SUPER EXCELLENT ARTICLE!! Even though I was searching about the need of some deflation of market prices in the transition to a fully automatized society, I found VERY useful information in your article and what surprises me is how CONCISE and FULLY helpful is this article to understand our times, specially your last two paragraphs! I would like to know if you have something to conclude about the markets movements in this social transition...
“Marx and automated industry” is a part of a series of eight posts on Karl Marx. It seeks to describe Marx’s projection of a future socialist society with an economic foundation of automated industry, a projection that was rooted in Marx’s understanding of technological development as the driving force of human history. For Marx, ideas are important as dimensions of class struggles, but revolutionary classes promote emerging technological developments that are consistent with its class interests. Thus, revolutionary ideas are connected to real economic possibilities. Marx advocated scientific socialism, based on observation of economic developments, in contrast to utopian socialism, which advocates new forms of human living that have no possibility of emerging from existing conditions.
I will focus here on the last two paragraphs of “Marx and automated industry.” In the next to the last paragraph, I maintain that Marx discerned that the capitalist class would be so driven by the pursuit of profit that it would ignore the emancipatory implications of automation and would use its ever accumulating resources to forge a consumer society based in the acquisition of false needs. Without doubt, Marx’s projection has been confirmed, as patterns of consumption in the societies of the North have reached absurd levels, and an advertising industry has emerged to manipulate the consumerist impulses of the people. In other ways as well, the capitalist class has continued to demonstrate that it places its particular interests above the common good. In the period 1865 to 1980, it developed monopoly capitalism, seeking total control of domestic production and banking, undermining economic competition; and imperialism, seeking penetration of foreign markets, undermining the sovereignty of nations. Moreover, since 1980, it has turned to neoliberalism, financial speculation, and new forms of intervention in the neocolonized regions, undermining necessary regulation and promoting global political instability. The global capitalist class places humanity and the earth at risk in its unrestrained pursuit of profit.
In the final paragraph, I note that Marx believed that the working class would understand the emancipatory implications of automation, and it would act to establish a socialist society on a foundation of automated industry. Marx’s projection has not come to be. I think the problem was that Marx, although he understood that capitalism and colonialism are intertwined, underestimated the significance and importance of colonial domination. This limitation in Marx’s perspective is rooted in the fact that he wrote from the vantage point of the popular movement in Western Europe of 1830 to 1871. Marx died in 1883, before the emergence of national and social liberation movements in Africa and Asia. Such movements had emerged in Latin America, but located in Europe, it was difficult for Marx to discern their potential as popular revolutionary movements. Accordingly, Marx underestimated the capacity of the capitalist world-economy to use the superexploitation of the colonized and neocolonized regions as a material base for the core societies.
The superexploitation of vast regions of the planet made possible not only the satisfaction of the genuine needs of the popular classes in the core of the world-system, but also the creation of false needs, establishing consuming societies in the core. Thus there emerged a social phenomenon in which the people of the core have a style of life separate from and above the vast majority of humanity, generating in the peoples of the core a feeling of superiority. These dynamics facilitated the evolution of the working class and popular struggles in the core in a reformist direction, undermining their revolutionary potential.
As a result, the torch of revolutionary leadership passed to the anti-colonial and anti-neocolonial movements of the Third World. These movements were divided between reformers, who were allied with core interests; and revolutionaries, who sought to break the exploitative core-peripheral relation rooted in colonialism and to establish an alternative and more just and democratic world-system. The Third World revolution of national and social liberation lifted up charismatic leaders who reformulated Marxism-Leninism from the vantage point of the colonized. Thus, we can see today an evolution in the Marxist perspective: from Marx to Lenin; and to Mao, Ho and Fidel; and to Chávez, Evo, and Correa. For various blog posts on the evolution of Marxism-Leninism, see the category Marxism-Leninism and its evolution.
From the perspective of Marxism-Leninism as it has emerged in the Third World project, one can reformulate Marx’s projection and envision a socialist world-system, in which science and technology provide the foundation for ecologically sustainable forms of production that satisfy human needs, and in which an interstate system respects the equality and sovereignty of nations, each of which is governed by delegates of the people. It is this reformulated Marxist vision that the revolutionary movements of the Third World today are seeking to make real.
Please visit the series of posts on Karl Marx:
“Marx and the working class” 1/6/14;
“Marx illustrates cross-horizon encounter” 1/7/14;
“Marx’s analysis of political economy” 1/8/14;
“Marx on human history” 1/9/14;
“Marx on the revolutionary bourgeoisie” 1/10/14;
“Marx on automated industry” 1/13/14;
“Marx on the revolutionary proletariat” 1/14/14;
“The social and historical context of Marx” 1/15/14.
Once in the category Karl Marx, scroll down.