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Este blog trata basicamente de ideias, se possível inteligentes, para pessoas inteligentes. Ele também se ocupa de ideias aplicadas à política, em especial à política econômica. Ele constitui uma tentativa de manter um pensamento crítico e independente sobre livros, sobre questões culturais em geral, focando numa discussão bem informada sobre temas de relações internacionais e de política externa do Brasil. Para meus livros e ensaios ver o website: www.pralmeida.org. Para a maior parte de meus textos, ver minha página na plataforma Academia.edu, link: https://itamaraty.academia.edu/PauloRobertodeAlmeida;

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sexta-feira, 2 de maio de 2014

Foreign Affairs resenha O Capital no Seculo XXI: imposto sobre ricos nao vai terminar com a desigualdade

Capital Punishment
Why a Global Tax on Wealth Won't End Inequality

Foreign Affairs, MAY/JUNE 2014 ISSUE

Capital in the Twenty-first Century
Belknap Press, 2014, 696 pp. $39.95.
Every now and then, the field of economics produces an important book; this is one of them. Thomas Piketty’s tome will put capitalist wealth back at the center of public debate, resurrect interest in the subject of wealth distribution, and revolutionize how people view the history of income inequality. On top of that, although the book’s prose (translated from the original French) might not qualify as scintillating, any educated person will be able to understand it -- which sets the book apart from the vast majority of works by high-level economic theorists.
Piketty is best known for his collaborations during the past decade with his fellow French economist Emmanuel Saez, in which they used historical census data and archival tax records to demonstrate that present levels of income inequality in the United States resemble those of the era before World War II. Their revelations concerning the wealth concentrated among the richest one percent of Americans -- and, perhaps even more striking, among the richest 0.1 percent -- have provided statistical and intellectual ammunition to the left in recent years, especially during the debates sparked by the 2011 Occupy Wall Street protests and the 2012 U.S. presidential election.
In this book, Piketty keeps his focus on inequality but attempts something grander than a mere diagnosis of capitalism’s ill effects. The book presents a general theory of capitalism intended to answer a basic but profoundly important question. As Piketty puts it:
"Do the dynamics of private capital accumulation inevitably lead to the concentration of wealth in ever fewer hands, as Karl Marx believed in the nineteenth century? Or do the balancing forces of growth, competition, and technological progress lead in later stages of development to reduced inequality and greater harmony among the classes, as Simon Kuznets thought in the twentieth century?"
Although he stops short of embracing Marx’s baleful vision, Piketty ultimately lands on the pessimistic end of the spectrum. He believes that in capitalist systems, powerful forces can push at various times toward either equality or inequality and that, therefore, “one should be wary of any economic determinism.” But in the end, he concludes that, contrary to the arguments of Kuznets and other mainstream thinkers, “there is no natural, spontaneous process to prevent destabilizing, inegalitarian forces from prevailing permanently.” To forestall such an outcome, Piketty proposes, among other things, a far-fetched plan for the global taxation of wealth -- a call to radically redistribute the fruits of capitalism to ensure the system’s survival. This is an unsatisfying conclusion to a groundbreaking work of analysis that is frequently brilliant -- but flawed, as well.
Piketty derives much of his analysis from a close examination of an important but generally overlooked driver of economic inequality: in contemporary market economies, the rate of return on investment frequently outstrips the overall growth rate, an imbalance that Piketty renders as r > g. Thanks to the effect of compounding, if that discrepancy persists over time, the wealth held by capitalists increases far more rapidly than other kinds of earnings, eventually outstripping them by a wide margin. To measure this effect, Piketty focuses on the annual capital-to-income ratio, which expresses the size of a country’s total stock of wealth relative to the income generated by its economy in a single year. Capital wealth is generally much larger than yearly national income -- in the case of today’s developed economies, about five to six times as large.
Piketty expertly narrates the story of how that gap has played a major role in economic history since the dawn of the modern era. The peace and relative stability enjoyed by western Europe during the second half of the nineteenth century allowed for enormous capital accumulation. Unprecedented concentrations of wealth arose, boosting inequality. But two world wars and the Great Depression destroyed capital and interrupted that trend. Those cataclysms led to a new, more egalitarian era, shaped by postwar rebuilding, a strong demand for labor, rapidly growing populations, and technological innovation. The three decades between 1950 and 1980 were truly unusual; the constellation of economic and demographic variables that produced prosperity during that period will probably not be re-created anytime soon.
After 1980, ongoing capital accumulation, slower technological progress, and rising inequality heralded a regression to something akin to the conditions of the nineteenth century. But few notice the resemblance between now and then, especially in one crucial respect: the role of inherited wealth. So many nineteenth-century novelists were obsessed with estates and inheritance -- think of Jane Austen, George Eliot, or Charles Dickens -- precisely because receiving wealth from one’s parents was such a common way of prospering during that era. In nineteenth-century France, the flow of inheritances represented about 20–25 percent of national income during a typical year. According to Piketty’s calculations, the Western world is headed toward a roughly comparable situation. The relatively thrifty and wealthy baby boomers will soon begin to die off in greater numbers, and inheritance as a source of income disproportionately benefits the families of the very wealthy.
At the core of Piketty’s story are the tragic consequences of capitalism’s success: peace and a declining population bring notable gains, but they also create a society dominated by wealth and by income from capital. In essence, Piketty presents a novel and somewhat disconcerting way of thinking about how hard it is to avoid growing inequality.
Yet there are flaws in this tale. Although r > g is an elegant and compelling explanation for the persistence and growth of inequality, Piketty is not completely clear on what he means by the rate of return on capital. As Piketty readily admits, there is no single rate of return that everyone enjoys. Sitting on short-term U.S. Treasury bills does not yield much: a bit over one percent historically in inflation-adjusted terms and, at the moment, negative real returns. Equity investments such as stocks, on the other hand, have a historical rate of return of about seven percent. In other words, it is risk taking -- a concept mostly missing from this book -- that pays off.
That fact complicates Piketty’s argument. Piketty estimates that the general annual rate of return on capital has averaged between four and five percent (pretax) and is unlikely to deviate too far from this range. But in too many parts of his argument, he seems to assume that investors can reap such returns automatically, with the mere passage of time, rather than as the result of strategic risk taking. A more accurate picture of the rate of return would incorporate risk and take into account the fact that although the stock of capital typically grows each year, sudden reversals and retrenchments are inevitable. Piketty repeatedly serves up the appropriate qualifications and caveats about his model, but his analysis and policy recommendations nevertheless reflect a notion of capital as a growing, homogeneous blob which, at least under peaceful conditions, ends up overshadowing other economic variables.
Furthermore, even if one overlooks Piketty’s hazy definition of the rate of return, it is difficult to share his confidence that the rate, however one defines it, is likely to be higher than the growth rate of the economy. Normally, economists think of the rate of return on capital as diminishing as investors accumulate more capital, since the most profitable investment opportunities are taken first. But in Piketty’s model, lucrative overseas investments and the growing financial sophistication of the superwealthy keep capital returns permanently high. The more prosaic reality is that most capital stays in its home country and also has a hard time beating randomly selected stocks. For those reasons, the future of capital income looks far less glamorous than Piketty argues.
Piketty, in a way, has updated the work of the British economist David Ricardo, who, in the early nineteenth century, identified the power of what he termed “rent,” which he defined as the income earned from taking advantage of the difference in value between more and less productive lands. In Ricardo’s model, rent -- the one kind of income that did not suffer from diminishing returns -- swallowed up almost everything else, which is why Ricardo feared that landlords would come to dominate the economy.
Of course, since Ricardo’s time, the relative economic importance of land has plummeted, and his fear now seems misplaced. During the twentieth century, other economists, such as Friedrich Hayek and the other thinkers who belonged to the so-called Austrian School, understood that it is almost impossible to predict which factors of production will provide the most robust returns, since future economic outcomes will depend on the dynamic and essentially unforeseeable opportunities created by future entrepreneurs. In this sense, Piketty is like a modern-day Ricardo, betting too much on the significance of one asset in the long run: namely, the kind of sophisticated equity capital that the wealthy happen to hold today.
Piketty’s concern about inherited wealth also seems misplaced. Far from creating a stagnant class of rentiers, growing capital wealth has allowed for the fairly dynamic circulation of financial elites. Today, the Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford family fortunes are quite dispersed, and the benefactors of those estates hardly run the United States, or even rival Bill Gates or Warren Buffett in the financial rankings. Gates’ heirs will probably inherit billions, but in all likelihood, their fortunes will also be surpassed by those of future innovators and tycoons, most of whom will not come from millionaire families.
To be sure, outside the realm of the ultra-elites, the United States suffers from unfairness in terms of who gets ahead in life, and a lack of upward mobility profoundly affects the prospects of lower-income Americans. Still, the success of certain immigrant groups suggests that cultural factors play a more significant role in mobility than does the capital-to-income ratio, since the children and grandchildren of immigrants from those groups tend to advance socioeconomically even if their forebears arrived without much in the way of accumulated fortunes.
It is also worth noting that many wealth accumulators never fully diversify their holdings, or even come close to doing so. Gates, for example, still owns a lot of Microsoft stock -- perhaps out of a desire for control, or because of a sentimental attachment to the company he co-founded, or maybe just due to excessive optimism. Whatever the reasons, over time such concentrations of financial interest hasten the circulation of elites by making it possible for the wealthy to suffer large losses very rapidly.
And in the end, even the most successful companies will someday fall, and the fortunes associated with them will dissipate. In the very long run, the most significant gains will be reaped by institutions that are forward-looking and rational enough to fully diversify. As Piketty discusses, that category includes the major private U.S. universities, and indeed the list of the top schools has not changed much over many decades. Harvard and other elite universities might, in fact, emerge as the true rentiers of the contemporary era: as of 2008, the top 800 U.S. colleges and universities controlled almost $400 billion in assets.
Piketty fears the stasis and sluggishness of the rentier, but what might appear to be static blocks of wealth have done a great deal to boost dynamic productivity. Piketty’s own book was published by the Belknap Press imprint of Harvard University Press, which received its initial funding in the form of a 1949 bequest from Waldron Phoenix Belknap, Jr., an architect and art historian who inherited a good deal of money from his father, a vice president of Bankers Trust. (The imprint’s funds were later supplemented by a grant from Belknap’s mother.) And consider Piketty’s native France, where the scores of artists who relied on bequests or family support to further their careers included painters such as Corot, Delacroix, Courbet, Manet, Degas, Cézanne, Monet, and Toulouse-Lautrec and writers such as Baudelaire, Flaubert, Verlaine, and Proust, among others.
Notice, too, how many of those names hail from the nineteenth century. Piketty is sympathetically attached to a relatively low capital-to-income ratio. But the nineteenth century, with its high capital-to-income ratios, was in fact one of the most dynamic periods of European history. Stocks of wealth stimulated invention by liberating creators from the immediate demands of the marketplace and allowing them to explore their fancies, enriching generations to come.
Piketty’s focus on the capital-to-income ratio is novel and worthwhile. But his book does not convincingly establish that the ratio is important or revealing enough to serve as the key to understanding significant social change. If wealth keeps on rising relative to income, but wages also go up, most people will be happy. Of course, in the past few decades, median wages have been stagnant in many developed countries, including the United States. But the real issue, then, is wages -- not wealth. A high capital-to-income ratio might be one factor depressing wages, but it hardly seems central -- and Piketty does not claim, much less show, that it is.
Two other factors have proved much more important: technological changes during the past few decades that have created a globalized labor market that rewards those with technical knowledge and computer skills and competition for low-skilled jobs from labor forces overseas, especially China. Piketty discusses both of those issues, but he puts them to the side rather than front and center.
Of course, income and wealth inequalities have risen in most of the world’s developed nations, and those processes will likely continue and perhaps intensify in the immediate future. But for the world as a whole, economic inequalities have been falling for several decades, mostly thanks to the economic rise of China and India. Growth in those countries has depended in part on policies of economic liberalization, which themselves were inspired and enabled, to a certain extent, by capital accumulation in the West. The relative global peace of the postwar period might have bred inequality in rich countries, but it has also led to reform and economic opportunity in poorer countries. It is no accident that communism was the product of war and civil conflict.
The final chapters of the book, which contain Piketty’s policy recommendations, are more ideological than analytic. In these sections, Piketty’s preconceptions lead to some untenable conclusions. His main proposal is a comprehensive international agreement to establish a progressive tax on individual wealth, defined to include every kind of asset. Piketty concedes that this is a “utopian idea” but also insists that it is the best possible solution to the problem. He hedges a bit on the precise numbers but suggests that wealth below 200,000 euros be taxed at a rate of 0.1 percent, wealth between 200,000 and one million euros at 0.5 percent, wealth between one million and five million euros at 1.0 percent, and wealth above five million euros at 2.0 percent.
Although he recognizes the obvious political infeasibility of such a plan, Piketty has nothing to say about the practical difficulties, distorting effects, and potential for abuse that would inevitably accompany such intense government control of the economy. He points to estimates he has previously published in academic papers as evidence that such a confiscatory regime would not harm the labor supply in the short term. But he neglects the fact that in the long run, taxes of that level would surely lower investments in human capital and the creation of new businesses. Nor does he recognize one crucial implication of his own argument about the power of nondiminishing capital returns: if capital is so mobile and dynamic that it can avoid diminishing returns, as Piketty claims, then it will probably also avoid being taxed, which means that the search for tax revenue will have to shift elsewhere, and governments will find that soaking the rich does not really work.
Piketty also ignores other problems that would surely stem from so much wealth redistribution and political control of the economy, and the book suffers from Piketty’s disconnection from practical politics -- a condition that might not hinder his standing in the left-wing intellectual circles of Paris but that seems naive when confronted with broader global economic and political realities. In perhaps the most revealing line of the book, the 42-year-old Piketty writes that since the age of 25, he has not left Paris, “except for a few brief trips.” Maybe it is that lack of exposure to conditions and politics elsewhere that allows Piketty to write the following words with a straight face: “Before we can learn to efficiently organize public financing equivalent to two-thirds to three-quarters of national income” -- which would be the practical effect of his tax plan -- “it would be good to improve the organization and operation of the existing public sector.” It would indeed. But Piketty makes such a massive reform project sound like a mere engineering problem, comparable to setting up a public register of vaccinated children or expanding the dog catcher’s office.
Worse, Piketty fails to grapple with the actual history of the kind of wealth tax he supports, a subject that has been studied in great detail by the economist Barry Eichengreen, among others. Historically, such taxes have been implemented slowly, with a high level of political opposition, and with only modestly successful results in terms of generating revenue, since potentially taxable resources are often stashed in offshore havens or disguised in shell companies and trusts. And when governments have imposed significant wealth taxes quickly -- as opposed to, say, the slow evolution of local, consent-based property taxes -- those policies have been accompanied by crumbling economies and political instability.
Recent wealth-tax regimes in the European Union offer no exceptions to this general rule. In 2011, Italy introduced a wealth tax on real estate, but Rome retracted the plan after the incumbent government was dealt a major blow in elections last year, partly owing to public dissatisfaction with the tax scheme. Last year, the government of the Republic of Cyprus imposed the equivalent of a tax on bank deposits, only to see the tax contribute to, rather than reverse, the island’s economic struggles.
The simple fact is that large wealth taxes do not mesh well with the norms and practices required by a successful and prosperous capitalist democracy. It is hard to find well-functioning societies based on anything other than strong legal, political, and institutional respect and support for their most successful citizens. Therein lies the most fundamental problem with Piketty’s policy proposals: the best parts of his book argue that, left unchecked, capital and capitalists inevitably accrue too much power -- and yet Piketty seems to believe that governments and politicians are somehow exempt from the same dynamic.
A more sensible and practicable policy agenda for reducing inequality would include calls for establishing more sovereign wealth funds, which Piketty discusses but does not embrace; for limiting the tax deductions that noncharitable nonprofits can claim; for deregulating urban development and loosening zoning laws, which would encourage more housing construction and make it easier and cheaper to live in cities such as San Francisco and, yes, Paris; for offering more opportunity grants for young people; and for improving education. Creating more value in an economy would do more than wealth redistribution to combat the harmful effects of inequality.

The Economist resenha O Capital no Seculo XXI: bom resumo historico,prescricao de politica deficiente

Piketty fever

Bigger than Marx

A wonky book on inequality becomes a blockbuster

Making equations cool again
IT IS the closest thing to a pop-culture sensation heavyweight economics will ever provide. “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, a vast work on the past and future of inequality by Thomas Piketty, a French economist, has become the best-selling title at Amazon.com. In America the online retailer has run out of the 700-page hardcover, which it sells for $25.
“Capital” has many virtues. It is a clear and thorough analysis of one of the foremost economic concerns of the day. It provides readers with a simple explanation for rising inequality. Wealth generally grows faster than the economy, Mr Piketty argues. What is more, there are few economic forces that counteract its natural tendency to become concentrated, as greater wealth brings greater opportunity to save and invest. In the absence of exceptionally rapid growth or a nasty period of geopolitical instability like that between 1914 and 1945, inequality therefore grows.

The book has attracted much criticism, however. The most common complaints fall into four broad categories. The first concerns Mr Piketty’s tone, beginning with the title. A deliberate allusion to Karl Marx’s magnum opus, it suggests both immodesty and an innate antipathy to markets. Some critics object to Mr Piketty’s use of words like “appropriation” to describe the rising share of income going to the rich. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Shuchman, a fund manager, fumed at the book’s “medieval hostility to the notion that financial capital earns a return”.
This is not just a matter of presentation. There is no disguising that Mr Piketty is keener on redistribution than many of his critics. Clive Crook, a columnist at Bloomberg (and former deputy editor of The Economist), asks whether the levels of future inequality the book predicts are really as “terrifying” as Mr Piketty claims.
Others find fault with the book’s economics. The statement “r > g” (meaning that the rate of return on capital is generally higher than the rate of economic growth) is central to the book’s argument that wealth tends to accumulate over time. But some complain that is too mushily defined, especially by comparison with the calculus-strewn pages of much economics research. Writing in Foreign Affairs, Tyler Cowen of George Mason University reckons Mr Piketty sees capital as a “growing, homogeneous blob”, and so fails to take account of the variation, across time and investments, in the returns to wealth.
Happily, “Capital” is not written in economist-ese. There is relatively little mathematics; Mr Piketty uses 19th-century literature to illustrate many of his points. He freely acknowledges that riskier ventures are more lucrative than safer bets like government bonds. But he is less interested in individual investment choices than in the overall growth in value of an economy’s wealth, including everything from industrial machinery to summer homes and art collections. His data suggest that, with the exceptions mentioned, wealth of this sort does tend to grow faster than the economy as a whole. Since 1700, he reckons, wealth globally has enjoyed a typical pre-tax return of between 4% and 5% a year—considerably faster than average economic growth.
Doubting Thomas
Other critics claim that Mr Piketty ignores bedrock principles of economics. Those dictate that the return on capital should fall as it accumulates. The 100th industrial robot does not provide nearly the same boost to production as the first. Kevin Hassett, of the American Enterprise Institute, a free-market think-tank, reckons the return should fall fast enough as wealth builds that the share of income that goes to the owners of capital should not rise (as Mr Piketty suggests it does).
This disagreement is partly a problem of definitions. Capital in Mr Piketty’s book includes forms of wealth, such as land, that would not figure in economists’ models of production; his rate of return is the pace at which such wealth grows rather than the benefit to firms of investing it. Mr Piketty’s data appear to justify this approach: in the past, at least, the rich have been able to shift resources into higher-yielding forms of wealth when over-investment slashes the return. Mr Piketty also argues that the return on capital can be propped up by technology, which could lead to new ways of substituting machines for people.
A third category of criticism focuses on whether Mr Piketty overstates the extent to which the future is likely to resemble the past. Mr Cowen wonders whether r, however defined, is likely to continue to be higher than the rate of economic growth. Writing in the National Review, Jim Pethokoukis predicts that the same excessive pessimism about economies’ capacity for growth that sank Marx’s prophecies would also undermine Mr Piketty’s.
In a similar vein, some critics question the parallel between today’s wealth (which is mostly the product of soaring labour incomes) and that of the “idle rich” of the 19th century, living off inheritance. The long-run relationship between and has little to do with the fortunes accumulated by Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.
Mr Piketty acknowledges the point, but does not let it distract him from his broader emphasis on the long-run returns to wealth. That is not an absurd decision. Some fortunes, like Warren Buffett’s, seem a confirmation of the contention that is greater thang. Mr Piketty rightly points out that self-made riches may become tomorrow’s family fortune, given the propensity of wealth to perpetuate itself.
The book’s final section, on how policy should respond to rising inequality, has provoked the most disagreement. Mr Piketty’s proposal for a global tax on wealth is widely written off as politically impossible (which he concedes). Critics like Mr Cowen and Greg Mankiw, an economist at Harvard University, argue that his recommendations are motivated by ideology more than economics.
“Capital” does give unduly short shrift to conservative concerns. Mr Piketty glosses over the question of whether attempts to redistribute wealth will weaken growth. He also assumes, rather blithely, that growing inequality leads to instability. Yet that is not always the case: many democracies have managed such challenges without upheaval. Given the mass of data Mr Piketty has assembled, he might profitably have analysed in what circumstances inequality generates conflict. Then again, the success of his book, and the ever-expanding commentary it has provoked, will doubtless inspire others to do so soon.

quinta-feira, 1 de maio de 2014

Marx cobrando direitos autorais? Nao, so os marxistas

Claiming a Copyright on Marx? How Uncomradely

David Walters of the Marxist Internet Archive said Marx “would want the most prolific and free distribution of his ideas possible.”
The Marxist Internet Archive, a website devoted to radical writers and thinkers, recently received an email: It must take down hundreds of works by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels or face legal consequences.
The warning didn’t come from a multinational media conglomerate but from a small, leftist publisher, Lawrence & Wishart, which asserted copyright ownership over the 50-volume, English-language edition of Marx’s and Engels’s writings.
To some, it was “uncomradely” that fellow radicals would deploy the capitalist tool of intellectual property law to keep Marx’s and Engels’s writings off the Internet. And it wasn’t lost on the archive’s supporters that the deadline for complying with the order came on the eve of May 1, International Workers’ Day.
“Marx and Engels belong to the working class of the world spiritually, they are that important,” said David Walters, one of the organizers of the Marxist archive. “I would think Marx would want the most prolific and free distribution of his ideas possible — he wasn’t in it for the money.”
Still, Mr. Walters said the archive respected the publisher’s copyright, which covers the translated works, not the German originals from the 19th century. On Wednesday, the archive removed the disputed writings with a note blaming the publisher and a bold headline: “File No Longer Available!”
The fight over online control of Marx’s works comes at a historical moment when his ideas have found a new relevance, whether because the financial crisis of 2008 shook people’s confidence in global capitalism or, with the passage of time, the Marx name has become less shackled to the legacy of the Soviet Union. The unlikely best seller by the French economist Thomas Piketty, “Capital in the 21st Century,” harks back to Marx’s work, examining historical trends toward inequality in wealth.
Despite this boomlet in interest, however, Lawrence & Wishart, located in East London, hardly expects to have an online hit on its hands, said Sally Davison, the publisher’s managing editor. The goal is to create a digital edition to sell to libraries in place of a print edition, which costs roughly $1,500 for the 50 volumes.
“Creating a digital strategy is key to our survival,” she said. “We are currently negotiating with somebody, that’s why we’ve asked the archive to take it off; it’s hard to sell it to librarians if a version already exists online.”
Lawrence & Wishart has been losing the argument online, however. The publisher said that it had received about 500 irate emails, along the lines of “How can you say you are radicals?” There are more than 4,500 signatures on an online petition to oppose the notion of a copyright claim on Marx’s and Engels’s writings; the petition cites the incongruity, noting that the two philosophers “wrote against the monopoly of capitalism and its origin, private property, all their lives.” And the libertarian Cato Institute enjoyed teasing its ideological adversaries with an I-told-you-so blog post titled, “Because Property Rights Are Important.”
Ms. Davison said she was flabbergasted to see Lawrence & Wishart cast as the oppressor. The publisher has two full-time employees and two part-time employees and barely makes ends meet, publishing a handful of journals, like Anarchy Studies, and about a dozen left-wing books a year, she said.
“We make no profit and are not particularly well paid,” she said.
Ms. Davison defended her position by quoting Marx to the effect that you must adapt to real-world conditions: “We don’t live in a world of everybody sharing everything. As Marx said, and I may be paraphrasing, ‘We make our own history, but not in the conditions of our own choosing.’ ”
The publisher also tried to turn the tables on its critics, questioning whether it was indeed radical to believe that there is no ownership of content produced through hard work, like the mammoth translation and annotation of Marx’s and Engels’s work, a project initially directed by the Soviet Union in the late 1960s that took some 30 years of collaboration among scholars across the world.
In a note on its site, Lawrence & Wishart said its critics were not carrying on the socialist and communist traditions, but reflecting a “consumer culture which expects cultural content to be delivered free to consumers, leaving cultural workers such as publishers, editors and writers unpaid, while the large publishing and other media conglomerates and aggregators continue to enrich themselves through advertising and data-mining revenues.”
The statement noted that many works by Marx and Engels — including “The Communist Manifesto,” which urges, “Workers of the world, unite!” — were freely available in translation on the nonprofit archive and other sites.
Ms. Davison said, “This is a 50-volume, academic edition; it isn’t necessary to revolutionary activity,” and noted that much of the material included things like “Marx writing to Engels asking if you want to come by my house to go to this meeting.”
Because of how the complete works of Marx and Engels were translated into English, Ms. Davison said, the copyright had been shared among three publishers: Progress, a company in the Soviet Union that no longer exists; Lawrence & Wishart, once the official publisher of the British Communist Party; and the radical New York publishing house, International Publishers. Lawrence & Wishart, she said, has taken the lead in trying to form a digital strategy.
She said she expected a deal to take effect by early next year, and Lawrence & Wishart and International Publishers both said they would discuss how to divide the proceeds.
Even without the removed Marx and Engels material — consisting mainly of early philosophical and economic writings, as well as notes and letters in which their ideas were first hashed out — the Marxist Internet Archive still will host roughly 200,000 documents in more than 40 languages from political theorists and economists.
Peter Linebaugh, a professor at the University of Toledo in Ohio, who has studied the history of communism, said that the comprehensive English translation of Marx’s and Engels’s writings was a galvanizing event, and that he had great respect for the effort that went into pulling it off. He expressed disappointment over the publisher’s move, and disputed the idea that you could divide Marx’s work into the important and the mundane. “What seems like arcane scholarship,” he said, “can appear as a bombshell to young militants.”
Surveying the entire affair, he concluded, “This is the triumph of capitalism, having the small fish biting at each other.”

Most Popular on NYTimes.com


Venezuela: os assassinos sao proximos do poder? - Leandro Mazzini

Embaixador do Brasil deixou Venezuela por ameaça de morte
Leandro Mazzini
Opinião e Notícia, 29/04/2014
Embaixador do Brasil na Venezuela até seis meses atrás, José Marcondes de Carvalho deixou às pressas Caracas porque ele e a esposa, uma artista plástica venezuelana, foram ameaçados de morte. O Ministério de Relações Exteriores e o governo brasileiro tratam o caso sigilosamente.
Marcondes ficou apenas dois anos em Caracas, dos cinco previstos, e as tratativas para sua substituição foram céleres. O substituto Ruy Pereira, 59 anos, assumiu em Novembro passado.
Marcondes segue a linha do governo na parceria com a Venezuela, mas a esposa, uma crítica ferrenha da era Chávez e do presidente Nicolas Maduro, não segurou a verve e virou alvo de ameaças anônimas. O que motivou o casal voltar junto para o Brasil.
Apesar da identidade com o Chavizmo, comenta-se nos bastidores do Itamaraty que o embaixador brasileiro também não teria conquistado a simpatia do regime, como tinha seu antecessor, o embaixador Antonio Simões.
Simões foi confidente de Chávez, recebeu dele a principal medalha de mérito do País, e hoje ocupa o cargo de Subsecretário-Geral para a América do Sul do Ministério das Relações Exteriores (MRE).
Atualmente, o ex-embaixador José Marcondes é secretário de Ciência e Tecnologia do Itamaraty. É quadro de peso no MRE - foi negociador-chefe do Brasil na ONU sobre Mudanças Climáticas.

A Coluna tentou contato pessoalmente com José Marcondes por três semanas, com pedidos pela assessoria do MRE, mas ele não quis falar. Procurada desde quinta-feira (24), a assessoria não se pronunciou até o momento.

Eleicoes 2014: a curva do 'ja ganhou' se aproxima do ponto de inflexao - Editorial Estadao

As agruras da presidente

01 de maio de 2014 | 2h 11
Editorial O Estado de S.Paulo
Em política, nunca se deve dizer nunca, ressalvou dias atrás o ex-presidente Lula, antes de reiterar a lealdade à candidatura de sua afilhada Dilma Rousseff à reeleição. Ela mesma invocou o termo ao responder à inescapável pergunta sobre o "Volta, Lula" que lhe foi feita por jornalistas esportivos em um jantar - cujo prato de resistência deveriam ser os preparativos para a Copa e os protestos contra o evento - segunda-feira, no Alvorada. "Nada me separa dele e nada o separa de mim", entoou. "Sei da lealdade dele a mim, e ele da minha lealdade a ele."
Menos por isso, decerto, do que por saber que Dilma não tem a mais remota intenção de desistir da chance de passar mais quatro anos no Planalto e por pressentir que a operação da troca de nomes poderá não ser, nas urnas, o sucesso que a justificaria, Lula há de calcular que, para si, melhor do que ter elegido um poste será reeleger o poste que, em vez de iluminar, estorva. Se der errado, a culpa, naturalmente, será de Dilma. Se der certo, será a consagração de sua trajetória como o maior líder de massas da história nacional. Guardadas as diferenças, ele já rodou esse filme.
Em 2009, desistiu de buscar o terceiro mandato consecutivo não necessariamente por reverenciar a regra do jogo, que o proíbe, mas por intuir que talvez não pudesse pagar o preço político da tentativa de mudá-la. Antes fazer e tornar a fazer o sucessor, e se guardar para 2018. Não obstante o "nunca", a sua tendência é de permanecer leal a esse traçado. Ocorre que, por si só, o alarido em torno do "Volta, Lula" - resultado do desgosto dos aliados com o desempenho da presidente, do seu fracasso em construir uma coalizão de interesses da qual fosse ela a líder e do receio petista de perder o poder em 2015 - agrava a sua avitaminose política e acentua a sua vulnerabilidade eleitoral.
Um episódio deixa isso claro. Horas antes da entrevista de Dilma, o líder do PR na Câmara, Bernardo Santana, da base governista, se fez fotografar pendurando na parede o retrato de Lula. Segundo ele, 20 dos 32 membros da bancada preferem que o ex-presidente seja o candidato. "Só Lula tem condição de enfrentar qualquer crise", alegou. Pouco importa que tenha se recusado a identificar os supostos 20 lulistas. Pouco importam também as divisões internas no partido que possam ter parte com o anúncio. O ponto é que, estivesse Dilma nadando de braçada nas pesquisas, Santana não se sentiria inseguro do que o espera nas urnas a ponto de aprontar-lhe tamanha desfeita.
A cena de um político aliado afixando a imagem de um Lula com a faixa presidencial é o símbolo mais contundente das agruras de Dilma. É inevitável a comparação com o hino da vitoriosa campanha a presidente do ex-ditador Getúlio Vargas, em 1950. "Bota o retrato do velho outra vez / Bota no mesmo lugar", dizia a marcha que arrebatou o carnaval daquele ano. Eis o carma da presidente. Um dia lhe perguntam o que acha do "Volta, Lula". No outro, ontem cedo, numa entrevista a rádios baianas, o que acha da fidelidade dos partidos alinhados com o Planalto. A resposta é pura Dilma sem açúcar: "Gostaria muito que, quando for candidata, eu tivesse o apoio da minha base, da minha própria base. Agora, não havendo esse apoio, a gente vai tocar em frente".
Falta tocar o eleitor. Por mais que os resultados dos levantamentos de intenção de voto devam ser vistos com cautela - a três meses do início da campanha na TV e a cinco da ida às urnas, quando a disputa ainda não entrou no radar da grande maioria dos brasileiros -, o fato é que a mera coerência dos números da queda da candidata acelera o processo de seu desgaste. Sinal disso é que a equipe da reeleição, segundo uma inconfidência, já se dará por feliz se a chefe parar de cair nas próximas sondagens. A expectativa de vitória no primeiro turno se dissipou. Era, de resto, uma fantasia: nem Lula, apesar de toda a sua popularidade, conseguiu liquidar a fatura logo de saída na reeleição.
Já a aprovação a Dilma - a sua bagagem para as urnas - se aproxima perigosamente do nível que, para os especialistas, conduz antes à derrota do que à vitória eleitoral, sejam quais forem os adversários.