

 

Marxist Theory Is The Hallmark Of Capitalist Development

 

Marx noted that capitalism is innately unstable  leading to periodic crisis. It is on this prediction of crisis that  his analysis is built; this makes his critique ‘scientific’ in character as opposed to ‘moral’. Marx’s  economic analysis of the development of capitalism is  powerful, accurate and overwhelmingly borne out by observed events. As a consequence it has become the de facto fulcrum that divides modern from  premodern. In line with Marx’s analysis the undeveloped world has the ‘freest’ markets, the developed world the most regulated.. ‘Development’ itself has come to mean the development of regulatory government structures to predict and ameliorate the effects of periodic crisis. Comprehensive global regulation of economy also divides the world in time from pre crisis to post 2008 watershed. The co-ordinated post financial crisis response was the first time all major economies in the world  acted in unison. It was the first example of true globalism- and it was the global triumph of Marxist analysis.

 

For Marx the fact that he was thinking what he was thinking was evidence in itself  that what he was thinking was happening was already happening- as he was thinking it!  A bit like Artificial Intelligence in science fiction  – all at once his conscious analysis of capitalism was aware of itself.

 

‘The entire movement of history, as simply communism’s actual act of genesis — the birth act of its empirical existence — is, therefore, for its thinking consciousness the comprehended and known process of its becoming’.

 

Private Property and Communism (1844)

 

 

But when Marx actually got down to the practical business of how his consciousness might finally manifest outside of Marx in the real world, how it would be made flesh so to speak, he found he was creating a parody of what he increasingly referred to as generic ‘religion’. Even though the specific observations Marx made about crisis were new and the specific conclusions they led to were new, the framework within which he was forced to shape his thought began to look increasingly, disturbingly familiar.

 

 ‘The theory of Communism may be summed up in one sentence: Abolish all private property”.  

 

‘The abolition of existing property relations is not at all a distinctive feature of communism’.    

The Communist Manifesto

 

Marx realised he could not  explain the origin of  his intellect and his theory from within the terms of that theory itself. Fundamentally, Marx could not think of a new, original reason to explain why new, original Marxism came to be… At times Marx argued that his thought was the product of the present ‘zeitgeist’. At other times he implied it came from the future i.e. he was the first to express this new form of thought. If his theory was totally new, (and it must be because capitalism was supposed to be new), and socialism was new as was Marxism new, how come the core elements of the conclusions it reached were so similar to what had gone before? Why wasn’t the practical conclusion of Marxism as different from everything else as it should be?

 

The key to understanding Marx’s problem lies in the relationship of Marxism to  Hegelian dialectics. Marx’s critique of Hegelian philosophy is central to the Marxist  project and centres on Hegel’s presentation of Thought as an abstracted absolute – a logical preposition.  Given any specific thought or conception, Hegelian philosophy describes how that particular thought is modified and developed. Marx used Hegelian dialectics as both starting point and justification for Marxism by modifying the Hegelian dialectic to produce Marxist dialectics and historical materialism.

 

Whereas in Hegelian philosophy The Thought is the starting point for describing how intellect is developed and subsequently changes, in Marxism The Thought is the end point for describing WHY people think as they do at any given point. Marxism seeks to invert the question form: How do people change their minds from one particular thought to another  to: Why do they have any particular thought in the first place? In Marxism, Thought is the product of a process, the end not the means. Adapting dialectics in this way served a two fold purpose for Marx. Firstly it allowed him to locate his own intellectual identity within the historical process of capitalist  unconsciousness/false consciousness spontaneously becoming conscious and secondly it allowed him to explain the conscious nature of Marxism as a separate entity.

 

None Dare Call It…

 

Marxism is a revolution against Capitalism, Political Economy, Moral Socialism and ‘unconsciousness because once you become conscious you can never again be unconscious. If Marxism is not against all these things, it is not revolutionary. By definition, it can leave nothing untouched. Revolutionary Marxism is the antithesis to every thesis.. Revolution must annihilate what has gone before and seeks to replace old knowledge with new knowledge. Which  means even replacing the knowledge of how the revolution itself came to be. Revolution must in the end deny it’s own arbitrary character -even though arbitrariness is it’s prime justification!- and proclaim things were always meant to be this way and therefore things have always been this way. The revolution was inevitable – it took the revolution to make us see that.  In order to be successful every revolution must finally, inevitably revolt against revolution itself..

 

The Significance Of Marx’s Authorship

 

‘ …. in the end, one will be found among us who will prove that the sword of enthusiasm is just as good as the sword of genius.’

Engels, Anti-Schelling (1841)

 

Revolutionary Marxist dialectics must annihilate Hegelian dialectics, and Marx sought to use the very essence of Hegelian dialectics as the means with which to achieve this end, which everyone must admit is very clever. So the battle was between Hegelian dialectics; the ‘HOW’ of Thought, and Marxist dialectics; the ‘WHY’ of Thought.  Look again at Marx’s battle against idolatry religion (see parts 1-3), and you can see that Marx is using exactly the same trick in every instance.. Marx sought to use the Judaic injunction on idolatry against Judaism, and in turn sought to use Hegelian dialectics against Hegel. But just as Marx ended up creating a new form of idolatry religion so he reproduced the Hegelian process in a different form..

 

In Hegelian terms (Thesis, Antithesis and Synthesis), you cannot abolish the ‘past’ (the starting point), you can only modify it. Add water to whisky as much as you like, you can only dilute the mixture, you cannot remove the whisky that is already there. The prime objective of revolutionaries; abolition of what is gone before, is impossible. This Hegelian problem plagued Marxists way past the death of Marx and even past the initial phase of the Russian Revolution. Trotsky finally devised the idea of continually diluting whisky in the barrel before it even got poured into the glass and claimed that this made the problem of dilution moot. He called his solution (pun intended), ‘The Marxist Theory Of Permanent Revolution’.

 

Revolution is antithesis not synthesis; the midway point in a process, not the end of that process. It is the contradiction of everything that presently is. But this means that Marxism is only a way station in the process of thought, not the outcome of the thought process. In Hegelian terms Marxist revolution as antithesis leads to a final synthesis that is different from the Marxist revolution itself. Revolution is not the final outcome, it is the basis for the outcome. Marx sought to specify the outcome of the Marxist revolution, but could not because in as far as Marx is truly revolutionary he could not know the outcome of the revolution he promoted. In Hegelian terms to be a revolutionary is to oppose yourself to past and future.

 

The Gospel According To Marx

 

‘The writer must earn money in order to be able to live and to write, but he must by no means live and write for the purpose of making money.’

‘He called me a sentimental idealist and he was right; I called him a vain man, perfidious and crafty, and I also was right’

 

Quoted in Brian Morris, Bakunin: The Philosophy of Freedom, 1993, p14

 

 

The issue of authorship is the crucial factor that determines the  significance of everything that Marx wrote. The issue of my authorship is the crucial factor determining the significance of everything I write. And everything you write and so on.. If an author fails to maintain the narrative that supports authorship then that writing must fail. The primary purpose of all writing must be to validate the author of that writing. According to Marx, if Marxism was valid in its own terms then it  was part of the continuum of development that had to be located in the history and development of capitalism. The emergence of socialist consciousness was the inevitable consequence of the development of capitalism. This was the logic of human development. This was the logic of Marx himself. Logic is the formula for inevitability.

 

Two Wrongs..

 

This leads directly to Marx’s  critique of Hegel which ‘flipped’ Hegel on its own internal logic to produce Marxism. This flipping of Hegel produces the revolutionary Marxist antithesis of the Hegelian thesis. So as Marxism stakes its claim to be  revolutionary it must forsake its right to name socialism as a successor to the capitalism and Hegelianism it opposes-. Marxism loses it’s purchase on the outcome of the revolution it instigates.. In theory Marx can double down on revolutionary opposition and argue that Hegelian philosophy is absolutely wrong. But If Hegel is absolutely wrong then Marx’s tactic of flipping it on it’s head, using Hegel against Hegel, must also be totally wrong. If Hegel is error, error is not located in the historical process of development of human thought! (if it is, there is no  rational logical predictable march to consciousness as Marx claims…) Two wrongs, however they are put together,  don’t make a right. The more resolute Marx’s opposition to Hegel, the more firmly Marx embeds himself as revolutionary opposition within the framework of Hegel and the less grasp Marxism has on the outcome of the struggle it began. The only other option is that Marx’s analysis and its authorship does not follow on from Hegel (Error)- it is completely separate from it. Then Marx would stand alone, revealed and naked as in the Garden of Eden…

 

The Gates of Eden

 

Fundamentally Marx’s problem is the same as that of Lucifer. Marx claims to have discovered a principle that precedes the principle he begins from, just as Lucifer does. If God Were not The First, if God Had not prescribed the principles of Heaven and Earth, then Lucifer argues he would be legally, rationally  free to propose a new better framework based on a principle he discovered that precedes God. But God Created Lucifer and everything Lucifer does and could ever think. So nothing Lucifer can ever think can precede God, including the principle he claims to have ‘discovered’.  Just as lightning touches earth and is grounded, so Lucifer whenever and wherever he seeks to set foot on the earth, is grounded by this fact. So it is with Marx and Hegel. Marx claims to have discovered a principle that precedes the principle of Hegel but is forced to admit this principle is created as a consequence of Hegel.

 

Morality, religion, metaphysics, all the rest of ideology and their corresponding forms of consciousness, thus no longer retain the semblance of independence. They have no history, no development; but men, developing their material production and their material intercourse, alter, along with this their real existence, their thinking and the products of their thinking.

German Ideology (1845)

 

Welcome To My Nightmare

 

Because Hegel anticipates Marxism and literally accounts for it, Marx must always be antithesis. Marx saw himself as being trapped, prisoner and victim of the order of events in the universe where he was forced to stand forever in an historical  line  behind Hegel when he should be at the head of the queue. And he complained bitterly over and over again about it.

 

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honoured disguise and borrowed language.”

 

There Is No Alternative.. Is There?

 

The only options for Marx were either deny Hegel entirely (including the context in which Hegel existed), or agree to be bound by him. Either to say there is no ‘law’ of historical development, just the ideas and opinions of individuals, or there is a law and Hegel precedes Marx in it.

 

The premises from which we begin are not arbitrary ones, not dogmas, but real premises from which abstraction can only be made in the imagination. They are the real individuals, their activity and the material conditions under which they live, both those which they find already existing and those produced by their activity. These premises can thus be verified in a purely empirical way.

German Ideology (1845)

 

Of course, if there is no such law then Marx’s claim to be the chosen inheritor of that law would necessarily be wrong. Marx would have to admit that a fundamental part of his analysis was in error. And more importantly, Marx would not be the choice of the contemporary concrete, world to further human progress, he would only be only one random voice of many. In essence, be only another opinion. Not chosen. The inheritor of nothing.

 

How to proceed had become a matter of intellectual courage, rather than intellect per se and Marx simply did not have that courage. Unlike Adam, Marx could only find it in himself to stand at the Gates Of Eden (cause and effect, the dialectic) cursing  God (Hegel) rather than go out naked and alone into the wilderness- to say that he himself was in essence merely a collection of opinions.. Cut off from both past and future,  Marx only could ever be Marx   if he channelled total revolution and antithesis, chaos,  whatever the consequences. From then on the point was to change it- whatever it was..

 

…we see how the resolution of the theoretical antitheses is only possible in a practical way (my emphasis), by virtue of the practical energy of man. Their resolution is therefore by no means merely a problem of understanding, but a real problem of life, which philosophy could not solve precisely because it conceived this problem as merely a theoretical one.’

Marx, Private Property and Communism (1844)

 

Rather than admit that Marx could not solve his problem of philosophy, Marx proclaimed that Marx was a problem philosophy could not solve! As could go neither forward nor back, Marx would devote the rest of his existence to digging a burrow for himself next to the Gates of Eden and here he would remain locked out from the past, unwilling to face his future. Hiding in the space between antithesis and synthesis.  Just as Marx told the moral socialists they would have to sacrifice their moral heaven for a rational one,  so he in turn would have to sacrifice his vision of rational logical, socialist Heaven and give himself over to experimental chaos instead.

 

Marx had been utterly defeated in the realm of rational philosophy. He was now  like defeated Napolean, traipsing across a blasted landscape of his own making, intellectually destitute- a refugee. Where was the only place in the world a man could be guaranteed asylum from the power of rational philosophical enquiry?

 

England.

 

The first part of Marx’s analysis; ‘crisis’ (antithesis) was established. The second part of his analysis, ‘socialism’ (synthesis) could never be. Crisis was the product of reason but subsequent socialism, despite everything Marx said, remained in the realm of choice. Realising that he was powerless to remove choice itself, Marx argued to change the rationale for that choice from morality to reason. Not  choice based on right and wrong but based instead on  heading for the future whether we liked it or not. A  future of two possibilities; Socialism or mutual ruination. Marx came to argue that there is an unwritten contract between capitalists and history and workers and history. ( compare this with England’s unwritten constitution). Workers were signed on to be the gravediggers of capitalism, capitalists the occupants of the box.. If all sides kept to the terms of the agreement there would be a predictable outcome- revolution.

 

 

History is the judge — its executioner, the proletarian.

Speech at Anniversary of The People’s Paper (1856)

 

From this point the mission of Marxists would be to hold capitalism and workers to the contract they had with history. Capitalist would create crisis after crisis of increasing severity until workers rebelled. Marxists would encourage the capitalists with relish. But by late 19thC it was clear that both capitalists and workers had begun to vary the terms of this historical contract. In Germany social provision and welfare emerged under the tutelage of  Bismark ; a process that  spread rapidly over all the Germanic territories of NW Eurasia. The two main holdouts  were England and USA, Anglo Saxon societies and economies.  This state of affairs held until the post World War II capitulation when America and England both adopted welfarism as a consequence of   two World Wars and a  Russian revolution. In a peculiar inversion, here was the first real vindication of Marxism, capitalists themselves conceded that if capitalism was  not managed there was indeed a danger of absolute collapse.

 

Cultural Capitalism

 

The  element of choice Marx failed to destroy returned to centre stage with a vengeance. The twentieth century revealed it was possible to be morally committed to capitalism while rationally accepting it would collapse without intensive and ever increasing management. Through the ideas of Keynes pundits and economists began to modify capitalism to deal with the extremes of its operation with the express purpose of preserving it for its moral and cultural qualities. The economics of capitalism were over. Capitalism revealed itself as pure religion. A moral, cultural choice.

 

Capitalism and those who lived within the system became increasingly characterised by degrees of acceptance instead of absolute acceptance. From this point on Capitalism is characterised by its failure to consistently and comprehensively transform the nature of the societies it operates on. Capitalism begins with an initial phase of rapid and comprehensive restructuring of any given society.. But capitalism is unable to change the nature of societies at a deeper level. It runs out of momentum. We now are at an historical juncture where third world transformation by capitalism  still appears to be relatively rapid and large scale but first world transformation has ground to a  standstill and is moribund. When was the last time capitalism changed anything significant  in a developed nation?

 

Just as the ‘bosses’ choices began to splinter by degrees, so  the workers  increasingly seemed to be captured by ‘momentary diversions’. And the final developed picture of modern economy comes fully into focus.

 

The Marxist concept of crisis is fully universally accepted.

The threat of crisis is to be offset by government intervention.

The extent and depth of this intervention increases year on year.

The only way to limit government intervention is to…use the government to do it!

The Marxist revolution is as complete as it ever could be .

Synthesis.

G.U.T.3

 

Guest Of Honour

 

History is nothing but the activity of men in pursuit of their ends.

 

I described how Marx conjured for himself an historical invitation as guest of honour to the forthcoming revolution- to celebrate the emancipation of the ‘working class’ . The third part of his triangle- Capital, also had to be given form so that the working class had something to be liberated from. From this beginning the subject of Marx’s ‘scientific’ work was endowed  with one particular  purpose; it could not be allowed to discredit Marx and Marxism or by necessity we would never have heard of any of it. But how can Marx’s conception of history and the development of mankind be ‘scientific’ if it does not allow for the possibility that it is wrong in all or in part?

 

 

If thy eye offend thee…

 

Marx had been (self) selected by history to  create rational scientific socialism.  From the outset, given the transformative, millennial nature of his message  Marx understood the danger of being accused of creating a secular religion with himself as Moses (and God),  the workers as the Israelites and capital as Pharaoh. Marx, acutely sensitive to the charge of religiosity developed the argument that all ‘religion’ is the product of men and therefore essentially idol worship. Using an incredible parody of Judaic condemnation of paganism as justification, Marx argued it had now became necessary to rid socialism of all  idolatry religious content. But this purging meant excising morality and therefore the element of conscious choice. Socialism cannot embody conscious choice because it is amoral, or beyond morality. It is conscious in the sense that it is scientific and rational. As such it requires acceptance and submission to rationality, not choice. In order to enter scientific socialist heaven new scientific socialist man would have to sacrifice his moral conscience.

 

In building scientific socialism Marx found himself parodying Moses and the Israelites, then parodying the Judaic injunction against idols and the commandment that ‘Thou shalt have no other God but Me’. Finally the ‘rational’ socialism he created required absolute submission before revealed truth. It is little wonder that Marx increasingly complained that :

 

History (meaning religious history-author ) is a nightmare from which mankind (by which he meant Marx himself), struggles to extricate itself.

 

If Marx succeeded in freeing himself, socialism would no longer be moral choice but  scientific fact. Consequently a rational man may choose between two moral alternatives but is forced to choose scientific reality and therefore socialism would  be inevitable for rational people. Since understanding and implementing socialism was no longer a question of morality but one of  consciousness or rationality,  the question I pose becomes even more pressing – Under capitalism you are free to think and sometimes even to speak as you wish, so long as you do as you are told by Capitalists. Capitalism is what you do, not what you think.. Given that Capitalism is what you do, not what you think;  Why can you be an ‘unconscious’ capitalist and not an unconscious socialist? The logical answer is that if socialism did not require ‘consciousness’ there would be no need for Marx and Marxism. Marx would happily do anything for workers and the world revolution apart from write himself out of the picture.  Socialism has to be conscious, or else there is no role for Marx! The intellectual basis for Marxism can be nothing other than a justification for Marx himself….

 

The conscious ideology of Marxism is the product of Marx, but capitalism is not the product of any one person’s thought. Therefore it cannot be  conscious in the way that Marxism is conscious.  Rather, capitalism is the product of capitalists and  workers doing certain things. But we must conclude in line with Marxism  that when workers do what they are ‘supposed’ to do the product is capitalism, not socialism. It is only when workers think about what they are doing in a different way, that what they do could possibly be socialism. This is Marx’s historical warrant to write Kapital..to make capitalism in general and workers in particular, conscious.  But if capitalism is not already conscious, how can it have given rise to Marx and Marxism, which, by Marx’s own argument are the product of capitalism? How can unconsciousness spontaneously produce consciousness? Capitalism must have some seed of consciousness to produce Marx and Marxism. Marx had to find that seed of consciousness to explain himself….

 

A Tale Of Two Titles

 

If capitalism were actually conscious it might more rightly be called  ‘Smithism’  after author of the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith. This is tacitly acknowledged by Marx  in subtitling Kapital ; ‘A Critique of Political Economy’ which effectively means a critique of Adam Smith and Ricardo and their conception of the significance of capitalism. This approach would account for Capitalism in as far as it was conscious. But capitalism is also unconscious and that also has to be accounted for.  If Marx succeeded in defeating the political economy of Smith and Ricardo, he would simply have defeated two of the high priests of capitalism; he would not have even scratched capitalism itself because capitalism is what you do, not what you say. The author of conscious socialism must also defeat the author of unconscious capitalism …Capital, hence the main title of his major work.  Marx  must critique Smithism, with his critique of political economy and must also critique Capital. So Kapital .. A Critique Of Political Economy came into being with two titles.  Like a dog chasing two hares at once Marx was destined never to catch either of them.

 

All that is solid melts into air..

 

For They Know Not..

 

For Marx’s historical  process to work it was necessary to make capitalism self aware. But what does this mean exactly? It means exactly and specifically to hold capitalism to its own rules. If capitalism cannot operate by it’s own declared rules it will be proved to be irrational and should be overthrown. But it can only be shown to have broken it’s own rules if there are defined rules to be broken. That means there has to be a defined authority to make these rules. But under capitalism everybody is that defined authority because capitalism is what the majority of people do in a capitalist country. And  capitalism can break the rules in two ways. It can knowingly break it’s own rules and it can unknowingly break it’s own rules.   This would come to be a fundamental part of the development of the subsequent  critique of capitalism. The difference between a venal and mortal sin is awareness of the nature of your actions. A sin is mortal if knowingly committed. This gives rise to a new vista: To what extent are the failures of  capitalists the result of ignorance or of conscious sin?

 

Forgive them, for they know not what they do

 

If Capitalists sinned knowingly then the answer and the judgement must be Marxism. But if capitalists sinned unknowingly then the answer and the judgement might be Keynesianism..

 

G.U.T #2: The Roots Of Marxism

 

“To be radical is to grasp things by the root.”

Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

 

Though the vast majority of western pundits remain loathe to admit it, Marxism is a foundational strain of thought in the modern western world. In fact it could be argued that it is the intellectual presence of Marxism that precisely differentiates the modern from the pre-modern world. Western politics is entirely colonised with the ideas of Marxism, from progressive left through traditional conservative right, in the same way that the human gut is colonised by the billions of bacteria that process and digest food that the body depends on. The disconcerting truth is that the human host is entirely dependent upon these organisms although they themselves are not actually human. Without these aliens the body cannot digest  and would die. Marxism lives in the gut of Germanic capitalist society and allows it to digest information from modern reality….

 

From a strictly rational point of view ‘Classical’ (pre Marxist) economics has been shown again and again to fail abysmally when faced with the task of ordering and understanding the real world. The final debacle in a long and ignominious history was the failure to predict and deal with the series of calamities that culminated in the disaster of 2007. During the so called financial crisis the entire structure of the global economy and society teetered on the brink of collapse. It was only the abandonment of any last shred of faith in traditional ‘classical’ economic practice that saved the world economy from chaos and disintegration.  So now everybody is a Marxist to a greater or lesser extent. But I confidently predict that is by no means as far as this process will go. In the post modern world, the entire canon of western thought has increasingly come under sustained pressure from post modern polyglot globalism. As the future unfolds Marxism will end it’s existence, not as the haunting ‘spectre’ Marx hoped it to be but rather as a cherished relic of western tradition, like the statues of confederate soldiers presently being defended from defacement and destruction because they are part of American history for good or ill. Marxism will be transformed from an object of specific hate into a totem of common heritage.

 

Face Value

 

But that is for the future, At this precise juncture it seems the only options are either to accept Marxism at face value or to attempt to discredit and undermine it. It has become time to understand what Marxism actually is as opposed to taking part in the Punch and Judy argument that has dominated the last century. The process of real understanding begins with realising that since the moment of its creation there never has been a clear and unbiased analysis of Marxism, because it has never been in anyone’s interest to create one. Anyone’s interest. Or put another way, it has always been in the general interest to avoid creating one.

 

When Marx said:

 

Whatever I am… I am not a Marxist

 

He was in part observing  that no one can actually be a Marxist – until everyone is.

 

“The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas.”

The German Ideology

 

We have to explain why this would be. In part 1 I pointed towards the central question that must be answered, even if we accept Marxism under it’s own terms: How does Marxism explain its own coming into existence and is this explanation credible from a Marxist perspective ? This is by no means a given. The Marxist narrative begins from the argument is that Capitalism is inherently unstable; an observation that is by no means confined to the left. It is one of the successes of Marxist thought that the instability of capitalism  is now generally accepted as an observed truth and as a consequence the idea of a self regulating market is completely discredited. Following on from this Marxism argues that  if thought is the product of material circumstance, then unstable capitalism produces unstable minds which process finds expression in inherent and increasingly violent contradictions within capitalism. These inherent contradictions will fight one another until a new stability supported by experience wins out. Material conditions develop and change and thus the general thought process will also accordingly be forced to change .

 

People will increasingly  see capitalism as illogical until it collapses. In essence capitalism will fall and be superseded by socialism because this is the logical outcome  of human development and people will be forced to become logical because human development itself is ultimately logical, even if people who make up that development are not!. In the past all societies gave expression to the objective conditions that governed them but not in a rational self conscious way. Expressing the objective conditions that give rise to  thought can only be rational in one case throughout history- that of socialism.  After the moment of enlightenment  a person becomes conscious and forever after enlightenment that person’s actions are necessarily conscious actions. Marxism argues that you cannot know something and then act as though you don’t know it. In this sense the triumph of socialism is inevitable. In 1984 Orwell argues on the contrary that knowing something and then acting as though you don’t know it is precisely the basis on which modern society is run. In other words, a certain knowledge by no means necessarily leads to a certain action.

 

Keep Taking The Tablets

 

Since the force of inevitable progress has decreed that the ideology of socialism must come into existence it will perforce need an intellect to express it- to give it form. This new Law Of Human development  will require a Moses to bring the tablets of it’s commandments down from the mountain. And it is here Marx saw himself entering the story of history -as having been chosen by the inevitable developmental forces that create history to be the one to make conscious that which was previously unconscious and concrete that which was previously without concrete form. Not only would Marx be the one to go to the mountain, not only would his be the finger that inscribed the tablets, his intellect would be the actual stone of the tablets themselves.  Marx is selected by time and place, by the Zeitgeist. the spirit of the age, to transform himself into the vessel of conscious socialism. And so for the first time ever, personality and the conditions that give rise to it are consciously fused. Through this process Man comes to know himself and through this process Man and the universe are finally one..

 

“Communism is the riddle of history solved, and it knows itself to be this solution.”

Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844/The Communist Manifesto

 

Truth is general, it does not belong to me alone, it belongs to all, it owns me, I do not own it. My property is the form, which is my spiritual individuality.”

 

Collected Works of Marx and Engels

 

And of course, such a Moses would also need a people to lead out of captivity and a captivity to lead them out of.….what is the point of the tablets if you have no one to give them to….?

 

“Accumulate, accumulate! This is Moses and the Prophets!”

Capital, Vol 1: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production

 

On one level all this might be an amusing diversion  -an intellectual conjuring trick that might  gain its author enough acclaim to  purchase an entrance into society as a bete noir….. And it is possible at some level this is what Marx originally intended. In this had been the case the entirety of Marx’s thought might have remained in the realm of bourgeois intellectualism. But the component parts of the society into which Marxism came into being quickly made clear that it was not content to let Marxism or anyone else write its own story to the detriment of all around.  After all, there were greater things at stake in the debate over the new capitalist society than merely Marx’s reputation and livelihood as an author.. As I have said more than once, capitalism was unstable and as a consequence lacking confidence. In some ways the history of capitalism is the history of an ongoing crisis of confidence and every capitalist has rightly felt like an historical imposter. In light of it’s suspect claim to power, capitalism simply could not stand a critique of any kind. For these reasons and others we will see later Marxism from it’s inception was dabbling in the primordial essence of things.

 

The writer may very well serve a movement of history as its mouthpiece, but he cannot of course create it.

 

 

 

Don’t Let The Good Be The Enemy Of The Goods

The customer is always wrong…

 

The following appeared in an article in the Indepenent:

German supermarket empties shelves of foreign-made goods to make a point about racism Will Worley Thursday 24 August 2017

 

A German supermarket has emptied its shelves in an effort to make a point about racism and diversity. The Edeka store in Hamburg removed foreign-made products from its stock, replacing them with sign bearing anti-xenophobia slogans. It is believed the move will be followed be a larger campaign from Edeka, the largest supermarket chain in Germany. Surprised shoppers entered the store to find that much of the normal selection was gone, demonstrating how reliant they are on other countries for everyday products. Instead, they were greeted with signs saying: “This shelf is pretty boring without diversity.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/edeka-german-supermarket-empty-shelves-racism-diversity-largest-chain-a7908551.html

Just to make it clear if the article itself is not obvious enough: This shop in Germany no longer sells capitalist ‘goods’ as we have understood them. In fact it has removed ‘goods’ from it’s shelves in order that we might more clearly see what it is actually selling; that we might more clearly see what it’s shelves are now actually stacked with.

This shop has stacked it’s shelves with, and is now selling Good, (as opposed to ‘goods’).

And since it is actually selling Good as opposed to ‘goods’ it follows that the accounting conventions that have previously applied to the sale of ‘goods’ (such as selling at a profit) no longer apply. It follows from this that the objective of this enterprise is no longer that patrons leave the premises satisfied to a greater or lesser extent with the purchases they have made, but rather that they should leave the premises suitably EDUCATED or IMPROVED.

In this particular instance achieving this objective will take the form of the customer leaving WITHOUT the ‘goods’ they entered the premises for, but WITH a clear sense of having been educated and/or improved. In fact, customers are educated and improved precisely to the extent that they leave without the ‘goods’ they envisioned purchasing. Presumably the idea is that they return home and spend the time they would have spent consuming the goods they had obtained, contemplating the benefits of DIVERSITY.

Of course the business not only forgoes the profit that would have come from this day’s trading but also undergoes the additional expense and inconvenience of restocking the shelves after having to de-stock the shelves and store all the produce somewhere while making the point they are making..

And presumably should one or more patrons choose to object to the process and subsequently decide to shop somewhere else, well the loss of revenue is apparently acceptable to this business. Because if customers don’t want to be educated and improved about the benefits of diversity and other things while shopping, then frankly we would rather do without their custom.

After contemplating the picture above for a while, a comparison with the shelves of the Cold War Eastern Bloc and assorted command economies rises to the mind. We were assured repeatedly that it was the abundant provision of consumer goods that proved the superiority of the capitalist model over the command model and resulted in the end of the Cold War.

And yet somehow here we are seeing those self same scantily stocked shelves making an appearance in the supposedly victorious west. And the fact that these shelves are empty is a matter of conscious decision, not any failure in management. What gives?

The fact is that everybody is more or less sick of consumerism, which is another word for capitalist manufactured crap. From cheap nasty food high in sugar and fat, to an endless myriad of plastic novelties manufactured by slave labour in the Far East, it has become impossible to avoid the simple observation that 99.9% of everything created by capitalism is useless crap. And that other 0.1%? That’s the stuff you can’t afford…. so what’s new?

Well, what’s new is that now even the capitalists themselves are starting to get sick of it. They just can’t find a reason to get themselves out of bed and drag themselves into work in the morning anymore. Except..maybe, if they could use capitalism as a vehicle to propagate a message.

Seriously.

Advertising used to be creating ideas to sell you stuff. From now on it’s going to be creating stuff to sell you ideas..

Yet more proof that free market capitalism is well and truly dead.

Oh, and pick me up a pint of diversity on your way back from town will you?

 

 

 

 

Unscrambled Egg 2: The Empire Of The Mind

 

Newly emerged Germanic Land Democracy was based on a modified relationship between citizen and nation; between people and land. The essence of this change was expressed most clearly in the requirement that only property owners be allowed a vote in the new system. If you didn’t own any land in the new Germanic nation state you were not allowed to vote. You were not a citizen, your legal status was  less than a slave. Effectively, the entirely new ‘class’ of  landless urban dwellers created by capitalism were completely shut out. At the same time  the ‘peasants’ who remained on the land were equally constrained by the same legal system as the newly created ‘workers’- they too were rendered powerless by the new property system.

 

An Empire Of The Mind

 

In each newly formed Germanic State territory, an emergent capitalist elite accrued virtual total political power. But it was clear that as a small minority of the overall population, they were unlikely to hang on to it for long unless they cold find a way to broaden support for the new regime. The central Germanic contradiction is a polity based on land ownership and an economic system based on the the denial of land ownership.

The solution that emerged was two fold:

 

First, to propagate the concept of ‘property ownership’ as a validation of democratic rights, primarily the right to vote. If a system is to have land ownership as a condition of participation and is to be as inclusive as possible, it follows that land ownership would have to be as widespread as possible. But the capitalist economic system requires precisely the opposite of that. So a dilute deformed symbolic form of land ownership has to be forged.

 

Secondly to increase the scope of the democratic franchise and correspondingly dilute its power. If a society is to have genuine people power and that power is based on total mass participation then there will be no one left to have control over!!

 

Underpinning this is the difficult truth that a democracy can only work if part of the population is not in it. A democracy only has a valid purpose if part of the population is not in it. It is a system of control. What would be it’s purpose if there was no-one to control?

 

So- called Germanic ‘Property rights’ are fundamentally different to genuine land ownership. As such they constitute one of the biggest frauds in the history of human society. A property owner is NOT a land owner by any means . A ‘property owner’ is one who pays state and private taxes for the privilege of being a citizen of a capitalist  nation. The property owning citizen pays private taxes in the form of mortgage or rent and state taxes in the form of local or national taxes. No citizen of a capitalist state actually owns the land on which his property resides outright, even if they manage to pay off a mortgage.

 

The land your property is built on provides no safety and no refuge. You cannot say what happens there. You cannot defend the sky above your property from pollution and you cannot defend the land below from mining. In fact you cannot defend it from anyone, even the lowliest representative of the Germanic state!!.  In the Germanic nation, the state is the landlord of last resort.

 

In truth the Germanic capitalist nation is a land dictatorship ; it’s citizens are land slaves. In order to hide this discomforting truth, grocers and factory owners hire  gangs of preachers and poets to sing a new song; of an Empire Of The Mind of lions rampant and unicorns, (in England) and of disembodied eyes floating atop stone pyramids (in America). Instead of water and sunlight, you have a passport. Instead of clean food and air,you have a flag. Instead of culture, family and identity , you are assigned a ‘class’. Modern Germanic nationalism is born. In creating an empire of the mind class end of land ownership. Cultural and regional difference is to be abolished. Ties to the land are to be abolished for the ordinary people. Claims on the land are to be abolished. From now on economics would  decide what you were allowed to want and when you were allowed to want it.

 

 

This new song of ‘economics’ led to the  second great modification; to increase the franchise and so to the creation of modern political parties. The modern  Germanic political party is formally based on geography, ( you elect specific representatives to ‘represent’ the people of a geographic area), but whose stated collective purpose is primarily economic. (The redistribution of the product of society generally understood as tax and spend)

 

This leads us directly to the concept of constituencies. A constituency is a group of people whose identity and interests are represented within an agreed forum.

 

A capitalist constituency such as ‘workers’ or the ‘middle class’ is a defined economic group whose economic interest is represented within national government by means of a Germanic party. A land democracy constituency is a geographic group of people represented within national government by means of a party..

 

I have briefly described the legal political  development of a Germanic capitalist polity, but there is also the economic and technical development of capitalism to take into account. Capitalism requires a large and mobile group of people who have no option other than working for wages and SPENDING WAGES to function. It seems fairly obvious that capitalism needs ‘workers’ who have no way of obtaining resources other than by selling their labour. But capitalism also needs those same workers to depend upon the market for everything, even down to a glass of clean water. In the end, everything must become a commodity. Everything. Food water, air, sunlight, then dignity, justice, privacy. Everything. And if you look around you that is what is happening before your eyes…This ever increasing dependency is called growth.

 

Capitalism  transforms the population into a large mobile and unstable workforce. In other words capitalism makes mass immigration and emigration inevitable.

Nine Hundred And Fifty Four, Nine Hundred And Fifty Bloody Five.. Or I Wonder If We Are Ever Gonna Change

 

Underpinning Einstein’s theory of relativity is the philosophical argument that it is both possible and desirable to view a particular event from a multiplicity of points of view to gain a comprehensive understanding of the processes embodied in that event.

 

If this is the case, then it might also be argued that it is both possible and desirable to view any particular historical and economic event from a multiplicity of points of view. This would be as revolutionary a development in economics as Einstein’s theory was in physics.

 

Both classic economics and the Marxist variant, promote a singular subjective perspective on structure and meaning of economic systems. Their purpose, openly stated or covertly implied, is to promote the political, moral and cultural system they are representative of.

 

The formal purpose of capitalist economics is to run the system at its most efficient , it’s covert aim to justify capitalism as the dominant system. The overt purpose of Marxism is to produce a critique of capitalism that will lead to its being abandoned as a consequence of its internal contradictions. Its covert aim is to justify historical attempts to create alternatives to capitalism.

 

In order to work, both capitalist economics and Marxism need a protagonist, an archetypal hero from whose singular perspective we can see the world and whose actions we can subjectively identify with. This is the real identity politics.

 

For capitalists the hero of the story is well ,.. The Capitalist  who daringly risks all to bring wealth up from the depths of the darkness -a variation on the Prometheus narrative. For Marxists the hero of the story is The Worker whose toil in the mines is the real producer of wealth.

 

Effectively, both socialism and capitalism are operatic arias in the Wagnerian mode, with two main characters competing for The Ring of Wealth, claim and counter-claim, war, deception and betrayal all part of the story…

 

In a small accommodation with reality there has been a recognition of this subjective limitation and  attempts to modify both classic and Marxist economics. Keynesianism explicitly criticised classic economy from the perspective that it had no macro economic analysis, that it was limited and partial. Marxism also criticised classical economics from the same perspective.

 

In turn, classical economics responded by broadening the fields of economic activity that it covered and even integrated elements of both Marxism and Keynesianism to produce the modern hybrid that passes for mainstream economics today. At the same time neo liberalism explicitly critiqued Marxist planned economy for offering a limited and distorted perspective on the real world. Only the market was capable of gathering and processing enough information to make the system work it claimed.

 

Classic economics and Marxism have historically attempted to compensate for narrowness of vision by reaching for an ever more comprehensive breadth of subject matter. Their final strategic purpose is to claim that the point of view they represent is capable of encompassing all of experience. In other words, both capitalism and socialism claim to be universal theories.

 

This strategy really amounts to nothing more than a form of semantic  trickery that exploits the confusion between taking something into account and adequately accounting for something. An analysis undertaken on this basis degenerates into nothing more than description in the form of an ever expanding list of complaints that classic economics makes about Marxist economics and Marxism makes about classic economics.

 

But neither capitalist economics or Marxism can overcome the fundamental problem that they are subjective in both analysis and purpose- they are in essence particular points  of view.

 

In the back and forth diatribe of mutual complaint each philosophy implicitly recognises the value and need for the other as each seeks new territory to colonise at the expense of the other. Both competing analyses move from old to new battlefields as they become available for domination,  seeking both to justify their own existence and to nullify the existence of their opponents.

 

This is the operation of a dialectic; the domination of thought through the application of a controlled conflict- a drama- a demi-urge.

 

The last major episode in this opera was the credit crunch. Marxist economics went on the offensive, seeking to gain advantage in this period of capitalism’s distress. In response neo- Classic economy sought to spin events in such a way as to justify itself. Perhaps unsurprisingly classic and Marxist have managed to fight each other to what is effectively a stalemate. Both boxers now winded and bloody, have retired to corners for a chest rub and a pep talk from their respective managers…

 

The central question now is: Do we wish to invite both protagonists back for a further round of conflict? Would there be any purpose, political or intellectual, in continuing a boxing bout that seems to have stalled in mutual exhaustion? If subjective political economy has nowhere left to go, what can emerge to take its place?

 

The economic model I propose does not rely on a representation of any particular group as the main protagonist in history and economy. I don’t seek to make The Capitalist the hero of history or The Worker either. On the contrary I am now arguing that there is no such thing as The Capitalist as a concrete economic agent. There is no such thing as The Worker either. They are both literary inventions of Germanic culture. This is where culture meets economics.

 

Nobody ever in the history of the world ever created capitalist wealth through undertaking risk. Nobody ever in the history of the world ever created capitalist wealth through undertaking labour. Both these ideas are literary fictions.

 

Instead I am arguing that the only way that capitalist wealth is created is that it is extracted and accrued through the operation of money forms, that is denuded versions of money. These money forms create and operate their own distribution networks within society and economy that allow the extraction of wealth.

 

Individual or group economic power and significance comes from the extent to which one has access to one or more money forms and is able to utilise them to extract wealth.

 

This analysis seeks to represent Germanic capitalism from a multiplicity of perspectives to show both action and reaction in any given transaction. We no longer need to be bound to this or that heroic perspective or this or that litany of complaint and counter-complaint.

 

But there is a price to be paid for this insight. Because in such a model the struggle for economic power becomes a zero sum game. Power is fixed in quantity and quality. If power accrues to one then it necessarily is taken from to another. Wealth cannot be created as in a Germanic literary fantasy.

 

Just as Einstein’s theory was able to capture the multiplicity of relative motion through the adoption of a constant the speed of light so this model of money requires a constant  – that of wealth. Wealth in this model is not created, that is the absolute barrier that cannot be broken through.