Saturday, January 25, 2014

ReFashioning Marx's Proletarian Revolution

Working Ideas

Karl Marx's Proletarian Revolution: "Thproletariat (/ˌprlɪˈtɛərət/ from Latin proletariusis a term used
to describe the class of 
wage-earners (especially industrial workers) in a capitalist society whose only possession of significant material value is their labour-power (their ability to work);[1] a member of such a class is a proletarian," Wikipedia writes. "As defined in the 
Constitution of the Roman Republic, the proletarii was a social class of Roman citizens owning little or no property."
Credit & Source: FP

An article, by Charles Kenny, in Foreign Policy says that Karl Marx's proletarian revolution might soon bear fruition in some newer form, but not through violence or bloodshed. And globalization, the bane of many, will become the reason, the means, if you will, of how and why such an economic revolution will take place.

Kenny writes:
Sorry, Karl: The simple fact that poor people in Europe and America are in the income elite according to the standards of South Asia and Africa is why the workers of all lands have not yet united. The second congress of the Communist International, in 1920, condemned the despicable betrayal by many European and American socialists during World War I, who "used 'defense of the fatherland' to conceal the 'right' of 'their' bourgeoisie to enslave the colonies." The gathered representatives argued that the mistrust generated could "be eradicated only after imperialism is destroyed in the advanced countries and after the entire basis of economic life of the backward countries is radically transformed."
Yet all that might soon be changing. Globalization may have been the watchword of the 1990s, but it's still a work in progress. As interconnected global markets get ever more interconnected, average incomes are converging. The last 10 years have seen developing countries grow far more rapidly than high-income countries, closing the gap in average incomes. Economist Arvind Subramanian estimates that China in 2030 will be about as rich as the whole European Union today and that Brazil won't be far behind, clocking in at a GDP per capita of around $31,000. Indonesia, he reckons, will see a GDP per capita of $23,000 -- about the same as tech powerhouse South Korea today.
Put simply, this means that within the space of hardly a generation, a good chunk of the world will soon be rich, or at least solidly middle class. According to forecasts I've developed with my Center for Global Development colleague Sarah Dykstra, about 16 percent of the Earth's population lives in countries rich enough to be labeled "high income" by the World Bank. If growth rates continue as they have in the past decade, 41 percent of the world's people will find themselves in the "high income" bracket by 2030. In short, if developing countries continue growing at the rate we've seen recently, inequality among countries will shrink -- and inequality within nations will return as the dominant source of global inequality.
That the issue of  economic inequality is getting an airing in FP is both heartening and good news. This article, however, is optimistic in many areas that I am not, notably in its assertion that "41 percent of the world's people will find themselves in the "high income" bracket by 2030." I am not sure what Mr. Kenny means by high income and how he arrived at these percentages. Even so, 2030 is more than 15 years from now, and this is too far off in the future to be certain about anything.

I sense that change will happen soon, within the next five years, that the world's population of unemployed, under-employed and the working poor will not wait till 2030 to see the changes that this article writer envisions. Kenny is right about one thing: the poor man and woman in London has more in common with the poor man or woman in Lagos than the wealthy in his own nation; social media has brought people of similar circumstances together who ten years ago wouldn't have been.

Here is what Kenny says will happen in 2030:
They'll pressure governments to collaborate to ensure that their sweat and blood don't excessively enrich a tiny, global capitalist elite, but are spread more widely. They'll work to shut down tax havens where the world's plutocrats hide their earnings, and they'll advocate for treaties to prevent a "race to the bottom" in labor regulations and tax rates designed to attract companies. And they'll push to ensure it isn't just the world's richest who benefit from a global lifestyle -- by striving to open up free movement of labor for all, not just within countries but among them.
They is you and me, but expect this bloodless revolution using the social media to happen faster than the wealthy, and the governments that enable them, to prepare for it. This is a new kind of revolution that Marx couldn't have envisioned. It will be far more effective than the bloody and violent revolutions of the past; and it will restore hope and dignity to the vast majority of the world's citizens that long for it.

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You can read the rest of the article in [FP].

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