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  #1  
Old 16 February 2009, 06:08 PM
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Reading Karl Marx on consumer debt

http://www.snopes.com/politics/quotes/consumerdebt.asp
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  #2  
Old 16 February 2009, 06:15 PM
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It doesn't sound much like Marx. Although I suspect the person who is attributing this to him has an agenda.
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  #3  
Old 16 February 2009, 06:17 PM
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Ponder

I'm sure it's just a bit of modern satire, but I hold out the possibility that it could be vaguely similar to a passage that actually does appear in the book.
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Old 16 February 2009, 06:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
Comment: "Owners of capital will stimulate the working class to buy more
and more of expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take
more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable. The
unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks, which will have to be
nationalized, and the State will have to take the road which will
eventually lead to communism."

Karl Marx, Das Kapital, 1867


Did he actually write this in his book?
I'm teaching Marx to my intro class right now and this does not at all sound like him. It's my understanding that communism (or socialism) only comes about with the rising of the proletariat workers to come into conflict with those who own the means of production as a result of unfair labor practices by the bougeois.

Socialism is not something that those in power will just switch to because socialism and communism will undermine that power. It is something that is generally fought for from the bottom up. At least in theory.

Please correct me if I'm wrong.
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  #5  
Old 16 February 2009, 06:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
I'm sure it's just a bit of modern satire, but I hold out the possibility that it could be vaguely similar to a passage that actually does appear in the book.
Yes, I was wondering that. However, it could take some time to search for it...
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  #6  
Old 16 February 2009, 06:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarquin Farquart View Post
Yes, I was wondering that. However, it could take some time to search for it...
I was hoping to do that via Project Gutenberg, but I don't find the work listed there. Plus, the vagaries of translation might make it difficult to locate a similar passage in the original.
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Old 16 February 2009, 06:41 PM
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Wasn't the book originally "Das Kapital" because it was in German? The OP quote could be a VERY loose translation by someone trying to make Marx's typically murky verbiage much more stylistically tolerable
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Old 16 February 2009, 07:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
I was hoping to do that via Project Gutenberg, but I don't find the work listed there. Plus, the vagaries of translation might make it difficult to locate a similar passage in the original.
The Marxists have some of it up - but a cursory search reveals nothing.
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  #9  
Old 17 February 2009, 07:03 AM
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The German text is online:

Book I: Der Produktionsprozeß des Kapitals
Book II: Der Zirkulationsprozeß des Kapitals
Book III: Der Gesamtprozeß der kapitalistischen Produktion

But alas: It isn't searchable, and without even a hint in which book to look, it would be hard work to find a passage that might be translated into the text in the OP.

I agree, though, that it doesn't sound like Marx very much, especially - as Ellestar pointed out - the part about the state taking the road to communism.

Comrade Enrico
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  #10  
Old 17 February 2009, 09:41 AM
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It doesn't only not sound like Marx, it doesn't sound like anything written in 1867.

Quote:
stimulate the working class to buy more
and more of expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take
more and more expensive credits, until their debt becomes unbearable.
Sounds like 2009 language and terminology to me.
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  #11  
Old 26 February 2009, 12:24 PM
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This is definitely a fake.

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/to...cle5527135.ece

Quote:
According to the Marx quote, this means communism will not be far behind. Except, of course, Marx didn't say that. The quote is a fake. You just can't trust those bankers.
For all I remember, Marx didn't believe that communism can happen in any single country as other countries won't let it happen (by looking at Cuba/US relationships, I can't help but agree). In fact, I think the major advancement of Lenin was that he believed that it can happen due to the fact that major powers are so busy fighting each other.
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  #12  
Old 27 February 2009, 02:59 PM
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First time it was e-mailed to me, I thought it sounded suspicious, especially considering the fact that in Marx's time, no one used the word "technology", and the working classes' main problem was to get enough to eat, not purchasing expensive goods or houses, or borrowing credit from banks.

It is a hoax, no doubt about it - and one specifically written to criticize the state's intervention in the financial crisis. It has a distinctive reek of neo-con rethorics to it, but as to know who penned it...

The sad thing is that it still gets forwarded around by thousands as a genuine Marx quote.
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  #13  
Old 28 February 2009, 10:41 AM
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Read This!

The earliest reference I could find on Usenet was this post on comp.os.vms dated 29 January 2009. And the oldest reference I could find anywhere was this New York Times blog post dated 18 December 2008. Of all the analysis on this alleged quote my favorite was Megan McArdle's blog post titled "Faux Marx" on the Atlantic dated 14 January 2009. Emphasis mine:
Quote:
Laura of 11D says this quote is making the rounds of Wall Street.

Brian
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Old 28 February 2009, 03:55 PM
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The biggest issue that I see is that Marx didn't get anywhere near the point to where getting indebted was the bad thing. He stopped at money itself being a bad thing because it became a commodity unto itself, a thing without intrinsic value that came to have one simply because people chose to give it. And Ellestar is totally right that he saw the way that communism would take over was via bloody revolution, not through the back door. This back door mentality is just silly given the way that England in particular operated at the time. This was still a nation whose answer to indebtedness was to throw the person who owed money into a special kind of work camp until they were able to pay things off.
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  #15  
Old 14 April 2009, 01:41 PM
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I'm pretty sure in 1860's Britain, owning your own house was a sign you *weren't* working class. I don't think banks were too keen on giving mortgages to working class people back then.

And, of course, banks went bust all the time, and none were ever nationalised. This one a year before that was apparently written, for instance. Went bust, owing a billion pounds in today's money, and bought down other banks and businesses with it.
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  #16  
Old 14 April 2009, 02:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squirt View Post
I'm pretty sure in 1860's Britain, owning your own house was a sign you *weren't* working class. I don't think banks were too keen on giving mortgages to working class people back then.
That was the red flag for me -- the quote seems to be discussing a type of consumer credit that didn't exist during Marx's lifetime, and that I don't think he'd have been likely to foresee.
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  #17  
Old 14 April 2009, 08:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellestar View Post
Socialism is not something that those in power will just switch to because socialism and communism will undermine that power. It is something that is generally fought for from the bottom up. At least in theory.
Edward Bellamy in Looking Backward: 2000 to 1887 pretty much seemed to think it might happen from the top down, when those in power achieved the ultimate capitalist monopoly and realised it would all be much more efficient if the state just ran that monopoly. (The monopoly itself is pretty much an inevitable outcome of the "pure capitalism" model of the time - still is, I believe, which is why the Monopolies and Mergers Commission and its US equivalent have to exist to prevent that outcome by regulation...)

Then again, his odd sort of passive consumerist socialism was a theoretical abberation even at the time, and opposed by others such as William Morris, or so the intro to my copy says. It certainly has far less engagement between "the workers" that are espousing the system, and the actual work done, than other models I've seen. Bellamy himself claimed it wasn't meant to be an ideal model, just a suggestion, and that the underlying ideas all made sense - which I don't disagree with as such, but the lack of engagement is odd, and the idea that it would all just happen peacefully and voluntarily is certainly a stretch.

(One interesting thing is just how popular that book was in its time - it was only the second novel published in the USA to sell over 1 million copies, apparently. The first was Uncle Tom's Cabin. Who'd have thought that the USA was built on a foundation of progressive social values that were once the popular stance, eh? That's not what I hear these days...)
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  #18  
Old 14 April 2009, 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lainie View Post
That was the red flag for me
Is that the people's flag, of deepest red?
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  #19  
Old 15 April 2009, 11:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard W View Post
Edward Bellamy in Looking Backward: 2000 to 1887 pretty much seemed to think it might happen from the top down, when those in power achieved the ultimate capitalist monopoly and realised it would all be much more efficient if the state just ran that monopoly. (The monopoly itself is pretty much an inevitable outcome of the "pure capitalism" model of the time - still is, I believe, which is why the Monopolies and Mergers Commission and its US equivalent have to exist to prevent that outcome by regulation...)
If monopolies were inevitable over time, and only regulations prevented them from occuring, then surely every industry would have one firm just on the edge of becoming an illegal monopoly. If anything, over time monopolies are likely to break up as competition finds it easier and easier to enter the field.

Quote:
(One interesting thing is just how popular that book was in its time - it was only the second novel published in the USA to sell over 1 million copies, apparently. The first was Uncle Tom's Cabin. Who'd have thought that the USA was built on a foundation of progressive social values that were once the popular stance, eh? That's not what I hear these days...)
How strange. Evidnce of the USA's former progressivism can be found in the popularity of two books, one anti-slavery and one pro-slavery? I'm not sure that progressivism means much if it applies to Bellamy's silly little fantasy.
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  #20  
Old 15 April 2009, 01:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
If monopolies were inevitable over time, and only regulations prevented them from occuring, then surely every industry would have one firm just on the edge of becoming an illegal monopoly. If anything, over time monopolies are likely to break up as competition finds it easier and easier to enter the field.
In the UK at least there are laws against unfair business practices to try to stop huge firms crushing any smaller ones as soon as they appear... and the small firms that do appear usually seem to end up bought out by a huge multinational anyway. There might be several different competing brands or shop names or restaurant chains or whatever, but if you look at the number of entities that own them, there's a tendency to fewer and larger ones. Monopolies were certainly something that Adam Smith recognised needed to be prevented by regulation in his original model. If they automatically didn't happen, then why would the Monopolies and Mergers commission exist? Is it your contention that it shouldn't exist, or that it doesn't need to?

Quote:
How strange. Evidnce of the USA's former progressivism can be found in the popularity of two books, one anti-slavery and one pro-slavery? I'm not sure that progressivism means much if it applies to Bellamy's silly little fantasy.
I put Uncle Tom's Cabin in as a point of information - I haven't read the book. I found it interesting that a book espousing socialism would have sold over 1 million copies and become the second-most popular novel in the USA a hundred years ago. I get the impression that wouldn't be the case now.

As for being formerly progressive, the USA was progressive. It had some of the most progressive social ideas going, when it was founded. OK, it was slower to get rid of slavery than some countries, and wasn't quite at the forefront of universal suffrage a bit later, and fell way behind on racial segregation, and these days tends to be behind Europe on a lot of social issues, but surely it was founded on progressive ideals rather than the far-right "Christian values" that seems to be the popular claim now?
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