One of the planks of Communist Manifesto was to have central banks in most countries…

A food for thought article by Prof Dipankar Gupta. He titles it as: We are all marxists: Liberal democrats have understood The Communist Manifesto better than communists”.

The article is in written for 200th birthday of Karl Marx. Prof Gupta says Marx would be pleased that around 60% of his suggestions have already been implemented in most countries which prize themselves as liberal democracies:

What may have pleased him a lot is that over three fifths of his recommendations in The Communist Manifesto are already in place in most actually existing democracies. Progressive income tax, national central banks, state run communication services, cultivating waste lands, right to work, eradicating town and country differences, providing free education and, finally, banning child labour comprise the bulk of “communist” policies advocated in the Manifesto. Are we all then Marxists, at least three fifths?

Perhaps we democrats are more Marxist than Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, Ceausescu’s Romania, or Hoxha’s Albania. This is because, unlike these communist regimes which advocated cabal, conspiracy, putsch and coup d’etat, Marx believed in winning over the workers through persuasion. In The Communist Manifesto, Marx said that communists should not form a separate party opposed to other working class parties and not set up sectarian principles of their own. If one were to observe this stricture strictly it would disqualify all communist regimes and most communist parties too.

Interesting. Did not know that the communist manifesto actually mentioned national banks:

The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organised as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible.

Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionising the mode of production. These measures will, of course, be different in different countries.

Nevertheless, in most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable.

1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. 

Further there is note written by Marx and Engels titled “Demands of Communist Party in Germany”. One of the demands were to establish a state bank which has monopoly over legal tender:

10. A state bank, whose paper issues are legal tender, shall replace all private banks.
This measure will make it possible to regulate the credit system in the interest of the people as a whole, and will thus undermine the dominion of the big financial magnates. Further, by gradually substituting paper money for gold and silver coin, the universal means of exchange (that indispensable prerequisite of bourgeois trade and commerce) will be cheapened, and gold and silver will be set free for use in foreign trade. Finally, this measure is necessary in order to bind the interests of the conservative bourgeoisie to the Government.

Hmm..

Though, in today’s times we think of central banks as just such a capitalist thing. Even though the manifesto says that the proposed bank will lead to state controlling credit which might not be the case today, but the earlier history of most central banks suggest that they did play with credit. Even now the entire transmission exercise is to influence credit in the direction as desired by the central bank which is a state body.

Yes, there are specifics and what Marx said does not apply strictly to today’s central banks, but the idea was all there in the manifesto.

2 Responses to “One of the planks of Communist Manifesto was to have central banks in most countries…”

  1. m88 Says:

    m88

    One of the planks of Communist Manifesto was to have central banks in most countries… | Mostly Economics

  2. Shubham Londhe Says:

    Uh ohh, even establishment of bourgeois “liberal” Democracy was one of the suggestion originating from Marxism. In “principles of communism”, for example when asked about what will be course of communist revolution, here’s reply by Engels:” Above all, it will establish a democratic constitution, and through this, the direct or indirect dominance of the proletariat”. Liberal democracy for sure give indirect political control to proletariat. In fact whole point of communist revolution was to establish such Constitution (marx had significant impact of French Revolution, which was revolution to establish liberal democracy but got devolved in authotarian state machine). I. E. Revolution was to take place in countries where rights of workers were violently supressed in absence of such Constitution. But in countries where such Constitution was already established, he saw no need of revolution and hence he allowed for possibility of peaceful transition in countries like England, which had strong democratic Constitution. So final point remains true. Soviet Union was not at all marxist, liberals are far more marxists!

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