It does help if you actually understand what Marx said

Our alternative title could be that Giles Fraser is an ignorant twat:

Viscount Ridley argues that capitalism makes us better people as well as richer. It is a morality driven by enlightened selfishness in which my own interests are only advanced if I look after yours as well. This is supposed to be the moral case for market capitalism: I only get to be extremely rich if you get to be a little bit richer too.

Well, no. This has been studied, in detail. Entrepreneurs get to keep around 3% of the total value created through their activities. Near all of the rest goes to the rest of us as the consumer surplus. The basic contention by Fraser is therefore wrong. Just not a description of this universe.

This is the economy of the “invisible hand”, powered by greed, where my own desire for ever greater wealth drives ingenious new opportunities for this magical thing called growth, which in turn creates greater wealth for everyone else. Yes, capitalism is basically a superstition, a belief in the power of magic. I’m with David Attenborough: “We have a finite environment – the planet. Anyone who thinks that you can have infinite growth in a finite environment is either a madman or an economist.”

Again this has been studied extensively, the economists are right. That limitation of the environment does indeed mean that we cannot have unlimited physical growth. Sure, that limit might be a lot further away than many think but it is still there. But economic growth isn’t merely physical growth. GDP, say, is the value added in an economy. Increasing the value added is thus growth. We can do that without abstracting more from the environment. Thus, the environment is not the binding limitation upon growth. This is exactly the same as Herman Daly’s qualitative growth.

Of course, I am not the first person to argue that capitalism is based on a superstitious belief in the efficacy of magic. Marx’s Kapital, one of the great works of 19th-century atheism, is a genius attempt to disabuse us of this dangerous mystification. Of course, the god in Marx’s sights is not the one of the Bible but one celebrated by the philosophers of Enlightenment rationalism: the god of capital.

Idiot. Marx’s point is that there will be more such growth without capitalism. That was also the promise of the scientific socialism of the Webbs and the Fabians.

Those with money are able to own the means of production and the labour needed to operate it. Throughout the whole cycle of making things and selling them on, the capitalist creates more money for themselves by getting employees to work longer and longer hours. This extra labour creates surplus value that results in profits for the capitalist.

Again we come up with this comparison with the real world problem. Working hours have fallen over this couple of centuries of capitalism. They’re still falling too. A theory which fails comparison with the facts fails as a theory.

Profit here is intrinsically exploitative – it does not exist without the extra hours worked by the capitalist’s employees.

Again, failing at the real world. The current contention is that the capital share of the economy is growing. Yet working hours are falling. Thus it cannot be true that increasing profits comes only from increasing hours.

All of this becomes more and more obvious as global capital seeks new and ever more ingenious forms of concentration.

Interesting that global inequality is falling at the same time, no?

As with Mark Twain, it ain’t what you don’t know that’s dangerous it’s what you’re certain is that ain’t.

17 thoughts on “It does help if you actually understand what Marx said”

  1. A theory which fails comparison with the facts fails as a theory, unless it’s warble gloaming of course, when everything’s made up and the facts don’t matter.

  2. The Guardian generally promotes this sort of sub-Marx leftist miserablism.

    It doesn’t even have the ambition that the working man will some day live in plenty on a three day week, once the bourgeoisie have been slaughtered of course.

  3. My favourite single example is microchips. They got faster without using any more materials.

    And how does non-capitalism do? How good are all those Olympic stadia in terms of wasting natural resources? Or those millenium museums that closed after a few years? How much petrol is used by people driving to libraries, while capitalism lets you download a book?

  4. The comments under the article provide the usual view into the mind of the left-wing simpleton. The comments that communism didn’t kill millions in China, how people don’t work because they want to but because they have to (in a time when not working in the west delivers a lifestyle unimaginable 100 years ago) and so on just show how far the battle against socialism has yet to go.

    They really deny reality in their views.

  5. This is why I say the eco-freaks are the third–or middle –leg of CM scum. After anti-white hatred ( “anti-racism”) and anti-family ( “LGBTXYZABC etc,etc-now increasingly mired in schisms as with the cancelled femmi-freak thread above and increasingly abandoned for their alliance with the beard-boys) the eco-freaks are the third and in some ways most dangerous gang of all.

    We do not exist in a finite world and David Attenborough can go piss up his leftist BBC-sucking leg.

    The comments are only to be expected from shite Gladrag readers. If such evil and fatuous views have wider support that is because we have sat back while leftscum have infiltrated everywhere

    Purge. Purge Now. Purge Wide. Purge Big. As Steven Seagal put it in “Hard To Kill”:

    “Then wasn’t the time. Now’s the time. Now we’re gonna get ’em. Every fuckin one of ’em.”

    That’s the spirit.

  6. — “Yes, capitalism is basically a superstition, a belief in the power of magic”

    ‘Dr Giles Fraser is priest-in-charge at St Mary’s Newington in south London’

  7. Regardless of the division of spoils between the producer and the consumer, in a market system the producer only gets richer if he finds a way of enriching the consumer.
    I doubt Mr. Attenborough would have made any documentaries without at least the expectation of payment.
    I doubt many Guardian articles would be written without a similar expectation of payment.
    So the Guardian proves Matt Ridley’s point- it produces it’s wonderful articles to enrich its readers, and enriches it’s writers too.

  8. This is the economy of the “invisible hand”, powered by greed, where my own desire for ever greater wealth drives ingenious new opportunities for this magical thing called growth, which in turn creates greater wealth for everyone else. Yes, capitalism is basically a superstition, a belief in the power of magic. I’m with David Attenborough: “We have a finite environment – the planet. Anyone who thinks that you can have infinite growth in a finite environment is either a madman or an economist.”

    An absolute cornucopia of non sequiturs.

    1. This is the economy of the “invisible hand”, powered by greed

    No. Powered by ‘self-interest’. ‘Self-interest’ is not the same as greed, even a Guardian reader should be able to understand that.

    2. this magical thing called growth

    A ‘magical thing’ which clearly exists all over the world and which provides the wealth for the most generous welfare states in human history, and for millions of useless individuals to lounge around agitating for its destruction.

    3. Yes, capitalism is basically a superstition, a belief in the power of magic

    Well, no. It’s a recognition of reality (that growth is not a magical thing, it obviously exists and it obviously enriches entire nations). That fat cretin Murphy babbled about this ‘belief in capitalism’ this week – is it the Red Hot Take for the Left this week?

    4. Anyone who thinks that you can have infinite growth in a finite environment is either a madman or an economist.

    Who mentioned “infinite” growth? Straw man. We just need growth which is better than the socialist alternative (not difficult) and the results of which enrich more people than growth under socialism would (again, not difficult).

  9. “Yes, capitalism is basically a superstition, a belief in the power of magic”

    As opposed to belief in non-capitalist prosperity, a phenomenon which has been observed exactly….. zero times in a century of dozens of serious attempts.

  10. Look, these guys tell lies for a living. It doesn’t matter whether they write as Giles Fraser, Polly Toynbee, or Exotic Icecream. They lie. It’s what they do.

    The interesting question is whether The Great Spud consciously lies or whether he believes the dung he publishes.

  11. Perhaps what most influenced Karl Marx was the words of the hymn The Old Hundredth coming from his next door neighbour. This was the Edwin Willis who installed the organ at The Royal Albert Hall. All together now, “All people that on Earth do dwell….” Morgan Kavanagh of Co. Carlow, his house mate in 1851 in Dean Street would have approved.

  12. Bloke in North Dorset

    You’re wrong about him, he’s not an ignorant twat, he’s a supercilious ignorant twat.

    There’s not many I say this about, but the thought that a part of my bbc tax funds his soap box makes me weep.

  13. Paul Ormorod ended his blog this week with the line that after all the natural experiments over the last 100 years “believing in socialism is like believing that the earth goes around the sun” which made me think we should go one step further and call Corbyn, Richie and their ilk “flat earthers”. You never know it might catch on and mockery works better than vitriol.

  14. the thought that a part of my bbc tax funds his soap box makes me weep.

    The telly tax is entirely voluntary.

  15. Giles Fraser makes me look thin – or maybe if I, an unrepentant capitalist (as a self-employed guy) stood next to him one might see that he is fat.
    I believe that capitalism makes us *less bad* people by making us richer since we noi longer feel a need to steal and kill to feed our children- and the aristocrats I have met have been far better mannered than the plebs.

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