Can there be anything more appropriate than sitting in De Nieuwe Kerk, listening first to the smaller transeptorgel – while looking at the windows that depict the relationship between church, state and capital -, then the hoofdorgel – with this facing the established power, as later personalised by Napoleon Bonaparte, ruling between 1803 and 1813 The Netherlands – and preparing the SOAK-session on economic theories for next week, when going to the attac summer academy?
What is so often forgotten when discussing economic theories is the fact that they have to be seen in the historical context.
Karl Marx gives one example, writing in 1864 in the Inaugural Address
of the International Working Men’s Association:
This struggle about the legal restriction of the hours of labor raged the more fiercely since, apart from frightened avarice, it told indeed upon the great contest between the blind rule of the supply and demand laws which form the political economy of the middle class, and social production controlled by social foresight, which forms the political economy of the working class. Hence the Ten Hours’ Bill was not only a great practical success; it was the victory of a principle; it was the first time that in broad daylight the political economy of the middle class succumbed to the political economy of the working class.
This means not less that the solutions we are looking for today have to be the solutions for today …. – not simply claming moral behaviour within an amoral system, not looking for new Napoleonic leaders; but it is about solutions that are founded in and approproate to today’s development of the productive forces.
Why then de Nieuwe Kerk and attac? It is rather obvious: solutions that are founded in and approproate to today’s development of the productive forces means to look for ways ofdeveloping a new hegemony (or counter-hegemony). Is there any better place to think about it when looking at the old ones? Seeing where they had been successful and knowing where they failed? The bourgeoisie, surely, had been at some stage a progressive force – as Marx states in chapter 26 of the first volume of Capital:
Hence, the historical movement which changes the producers into wage-workers, appears, on the one hand, as their emancipation from serfdom and from the fetters of the guilds, …
He speaks of the chevaliers d’industrie and continues:
The industrial capitalists, these new potentates, had on their part not only to displace the guild masters of handicrafts, but also the feudal lords, the possessors of the sources of wealth. In this respect, their conquest of social power appears as the fruit of a victorious struggle both against feudal lordship and its revolting prerogatives, and against the guilds and the fetters they laid on the free development of production and the free exploitation of man by man.
And today we see not amoral hoarding etc., we see that the accumulation by dispossession (Harvey) – or accumulation by appropriation of all pores of life is again such a fetter of new developments – cum grano salis what Marx said in chapter 3:
The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under it. Centralization of the means of production and socialization of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.
This is what we truly need today – and reflecting thoday’s hegemony.