Marxism and Morality

Many Leftists encounter difficulties navigating between the Scylla of dispassionate structural economic analysis and the Charybdis of moral outrage at the atrocities of capitalism. This New Statesman article (which includes a very apt quotation from Marx) shows how the two must be related in looking at the financialized capitalism of today. Here’s the basic idea: “To slip towards crime, therefore, is to slip into an economic model in which wealth is no longer created in any real sense but only extracted from what already exists.” A stimulating read.

The triumph of greed

Clive Dilnot
New Statesman
Published 04 December 2008

Tax evasion, tax avoidance, money laundering: institutionalised crime is so much part of the global economy. Then there is moral crime…

The events of the past few months have shown with stark clarity that the financial models pursued in the sub-prime mortgage industry were so deeply flawed that they call into question the economics on which they were based. Yet to date there is precious little evidence of any fundamental rethinking taking place, either in the financial industry or by the economics profession, much of which still seems in denial about the gravity of the present crisis. With few exceptions, the argument from all sides–and from most in politics, too–seems to be for a return to business as usual as quickly as possible. But is continuity in how markets operate what we want? Or even what we can afford? Or are the costs of doing business this way–and the moral and social, as well as financial, costs–more than we should be asked to bear?

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