Why Should Capitalism Self-Destruct? Marx's Account Reconsidered

18 Pages Posted: 27 May 2022

Date Written: May 12, 2022

Abstract

Marx, partly due to the malign influence of Hegel, often expressed the view that capitalism would necessarily collapse. One of his arguments for that conclusion, the supposed tendency of the rate of profit to fall, fails. I focus mainly on the more important argument: the incentive for all capitalists to promote and embrace technological innovations means that human labor power will become less and less necessary in capitalist societies. Since most people depend on the ability to sell their labor power, consumption will inevitable decline in capitalist societies. Since profit is only realized when commodities are consumed, capitalists will have less and less reason to utilize their productive power to generate what humans want and need. Although this state of affairs—which is gradually being realized in the era of global capital--will result in economic depression, it need not, contrary to Marx, result in capitalism's collapse.

Under these grim circumstances, what should philosopher be doing? I offer some tentative suggestions; moral philosophy, which Marx also realized was irrelevant, is not one of them.

Suggested Citation

Leiter, Brian, Why Should Capitalism Self-Destruct? Marx's Account Reconsidered (May 12, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4110534 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4110534

Brian Leiter (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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