The world was turned upside down in the 20th century because people believed Marx. The masses would rise up, overthrow capitalism and build the socialist state. Then, the communists scrambled back to capitalism. And now, we see the early signs of capitalism retreating back to feudalism.
Marxism was what I call a coping doctrine (in The Traumatised Society). Marx’s theory of history did not provide the foundations for a viable social system. Tens of millions died finding out that they were on a dead-end voyage back to the system which had exploited them.
But with the fall of the Iron and Bamboo Curtains, capitalism lacked the enemy to sustain what was also an unsustainable system. Western governments are busily dismantling their communities under the guise of tackling the debt problem. They call it “austerity”, a bitter pill which they sell as if it is medicine necessary to restore economic health.
But in my recent travels around the Latin countries, I observed the first signs of the onset of what happened when the Roman empire was dismantled. Because Rome could not afford the bread and circuses that kept their citizens preoccupied, people had no choice but to abandon the cities. They moved back to the land to eke out a living under the patronage of the local Strong Men who provided protection.
It’s Happening Again
University graduates with PhD qualifications in countries like Greece and Spain are being forced to work on the land because there are no jobs to suit their qualifications. With unemployment running at 50% in some regions of Euroland, highly skilled young people have no choice but to earn their bread in low productivity occupations.
This is just one indicator of people with advanced degrees in subjects like chemistry now tending sheep or tilling the soil. They have been literally ejected from their economies. Europe is in the early stages of the return to feudalism. A process that does not happen over night, so the alarm bells are not yet ringing. But the shift out of the cities is just one of the trends which indicate that the capitalist order is bankrupt beyond rescue.
It’s a cruel price to pay to prove that Marx’s historical materialism was not worth the paper on which it was written.