Marx? The YAWN is no acronym. Just the mention of Karl Marx sends waves of weariness through people’s synapses, either through ill-informed misconceptions, or links with Communist or Socialist ideologies that (except for the corrupt) invariably result in the infliction of poverty or suppression of the general public. Neoliberal capitalists believe they’ve put Marx to bed, done and dusted. Marxist-moralists, politically outdated fuddy-duddies and King Cnuts of the militant Left now resemble stupefied solo desperados, standing at busy intersections wearing ‘The End Is Nigh’ placards with progress whizzing past in all directions. But to constrict Marx to these representations would be the gravest mistake for the state of today’s global economy and for all capitalists.
Marx’ call for the end of capitalism is not only more valid than ever, his analysis of what prevents it NOW offers something every capitalist dreams of.
The death of Marx
In the trend for right-wing politics, the Left are always denigrated. As they surged in public movements in nearly every country at the turn of this century, in the United States Trump (he wasn’t the first) hoodwinked blue-collar Americans to believe he was their new saviour, before slipping them a ‘Mickey.’ This gave license for every other political regime to emulate his clear prejudices and the remaining Left had to compromise to keep emergent right-wing wolves from the door. This tactic quenched the tsunami of public protest so dramatically, what were successful rapid gains in socialist or libertarian change – notably in Iceland, Greece, Spain and Italy – were reduced to flash-in-the-pan uprisings. Capitalism finally stood unassailable as everybody’s saviour, shackling all of society to protectionist fear and the new global cold-war.
The Labour left in the UK have many progressive policies but are marginalised by their own party, despite the palpable public outrage at the last two decades of damage wrought by overt right-wing politics, dressed up as centre-ground, to where the greatest exponents of democracy and multiculturalism now use prejudicial language and tactics against liberty, without any backlash. Slogans like ‘levelling up’ or any ‘moral’ response to the ravages of capitalist enterprise, even when the outrage is from all quarters, is jumped upon in media as a swing to the left in pejorative terms. While capitalists wreak the most heinous havoc in world history, above ground, their traumatised captives seem to have no other option than to cover their heads and constantly chant to their captors “yes, I believe in trickle-down, I believe in trickle-down.”
Since the global economy is a game of Hungry Hippos between the elite 1%, more people want an end to the machine that feeds them. Capitalists have to convince us that we are in constant crisis, our labour has no value and ‘the 99%’ depend upon their mythical philanthropy, while they strip the planet for all its worth. Every compelling ecological, political and economic proposal has fallen on deaf ears, leaving everyone confounded as to what is now realistic, or resorting to what has now been deemed ’lawless’ protest, when the real lawlessness is yet to descend.
The labour crisis and diminution of work practices, product quality and human rights being invaded by ‘democratic’ governments has forced campaigners to reassess what Marx predicted, because he made such thorough predictions for this eventuality. In him they see the greatest anti-capitalist and harbinger of its demise, its executioner. Overlooking the human elements that corrupted all former efforts to implement what Marx proposed for a fair society, regression to previous practices – workers owning the means of production, resurgent Trades Unions refuelling the unceasing struggle between the proletariat and bourgeoisie – seem to be the only fall-back resistance called for by the vast majority of society. But since the elite no longer need the public, all gloves are off and hypocrisies de riguer. But it is another subterfuge to demark this as a Right v Left conflict. It is now a 99% + 1% survival conflict and we need something (not someone) to take the conflict out of it.
Marx peered BEYOND this conflict. People of all political persuasions should take a second look at what he ultimately worked out, BEYOND ‘DAS KAPITAL;’ a potential where the validity of all formal and informal labour could be self-determined. But what leads to it and how we get there now is not entirely from Marx. His predictions extended beyond pure economics to mathematical analysis and anthropology. In Grundrisse – his notes on his previous works, published posthumously – he identified two obstacles that once surmounted would eventually render practical accounting inconsequential or redundant. His projection was analysis of the externalities of uninhibited generation of wealth that ultimately alters people’s values. The two obstacles preventing it can now be removed.
Glass half empty
Neoliberalism and financialization are the tools that finally allowed capitalists to put the nail in the coffin of Marx ‘Labour Theory of Value’ where workers supplied the means to produce profit. (See International Times article – ‘Economic Stockholm Syndrome’ ). This is something many economists and socialists still cling to as a governing principle. But the dynamics have changed; labour simply does not equate as a significant player in the global economy since the latter part of the last century. If the population was a bathtub and capitalism water, Pythagoras would not be able to wet his whistle and labour’s contribution to global wealth would be an annoying dripping tap. But he would be alarmed at the conservative displacement of the global economy. So should capitalists, it is counter to their instincts and advantage, but this is their trade off after all. Whatever catastrophe happens, the elite will just carry on enjoying the ride until it ends – we’re all going to die anyway. What more do they need?
On this basis, it is safe to say that capitalists incur far greater losses (potential profits) than the profits they currently generate by alienating 99% of the potential consumer-base (in broad terms). This sounds like a no-brainer, but politically and practically it is no longer consumer numbers that dictate wealth but abstract numbers.
This is why monetary economists offer no immediate definitive solution to resolve the abuses of money. Clamouring for another form of distribution merely sustains the machine and prolongs our agony. People who protest ‘cash is king’ conveniently forget who provides it. Is that enough for a dying world? Most seem to think not, so why do we continue to look to such people? All they offer is inadequate painkillers for a tooth that is long overdue being pulled. But is capitalism itself evil and its decay so unredeemable? The shocking answer is no. What Marx’ understood was what it would call upon to overthrow it, or for it to collapse. But his analysis reveals a way capitalism can be used to extinguish itself.
This century of expansive bloody conflict shows it’s a mistake to leave elite capitalists out of the picture. Without something that can initially improve the monetary economy, enabling capitalists to consider MORE PROFITABLE economic policies FREE from monetary restriction, but CONDITIONAL upon developing greener alternative industries, economic revolution will be far more protracted, if it happens at all. They must also be advantaged by the dual-choice of monetised and non-monetary options and be willing catalysts in this green revolution. A parallel economy could justifiably be an EITHER/OR dictatorship to replace their power, but folly and bloodshed lie down that route. Making it an inclusive no-brainer offering greater prosperity, but actively dissolving the current industries that generate the largest profits – fossil fuel, arms, drugs, pharma, financialization – averts such precious time-wasting. This then is no “de-growth” or ‘anti-profit’ stance, but a rapid expansion of options that dis-incentivizes, dilutes and dissolves monetary enterprise, as a matter of personal choice, without having to say goodbye to a single penny of existing monetary wealth. Still yawning?
Glass half full
Economists that more recently recognised the value of calculating externalities for economic enterprises are more likely to get what Marx led to than those that refuse to think outside of monetary and material exchange values. To them, abstract simply does not exist; everything must have tangible value even if those values are a fiction. In recent history, the analysis of externalities developed from: 1 – calculating the effects of an economic policy upon variables with NO PROFITABLE ECONOMIC VALUE related to projected profits / costs, social dynamics and the aims of an enterprise; to 2 – calculating how NON-VALUED variables could have PROFITABLE impact on an enterprise agenda, economically and/or politically. This forms a serious part of the manipulation of the global economy and population today. If we fail to take this calculation into consideration, we can no longer make reliable arguments of how economy works.
The lesson we take from calculation of externalities, (the socio-political displacement of economic agendas), AND the process of neoliberalism that exploits this, is that NON-VALUED INFLUENCES PASSIVELY CREATE PROFIT, evidenced by all the trades unions, strikes and protests currently fighting for fair recognition and plain practicality. Think of all the ways this happens socially and commercially and let the extent of that activity sink in a little.
Many Marxists claim this profit is the “surplus value of labour” in the production of material commodities and services contributing to the wealth of the elite. THIS IS A FALSE CLAIM. We know that price is no longer governed by labour, market supply, or demand. Its value is simply created as an abstract instrument to control the moving parts of that market affected by global variants in the financial market; not the material value of a commodity but the fluctuating and chosen monetary value for any fleeting transaction. The whole banking system, stock exchange, rent-economy and current energy crisis illustrate this, (the UK’s energy market a smash-n-grab raid in comparison with the effects upon continental Europe). So we are familiar with price and costs as abstract processes. THESE ARE DETERMINED BY SIMPLE CHOICE. Since price and wealth-generation became de-coupled from labour-value to an abstract form, this so called contribution of “surplus value” is now the equivalent of a child offering a billionaire a lollypop. This is what gives neoliberals the power to turn the whole globe into a gig economy, dismantling the staple industries set up for public good. We really have to get over ourselves on this misconception to be realistic. But the trick we have missed from this process is that ECONOMY IS A MATTER OF HUMAN CHOICE – INVENTION.
Trump’s trick of successfully subverting the interests of the left was a deceit, but can be turned on its head by the 99% to appropriate capitalists’ interests for their genuine good, not by deceit but, by collectively ASSIGNING an abstract system of accounting, not based on material value, to the unvalued labour of the 99%, forming an ACTIVE parallel non-monetary economy (PNME), then dictating its terms.
Resurrecting Marx (not Marxism)
What Marx ultimately pointed to is still valid. Not the workers owning the means of production (just one of the options the PNME would open up), but for PEOPLE in general to practically solve the two key obstacles Marx identified to individual generation of wealth and the revolution against capitalism. We can therefore re-establish what Neoliberalism invalidated, without having to lift a finger against neoliberals or the monetary economy.
The two obstacles…
1 – “The revolutionary overthrow of capitalism can and will only be achieved with the end of work as a means of social control—the abolition of the material grounds of the concept of abstract labour.”
The ‘material grounds’ here must refer to the material differences distinguishing abstract labour from formal labour – a dissolution of this prejudice. Those material grounds are manifest through money, payment and material or economic advantage. Since Neoliberalism has already brought us broader disparity than ever before, it has also brought us closer in concrete terms to this necessity. So, to achieve the abolition of this exclusivity it is pointless just to replicate money in any other form; the solution has to provide a realistic alternative to money whilst abandoning any form of ‘commodity-value,’ remaining separate from the monetary economy whilst engaging with businesses within it. The emphasis here has to be on abolishing the “material grounds.” Devising a method that is basic numeracy with no value, (as in equations, for the purpose of accountable language only) allows it to – 1) be autonomously generated; 2) not require pre-existing budgets or accounts to be deducted from; 3) be unrestricted; its generation only limited by the everyday activity of every personal choice, that can also combine towards collective goals (including requisition of major industries); 4) utilise collective-monitoring to protect against centralised or third-party control.
There are countless advantages over money in doing this. It can always outperform money and it is not subject to all its peripheral controls and effects. THIS CHOICE is what has been directly under our noses since the advent of biometric and other technologies, all perfectly functioning in ways we already accept and use. It affords us a sufficiently RAPID proposal for urgent economic revolution that leaves no-one out, utilising proactive options for individual choice. But it achieves way beyond what anyone can imagine when they constrain their thinking to only monetary and material values and practices. (See illustrated supplement ‘Turning Costs to Earnings: the Parallel Non-Monetary Accounting System’). A free, self-determining economy where exchange becomes abstract, almost immaterial.
2 – “…to revolutionise the bourgeois ECONOMICALLY.”
How? By using their core motivations to offer them this new colossal economy way superior to anything money can do, that frees them AND ALL PEOPLE of its constraints by its ability to also… 5) revolutionise how commercial industries generate profit, freeing up rapid green industrial transformation; and 6) radicalise the employer/employee relationship: since employers will no longer be paying wages and labour will have no cost to them, they will be offering terms and conditions, not dictating them. The wealth offered by the 99% will then effectively invert neoliberalism and re-validate Marx’ ‘Labour Theory of Value’ but in a different form.
The other advantage is that the international global community of the 99% can stipulate its terms of engagement without threatening the monetary economy. It will immediately empower communities to change their political systems; eradicate taxation; take back control of utilities and create a new green industrial revolution that supports every green initiative and publicly owned/run industry; be more profitable; and directly influence political choice at every level. It will economically engage every living individual. Think of its effect on dissolving international conflicts, globalisation and national protectionist politics; everyday people from all nations being lifted out of poverty overnight, no longer having to compete for the spoils of the rich or tolerate official corruption. Access to individual prosperity is what Marx envisioned would free us and get our minds away from commodity valuation to placing true value on people’s pursuits and qualities. The advantages of a simple numerical system and existing technology is its immediacy, no requirement for re-education, and its rapid effect upon the monetary economy.
This is how we “abolish the material grounds for the concept of abstract labour” and “radicalise the bourgeois, economically” making ALL labour rewarding, inclusive and most of all profitable not only for employers, but directly for the individual. Suppression of abstract and reduced labour already works passively but only marginally for the 1%; it’s their virtual accounting that makes them rich. Capitalists everywhere should be calculating what a resource-preserving system can open up for them when the 99% are freed of all the anomalies, controls and dependencies of money.
What Marx and others imagined but could not foresee was THE MEANS of achieving this WITHOUT any socially-conforming paradigm or community; or to do so without opposition from the bourgeoisie. The parallel non-monetary economy has always existed since people decided to trade goods and services – pre-capitalism. Until now it has not been possible to assign it an active role in generating personal and collective wealth. Now it can be achieved without any corroboration with the financial elite or the governments in their pockets. Even if they initially object, they will soon tag along when they see how rapidly a non-monetary system supplants ANY need for their money. They will diminish within the centrifuge of the spiralling expanding non-monetary economy and recovery not only of our ecosystem but the SOLVENT global monetary and non-monetary economies running side by side. This is what the abstract Parallel Non-Monetary Economy offers. This is the watershed moment for all human beings and our planet. It requires a watershed solution.
Why we need to talk about Marx NOW
ONLY by the general public coming together to form this economy will it happen, because the wealthy, for whom money still works, will never have reason to form it. They see its potential, hence some governments are already planning CENTRALISED crypto banking, but only as a greater control of monetary access and activity. Money’s usefulness will diminish even to the wealthy, as an inept way to generate profit in contrast to the rapidly expanding parallel non-monetary economy. We need to project, as did Marx, the effects this limitless non-monetary profit would have on all business of the elite and the 99%; calculate the extent and potential achievements of liberated formal and informal labour.
It only needs ONE sizable collective to adopt the new active Parallel Non-Monetary Economy (PNME) – such as the NHS, UN organisations, charities, international campaign organisations, autonomous communities, refugee camps, nations obliterated by natural or man-made devastation, communities oppressed by minority militants and drug lords, (their support networks would rather get wealthy from personal pursuits than putting their lives on the line to dispossess people and their communities). When people see what it achieves overnight, it will rapidly become the new abstract-based economy of the 100%, replacing all value-based economics and economic hardship once and for all time.
This is no Marxist dream, but it owes its viability to his genius beyond “Kapital” to an impartial, inclusive, autonomous economy. After that, let’s see where it takes us. All we need to do now is WAKE UP and smell the roses.
For more details on the effect of the PNME on social mobility and the monetary economy, see the book ‘A Chance For Everyone: The Parallel Non-Monetary Economy’ by this author, (Sounding Off UK Publications: 2020 revised edition); or follow these links for discussions / posts and comments / video / book downloads and illustrated supplements –
achanceforeveryone.com or Facebook Group – Parallel Non-Monetary Economy of the 99%