Promoting mass purchasing power

Fellows, Jeffrey jmf9 at
Fri Sep 18 14:10:00 PDT 1998

From: Louis Proyect

>>>"Keynesian" measures do not go along with Marxist analysis. They
represents band-aids for a system that is riddled with cancer.<<<<

IMHO, it seems that Keynesian policies can alter what Marx referred to as the culturally-specific level of subsistence living. That we in the US expect to be able to afford a newer car, a decent house, etc. (you know the rest), instead of living in sod huts consuming potatoes, made no difference to Marx when it came to having some of these things taken away. It may be that the experiences in the US over the last two decades is related to a contraction in our culturally-specific level of material subsistence (at least that part not ameliorated by increased personal debt). The benefit being increased levels of surplus value (subject to empirical validation of course).

If this is a reasonable interpretation of Marx and of the US situation, then it seems that there is some basis for arguing that Keynes' analysis could fit into a Marxian analysis quite consistently, although only partially (including, but not limited to, the notion in that immiseration is not dependent on the level of subsistence so defined).

Nonetheless, I do agree that Keynesian theory and policies do nothing to change the underlying systemic cancer (or class conflict: leave it to Louis to find a way of making class conflict sound staid, which I think is a complement) driving the system. Although, one must wonder if an infinitely-lived government with bond issuing authority (and one not saddled with a balanced budget requirement) has the potential to perpetuality manipulate the culturally-specific level of subsistence?



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