[Marxism] Growth no longer an excuse for exploitation

ehrbar ehrbar at lists.econ.utah.edu
Sun Oct 25 10:00:01 MDT 2009

The inequities of capitalism are often deplored, but people say that
eliminating these inequities will not make the average person better
off, because these inequities generate growth, and growth makes
everybody better off.  The standard Marxist answer is that these
inequities themselves are intolerable; that growth based on these
inequities amounts to replacing an iron cage by a golden cage.  Given
what we know today about the environment, those in the highly
industrialized countries are no longer justified to speak of a golden
cage.  Nowadays, a defense of these inequities because they generate
growth is the worst possible defense of something which is in itself
already bad.  If someone today is still so old-fashioned to say that
capitalist inequities are justified because they generate growth, the
correct answer is: we have to get rid of these inequities exactly
*because* they generate growth and *because* they are an obstacle to
the necessary switch to a shrinking and then steady-state economy.  A
Marxist sees so much waste and exploitation in the present system
that, if we succeed in decreasing exploitation while making the
necessary adjustments to economic growth, people will be better off.
Some will not have as much stuff, but everybody will have enough and
everybody will have shorter work hours and more free time.

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