Donald Trump and the US economy

The US presidential election is just eleven months away and the US economy appears to be slowing down.  Eight years after the election of Barack Obama at the depth of the Great Recession, the economic policies of the administration and the forecasts of sustained recovery by mainstream economics have failed.

The latest Atlanta Fed estimate for US real GDP growth in the last quarter of 2015 is just a 0.7% annual rate.

Atlanta

If that turns out to be right with the first official estimate out this week, then the US economy will have grown (after inflation) by just 1.8% in 2015, down from 2.4% in 2014.  In addition, industrial production and manufacturing output have slowed to a trickle and retail sales, a measure of how much is being bought in the shops, has also slowed markedly.

US manuf

And most important, corporate profits are falling and companies are reporting fewer earnings in their quarterly results.  When profits fall, investment and then employment will eventually do so.

Stock markets globally are worried about the slowdown in China and in the collapse in oil prices.  This has brought recessions in many energy and commodity producers, like Russia, Brazil, South Africa and even Canada.  And just at this time, the US Federal Reserve decided to hike its interest rate, claiming that all was well in America.  Instead there is a rising risk that the US could enter a new slump in 2016 or 2017 – right at the time of the election of a new President.  And whoever is elected, do they have any idea of how to avoid a new slump or get America out of it when they are elected?

On the Republican side, we are offered a range of neo-conservative, pro-gun lobby, anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, anti-labour, anti-welfare, anti-tax, climate change denying multi-millionaires, the noisiest and most popular (among Republican party supporters) of which apparently being Donald Trump.

Let’s leave aside Trump’s provocations on gays, immigration, muslims, and ‘liberals’ and instead have a look at the economic policies he advocates for America.  The Republican party leadership represents Wall Street, the big corporate moguls and the military-industrial complex.  But Republican party activists are mostly small businessmen and, older white ‘middle class’ male workers in America’s suburbs who reckon or are told that what is wrong with America’s economy is too much government, too high taxes and too much free trade and immigration that do not protect Americans.  This is the classic petty-bourgeois (to use Marx’s phrase) view.

It is these people that the billionaire Trump appeals to.  So his economic proposals boil down to cutting taxes, reducing government spending (but not medicare needed by his elderly supporters), taxing imports to ‘protect’ American jobs and reducing bureaucracy.

But, of course, Trump’s economic plan does not really help his base of support.  He wants to cut income tax for all and corporate taxes.  The biggest beneficiaries of this would the very rich.  Top billionaires would see their taxes decline from 36 percent to 25 percent, and corporations would get a cut from 35 percent to 15 percent. On average, most people would see their tax bill reduced by about 7 percent of their after-tax income, but savings for the top .1 percent of the wealthy would be $1.3 million in savings, which amounts of 19 percent of their income.

These tax cuts if implemented, would, according to the Tax Policy Center, cause a loss of government revenues worth $25 trillion over the next ten years.  So just to get to 2025 without increasing the deficit, government spending would have to be cut by about 20 percent.  The biggest loophole in the Trump tax plan, according to Robertson Williams of the Tax Policy Center, is the “pass through” provision that would allow self-employed contract workers to have their income taxed at the lower 15 percent rate (this again is a policy aimed at Trump’s base).

Trump says he’d raise tariffs on foreign goods to help American industry and impose punitive sanctions on China and Mexico, which are America’s two largest trading partners.  This would break the NAFTA agreement.  If the US were to impose tariffs (driving up domestic prices), retaliation would follow from trading competitors. All of this is anathema to the Republican grandees who follow the demands of Wall Street and the big corporations for ‘free trade’.  But it sounds great to the self-employed and other small businessmen who are struggling to make ends meet, even though reduced government services would hit them too

So the strategists of capital in Wall Street and Main Street are getting worried.  It seems that Trump could actually win the Republican nomination.  The weakness of the other candidates and his appeal to activists is winning the day. Sure, it is likely that Hillary Clinton, if chosen as the Democrat candidate, would easily beat Trump in the presidential ballot.  And, on balance, that would be better than Trump. But Clinton is being pushed to the left by the campaign of Bernie Sanders and her election would probably involve higher taxation, more regulation and some concessions to labour. It would be more much preferable to find another Republican candidate or, now it seems, even a third party runner.

So the talk is that billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the owner of the financial services company and former mayor of New York, could be the man to step in and defeat Trump.  Apparently, Bloomberg is exploring an independent run for president and is willing to spend $1bn to finance a campaign.  But backing Bloomberg is a risky strategy for capital.  Many of Bloomberg’s positions on social issues from the environment to gun control are closely aligned with the Democrats.  So his candidature could simply hurt the chances of Hillary Clinton and put Trump into the White House.

So Republican Wall Street financiers are still thinking of finding another Republican.  Billionaire Charles Koch, the man who finances many Tea party groups within the Republicans, commented to the Financial Times that he was “disappointed” by the current crop of Republican presidential candidates and especially critical of Trump and Cruz. “It is hard for me to get a high level of enthusiasm,” he said, “because the things I’m passionate about and I think this country urgently needs aren’t being addressed.”

What is he proposing?  Apparently to fix the convention with money: “state legislators who are Republicans, congressmen, senators, local committeemen should join with the donors so they don’t send the party into suicide.” The donors and their allies would handpick their candidate, “winnowing the field”.

That’s what happening with the Republican Tweedledee.  But what is happening with the Democrat Tweedledum?  There, Clinton is facing a strong challenge from Bernie Sanders, the ‘socialist’ senator from Vermont.  That again is another sign that union workers, public sector employees and active working class Democrats are fed up with the dominance of the Democrat establishment, financed by hedge funds and big business and so tied to their policy needs.  Sanders has called for a living wage for all, government investment, breaking up the banks etc.

These policies are mild in their impact on a capitalist economy in successful times, but they are unacceptable in a capitalist economy still struggling to grow after the Great Recession and possibly heading back into economic slump.  So, for capital, it would be a disaster if Sanders won the Democrat nomination because it would pose a new threat to the profitability of capital.

But Sanders is also opposed by supposedly liberal reformist elements on the Democrat side.  Top Keynesian economist and NYT blogger Paul Krugman has launched a series of posts against Sanders.  Krugman is opposed not particularly because he is against Sanders’ mild measures, but because Krugman considers them unrealistic in the face of a Republican Congress and the might of Wall Street and the media.  So we ‘liberals’ ought to settle for Hillary so that we can get a few things done, as we did under Obama!

As Krugman put it, “accepting half loaves as being better than none: health reform that leaves the system largely private, financial reform that seriously restricts Wall Street’s abuses without fully breaking its power, higher taxes on the rich but no full-scale assault on inequality.”

Sanders’ more radical program is doomed.  You see, if Obama could not do anything at a time when Bush and Republicans were discredited with the Great Recession in 2008, there is even less chance now.  Of course, this argument assumes that Obama ever advocated anything radical to control the financial sector, reduce inequality or help labour.  On the contrary, Obama appointed Wall Street bankers to bail out the financial institutions, Ben Bernanke to help the banks with cash and a Treasury team that aimed to curb government spending.

But Krugman argues that a campaign for a “radical overhaul of our institutions” is a pipe dream because the ‘broad public’ will never support it.  You see, even Roosevelt could not carry out a radical program at the depth of the Great Depression because of opposition from ‘Southern racists’ with the Democrat party.  Actually, Roosevelt was never interested in eradicating racism and segregation in the south and the southern Democrats did not oppose radical economic measures.  The opposition came from Wall Street and mainstream economics; the former because of their vested interests; and the latter because of their blind belief in the market.

Krugman is right when he says that the “thing that  F.D.R. created were add-ons, not replacements: Social Security didn’t replace private pensions, unlike the Sanders proposal to replace private health insurance with single-payer. And Social Security originally covered only half the work force, and as a result largely excluded African-Americans.”

Roosevelt started out with big talk about radical changes in the American economy.  In his inaugural speech on election in 1933, Roosevelt said that in “the long run is the problem of controlling by adequate planning the creation and distribution of those products which our vast economic machine is capable of yielding… Too many so-called leaders of the Nation fail to see the forest because of the trees. Too many of them fail to recognize the vital necessity of planning for definite objectives. True leadership calls for the setting forth of the objectives and the rallying of public opinion in support of these objectives.”   There was a need for a “federal role so assertive that the country’s national government would be called on to supervise all forms of transportation and of communications and other utilities which have a definitely public character.”

But that radical objective of government planning over capitalist profit was soon dropped in favour of balanced budgets (as advised by the Treasury) and hiking interest rates (as advised by Wall Street and the Fed), as a recent paper at ASSA 2016 by Jan Kregel shows (WhatWeLearnedFromTheGlobalFinancia_preview (2).  The result was that the depression continued and only ended when America entered the world war and introduced state control of capitalist production and forced saving for the military effort.  In his book, End the Depression now, Krugman admitted that it was only ‘military Keynesianism’ that ended the depression not Keynes or the New Deal.  But it was not even Keynesianism but the (temporary) removal of the capitalist mode of production.

According to Krugman, there is nothing we can do.  To use Margaret Thatcher’s phrase, ‘there is no alternative’ (TINA): “The point is that while idealism is fine and essential — you have to dream of a better world — it’s not a virtue unless it goes along with hardheaded realism about the means that might achieve your ends. That’s true even when, like F.D.R., you ride a political tidal wave into office. It’s even more true for a modern Democrat, who will be lucky if his or her party controls even one house of Congress at any point this decade.”

So there it is.  The US economy is heading down again.  The policies of the last eight years under Obama have not turned things around.  And there is the prospect of a populist demagogue oligarch running as the Republican candidate, scaring the wits out of the majority of the ruling financial class.  Krugman’s response is just accepting that anything that would really improve the lives of majority is not on and backing Clinton is the only thing to do – in the hope that a few crumbs will fall the people’s way as a new recession looms.

20 Responses to “Donald Trump and the US economy”

  1. Ramin Says:

    “But it was not even Keynesianism but the (temporary) removal of the Capitalist mode of production” ?? Really? You mean, the US suddenly became a “non-capitalist” country (even if temporarily)? No value? No profits? No competition? You mean, wage-labour was “removed” or “abolished”? So long as wage-labour is the dominant form of labour you have capitalism – be it “the private market form” or “state control with planning” or “state capitalist form” or “command economy”. Wage-labour is the ESSENTIAL element. It is the dominance of wage-labour that is fundamental to the capitalist mode of production. Capital relations rests on the form of labour as wage-labour. To my knowledge, wage-labour was absolutely dominant in the US economy before, during and after WWII – as it was in Nazi Germany, UK, USSR etc. etc.

  2. George (Γιώργος) Says:

    Now that is a proper historical materialist attempt to understand politics. Spot on.
    Interesting this late defeatism of the progressive ideologues of capital (keynesian celebrities for the most part) after all these years of optimism. They can only think in terms of “recipes” for the capitalist state to use. In themselves, these recipes are simply inadequate. But don’t let the people take them to their logical extremes, for they will put at risk the entire capitalist order. Trapped between too little and too much, these ladies and gentlemen put their hands up and accept the inevitable.
    That having been said, i simply can’t see how Sanders could make a serious impact. I don’t doubt his intentions. But he is a politician well over his 70’s, in a country with no structures of mass political organization and party activism. Parties in America have no concrete, organized bases, where ideas and strategies can be debated productively.

  3. Socialist Says:

    I agree with Ramin. I think the US economy was undergoing what you might call the mode of simple reproduction during the war instead of the typical accumulative reproduction.

    Also, concerning the article. I don’t see how these US electoral theatrics really matter at this point. The bourgeoisie has been on a long road to erase the meagre concessions it made to the exploited for a few decades, but now it is back in its ruthless mode of exploitation. Trump or Sanders – it’s all the same. It will most likely end in a serious imperialist war in the near future.

    • John E. Says:

      What makes it interesting to me is the sudden appearance of Trump and Sanders on the stage.

      Trump has stopped the pussyfooting around that previous Republican candidates have done and has appealed directly to the white supremacist Republican base. His speeches are unscripted and occasionally bizarre, but are full of fire and (reprehensible) honesty.

      Sanders, though he may be a social democrat, nonetheless represents a significant change in American public consciousness. For a significant portion of the voting public, “socialist” is no longer a dirty word; they are willing to vote for one, and even state outright that they are for a vaguely-defined “socialism.” Red-baiting has begun to lose its power. The idea of a self-described socialist potentially becoming President would have seemed like nonsense during the Clinton years, and now it has a (slim) possibility of becoming reality.

      It may well be the case that neither of their economic policies would pan out, but we should nonetheless not look away from what’s going on in the United States. Even in what is the world’s healthiest and most powerful economy, there’s a growing discord in the public consciousness, clamoring for a change of some sort. The properly Marxist response is not merely to sneer and dismiss it as bourgeois nonsense, but to dig at the roots of the discontent and see how they can be properly nourished. Just as Sanders’ popularity represents a potential spot of hope (though I don’t place much stock in the man himself), so too does Trump’s popularity represent its opposite.

      • Socialiast Says:

        First of all, I’m not from the US, so don’t have much detailed knowledge about the current electoral goings-on. I can only give my humble 2 cents.

        I look at this way. The US imperialism is at such a weird stage that it constantly needs new quirks and characters in their new electoral fights. Most of the time it has even nothing to do with serious economic debates but is purely personality based. Be it a black person, a woman, a racist millionaire. It is willing to even let a so called “socialist” participate in the theatrical elections as long as there is no talk of radical change and systematic destruction. The system always comes up with a new character that will give people some passing hope, to me it’s like religion. It’s silly. We’ve had enough of this. in 2008 I thought most of the world would finally realize that even the new black president was a goddamn joke, a swindle that hasn’t been seen before. Nope. People just refuse to accept that the whole thing is rotten.

        Concerning Sanders. He is not the first nor the last “socialist”. He is not talking about even evolutionary change of the system. He simply wants to fuck the exploited in a slightly more gentle way. The bourgeois elite is no way scared by people like Syriza, French socialists, Jeremy Corbyn or Sanders in this case. Just another pawn in this ruthless game of exploitation and oppression.

      • Edgar Says:

        The first word that comes to my mind when i think of Trump is not honesty but the most profound ignorance. For example, he claimed that non of the Syrian refugees fleeing to Europe were women or children.

        This is an example of where Trump relies on the ignorance and idiocy of the base.

        Surely a job for the left is to point this fact out to his base!

  4. sartesian Says:

    First, as Ramin points out the US economy was fundamentally capitalist all through the FDR era. To think it was anything but capitalist boggles the imagination– it gets us to the ridiculous position of believing a war precipitated by capitalist dynamics to preserve capitalism was executed on behalf of capitalism by abandoning capitalism in the capitalist countries that were parties to the war. One word response to that: Nuts.

    The issue is precisely not Trump’s “economics,” no more than it was with Reagan, or Thatcher’s, or Bush’s, or Obama’s– it’s about class struggle. So Trump attacks the most exploited, the most vulnerable sector of the working class– AS DOES OBAMA with his raids on workplaces and massive deportations.

    Sanders will be irrelevant, just as Obama was/is, as long as he remains embedded in the Democratic Party.

  5. johncmcleod Says:

    I made a lengthy comment but for some reason it never got posted. The gist of it was that I have two quibbles with this excellent piece:

    “Corporate profits are falling and companies are reporting fewer earnings in their quarterly results. When profits fall, investment and then employment will eventually do so.”

    You’ve stated on several occasions your conception of the relationship between profits and investment. I think it’s based on an assumption of how an economy normally works in theory that fails to take into account the unique conditions of this era in the US. Credit has been so cheap and plentiful the past twenty-five years or so that firms do not need profits for investment. In fact, when profits are slim, firms simply take out more credit to invest in productive capacity to undercut the competition. Banks have been all too willing to oblige.

    “But Republican party activists are mostly small businessmen and, older white ‘middle class’ male workers in America’s suburbs who reckon or are told that what is wrong with America’s economy is too much government, too high taxes and too much free trade and immigration that do not protect Americans. This is the classic petty-bourgeois (to use Marx’s phrase) view.”

    I think you fail to mention an important point here, that Trump actually enjoys a tremendous amount of support among working class whites. Once again, the proletariat find themselves attracted to reactionaries rather the revolutionaries, something we’re also witnessing in Europe in the rise of its far-right wing parties. I think this is one thing Marx got wrong: he didn’t foresee how well the media and politicians would be able to convince the working classes of a ‘false consciousness.’ I think television has played a huge role, but we also must remember how popular fascism was among the German and Italian proletariat in an era when many didn’t even have radio.

    • sartesian Says:

      What evidence do you have for this “support among working class whites”?

      • johncmcleod Says:

        Have you ever looked at the faces of the spectators at those Trump rallies? The white, working class in the US is becoming increasingly Republican (while the Democrats are becoming more and more a party of the professional classes), and it is the base of the Tea Party and now the Trump movement. It’s a bit early for data on this but it’s pretty obvious to most followers of American politics.

      • johncmcleod Says:

        http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/fixgov/posts/2016/01/01-trump-taking-advantage-of-anxiety-mcelvein

        There you go. 55% of Trump supporters are working class whites, while it’s 35% for other Republican candidates.

      • sartesian Says:

        1.I never knew that social class could be determined by the faces of spectators at rallies. Thanks for the insight. I guess that’s why the Internet is so opaque– can’t see the players at all.

        2. White workers are most definitely not the base of the Tea Party. Tea Party advocates are economically much better off than workers. You can see it in their faces.

        3. There’s a significant difference between asserting (the assertion itself is subject to dispute BTW) that 55% of Trump supporters are white working class, and claiming that the white working class supports Donald Trump.

        4. Suggest you look at Trump’s support in Iowa– where the white working class was pretty much decimated and dispersed by that other supposed hero who had so much support among white workers, Ronald Reagan.

        5. Like many so-called followers of US politics, you might have a problem distinguishing white petty-bourgeois from working class.

      • johncmcleod Says:

        Sartesian:

        Why is it that the party of Reagan has so much support among working class whites?

        http://www.salon.com/2015/11/29/the_truth_about_the_white_working_class_why_its_really_allergic_to_voting_for_democrats/

        There is very little difference between the Republicans and Democrats, but there is a slight difference. The Democrats are ever so slightly the “left” of the Republicans, who are one of the most conservatives parties in the first world. Thus, it makes little sense from a Marxist perspective why working class whites in America support the Republicans so heavily (this is a party that wants to replace the graduated income tax with a “flat tax”). Exploitation of racial politics is a big part of it, of course, but I think foreign policy plays a big role as well, something which makes little sense. Many working class white Americans oppose on principal the “welfare state” or unions in general. I don’t think Marx foresaw how easily the working classes could be tricked into a false consciousness. I don’t blame him though because even with a century and half more history to analyze, I can’t make sense of it, either.

  6. Edgar Says:

    “Once again, the proletariat find themselves attracted to reactionaries rather the revolutionaries”

    A true proletariat, in the sense of a class in and for itself, wouldn’t be attracted to anything other than its own organisation and inner structures. The fact that the proletariat have to look outward and decide between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump is testimony to the fact that the proletariat doesn’t exist in any real sense of the word (at least not in the advanced world). It needs to be brought to life, somehow. If we consider individuals with interests having to decide then I don’t see much difference between Trump or Clinton.

    There was a poll in England asking if Britain, a rich nation that has massively profited from exploiting and stealing from the rest of the world, should take in 3000 child refugees in desperate need, 53% said no! What scumbags, these individuals with interests are!

    To be honest, I wouldn’t want to fight on behalf of scum like that, I think it is high time the left adopted those positions and principles, rather than trying to flatter individuals with interests.

    • johncmcleod Says:

      Except it’s not that simple.

      Working class whites in America vehemently oppose socialized medicine and other forms of “welfare.” In many parts of the country, they are extremely anti-union as well and believe in “trickle-down economics.” It’s not just an issue of Clinton vs. Trump and the lack of difference, these people actually support right-wing economic policies and believe that “socialism” is one of the most evil concepts on the planet.

      Being a Marxist, I want to believe that it’s simply the power of television in helping create a ‘false consciousness,’ but then again the proletariat heavily supported Hitler and Mussolini when many of didn’t even have radios.

      I think the greatest flaw with Marx’s thinking is that he did not predict how appealing right-wing reactionaries would be to the working classes. But it’s something I can’t understand, either.

      • sartesian Says:

        If “Being a marxist….” is your assertion, then you might want to look a bit deeper into ” but then again the proletariat heavily supported Hitler” .

        The overwhelming majority of the German workers did not support the Nazis; indeed the overwhelming of Germans did not support the Nazis prior to 1933.

        The overwhelming majority of the German working class supported the SDP while a significant minority supported the KPD.

        The Nazi vote totals were on the decline before Hitler was appointed chancellor. It was only through the appointment to power that the Nazis were able to take the steps to pulverizeworking class organizations through “legal” and extra-legal means.

      • johncmcleod Says:

        Do you have data to back that up?

        I believe you when you say that the SDP had more support among the German working classes than the Nazi party did, although I don’t believe that it was an “overwhelming majority.”

        The Nazis did enjoy plenty of support among the proletariat in Germany, while Mussolini had plenty of support from the Italian proletariat as well. This shouldn’t happen; the socialist/communist parties should have near unanimous support among the working classes, which is not how history played out. The Great Depression should have sparked a proletarian revolt with the intent of overthrowing the capitalist system. Instead we got right-wing reactionary fascist dictators.

        The far right-wing parties in Europe also enjoy plenty of support among the working classes, even though they clearly support right-wing austerity policies that are against their own interests.

        I believe the capitalist system this century will be entirely unable to provide the levels of growth seen in the past two and a half and will be marked by increasing stagnation and economic crises. The working classes will suffer from this the most, and while their anger should be channeled towards either overthrowing the capitalist system or at least reforming it, I think we’ve already seen the evidence that many of them will support right-wing reactionaries.

        It seems to me to be much easier to trick the working classes into a “false consciousness” than Marx predicted. I think TV has played a huge role, but that doesn’t explain how fascism rather than socialism emerged from the Great Depression.

      • sartesian Says:

        Any and every history of Germany between the wars makes it clear how much support the SPD had among the workers, particularly the trade unions. And I mean any history. ,

        Forced out of power not by losing elections but by a presidential decree in 1932, the SPD still won 120 seats in the Reichstag in 1933.

        Hindenberg appointed Hitler as Chancellor and then the Nazis, with the acquiescence of every party in the parliament EXCEPT SPD pushed through the Enabling Acts, giving the government “extra-constitutional” powers, meaning giving the Nazis Party extra-governmental powers which they immediately used to outlaw the SPD (the KPD had already been outlawed, with its deputies arrested, killed, or in hiding).

        This is kind of basic stuff to understanding the rise of fascism. The Nazi Party never obtained a stronghold among German workers, or in German working class organizations, and so moved to pulverize all independent workers organizations and substitute Nazi govt/party formations in their place.

        Apparently you’re not exactly concerned with getting the basics right.

      • johncmcleod Says:

        “More contentious has been the relationship between workers and the Nazi Party. Recent research has revised the impression of working-class immunity to Nazism: around 55 per cent of SA stormtroopers came from working-class backgrounds and the Nazis made substantial gains from working-class communities in parts of Saxony, especially around Chemnitz. Around 40 per cent of members of the Party seem to have been of working-class origins; similarly 40 per cent of the Nazi vote came from workers and one worker in every four voted for Hitler in July 1932.

        There is little correlation between the percentage of workers in a community and the level of support for the NSDAP, though there is a slight positive correlation between the percentage of employed workers and the size of the Nazi vote. In 1930 some 3 per cent of Nazi votes came from former KPD and 14 per cent from former SPD voters (July 1932, 2 per cent and 10 per cent respectively); and the number of workers voting for the National Socialists in the first Reichstag elections of 1932 was greater than the number of workers voting for the SPD or the KPD individually (though not than the number voting for SPD and KPD combined).”

        http://www.johndclare.net/Weimar6_Geary.htm

        I’m not trying to argue that the workers were the base of the Nazi party, or that most workers were Nazis, but Hitler and Mussolini enjoyed plenty of support from the proletariat, more so than most Marxists like to admit. And in America, it’s even more pronounced, as the white working class becomes increasingly Republican (and particularly pro-Trump). I think a lot of Marxists underestimate the appeal of nationalism to the working classes. As the current European crisis plays out over the years, the opportunity will be ripe for a socialist revolution, but I think we’ll also continue to see the rise in popularity of right-wing extremism among the working classes there. While the political center in Europe is slowly disintegrating, the potential socialist revolutionaries will probably be thwarted by an alliance between the conservatives and liberals that would be more than capable of suppressing a revolution.

  7. jim drysdale Says:

    johncmcleod says:
    I think this is one thing Marx got wrong: he didn’t foresee how well the media and politicians would be able to convince the working classes of a ‘false consciousness.’
    from jim drysdale
    Wrong john. It is value itself (abstract labour as value) that, as of yet, befuddles the working class. You can look as hard as you like but not one atom of a use value reveals its value. Most commentators on capitalism have not understood Marx. Indeed, as the crisis of capital (capitalism deepens), bourgeois propaganda etc. antagonises the working class. Capital, capitalism,capitalist society IS NOT human. ie. this society is not consciously created by human beings, not a society fit for human beings. The thought of Marx continues to terrify the capitalist class. We are in a period (have been for some time) where capitalist relations of production are increasingly a fetter on the growth of the bosses’ profits. ie capital itself undermines the process of capital accumulation. Marx shows that historically the social form of labour dialectically evolves. eg slave labour, serf labour and currently abstract labour as value. When the social forces of production (FOP) become fettered by existing relations of production (ROP) then begins a period of social revolution. So, as Marx reveals, no matter what the bourgeoisie do or say the best that they can hope for is delay. (that delay includes eg the 20th century). Yes, berate the bourgeois for eg their attacks on the global working class. For anti-capitalists etc, the priority is to understand ‘capital’. Understanding moves thought beyond wish lists and moral argument.
    jim

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