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This guy, not Groucho.

Sign of the times. Capitalism's flaws have become so manifest, the suffering so widespread, that a corporate publication is praising Marx.

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.

This being Time Magazine, I expected the author to beat a furious retreat and explain all the ways that Marx was wrong, dangerous, and smelly, and there's a little of that, but to the author's credit, he points out that...
...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.”
No word in the piece on "class warfare from above" in the United States, but what do you want from Time/Time Inc/Time Warner?

The author point outs, reasonably, that that "there are few to stand in the way" of the ruling class's war, citing the decline of labor unions. But he doesn't note the bubbling activism on the left (other than to say OWS "fizzled") or the rise of anti-capitalism in Europe, Latin America, and elsewhere or the increasing class consciousness, of which his own piece is an example.

Yet he ends by mentioning a possibility he calls scary and I call the humankind's best hope: that if policy makers don't address poverty and economic inequality, "the workers of the world may just unite. Marx may yet have his revenge."

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Originally posted to david mizner on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 02:18 PM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Anti-Capitalist Chat, and TrueMarket.

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