EDITORIAL: Marx was right

It was only yesterday that “free market” ideologues were dancing on Karl Marx’s grave with scornful shouts that “greed is good” and “TINA” — “there is no alternative” to capitalism. These fat men guffawed contemptuously at Marx’s warning that capitalism is built on wage exploitation, that workers never earn enough to buy back what they produce, creating “overproduction” and periodic crises — some deep and long — that can only be solved by socialism.

These ideologues cling to delusions that capitalism is the “best of all possible worlds,” blindness expressed as recently as two weeks ago by John McCain when he asserted that the “fundamentals of the economy are strong.”

But just the other day, economist David Macke surveyed the financial collapse spreading like a thermonuclear chain reaction. Asked what was needed to stop the destruction he replied, “At the end of the day, if you socialize enough of the financial system, it has to work.” Suddenly “socialism” is needed to stave off catastrophe! And who is Macke? An economist for JPMorgan Chase, one of the world’s biggest transnational banks.

But Macke’s “socialism” bears no resemblance to Marx’s version, in which working people own the means of production, including banks, and operate them in working people’s interests. Macke would “socialize” bad debt, forcing working people to bear the burden of rescuing Wall Street. Profits would continue to flow into the coffers of the rich. Left behind would be millions who have lost their homes, their jobs and health care as well as their 401(k) retirement accounts.

We should demand that any bailout work for us.

A coalition led by leaders of major unions has laid out just that approach in “A Call for Common Sense.” Use the federal government’s bank equity, paid for with our tax dollars, to force Morgan Chase, CitiGroup, etc., to agree to a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. Require the banks to invest in a “green” jobs program to jumpstart the economy and retool our nation’s factories, farms and infrastructure to sharply reduce greenhouse gases. Make the banks invest in rebuilding the Gulf Coast, especially New Orleans. Such a program is not socialism, but it is a step toward socialism’s democratic principle, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his work.”