“People are therefore alienated from both the fruits of production and the means to realise their potential, psychologically, by their oppressed position in the labour market. But the tale told alongside exploitation and alienation is one of capital accumulation and economic growth. Employers are constantly under pressure from market competition to drive their workers harder, and at the limits invest in labour displacing technology (e.g. an assembly line packer for a robot). This raises profits and expands growth, but for the sole benefit of those who have private property in these means of production. The working classes meanwhile face progressive immiseration, having had the product of their labour exploited from them, having been alienated from the tools of production. And having been fired from their jobs for machines, they end unemployed. Marx believed that
a reserve army of the unemployed would grow and grow,
fuelling a downward pressure on wages as desperate people accept work for less. But this would produce a deficit of demand as the people’s power to purchase products lagged. There would be a glut in unsold products, production would be cut back, profits decline until capital accumulation halts in an economic depression. When the glut clears, the economy again starts to boom before the next cyclical bust begins. With every boom and bust, with every capitalist crisis, thought Marx, tension and conflict between the increasingly polarised classes of capitalists and workers heightens. Moreover smaller firms are being gobbled by larger ones in every business cycle, as power is concentrated in the hands of the few and away from the many. Ultimately, led by the Communist party, Marx envisaged a revolution and the creation of a classless society. How this may work, Marx never suggested. His primary contribution was not in a blue print for how society would be, but a criticism of what he saw it was.”
Clearly, the Communist Party had failed But it is also clear that with each cycle of boom and bust, their amplitude widens, for when in a bust, in an a effort to maintain valuations to their bubbled assets, man launched more creative financial engineering. Preventing full impairment of bubbled assets and with it, acknowledgement of its underlying value, while delivering growth.
We had it long coming, and this will continue, just be smart and make sure you get yourself a chair when the next round of music ends.
Or is that the only way?
Is there an alternative blueprint?