Poverty has been present in all the advanced capitalist countries since the dawn of industrial capitalism in the late 18C, and remains so to this day. Mainstream explanations of this phenomenon are superficial and mistake symptoms for causes. In this article we present a Marxist explanation of poverty in the high-income countries since the late 19C. We show how poverty is systematically produced by the dynamics of capital accumulation and the capital-labour relation, including their spatial dynamics, operating in the realms of production, social reproduction, and their mediations by the state. Since poverty is produced by the totality of society, measures which target particular sites or aspects of poverty are doomed to failure: it cannot be solved outside of an end to capitalism. Since poverty is a condensation of oppressions which are experienced by the whole population, it can only be addressed by struggles against all forms of economic exploitation and social oppression, including those mediated by the state. These struggles benefit the whole population, not just the poor. The collective organisations of the whole working class in both the production and reproduction spheres are thus crucial for addressing both the immediate needs and long term interests of the poor.
Gough, Jamie A. and Eisenschitz, Aram
"Poverty in the High-Income Countries: a Marxist Alternative to Mainstream Ideologies,"
Class, Race and Corporate Power: Vol. 9:
2, Article 2.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/classracecorporatepower/vol9/iss2/2