Karl Marx and economic crisis today, from TIME magazine


This video from Brazil says about itself:

[Sergio Silva] The Surplus Value Samba

This video is in Portuguese and has already been uploaded to YouTube twice. The original version was first uploaded in October 05, 2006 as [Sergio Silva] O samba da mais-valia. Then, French subtitles were added and uploaded in March 19, 2008 as [Sergio Silva] La Samba de la Plus-value. However, to better understand the thought of Marx, the world clamoured for English subtitles and here they are at last. The credits of that spectacular work are at the end of the video. We can see the world as change now. At least the WWW world. Revolution and Carnival are finally together.

From TIME magazine in the USA:

World Finance

Marx’s Revenge: How Class Struggle Is Shaping the World

By

March 25, 2013

Karl Marx was supposed to be dead and buried. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and China’s Great Leap Forward into capitalism, communism faded into the quaint backdrop of James Bond movies or the deviant mantra of Kim Jong Un. The class conflict that Marx believed determined the course of history seemed to melt away in a prosperous era of free trade and free enterprise. The far-reaching power of globalization, linking the most remote corners of the planet in lucrative bonds of finance, outsourcing and “borderless” manufacturing, offered everybody from Silicon Valley tech gurus to Chinese farm girls ample opportunities to get rich. Asia in the latter decades of the 20th century witnessed perhaps the most remarkable record of poverty alleviation in human history — all thanks to the very capitalist tools of trade, entrepreneurship and foreign investment. Capitalism appeared to be fulfilling its promise — to uplift everyone to new heights of wealth and welfare.

Or so we thought. With the global economy in a protracted crisis, and workers around the world burdened by joblessness, debt and stagnant incomes, Marx’s biting critique of capitalism — that the system is inherently unjust and self-destructive — cannot be so easily dismissed. Marx theorized that the capitalist system would inevitably impoverish the masses as the world’s wealth became concentrated in the hands of a greedy few, causing economic crises and heightened conflict between the rich and working classes. “Accumulation of wealth at one pole is at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole,” Marx wrote.

A growing dossier of evidence suggests that he may have been right. It is sadly all too easy to find statistics that show the rich are getting richer while the middle class and poor are not. A September study from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington noted that the median annual earnings of a full-time, male worker in the U.S. in 2011, at $48,202, were smaller than in 1973. Between 1983 and 2010, 74% of the gains in wealth in the U.S. went to the richest 5%, while the bottom 60% suffered a decline, the EPI calculated. No wonder some have given the 19th century German philosopher a second look. In China, the Marxist country that turned its back on Marx, Yu Rongjun was inspired by world events to pen a musical based on Marx’s classic Das Kapital. “You can find reality matches what is described in the book,” says the playwright.

… But the consequence of this widening inequality is just what Marx had predicted: class struggle is back. Workers of the world are growing angrier and demanding their fair share of the global economy. From the floor of the U.S. Congress to the streets of Athens to the assembly lines of southern China, political and economic events are being shaped by escalating tensions between capital and labor to a degree unseen since the communist revolutions of the 20th century. How this struggle plays out will influence the direction of global economic policy, the future of the welfare state, political stability in China, and who governs from Washington to Rome. What would Marx say today? “Some variation of: ‘I told you so,’” says Richard Wolff, a Marxist economist at the New School in New York. “The income gap is producing a level of tension that I have not seen in my lifetime.”

Tensions between economic classes in the U.S. are clearly on the rise. Society has been perceived as split between the “99%” (the regular folk, struggling to get by) and the “1%” (the connected and privileged superrich getting richer every day). In a Pew Research Center poll released last year, two-thirds of the respondents believed the U.S. suffered from “strong” or “very strong” conflict between rich and poor, a significant 19-percentage-point increase from 2009, ranking it as the No. 1 division in society.

The heightened conflict has dominated American politics. The partisan battle over how to fix the nation’s budget deficit has been, to a great degree, a class struggle. Whenever President Barack Obama talks of raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans to close the budget gap, conservatives scream he is launching a “class war” against the affluent. Yet the Republicans are engaged in some class struggle of their own. The GOP’s plan for fiscal health effectively hoists the burden of adjustment onto the middle and poorer economic classes through cuts to social services. Obama based a big part of his re-election campaign on characterizing the Republicans as insensitive to the working classes. GOP nominee Mitt Romney, the President charged, had only a “one-point plan” for the U.S. economy — “to make sure that folks at the top play by a different set of rules.”

Amid the rhetoric, though, there are signs that this new American classism has shifted the debate over the nation’s economic policy. Trickle-down economics, which insists that the success of the 1% will benefit the 99%, has come under heavy scrutiny. David Madland, a director at the Center for American Progress, a Washington-based think tank, believes that the 2012 presidential campaign has brought about a renewed focus on rebuilding the middle class, and a search for a different economic agenda to achieve that goal. “The whole way of thinking about the economy is being turned on its head,” he says. “I sense a fundamental shift taking place.”

The ferocity of the new class struggle is even more pronounced in France. Last May, as the pain of the financial crisis and budget cuts made the rich-poor divide starker to many ordinary citizens, they voted in the Socialist Party’s François Hollande, who had once proclaimed: “I don’t like the rich.” He has proved true to his word. Key to his victory was a campaign pledge to extract more from the wealthy to maintain France’s welfare state. To avoid the drastic spending cuts other policymakers in Europe have instituted to close yawning budget deficits, Hollande planned to hike the income tax rate to as high as 75%. Though that idea got shot down by the country’s Constitutional Council, Hollande is scheming ways to introduce a similar measure. At the same time, Hollande has tilted government back toward the common man. He reversed an unpopular decision by his predecessor to increase France’s retirement age by lowering it back down to the original 60 for some workers. Many in France want Hollande to go even further. “Hollande’s tax proposal has to be the first step in the government acknowledging capitalism in its current form has become so unfair and dysfunctional it risks imploding without deep reform,” says Charlotte Boulanger, a development official for NGOs.

His tactics, however, are sparking a backlash from the capitalist class. …

Resentment is reaching a boiling point in China’s factory towns. “People from the outside see our lives as very bountiful, but the real life in the factory is very different,” says factory worker Peng Ming in the southern industrial enclave of Shenzhen. Facing long hours, rising costs, indifferent managers and often late pay, workers are beginning to sound like true proletariat. “The way the rich get money is through exploiting the workers,” says Guan Guohau, another Shenzhen factory employee. “Communism is what we are looking forward to.” Unless the government takes greater action to improve their welfare, they say, the laborers will become more and more willing to take action themselves. “Workers will organize more,” Peng predicts. “All the workers should be united.”

Marx would have predicted just such an outcome. As the proletariat woke to their common class interests, they’d overthrow the unjust capitalist system and replace it with a new, socialist wonderland. Communists “openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions,” Marx wrote. “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.” There are signs that the world’s laborers are increasingly impatient with their feeble prospects. Tens of thousands have taken to the streets of cities like Madrid and Athens, protesting stratospheric unemployment and the austerity measures that are making matters even worse.

So far, though, Marx’s revolution has yet to materialize. … Despite such calls, however, current economic policy continues to fuel class tensions. … Debt-burdened governments in Europe have slashed welfare programs even as joblessness has risen and growth sagged. In most cases, the solution chosen to repair capitalism has been more capitalism. Policymakers in Rome, Madrid and Athens are being pressured by bondholders to dismantle protection for workers and further deregulate domestic markets. Owen Jones, the British author of Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class, calls this “a class war from above.”

There are few to stand in the way. The emergence of a global labor market has defanged unions throughout the developed world. …

That leaves open a scary possibility: that Marx not only diagnosed capitalism’s flaws but also the outcome of those flaws. If policymakers don’t discover new methods of ensuring fair economic opportunity, the workers of the world may just unite. Marx may yet have his revenge.

— With reporting by Bruce Crumley / Paris; Chengcheng Jiang / Beijing; Shan-shan Wang / Shenzhen

TORY PM David Cameron finally admitted in Parliament yesterday that “Karl Marx was right,” writes Luke James: here.

23 thoughts on “Karl Marx and economic crisis today, from TIME magazine

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  3. 20 Signs That The Next Great Economic Depression Has Already Started In Europe

    By Michael Snyder

    May 05, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -“Economic Collapse Blog” – The next Great Depression is already happening – it just hasn’t reached the United States yet. Things in Europe just continue to get worse and worse, and yet most people in the United States still don’t get it. All the time I have people ask me when the “economic collapse” is going to happen. Well, for ages I have been warning that the next major wave of the ongoing economic collapse would begin in Europe, and that is exactly what is happening. In fact, both Greece and Spain already have levels of unemployment that are greater than anything the U.S. experienced during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Pay close attention to what is happening over there, because it is coming here too. You see, the truth is that Europe is a lot like the United States. We are both drowning in unprecedented levels of debt, and we both have overleveraged banking systems that resemble a house of cards. The reason why the U.S. does not look like Europe yet is because we have thrown all caution to the wind. The Federal Reserve is printing money as if there is no tomorrow and the U.S. government is savagely destroying the future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have by stealing more than 100 million dollars from them every single hour of every single day. We have gone “all in” on kicking the can down the road even though it means destroying the future of America. But the alternative scares the living daylights out of our politicians. When nations such as Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy tried to slow down the rate at which their debts were rising, the results were absolutely devastating. A full-blown economic depression is raging across southern Europe and it is rapidly spreading into northern Europe. Eventually it will spread to the rest of the globe as well.

    The following are 20 signs that the next Great Depression has already started in Europe…

    #1 The unemployment rate in France has surged to 10.6 percent, and the number of jobless claims in that country recently set a new all-time record.

    #2 Unemployment in the eurozone as a whole is sitting at an all-time record of 12 percent.

    #3 Two years ago, Portugal’s unemployment rate was about 12 percent. Today, it is about 17 percent.

    #4 The unemployment rate in Spain has set a new all-time record of 27 percent. Even during the Great Depression of the 1930s the United States never had unemployment that high.

    #5 The unemployment rate among those under the age of 25 in Spain is an astounding 57.2 percent.

    #6 The unemployment rate in Greece has set a new all-time record of 27.2 percent. Even during the Great Depression of the 1930s the United States never had unemployment that high.

    #7 The unemployment rate among those under the age of 25 in Greece is a whopping 59.3 percent.

    #8 French car sales in March were 16 percent lower than they were one year earlier.

    #9 German car sales in March were 17 percent lower than they were one year earlier.

    #10 In the Netherlands, consumer debt is now up to about 250 percent of available income.

    #11 Industrial production in Italy has fallen by an astounding 25 percent over the past five years.

    #12 The number of Spanish firms filing for bankruptcy is 45 percent higher than it was a year ago.

    #13 Since 2007, the value of non-performing loans in Europe has increased by 150 percent.

    #14 Bank withdrawals in Cyprus during the month of March were double what they were in February even though the banks were closed for half the month.

    #15 Due to an absolutely crippling housing crash, there are approximately 3 million vacant homes in Spain today.

    #16 Things have gotten so bad in Spain that entire apartment buildings are being overwhelmed by squatters…

    A 285-unit apartment complex in Parla, less than half an hour’s drive from Madrid, should be an ideal target for investors seeking cheap property in Spain. Unfortunately, two thirds of the building generates zero revenue because it’s overrun by squatters.

    “This is happening all over the country,” said Jose Maria Fraile, the town’s mayor, who estimates only 100 apartments in the block built for the council have rental contracts, and not all of those tenants are paying either. “People lost their jobs, they can’t pay mortgages or rent so they lost their homes and this has produced a tide of squatters.”

    #17 As I wrote about the other day, child hunger has become so rampant in Greece that teachers are reporting that hungry children are begging their classmates for food.

    #18 The debt to GDP ratio in Italy is now up to 136 percent.

    #19 25 percent of all banking assets in the UK are in banks that are leveraged at least 40 to 1.

    #20 German banking giant Deutsche Bank has more than 55 trillion euros (which is more than 72 trillion dollars) of exposure to derivatives. But the GDP of Germany for an entire year is only about 2.7 trillion euros.

    Yes, U.S. stocks have been doing great so far this year, but the truth is that the stock market has become completely and totally divorced from economic reality. When it does catch up with the economic fundamentals, it will probably happen very rapidly like we saw back in 2008.

    Our politicians can try to kick the can down the road for as long as they can, but at some point the consequences of our foolish decisions will hunt us down and overtake us. The following is what Peter Schiff had to say about this coming crisis the other day…

    “The crisis is imminent,” Schiff said. “I don’t think Obama is going to finish his second term without the bottom dropping out. And stock market investors are oblivious to the problems.”

    “We’re broke, Schiff added. “We owe trillions. Look at our budget deficit; look at the debt to GDP ratio, the unfunded liabilities. If we were in the Eurozone, they would kick us out.”

    Schiff points out that the market gains experienced recently, with the Dow first topping 14,000 on its way to setting record highs, are giving investors a false sense of security.

    “It’s not that the stock market is gaining value… it’s that our money is losing value. And so if you have a debased currency… a devalued currency, the price of everything goes up. Stocks are no exception,” he said.

    “The Fed knows that the U.S. economy is not recovering,” he noted. “It simply is being kept from collapse by artificially low interest rates and quantitative easing. As that support goes, the economy will implode.”

    So please don’t think that we are any different from Europe.

    If the United States government started only spending the money that it brings in, we would descend into an economic depression tomorrow.

    The only way that we can continue to live out the economic fantasy that we see all around us is by financially abusing our children and our grandchildren.

    The U.S. economy has become a miserable junkie that is completely and totally addicted to reckless money printing and gigantic mountains of debt.

    If we stop printing money and going into unprecedented amounts of debt we are finished.

    If we continue printing money and going into unprecedented amounts of debt we are finished.

    Either way, this is all going to end very, very badly.

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