Concluding remarks. On Marx and democracy, on social beings and on the importance of being Marx.

Marxism. Conclusion


Marx does not like the bourgeois democracy where the people can select which member of the ruling class is to misrepresent the people in Parliament. He preferes the Paris Commune, an attempt to establish a proletarian regime in Paris, a presumptive forerunner of a spreading net of communes. He assumes the people will vote for the Commune. What if they don't? That is the problem. The Communists have solved it with the same method as the American automobile maker Henry Ford. All the cars he manufactured were black. When people complained they could not get their T-Ford cars in the colors they wanted, Ford answer was that they could get their car in the color they wanted if they wanted black. This is the Communist sort of democracy: the people can get the regime they want if they want the Communists. note

I don't like listening to political debates. Be it democratic or not, it is so much slogans and so little about what to do. A well-known and, by some, admired slogan is Marx's "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs". note
The former Communist dictator Ceausescu had gold faucets in his bathrooms. In Stalin's labor camps people died from starvation, from cold, from overwork. Still, the number of survivors was bigger than the number of dead so it seems the Communists did not too bad on calculating the prisoners' ability to work.
Some people have a need for gold faucets in their bathrooms. Some people have the ability to survive labor camps. Marx does not say who's to decide needs and abilities. The Communists?

A tribal being

The mistake of the socialists is believing that man is a social being. Zebras and gnus are social beings. Herrings are social beings. They live without hierarchies in gigantic herds or schools, without fighting except for individual fights for mating rights. Man is a tribal being. Man lives in hierarchies, in separated hierarchies. Man can gather in cities of many millions but never as equals. Man herds together in precincts or departments, each with their own identities and loyalties. They group by family, by ethnicity. Even where races mix, they group together by social class. They make war, if not all out so at least symbolically through football clubs.

When Communist regimes try to create a society of equals, they have to do it by decree. They have to enforce their decrees bodily, with a commanding class controlling an enormous organization of prisons and other means of coercion. It does not matter if they have been in power for decades, trying to bring the people up the "right" way; they still have to keep the same control. The communist society is based on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes.
Nature and nurture decide man's behavior; Communists believe they can disregard nature.

Was Marx right?

There are still books written about Marx. The last bestseller note is Why Marx was right by Terry Eagleton. note
The title is misleading. A more descriptive, although maybe not as catchy, title would be Why Marx's critics are wrong.
Eagleton doesn't care about Marxist theory being all nonsense. About the dialectical laws all being tautologies link . About Marx's "real" labor-dependent value being no more "real" than, for example, a "real" value depending on weight. link

Eagleton has three defenses for Marx:
1) Marx has been ascribed ideas he does not have. Sometimes Marx's critics are wrong. Sometimes it is Marx contradicting himself.
2) Marxist regimes do not act according to Marx. Obviously Eagleton thinks it is wrong to mix Marx and Marxism. But if you are going to dismiss reality, why not become a Christian instead? Then you will not only get Peace on Earth, but the Lion will sleep with the Lamb.
3) It is not only Marxism, Capitalism too is guilty of crimes against humanity. The difference between modern Marxism and Capitalism is the difference between former East and West Germany, between North and South Korea. Capitalism got the will, the resources and the Know How to help.
Capitalism got its problems; there are things I wish they would do differently. Communism is no solution, no more so than Nazism.

Not insignificant

Still, maybe it is unfair to dismiss Marx as insignificant except as religious leader. Maybe had he excluded his "science", Capital could had been a work of classical economics. Something on par with the works of Adam Smith, Malthus and Ricardo. Parts of his work can be seen as a development of the work of Smith: he did make some astute observations on the society of his days. Now Capital is the Bible of the Marxist religion and maybe the world's most unread book.

© Anders Floderus