Thursday, April 13, 2006

Problem with Marxism

Capitalism and Marxism are two very distinct theories and societal philosophies that have one very common thread; they both are inherently built around a system of class structure and the acquiring of capital. In capitalism, the means of production are owned by the capitalist, or CEO, in today’s world. The workers who create value for that CEO are compensated duly for their work, even if they are not getting paid for their full value. The justification for the worker not getting paid full value is that there is an intrinsic risk involved for the CEO. If he invests 5 million dollars into a company, and at the end of the year he only gets 3 million back, then he has lost 2 million dollars investing in that company. The worker still gets paid, and this is why he will never be fully compensated for his work as a laborer; there is no risk for him at all.
Marxism believes that since the worker creates the value of the product, that he should then in turn own the means of production. But I have trouble accepting his premise that ONLY the worker creates the value. If a car has all the proper components for it to run, with the exception of the engine, it cannot run. Just as a plot of land has all the utilities and arability to produce crops, the value cannot be produced unless a laborer plows the fields and creates the value, similar to an engine in a car. However, if the car has a flat tire, or the land is not arable, then the value cannot be produced, and even with an engine the car will not run well. Hence, the potentiality of a foreseen and good investment, or car, is, at its core, a skill. Although it isn’t a direct production of value, it is an indirect method of producing the value.


Freedomnow said...

...this should be interesting...

Freedomnow said...

Well there isnt much more to say than Marxism is a complete failure. Stalinism and Maoism have been proven by history to be a sham.

Leninism and Trokyism didnt have enough time to prove or disprove their worth, but the short time it held sway over Russia was a disaster.

It is true that the country was ripped apart by war, but the ghosts of Kronstadt scream of betrayal. Their rebellion was a testament to the failures of Marxist economics and the brutality of its oppression.

The only contribution that Marxism has given the world is in the field of propaganda, totalitarianism and the politics of brinksmanship.

Anonymous said...

Here is the Marxist's reply:
Marxism is inherently better than capitalism for many reasons. First of all, out of all the basic socio-political philosophies, though Marxism has its beliefs, assumptions, and axioms, it is still the least dogmatic. Let's compare various beliefs about human nature:
Fascists believe that human nature is about dominance, that the strong and aggressive will come to power so it is best that a tyrant seizes power and keeps it through militance.

Anarchists believe that human nature is inherently cooperative and that the state is counter-productive. In its abscence, people would band together into egalitarian flocks. Anarchism is the most naive.

Capitalists believe that human nature is inherently competitive and that society is based on rivalry. They believe that power struggles result in productivity. Another myth that capitalists follow is that equality and liberty are inherently irreconcilable, but as we can see, that is not the case!

Libertarians somehow reconcile the seemingly incompatible beliefs of capitalists and anarchists.

Marxist theorists only state that human nature is what it is. Though you made no such generalizations about human nature, you did assume that labor has an inherent need for a sort of nobility (CEOs in today's day and age, feudal lords in centuries past).

Furthermore, capitalism faces an inevitable demise. First of all, capitalism is not even that old. The earliest societies transitioned from communal farm towns to despotism (c. 3000 BC-700 AD), then feudalism (c. 700AD-1500AD), mercantilism (c. 1500AD-1800AD), finally capitalism (late 18th century-today). The problem faced with capitalism, is that it is driven purely by profit. Quantity is often put above quality, but human happiness and livelihood are of a low priority. Most of the humanitarian and economic progress (ending slavery, instituting minimum wage, shorter work periods, etc.) were instituted by leftist reformers. The only thing lower in priority than workers' rights is environmental well-being, because even workers ultimately must be appeased to prevent unrest. The problem is that while some resources are nearly unlimited, most are not. Fossil fuels for instance are increasingly scarce. As coal, oil, and natural gas prices increase (which they are doing), then all goods increase, because petroleum and fossil fuels are required to manufacture and transport goods. Results? Inflation. Given that capitalism is profit driven. The oil companies will oppose research into alternative fuels, and take advantage of the increase in prices to make a quick buck. Resource depletion is just one way capitalism screws itself. A more obvious problem with capitalism, is that history shows (thus far) that in its true form it does not work, except with regulation. As we've stated before, capitalism is based on competition. But, left to their own, without trade restrictions and anti-trust laws, companies get increasingly powerful until they form conglomerates and monopolies. These monopolies dominate market sectors and eventually squash competition. Even with anti-trust laws, companies like Microsoft form near monopolies and produce enormous amounts of inferior products. Imagine how laizzes faire capitalism will work! The current state-corporatist system is unlikely going to stay as it is. Either people will vote towards a more LF capitalism (in which case, capitalism will self-destruct), or economic regulations and state centralization will lead to a more socialistic economy via gradual reform (kind of like the EU). Finally, the proletarian class FAR outnumbers the bourgouisie! They just need to realize their power.

In short, capitalism is likely to die. Even if Marxism/Communism does not take its place, some form of socialism will. Otherwise, perhaps some totally new system will take over. Unfortunately, given the lessons of history, unless revolutionary socialism takes over, the new system will probably be even more reactionary, a centrally planned state corporatism is a likely candidate, and this new system will probably resemble Fascism.

But why did communism fail? First of all, it is important to understand the various Communist theories of the twentieth century.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels formed the foundation for communism in Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto, boh durring the 19th century. From here, Marxism originated. By the early 20th however, various revolutionaries modified Marxist thought. The first form and prototype for 20th century Communism was Marxist-Leninist socialism. The Marxist-Leninists originated in tsarist Russia shortly before the revolution. The first split was between the Mensheviks, who wanted gradual reform in the post-tsarist republic, and the Bolsheviks, who wanted a 2nd revolution to overthrow the nobility. Needless to say, the Bolsheviks won. All Soviet Communism emerges from Bolshevism.

The second major division of World Communism was Maoism, or Chinese communism. Originally, Maoism had strong ties to Marxist-Leninist bolshevism, but after the Sino-Soviet Split and the Cultural Revolution, Chinese Communism and Russian Communism departed.

The third major kind of Communism was Latin American communism or Guevarism. This was most exemplified by Cuba.

Now why did Communism failed so bad, first of all, tyrants like Stalin and Mao had more influence than idealistic philosophers like Leon Trotsky and Che Guevara. Canonical Leninism was not in practice for a long time. Trotskyism was never implemented so we will never know how well it would have survived. Stalinism was too reactionary! The best candidate was Guevarism, but Fidel Castro killed it. Nevertheless, Cuba, though by no means Marx's utopia, probably fared better than any Communist nation in the 20th century.

Commie Knight said...

In extension to the above post, here are some more observations...

While the statment that freedom and inequality are inherently conflicting is untrue, why this is the case was not explained. This belief is neo-liberal (in British terminology, in US libertarian-conservative) lie. Essentially, this assumes that class stratification is, always was, and forever will be essentially part of human nature. This is not the case. Some say that civilization is inherently based on a hierarchy of stratisfied classes. Thus, depending on the definition of civilization, such a view is nearly tautological, but there were not always haves and have-nots. Though anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens) have only been around for 80,000-110,000 years, archaic members of H. sapiens have lived almost as far back as 200,000 years. Our genus has existed for over 2 million years, and humanoid primates for 5-8 million years. (Now I know that some of your readers might be of the inbred creationist variety and will thus believe that humans originated from a couple created magically c. 4000 BC whose inbreeding offspring produced humanity, but that does not concern me). So when did mankind originate? If you refer to our current species and subspecies, then about 100,000 years ago. If you refer to our species (including archaic forms), then twice as much time has elapsed. If the genus is indicated, then the age is older than 2,000,000 years. If you include even earlier hominids, then this date could be stretched back 4 million - 8 million years ago. But when did civilization arise? At most, 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Cresent, and later in China's river valleys. After the agricultural revolution, tribal cheiftains were able to gain power above mere agrarian workers and agricultural surpluses became a commodity. From here the state emerged, but this was not always the case. There are still remaining hunter-gatherers who live in egalitarian bands or tribes, but these people may be assimilated soon. Over time fewer and fewer aboriginal peoples remained, but before the agricultural revolution, everyone was a hunter-gatherer. The dominant social structure of all hominid species was the band, with possible links to the social groups of the other great apes. With the arrival of Homo sapiens, developments of language and an evolutionary acceleration of brain structure permitted more complex social structures. The primitive fetishism of H. ergaster, H. erectus, H. heidelbergensis, and H. neandertalensis, gave rise to advancing forms of shamanism, and in addition to the band system, larger and more complex societies called tribes emerged. But even tribes were egalitarian communes. Though the shamans were revered for their connection to the spirit world, they were no more important than any other member of the tribe. Occasionally, a tribal leader or chief would become more than just a figurehead, and a chiefdom would form. This was usually either in rare cases where hunter-gatherers could be (or were forced to be) sedentary, or in cases when they were influenced by civilized states. Throughout most of human history, however humans lived in class-free societies.

I am not advocating anarcho-primitivism or a return to a nomadic livelihood. I am only saying that class stratification is not a necessary aspect of human existence. I am not calling for the abolition of civilization, governments, or the state. Instead, the class hierarchy must be toppled, with the state melded to the people. A communist society could be possible with intensive agriculture, sedentary settlement, and advanced science and technology. The challenge is to apply the egalitarianism of bands and tribes to the state on a global level. Governments and the state will not exist except for the intention to protect the people and maintain tranquil order. This form of governance will be ultimately democratic, but like the democracy of ancient Athens, none of this representative bullshit. The people of the world-from unskilled laborers to professionals will have democratic power through socialism. Unlike classical Greek democracy however, there will be a truly classless and egalitarian society. None of the racism, sexism, and wealth-based distribution of power of ancient Athens. In this way the people could be free and equal.

My second observation is why bolshevism failed as an ideology.
* The Marxist philosophy is entirely secular. Though it is atheistic and infavorable of religion, genuine Marxists disapprove of religious persecution and forcing people to renounce their beliefs. Marxists believe that religion will simply be extinguished once communism is achived because everyone would be happier, and because hierarchical systems (like the clergy of organized religions or priestly class) will be abandoned.
-The Bolshevik Communism of Soviet Russia and Maoist China was not only extremely oppressive with regards to religion, but they established a Marxist-Leninist religion consisting of a worldview based on Hegelian metaphysics (dialectical materialism) and the idolatrous hero-worship of such figures as Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. (Kids grew up being taught that Lenin and Mao had magical powers.) In turn the ethics of these regimes were determined not according to genuine Marxist philosophy but on the(bolshevik) "Marxist"-Leninist religious ideology and the personality cult surrounding the current commie leader. (Admittedly though, Jews and Muslims faired much better under the USSR then they did under the tsar.)
* Marx's dictatorship of the proletariat was not literally meant to be a totalitarian autocratic regime ruled by a single militaristic tyrant. It was merely meant to be a short term martial law type system to prevent both anarchistic elements of society from perpetuating chaos and reactionary elements from rebuilding the bourgoise class structure in the wake of a revolution. This militant workers' state was only supposed to rapidly transform to a more democratic one leading to socialism and communism.
-The Soviet Union (especially) under Stalin, perpetuated bolshevik fascism and pseudo-communism. In fact, some say that by Gorbachev's time communism/socialism itself vanished before the Soviet system of government did, seeing as gangster capitalism and kleptocracy were already to reform. Post-Soviet Russia is now a mob state (much like 1920's Chicago, but at least that was not nation-wide).

Finally, why do local attempts at communism, or even more pragmatic socialism fail? Simple! Because socialism, like capitalism, is a global system. Hippy communes failed because... (ok bad example, the outside environment probably had less to do with it than the fact that hippies are on average dirty, lazy, smelly, drugged-out quasi-intellectuals). But socialist experiments such as local reforms made by socialists elected to a local office (not so much in the US, more so in Canada or Western Europe, and rarely of the communist/Marxist variety, usually of reformsit social democratic variety), or by working-class entrepeneurs setting up socialist businesses tend to fail because the economic system at the national and global levels is capitalist. A socialist business owner might want to pay his employees (who tend to be coworkers) better, emphasize quality more, and struggle to sell his/her product at a reasonable price, but is forced by the constraints of the capitalist system to make a profit. Generally, the capitalist system is hostile to anyone NOT trying to make a profit. But if a leftist economic system is to be implemented on a wide scale, the capitalists will have a problem. Namely, their mode of production would be out of place and obsolete.

CaptainAmerica said...

Well I can see sometime took a great deal of thought in time into their critique of my critique, and for that I am grateful. Providing the intellectual critique you have done was very well written and I can see you have a vast range of knowledge in many aspects of history, always a plus. For all I know this could be one of my professors. :)

But let me go over some of your points as there are a couple of things which trouble me with your reasoning. I'm also assuming that the same person posted the last two comments.

You say that capitalists are wrong for believing that equality and liberty are inherently at odds with each other, yet you provide no such example to prove this to be the case. Liberals favor expanding government controls, shrinking the sphere of freedom of choice, to promote equality -- equal dependence on government-provided education, health and pension entitlements. This produces a culture of dependency. It kills individual competence and hampers the progress that resukts from competing social alternatives, in education and health care. Communists want to limit freedom of choice in order to promote the social solidarity of equal dependence on government provision of services and equal access to all. A sort of utilitarian methodological ssolution if you will. This intrinsically will hurt and individuals freedom to succeed to his fullest potential if the state mandates his money in taxes to finance others food and shelter.

Marxists theorists SAY that they represent what human nature is, but indeed that is not the case. Capitalism prescribes to the notion that we are free to compete with one another. That we are social beings who always wish to maximize our worth or profit. Place a communist in a position of power and you see the abolute power and taste of authority corrupt his idea of egalitarianism, which is against human nature at its core. Humans thrive off profit, competition, and the quest and journey for power.

Resource depletion is a weak argument for the demise of capitalism. First off, the resources allocated from the oil companies are driven by private entrepreneurs. In a competetive market based environment, the consumer will not purchase the high costs of fossil fuels as alternative energy and research will be produced from another company aiming to seek the needs of the consumer. The oil companies will then either lower prices or raise the quality to compete in the capitalist market based economy. It is driven by the consumer and the inflation is curbed by raising the interest rates, that is why we have established a Fed. Reserve in America.

I do not have time to go over the rest of my points, but I will return later.

I will correct one of your points, Mao was already distant from Soviet communism BEFORE the Cultural Revolution. Stalin never did really like the Chinese communist state and always felt as an elitist toward the Mao, and for that Mao despised them in return.

Commie Knight said...

"You say that capitalists are wrong for believing that equality and liberty are inherently at odds with each other, yet you provide no such example to prove this to be the case."

First of all, you can not honestly say that I did not (at least try to) support my claim that equality and freedom are conflicting values. I used the fact that pre-state societies, which are probably unbeatable as far as personal liberty goes, are of a strictly egalitarian nature. Second, I'd like to see you defend how liberty is compatible with a stratified system. Unless everybody is equal, someone is on top and someone is on bottom. So from where doth the freedom of the underclass come?

"Liberals favor expanding government controls, shrinking the sphere of freedom of choice, to promote equality -- equal dependence on government-provided education, health and pension entitlements. This produces a culture of dependency."

Be it as it may. It is not like social conservatives do not have their own agenda which necessarily conflicts with personal freedom, including increasing police and military power and exploiting the religion of the populace to further certain plans. But I digress and this is best left for another discussion.

"...but indeed that is not the case. Capitalism prescribes to the notion that we are free to compete with one another. That we are social beings who always wish to maximize our worth or profit."

In other words, that competition is an integral part of human nature which may or may not be true... I don't know. Just remember this quote: "Capitalism is the belief that the wickedest of men will do the wickedest of deeds for the common good of all."

"Place a communist in a position of power and you see the abolute power and taste of authority corrupt his idea of egalitarianism, ..."

Power corrupts. I am willing to grant THAT is human nature. Though no doubt the Soviet/Maoist system had a long history of abuses, it was not always the case that communists were tyrants. Many Communist Party members stayed true to their ideals. Unfortunately the better ones, such as Leon Trotsky and Che never held power and were instead superseded by the dictators. The best thing about history is that we could all learn from the mistakes of others...

"[egalitarianism] is against human nature at its core. Humans thrive off profit, competition, and the quest and journey for power."

When mentioning human nature, the nature versus nurture debate invariably comes up. Understand that even though I am a radical leftist, I do not believe in a strictly social-environmentalist perspective. People have the impression that leftists favor the nurture side, given that modern campus liberals (post-modernist philosophers, neo-feminists, political corectness nazis), as well as Stalinists (it were Lysenko's neo-Lamarkian evolutionary principles which were favored over Darwin's theory in keeping with the tradition of the Marxist-Leninist state religion of the USSR, and whose implementation in agriculture resulted in a large part of the starvation deaths) both favor an environmental approach to the extreme. I however believe that much human behavior is in fact biological/genetic, including all the baser instincts, so as a leftist hereditarian I stand in a small camp. Nevertheless, I still think that a large part of human behavior is socially conditioned, including most of the more complex behavior, and that much of what is termed human nature is in fact cultural, not hereditary. In arguing that human nature is inherently profit-driven, competitive, and anti-egalitarian, you are ignoring the fact that for the bulk of human existence on the planet, people were without money or enterprise, and were equals. If anything, egalitarian living based on sharing is probably closer to our biological nature. You nonetheless believe that capitalism is part of human nature as do many people living today. This belief is memetic in nature. This idea or meme has proliferated so deeply in modern Western cultures that everybody views history in the context of present-day society. For more on memes and memetics I suggest you read Richard Dawkins' writings on the subject.

"Resource depletion is a weak argument for the demise of capitalism. First off, the resources allocated from the oil companies are driven by private entrepreneurs. In a competetive market based environment, the consumer will not purchase the high costs of fossil fuels as alternative energy and research will be produced from another company aiming to seek the needs of the consumer. The oil companies will then either lower prices..."

OK, that was a bad point! Capitalism may have a penchant to survive the resources it depletes. Even so, you seem to have the optimistic belief that good-ole American innovation is going to provide alternative energy sources, which it may, but many scientists researching such technologies work either in the government, universities, or private institutions, and lobbyists for the oil and gas companies no doubt will try everything they can to thwart such efforts, to cut funding to chemists searching for new power sources or engineers designing vehicles using little or no gas. If it is the corporate entrepreneurs who do so, then my argument does not carry the same rate. Aside from resource depletion, pollution is another problem and the capitalist economy is definitely not the ecosystem's best friend!

"...Mao was already distant from Soviet communism BEFORE the Cultural Revolution. Stalin never did really like the Chinese communist state..."

Well, I must have worded it poorly. Of course, the Bear and the Red Dragon were rivals from early on (though NOT from the beginning because Chinese Communism no doubt was inspired chiefly by Bolshevism), what I meant to say was that the Cultural Revolution was sort of a climactic end of this process.

Anyways, I applaud you on your rhetorical skills. At least you argue against communism at the philosophical level, rather than resorting to ad hominem attacks like everyone else seems to do.

Freedomnow said...

Lets dispense with rhetoric.

The basic fact is that every Communist economy has failed.

China and Vietnam only had success after they adopted a capitalist model (unfortunately they retained their oppressive totalitarian govts with only slight liberalizations).

So Leninist, Stalinist, Maoist and every Communist faction has been a failure, while capitalism has been healthy for over 200 years.

Anonymous said...

You have great linguistic skills, and I am sure you make a great public speaker, but you are not so good at catching logical falacies. I am speaking specifically about the fallacy of selective observation. The examples were not the best, because first off, the above regimes were planned not by philosophers and intellectuals, but garden variety politicians (I.E. crooks). Essentially, I will say this one las time. Communism likely failed because the world was not ready for communism. The Bolshevics were wrong for believing that they could push Marx's ideals on an unwilling populace, similarly the Mensheviks were probably too naive in believing that communism will slowly wash away capitalism. If communism is ever going to work, a completely new method is needed. Regardless, part of me supports a laissez faire capitalism as an alternative to this weak-ass mixed economy, just to test out the theory of capitalism. If you, Mister Laissez Faire, believe that capitalism is so great, let us see how it survives with no regulation (including anti-trust laws). And we shall see how The System deals with all the Martha Stewarts and Bill Gateses who inevitably emerge. Leftist reforms will not end capitalist opression. They will only limit it but ultimately extend it. I believe in revolution, but this revolution must be a popular one and hopefully peaceful revolution. The people can not be forced! The time will come when it is right. If however, this purified capitalist economy somehow works, and just sustaining itself is not enough, it must not oppress the less fortunate, then maybe I will abandon my socialism and become some Libertarian hard-ass. Until then I hope for the demise of capitalism!

CaptainAmerica said...

But what can we go by if th purest form of Marxism and communism have never been implemented? Is it not possible or plausible to say that they are impossible to apply to the real world, simply because of the sweet obsession of power by human nature? If you want to set up a pure Marxist form of government, straight out of Das Kapital, the are you saying that there will be no oppression, no revolting, no dissident, no poverty, no unemployment, etc.? The human mind can only grasp with what it deals with in reality. In other words economic theories are written every year, like Julius Evola's theory of quasi-fascism and a right-wing critique of free markets, but where does all this go if the application is never amountd to in society. It is the will of the people as you so rightly point out. It is the consent of the people who exist within a system of government that they believe treats them fairly. It is only the poor who wish to change the status quo and why is this? They want economic systems which deprive men of their right to expression and advancement in human nature, and wish to presuppose a conditioned ideology that pushes for the coercive action of equality and the abolishment of greed. Although you are correct in saying a PURELY Marxist based system of government has never been applied, is it even feasible for such application to BE applied? The answer is no.

Commie Knight said...

The heart of the problem is... that since such a system was never implemented, then there is no empirical grounds for rejecting it. I am a strong supporter of the scientific method. As such, it is best to experiment rather than hypothesize. Nevertheless, your argument is against communism on theoretical grounds. People like freedomnow on the other hand are lead by blind patriotic flag-waving and will believe anything the establishment tells them, in his unquestioning worship of the government. He will spit out strawmen and red herring left and right. Soviet Communism failed, Chinese Communism failed, Russian Communism failed... blahblahblah therefore communism never could work. (He neglected to even mention Cuban communism, but that would go against its agenda, because it is somewhat successful, though its prospects are not that good). Using that line of reasoning, Hitler was a Christian therefore Christianity is false. Not a valid argument. You, Mike, are not blinded by such nationalist dogma. But your grounds for rejecting communism are still not certain. The best way to determine who is right is through experiment.