Monday, June 17, 2024
Business & Economics

May Day: A Vignette

It’s May Day, when we honor modern, western society’s least-valued component– the worker!

One of my oldest friends and intellectual co-conspirators told me that he thinks I should be the one guy in my MBA program who just straight up advocates for command economy. You know, central planning from the grand soviet, or whatever. There has to be one, he said. I mean, why not?

Illustration of Haymarket square bombing and riot

I mean, it’s a good point. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis, right? We had been talking about my academic struggle to more precisely define the intersection between theories of Marxian political economy and, on the other hand, of competitive capitalist economy. I looked at this in my March 23 post. Save the cheerleader, save the world. Except it was more like, save the worker, save capitalism. Ironic, right?

 The problem with my MBA program— one of many- is that it is an evening, distance program. So, it includes a lot of people who are already working full time and simply want to augment their résumés with hard skill sets. They’re not interested in the academic critiques. Or, maybe they are for discussion, but certainly not as much as, say, a dear friend who went to Wharton and, I kid you not, was the volunteer chair of the Adam Smith Society. I made an offhanded remark in one project group about Marxism and someone mockingly sent me some dumb video about holding hands and making the world a better place.

Young man. That ain’t what this is about.

But nor is it about some document drunkenly written on the eve of the 1848 revolutions that is quoted more by conservatives hating on Joseph Stalin (I know, right?) than it is by Marxists. It’s about asking better questions. Different questions. Figuring out better frameworks for solving problems. For thinking about problems, no less. Why would someone getting an MBA be writing about Haymarket and May Day and Karl Marx? Let’s turn that around. Why do so many business texts talk about how great Jack Welch is? How great Elon Musk is? Why do so many people in business school not seem to have any idea how the economy works? It’s all knowledge, baby. Knowledge is power. And equitable distribution of power is perhaps the best way we’re going to solve some of the problems we’re facing these days.

Nat Zorach

Nat M. Zorach, AICP is a city planner, community development professional, and MBA candidate at American University's Kogod School of Business, based in Detroit.

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