Friday, August 25, 2017

Marx’s “Capital” at 150: History in Capital, Capital in History

Today a new generation, experiencing major capitalist crises, increasingly concerned about its prospects and rising inequality, is powering radical movements in the homelands of capitalism behind figures and forces such as Sanders, Corbyn, Mélanchon, Die Linke, Podemos and Cinque Stelle. Will it bring Capital back into the history of these countries? Not before the burden of western misinterpretation that has accumulated over it for a century and a half, nearly crushing it, is removed. That involves rejecting more of our intellectual legacy, mainstream and ‘Marxist’, than we imagine....
What does all this mean for those approaching Capital today? Quite simply, Capital will not re-enter history, the one you must make to prevent capitalism taking humanity down with it, unless you recover the history in it. Park your ahistorical economics and social sciences at the door before you enter. They are not aids to understanding the greatest analysis of how we got here and where we might be headed. Read what Marx says. Pay no attention to those that tell you Capital is hard: they are merely saying ‘read my book first’. You have limited time: spend it on reading Capital. If you must read an introduction, Ernest Mandel’s, remarkably brief and unsullied by the problems discussed here, will do amply. Remember, Capital was serialised in a workers’ paper. You are today’s workers and Capital is your invitation card to history. 
Marx’s “Capital” at 150: History in Capital, Capital in HistoryRadhika Desai | Professor at the Department of Political Studies, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada and author of Geopolitical Economy (2013)

1 comment:

AXEC / E.K-H said...

Marx and the curious coexistence of provably false economic theories
Comment on Radhika Desai on ‘Marx’s “Capital” at 150: History in Capital, Capital in History’

There is no such thing as economics. There are TWO economixes: political economics and theoretical economics. The main differences are: (i) The goal of political economics is to successfully push an agenda, the goal of theoretical economics is to successfully explain how the actual economy works. (ii) In political economics anything goes; in theoretical economics the scientific standards of material and formal consistency are observed.

Economics consists of four main approaches ― Walrasianism, Keynesianism, Marxianism, Austrianism ― which are mutually contradictory, axiomatically false, materially/formally inconsistent, and which got the foundational economic concept profit wrong. What we actually have is the peaceful coexistence of provably false theories. Pluralism, to recall, is a political ideal that does NOT apply to science. The goal of science is the one true theory.

Political economics is scientifically worthless and it does not matter at all whether it is right-wing or left-wing. Both, orthodox and heterodox economics has achieved NOTHING of scientific value in the last 200+ years.

The practical consequence of scientific failure is that economic policy guidance has NO sound scientific foundations since Adam Smith/Karl Marx. Political economics never had been more than poultry entrails reading and storytelling and agenda pushing.#1 Scientifically incompetent economists are the major cause of economic crises.

What is missing among economists of ALL political colors is (i) an idea what science is all about, and (ii), a commitment to the scientific standards of material and formal consistency. The lethal scientific blunder of Marx was to confound sociology/history/political science and economics. To recall, Marx’s cardinal facts are:
• capital is a social relation,
• ownership of capital gives power analogous to state power,
• capitalist production is characterized by commodity fetishism, alienation, unfreedom,
• capitalism as a system is characterized by contradiction, competition, aggression, destruction, conflict, class war, Darwinian struggle, worldwide expansion,
• the capitalistic system is dysfunctional with recurring crises and a final big crunch.
All this is descriptively, commonsensically, and phenomenologically convincing as far as it relates to society.

Fact is, though, that Marx never understood how the economic system works, or more specifically, how the profit- and price mechanism works:
• he got profit, the foundational concept of all of economics, wrong,#2
• he did not realize that what appears as exploitation is, in fact, cross-over exploitation,#3
• he got the breakdown of the market system wrong.#4
• he failed to see that there are no ‘natural’ economic classes and that class war is a sociological construct.#3

What economists including Marxians do not get until this day is that economics is NOT a science of Human Nature or individual/social/political behavior but of the behavior of the monetary economy. Accordingly, the correct definition of the subject matter is objective/structural/systemic: “Economics is the science which studies how the monetary economy works.”

What Marx failed to understand is that economics is neither a social science nor a natural science but a system science. The scientific incompetence of Marxians consists in not having figured out until this very day what profit is.

Marxian economics is scientifically worthless since it came into being. This it has in common with Walrasianism, Keynesianism, and Austrianism. All these approaches have no truth value but merely political use value. This is why this proto-scientific rubbish is still around.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke