Article Title

The Future of Socialism


An unpromising title, this, in the seventh year of the third millennium of the Common Era; rather like “Recent Developments in Ptolemaic Astronomy” or “Betamax—a Technology Whose Time Has Come.” My grandfather’s dream, the faith of my younger days, has turned to ashes. And yet, I remain persuaded that Karl Marx has something important to teach us about the world in which we live today. In what follows, I propose to take as my text a famous statement from Marx’s A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy1—a sort of preliminary sketch of Das Kapital2—and see what it can tell us about the capitalism of our day. I shall try to show you that Marx was fundamentally right about the direction in which capitalism would develop, but that because of his failure to anticipate three important features of the mature capitalist world, his optimism concerning the outcome of that development was misplaced. Along the way, I shall take a fruitful detour through the arid desert of financial accounting theory.