1000 petals by axinia

the only truth I know is my own experience

The book that changed the world October 19, 2008

 

The booksellers all over the world report the recent increase of sellings of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital/Capital. Apparently it is the young people who are looking for that treatise on political economy – trying to understand the current economical crisis.

So what is there is that 2000 page work, which is being second widely spread book after the Bible?

Though Marx is very concerned with the social aspects of commerce, his book is not an ethical treatise, but an attempt to explain the objective “laws of motion” of the capitalist system as a whole, its origins and future. He aims to reveal the causes and dynamics of the accumulation of capital, the growth of wage labour, the transformation of the workplace, the concentration of capital, competition, the banking and credit system, the tendency of the rate of profit to decline, land-rents and many other things.

Marx believed the political economists could study the scientific laws of capitalism in an “objective” way, because the expansion of markets had in reality objectified most economic relations: the cash nexus stripped away all previous religious and political illusions (only to replace them, however, with another kind of illusion—commodity fetishism). Marx also says that he viewed “the economic formation of society as a process of natural history”. The growth of commerce happened as a process which no individuals could control or direct, creating an enormously complex web of social interconnections globally. Thus a “society” was formed “economically” before people actually began to consciously master the enormous productive capacity and interconnections they had created, in order to put it collectively to the best use.

In fact, Marx was one of the first sociologists and the first one to calssify the human history into peasantry, feudalism and capitalism. The Russian October Revolution in 1917 was only one of the outcomes of Marx’s work. I find it fascinating how Marx could explain and predict so clearly the nature of capitalism:

The capitalism is capable of tremendous growth because the capitalist can, and has an incentive to, reinvest profits in new technologies and capital equipment. Marx considered the capitalist class to be the most revolutionary in history, because it constantly improved the means of production. But Marx argued that capitalism was prone to periodic crises. He suggested that over time, capitalists would invest more and more in new technologies, and less and less in labor. Since Marx believed that surplus value appropriated from labor is the source of profits, he concluded that the rate of profit would fall even as the economy grew. When the rate of profit falls below a certain point, the result would be a recession or depression in which certain sectors of the economy would collapse. Marx thought that during such a crisis the price of labor would also fall, and eventually make possible the investment in new technologies and the growth of new sectors of the economy.

Marx believed that this cycle of growth, collapse, and growth would be punctuated by increasingly severe crises. Moreover, he believed that the long-term consequence of this process was necessarily the enrichment and empowerment of the capitalist class and the impoverishment of the proletariat. He believed that were the proletariat to seize the means of production, they would encourage social relations that would benefit everyone equally, and a system of production less vulnerable to periodic crises.

The only thing where I disagree with Marx, is in his thought that peaceful negotiation of this problem was impracticable, and that a massive well-organized violent revolution would be required, because the ruling class would not give up power without struggle. I personally believe that at the certain point of human evolution people will naturally realise the necessity of the higher form of its development like socialism or communism (or what ever you may call that new form). I strongly believe that the human race is very much capable of regeneration and wise development, because evolving is the basic of its nature.

LOVE, axinia

 

13 Responses to “The book that changed the world”

  1. swaps Says:

    Wasn’t I expecting this post.
    Karl Marx is brilliant in his analysis and predictions. Thanx for picking this out.

    But Marx didn’t understand reality.
    He was wrong….:
    1)…a system that benefits everyone equally –
    because men rise according to their abilities. Yes, we have seen how communist regimes achieve this – they ‘reduce’ everyone to destitution.

    2)”..a system of production less vulnerable to periodic crises” –
    because of this risk aversion on the part of workers that they ARE workers. You cannot centrally plan everything (i.e. get advance assurance of demand), and then produce it.
    It is best to play by demand-supply principle.
    But today’s problem is speculation which creates artificial demand or inflated demand – that is the bubble. This is not due to capitalism but greed.

    3) steady state is a myth –
    wish man would live in harmony – neither growth nor recession. To do that we need to achieve a steady level of our population AND aspirations. Can we?
    We can only have cycles of creation and destruction.

    Thanks to Marx, we got October Revolution, then Fascism, followed by destruction of colonialism. Isn’t that a cycle.

  2. odzer Says:

    Oh Marx, the source of eternal misery. The problem is he does not understand human nature. He thinks we are rational! There are various levels of the human being on this planet. All of them function differently and they strive to achieve different objectives in their lives. Although I agree with you that ultimately we must create a world that is free of monetary issues but even then money will be replaced by something else, in my opinion most likely knowledge. This may already be happening though and I doubt if the coming world would be any better than the monetary world of today. Even in a communist/socialist world there was always a state to enforce that sort ‘atmosphere’. They could never ever do away with the national government, borders or the state. The reason simply being that those at the top were completely corrupted by their enforcer status.

    In communist/socialist countries often money is not as important as access to commodities and even that creates a new class of people. So basically as long as you have any system you will have disparity. The only way out is to destroy organized society. The only way out is anarchy.

  3. Bad Karma Says:

    I agree with swaps on point #3. In Nature, the process of creation and destruction is overall better for the system. Necessity is the mother of invention.

  4. Axinia,

    I have not read Das Kapital 😦 but I tend to agree with some of the views of Marx.

    As far as I am concerned, communism and socialism are quite different. In China, we have a communist government run a capitalist economy. Socialism is an advanced form of democracy and Marx was correct that democracy is the way to socialism.

    In India, we had a stupid system called the mixed economy (incorrectly referred to as “socialism” by the media) which was actually a licence raj. It tried to combine the best of both socialism and capitalism but turned out to be a miserable failure. It bred an extremely corrupt and useless bureaucracy which is the curse of India. It also lead to a huge disparity between the rich and the poor. This was not what a backward, feudal society needed. The economy was ruined by the British because they adhered to the filthy concept of “free market capitalism”. There were many famines in which several people perished 😦 Even as the crops grown in India were exported by traders, people starved. As always, humans were at the mercy of the disgusting “free markets”.

    Communism will not work in India due to the extreme levels of bureaucratic red tape, nepotism and corruption. Growth in India is not leading to development because it is jobless growth. At the same time, farmers are being pushed out of farming due to disastrous policies dictated by the criminal principles of the “free market”, that are neither free nor fair.

    What India needs is a welfare state on the lines of the ones in Scandinavia.

    I tend to agree with Marx, Axinia. Peaceful means may work when the people one is agitating against have some conscience left in them. Gandhi understood this with the British. I don’t think it would have worked against the Nazis. Why, peaceful means don’t work even in the land where Gandhi adornes every currency note 😦

  5. axinia Says:

    Hallo, everyone,
    many thanks for this discussion and feedback.

    Marx has done a great job, we can agree or not, but the impact of his work is tremendous, no doubt.

    I believe that ultimately communism (or a similar from) will be possbile all over the word, not dependig on the historical background and also thanks to the present globalisation of consciousness.
    Things will change, weather we belive or not :))

  6. swaps Says:

    You never-day-die partisan 🙂

  7. Even the best system, can be put to disastrous effects, by the worst people. I think that people need to change. Not systems.

    Destination Infinity

  8. axinia Says:

    that is the greatest wisdom, DI!

    In fact, my believe in the good future is based exactly on my belief in the human transformation – and that of everyone!

    I am sure it is possbile adn will happen anyway, because – as mentioned earlier – that is the nature of a human being, to evolve.

  9. Axinia,

    Unfortunately, your belief in human transformation will remain just that – a belief and a hope 😦

    I don’t see that happening because humanity has stopped evolving. On the other hand, human nature is to stoop to the lowest extent possible 😡

  10. axinia Says:

    Raj, I can only speak from my exerience – I keep meeting people willing to evolve, to develop their best human qualities…so many of them!! Everywhere, in any country I go.
    The intresting point is one person like that can transform many aroudn by acutally doing NOTHING, just being there. Remember the the quotation of my favorite author Gregoire de Kalbermatten :

    “In the case of homo sapiens, our being imbibes the outside world through constant sensations, impulses, impressions and conditionings. The outside world is the water, the inside world is the sponge.

    With homo spiiritualis, however the inner world and its energy, crystallized by the rising sap the Kundalini, is much more powerful. It is emitted from the personality of a realized person on the surrounding world and it subtly, yet effectively, influences the outside. The inner world is the water, the outside world the sponge.”

  11. Axinia, Homo spiritualis is not something new. There were quite a few Homo spiritualises that walked upon the Earth among the Homo sapiens, especially in the East. But they failed to transform the world 😦

    The nasty thing about Homo sapiens is that, collectively, instead of eveolving to the next level, they tend to go back to previous ones, like Homo neanderthalensis, Homo erectus, Australopithecus robustus, Sahelanthropus tchadensis, . . . apes will remain apes . . . humans are related to gorillas and orang-utans, which behave better collectively than the apes that wear clothes and invent tools 😆


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