There Are No Superfluous Workers

Alain de Benoist recently wrote an interesting article stating we’re at a turning point in the world, the fall of the American Empire. He fears war.

I want to criticise one point of his. Benoist writes:

The fact of the matter is that capitalism has become incapable of continuing the “development of its logic within the framework shaped ironically by the logic of its own development” (Francis Cousin). To offset its declining level of performance, capitalism must constantly increase the volume of its profit, that is to say, it must constantly expand the scope of its trade opportunities. In order to insure, however, the free flow of goods and commodities, it must raise its productivity level, which in turn means lowering the share of living labor that has been domesticated through the wage labor system. Hence the proliferation of “superfluous people” — i.e., the unemployed. How to sell ever more and more to customers who are being forced to earn less and less with their wages?

While he’s partly right that capitalism requires growth and that we’ve reached some limits, he is wrong to say there are superfluous workers.

The wealthy still desire goods and services and would hire the poor at some wage level. The argument for a large middle class is political, that such brings harmony, keeps voters content in a democracy. But a market economy would still provide jobs.

*So long as market wages remain above subsistence levels, there is no superfluous population.*

What is truly happening is this:

Europe and America are wealthy, we are sending our capital overseas, and we are importing unskilled workers and guest workers to lower domestic wage pressures. This is being done in pursuit of profit by the owners of capital, who are putting greed ahead of national interest and ahead of worker interests.

As a result, we are seeing market wages fall below the minimum wage, which creates unemployment.

Furthermore, what Benoist ought to say is that capitalism keeps citizens content with the promise of improving living standards. However, since we’ve reached limits, we now risk crystalising into a more conservative system that is less upwardly mobile and doesn’t trickle down. We risk entering a world of rentiers who own capital, live off the rent, while others do the work.

Ideally a nation-state is built to function as a unit, so the reformer’s focus should be on what works for a national unit, not on some poorly conceived concept of “freedom” as American classical liberals are inclined to do. For example, a nationalist will want the brightest to enjoy full opportunities (access to the best education), rather than only the rich. Whereas classical liberals tend to hold an almost religious reverence for individualism and the free market, regardless of the impact on society.

I think it is good to question capitalism, but the best criticisms I’ve seen come from the early conservative anti-capitalists. That’s why I’ve posted about monasteries here before. They provided an independent moral compass and guarded heritage.

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