You know the economy is on its last legs when a Harvard Business School publication reminds us that Karl Marx might have been on to something in his critiques of industrial-age capitalism.
In an article headlined “Was Marx right?” economist-consultant Umair Haque notes that “the truth might just be that the global economy is in historic, generational trouble, plagued by problems the orthodoxy didn’t expect, didn’t see coming, and doesn’t quite know what to do with.”
Haque isn’t a commie or even a socialist like Albert Einstein. He’s an idealistic capitalist who believes that “prosperity as we know it might be lazily circling the glowing inner rim of the burbling event horizon of a massive supergalactic black hole.”
One after another of Marx’s bugaboos are briefly discussed, with Haque conceding that prosperity is withering in the face of worker exploitation, worker alienation, stagnating rates of profit, commodity fetishism and other maladies, some insidious and others obvious. I like Haque’s take on Marx’s notion of false consciousness:
According to Marx, one of the most pernicious aspects of industrial age capitalism was that the proles wouldn’t even know they were being exploited — and might even celebrate the very factors behind their exploitation, in a kind of ideological Stockholm Syndrome that concealed and misrepresented the relations of power between classes. How’s Marx doing on this score? You tell me. I’ll merely point out: America’s largest private employer is Walmart. America’s second largest employer is McDonald’s.
The fact that Haque posted this where he did is a good indication of how bleak the big picture looks even to establishment insiders. I wonder if anyone showed the piece to Harvard Law School grad Barack Obama.