The Class Marx Missed

(Blog) The Artifex

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Photo by Arie Wubben on Unsplash

Marx was right about the bourgeoisie and the proletariat being stuck in a material dialectic of class conflict and alienation, so why hasn’t Capitalism self-destructed as he predicted? I mean, during the coronavirus, it seems like it is now, but everyone keeps talking like a recovery is inevitable. What’s going on?

Marx emphasized creativity but failed to identify what I call the artifex or “creator class,” which is made up of entrepreneurs, inventors, and artists. An artifexian is anyone who creates or recreates a means of production and/or a thing to be produced. I think Marx conflated creators with the general proletariat, and I think that’s why his material dialectic is incomplete.

Quick Summary

Capitalism can collapse but doesn’t have to inevitably like Marx thought. This is because the artifex class can alleviate class tension. Since there is the possibility of everyday people starting their own businesses and owning/creating their own means of production, people aren’t necessarily stuck in the proletariat like Marx thought. Does the bourgeoise use this possibility to give working people a false hope that keeps them from revolting when they should? Sounds like Snowpiercer.

Paradoxically, creativity also gives rise to the “creative destruction” that increases unemployment and can contribute to economic hardship. This makes Capitalism unstable but not necessarily doomed. Marx was a genius but was too focused on penning a theory that was ironclad and predictive. He wanted his theory to be a scientific theory versus a probability theory, and so Marx overshot (to his defense, determinism was in the air those days). Still, we’re idiots not to read him, and recognition of the artifex class will help us identify both limitations and strengths of Marx’s critique.

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If you’re interested in more, you can find the full paper here, along with Youtube links.

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