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The view from 1980
on 28 May 2017
I bought this after finishing Paul Mason's "Post Capitalism" to get a different view. This was written originally back in 1980 and suggests Marx was wrong about some things that now seem right, such as "the theory that under capitalism economic crises will become more and more severe." Singer also suggests that Marx was wrong to say that the "The income gap between capitalists and workers will increase." If there is any clear consequence of neoliberalism it is that this income gap continues to widen however much it may have narrowed prior to the 1980s.
What Singer points out in his assessment is that the attempts at Communism in the 20th Century failed in part because of the "problem" of human nature. As I understand from this book it is an article of faith for a Marxist that when society changes so will human nature. Singer suggets that this is based on the idea that Marx discovered some scientific laws governing the direction of history. Singer argues that there is nothing scientific about Marxism, but rather that it is a philosophical system. Whilst behaviours and attitudes will indead change as economics circumstances change, there is no iron rule that behaviours will alter in a benevolent, altruistic way. If anything the lessons of history suggest otherwise. He ends by saying that "the construction of a free and equal society is a more difficult task than Marx realised."
That may be true, but the current severe and potentially terminal crisis in the capitalist world order makes this task more urgent than ever. Since Marx anticipated this his ideas are as important to consider as ever.