Marxism in the twenty-first century: should we all be Marxists now?
We are ordinary people who would like to express an opinion and hopefully tilt politics in favour of ordinary working individuals.
As a solution to the political and social difficulties faced by nations within the western free market system (we avoid the term capitalism because capitalism involves a form of exploitative economic self-regulation not seen since the early twentieth century) the so-called political Left have discovered an audience which includes old socialists, minority groups and some of the disgruntled and indebted young. Often this traditional Left self-refer to Karl Marx or Marxism which guilds their ideas with a radical legitimacy. We would like to encourage politicians and journalists to avoid giving this traditional Left the endorsement of ‘Marxism’. They are undeserving of it and equally, it serves to polarise debate around the socialism versus capitalism narrative. This narrative is not relevant anymore but the implications of imposing twentieth-century socialist economics would be as catastrophic on the nation as re-adopting the exploiting self-regulation of nineteenth-century capitalism.
Karl Marx was as we are sure you know a political philosopher. His economics has over the last one hundred and fifty years become largely irrelevant. That said the concept of justice enshrined in all his writing has never been properly understood by the Left leaving a legacy of murder, destroyed lives and economies at the hands of false prophets and egotists, as Marx himself might have put it.
Marx recognised that human beings have species essence, the ability to plan and co-operate in pursuit of the survival of our species. The energy used which he called labour power eventually becoming mastered by various elites enabling them to enrich themselves at the people’s expense. The combination of economic reality and concocted legitimacy in institutions like the Church enabled wealthy elites to maintain their privilege because economic reality formed the basis for people’s consciousness making certain values and expectations legitimate. Eventually, however, consciousness matures until in Marx’s words the power imbalances or contradictions finally burst the economic system asunder. This is Marx’s explanation for revolution. The word privilege has been erroneously adopted as a term of class derision by the traditional Left without them fully understanding its origin or their own Parliamentary Party based privilege today.
In the twenty-first century, we must view our consciousness as working people within the context of a new economic reality. The global free market. In Britain, this economic reality underpins an essentially eighteenth-century political and public sector built by capitalism to promote the interests of capitalists. The bourgeoisie as Marx called them. Applying Marx’s notion of contradictions, it is, we argue, possible to view the state and the political and legal system as trying to restrain the kind of changed consciousness (one of equality and fairness) that is emerging within western working communities and they are thus creating the very contradictions that if suppressed give rise to violent revolution. The political system is doing this, and it applies as much to the left as the right, to protect privilege and power, just as it was set up to do.
Because the political system and its legal and state-ordered elements like local authorities can’t seem to adapt to the pressure from working people for more political involvement and fairness, they adopt several approaches a couple of which in conclusion we will explore here. The most obvious result of the state feeling the power of the people but being unwilling to yield real power to us is to offer policies that appease. ‘If people want fairness, we will give them fairness….in fact, we will ram it down their throats’ you can hear politicians saying from Tony Blair to Teresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. But this fairness is not based on mass consciousness it is based simply on the guilty conscience of the elite. Delivered from the top by politicians in their party based political ivory tower and endorsed by celebrities and people with financial privilege, it is seen by the working people for what it is, patronising political correctness. Arrogant meddling in the realities of working people. It’s not a real desire to politically empower working people but an excuse to ram home concocted fairness out of a guilty conscience rather than yield to the class consciousness of working people and open political power to the many, not the few. The political class fear people power as we would restrict their power and bring fairness to tax-payed funded public bodies like Parliament and the BBC.
To differentiate consciousness from a guilty conscience we offer an example. Teresa May, Emma Thompson, Emily Thornberry or Seamus Milne might be concerned about the fact that there are poorer people than them and want the state to do something about it. That is a bourgeois guilty conscience. They will be unable to comprehend however that there is unfairness in a system that makes them so much richer and more powerful than us and that needs dealing with too. That is working class consciousness.
One final observation and that is that in the absence of systems that actually do empower people, people will have no option but to vote for the goofball who best enshrines their view that politicians need taking down a peg or two. The Farage phenomenon created by the BBC as a foil for serious politicians like Blair and Cameron backfired because people no longer need a Cameron or a Blair. People want more political power. Trump is a product of the same phenomenon in the U.S. People are stuck with a political system that excludes them from power. The same phenomenon afflicts France and the EU in general.
People don’t want the guilt-based conscience of the Left and celebs pushing political correctness or the goofball guilt free politics of the right promoting Trump and a variety of other populists. People who in a truly Marxist sense have a raised collective consciousness for fairness and equality now want to have power. Power to the people.
Politicians on the traditional left and on the right need to understand that political change is in the air. Working people have good humane values and don’t need to be hectored by an expensive state run by privileged political parties. Making global corporations pay their way and reducing personal debts, will also empower working people. We want the freedom and choice of the free market reflected in our politics. That isn’t happening because the bourgeoisie of the political left and right don’t want to give up their eighteenth-century class privilege.
Blue Revolution. For the People, not the Party