Karl Marx Won - But Not in the Way He Imagined

For anybody who has read Karl Marx' Das Capital, it is a tough book to read.  Not because it is so complex or deep, but because that jerk is so offensive.  Das Capital provides a thought map to the earliest communists, and damn if I don't just want to hop into a time machine and slap their faces.

My favorite Marx term is "lumpenproletariat."  He means lower class people who he compares to animals, including that they are disposable for his political cause.  Marx rails against the class system, but as sure as an anti-gay politician in a public restroom, he is blind to his own ironies.

But, as the Buddhists say, you can't have flowers without the manure.  Marx did have some valid ideas, and arguments could be made that the manure of his personal attitudes are what fed them.

Karl Marx did win, because he predicted that workers would gain power and organize.  They did.  And despite the fall of union political power, that gain can be seen in other ways right now.

I'm talking about flexible workspaces.

During the '90s, worker power could be seen in relaxed dress codes, flexible work hours, and open space architecture.  Workers needed to be kept happy because they were really needed, since people had more options for making money.  Articles were written about how the U.S. State Department was losing talented young foreign service officers to private companies.  This was a situation that was new and frightening to the established hierarchy there.  Heretofore, young people with an interest in foreign affairs had one option: the State Department.  In that little fishbowl, advancement was doled out to the loyal and obedient.  Enter the modern economy, with much need for energetic people with new ideas.  Suddenly, there were options.  No one had to suck it up and play the game.  Hence, the talent drain.

Of course, here and now unemployment is a serious problem.  The official statistics are lies and have lost credibility - we all know unemployment is widespread.

But one essential truth remains, workers are needed to do work.  So the return of the post-collegiate worker space is a sign of optimism.  Otherwise, why would there be a need to keep workers happy?  No one would bother with it.  Wages are increasing also.  The term "livable wage" has been created and is well-known, even by Marx's lumpenproletariat.

So the worker's paradise isn't looking like Marx expected.  It is clean air, water, a living wage, rest time and health care.  Owning the means of production, as Marx predicted, is done through the marketplace of the stock exchanges and the pension funds that own those stocks.  It is a pleasant office environment that fosters creativity from employees and support their ideas.

It isn't about controlling all the capital at all.  Sorry, Karl.

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