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While George Bush preached ‘market fundamentalism’ yet again at weekend the photo-op named the G-20 summit, the ‘leaders’ agreed upon further stimulatory spending to stabilize the financial system, and to ‘reform’ the IMF and World Bank as global financial instruments.
In the midst of this world recession precipitated by the U.S. housing crisis and poor economy that subsequently has quelled demand critical to the functioning of other economies that depend on American buying power, young disgruntled folk are taking another look at Karl Marx.
Reporting from Japan, the Times London:
Japanese bookstores expect a comic version of Das Kapital to become the publishing phenomenon of the year (Leo Lewis writes).
The manga comic, which goes on sale early next month and is expected to sell tens of thousands of copies before Christmas, plays into a growing fascination among Japanese workers with socialist literature and joins a collection of increasingly fierce literary critiques of the global capitalist system. A sneak preview of the publication given to The Times reveals that Marx’s central themes are relayed in the comic via a cast of suitably downtrodden workers. However, when Marx alerted economists to “the knell of capitalist private property”, he may not have imagined the phrase cropping up in one of the speech bubbles in a comic strip for commuters in Japan.
In Germany, sales of Karl Marx’s 1867 work Das Kapital have leapt 750 per cent this year. Much has been written about Karl Marx and the current crisis of capitalism (UPI, NDTV) Usually it is the young academics that read Marx and Engels and I sincerely do believe that everyone should try to read through some of what Marx actually wrote and not mere bastardized interpretations. On the Jewish Question is a particularly good critique of liberalism and a personal favorite — the Marxist Archive has an entire library on Karl Marx and other like-minded scholars.
Is the collapse of capitalism an inevitability? While Marx might have prophetically stated this in The Communist Manifesto, it is nonetheless important to step away from grand, universalizing narratives and dichotomies (i.e. bourgeoisie/proletariat) that do exist in his writings. Capitalism does sow the seeds for its own destruction but so does any other stagnant ideology. Marx did suggest that “men make their own history” and that capitalism wouldn’t fall till it had fully perpetuated itself:
No social order ever disappears before all the productive forces for which there is room in it have been developed; and new higher relations of production never appear before the material conditions of their existence have matured in the womb of the old society itself. Therefore, mankind only sets itself such tasks as it can solve
If we are to believe in the predictive qualities of Marx, we have a long way to go.
(Till global warming strikes at least…)