In previous posts on the philosophy of Young Marx, I have written about Marx’s ideas concerning the relationship between Man’s economic condition and his spiritual condition, and about how different workplace environments lead to the development of different class consciousnesses.
Broadening our perspective from the economic determination of the individual and of classes, we can also see that, since individuals comprise the State, the State is also determined by economic conditions… “The entire internal structure of the nation, itself, depends on the stage of development achieved by its production and its domestic and international commerce,” says Young Marx, writing with Engels in The German Ideology.
Broadening our view still further, we can see that the influence of Economic Modes continues to radiate even beyond the boundaries of the State… As the boys say in their book, “the relations of various nations with one another depend upon the extent to which each of them has developed its productive forces, the division of labor, and domestic commerce.”
Furthermore, the different nations will be inexorably drawn into conflict over the making, buying, and selling of goods and services. This is actually a NEW type conflict for nations… For most of human history, profit-making and the conducting of non-war, non-government business was a matter between individuals or relatively small private enterprises. Today, however, profiteering has become a fierce competition between nations. And this unceasing, state-against-state economic battle takes place– not merely through intense competition for resources and markets– but via tariffs, quotas, and yes, wars.
Of course, all my good readers know that where there is conflict in Marxist thought, there exists somewhere nearby a good Hegelian Synthesis in the making. The intense international economic competition between States gives birth to a new leviathan that is neither this state nor that state, but a gigantic alien power whose strength and reach is beyond the ability for any one nation to combat. This new alien power is the World Market.
This power of the World Market can appear almost mystical… As Young Marx points out, it “is nothing more than the exchange of products”— and yet, “it rules the entire world.” More powerful than any army, the World Market “hovers over the Earth” […] “distributing fortune and misfortune with an Invisible Hand, establishing and overthrowing empires, causing nations to rise and to disappear.”
[I pause here to consider something that struck me as I digested, and accepted, this description of the great power exercised by the world economy… I wondered, if the “Invisible Hand” (to use the same Adam Smith term adopted by Young Marx) were stayed, if the power of trade was somehow neutralized… what force would rise to fill the void?… I mean, we all know Power Hates A Vacuum. I doubt the World Market’s replacement-power would be anything better than the Invisible Hand… It would almost assuredly be the Iron Hand of brute force.]
Young Marx states that another consequence of the World Market and the globalization of big business is that classes are created across the world “having the same interests in all nations.” One of these classes is the Capitalist Elite. Another is the Proletariat. They are naturally antagonistic to each other, with one class (the Capitalist) exploiting (in Young Marx’s view) the other (the Proles).
Young Marx believes that –with international classes established by the World Market, and with “the universal development of productive power and worldwide interaction”– revolution will also go global, and aristocracies and oligarchies all over the world will be toppled.
For Young Marx, who as we know views the world though the interaction of Hegelian dipoles, the revolution can only tend one way… toward the synthesis of Wealth and Poverty– a synthesis naturally annihilating both poles of property (the capitalist/landlord pole together with the pole of impoverishment), leading to a classless society and an economic system containing neither rich nor poor, but a community of equally well-off comrades. The future of the capitalist is doomed. The rise of the proletariat is inevitable…
After all, an older Marx will write of the proles, they “have nothing to lose but their chains.” Workers of the world unite!
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