Professor Panitch obviously takes his Marxism seriously, and he makes the case for the resurgence of Marxist theories as the basis for a new-age political economy of socialism at the new Foreign Policy, "Thoroughly Modern Marx."
Here's a passage from the essay, where Panitch waxes eloquently on "the way to bring about radical change" amid global economic "crisis":
The irrationality built into the basic logic of capitalist markets—and so deftly analyzed by Marx—is once again evident. Trying just to stay afloat, each factory and firm lays off workers and tries to pay less to those kept on. Undermining job security has the effect of undercutting demand throughout the economy. As Marx knew, microrational behavior has the worst macroeconomic outcomes. We now can see where ignoring Marx while trusting in Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” gets you ....This is a man who's apparently made his entire academic career as a Marxist political scientist. He is, in other words, the real thing - an academic scribbler giving theoretical strength to madmen in authority.
Although he made the call “Workers of the world, unite!” Marx still insisted that workers in each country “first of all settle things with their own bourgeoisie.” The measures required to transform existing economic, political, and legal institutions would “of course be different in different countries.” But in every case, Marx would insist that the way to bring about radical change is first to get people to think ambitiously again.
I mean, what is this, workers need to "settle things with their own bourgeosie"? Well, of course that's simply a euphemism for the final solution to the capitalist problem. I wonder if this Panitch guy really believes his theories, or, rather, if he understands the implications of them. Read the whole essay. He genuinely wants to eviscerate markets, the price mechanism, and private property. Although radical leftists will disavow the connections (they're "progressives" nowadays), Marxist economic theory has been tried. With applied socialism we got the Marxist-Leninism of the Russian Bolshevik Revolution, and later the forced collectivization of the rule of Josep Stalin. We could go down the list from Chairman Mao to Comrade Fidel in Havana. The Marxist model is the foundation for all of these regimes, and since when did the "dialectical" get separated from the "socialism" in the theoretical model of dialectical materialism? I think today's economic "crisis" has engendered historical amnesia.
Forget all the revisionism. Forget Althusser and Gramsci, or whichever contemporary postmodernist who's detailed some unreadable post-revisionist synthesis of the foundational praxiology of Marxian orginalism - or whatever else you might find on left-wing syllabi throughout the academy. Marxists hate the individual. They hate the political economy of liberty. You cannot make a functioning society on the basis of increasing immiseration of the entrepreneurial/investing classes. It defies not just logic and imagination, but empirical reality. No economic system in the history of the world, not one, has provided a greater good for a greater number in terms of material well-being and human happiness. When leftists like Panitch excoriate markets as engendering the "worse macroeconomic outcomes," the solution is to eliminate the "microrational behavior" that led to that equilibrium in the first place. Translated: Kill the capitalist producers and consumers who multiplied by the millions make up the microfoundations of the political economy of human freedom.
But we don't have to rehash the classical economic arguments that have been reproduced in traditional economic tracts over the centuries to understand the poverty of socialism. (Pick up any mainstream economics textbook and you'll still see the basic suppy and demand curves of capitalism's unregulated market as the basis for economic growth and societal prosperity.) No, just look at those collectivist societies today that still cling to the burnt totalitarianism of the 20th century. The new Foreign Policy contains compendium of essays outlining and analyzing the current structural foundations for "the next big idea." It's all about transcendance!
But the most imporant piece in this entire edition is the photo essay by Tomas van Houtryve on Communist North Korea, "The Land of No Smiles:
Renowned documentary photographer Tomas van Houtryve entered North Korea by posing as a businessman looking to open a chocolate factory. Despite 24-hour surveillance by North Korean minders, he took arresting photographs of Pyongyang and its people—images rarely captured and even more rarely distributed in the West. They show stark glimmers of everyday life in the world’s last gulag.Be sure to check the entire slideshow, but these two images capture the deathly nightmare of the socialist vistion:
At his essay, Panitch dismisses President Barack Obama's environmental proposal for a cap-and-trade system as tinkering around the edges. Panitch exhorts his followers to think big!, to completely overcome "the logic of capitalist markets."
Yes, and when we do that, we'll too be wearing ski parkas in our state-run apartment buildings (if we were lucky enough to score a lottery ticket putting us at the top of the waiting list), while the streets outside remain totally desolate from society's absolute absence of economic intercourse and human freedom.