Measure of a Man of Industry

20 Oct 2013: Capital (Ch. 31, “The Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist,” 1867, Karl Marx)

Surely, the reader of Marx expects by this point in the text, industrious mettle and ingenuity along with a moral commitment to fair dealing and free markets are the defining traits of and causes for the emerging business titans in the Western world. This would be a patently ludicrous straw man were it not for the fact that contemporary ideology still depends on it to explain societal divisions, just as in the 19th century and well before. We are reminded in detail here just how protectionist these budding “free market” societies were in their drive to quick buildups of industry and just how unethical (to use a mild and basically euphemistic adjective) they were in their obtainment (another one) of labour-power from slaves and the economically deprived as well as land from natives, detailed in the noble Plymouth Puritans’ enumeration of scalp bounties. 150 years ago he is speaking of the “bankocracy” that cripples and saps entire populations through credit systems and national debt that guarantees unending indentured generations to repay while engendering a class of “idle rentiers” who contribute nothing while extracting much. This chapter is again a forceful disabuse and disillusionment against all rosy images of the men who come to collect wealth and rule nations.

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