Marcello Musto writes for The Japan Times:
To relegate Marx to the position of an embalmed classic suitable only for specialist academic research would be a mistake on a par with his transformation into the doctrinal source of "actually existing socialism." For in reality his analyses are more topical than ever. When Marx wrote "Capital," the capitalist mode of production was still in a relatively early period of its development. Today, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the spread of capitalism to new areas of the planet (first and foremost China), it has become a global system that is invading and shaping all (not only the economic) aspects of human existence. In these conditions, Marx's ideas are proving to be more fertile than they were in his time.
Moreover, today economics not only dominates politics, setting its agenda and shaping its decisions, but lies outside its jurisdiction and democratic control. In the last three decades, the powers of decision-making have passed inexorably from the political to the economic sphere. Particular policy options have been transformed into economic imperatives. This shunting of parts of the political sphere into the economy, as a separate domain impervious to change, involves the gravest threat to democracy in our times. National parliaments find their powers taken away and transferred to the market. Standard & Poor's ratings and the Wall Street index — those mega-fetishes of contemporary society — carry incomparably more weight than the will of the people. At best, political government can "intervene" in the economy (when necessary to mitigate the destructive anarchy of capitalism and its violent crises), but they cannot call into question its rules and fundamental choices.