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John Passant

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January 2017



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Capitalism: Cacus in the cave

From Bertell Ollman

So, “Is it time,” as William Buckley asked a few years ago, “to bury Karl Marx?” Well, it depends on the position one takes on Cacus. Cacus was a Roman mythological figure who stole oxen by dragging them backwards into his cave so that their footprints made it appear that they had gone out from there. After quoting Martin Luther’s account of this story, Marx exclaims “An excellent picture, it fits the capitalist in general, who pretends that what he has taken from others and brought back to his den emanates from him, and by causing it to go backwards, he gives it the semblance of having come from his den.”

Capitalists present themselves as the producers of wealth, as the providers of jobs, and as donors and public benefactors. When we examine their activities it appears as if nothing and no one gets going without their okay. These are the “footprints” in the sand, and they are there for all to see. From these appearances, it’s easy to conclude that anything capitalists retain for themselves as profits is their just and well-earned reward.

But, as with Cacus, this tells only a partial story. To find out what really happened to the oxen, we would have to find out about the night before (to do a little history) and poke our heads into the cave (to examine the larger context). In the end, the full truth is exactly the opposite of the apparent truth. In the case of capitalists, only by investigating how most businessmen have extracted their wealth from the surplus labor of previous generations of workers (history) and by investigating how the laws and customs of our society are biased in their favor (the larger context), can we see that it is not capitalists who serve society (and thus, meriting a reward) but rather the rest of society who serve them. The businessman’s power to make important decisions cannot be denied—the “footprints” are there. But when we place his role in its social and historic context, its meaning gets completely turned around.

In their different ways, all of Marx’s theories perform this common work. Thus, as long as capitalism hides its real relations behind its appearances, its underlying processes behind its surface events, class struggle behind class collaboration, and the potential for an egalitarian democratic order behind the present inequality—so long will Marxism be needed to uncover the truth. And the capitalists and those Marx called their “ideological handmaidens,” who insist, “It’s time to bury Karl Marx”? Well Cacus, too, had an interest in keeping people from finding out what went on in his cave.


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