Is Marx Obsolete?

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Is Marx Obsolete?

Yes, we would say so.

His ideas are, of course, as indelibly a part of our life and times as those of Adam Smith.

And ideas affect action.

But the development of the capitalist firm, which we must surely talk about later, has not been as Marx foresaw.

It has taken power from the capitalist and given it to its own organization or bureaucracy, to what we have called the techno-structure.

Partly in consequence, there has been a much less sharp confrontation with the workers than Marx thought would occur.

Trade unions, on their part, have become much less revolutionary than he foresaw or would have wished.

And unions and the modem welfare state have rubbed far more of the rough edges off capitalism than Marx ever imagined they could, although of this he did have some premonition where England was concerned.

And, on the other side, the bureaucratic and managerial problems of running a socialist economy have been far, far greater than Marx predicted.

If economic performance in a socialist society had come as easily and with prospects as brilliant intellectually and otherwise as Marx took for granted (and Lenin also, before it became, for him, a matter of practical experience), there would be no capitalism left.

No power or propaganda would have held people to capitalism.

Learn More About Preserving Competition

Karl Marx

Marx held that the central tendency of the economic system is not to a benign equilibrium; it is to a destructive contradiction.

Competition is a passing phase.

As capitalism develops, large firms absorb the small ones, a process that Marx called capitalist concentration.

Monopoly capitalism replaces the competitive market.

By this process the firms, though large, become few and politically vulnerable.

Meanwhile the workers are paid but a small part of the value they create.

And in consequence of their industrial employment they become disciplined, aware of the exploitation... see: Karl Marx

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