So what's wrong with Marxism?

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  • #27134

    Unseen
    Participant

    I assume I have an advantage over all but a few here in that I actually studied political philosophers in a graduate-level course. Hobbes, Hume, Mill, Rawls, and Marx.

    For most Americans, to say “I’m a Marxist” is akin to admitting to abusing children. It’s hard not to think of Marx, for them, without thinking of the killing fields of Cambodia, Stalin’s an Mao’s excesses, and Castro’s. They don’t think of the European countries, with de facto higher standards of living than the US, who have taken much of Marx’s analysis of capitalism to heart, and made adjustments accordingly.

    You can be a Marxist without going off the deep end.

    So, here we have America’s leading proponent of Marxism being interviewed by Bill Maher.

    What do you think?

    #27139

    _Robert_
    Participant

    I always thought the best corporations I worked with had implemented many Marxist ideas. Examples are employees owned most of the company and shared a common interest in it’s success. Management prioritized getting the right person in the right position and listened to every ones ideas equally. Managers sit in the work area; not in some glass office overlooking a gold course. It goes on and on.

    But don’t take MY stuff goddammit..

    #27140

    Davis
    Participant

    Canada actually had/has collectives in agriculture. There was the wheatboard in central canada. They grew the most sought after wheat in the world and they were obliged to sell it to the government who then sold it abroad for a huge price. You got paid a commission plus the wheat you sold with a guarantee of an income. It was actually extremely successful. And this was implemented in the provinces with the most conservative governments. Ontario does something very similar with Milk. In fact I believe Minnesota also has a form of collectivization with Milk (or is it Wisconsin?). Dairy farmers are loathed to give up the milk board and Ontarians get reasonably priced high quality milk. It’s a win win. But of course this is a rare exception.

    Where collectivization is mutually agreed to, the conditions are right and it is sustainable. The problem with Marxism is that in insists on collectivization regardless of 1. If growers and distributors agree to it. 2. The market and supply conditions make it feasible 3. It is sustainable. And you can achieve most of the goals of Marxism without enforcing it on people, allowing mechanisms to change government and using mixed systems. As can be seen, its even possible to implement a few collectives without Sovietesque horror. Unfortunately Marxists refuse to accept the sucessful marriage of socialism and capitalism in mixed systems and keep on insisting on what will be the actually first “correct” and therefore successful implementation of its principles…which is impossible. I don’t think you can really be a half-marxist. Mixed systems are not Marxist. They are mixed systems (European socialism). They have a lot in common but mixed systems reject many fundamental elements of Marxist ideology. When you drop the principles of revolution, collectivization, proleteriat rule…it is no longer Marxism.

    #27141

    Davis
    Participant

    Europe, Canada, Australia, NZ, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan pulled of mixed systems (not Marxist-capitalist but socialist-capitalist). It’s capitalist economic structure, social security education and health care for all, generous aid for those fucked over by or incapable of participating in the economic structure. Capitalism is the dominant, fundamental and necessary engine behind which socialism can then make needed corrections and address unfair inequalities and manage collective responsibilities like health care. And all of this was achieved in most of those countries without a revolution. Which is another major problem with Marxism. It insists on a violent revolution and a revolution that never ends (think Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Cuba). Iceland, Canada and NZ all implemented social programs without violence nor revolutions and none of it was forced on anyone which is the third and probably biggest flaw of Marxism. There is no mechanism to overthrow bad government. The cliché line that “the only real good thing about democracy is that you can easily expel a bad government”. It’s quite true. Marxism imposes itself on the population, ignores dissenting voices and feels itself incapable of turning out a bad government because under its principles there will be a proletariat paradise. It is very rare to find a Marxist who isn’t “all or nothing”. And I don’t know any Europeans who consider their form of government “Marxist” at all. The only way to end a bad marxist government is to end Marxism.

    #27142

    Davis
    Participant

    I always thought the best corporations I worked with had implemented many Marxist ideas

    Indeed I had read that American companies that had participatory structures, and especially where employees had big shares in the company, were amongst the most successful. Which is probably why it’s done so little because tried, tested and demonstrable structures are so quickly rejected by people. Think of it as a sort of anti-imperialism or anti-science but in the business world. Counter-intuitive systems that work must be totally flawed and the same-old brutal merciless relentless top down dominating capitalism is what actually works (does it?). Must have been very interesting working in such a company!

    #27150

    _Robert_
    Participant

    It was very “inclusive” and people had a more positive attitude than most companies where the hallway talk is all gloom and doom and anti this and that. We allowed skeptics to criticize in constructive ways and that was key…otherwise you end up “whistling past the graveyard”. It was very much like a college campus. Some slackers did take advantage and I would say that was always an issue. There was obvious overpromotion of minorities. Nevertheless I and many others would often be moved to tears during presentations about the extent of teamwork and cooperation and the quality of the products. I would often get so involved I look up at the clock and it would be 9 PM.

    We had on-site medical care, free vax’s and a low cost pharmacy. There were many incentive programs based on performance. The stock plan was generous, bonuses were hefty and many did so well that we retired early. I will even receive a nice pension (almost unheard of in the private sector now). Most big US high-tech companies are working under this model now. Just a little bit of wealth distribution. The CEO was doing just fine. I always love watching ‘A Christmas Carol’.

    #27152

    There are some interesting articles on this site.  Sorry, no time to elaborate on it at the moment.

    #27155

    Glen D
    Participant

    In my experience anti communists  I’ve met have seldom actually read ‘Capital’ or even the Manifesto. I read both at University. That was over 30 years ago, so please don’t ask me to explain it. I’m aware that I may also have misremembered, so please don’t yell at me.

    My opinion was and is that Marx provides a brilliant analysis of nineteenth century European  economic system, and remains relevant. However, I think Marx makes some serious errors with assumptions about ‘human nature’. EG by assuming people will be willing to share the fruits of their labour (collectivism) just for a start.

    I also think people are mistaken in referring to communist China, Russia or North Korea. It is my understanding that communism is above al meant to be democratic. Imo a government with some marxist features which is not democratic cannot be reasonably called Marxist.

    At university, my theoretical approach  was a mixture of Marxism, structural functionalism, and cultural relativism.

    These days I’m retired , and a  happy little capitalist thank you very much. However, I have always enjoyed the socialistic aspects of my society.IE in Health, Education and Welfare.   I have never really understood why people in some countries reject the very notion of say universal healthcare. All I can think of is they have very different ideas  about the role of  government. IE includes some distribution of wealth**.

    Today  my views on ‘human nature’ are misanthropic and nihilistic. . My political views: Pluralism as an ideal, realpolitik as the reality.

    I  avoid ideologues of all stripes. I see such people as naive at best, dangerous at worst. I try to be a  good skeptic.  That means question everything. Most especially my most strongly held views. They have all changed over the last 40 years or so. I hope I’m still able to change when shown I’m mistaken.

     

    **Keynes argued that three things are needed for an affluent society:

    (1)  Full employment (defined as 97%)

    (2) . High Wages

    (3) High Taxes

    If workers are not paid well, they are unable to become fully active in a consumer culture.

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by  Glen D.
    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by  Glen D.
    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by  Glen D.
    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by  Glen D.
    #27160

    Unseen
    Participant

    These days I’m retired , and a  happy little capitalist thank you very much. However, I have always enjoyed the socialistic aspects of my society.IE in Health, Education and Welfare.   I have never really understood why people in some countries reject the very notion of say universal healthcare. All I can think of is they have very different ideas  about the role of  government. IE includes some distribution of wealth**. Today  my views on ‘human nature’ are misanthropic and nihilistic. . My political views: Pluralism as an ideal, realpolitik as the reality. I  avoid ideologues of all stripes. I see such people as naive at best, dangerous at worst. I try to be a  good skeptic.  That means question everything. Most especially my most strongly held views. They have all changed over the last 40 years or so. I hope I’m still able to change when shown I’m mistaken.

    Wolfe isn’t a dogmatic Marxist. He believes in taking what works. He knows we’re not living in Mars’s day, 150 or so years ago. He’s not totally anti-capitalist but wants workers to have some power over their work environment and for compensation for business owners to be within rational limits. That way, everyone can win.

    #27162

    Davis
    Participant

    It’s true Marx discusses democracy in his elusive paradise state, but it’s not the kind of democracy that we would recognize, and it would only arrive if the state were already democratic or after the dictatorial revolution fulfilled its goals. Since no Marxist state ever fulfilled its goals, the pseudo democratic Marxist state never happened. To get there, you’d have reached a social atmosphere were government was not much needed and decision making can comfortably be open to consensus (not votes) and democracy by proxy (not through parties). Obviously this is completely unobtainable unless humanity became drugged or genetically altered…and so Marxism and pseudo-democracy while theorized, never happened nor is likely to ever occur.

    #27163

    Unseen
    Participant

    It’s true Marx discusses democracy in his elusive paradise state, but it’s not the kind of democracy that we would recognize, and it would only arrive if the state were already democratic or after the dictatorial revolution fulfilled its goals. Since no Marxist state ever fulfilled its goals, the pseudo democratic Marxist state never happened. To get there, you’d have reached a social atmosphere were government was not much needed and decision making can comfortably be open to consensus (not votes) and democracy by proxy (not through parties). Obviously this is completely unobtainable unless humanity became drugged or genetically altered…and so Marxism and pseudo-democracy while theorized, never happened nor is likely to ever occur.

    And, clearly, Wolfe, and other modern Marxists, have abandoned the notion of forming kibbutz-style communes in favor of more democratic and humane work environments. What’s powerful about Marx in today’s world is not his vision of a communist future, but his virtually dead-on analysis of labor and the built-in contradictions of capitalism, such as this one:

    Capitalists, in their pursuit of wealth, are always looking for ways to pay less for labor, so they opt for automation and foreign labor, but as capitalists compete against each other for cheaper labor, they are draining money out of the home marketplace as workers trying to compete with foreign labor either agree to work for less or are shouldered out of he workforce entirely. Capitalism without being socialized is, thus, untenable. It has a structural flaw. This analysis is hard to contradict. I would say, impossible.

    #27169

    Unseen
    Participant

    #27170

    Unseen
    Participant

     

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