Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Trotsky began outlining his theory of permanent revolution from a prison cell while awaiting trial for his participation in the 1905 revolution. In that upheaval, he had been elected chair of the Saint Petersburg Soviet, a radical workers’ government that had coordinated waves of mass strikes, armed workers in their thousands and levelled demands against the ruling monarchy.
When a furious elderly man berated former Prime Minister Scott Morrison on the federal election campaign trail over the government’s treatment of disability pensioners, he not only burst the bubble of forced civility and stage-managed good cheer that characterise most politicians’ interactions with the public; he also exposed something interesting about the limits of capitalist ideology.
At the heart of capitalism’s impressive economic dynamic there is a dirty secret. And it’s a BIG secret.
Capitalism comes into the world “dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt”. So concludes Marx after a lengthy account of the transition from feudalism to capitalism near the end of Capital, Volume I.
Do you ever feel undervalued at work—like you contribute much more than your pay packet suggests? Karl Marx gets you. In the mid-nineteenth century, he argued that the whole working class is exploited by the capitalist class. This isn’t just a hyperbolic flourish, but an economic fact. The entire point of capitalist enterprise is to accumulate more wealth by systematically stealing a portion of the value workers create. This process is called exploitation.