Archive for the ‘World economy’ Category

This year is Marx’s bicentennial.  He was born in 1818 (May 5).  And March 14 was the 135th anniversary of his death.

This year is also the 170th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto.

Below are some of the pieces we have run on Redline about Marx’s ideas, including pieces which showing their continuing relevance to understanding the world as it is and as it could be.

What is Marxism?

What is exploitation?

How capitalism works – and why it doesn’t

Two articles on Wages, prices & lies and capitalist crisis

4,000 words on Capital

Karl Korsch on “tremendous and enduring” impact of Marx’s Capital (1932)

Engels on Marx on the Working Day

Marx’s critique of classical political economy

Capital, the working class and Marx’s critique of political economy

Capital and the state

How capitalist ideology works

Pilling’s Marx’s Capital: philosophy, dialectics and political economy

How capitalism under-develops the world

The political economy of low-wage labour 

Whatever happened to the leisure society?

Pensions and the retirement age – the problem is capitalism, not an aging population

A nightmare in whiteware: the ‘teamwork’ system, exploitation and alienation

Value, price and the ‘transformation problem’ in Marx’s Capital

The transformation problem and Marx’s crisis theory

Productive and unproductive labour in capitalist society

The use-value of Marx’s value theory

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May 5 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx.  Below we’re running a review of Francis Wheen’s biography of Marx.  The review was written when the bio first came out and is by a prominent British Marxist.  Its author probably did more than anyone else to re-establish Marx’s crisis theory in the English-speaking world, back in the early 1970s, and also both to re-establish the Marxist tradition in Britain on ‘the Irish Question’ and the imnpact of imperialism on the political outlook of the British working class and the Marxist approach to Labourism and the British Labour Party.  We’ve added a few more subheads and paragraph divides to break up the text.

by David Yaffe

The first short biography of Karl Marx could be said to have been produced by his great friend and collaborator Frederick Engels on 17 March 1883 in a speech heard by the ten other people gathered together in Highgate Cemetery for Marx’s funeral. It offers very clear guidelines to those who would take it upon themselves to write future biographies. Marx, said Engels, was before all else a revolutionary:

‘His real mission in life was to contribute, in one way or another, to the overthrow of capitalist society and of the state institutions which it had brought into being, to contribute to the liberation of the modern proletariat, which he was the first to make conscious of its own position and its needs, conscious of the conditions of its emancipation. Fighting was his element. And he fought with a passion, a tenacity and a success such as few could rival.’

So the appearance of yet another biography of Karl Marx, this time by the former Guardian columnist Francis Wheen,1 claiming that ‘it is time to strip away the mythology and rediscover Karl Marx the man’ (p1), should put us on our guard. For Marx the man cannot be separated from his real mission in life and the dedication and commitment that invariably accompanied it.

Faint praise

A biography like any other ‘commodity’ has to have a market niche. Another tabloid-style denunciation of the man and his works would have little mileage. Neither would a revolutionary vindication of Marx. Wheen knows his punters – he wrote weekly for them in The Guardian. They rejected Thatcherism and a Labour Party gone Thatcherite. They are disturbed by untrammelled market forces, corporate domination, financial speculation and increasing stress and insecurity at work. They are alarmed by environmental destruction and Third World poverty but want well-stocked supermarkets supplied by global markets. They want to see change but not (more…)

Following a break after the substantial discussions on Imperialism in the 21st Century, the Imperialism Study/Discussion Group is moving on to Tony Norfield’s work on  the global financial system.  These discussions are being led by Tony, who recommends the following:

  1. Short article: https://economicsofimperialism.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/britains-financial-machinery.html

  2. Short article: https://economicsofimperialism.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/what-is-marxs-value-theory-worth.html

  3. Short article:  https://economicsofimperialism.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/capitalism-imperialism-profit-and.html

  4. Notes for a talk: https://economicsofimperialism.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/value-theory-finance-and-imperialism.html

  5. Video/audio of lecture: https://soas.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=76d81ed6-e831-44e1-bd14-931b381df70e

For this last item, the presentation, together with a Q&A session, takes a little over one hour, and it is possible to scroll through the presentation file used. (The only amendment I would make is that early on in my talk I wrongly said that Carlsberg was a Netherlands company, when it is Danish, and I should also have noted that Anheuser-Busch InBev/SAB Miller also had a US connection. I had other things on my mind at the time!)

The Imperialism Study/Discussion Group initiated by Redline is now moving on to Tony Norfield’s work on the global financial system.

At the same time, people involved in the study/discussion continue to chat about imperialism in the 21st century and, in particular, about the critique John Smith has made of David Harvey in relation to imperialism today.

Below is a note from John about the continuing debate with Harvey and his supporters on the subject and a follow-up note from Walter Daum, another participant in the study/discussion group.

From John:

‘Exploitation and super-exploitation’ — https://mronline.org/2018/04/14/exploitation-and-super-exploitation/ — is a small (literally, just 1400 words) further step towards what Ilyenkov would call a ‘universal concrete concept’ of contemporary imperialist capitalism, a mammoth task involving many volumes and people and debate; the quest for which has all along guided work on my thesis and then the book.

The article arose from a request on short notice for a short piece on the topic of ‘exploitation in the global economy’ from the Crisis and World Economy working group of CLACSO, a pan-Latin American academic social science network. The Spanish version is available from https://www.clacso.org.ar/grupos_trabajo/archivos/57_bole.pdf.

Help with their dissemination is much appreciated.

It has set in motion a little project: to (more…)

This article was written three-and-a-half years ago, and we may have been a bit tardy in reblogging it here.  However, since the bitcoin phenomenon is still about and many people who have heard the term may not know what it is, how it works and how on earth some people have made a lot of money from it, we’re running the article at long last.

by Tony Norfield (June 2014)

I first paid little attention to Bitcoin, thinking that there are probably more Elvis Presley impersonators than there are people in the world who have traded or owned it. But seeing that central banks have issued policy statements on Bitcoin, that the FBI has ‘seized’ Bitcoin assets used by drug dealers and that tax authorities have given guidance on capital gains liabilities, while financiers are planning to offer exchange traded funds denominated in Bitcoin, I decided to take a second look. This article gives my assessment of this digital, alternative ‘currency’.*

Bitcoin emerged from the rubble of the (more…)

by Tony Norfield

Warren Buffett is one of the wealthiest people in the world. He is also Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of Berkshire Hathaway, a huge US investment conglomerate. Looking at Berkshire’s investment policy reveals some important features of the economics of imperialism today and the role of money capitalists. Buffett’s public image as a kindly old gentleman – the Sage of Omaha – who favours increasing taxes on the rich and donates to charitable causes, does not sit well with evidence that he is a predatorygouger of profit. But these are the times in which we live.[1]

Berkshire’s nondescript name belies the fact that it is the (more…)

The piece below appeared as one of the editorials in the latest round of workplace bulletins produced and distributed by The Spark organisation in the United States; we’ve slightly changed the title but left the American-English spelling of the original.

by The Spark

The words are bad enough, but they are symbols of something much worse: the vicious ideas that Trump and others like him try to peddle.

The countries Trump denigrated are all poor. So let’s talk about why they are poor – the truth which demagogues like Trump trample on.

U.S., Spanish and French capitalists stole the wealth produced by labor in Haiti and El Salvador. That’s what impoverishes them.

Let’s talk about the European and American slave traders who stole 20 million human beings and their labor power from Africa. Let’s talk about the colonial system which drained Africa’s mineral wealth to enrich European industry. Let’s talk about (more…)