Eνα debate για τον Κάρολο...

Το περιοδικό Νewstatesman φιλοξενεί στο τρέχον τεύχος του εκτενή αποσπάσματα απο debate στις αρχές του Μαρτίου μεταξύ του Eric Hobsbawm και του Jacques Attali- οι συστάσεις και των δύο ανδρών μάλλον περιττές...
Το βασικό θέμα του debate ο ρόλος του Karl Marx στον αιώνα μας... Το περιοδικό, πάντως, προς αποφυγή παρεξηγήσεων σπεύδει να επισημάνει ότι οι δύο συνομιλητές κατέληξαν σε ασυνήθιστα, αναπάντεχα -για το ακροατήριο τους- συμπεράσματα. Γι΄αυτό ίσως και ο τίτλος στο περιοδικό: THE NEW GLOBALISATION GURU?
Οποιος το επιθυμεί ας διαμορφώσει τη δική του άποψη για τις θέσεις των δύο συνομιλητών.

Hobsbawm: Here we are, paying our respects to Karl Marx.
Jacques Attali’s biography of him, which has sold like hot cakes
in France, is being translated in Britain. I’ve only done the biography
of Marx in The Dictionary of National Biography, in a
more modest way. When you consider, it’s really rather strange
that we should be here to talk to an enormous audience about it.
One can’t say that he died a failure in 1883, because his writings
had begun to have some impact in Russia and a political movement
in Germany was already in being under the leadership of
his disciples.

And yet, how could he have been satisfied with his
life’s work? He’d written a few brilliant pamphlets and the torso
of an uncompleted major work: Das Kapital. His major political
effort since the failure of the 1848 revolution, the so-called First
International of 1864-73, had foundered. He had established
no place of significance in the politics of the intellectual life of
Britain, where he had lived for over half his lifetime. And yet what
an extraordinary posthumous political success.

There is no other case of a thinker who left such a tremendous mark
on the 20th century.Yet, for more than 15 years after the
end of the Soviet Union, Marx was in no man’s land. Some journalist has
even suggested that we are here tonight to try to rescue him from
the dustbin of history. Marx today is incredibly influential.
I don’t think enough has been made of the BBC poll
which named him the most famous of all philosophers.

If you actually put “Marx” into Google you
will find that there are several million entries – in fact,
39 million when I tried it last time. He is much the largest of
the great international presences, exceeded
only by Charles Darwin and Adam Smith.

How are we to explain this sudden re-emergence?
First, I think, the end of the official Marxism of the USSR
has liberated Marx from the public identification with Leninism in
theory, and with the Leninist regimes in practice.

People have begun to notice once again that there are things
in Marx that are really quite interesting. And this, in a sense,
takes me to the second and main
reason: that the globalised capitalist world that
emerged in the 1990s was in some ways uncannily
like the world Marx predicted in 1848 in the Communist

This became clear in the public
reaction to the 150th anniversary of that manifesto
– which, incidentally, was a year of quite dramatic
economic upheaval in large parts of the world.
Paradoxically, it was the capitalists who rediscovered
Marx, more than others. The socialists had by
that time had the courage knocked out of them, and
they weren’t particularly trying to celebrate the anniversary.

I recall my own amazement when I was approached at that
time by the editor of the in-flight magazine of United Airlines –
on which, I may take it, most passengers are people travelling on

He thought that the readers would be interested in a
debate on Marx, because after all it did seem relevant to the present
situation. A year or two later, when I found myself having
lunch with George Soros, I was equally amazed when he said:
“What do you think of Marx?” Well now, knowing that our opinions
on various things didn’t agree, I gave a sort of ambiguous
answer, saying: “Some people think he’s good, some people
think he’s bad,” to which Soros said: “Do you know, I’ve just been
reading that man and there is an awful lot in what he says.”
So here we are tonight. Jacques Attali, I need hardly remind you,
has been highly active in both politics and intentional finance. He
is not, and has never been, a Marxist, but he, too, comes to the conclusion
that now is the time when Marx has something to say.

Attali: What he tried with the international socialist movement
was an amazing attempt to think about the world in global terms.
Marx is an amazingly modern thinker, because when you look at
what he has written, it is not a theory of what an organised socialist
country should be like, but how capitalism will be in the future.
Contrary to the caricature of Marxism, he is first an admirer of
capitalism. For him, it is a much better system than any other
before it, because he considers the earlier systems to be obscurantist.
Once or twice he had the idea that it was going to be the
end, but he very rapidly decided that this was not the case, and
that capitalism had a huge future.
What is very modern also in his view is that he considered that
capitalism would end only when it was a global force, when the
whole of the working class was part of it, when nations disappeared,
when technology was able to transform the life of a
country. He mentioned China and India as potential partners of
capitalism, and said, for instance, that protectionism is a mistake,
that free trade is a condition for progress.

For Marx, capitalism has to be worldwide before we think about
socialism. Socialism for him is beyond capitalism and not instead
of capitalism. He has much say on globalisation, what is happening
to movement of companies, delocalisation and everything
that is linked to the way we live today. In a sense, the Soviet Union
was destroying or interrupting the validity of Marx’s thinking
and the fall of the Berlin Wall is giving back a raison d’êtreto his
work, because Marx was thinking of the world globally and the
Soviet system was a nightmare that he did not forecast.

Hobsbawm: We now have the realisation of some of what Marx
anticipated: a globalised economy. It has had a number of effects
which, however, he would not have predicted. For instance, the
Marxist prediction that a growing proletariat in the industrialised
countries would overthrow capitalism didn’t work, because the
progress of capitalism eventually does without the working class,
as it does without the peasantry.

Up to 1914 the prediction was quite reasonable, and indeed,
it created mass parties which still exist.
In short, the basic conditions under which Marxism operates
in the 21st century will be quite different from those of the
20th century. But one thing will remain: the necessity not only to
criticise capitalism, but to demonstrate that the very process of
globalisation in the capitalist way generates not only growth, but
also tensions and crisis, and that the process of capitalism is incapable
of coming to terms with these.

Attali: Marx predicted that capitalism will grow, that inequalities
will grow with it, that the working class will be destroyed and
that the workers will be poor. This is not true in the developed
world, but if you look at things globally, it is true. Concentration
of wealth is growing worldwide. The share of wealth which is
owned by a small number is growing, and the number of rich
people is narrowing. There are three billion people who live on
less than $2 a day and out of nine billion human beings 40 years
from now, 4.5 billion will be below the poverty line.

This is Marx’s nightmare. And you cannot say that they are not workers.
Even if they are unemployed, they are workers. And people who
work with only their head, or digital workers – they are still workers.
The contradictions at the heart of the market economy, to use
the modern term, are more true than they ever were when applied
to capitalism, which had 19th-century connotations.
If you look at the history of mankind in the past two centuries,
this is the fourth attempt at globalisation. The first came at the end
of the 18th century, collapsing with the Napoleonic wars. The
second came at the end of the 19th century and collapsed with the
First World War. The globalisation of the 1920s collapsed with
the Second World War.

We are in the fourth attempt at globalisation in two centuries
and the most probable outcome is that this attempt will go
the same way as the previous, leading to isolationism
and protectionism.

In 1849 Marx wrote about going back to protectionism
and other kinds of barbarism. At the beginning of the 20th century
it was impossible to imagine, and today is the same.
We cannot imagine the barbarism that will happen,
but it is obvious that it will. The only way to imagine
a solution will be to organise, on a worldwide level,
a compromise between the market and democracy.

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