Marx’s Breaking Point…?

In the current American economy and culture, not for the first time, there is a real class divide; but it is perhaps worse now than it has been in a very long time.  As Marx has predicted, there is an enormous divide between the income and wealth of the so-called one-percent and the remaining ninety-nine percent; his bourgeoisie and proletariat.

In this article by Forbes magazine,, French economist Thomas Piketty outlines his theory about the current state of economic divide in the U.S., and how he thinks it will increase in years to come.  The data is convincing, given the undeniable reports of the financial values of CEOs and politicians, and the government bailouts that big business and the rich receive.

Marx would, or rather already did have, a lot to say about the condition of our society as suggested in this article.  As Piketty puts plainly with his simple r > g equation, the rich in this country are getting richer, while the poor get poorer.  If you add this to the ever-increasing levels of industrialization in this country, and the way people believe that they need more and fancier toys (with the media’s help of course), this is exactly the type of thing that Marx talked about when he discussed his ideas about overproduction cycle.

We produce too much, and de-value the work-force labor through capitalist ownership – leading to worker dissociation.  This also occurs through the outsourcing of jobs and the downsizing of corporations (Marx’s expansion and abstraction), which leads to even greater capitalist (the 1%, or 10%, according to Piketty) financial accumulation.  If you follow Marx’s logic, this leads to even more industrialization, all the way through to recession (which we have already seen), failure of small local businesses, and increase of the working class and the unemployed.

Marx would have a field-day with this, arguing that this is exactly what will inevitably happen, even must happen, in a capitalist (and other class-based) economy.  He would say that the capitalist rich, and their government collaborators, are carving the economy, society and the workers to pieces, and that it will result in an eventual breaking point – leading eventually to communism of course.

I don’t know if this actually will occur in our country, now or ever, but it is clear that something needs to change; and, that Marx had great foresight.

3 thoughts on “Marx’s Breaking Point…?”

  1. Anthony, it is interesting that the top 1% went through a period of slow growth when tax policies favored the lower 99%; yet, the income of the top1% grew when the tax policies shifted. This is very telling of capitalism and its relationship with democracy. Can the two really coexist, or is capitalism simply another way to divide the ruling class from the worker class?
    In a way, our economic policies appear to reward companies that follow the bourgeoisie/proletariat model. If we were to shift our policies, or enforce the policies that create a more equivalent economy would capitalism fail or would we achieve record wealth? Capitalism appears to cause political instability regardless of what political system it operates under.

    1. Honestly, I’m not sure that there is a ‘first’ stepping stone. Possibly, people could vote to have less government control, so that there was ideally more control for the individuals, but in a society with so much capitalist momentum and infrastructure, less government control does not tend to equal individual or communal control, but rather corporate control – just another huge governing (almost state-like) body. If capitalism were to collapse in America, it would likely be less to do with a series of individual changes (or stepping stones), but rather a mass uprising or movement of multiple changes by the ‘proletariat’ – just what Marx predicts.

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