Carrol Cox cbcox at
Fri Dec 24 15:27:06 MST 1999

James Farmelant wrote:

> On Thu, 23 Dec 1999 11:47:28 EST Apsken at writes:
> >Lou asked,
> >
> >> 1. Didn't Marx falsely predict the immiseration of the working
> >class? Why  has this not happened?
> >>
> >
> >The quotation from Capital reads, "be his payment high or low, the lot
> >of the worker must grow worse." That is a more subtle
> >and sophisticated  concept of immiseration than vulgar Marxism or
> >anti-Marxism comprehends.
> I does, however, require some explication because when the more
> subtle concept of immiseration is pointed out to bourgeois
> economists they claim that Marxists then have made the concept
> of immiseration too vauge to ever be falsified.

It has to be explicated, but not for the reasons given. It seems to me
that one premise the lbo-talk and marxism lists share in common (and
it is a terribly crippling one) is the concept of politics as a debate with

a passive audience But in fact no ever listens to us until *after* they
have come to agree with us in some general ways. It is our visible
public practice around issues that bring people to us (and first of
all in small group or one-to-one conversations), so when we argue
or explicate we are always (in the old cliche) preaching to the
chorus only. The promising thing about Seattle ( though I am not
as excited as some) is that it may enlarge the choir, thus providing
a bigger audience or readership for what we have to say. But
those who speak our message will, always in the first instance, be
local organizers.

And that is why such things as the immiseration principle need subtle
explication, not to convince bourgeois economists or win arguments
with them. They are not the people we are speaking to. But it is
important that we already inside the tent have a correct understanding
of capitalism -- and that requires that we not take our marxism from
opponents of marxism. This marxism list is, I take it, inside the tent
on the whole. So explications of the immiseration thesis are to be
directed (on this list) to those who already accept marxism
wholeheartedly but want to deepen their understanding of it and
correct errors in their own and others' understanding of it.

In the rare occasions when we and they share the podium, even then
we don't proceed by the sophistication of our arguments but by means
our opponents will call demogoguery. We will talk to people's
experience and mock the theoretical arguments of our opponents
rather than answer them.


P.S. Some propositions can only be verified or falsified by history --
sometimes by very long periods of history. This proposition can only
be verified by successful revolution or falsified if marxism ceases to
be a spectre haunting anyone.

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