Wednesday, January 14, 2009

When Marx Isn't Really Marx

. Wednesday, January 14, 2009

This quote, purportedly written by Karl Marx in Capital, has been making the rounds:

Owners of capital will stimulate the working class to buy more and more of expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks, which will have to be nationalised, and the State will have to take the road which will eventually lead to communism.

Sounds prescient, no? One problem: McMegan investigated the quote and discovered that Marx didn't actually write it. Not only that, but he didn't say anything remotely like it. He predicted just about the exact opposite: the working classes would be forced to live in immiserated slums (not McMansions in the suburbs) until they finally rose up and overthrew their capitalist oppressors. Obviously, this is not the state of things.

If you feel like checking on your own, all three volumes of Capital and many other of Marx's writings may be found here.


Kieran said...

Nice post, I received this quote in an email an immediately smelt a rat. Thanks.

Guardian Unlimited blogspot said...

The author has misremembered this passage from Capital Volume One, Chapter 25, p 579-80 Lawrence and Wishart edition
"a larger part of their own surplus product always increasing and continually transformed into additional capital, comes back to them in the shape of means of payment, so they can extend the circle of their enjoyments; can make some additions to their consumption fund of clothes furniture &c., and can lay by small reserve funds of money ... only means in fact that the length and weight of the golden chain the worker has already forged for himself, allow of a relaxation of the tension of it"

James Heartfield

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When Marx Isn't Really Marx
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