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Marxism, good, bad, both?

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    (Original post by johnaulich)
    Given that not starving is an important biological need, one could objectively say the worker has no choice but to eat for his/her own survival. Let me put it this way: If someone is raped at knife point, would the rapist have a valid argument in saying that their victim chose to go along with it rather than risk death? Is that a 'free choice?'. By your logic, it absolutely would be.
    What is it with socialists and these masochistic reductio ad absurdum arguments? It's like the one about the boss who wants to fire the secretary who doesn't suck his penis. Why use these obscene, over-emotional examples? In the absence of an agent committing the act of coercion it is hard to say that coercion exists.
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    (Original post by Kibalchich)
    Marx argues that the social tensions inherent in feudalism eventually gave rise to the very thing that ended it - capitalism. He also argued that there are inherent tensions within capitalism that will tear it apart - that remains to be seen.
    Yeah, the idea of 'class struggle' is contentious. It's interesting, because I think the emergence of capitalism is indeed a crux of the whole debate, and I've been meaning to read up/research this. Obviously, from the libertarian perspective, one might argue that capitalism is the 'natural' order of society once all fetters on production (whether it be the overbearing monarchy, lords, etc) had been released (combined with technological advancements). I am partial to this view, though obviously it depends on how and why capitalism emerged, and I'm not that well versed in such a long and diverse stretch of history to say. Obviously a Marxist will say capitalism is dependent on specific class relations and modes of production, destined to be overcome by socialism, and so there is nothing 'natural' about it.
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    (Original post by Rhadamanthus)
    What is it with socialists and these masochistic reductio ad absurdum arguments? It's like the one about the boss who wants to fire the secretary who doesn't suck his penis. Why use these obscene, over-emotional examples? In the absence of an agent committing the act of coercion it is hard to say that coercion exists.
    Just trying to put it in terms that you understand. Basically, do you agree that if you have a choice between doing as you are told and death, that is not a 'free choice'? Do you agree that starving causes death?

    P.S. Just had a look at your blog. Interesting how you are so quick to point out other people's rhetorical fallacies when you make so many of your own. Also, if I wasn't sure before, I'm now certain you know absolutely nothing about Marxism.
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    I think, from my knowledge of its historiography, another example of the political/ideological factor being crucial is in Nazi Germany (sorry if I can't provide examples more further back, I'm better versed in modern history really). Although the early (and often Marxist-oriented) historiography of Nazi Germany tended to be quite focused on social processes and the emergence of a robust German middle class as key to understanding Nazism, more recent historiography tends to focus on Nazism as an ideology and the brainchild of a single individual, Adolf Hitler (though his ideology had important precedents in German and Western intellectual thought). Nobody really thinks social processes were the root cause of Nazism anymore, and it's not nearly as popular an interpretation for the Soviet Union either (see Malia, Kotkin, Halfin). The same could be said on the historiography for the French Revolution (see Interpreting the French Revolution). In other words, in a variety of fields social history has fallen out of favour somewhat, and cultural/intellectual history is much more in vogue. I think this shows that historians are taking a more balanced approach to history and understand that political/ideological factors act as independent variables and are not always determined by supposed individual or group class interests.

    Remember, Marx formulated his theories just when history as a proper discipline was emerging (correct me if I'm wrong), and since then social history and historical analysis has gone through many changes and improvements. In other words, there's no reason to take Marx as the most reliable source to judge the entirety of human history at all - and that's precisely what he did. Marx has to be viewed in context, as just another writer of his time with extremely brilliant (yet flawed) and consequential ideas. I don't think his views were so influential because they were necessarily correct, but because they seemed to offer a solution to the eternal problems of the human condition. Unfortunately this did have bloody consequences for the 20th century.
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    Put simply, Marxism and Communism are good in theory, but certainly do not work in real life.
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    (Original post by Top Banana)
    Put simply, Marxism and Communism are good in theory, but certainly do not work in real life.
    Please read Marx before commenting. Then read through the thread. To have to keep telling people they have misunderstood Marxism (usually because they haven't read it) is starting to grate.
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    (Original post by johnaulich)
    Please read Marx before commenting. Then read through the thread. To have to keep telling people they have misunderstood Marxism (usually because they haven't read it) is starting to grate.
    Is this the socialist answer to any criticism?
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    (Original post by The_Mighty_Bush)
    Is this the socialist answer to any criticism?
    Well he has been insufferably rude to anyone disagreeing with him so I hope it is just him. In answer to his comments, I have read both this thread and about Marxism, and stand 100% behind my point.
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    (Original post by The_Mighty_Bush)
    Is this the socialist answer to any criticism?
    No its the socialist answer to any criticism based on misconception. If you want an explanation as to why it is a misconception, scroll back through the thread.
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    (Original post by Top Banana)
    Well he has been insufferably rude to anyone disagreeing with him so I hope it is just him. In answer to his comments, I have read both this thread and about Marxism, and stand 100% behind my point.
    About Marxism, but not Marx? Go read Marx, then criticize.

    Since you probably won't though, I'll just very quickly tell you why you're objectively wrong. You have confused Marxism Leninism (if you're talking about Soviets?) and Marxism. The reason why this argument holds no water is because Marx didn't advocate an attempt to force communism in the way that Lenin did; in order to create an artificial classless society, he confiscated the means of production from everybody (rather than from the capitalist profiteers to the proletariat) through a scheme of rapid nationalization. Wage Labour and commodity production remained rampant, just the benefactor had changed (which is why we more accurately call this form of 'Communism' 'State Capitalism'. Marx insisted that Socialism could only rise from the economic and social circumstances created post-Capitalism. Lenin was totalitarian; Marx was a libertarian.

    P.S. I don't think I've said anything particularly rude. There are ruder posts than mine on this thread, anyway.
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    (Original post by johnaulich)
    About Marxism, but not Marx? Go read Marx, then criticize.

    Since you probably won't though, I'll just very quickly tell you why you're objectively wrong. You have confused Marxism Leninism (if you're talking about Soviets?) and Marxism. The reason why this argument holds no water is because Marx didn't advocate an attempt to force communism in the way that Lenin did; in order to create an artificial classless society, he confiscated the means of production from everybody (rather than from the capitalist profiteers to the proletariat) through a scheme of rapid nationalization. Wage Labour and commodity production remained rampant, just the benefactor had changed (which is why we more accurately call this form of 'Communism' 'State Capitalism'. Marx insisted that Socialism could only rise from the economic and social circumstances created post-Capitalism. Lenin was totalitarian; Marx was a libertarian.

    P.S. I don't think I've said anything particularly rude. There are ruder posts than mine on this thread, anyway.
    I guess you could say this is technically true, but does it absolve Marxism, or was Marxism-Leninism the only way the doctrine could be conceivably put into practice?
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    (Original post by Harmonic Minor)
    I guess you could say this is technically true, but does it absolve Marxism, or was Marxism-Leninism the only way the doctrine could be conceivably put into practice?
    The problem is with the assumption that Marx ever suggested it was to be 'put in to practice' but rather... that Socialism and later Communism would be the inevitable result of the collapse of capitalism once it has been seen to through to the end. Whether you agree with him or not that absolves it entirely; The idea of a conscious attempt to enforce communism or 'put it into practice' (no less by a Vanguard party, the equals more equal than others!) is Leninist, not Marxist.
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    (Original post by johnaulich)
    About Marxism, but not Marx? Go read Marx, then criticize.

    Since you probably won't though, I'll just very quickly tell you why you're objectively wrong. You have confused Marxism Leninism (if you're talking about Soviets?) and Marxism. The reason why this argument holds no water is because Marx didn't advocate an attempt to force communism in the way that Lenin did; in order to create an artificial classless society, he confiscated the means of production from everybody (rather than from the capitalist profiteers to the proletariat) through a scheme of rapid nationalization. Wage Labour and commodity production remained rampant, just the benefactor had changed (which is why we more accurately call this form of 'Communism' 'State Capitalism'. Marx insisted that Socialism could only rise from the economic and social circumstances created post-Capitalism. Lenin was totalitarian; Marx was a libertarian.

    P.S. I don't think I've said anything particularly rude. There are ruder posts than mine on this thread, anyway.
    Ah, I finally realise how we differ in opinion. You are referring to differences between Marxism and Marxism Leninism, whereas I am referring to the real world application of Marxism. My criticism of Marxism comes from when, in his view, the proletariat would rise up and take control in a revolution, forming the classless society. Whereas this could happen (though in most cases it has not,) it is my opinion that this classless society would not be able to hold together.
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    (Original post by Top Banana)
    Ah, I finally realise how we differ in opinion. You are referring to differences between Marxism and Marxism Leninism, whereas I am referring to the real world application of Marxism. My criticism of Marxism comes from when, in his view, the proletariat would rise up and take control in a revolution, forming the classless society. Whereas this could happen (though in most cases it has not,) it is my opinion that this classless society would not be able to hold together.
    Yes, but in social and economic conditions created by Capitalism and only after its collapse. A global Socialism is, according to Marx, to replace a Global Capitalism. There is no real world application of Marxism.. because by design it cannot be applied. Whether or not you think it might work is entirely different argument to whether or not you think it has worked in the past (in which case, you are not strictly talking about Marxism).

    FURTHER: Marx doesn't describe you seem to think he has. Classless society is the ultimate Marxist endgame; it is not the stage immediately following a Socialist revolution. Marx sets out (albeit not explicitly) three further stages: Socialism, then first and second stage Communism. Classless society is achieved as a result of an overabundance of material wealth as a result of previous systems.
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    I certainly sympathise with the notion that human decisions are motivated by economic gain. It is certainly good in as much that it seeks to create a pluralist economic society. However, for me, inequality in the world is impossible to remove and so his theory is good but it will never be achieved!
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    (Original post by Rhadamanthus)
    How he knows I've never read Capital (considering that I have) is beyond me.
    They don't seem to have a lot else to say for themselves unfortunately.
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    (Original post by johnaulich)
    The problem is with the assumption that Marx ever suggested it was to be 'put in to practice' but rather... that Socialism and later Communism would be the inevitable result of the collapse of capitalism once it has been seen to through to the end. Whether you agree with him or not that absolves it entirely; The idea of a conscious attempt to enforce communism or 'put it into practice' (no less by a Vanguard party, the equals more equal than others!) is Leninist, not Marxist.
    That's the problem with Marxism, it is too deterministic. And it's all good and well saying Marxism should not be consciously implemented, but I mean, somebody had to come up with Marxism (Marx - though obviously socialism came before Marx, but somebody had to think that up too), and Marxism had to be spread through books, journals, word of mouth etc. One of the most important aspects of Marxism (or at least, Marxism-Leninism) was to inculcate workers with 'class consciousness' (they were obsessed with this) so that they were aware of their historic role.

    And when you think about it, a programme like socialism or Marxism would require more conscious effort than say, capitalism. Socialism is the seizing of the means of production through class war - how can you do this unless you are aware of what needs doing? And then of course, operating the means of production in the name of/for the needs of the workers. Capitalism on the other hand emerged more naturally (at least in my opinion), as the fetters on production were relaxed (as feudalism decayed and finance capital made production and exchange more fluid) and man's natural 'propensity to truck, barter, and trade' (in Adam Smith's famous words) was unleashed. Indeed, capitalism is far less 'ideological' than socialism - if capitalism had an ideology it was liberalism, and much of liberalism pertains to politics over economics (the freeing of the individual to pursue his own destiny, economic or otherwise).

    Quite tellingly, the word 'capitalism' to denote an all-encompassing system was not even conceived until the end of the 19th century (even Karl Marx barely used the word, preferring 'capitalist mode of production'). As Martin Malia wrote,'The fact is that until almost the end of the [nineteenth] century people did not talk about capitalism at all; and when they did take up the term, the initiative came not from the "capitalists" themselves, but from socialists seeking to brand the world they hoped to negate' (The Soviet Tragedy, p. 49). In other words, the idea of 'capitalism' emerged after the fact of its existence (or at the very least, concurrently, as people became aware at the time of a new economic epoch replacing mercantilism). Socialism, however, has always been prospective, and whereas capitalism naturally involves a relaxation of controls (meaning the individual is free to pursue his economic destiny), socialism involves a unitary effort at seizing the means of production, so I fail to see how it could be implemented without some conscious effort.

    But who knows? My view is that technological advancement is what is currently driving history (in conjunction with democratic principles) - perhaps we will see a highly advanced, technocratic collectivist society sometime in the future when we have progressed far enough.
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    (Original post by Observatory)
    They don't seem to have a lot else to say for themselves unfortunately.
    I think its mainly because a lot of the critics on here get things confused (like Marxism and Marxism Leninism; the function and definition of LTV in Marxian economics; the conditions for Socialism and the transition to Communism etc) - To anyone who is familiar with Marx, it becomes very obvious when someone doesn't really know what they are criticizing.
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    (Original post by Harmonic Minor)
    That's the problem with Marxism, it is too deterministic. And it's all good and well saying Marxism should not be consciously implemented, but I mean, somebody had to come up with Marxism (Marx - though obviously socialism came before Marx, but somebody had to think that up too), and Marxism had to be spread through books, journals, word of mouth etc. One of the most important aspects of Marxism (or at least, Marxism-Leninism) was to inculcate workers with 'class consciousness' (they were obsessed with this) so that they were aware of their historic role.

    And when you think about it, a programme like socialism or Marxism would require more conscious effort than say, capitalism. Socialism is the seizing of the means of production through class war - how can you do this unless you are aware of what needs doing? And then of course, operating the means of production in the name of/for the needs of the workers. Capitalism on the other hand emerged more naturally (at least in my opinion), as the fetters on production were relaxed (as feudalism decayed and finance capital made production and exchange more fluid) and man's natural 'propensity to truck, barter, and trade' (in Adam Smith's famous words) was unleashed. Indeed, capitalism is far less 'ideological' than socialism - if capitalism had an ideology it was liberalism, and much of liberalism pertains to politics over economics (the freeing of the individual to pursue his own destiny, economic or otherwise).

    Quite tellingly, the word 'capitalism' to denote an all-encompassing system was not even conceived until the end of the 19th century (even Karl Marx barely used the word, preferring 'capitalist mode of production'). As Martin Malia wrote,'The fact is that until almost the end of the [nineteenth] century people did not talk about capitalism at all; and when they did take up the term, the initiative came not from the "capitalists" themselves, but from socialists seeking to brand the world they hoped to negate' (The Soviet Tragedy, p. 49). In other words, the idea of 'capitalism' emerged after the fact of its existence (or at the very least, concurrently, as people became aware at the time of a new economic epoch replacing mercantilism). Socialism, however, has always been prospective, and whereas capitalism naturally involves a relaxation of controls (meaning the individual is free to pursue his economic destiny), socialism involves a unitary effort at seizing the means of production, so I fail to see how it could be implemented without some conscious effort.

    But who knows? My view is that technological advancement is what is currently driving history (in conjunction with democratic principles) - perhaps we will see a highly advanced, technocratic collectivist society sometime in the future when we have progressed far enough.
    I didn't mean the revolution and socialism should be sustained without conscious effort, just that the collective psyche required for this to happen sincerely.. shouldn't be imposed from anywhere. Large scale/collective class consciousness, in the sense of Marxism (although he wasn't massively clear) should arise as Capitalism collapses, because (as I understand) the social and economic conditions are right for it to happen.

    I should point out that although when pressed I would call myself a Marxist; he is not perfect - I just feel he is 'on the right lines' so to speak. There are plenty of valid criticisms (such as the narrative history argument) I can't defend against.. but that doesn't mean he deserves the blame for Leninism/Stalinism and its associated atrocities, and most of the criticisms on this forum are easily refutable because they are based on misconception.

    Further: Whether Capitalism is the most 'natural' order of things or not (I feel) is quite irrelevant. We could go off an a rather big tangent here on whether natural is better before we could even have the discussion on which might be more so... but perhaps another time?
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    (Original post by johnaulich)
    Just trying to put it in terms that you understand. Basically, do you agree that if you have a choice between doing as you are told and death, that is not a 'free choice'? Do you agree that starving causes death?

    P.S. Just had a look at your blog. Interesting how you are so quick to point out other people's rhetorical fallacies when you make so many of your own. Also, if I wasn't sure before, I'm now certain you know absolutely nothing about Marxism.
    Oh please, pull the other one. I know a damn lot about Marxism considering it's one of the topics I've been reading about for several years now, from Marx to Mises. I'll respond to your arguments tomorrow when I have my toleration levels back to normal - they've been pushed to the ****ing limit today, not just by you or Kibalchich.

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