A 21st-Century Marxism: The Revolutionary Possibilities of the “New Economy”

It should hardly be controversial anymore to say we’re embarking on the “end times” of…something. Maybe it’s corporate capitalism, maybe it’s civilization, maybe it’s humanity. Whatever it is, the unsustainability of the contemporary ancien régime, on the global level, has become obvious. Economically, socially, politically, and environmentally, the next fifty years will see major upheavals, which may end up dwarfing those even of the 1930s and 1940s—the Great Depression and World War II.

In this moment of crisis and uncertainty, as we wonder what might come next and if in the long run there is any hope for a positive resolution of the predicaments society finds itself in, we would do well to consider whether that old revolutionist Karl Marx has anything to say about our future. His intellectual fortunes, after all, have lately been on the upswing. As the greatest theorist ever of capitalism and revolution, it would be odd if his ideas couldn’t illuminate the prospects for social transformation in a time of acute crisis.

Marx was mainly an analyst of capitalism, not a prophet or planner of socialism or communism. He did, however, predict socialist revolution, even arguing that it was inevitable and would inevitably take the form of a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” This dictatorship, supposedly, would implement total economic and social reconstruction even in the face of massive opposition from the capitalist class, in effect drawing up…

Read more