William Butler Yeats on the Experience of Modernity

I have always invoked Marshall Berman invoking Karl Marx invoking Shakespeare (Prospero in “The Temptest”) to describe the experience of modernity:

“All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned.”

All That is SolidBut I could equally well use Irish poet William Butler Yeats from “The Second Coming” (1919) via African novelist Chinua Achebe:

Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…



William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) by Charles Beresford Public domain via Wikimedia Commons



Chris Rock’s Neo-Marxist View of Minimum Wage

facebook_1423479685331_resizedIn my classical theory class we just finished reading excerpts from three of Karl Marx’s most (in)famous works: the Paris Manuscripts, Capital, and the Communist Manifesto.

Marx confidently predicted that the contradictions inherent in the capitalist system would lead to its downfall, as economic crises would get progressively worse over time, making clear to workers their real conditions and leading them to revolt against their oppressors.

For Marx, because the state always acted in the narrow interests of the capitalist class, workers would not see the state as looking out for their interests. One thing Marx did not foresee, however, is various more aggressive interventions by the government to keep economic crises from happening and to mitigate their negative effects when they do. Or the entire system of social provision in which the state redistributes by law resources from the capitalist class to the working class. A.k.a., the social welfare state.

Whether this just amounts to the state having the long-term interests of the capitalist class in mind — saving the capitalist class from its own short-sightedness — is a question for another time. But I thought of this issue when the graphic above appeared on my Facebook timeline.

Like Chris Rock, Marx held that it was in the interest of the capitalist class to keep wages as low as possible, since wages paid are negatively related to profits. But the state intervened to mandate a legal minimum wage, to the short-term detriment but the long term profit of business.