Red-Blooded Americanism

20 Oct 2013: Capital (Ch. 33, “The Modern Theory of Colonization,” 1867, Karl Marx)

Up to now I don’t think I’ve read anything as economically clear yet as theoretically aligned with the American dream as this final chapter of Volume I. Any red-blooded red- or blue-state self-avowed patriot who loves Westerns and the ideas of independence and liberty would do well to read Marx’s lucid account of free men with their own property and unencumbered by big government or big business before reacting too reflexively to the thought of “communism,” whatever that means these days. These free men were ruining the capitalists’ fun and the progress of the “nation” (Marx wisely comments repeatedly on the ideological corruption of Adam Smith’s title and concept by those who equate “the nation” with its richest elite), the leaders of business and their political economist shills complained, by preferring self-sufficiency and high wages to the precarious desperation of workers on the Continent who had been removed from such paradisiacal circumstances already. This of course gives the lie to the “natural order” claimed by political economy to give rise to the optimal capitalist-wageslave duality, for such an order was established in Europe by forcible expropriation and violence, and the natural state of life in the colonies showed that wage labor did not pop up of its own accord but required external force. “Luckily” land was being bought up in North America too by the time of the 19th century, and hordes of immigrants from Europe were flooding into the major metropolitan areas on the East Coast to furnish factory owners with industrial reserve soldiers, so these insolent independent wage-labor holdouts were on the wane.

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