Marx: Not Destroy Capitalism, But Capture It
but, really, taking over capitalism isn’t even necessary
People, including Marxists, routinely misapprehend Karl Marx’s attitude towards capitalism. He did not loathe, hate, or abhor it as a system of production. In that respect, he had nothing but praise for capitalism.
Precisely because of its productive power, he understood capitalism to be a necessary stage of social development on the way to a better world. The advent of capitalism as a form of production of goods and services made scarcity a thing of the past.
Yet, though capitalism had overcome the problem of scarcity, the workers who were employed in those capitalistic enterprises (in Marx’s time) endured lives of horrible deprivation. To change that, Marx was convinced that the workers would have to capture the capitalist system, to wrest control of it from the owners of capital, in order to use its productive power for their benefit. Destroying that form of production would be counterproductive to that end.
It is often stated that history has proved that Marx was wrong. Through unions and legislation, following World War II workers in capitalist nations were able to achieve more than a merely decent standard of living without taking over the means of production itself. From the last quarter of the 20th Century to the present, however, those gains have been slowly but constantly eroded while the ‘investor class’ has flourished as never before.
What is to be done?
Marxists still call for a forcible takeover of the economic system by ‘the people’ (or a revolutionary vanguard who would ‘achieve the people’s best interests’). These days, that can only mean a takeover of the government by force. In Marx’s time government was much more separate from the economy; nowadays it is part and parcel of the economy as a system — and the only significant part of it the vanguard could actually take over: capitalism as a way of doing business has become too nebulous to be physically occupied.
Social democrats call for a democratic takeover of government to foster policies and programs to benefit ‘the people’. Unlike the Marxist position, that is, in Liberal terms, a just solution.
Politically, that solution runs into liberty. Whether socialists think it is a valid position or not, many sincere Liberals are convinced that using government to achieve those ends would, ipso facto, entail a loss of liberty that is too great to justify any material gains that might ensue from it.
It is possible for social democrats to win through the democratic political process. Personally, I would take that to be an improvement over the status quo.
Still, there is a better way. The social democrats would use government (i.e., taxing, borrowing, and regulating) to end poverty and increase sustainability. There is a way to achieve those ends without using government — without taxes, borrowing, or regulations. That means other Liberals would have no reason to oppose it politically.
This solution goes directly to the source: money. Money is the solution to ending poverty. Ensuring that all citizens would have sufficient money to eliminate poverty — without using taxes or public debt — in a way that is environmentally sustainable — without regulations or any changes in behavior — all with no limit on income/wealth — without anybody ‘taking over’ anything is the ultimate Liberal dream come true. This proposed solution would do all that, and more — through (in the U.S.) a single Act of Congress.
“For Crying Out Loud, Accept That A Solution Actually Exists” (a “3 min read” — including options for further reading — here in Medium)