马克思的阴影又降临了

一个半世纪以前,马克思既悲观又热情洋溢地预言他所看到的逐渐演化的现代资本主义将会证明无力形成可接受的收入分配机制。马克思指出,财富的增长只会使少部分人而不是大多数人受益:高举双臂寻找工作的人将会变得越来越多,而他们举起的手臂却会变得越来越瘦弱。这种不公正会引发反抗和革命,从而形成一个新的、更好的、更公正的、更繁荣也更平均主义的制度。

自那以后,主流经济学家依靠耐心地解释为什么马克思的说法是错误的作为他们的谋生之道。是的,工业革命一开始不平衡的冲击过去是、现在也是与迅速上升的不平等相关联的,因为它向掠夺性和开拓精神敞开了机会的大门,而由重要的稀有技能所操控的市场价格也上升到了极高的水平。

但是这或者被认为是暂时性的。技术上停滞的农耕社会注定是特别不平等的:上层阶级通过武力和欺诈把农民的生活水平压制到只能赖以维生的水平,而把盈余的部分以他们所控制的土地的租金形式夺走了。支付给贵族地主的高昂租金提升了他们的财富和权力,从而使他们有了压迫农民和扩大盈利的资源,因为,不管怎样,他们无法使土地的面积获得增长。

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