Friday 21 December 2007

Marx- The Misrepresented Prophet

It serves the interests of the powers that be to misrepresent him.
And history aids that misrepresentation.

He didn't say what they say he did, his theories have not been 'tried', for reasons he himself made clear, and therefore they cannot be said to be false.

Some people tried a revolution once, and attempted to set up a system which bore no resemblance to anything he said, but just because they proclaimed themselves his followers, doesn't invalidate his ideas any more than the suicide cult of Jim Jones invalidates Christian teaching.

They try to portay Marx's theories as being political.
They are not, any more than Darwin's are. Indeed, Engels compared Marx's theories TO Darwin, and the parallel IS actually striking.

Marx's theories describe the evolution of economic models and their relationship to the stage of global technological development. It is human history turned into science.

This is the real point of Marxism. It is removing the superstition and the colour from history, and seeing it as it is, the evolution of a species through ever improving states of social, cultural, technological and political development.

And this is played down. Marx's economic theories are scientifically testable, but more importantly, they explain why they CAN'T be wrong. Like with evolution, we are looking at a simple mechanism of change. The process described is a dynamic one, governed by definite scientific laws.

What Marx argues, is that socio-economic systems evolve, each one replacing the one before as it's time comes, much like the Mammal supplanting the Reptile.

The Roman Economic system was based on plunder and a substantial part of the total population of the world (three eighths of those on the Italian peninsula), being simple slaves.

The medieval system, could survive with a less harsh form of slavery, serfdom.
This was essentially due to the development in Northern Europe, of the horsedrawn plough. It meant less human labour was needed to keep the wheels of society going. No need to work people to death any more.

Then came the mercantilist phase, a phase of adventurous voyages to China, a phase of trade monopolies, of Royal Trading Companies, an era of acquisition and absolutism, where the other races were enslaved, but in Europe all men could aspire to dignity, and discuss the Rights of Man.
Yet again, another advance forward, with a new Economic model.

And then the next phase, the model we live in.
A phase as certain to wear itself out and become obsolete, as the ones before.

And Marx, worked out it's cycle, he explained in simple terms, why the system had replaced Mercantilism, why it worked, why it achieved the great successes it did, why it was the system that was changing the world for the good so dramatically (Yes, he ACTUALLY said this. Marx WASN'T an anti-capitalist, he just understood it.

He also explained how it would come to its end and the ills it caused, why it still wasn't the perfect system, and why eventually the next phase would solve those ills.
Obviously, it stands to reason, one of the initial reasons why a new model is favoured, is it rectifies the bad points of the previous one, just as one of the selling points of Capitalism, was that it was in capitalism's interests to end slavery.

Basically, Marx pointed out the obvious. The system is driven mainly by the change from clamping down on usury, as all previous had tried, and use it inside to fuel a huge expansionist face. The world will be colonised. The new fangled railways, will not lead from London to Manchester, but from Bombay to Rangoon. This economic model is based on profit.
I borrow twenty thousand, return from India with a hundred thousand, but the lender gets forty thousand.

And Marx pointed out, it will carry every technological advance with it, as it drives globalisation, drives the turning of Fiji and Zululand into our culture. There will be no more far away places, when Capitalism finishes it's work.

But one day, it will. Because there are no more far away places.
just one great big Capitalist system, that has now reached the limits of the human race.
Who now to sell to at a profit? Now it turns out there ARE no Martians?

The system turns and eats itself. It shed consumers, creating a class of consumers who don't produce. It helps create imaginary growth, as does inventing money that doesn't exist and lending it to people who will never pay it all back.
Thus the interest monster continues to be fed and the (material) gap between rich and poor expand at accelerating pace.

It's all in Das Kapital.

And eventually, the money will just be worthless. The Cash Economy will just fail. It is inevitable.
And we're almost there.

That's pretty much what he said.
Plus of course, pointing out the obvious. Whatever Economic model we go for next, we will take the chance to rectify the evils of the previous one, just as Capitalists ended slavery.

We will end the control of resources by unaccountable groups.

It's not a recipe for dictatorship- the reverse.
He argues that true democracy and true communism are the same.

What happened in Russia, was not what he said. He said no revolution could work, whilst Capitalism was still growing and existed side by side with it.
In Russia, what existed was State Capitalism, not Communism.

Communism, is a democratic society WITHOUT a party dictatorship, without even an apparatus of state, in the sense we see it.

Just imagine a load of interlocking County councils, Electricity boards (elected by you), a local restaurant which fed the neighbourhood (chosen by the people), everything, every utility governed by an executive elected by you.

But no more Central government, with control over armed, uniformed enforcers.
No more corporations buying and selling human labour.

THAT's what Marx 's theories are all about.

And that's why, he is one of the good guys, and not the villain the powers that be want you to see him as.


Anonymous said...

Election at every level. Sounds more like the USA than here. But why do people make the choices they do? Is democracy more than the plaything of orators and mountebanks?

Anonymous said...

If there is election at every level then won't things eventually get bogged down in paperwork and legislation? There is no use in voting to make changes if you have to vote on whether or not to vote.

It's fine to talk the talk...just so long as that's not all your doing.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the old WRP ideas Mr Ingsoc - Soviet Power now...and total bollocks of course.. I cannot imagine anything more likely to produce pogrom and feud than this, really. Like Cuba but without the cadillacs and palm trees...

Anonymous said...

Hey Crushed,
It's Christmas time. Aren't you supposed to be in a jovial mood? Marx is so heavy.

Anyway, have a good holiday and stay out of trouble. I'll be watching. ;D

Anonymous said...

But human nature means that this change will not happen. People are essentially greedy, self centred people. For Marx's theories towork, people need to think about what is best for everybody else, and put their wants out of the picture. For them to make elections at every level, everybody would need to vote. Everybody would have to pay attention for an extended period of time to make the right choice.

People aren't able to do that to the level required. We are essentially simple creatures of leisure. We work to have fun.

Anonymous said...

Well a prophet's words are always misinterpreted by his followers, especially when they have there own agenda and bend them to fit.

Election at every level with no central government will just make the power hungry spread out at the lower levels and frustrated with nowhere to aim for.

It's an interesting post however since I have never read Marx.

Anonymous said...

Your post reminds me of G K Chesterton's line, "Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried." If people were perfect, ANY system would work. As John Cleese says in "Clockwise", "it's not the despair... it's the hope" that misleads and exhausts us.

I admire the spirit behind the US Constitution, because it is founded on a thorough mistrust of power, whoever wields it. We need something like that here soon, before cheap energy runs out and we revert to severe social stratification. Have you read Ivan Illich's "Energy and Equity"?

Anonymous said...

PS: I like your tagging comments "thoughtcrimes", which they may well be if Internet regulation gets going.

Anonymous said...

Sackerson- I have always believed that the US consitution is a model consitution in many respects.

Remove private property, it is almost perfect.

Oestrebunny- I believe that in this age, we ourselves can be the legislature. All legislation by popular vote.

Not all I'm doing. Well, what else CAN I do?

Mutley- Ah, that's what they want you to think.
But Marx envisaged the withering away of the apparatus of state.

I think it makes sense.

Alexys- I do have moments of joviality, but they are more moments of flippancy. I'm sorry to say, this dominates much of my thought.

Phish- Collective thinking, the realisation that your own needs are served best by serving the whole. It IS logical.

I think people WOULD be better informed, because decision making would not be romoved from them.

jmb- Most people haven't read him and don't realise what it is he is saying.

I think controlling the power hungry at lower levels makes more sense.

Sackerson- I've not read it, but I'll try find it.

Energy is an interesting one, interesting because there really shouldn't be a crisis, not if we get moving on the technological front.
But that's a whole different topic...

Anonymous said...

Trouble is, propaganda can sway the vote, so the first thing the modern State does is try to control communication. It doesn't want to wither away - maybe this is where Marx moved from analysis to wish-fulfilment.

And if you wish to resist the powerful, maybe you should be in favour of private property; after all, they spend a lot of time and effort trying to get it away from us.

Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

yaya. I thought the poor old bugger was doomed to be forever misrepresented but you have revived the essence of his work. My only quibble is that all these words are dying, losing their meaning, communism, democracy, they were all words used to describe something particular but are now just tags for a general attitude. Perhaps we need a new lexicon? Also, as oestrebunny has pointed out, there is this talking the talk thingy, I would probably take the other position there, as long as you are not just talking the talk. Perhaps you could offer your readers some practical, bloggoworld courses of action? (Oh and 'free love' is always a good idea, should always be free.) Rage on,