There is more than a little of shoehorning going on to fit Marx’s predictions with reality. Predicting that the economy will hit points of instability at some point in the future is not exactly prophetic. You just have to have the ability to look at all of human history and go “yeah, I bet that happens again, like it always does”. It is like predicting that at some point in the future there is going to be ethnic conflict, disease, genocide, rain, or sunshine. You can point to literally any human system and declare that at some point is going to break. If you start predicting the root cause of something that is obviously going to happen again, then you earn yourself a little cred.
Marx was fundamentally wrong about why markets crash. There is a reason why Marx is only held up in social science circles these days, but in economic circles gets treated like Freud does in psychology circles. He is someone you study to understand the history of economic thought, not because he has much in the way of insights that stand the test of time.
The most obvious observations is that Marx was predicting the collapse of capitalism with a time table in the decades. It is well over a hundred years later and capitalist based systems have pretty much crushed all the opposition and built itself into something extraordinarily resilient. The overproduction that he feared so much has overproduced unfathomably more than he could have ever dreamed off and it has yet it failed to collapse in the way he predicted. The system occasionally goes off the rails, but it goes off the rails for far more esoteric reason than “you built too damn much”. The econopoclypse of 2008, which we merrily sprang back from in an eyeblink in historical time scales, was from poor regulation, bad government housing policy, some rule kinks in the global economic system, and not any cause Marx feared.
Leave poor Marx in the ground. You can toss Adam Smith in there while you are at it. The left and right heroes of economics deserve to lie in history books, not have what early insights they had kludged into a modern framework.
… I read silently. It doesn’t help. I still can’t read what I can’t pronounce, and still get a headache from trying. Putting an before consonantal h hurts the readers and the language.
The only problem with Marx’s predictions and the real world is that they are based on the premise that capital and capitalism can be withheld from the masses.
Of course, they routinely are, and that is where capitalism fails. Until the masses enforce our capitalist rights by rule of law, the dismal sciences will continue to self- fulfill their own prophesies.
Where socialism fails is in declaring itself in opposition to capitalism rather than enforcing the rights of the masses to capital.
Just simple common sense, math and practical economics. But you don’t see it very often
I moved 5 posts to a new topic: Boing Boing and politics Reminder to stay on topic
Comes from the Norman French roots of modern English, as I recall, and is more an English English than American thing usually, but perfectly cromulent.
They’re just as “knowledgeable” as any other contender I could name. But then, you don’t actually want “knowledgeable”, you just want their pick to match yours.
It’s really the perennial problem with “top X” lists–everyone thinks anyone who doesn’t agree is an idiot, and no one will ever agree.
Bad grammar does not magically become good grammar when you write it down. On the contrary, folks are usually less forgiving of the written word, since you can go back and correct it.
Why should Nostradamus have all fun of combining vague predictions with cherry pikcing event?
It’s not bad grammar, just slightly archaic.
This is utter horseshit. Adam Smith’s whole premise about money evolving from barter is the exact opposite of “looking at actual data and output,” as any anthropologist could have told you since there have been anthropologists. Despite this, they still, to this day, repeat this pernicious myth in economics textbooks. (David Graeber’s “Debt” has an accessible explanation of this, though he is far from the first to notice it.)
Economics in general could be more accurately described as black magic than as a science, since the existence and power of economic ideologies influences actual economic behavior and outcomes, in a way that you don’t see in the real sciences. Imagine if a majority of specialists in any actual science had vocally and publicly made completely incorrect predictions about something that fell within their purview several times within my lifetime. In an actual science, even one episode like that would have turned the entire field on its head, but economists just shrug it off and keep going exactly as they have been, and repeating the same ideologies as “science.”
I’m reminded of the Soviet joke that goes “Marx got everything right about capitalism. And everything wrong about communism.”
I see the Iphone as having a high utility value. I seriously don’t think that’s what Marx was talking about, instead I see things like jewelry, diamond studded toilet seats and so on. A Rolls Royce where a Kia would suffice.
Plus Marx’s secretary was called Kennedy and she warned him NOT to go to Ford Theater!
One of my current self-education projects is trying to learn more about dialectical reasoning, along Marx’s line of development. I keep finding myself thinking about this or that argument, that someone’s not thinking dialectically, but then I have to admit my knowledge of what that means is pretty limited. I have gotten the sense that a traditional approach to figuring out Marx’s dialectic is to go back to Hegel, which ends up reading back into Marx the ideas of Hegel that Marx was trying to overcome. Roughly, I’d been planning to go back over Marx’s Capital, and some relatively practical applications of dialectical reasoning (as in, dialectical biology and dialectical behavioral therapy).
I disagree. Marx’s key insight was that economics is really best understood as the historically specific relations of political power in a society. That the distribution of resources is a political issue, the economy is simply the method, and that any given setup is human made, not naturally occurring, which therefore can be changed. This insight is still very much valid today, and it really was a shame that economics as a discipline abandoned its original name of political economy because in its quest to become an objective science it can now only offer an incomplete analysis.
Furthermore, you overstate the case against Marx’s understanding of economic crisis. He certainly isn’t “fundamentally wrong” about how crises happen, and many of his crisis theory ideas have been adopted in whole or in part by Keynesianism, and even the Austrian School oddly enough. Overproduction is part of Marx’s idea of crisis, which includes the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, the conflict between wages and profit, employment rates, etc. The overproduction of capital is actually more the issue than too many goods, although Marx noted the bitter irony that economic misery was now created by too much rather than too little.
I agree that the linked article isn’t great, but because it makes the same mistake you’re making. Marx didn’t make predictions about future history. He was more concerned about how the system works or doesn’t work. He didn’t offer this up as a prediction, but as an observation. That’s where criticism of Marx properly lies, and some of his analysis has been convincingly demonstrated as wrong. Perhaps his point about a system that produces “unfathomably more than he could have ever dreamed of” yet concentrates this wealth in the hands of few is not politically sustainable qualifies as a prediction. But the fact he was a revolutionary socialist shows Marx didn’t put much stock in prognostication, because implicit in activism is the understanding that people aren’t pushed by history, but that people push history. Nothing is inevitable and the future isn’t settled.
I’d say those weren’t so much accurate predictions of the future as they were astute observations of what was going on in the 19th century. That the world is increasingly resembling the 19th century is the big problem,
It is only one aspect of dialectical thinking, but suppose you have conflicting observations and/or conflicting understandings. Each is solid in its way, or its own context, but some of these could be dust in this conflicting context. A traditional approach assumes only one set of observations and/or theories can be true, and any conflicting sets are false. A dialectical approach assumes multiple sets of observations and/or theories can be true, even conflicting sets, each being partly true. I think there are times when one is more appropriate, and times when the other is. There is no reason to try to find a solution where actual history and Fomenko’s pseudohistory are both true, because the latter just isn’t true. There is every reason to try to find a description which respects that people may choose one or another shit job for survival, and that they don’t choose that shit job entirely freely because power structures.
I started reading this blog sporadically a few years ago, after reading Cory Doctorow’s Overclocked, and appreciating, among other things, that the short stories reflected a broadly left political sensibility. Anda’s Game, which anticipated For The Win, had a positive portrayal of labor organizing, and a critique of “gold farming” in MMOs as an example of the relationship of people in the “first world” to exploited labor in the “third world”. After the Siege concerned a war over intellectual property, in which the side that rejected privatized intellectual property clearly representing either a socialist society or nearly so; in the foreword, Doctorow explained that it was influenced by his grandmother’s account of the Siege of Stalingrad.
After reading the anthology and visiting Boing Boing, I said to my partner that I’d found that the world of IT is surprisingly openly political and mostly very right wing, and BB was one of the places online where you find the left.