Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Marx's Critique of Capitalism

I consider Marx's philosophy of history ludicrous... frankly I think history considers Marx's philosophy of history ludicrous.  In my philosophy chapter on social and political philosophy, I boiled down his critique of capitalism to two points:
  • capitalism leads to the oppression of its workers
  • capitalism is inherently unstable and leads to crisis/economic failure
My gambit is that while there is potential truths to these critiques, capitalism does not have to lead in these directions if proper safeguards are put into place.

So it seems to me that governments with capitalistic systems have put two kinds of safeguards into place: 1) regulations that protect the rights of workers and 2) regulations that ensure the stability of the capitalistic system.  In the former category are things like child labor laws, minimum wage laws, and so forth.  In the latter category are anti-trust laws, FDIC, automatic market shut downs, etc.<

What I find ironic--and dangerous--about the rise to power of influences like those of Rand Paul (whose ideas are heterodox within the economist expert community), is that they in effect want to undue the very protections that evolved in the capitalist system in response to the real problems it brought in the late 1800s and early 1900s. We already experimented with this approach and the consequences weren't so hot.  The best economic period for most Americans was these last 60 years after so many of these protections were put in place.


FrGregACCA said...

While I agree with the general thrust of this, I'm not sure we need be all that hard on Marx. Perhaps he provided us with some perspective that had led to the idea of regulating capitalism for its own good, kind of like a cooling system on an internal combustion engine.

Germany, BTW, provides a great model for a capitalist system in which such regulatory safeguards, perhaps most importantly worker democracy, are built into the system.

Mobius Trip said...

I can’t help but sense some ancient irony in Rand and Marx. I have no evidence to add to this remark, but I am glad to see someone else bring these two names together in one context, even in brief.