On Some Fundamental Issues in 21st Century Political Economy
Chapter 9: Karl Marx on Capital and Character
INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS For Marx, capitalism, or rather the capitalist mode of production, has its own laws of motion. From an Aristotelian point of view, it has a nature. That is, it actualizes itself, and develops its potentialities. Then it becomes more or less unnatural, or corrupted. It is overthrown, it dies. Marx assumes that he can understand capitalism’s nature, and grasp its inner essence and working. Hence, he believes he can see not only where it is, but where it is going, where it is developing, how it is actualizing itself and will eventually supersede itself.1 Just as one who knows a kitten knows, barring an unfortunate accident to the kitty, that it will develop into a cat, Marx thinks he can foresee the future development of the capitalist mode of production.2 So the subject matter of Marx’s work is capitalism. This is pretty much the same as Smith and modern economic thought (Smith, of course, terming his society as commercial society). However, Marx wants to help overthrow capitalism, or at least hasten its demise, since that will, of course, happen anyway. According to Marx, he is dealing with ‘the natural laws of capitalist production. It is a question of these laws themselves, of these tendencies winning their way through and working themselves out with iron necessity’ (‘Preface to the 1st Edition’: 91). Nonetheless, Even when a society has begun to track down the natural laws of its movement – and it is the ultimate aim of this work to reveal...
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