Marx Reloaded: Reflections on the 155th Anniversity of the Communist Manifesto
"As predicted, free enterprise and competition have led to a concentration of capital and monopolization of the productive forces. Instead of increasing investments in factories, machines and personnel, plants are closed, production sites shifted abroad, men and women dismissed.."
MARX RELOADED - REFLECTIONS ON THE 155TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO
By Dimitrios Argirakos
[This article from March 8, 2004 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://dias-online.org. Dimitrios Argirakos ( email@example.com) is chairperson of the Dusseldorf institute for Foreign- and Security Policy.]
Anxiety spreads again in the industrial nations. The world groans under a yoke. Is Mark reloaded? Still no revolutionary troops march through Europe's streets. Still the Communist Manifesto experiences a social-political Renaissance 155 years after its publication. As predicted, free enterprise and competition have led to a concentration of capital and monopolization of the productive forces. Instead of increasing investments in factories, machines and personnel, plants are closed, production sites shifted abroad, men and women dismissed to increase profits and state taxes only paid by the lower classes while the privileged ten thousand live off the fat of the land thanks to billions of deductions at the expense of the weak.
Mass unemployment is part of everyday human life and spreads over the globe like a malicious ulcer. According to an estimate of the United Nations, the number of unemployed is at the incredible 125 million mark. The true extent of the job catastrophe may be much higher. Unofficial circles calculate a billion unemployed. The beautiful times of cyclical unemployment are past that the affected and politicians (un-) willingly recall. The nostalgia-resistant unemployment of the 21st century does not disappear when the economy passes through an upswing because unemployment is mostly only a secondary phenomenon of international mergers. Nevertheless unemployment increasingly affects parts of society that were not impacted in the past: scholars, physicians, nurses, bank employees, scientists and recently managers.
The ruling political class tries to cure the pessimism and depression in the population by means of benefit cuts in the public budgets. Only the power of the economy can help find the way out of the deliberate misery of our own making. Previously tabooed by one-time system critics as a synonym of class struggle, this principle of the neoliberal school enjoys a grail-character among social democrats and is heard in every speech. Taken by itself, this condition reflects the (political) cul-de-sac in which free enterprise presently finds itself. The representatives of the people are now forced to reverse this process and cut expenses although they preached the opposite through their Keynesian mismanagement. The "abuse" should now be hurriedly corrected.
That an austerity corset reduces demand was forgotten. All (world-) markets are trimmed while rightwing-liberal economists admit that a widely misunderstood problem called over-production is growing rampantly. In this way, the breeding ground was laid for the economic crisis of the millennium that cannot be averted by the wonder weapon "globalization". The conditions for the total economic implosion are also set as long as the free enterprise order develops into the globalized economy. A crisis in one part of the world widens to other parts. Instead of annulling the boom-slump cycle, globalization gives this cycle a far more universal character.
At this time a large part of the population still believe that the market economy is the only possible form for a common existence. However the last word has certainly not been spoken. The credibility crisis of democratic institutions is a sign of a change of heart. Religion, ethics, morality and symmetrical war have increasingly lost importance. The belief in the free enterprise order openly on display is enormously deceiving. Below a no longer peaceful democratic surface, as the protests of many globalization critics show, a vast amount of discontentment, indignation, frustration and rage grows. A social (world-) explosion could produce a certain defining moment in history. Is this a hardly imaginable idea? Hardly. In times of individual crisis, humanity begins to seek means and ways of changing society.
The 29-year old Marx and the 27-year old Friedrich Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto as a reaction to a similarly dark period. At that time people were also paralyzed. But when the Manifesto saw the light of day in February 1848, the revolution broke out on all the streets of Paris and spread over Europe in the following months like a brush fire.
The dismantling of the social achievements of the past century follows its own logic. Whoever accepts capitalism as an economic control system cannot resist its laws. Unemployment, privatizations and cuts in benefits are necessary and yet expressions of a deep crisis in the western economic system. The "new" positions of leftist reformers are not any better. Even when they reject the current policy of social dislocation, they cannot offer any viable alternative since they also accept the free enterprise system. They merely praise a more peaceful and more socially friendly variant. The explanation of how a heterogeneous concept should function worldwide is still awaited. In the course of globalization, the borders of the nation state and protective laws for goods, services and capital are annulled.
Local businesses are under the constant pressure to permanently increase profits by installing machinery, wage-dumping and mass layoffs. The growing unemployment and wage cuts lead logically to undermining the wage-financed social system. Tax evasion in the billions and tax gifts to corporations and the rich are forms of relief and necessary cost cutting measures immanent to the system. A globalization of the capitalist model cannot be organized justly because a wild tiger cannot become a vegetarian even if many tasty dishes are offered. As a result, the dominant economic reason enjoins that the Harz, Herzog and Merz reforms cannot be more than well-packaged structural adjustment programs comparable with those promisingly prescribed to the third world for decades by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to reduce national poverty. Those who cannot profitably bring their labor power to the market are always the losers of this economic policy, children, seniors and sick and unemployed persons.
Many people are completely fed up with the logic of increased profits but hardly seem ready to bear the consequences of exodus from the free enterprise system since prosperity perpetually beckons..
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