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Marx Was Right


Marx Was Right

Chris Hedges

On Saturday at the Left Forum in New York City, Chris Hedges joined professors Richard Wolff and Gail Dines to discuss why Karl Marx is essential at a time when global capitalism is collapsing. These are the remarks Hedges made to open the discussion.


[quote]A May 22 editorial in The New York Times gives us a window into what Marx said would characterize the late stages of capitalism:

As of this week, Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland are felons, having pleaded guilty on Wednesday to criminal charges of conspiring to rig the value of the world’s currencies. According to the Justice Department, the lengthy and lucrative conspiracy enabled the banks to pad their profits without regard to fairness, the law or the public good.[/quote]

If that’s the metric, then Capitalism was in the late effing stage from the off, because Adam Smith excoriated those buggers for those actions ~250 years ago!


“What comes next is up to us”. Alas, if only that were true. Yes, the monster will die; we will be left with the rotting corpse.


The impoverished narratives resulting from the systematics of predatory capitalism has the flip side of the wealth of diversity that has been suppressed. One example is Dr. Buffy Sainte Marie - she cuts to the chase at about min 20:00 - just one example


55 Billion a year is also spent on the prison system by the Feds in the USA. The “cannibalization” has also extended through the so called justice system with asset forfeiture and laws that allow the siezing of cash or assets based just upon suspiscion of crimes.

As example a person who sold flowers was flying across the USA to buy some and was found with cash on him. The Cash was seized because the police suspected he was a drug dealer. The person in question then had to go through the court system at HIS COST to demonstrate why the cash should be returned. A woman using medical marijuana had her home raided and all assets seized. Everything from cash to her TV and now must pay court costs to try and get it back.

Traffic fines , vagrancy fines and the like are regularly issued in jurisdictions because of revenue shortfalls by city councils due to the “must not raise taxes” mantra.

A number of police forces have been explicitly told that their budgets will be funded by the fines they collect encouraingig them to all but extort money from the poor and middle class. Debtors prisons have returned in spite of Supreme court rulings against it. This is accomplished by Creditors going to the courts to have the court issue an order to appear. Refusal to pay the orirginal debt does not result in jail time but refusal or the inability to respond to that court order does.

Now added to all that recent legislation was passed in the US and other Western countries that change the definition of what a bank deposit is. It now seen as an asset of the bank and not the individual depositor. This is so those deposits can be used to pay off creditors when there another banking crisis much as happened in Cyprus.

In the Ukraine , the Government is so destitute they are selling off everything to the “investor class” for pennies on the dollar from highway systems to farmlands to forests and railroads. Japan is taking South Korea and Tawain to the WTO for having passed restrictions on the import of food from Japan as those countries feel it contaminated with radiation. Japan insists this a violation of trade rules and claim that the radiation levels are permissible under Japanese law (after having RAISED those levels) and thus must be accepted by those nations.

To top THIS all off, the recent tensions between the West and Russia and China have been seen as many as a prelude to a world war with that war being promoted by the Banking interests in the West as the only way of preventing economic collapse as Russia and China head the movement to displace the US dollar as the worlds reserve currency and to set up a rival to the Western banking system.

One thing Marx could not have forseen was Nuclear weapons and I doubt he understood that the Capitalists would destroy the world and everything in it in an attempt to protect their system.


Marx started with the simple premise of change. Nothing has existed or will exist that does not have contradictions and possess the seeds of it’s own destruction. Dialectical materialism seeks to analyze by finding contradiction and the seeds of destruction which will eventually force change. However, change does not have to be for the better.

We live in a period of increasingly rapid negative and positive change. In other words we live in a revolutionary time. Politically and economically we are “in the twilight stages of global capitalism, which may be surprisingly more resilient than we expect, but which is ultimately terminal. …Marx knew that once the market mechanism became the sole determining factor for the fate of the nation-state, as well as the natural world, both would be demolished. No one knows when this will happen. But that it will happen, perhaps within our lifetime, seems certain.”

It is striking that both left and right authorities are predicting an imminent worldwide economic crash. As with the fall of Rome it could also mean a collapse of the technological infrastructure. Socialism for the rich cannot last long as there will come a Minsky moment too large for even government bailouts.

There is a common belief that the river of blood that is history has been slowly changing for the better. Technologically it has in terms of making life easier, longer and healthier for many. Socially though we are still savages preying on each other. Armed with weapons of mass destruction it is hard to believe that today’s power elites, even with good intentions, will not destroy the human race in their downfall. Globally imperialism runs amuck and many believe we are already in WW III.

Within a decade computers will be smarter than humans and computers will be designing and building themselves. It may very well be that if we, or they, can survive long enough utopia will be achieved through the rule of superior artificial intelligence.

In the meantime it is heartening that more and more people are waking up to the fact that capitalism cannot be reformed but must be destroyed and is destroying itself, as Marx deduced.

In the meantime, IBM’s Watson computer for President!


Nope, that’s really not supportable. IN GENERAL we’re easy-going, lazy, curious, satisficing, and very, very adaptable.

The ones you’re talking about are the ones under the tail of the distribution, not the ones under the hump.


I agree with everything you write except for the “in a decade, computers will be designing and building themselves.” Sorry, but all that stuff is just the hyperbolic speculation of our modern “information-manipulation phase” of Capitalism. it is no different than the predictions of “flying cars” and “passenger interplanetary space travel by the year 2000” was back when capitalists were obsessed with transportation technology.


You and others here generalize what is done by natural-born dominators, most of whom express sociopathic characters, to the ENTIRE human family.

When Gandhi was asked what he thought of Western CIVILIZATION, he answered that IT would be a good idea.

In the same way that today’s national narratives reflect views absolutely deferential to those in power (and necessary to drive their agendas through the full-court use of pervasive propaganda) while departing dramatically from the Truth, (and coveniently leaving out the views of persons on the receiving end of much of this domination)-you and those who follow a similar narrow view take what is true for a small segment of the population and use it as the yardstick from which to judge all others… like those who have no voice, no power, no agency and therefore have their talents, insights, and aptitudes largely rendered irrelevant.

For 7 years I’ve sought to explain what the missing FEMININE side of the Force–in everything from universal acknowledgement of right brain intuitive functions, to women’s equal representation in all decision-making bodies, to equal reverence for the FEMALE side of God-dess/Creation has meant in the way of creating and sustaining an asymmetrical foundation to society and all that it rewards, values, conditions, and validates.

The net loss of the counterbalancing OTHER half has wounded and limited the expression of the whole, and what is largely on view are expressions of this dysfunction.

This WISDOM is lost on most here, and it’s often pilloried by posters using the ridiculously miniscule example of what is done by a FEW women–drawn into the existing circles of power, that is, the temple that patriarchal capitalism built–and what results from their loyal allegiance to the throne and existing status quo. This, then, is taken as “evidence” from which to falsely assert that this behavior is what HUMAN nature consists of. In truth, it is nothing more than a limited adaptation to the existing paradigm, and that paradigm is founded primarily on YANG precepts like war, domination, violence, rank, and competitive advantage.

The OTHER half has, like CIVILIZATION yet to be tried. So all you Marx-quoting, misogynistic, unimaginative chanters of End Times really can’t see past your own phallic prisms.

OTHER is out there.

OTHER has been successfully implemented on this planet.

And if all the hoopla around masculine shows of force–primarily that of “the hero in battle” were seen for the homages to Mars, god of war, that they are… emphasis might be lent to OTHER archetypes that are part of the panoply of Creation.

Worship of this ONE is the great flaw.


Not true.

As Marx would probably say, it is the social relations of production that creates the notion that selfish behavior is innate human nature. In pre/non-capitalist societies, working in solidarity for the good of the community was the only way a human could imagine being.

The “failures” (better described as defeat, or “crying uncle”) of socialism so far have been due to a combination of total war and economic war - internally and externally - waged on them by the capitalists (and as always with war, loss of civil liberties) combined with the inability of socialist societies, at this point of the historical dialectic, to extricate themselves from the still-dominant capitalist narrative of man as "Homo Economicus.

But as Chris Hedges writes, the day will come when capitalism will be rendered as quaint and discredited as feudal rule by divine right, and people will wonder how anyone ever put up with such nonsense as capitalism. the big challenge will be avoiding extinction until that day can come.


You sound like a real educated psychologist with spelling like that! Hilarious.


Better than most here, albeit still blinded by the unexamined assumptions about male dominance within patriarchal societies, capitalist or otherwise.


No. it does not. WEAPONS, starting with gunpowder favor patriarchy.

You know little.


Petty? Feminists who speak of the missing side to the male dominant equation always get hit with nonsense like yours.

How many OTHER screen names have you used?


I am not sure how Mr. Hedges would characterize the current Chinese regime, where a single party directs a mix of state-owned and private companies. The Beijing politburo profess to be the heirs of Marx and Mao, and I’d say that they are. They do not regard the market economy as sacred or inevitable, but rather as a mechanism that is of use to the party at the current historical moment. They tolerate such “freedoms” so long as they are useful. But in the face of any threat to state power, there can be no doubt that the party would face no obstacles to reinstating a Stalinist style command economy. The weaknesses inherent in personality cults, and uncertain transfer of power within the hierarchy characteristic of the USSR , Cuba, and North Korea have been eliminated in the Chinese system in recent years, making for great efficiency. (Although that may be changing under Xi)

If you want to talk about a living alternative to the current stage of chaotic and self-destructive capitalism, the only working model is that of China, where capitalist modes of production have been harnessed by a tightly controlled state which does not answer to any kind of popular will. Not my idea of a workers paradise.


One quibble, there is no ‘economy’ there are many ‘economies’ and each can be altered to maximize the returns for the people who own corporations and trusts. By playing region and ‘nation’ (a dodgy term in the 21st century) against each other who knows how long the ball can be kept rolling. I’m guessing long enough.


As usual Chris Hedges is clear minded warning us of what’s happened, is happening and will happen. We are lucky to have people like him able to speak out on a small but loud platform. We better take appropriate steps to overturn the corporate state before it overturns us all.


IBM’s Watson is the Jeopardy champion and the Big Blue computer along with Deep Fritz are chess champions. Flying cars have existed for decades and now there’s Google’s computer driven cars. From Hedges article “Marx was keenly aware of capitalism’s ability to innovate and adapt. But he also knew that capitalist expansion was not eternally sustainable.” I am not speculating on artificial intelligence as it’s already here. AI is everywhere. Just google “artificial intelligence progress.” The experts might be wrong in thinking that computers will be able to think on their own within the next decade, or by 2029 as a google researcher predicts, but it is inevitable and lots of time and money is being spent on it. Then there’s quantum computers being developed that will make today’s computers seem like idiots.


That too is up to us. Beyond ideal utopian visions we need to be building community and in the process, the next system even in the belly of the beast. What other choice do we have? Community starts in your neighborhood including community gardens as cooperative work but smaller is not enough. We need to link up in a global movement because the reality is that we need government and we depend on infrastructure, but it must be Our government and Our infrastructure operated by and for Us. Capitalism is in collapse and is becoming fascism in its dying throes but we can and must be ready to provide a better working vision that provides a degree of security and that is sustainable – at least as long as life is still possible on our warming world.


Marxist revolutions has been beneficial to women more than any other group and there are many, many female Marxists as well as feminist male Marxists – of which I am one. I’m all for the empowerment and leadership of women but we still have to deal with the same economics and physical world.