200 years ago was born the most famous and ambitious critic of capitalism, the German philosopher and economist Karl Marx. TASS spoke to scientific Director of the Institute of Economics Ruslan Grinberg, in order to understand what ideas the author of “Capital” passed the test of time and which remained a utopia.
The importance and relevance of Marx
Marx raised the question of the movement of society in the “realm of freedom”, because of what his predictions are often called utopian. But he always turned to the analysis of essence of the phenomena, trying to grasp the fundamental laws of social development. It was important for him to explore deep contradictions of social processes: birth and death, progress and decline of social systems.
His analysis of the society of the XIX century — this is the best study of the anatomy of contemporary capitalism, which appalled Marx. Being a humanist, he looked at brutal, “Manchester” capitalism and saw the exploitation of men, women, children. He researched why this happens, how are the productive forces with the relations of production, Marx believed that they are in conflict with each other.
Today, when new technology calls for new governance mechanisms between the productive forces and relations of production still have contradictions that lead to all sorts of conflicts and even revolutions.
What is Marx was right. Predictions that have come true
• Monopoly. Capitalism, not limited to any regulation, objectively leads to concentration of production and monopolies. And the monopoly is the cancer of any economy, and Marx is clearly noticed.
• Financial speculationthat can cause and exacerbate crises in the economy. Marx warned that, if you give free rein to the financial sector, he enslaves the real economy that we see today. In place of the formula “money — goods — money” comes the formula “money — money”. No wonder there was a joke “the investment is unsuccessful speculation”.
• Globalization. Marx lived in a time when the world was not a big village. But he had already pointed out that global capital will begin to rule the roost and the world economy will become more homogenous.
• The bureaucracy, which dominates the state. We see very often that the public interest is distorted, sidelined, if the bureaucrats do not feel a some sort of control.
• The role of science. Marx anticipated the surprising role of science in the development of production — it owns the words about the transformation of scientific knowledge in the “direct production power”, which became a reality at the turn of XIX and XX centuries.
• Income inequality and income polarization. Marx gives a description of an objective process, when the concentration of wealth is at one pole and the concentration of mass poverty on the other. Some improvement in this situation occurred in the XX century. Social market economy and the setting of well-being for all has led to the fact that this disparity has been significantly weakened. In 1950-e and 1960-e years it was possible to talk about a classless society. In the developed countries of the West took place, in fact, a quiet revolution — the integration of socialism into capitalism.
• The alienation of labor, that is, isolation of man from the results of his work. For Marx, as for the advocate of the theory of progress was important that the realm of freedom must one day come. And I must say that we are committed to this: the material world in recent time very much advanced, people became richer. But, as Marx wrote, the realm of freedom will come only when it is overcome by the “enslaving the human division of labor.”
Today of all salaried workers, only 15% are satisfied with their work. If you started to work as a miner, then chances are that you will be a miner for the rest of my life, because you need to earn money. Today we see attempts to overcome it — for example, unconditional basic income which in theory may allow to break the vicious circle. More physical labor is replaced by robots and automation, on the one hand, and with another — increases the productivity of the people. And the idea of an unconditional basic income opens up the opportunity to try yourself in different spheres of life — finding those areas where, as Marx wrote, “the work becomes the first necessity of life”. Maybe this is something similar to communism.
What Marx was wrong. That has passed the test of time
• Marx believed that the clash (conflict) the proletariat with the bourgeoisie is inevitable. But the subsequent victory of the social Democrats, more responsible behaviour of employers, powerful trade unions all worked to mitigate the horrors of capitalism which led Marx to his studies.
• Idealization of revolutions. Marx was a philosopher, his task is seen to change the world, not just to research it. History has shown that revolutions usually end badly, their results will never meet the aspirations of the people.
• The utopian of communism and world revolution. For Marx, it was obvious that skip the phase and not the building of communism must be a gradual process. But in Russia and China came to power radicals who took his ideas in a highly perverted form. Lenin and Trotsky were convinced that soon the revolution will pick up the rest of the world. This did not happen, and the government did not want to lose, so I had to build communism in a single country. This experiment in a great measure passed with a negative sign. Marx would be surprised if he saw the Stalinist repressions under the banner of Marxism-Leninism.