Can the American way survive all this?

This article by the Marxist theorist Leo Panitch, and appearing in the May/June edition of the American magazine Foreign Policy , as to be music to the ears of all those long-standing and unapologetic socialists who believe that Karl Marx’s ideas have spent too long in the wilderness.

The economic crisis has spawned a resurgence of interest in Karl Marx. Worldwide sales of Das Kapital have shot up (one lone German publisher sold thousands of copies in 2008, compared with 100 the year before), a measure of a crisis so broad in scope and devastation that it has global capitalism—and its high priests—in an ideological tailspin.

Yet even as faith in neoliberal orthodoxies has imploded, why resurrect Marx? To start, Marx was far ahead of his time in predicting the successful capitalist globalization of recent decades. He accurately foresaw many of the fateful factors that would give rise to today’s global economic crisis: what he called the “contradictions” inherent in a world comprised of competitive markets, commodity production, and financial speculation.

Penning his most famous works in an era when the French and American revolutions were less than a hundred years old, Marx had premonitions of AIG and Bear Stearns trembling a century and a half later. He was singularly cognizant of what he called the “most revolutionary part” played in human history by the bourgeoisie—those forerunners of today’s Wall Street bankers and corporate executives. As Marx put it in The Communist Manifesto, “The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. . . . In one word, it creates a world after its own image.”

But Marx was no booster of capitalist globalization in his time or ours. Instead, he understood that “the need for a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe,” foreseeing that the development of capitalism would inevitably be “paving the way for more extensive and exhaustive crises.” Marx identified how disastrous speculation could trigger and exacerbate crises in the whole economy. And he saw through the political illusions of those who would argue that such crises could be permanently prevented through incremental reform. …….

The good thing about the piece is that it  got so far under the under the skin of that that doyen of American conservative thinking, Joseph Farah, so that he felt compelled  to attack not only Panitch but devote a whole page of  WorldNetDaily, an online which he and his wife founded, to attacking the magazine  issue of Foreign Policy, the magazine which published the piece. the May-June issue of which he says “is nothing short of a blueprint for where the powers that be plan to take us – and it ain’t pretty”.

The cover sports a photo montage of Karl Marx’s face made up of bread, tools and fruit. The headline reads: “Marx, Really? Why he matters now.” The edition is called “The Big Think Issue” – but it’s actually much more than that, more like a wish list.

Founded by major grants of the Carnegie Mellon Foundation, since January Foreign Policy has been published by the Slate Group of the Washington Post Company. It is sustained largely by special advertising supplements by the European Union, which boasts in the current issue how the Barack Obama administration is moving America closer to the policies of socialist, oligarchic Old Europe.

“Socialist, oligarchic Old Europe” and the Obama adminsitration have really got something to answer for.  It seems they have some pretty scary ideas for how American way might be changed up their sleeves, and Joseph Farah, sounding a modern day prophet of doom and with all the subtlety of a modern-day incarnation of the fictional  Brig. Gen. Jack D. Ripper  – is just the man issuing warnings and tell us exactly what they are.


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