Asinine Right of Capital

18 Oct 2013: Capital (Ch. 26, “The Secret of Primitive Accumulation,” 1867, Karl Marx)

Again Marx plays with his chapter titles here, arguing that there really is no secret to the first amassings of capital as far as average working-class consciousness is concerned; as Noam Chomsky and George Orwell argue, among many others, the only people for whom there are such secrets are those “intelligent” enough to be educated and indoctrinated to believe the elaborate lies of well-paid intellectuals. Repeating a simile used earlier in the text, if memory serves, Marx brilliantly likens the tale of original accumulation – whereby some ancestors slothfully bade their time and drank their wine as others worked hard and saved resources, resulting in the present scenario in which the descendants of these two groups (wage-labourers and capitalists, respectively) have rightfully been able to reverse roles – to the Biblical story of original sin (which of course can explain why women have rightfully been subordinated to stronger, wiser, more moral men). It’s not so much the particulars of the metaphor that are apt as the dogmatically fundamental religious doctrine to both, “free-market capitalism” (like Christianity, none of its denotational terms actually to be found or understood in large-scale practice) having replaced monotheism almost everywhere in the world, an oddly dialectical return to a (now entrepreneurial) polytheism of billionaires through supposedly worshipping the one of self-interest. Marx does not buy the traditional explanation, finding that violence and coercion rather than difference in mettle is the real secret that everyone can still see today with his or her own eyes. Details to follow in the next chapter…

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