Charles Brown CharlesB at
Sun Nov 28 12:39:59 MST 1999

On the one hand this writer is alright in pointing to some of the ways in which Marx
and Engels statements about technology seem prescient. On the other hand,  the comment
that M & E seem insanely wrongheaded about the end of capitalism is based on a
typically modern stupid , short time frame conception of history. Not only were M & E
remarkably accurate when one considers that one -third of humanity was in societies
declaring themselves socialist just a few decades after their prediction. It is
difficult to think of any forecasters in history who were that accurate.  But, all
these bourgeois commentators ( for obvious reasons) presume that the contest for
socialism is over.  They fail to take account of the obvious fact that , if humanity
survives, there will be decades and decades and centuries for capitalism to fall and
socialism and communism to overthrow capitalism. As if future generations of workers,
or even this generation in the future, could not get itself together t!
o complete the task started in Russia in 1917.

I guess the title of the article indicates that this author knows the final
declaration of the failure of M & E's predictions is a form of whistling past the
grave yard.


>>> Louis Proyect <lnp3 at> 11/28/99 01:59PM >>>
NY Times op-ed, November 28, 1999

The Next Big Dialectic


I've always been skeptical of people who predict the future professionally,
of the Alvin Tofflers and John Naisbitts as well as the Jeane Dixons and
Pat Robertsons. For one thing, it's pretty much impossible to make
confident predictions without sounding portentous and creepy. And
purporting to describe the warp and woof of life 100 years from now is an
extreme folly. On the other hand, the time frame insures that no one will
be able to tell me I was wrong if, in 2100, it turns out I was wrong.

At this end of this century, as we bask happily and stupidly in the glow of
our absolute capitalist triumph, no long-range historical forecasters are
considered more insanely wrong-headed than Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
Yet the death of Communism makes this moment a fine one to consider the
emergence of Marxism 150 years ago as a historical phenomenon, economically
determined, rather than as the social and moral debacle it became. In fact,
looking back, Marx and Engels seem prescient about the capitalist
transformation of life and work. Writing about globalization in "Principles
of Communism" in 1847, Engels sounds very 1999.


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