Those who know me will attest that I am a pussy cat, a real nice guy, always with a smile and a joke, slow to anger. But I freely admit that I am now, at long last, really angry at classtruggle. I have tried everything I can think of, and I simply cannot get him to stop quoting Holy Scripture and instead look at the world. So this blog post is directed at you, classtruggle. Everyone else can just play Sudoku or binge watch Scandal or do a load of laundry until I am done.
Your mind set, as revealed in your lengthy comments, is indistinguishable from that of a devout sectarian Protestant desperately clinging to the Word of God in the face of a changing world. You remind me of Frederick March, playing William Jennings Bryan, in Inherit the Wind, the wonderful old movie about the Scopes monkey trial. When Spencer Tracy, playing Clarence Darrow, challenges him as he testifies, March responds hysterically by clutching his Bible and reciting in order the books of the Old and New Testaments.
Look, damn it. Marx published the first volume of Capital one hundred and forty eight years ago. Right up to the very last moment, he was reading new reports and inserting the very latest information he had gleaned from his reading into the text. He is for all of us an immortal model of how to try to understand the social and economic world. You dishonor his memory by quoting his writings as though they were the infallible Word of God!
Just think for a moment of what has changed in the century and a half since the publication of Capital. The composition of the work force in advanced capitalist countries has totally changed, several times, as I tried to indicate with a few statistics several days ago. Financial capital has come to play a completely different role in capitalism. Digital information management has totally changed the way in which economic decisions are made in the spheres of production and services. Governmental employment has soared, altering profoundly the relationship between employer and employee for scores of millions of workers. Perhaps most important of all, control of the means of production is now to a considerable degree divorced from legal ownership of the means of production. Ownership, as represented by shares in joint stock corporations, no longer confers any operational control over the capital represented by those shares. Even the multi-billionaires who have garnered so much attention recently often have only minority ownership in the corporations associated with their names. Hence, transfer of legal ownership of the means of production to the people as a whole might turn out to make very little difference either to the work experience of employees or to the decisions made by those charged with overseeing those means of production, unless very great structural changes were made in the organization of productive enterprises.
Our job, as people who owe some sort of emotional and intellectual allegiance to the memory of Marx, is to think as hard as we can about these changes and try to figure out what they mean for our dream of a humane, non-exploitative society. I do not for a moment imagine that I am equipped to do this, but at least I can see that it needs to be done. You are not even trying!
Every time I offer an example of the way the world has changed, you respond, just like a Fundamentalist Protestant, by quoting the Scriptures, right down to the goddamn footnotes.
I have just finished teaching an entire course on Volume One, in which I had the students read every single page of that long, complex book. Trust me. I know all those passages you quote with such sublime faith that they are the answer to all our problems.
If you are prepared to put down your copies of the works of Marx for a bit and take a look at the world, then you are welcome at this blog. You are clearly intelligent and well-read and if you can just liberate your mind, you will, I have no doubt, have interesting things to say. But if you are unable to get beyond the Holy Scriptures and the associated Hagiography, then it would be better if you repaired to the nearest cell of the faithful and spent your time telling your beads and cursing the deviationists.