A la sombra de Marx otra vez

Hace un siglo y medio, Karl Marx predijo de manera sombría y exuberante a la vez que el capitalismo moderno de cuya evolución era testigo sería incapaz de producir una distribución aceptable del ingreso. Argumentó que la riqueza aumentaría, pero que beneficiaría sólo a unos pocos: el bosque de brazos alzados buscando trabajo se haría cada vez más denso, mientras que los brazos mismos se volverían cada vez más delgados. Esta injusticia causaría revueltas y revolución, lo que su vez crearía un sistema nuevo, mejor, más justo, más próspero y mucho más igualitario.

Desde entonces, los economistas tradicionales se han ganado el sustento explicando pacientemente por qué Marx estaba equivocado. Sí, el shock inicial de desequilibrio de la revolución industrial estaba y está relacionado con una igualdad en rápido aumento, ya que las oportunidades se abren al dinamismo y el espíritu de iniciativa, y los precios del mercado aumentan radicalmente, impulsados por el valor de destrezas que son escasas y esenciales.

Sin embargo, esto era –o se suponía que iba a ser- algo transitorio. Una sociedad agrícola que está estancada en lo tecnológico no podrá ser sino extremadamente desigual: por fuerza y mediante el fraude, la clase superior hace que los estándares de vida de los campesinos se mantengan en niveles de subsistencia y toma el excedente como renta de las tierras que controla. Las altas rentas que se pagan a los terratenientes nobles aumentan su riqueza y poder, al darles los recursos que permiten mantener bajos los niveles de vida de los campesinos y aumentar el excedente, ya que después de todo no pueden crear más tierras.

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