The End of Capitalism and Beyond

The End of Capitalism and Beyond

According to Marx, the classical economists misrepresented the economic sys­tem insofar as they considered money a mere medium of exchange. Commod­ities rarely trade for other commodities directly; instead, they are sold for money, which is then used to purchase other commodities. Symbolically, the classical representation of production and exchange is C-M-C, where C stands for commodities and M stands for money. But Marx held that in a cap­italist economy, the process is M-C-M', where M' h M. In other words, money (capital) is accumulated to purchase (or produce) commodities, which are then sold for an even greater sum of money. M' is M plus profit (surplus value), and ultimately the drive to accumulate, as we have seen, produces the kind of internal contradictions that lead to the demise of the economic system. Marx's writings firmly establish this belief in a world revolution, although he rarely discussed the nature of the postcapitalist world. We know that the "new" society was to be a communist one in which bourgeois private property would no longer exist. Marx speaks of ... communism as the positive transcendence of private property, or human self-estrangement, and therefore as the real appropriation of the human essence by and for man; communism therefore as the complete return of man to himself as a social (i.e., human) being—a return become conscious, and accomplished within the entire wealth of previous development. This communism, as fully developed naturalism, equals humanism, and as fully developed humanism equals naturalism; it is the gen­uine resolution of the conflict between man and nature and between man and man— the true resolution of the strife between existence and essence, between objectifica-tion and self-confirmation, between freedom and necessity, between the individual and the species. Communism is the riddle of history solved, and it knows itself to be this solution (Manuscripts, p. 135).
In The Communist Manifesto, Marx spoke of communism as a revolution­ary new mode of production, and he described the general characteristics ap­plicable to this new mode:

1 Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2 A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3 Abolition of all right of inheritance.
4 Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5 Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6 Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the state.
7 Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state, the bringing into cultivation of wastelands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8 Equal liability of all to labor. Establishment of industrial armies, espe­cially for agriculture.
9 Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abo­lition of the distinction between town and country by a more equitable distri­bution of the population over the country.
10 Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial pro­duction, etc.

This ten-point program raises a number of questions as to implementation and operation, but Marx never broached the subject. Obviously he saw his task as the analysis of capitalism and its internal contradictions, and appar­ently he preferred to leave the building of new societies to others. Conse­quently, after Marx's death the door was left ajar for considerable controversy and disagreement over the applied aspects of his political economy. The bitter battle near the turn of the century between moderate Marxian revisionists, such as Eduard Bernstein, and the more militant Leninists attests to the in­ability of Marx's theory to give a clear course of action deducible from the theory itself. Bernstein admirably summed up the genius and the pitfalls of Marx's writings this way:

A dualism runs through the whole monumental work of Marx... the work aims at being a scientific inquiry and also at proving a theory laid down long before its draft­ing. Marx had accepted the solution of the Utopians in essentials, but had recog­nized their means and proofs as inadequate. He therefore undertook a revision of them, and this with the zeal, the critical acuteness, and love of truth of a scientific genius___But as Marx approaches a point when that final aim enters seriously into question, he becomes uncertain and unreliable—It thus appears that this great sci­entific spirit was, in the end, a slave to a doctrine (Evolutionary Socialism, pp. 209-210).