Nitin Desai’s observation in ‘Marx for our times’ (May 17) that ‘capitalism seems to be losing its way in European heartland’ is absurd in view of economic chaos prevailing in the Marxist paradise of Venezuela and Cuba. Desai’s assertion about ‘value’ being solely a function of the labour (and earth) clearly leaves out other equally (if not more) important factors like demand, supply, risk, capital and technological, managerial and marketing skills. Finally, the view that machines are weapons to keep down workers is so ridiculous that even the most fanatic trade-unionist today would scoff at the idea.
Desai’s fears about the shift of power from innovators to financers are also unfounded. In a dynamic situation, a financer’s bet on a wrong innovation is doomed to fail and be replaced by a financer making the right call. Eventually, it is only the innovation and its utility in satisfying customer’s wants and desires that pushes the business ecosystem forward. And, till a more refined mechanism is devised, open market price discovery is always better than a bureaucrat fixing prices on the basis of some subjective presumptions and quaint formulae.
Desai’s fond hope of realising Utopia through ‘measures like universal basic income’ will remain a pipe dream only as explained by Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged in response to the Marxian hypothesis “jeder nach seinen Fähigkeiten, jedem nach seinen Bedürfnissen” (from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs). Human nature being what it is, effortless access to resources inexorably leads to progressive diminishing of abilities and maximisation of needs.
Ajay Tyagi , Guwahati
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