I'm a Marxist. Are you? Why/Why not?

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This topic contains 72 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Unseen 1 month, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #38568

    Unseen
    Participant

    When I tell a lot of people that I’m a Marxist, they remind me of the excesses of Stalin, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro, and Che Guevara and that “Socialist countries always fail.”

    What they ignore is that one can pick and choose. You can, as I do, accept Marx’s analysis of labor but ignore his remedies.

    As for his analysis of labor, Marx noticed a certain commonality throughout history. A pattern of exploitation. From ancient times through to modern and contemporary times, those who produce get only a portion of the value they produce because a sizeable chunk of it goes to the tribal chief, the lord of the land, the king, and today to the capitalist.

    Marx looked at the capitalism of his day and concluded that it was basically slavery with a pink bow on it. No longer were slave drivers with whips and snarling dogs needed to force people to work. Instead, the simple economics of survival—needing food and clothing and shelter in other words—replaced the whips and dogs.

    The result remained the same: a large benefit goes to people who didn’t earn it.

    If you take a job at Ford or Southwest Airlines or Starbucks, and you are paid $X, you can be sure that there’s a portion you don’t see going to someone who produced nothing or next-to-nothing by comparison.

    If Joe Shmoe Ford investor goes to his mailbox and finds a dividend check for $2500 dollars, that represents value that the workers who produce the cars never saw.

    You can believe this without believing in violent revolution or communes and there are remedies like giving the workers a controlling interest in the companies for which they work, which is a solution favored by Prof. Richard Wolff, America’s leading Marxist economist.

    More from him here:

    #38569

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    I know that Marx has been influential on people whose ideas I value.  Probably he’s correct in some aspects of his analysis as far as it goes – but it can’t be applied too generally, because it’s not a complete theory of everything as it claims to be.

    #38571

    Unseen
    Participant

    I know that Marx has been influential on people whose ideas I value. Probably he’s correct in some aspects of his analysis as far as it goes – but it can’t be applied too generally, because it’s not a complete theory of everything as it claims to be.

    As criticisms go, that’s well on the vague side.

    #38573

    _Robert_
    Participant

    Not sure we are far along the evolutionary path enough for Marxism.

    #38574

    Unseen
    Participant

    Not sure we are far along the evolutionary path enough for Marxism.

    Are we not evolved enough for workers to control the companies for which they work? For one thing, unlike a unionized company, they would have to face and figure out how to respond to the competition.

    #38575

    Unseen
    Participant

    More Prof. Wolff:

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Unseen.
    #38577

    _Robert_
    Participant

    Not sure we are far along the evolutionary path enough for Marxism.

    Are we not evolved enough for workers to control the companies for which they work? For one thing, unlike a unionized company, they would have to face and figure out how to respond to the competition.

    Always be that power grab by that 5 or 10% who will never be content with what they get through fair sharing. You have to suppress a millions of years of alpha behavior. And of all countries, the US is chock full of knuckle draggers who consider Marxism one notch below Satanism, LOL.

    #38578

    Unseen
    Participant

    Not sure we are far along the evolutionary path enough for Marxism.

    Are we not evolved enough for workers to control the companies for which they work? For one thing, unlike a unionized company, they would have to face and figure out how to respond to the competition.

    Always be that power grab by that 5 or 10% who will never be content with what they get through fair sharing. You have to suppress a millions of years of alpha behavior. And of all countries, the US is chock full of knuckle draggers who consider Marxism one notch below Satanism, LOL.

    In a worker-owned company, the moronic 5%-10% can be given the boot by the 90%-95%. You may not be aware of it, but worker owned cooperative companies exist right now. Yes. Here in the good old US of A, too.

    Here is a list.

    Notice that even when a company is worker-owned, it is still run in order to be profitable. It’s just who gets the benefit of the labor that’s different. Being worker-owned does not magically insulate the company from the forces of the marketplace at all.

    The difference is this: The company will not be run top-down, the way things are done in China and other Communist lands. Decisions and policies will be decided by people who know what the hell is going on. Many of us, I’m sure, have worked for companies where policies affecting how things are done are made in an executive office or boardroom. Policies that employees know make no sense and are counterproductive.

    And one thing you can be sure of: The company will not move overseas! You want “Made in America”? Give the company to the workers.

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Unseen.
    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Unseen.
    #38582

    Davis
    Moderator

    I am not a Marxist because a Marxist state does not allow something that I believe is absolutely fundamental to any healthy society: the ability to get rid of a bad government. As far as I know…the only system that can guarantee getting rid of a bad government is a healthy and well functioning democracy. No other system I know of can. Not being able to count on getting rid of a bad government = very very very bad. Mixed systems (capitalist-socialist countries such as in Europe, Canada, Aust, NZ, Japan etc) incorporate the best of democracy and capitalism (being able to get rid of a bad government and economic growth) and that of socialism (generous social programs, modest wealth redistribution, limited state ownership of some industries and services, the state protecting and fostering new industries) etc.

    For me, the future is a more socialised mixed system, with even greater social programs, nationalised utilities and infrastructure, universal income as jobs get replaced by machines and AI and more free services. I believe this is by far the best way to ensure freedoms, accountable government, a reasonable standard of living and humane treatment of the marginalised and dealing with automatisation.

    #38583

    _Robert_
    Participant

    There is nothing about capitalism that prohibits employee owned corps. It is having the government owning and administering the means of production that raises objections. I agree with Davis, a democracy with socialised human services/infrastructure seems to work well.

    #38584

    Davis
    Moderator

    A few industries should absolutely be government owned in most cases:

    Utilities like energy production, water, gas and potentially petrochemicals for small countries. Public transportation including rail (privatisation of rail in the UK has been an unmitigated horrific disaster).

    Some countries have been very successful at starting up companies like aircrafts and car manufacturers and then wisely selling it off when and if it becomes lucrative.

    Some industries can be semi-private like airlines and telecoms (at least the telecom infrastructure).

    Believe it or not some countries actually collectivise some agriculture. For example until very recently Western Canadian provinces had a wheat board which obliged farmers to sell their wheat to them (which actually got a high centralised price for high quality Canadian wheat). Ontario still collectivises its milk (which is high quality and gets a good price for the farmers). Prince Edward Island has a less collectivised Potato board but the government does take care of a lot of infrastructure. This obviously only works in a semi-private collectivisation with high quality products. The Netherlands and Finland also have a lot of collectivised farming.

    Some countries start up state owned tech industries and pharmaceuticals and decide whether to sell it or not if it is viable at the right time. Many East Asian countries literally built their powerful economies and came out of poverty via this method, especially Taiwan and South Korea but to an extent also Japan.

    Basically, some non-competitive markets should be state owned, less viable ones can be state led until they are viable and industries that can easily handle market competition should be privatised.

    Of course all of it should be sufficiently regulated to ensure: no labour exploitation, environmental protection, avoiding anti-trust, cartels, monopolies etc, abusive consumer practices etc.

    Why should the people permit labour exploitation, non living wages, polluting industries and monopolies?

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Davis.
    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Davis.
    #38586

    _Robert_
    Participant

    Yeah, especially for healthcare. Commercializing citizen’s health for profit should have no place in an advanced society. The data speaks for itself on this issue. US healthcare is a disaster by all accounts given the wealth of the nation and you would do better in Morocco than the US.

    Best Healthcare In The World 2021

    https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/best-healthcare-in-the-world

    #38587

    Davis
    Moderator

    In Fact some countries semi-privatise healthcare. For example in the UK and most of Canada some services like physiotherapy have a limited government service with a waiting list, less convenient locations and fewer specialised services mostly for free. Or you can pay for private services (pricey) which can be covered by supplemental insurance. In Spain there is a two tiered system with private doctors and hospitals which usually get the better doctors and services. It is not ideal. Scotland and Belgium provide dental services, most mental health services and (mostly) free medicine. Canada does not. Spain has cheap medicine, limited mental health and no free dental services. It is a mixed bag in most countries. Switzerland and Norway are ideal with almost everything covered.

    #38589

    Unseen
    Participant

    I am not a Marxist because a Marxist state does not allow something that I believe is absolutely fundamental to any healthy society: the ability to get rid of a bad government. As far as I know…the only system that can guarantee getting rid of a bad government is a healthy and well functioning democracy. No other system I know of can. Not being able to count on getting rid of a bad government = very very very bad. Mixed systems (capitalist-socialist countries such as in Europe, Canada, Aust, NZ, Japan etc) incorporate the best of democracy and capitalism (being able to get rid of a bad government and economic growth) and that of socialism (generous social programs, modest wealth redistribution, limited state ownership of some industries and services, the state protecting and fostering new industries) etc. For me, the future is a more socialised mixed system, with even greater social programs, nationalised utilities and infrastructure, universal income as jobs get replaced by machines and AI and more free services. I believe this is by far the best way to ensure freedoms, accountable government, a reasonable standard of living and humane treatment of the marginalised and dealing with automatisation.

    I’m a Marxist in the sense I posited, where one can pick and choose what part of Marx to believe. I would not want a full-on “socialist state” as was tried, to some extent, in Russia, Cambodia, and Cuba. Of course, in the case of Cuba, its failures are at least in part due to American economic and trade sanctions.

    So, you are wrong in the sense that a Marxist today need not want a pure socialist state with state ownership of the means of production. Prof. Wolff is for greater worker control of the operations they work for and in some cases full employee ownership of their workplaces. That is the opposite of Marxist socialism in many ways.

    What I’d like America to become is along the lines of European socialist-ic economies. Countries like Sweden, Germany, and Italy have socialistic governments coexisting with hugely successful corporations.

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Unseen.
    #38591

    Unseen
    Participant

    Yeah, especially for healthcare. Commercializing citizen’s health for profit should have no place in an advanced society. The data speaks for itself on this issue. US healthcare is a disaster by all accounts given the wealth of the nation and you would do better in Morocco than the US. Best Healthcare In The World 2021 https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/best-healthcare-in-the-world

    The best healthcare in the world? Maybe if you’re a multimillionaire, billionaire, Saudi sheik, or Russian oligarch.

    Stunning new report ranks US dead last in health care among richest countries—despite spending the most

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