Robert Waldman says Theda Scocpal says Marx is dead, on the grounds that the US Republican party didn’t follow big business’s support for [carbon] Cap and Trade legislation in 2007. His post is both interesting and short, so I’ll reproduce it in full:
BP stands first for Brian Plumer then for British Petroleum — I’m pretty sure DuPont is the firm and not Pierre “Pete”. TS is Theda Scocpal. When I knew her (OK when I took freshman physics from her husband Bill) she was one of the few Marxists at Harvard (I think the only one in the Sociology department).
BP: So around 2007, Republicans were becoming more skeptical of climate policy. Yet the main climate strategy in D.C. was to craft a complex cap-and-trade bill amenable to businesses like BP and DuPont in the hopes that those companies would bring in Republican votes.
TS: I think a lot of environmental groups were under the impression that the Republican Party is a creature of business, and that if you can make business allies, you can get Republicans to do something. But I don’t think the Republican Party right now is mainly influenced by business. In the House in particular, ideological groups and grassroots pressure are much more influential.
Sent there by Kevin Drum who writes about why cap and trade died in 2010. He wrote “Unlike healthcare reform, where you could essentially buy off the opposition, there are big costs to cap-and-trade for certain states and senators simply aren’t going to ignore that.” I nodded my head and thought yep hard to get votes from West Virginia. Then well I can imagine a vote for cap and trade from John D Rockefeller whose lack of sympathy for big business and fossil fuels is well known.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you that history doesn’t have a sense of humor.
I won’t do that, but will just quibble with his headline: this would indeed an epitaph for Marx if big business represented the capitalist class. But big business, ever since the invention of the large professionally managed corporation, has always had a complicated role. I think it’s fair to say that the congressional Republicans have done an excellent and consistent job of looking out for the interests of very wealthy Americans, while selling their grassroots a different story. The cap & trade deal offered would have helped certain big businesses by making their historic profligacy into a tradable asset, but it’s not clear that it would have helped capitalists – those whose primary income comes from ownership of assets rather than work – as a class.