Simon Patten recalled in 1912 that his generation of American economists – most of whom studied in Germany in the 1870s – were taught that John Stuart Mill’s 1848 Principles of Political Economy was the high-water mark of classical thought. However, Mill’s reformist philosophy turned out to be “not a goal but a half-way house” toward the Progressive Era’s reforms. Mill was “a thinker becoming a socialist without seeing what the change really meant,” Patten concluded. “The Nineteenth Century epoch ends not with the theories of Mill but with the more logical systems of Karl Marx and Henry George. But the classical approach to political economy continued to evolve, above all through Thorstein Veblen.
Multidimensional and complex nature and effects of imperialism on democracy, society, nature, and human nature
“At the same pace that mankind masters nature, man seems to become enslaved to other men or to his own infamy. Even the pure light of science seems unable to shine but on the dark background of ignorance. All our invention and progress seem to result in endowing material forces with intellectual life, and in stultifying human life into a material force.” Karl Marx. Selected Works, Vol. 1, p. 500. “That hideous pagan idol (imperialism), who would not drink the nectar but from the skulls of the slain.” Karl Marx. On Colonialism, Moscow Publication, 1968, p. 87.
One of the more common objections raised to Marx’s theory of value, at least here in the theoretical void of cyberspace, is the objection posed by subjective value theory. Though these modern objections often take quite a crude, simplistic tone, they are echoes of a rather old debate, one that dates back to debates between Marxists and Austrian economists that took place in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s. Continue reading →
Pre-amble: I started writing this before events in Libya escalated, but it illustrates why it is imperative that we understand what exactly is going on in the Middle East and North Africa, especially when it comes to distinguishing between our wishes and reality. This is especially true of what is happening in Libya, where fact and invention (as well as wishful thinking) have become blurred in the press coverage. Continue reading →
Marx looked to Hegel’s original method for thinking about society’s problems.
“IF THERE should ever be time for such a work again,” said Marx to Engels amid a flurry of letters in January of 1858, “I should greatly like to make accessible to the ordinary human intelligence, in two or three printer’s sheets, what is rational in the method which Hegel discovered but at the same time enveloped in mysticism.” (From The Selected Correspondence of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels: 1846-1895, New York: International Publishers, 1942, p. 102.)
Todd Chretien begins a new series that goes through the works of Marx and Engels.
“PHILOSOPHERS HAVE only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” So wrote Karl Marx in his Theses on Feuerbach when he had reached the ripe-old-age of 27.
Yet Marx and his collaborator Frederick Engels spent their lives interpreting the world, covering page after page, year after year. Their Collected Works fill up 50 volumes, which average about 600 pages each.
We get into trouble anytime we try to understand something in isolation. The true meaning of things exist not buried inside them but in their relation to other things. Take money for instance. The meaning of this rectangular piece of paper covered in strange hieroglyphics can only be understood when we look at the role money plays in the complex coordination of modern capitalist production. Take away capitalist production and this rectangular piece of paper loses its meaning.
Paul D’Amato explains why the image of a classless, conflict-free society in the U.S.–the picture that dominates the media–was never a reality.
IN THE two decades after the Second World War Two, pundits and academics proclaimed the U.S. an exceptional society–one in which everyone was middle class and where concepts of class and class struggle were irrelevant.
How do we get from the vision of a socialist society to achieving one? Elizabeth Schulte looks at what Karl Marx and the Marxists after him had to say.
SOME ACADEMICS and historians may be happy to foster the idea that Karl Marx confined himself to analyzing the world, but the truth is that he and Frederick Engels sought to change it–and took part in building organizations dedicated to the goal of socialism.
In 1885, looking back on their discoveries about class society and the founding of the Communist League, Engels wrote: Continue reading →
The Socialist Alternative
Monthly Review Press, 2010
pp 192; US$15.95
The onset of the global economic crisis in mid 2008, symbolised by the collapse of some of Wall Street’s most iconic companies, led to soaring sales of Karl Marx’s seminal work Das Kapital, as many sought explanations to the tumultuous events unfolding.
Although written more than 100 years ago, this devastating and insightful dissection of how capital functions is still a powerful tool for people looking to understand and change the world.
If you spend any time reading about Marx’s theory of value on the internet you probably will come across some version of this asinine excuse for a critique called “the mudpie argument.” The basic style of the mudpie argument is similar to many advanced by those who know nothing about Marx’s theory of value: one constructs a ridiculous strawman argument that has nothing to do with Marx and then proceeds to knock it down with “devastating” brilliance, moral outrage, and a few clever asides about Stalinism. The MudPie argument goes something like this: Continue reading →
John at A Revolutionary Act produced the much missed ‘Socialist View’, bi-monthly journal of the North East Branch of the SPGB, a few years back and in amongst the canny jokes, sharp socialist commentary and any cartoon or Private Eye style photo that took the piss out of Bush, Prescott or any passing stray Mackem, he also sought – and got – permission from Howard Zinn to reproduce his famous essay ‘Je Ne Suis Pas Marxiste’ within its pages. Those of us who have the back issues of the ‘Socialist View’ in amongst our tea stained pamphlets and leaflets in the back of our cupboards or the Zinn Reader on our bookshelves have had ready access to the essay for a number of years, but a not so exhaustive google search suggests that the essay is not online.
As John has kindly given me permission to reproduce material from the back issues of the ‘Socialist View’, I’ll take him up on his offer by reproducing Zinn’s essay that appeared in issue 12 of the branch journal. I hope that Zinn’s delightful essay is of interest to people.