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Marx Reconsidered 
Oct.20,2000 - Nov.2,2000

Marx knew the problems
(M/, Miami, FL)  10/20/00 10:48 am

But he did not know the future. I believe that the solution (always a partial one: in science we never learn it all) lies in the study of economics and the psychology that causes people to panic and sell perfectly good investments because of everyone else doing it, or buying crap ("thneeds", Dr. Seuss calls these unnecessary items)that they do not need with money they don't have yet to impress people they do not know.

Re: Marx knew the problems
(31/M/Sweden)  10/23/00 10:29 am


I think he knew the future, what do you meen here?
He saw the crisis and he talked about the revolution - he didnt want that to happen but he said that it would be a more or less deterministic future for the capitalist systems, but there had to be some enlightment first..

Where did he go wrong?

I think that the only thing he forgot to weigh in his crisis theory was the upcomming of new inventions.. But mayby not even so.......

Marx as a utopian
(M/, Miami, FL)  10/24/00 12:21 pm

Utopian societies as a rule have one common flaw: they assume that once the civilization is perfect, then it need not be changed.

But when there is no change, the youth of any culture get angry and dye their hair blue or tattoo foul words on their foreheads or refuse to conform in some other silly way (and some creative non-silly ways as well).

Marxism was not unsuccessful everywhere: East Germany and the Baltics were rather egalitarian societies where no one starved aqnd only a few athletes were pumped up with steriods. Marxism eliminated famines in China and put shoes on nearly everyone's feet. It also made a great majority of Chinese literate. The Kuomintang did none of this, nor did the Western colonial powers.

Of course, the Taiwanese (and the Japanese influence is usually unmentioned, undeservedly) progressed much more. But they had a lot of help from abroad.

But these were extremely boring societies. In addition, had the Western countries been more like Bangladesh and less like the US, Sweden or Japan, the rebellious spirit would have been few less.

Re: Marx knew the problems
 10/25/00 2:26 pm

Hello to all. John Rawls I like your name, but then again I like the man John Rawls. I hope we can discuss some of his theories and especially his "Veil of Ignorance". :)

Regarding Marx you write: <<I think that the only thing he forgot to weigh in his crisis theory was the upcomming of new inventions.. But mayby not even so.......>> I think he did foresee the role technology would have.

Marx held that there is a continual contradiction between these two purposes: producing for material wealth and producing for value. As productivity rises, more goods are produced in the same unit of time, so the value of each commodity falls. The increase in material wealth corresponds with a decline in the magnitude of value—that is, production costs fall and prices tend to fall as a result.

This presents the capitalist with a knotty problem: the relative decline in the value of each commodity risks leaving him short of the funds needed to maintain his level of productive output. He responds by trying to further boost productivity, since the greater the quantity of goods produced, the better the opportunity to realize the value of his initial investment. The best way to increase productivity is to invest in labor-saving devices. The resulting growth in productivity, however, reproduces the initial problem, since the increase in material wealth leads to a further decrease in the relative value of each commodity. Capitalism is thus based on a kind of treadmill effect, in which the system is constantly driven toward technological innovation regardless of its human or environmental cost. The restlessness and drive for innovation that characterize contemporary high-tech capitalism was long ago anticipated by Marx.

Re: Marx knew the problems
(31/M/Sweden)  10/25/00 5:24 pm

as you might have figured out - I like "Rawls the older " too :)..

Now to your statement - I agree on all parts what I ment was just that when he says that the companies that can cut down on production costs, labour, and buy rational machines that do the work for them will be that company that will survive he implicit says that the other companies will be driven out of the market and only a few big actors will remain on the scene.

Thats how a free capitalist system will create a kind of monopoly situation in the end. What I meen here is that new inventions will arise with new diffrent products which will make the big actors to fall aswell and the circle will start all over again. We saw that when the new computer technology came it struck out companies like Facit (which still are in business but not half as big as they once where).. Facit was a company that produced calculators with the old technology and when PC:s and the new tech came around they simply had no market anymore..

But then again mayby today the big actors just buy in the new tech and therefor can stay in power forever..

I didnt express myself clear the last time since it was just a short message, hope this will straighten things out abit.

- Rawls -

ps id love to talk about the veil of ignorance.. I think its one of the best theories today even though it has some limits..

Re: Marx knew the problems
(M/, Miami, FL)  10/25/00 10:49 pm

Right now in the US we are experiencing this phenomena: for example, TV sets are ever cheaper and have more and more features. They are mostly made by US and Japanese companies in China.

(42/M/Japan)  11/2/00 10:31 am

I have just returned from a conference held this week. I enjoyed your discussion on Marx. I wonder what is the most important aspect of Marx's thought from the viewpoint of criticism of modern civilization, that is to say, what Marx would say if he were alive and saw cloning, internet, and the global environmental crisis.

Re: Marx
(31/M/Sweden)  11/2/00 5:23 pm

Prolitarians world wide unite, I guess :).. I think that he would want to enlight us about that we are empowered by the rich people and that we go against our own destruction if we dont take matter into our own hands.

He would stretch three issues:

1. that a minority like a parasite are sucking the blood out of the majority on earth.

2. That there are tensions build in the capitalist system that are created by the system it self

3. That the first two issues will almost deterministic lead to a change within the system and that change will take place with violence.

But since he was a structuralist, like myself, he would say that this is not a development caused by evil people just a build in structural imperative.. But he would also say that since man created the capitalist systmen, men also have to change that system into somthing better.

I think that he might had rewritten his theory abit today with the knowledge we have today and taken into account the legitimity problem.

Well what would he have said about cloning? Well im sure that he would have put a class power perspective on the issue and stated somthing like:

Cloninng is just a way for the rich to make sure that his wealth stays within his own family and what they really want is to buy themselves eternal life or somthing...

About the environmental issues i think he would use it as empirical evidence that the capitalist system destructs all in its way just in order to make a profit..

What do you think he would have said ?

Well what would John Rawls the older say? We could ask him but I think he is kind of sick at the moment, the dude :) is old you know. I think that he would say that the capitalist system that we face today is an unjust system since the redistribution doesnt benefit the poorest people in first hand.

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer and that would be unacceptable to Rawls the older and to Rawls the younger too I can assure you of. The system that we face today does not fulfill the contract that people would agree upon in a neutral decision situation that he prefers to call the "veil of ignorance" situation.

But what would the Liberalist nobelprize winner Hayeck say or the old J:S Mill i.e? Thats kind of intressting since it must be theories like theirs that make the system we have today legit or atleast are the ground on which the capitalist market economy rests.. But the theories are easy to critizise and I dont think that they live through a hard argument, but still they rule..

I think that we come closest to some kind of explaination of our current situation in our world today if we use some kind of power theory and the ones that I like the most in that area are the ones provided by Walter Korpi, ie about power resources..

Well these where just some thoughts on the matter......

Justice as Fairness !

- Rawls -

PS: for all you conservative, capitalist, christians that reads this - ask yourselves -

what would Jesus say ?

Re: Marx
(M/, Miami, FL)  11/2/00 11:00 pm

Marx would probably be thrilled or apalled at the idea of cloning, depending on who and what was being cloned.

The internet he would have to like, seeing as he was fired from such a huge number of newspapers over the years.

The environment would be a close call, because what Marx subscribed to most about the Industrial Revolution was that it allowed man to dominate his environment and make it fit his needs, just as Marx sought to make the rules of economics suit mankind's needs. Smokestacks and huge public works like dams fascinated Marx just as much as they did his antithesis, Ayn Rand.

I don't think Marx anticipated how seriously industrialism could screw up the environment. Neither did the Marxist countries of Europe.