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Why old commies never die

The truth is out there. It has been for some time. Ten years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the brute thuggery endured by the Eastern Europeans and the poverty and despoilation to which they subjected, are common knowledge. Likewise the pitiful carnage of Cambodia’s ‘Killing Fields’. The blood-chilling stories of cannibalism in North Korea are corroborated by too many sources to be regarded as mere speculation.

Of course, we crusading capitalists knew all along and made no secret of it, while our left-wing compatriots waspishly accused us of being, well, ‘capitalists’. It was the very worst insult they could muster and carried with the implication that we were liars and wreckers. For so long as they could avoid being confronted with the terrible truth, they could dance ecstatically in the Elysian Fields of La-La Land.

But no longer do they have any excuses. They may still swoon for the nostalgia of heady, revolutionary days gone by but no longer can they plausibly deny the life-sapping horror that the philosophy of Karl Marx has wrought upon mankind.

Nonetheless, and to my abject disbelief, students pound the streets of Seattle and Genoa waving ‘Hammer & Sickle’ flags while, emblazoned on their T-shirts, are the images of Mao, Lenin and Che Guevarra. Just what is going on inside their addled brains? It is as if they are suffering from some grievous malady that has struck them completely blind to the glaring lessons of very recent and eminantly accessible history.

If you have been as astounded by all this as I have, then this (somewhat lengthy) article in the Economist may be of interest:

“Books on Marx aimed at undergraduates and non-specialists continue to sell steadily in Western Europe and the United States. And new ones keep coming. For instance, Verso has just published, to warm reviews, “Marx’s Revenge” by Meghnad Desai, a professor of economics at the London School of Economics. Mr Desai argues that Marx was misunderstood and that the great man was right about far more than he is given credit for. In August, Oxford University Press published “Why Read Marx Today?” by Jonathan Wolff. It too is an engaging read. The author, a professor at University College London, is a particularly skilful elucidator of political philosophy. In his book, he argues that Marx was misunderstood and that the great man was right about far more than he is given credit for.”

Well, with all due respect to the writer, this is not shocking news. For those of us who do keep abreast of current events, it sometimes feels as if the academic and cultural spheres are dedicated to nothing except the promotion of marxist thought.

Marx has been thoroughly debunked and discredited (as the article sets out in some detail) yet capitalists and conservatives still have to fight tooth-and-nail to get even their most modest viewpoints across amid an intellectual atmosphere which Marx still dominates. Marxism not only manages to effortlessly re-invent itself but it’s flickering flame still draws hordes of helplessly entranced moths from each successive generation. It is the death-cult that will not die.

“It is striking that today’s militant critics of globalisation, whether declared Marxists or otherwise, proceed in much the same way. They present no worked-out alternative to the present economic order. Instead, they invoke a Utopia free of environmental stress, social injustice and branded sportswear, harking back to a pre-industrial golden age that did not actually exist. Never is this alternative future given clear shape or offered up for examination.

And anti-globalists have inherited more from Marx besides this. Note the self-righteous anger, the violent rhetoric, the willing resort to actual violence (in response to the “violence” of the other side), the demonisation of big business, the division of the world into exploiters and victims, the contempt for piecemeal reform, the zeal for activism, the impatience with democracy, the disdain for liberal “rights” and “freedoms”, the suspicion of compromise, the presumption of hypocrisy (or childish naivety) in arguments that defend the market order.

And herein lies a clue: marxism holds no truths for those who examine the world rationally, but it is extremely seductive for those who do not. Capitalists and right-wingers are rightfully contemptuous of the incoherence of marxism but, perhaps, they fail to appreciate that marxism is so attractive to so many precisely because of it’s incoherence. It may be gibberish to left-brain objectivists but, by the same token, it is attractively intuitive and holistic to right-brain subjectivists. Marxism is a means of abdicating from the weighty responsibility of applying intellectual rigour in solving socio-economic problems.

“Anti-globalism has been aptly described as a secular religion. So is Marxism: a creed complete with prophet, sacred texts and the promise of a heaven shrouded in mystery. Marx was not a scientist, as he claimed. He founded a faith. The economic and political systems he inspired are dead or dying. But his religion is a broad church, and lives on.”

A conclusion which may appear trite but one which I feel goes some way to shedding light on this problem. Marxism continues to thrive because it is impervious to rude reality. It is a fundamentalist religious fervour that, by it’s very nature, is logic-proof and common-sense-resistant. Perhaps we have failed to fell this beast because our tactics consist entirely of saturation-bombing with facts; it is like trying to kill a virus with anti-biotics. It is never going to work.

If we regard marxism not as a cogent political worldview, but as an ecstatic faith then that, of itself, is not an answer to the problem. Rather it is a recognition of the true nature of the problem and, with that in mind, it is possible to re-tool our armies in readiness for a final, victorious assault.

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97 comments to Why old commies never die

  • It’s long been apparent to the outside observer that Marxism is a fundimentalist creed, and that the various branches and offshoots are simply its denominations and/or heresies.

    However, the end of your post is the quandary: it cannot really be defeated rationally, since reason and ideas and a regard for a view of emperical reality and results is not involved, inspite claims and superficial stage-managed illusion to the contrary. But that leads, like you point out, to the conclusion that the usual strategy of trying to convince people of the falacy of the Marxist creed doesn’t work, some other tactic should be tried instead. But then everyone stops.

    What tactic – what strategy – replaces that? Will Samisdata unveil some new methodology as a result of this recognition, and not (in the future) concentrate so much on well-reasoned, logic-driven posts backed by appeal to evidence? But will instead employ this other strategy?

    No

    For the simple reason that they know not what that other strategy might be, and, if they were to consider some of the alternatives (say, combating faith with some other faith), they would dicard those not because they might be effective (they might not, but they’ll be disgarded regardless), but because they are not suited to the temperment of Libertarians of the samizdata sort, who are all far more at home with the sort of strategy that your post identifies as not being able to stamp out the beast of Marxism. Re-tooling will not be part of samisdata’s operational methodology because, being adherents of virtues not found in the Marxist faithful, they see the very tools you recognize as inapt in defeating Marxism as the tools of superior minds. With some good reason (after all, there is a reason why Marxist theories always fail in practice where market based ideas work in emperical reality, and it’s precisely because of resort to tools that work in reality but do not work in persuading those captivated by the phantasmogorica of Marxist faith).

    Sure, you’ve identified the gap between the methods typically used against Marxism and the failure of those methods to crush it, finally. But, again, there you stop.

    Not that I’m speaking from on high, where I know what will work but you will not use (I am aware of some of the alternative strategies, without knowing they will work if the “armies of liberty” are “re-tooled” to employ them, but I do believe that Libertarians would not be tempermentally suited to employ them and would scoff at them, because they are not reason-based; while recognizing that reason-based efforts do not completely succeed). But I would suggest some study into the speeches and rhetoric of Ronald Reagan, including his own faith (not only his Christian faith, but his faith in liberty and free societies). After all, the great successes against Marxist states did have a strategy behind them. If that strategy did not crush “academic Marxists” and allowed them to live on (and scatter like Dracula disolving into a swarm of rats) because it hasn’t really been followed since ’89, when a lot of people saw the battle as won and some of the key figures in that battle went out of power. (the link is really worth reading, btw).

  • ct

    I had the same thought reading this post (yet I usually despair in attempting to articulate the necessity for seeing the spiritual angle (really the foundation) to be able to truly understand what you’re up against with Marxists (and all similar left-wing types and movements). They retool and morph at will because they are fundamentally following a very easy to discern (if you have eyes to see) line of rebellion against anything that builds, creates, promotes, defends freedom, life, and light (and by light is meant the Living God, i.e. that direction). Spock logic (so juveniley deified by the atheists and libertarians and Randists and what not) as a weapon against spiritual darkness is like a paper knife. Time to grow up and see the light.

  • Marxism/Communism failed because it completely ignored one simple trait of human nature. Humans are selfish.

    Under capitalism, if you work hard at your job you might get a promotion or a bonus. Under communism, if you worked hard at your job you get a medal – assuming your boss doesn’t get paranoid and have you removed.

    The waste and inefficiency of production under the communist system is a direct result of a lack of incentive. Why work your ass off if you won’t get anything for the added effort?

  • hans haucke

    Some people adhering to capitalism have a ‘faith-based’ attitude. (Well, most of us can’t ‘prove’ much – including the pros.) I mean that one can try to measure society against some set of values and set plausible and achievable goals for improvement (a very subjective undertaking given the current understanding of ‘political science’). Or one can defer to some overarching principle, some -ism, and trust in its dead hand. What’s so bad about a moral component in politics? It makes for an ‘impure’ form of capitalism, true, but I don’t have a problem that way…

  • john steppling

    Leninism failed, communism failed, Maoism failed….but none had all that much to do with Marxism. The endless apologies of the left for Stalin and the disasters of various communist regimes is an ongoing travesty….but Marx is hardly discredited by those who claim his authority. Whatever his merits or lack of merit may be, those who offhandedly dismiss his writing should probably try to read him. Nietszche wasn’t discredited by the attempted co-option of his work by National Socialism, and neither is Marx by Stalin and Lenin.

  • Two questions:

    If the complete failure, economic, moral, and political, of every regime based on his teachings doesn’t discredit Marx, what does?

    And what “authority” does Marx have to be “stolen”?

  • Marx is fully discredited.
    Postulating that Marx was a shining beacon while those who sought to impliment his socio-economic order did so poorly is a lame argument.
    When presuming to pen a doctrine by which humans must live by, the author must account for the 100% likelyhood of those in power abusing it.
    Any failure to account for this human trait represents total failure.
    Marxism is a total failure. In any human society, at any time in history, at any geographical location, Marxism will fail over and over again.

  • Sigh, besides all of these new advocates of Marxism, another thing that keeps the Marxists going is their insistence — and I get this in the classroom all the time — that the Soviet Union, Maoist China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and so on and so forth, were not actually Marxist or Communist. Ergo, Communism has never been tried. Ergo, Marx can’t be wrong.

    Now, in political science we typically attempt to prove a theory by examining the grounds upon which it can be falsified. This is one of Karl Popper’s myriad contributions to science, and was inspired by his encounters with dogmatic Marxists and Freudians. We can falsify democratic peace theory for instance, by showing that modern democracies have gone to war with one another. Or we can falsify realism by showing that states don’t always pursue power in their foreign policy decisions.

    The list of theories that can be falsified is endless. But Marxism — at least the neo-Marxism of the anti-globo/PoMo crowd — can’t be falsified. As soon as one postulates that examining the behavior of self-described “Marxist” states can disprove Marxism, the Marxist partisans insist, “No, they weren’t really Marxist!” Working from their position, one can only consider Marxism to be abstract science, and to paraphrase Burke, asbtract science, like other mere abstractions, is not to be tested.

    After encountering that abstract science in conversations with self-described Marxists, Leninists, Gramscians, Wallersteinians and the like, one thing has become abundantly clear: To its true believers, the work of Marx and his disciples has been interred in a kind of Communist Ark of the Covenant, an ark whose standard-bearers carry it to and fro during what Kundera marvelously called the Grand March. Like others, I think of Marxism as a religion, but the ark metaphor helps explain the attitude of the Marxists. Like the Biblical ark, none of the faithful, aside from the interpreters/priests, are to touch the ark under penalty of death. (Think Trotsky. Think ice pick.) And no one dares to open the ark to see what’s really inside.

    Marxist partisans will continue to carry the Communist Ark even if no one follows them, until eventually, like the Grand March itself, their procession is reduced, in Kundera’s words, to a “single dimensionless dot.” And at that point, it will vanish, just like any other vacuum abhorred by nature. Or human nature, as the case may be.

  • Marx failed to understand a critical aspect of societal organization. In a capitalist world, even the most creative, best managed, most productive, most innovative, most efficient, most adaptable, most heavily financed companies fail.
    They fail for reasons that are as numerous as the stars in the sky. After they fail and rot, the resourses that are released can be used again not unlike a plant using the nutrients released by a dead animal.
    Capitalism, at it’s core, is the ability to disassemble production and reassemble it at another point in time, another location geographically or to serve another plane of requirement entirely un-instructed.
    Marx could never in his wildest imaginings conjure up a system that works as organically as capitalism does. Neither could any of his minions.
    The sterile deathly spectre of Marxism has devoured millions of humans. We need not try it again.

  • scott h.

    “Cult”, I think, is a better description than “faith” or “religion”, and can give us better ideas on how to deal with this problem.

  • Edward W. Wagner

    When I consider the persistence of Marxism — and its various related isms — especially its power over a certain kind of young, unbalanced and semi-educated mind, well, five days out of seven I am infuriated, but on day six and seven I am feeling relieved: Not yet. The new Ring has not been forged just yet.

    It seems to me that for the last 150 years the overarching question of modern civilization at any given moment is where does the strongest madness lie, that madness in the form of untopianism which rushes into the insupportable vacum of post-Christian society and post-Christian man. Neitszche, of course explained this some time ago.

    The point is as long as Marxism, with its wretched history and feeble arguments, holds sway over so many minds, maybe it will crowd out, take oxygen away from the Next Big Thing — some form of triumphilist genetics plus enviromentalsm plus neo-paganism, I’m guessing — which promises to save mankind from itself. Maybe this new utopianism, new anti-Christ will hold off coming to critical mass at least until my grandchildren are born.

    Could Marxism function in the manner of a week virus used as a vaccine to increase resistence to more powerful germs?

    EWW

  • qsi

    The problem goes deeper than just defeating Marxism. After all, Marxism is a modern reinterpretation of utopian fantasies that have been with mankind since the dawn of civilization. Plato’s Republic is recognizably Marxist, right from the abolition of private property to the totalitarian structures that it needs in order to survive. And it’s ruled by a class of elite thinkers; this is the role the contemporaneous Marxists see for themselves.

    The appeal of these communistic ideologies is emotional. They’re based on envy, which is then couched in the euphemistic langauge of “equality.” As long as human will feel envy (i.e. forever) these ideologies will have some appeal. Countering them we need to point out, passionately, that the quest for “equality” leads to far greater injustice than the quest was supposed to ameliorate.

  • Philip Chaston

    Most of the comments here characterise Marxism as a religion. They assume that, as the theory of Marxism is at variance with empirical experience, individuals who adopt such an outlook do so as an act of faith. Marxism is then derided as a religion or a cult.

    Marxism was developed in the mid-nineteenth century alongside other synthetic ‘sciences of society’. Ever since, it has provided an internally coherent theory that has been used to describe the processes of social change.

    Why has it proved so attractive? Three reasons can be given: Marxism was underpinned by a philosophy of knowledge, based upon the Hegelian dialectic, that allowed for the theoretical extension of Marxist concepts and ananlytical tools to new social and cultural forms; this formed the foundation of a discourse, lasting to the present day, that has proved capable of providing ‘explanations’ within a coherent theoretical framework; and for Marxists, the theory provides a satisfying combination of social/economic ananlysis and political action.

    Marxists would argue that they are actually contributing to a rational body of knowledge, superior to its rivals, because it is aware of its class based origins and is thus able to transcend them.

    Undermining Marxism is particularly difficult because the rationalised world that Marxists experience is very adaptable in assimilating and explaining social changes. Even the shock of the fall of the USSR has not proved sufficiently destabilising to undermine this Weltanschauung.

    Marxism may therefore be with us for a long time to come. Perhaps capitalist societies in the West have developed a compensating immune system that has located Marxists in the areas where they can do least damage to the economy and the society: the universities. 😉

  • If I might play devil’s advocate for a moment, perhaps many of you forget how badly some people want an alternative to capitalism. If Marxism evolves from science to faith, that may not serve as an argument against it.
    Certainly, when these mostly young people see the world around them and the political situation in their own countries, it is not absurd to search for an alternative. The creative destruction that Schumpeter trumpets includes ruined lives, and those affected do not normally think that it must be okay because of the greater good.
    It would be well to remember that it is the behavior of capitalism’s friends that often sustains the fighting strength of those on the left. Enron, America’s uninsured, Britain’s reneging on pension commitments, Italy’s caudillo capitalist leader–none of these serve to dissuade the left.
    I consider myself a leftist, although I hope a rational one. I’m not a Marxist, but I can see how people get there. I’ll make you a deal. When Ken Lay is in jail, when Ashcroft is fired, when Silvio Berlusconi sells his TV networks (and the goverment’s), when 44 million Americans have access to insurance, then let’s revisit the irrationality of Marxism. Your faith too requires blinders.

  • I prefer to characterize Americans as crusaders of the right to individual liberty and the freedom to think as one chooses rather than as crusaders of capitalism. The right of the individual to own property and to plan how to put it to good use is dependant on this liberty. Religions offer unassailable simplistic answers to problems that have not yet been solved. Religions are a catchall kind of thing, anything unexplainable must be explained through religion. American Capitalism will never be immune from criticism, the only issue is the how that criticism is characterized. A religious capitalist might trot out Marxism as a rebuttal to attack the critique or critiquer. A religious Marxist might see the answer in destroying the capitalist system and liberty; what an ugly thought.

    People need answers. If Marx never existed then the disaffection of some people would have led them to discover some other simplified explanation. In which case we would simply be calling it something else.

    What has me scared (and this one is based on religious capitalism) is the assumption in a comment above that the path to success is working hard and hoping to get a “promotion or a bonus”. The author has lost the faith, like many others, that one should strive to be a successful entrepreneur and not merely an employee. Immigrants come to America because of the desire for freedom, and they often times carry a much stronger vision of the American Dream than does Joe Six-Pack. To them, capitalism is a moving religion.

    I’ll share one more thought which has nothing to do with capitalism or communism. One of the failings of the Soviet Union was the result of a comparatively small number of decisionmakers working of five-year plans. It became like a Midwest corn crop with identical genetics that was vulnerable to destruction by a single disease. As power is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands the system becomes vulnerable. Money that is tied up in public pensions, and vicariously in stocks of publicly traded companies, is money that twenty years ago would have been available to local entrepreneurs, directly by investors or vicariously through the local banks that died in the S&L debacle. I am getting tired of having to anticipate what Greenspan thinks, and the stock market casino.

    If you want to squash communism then squash every instance of hypocritical capitalists seeking to immunize themselves from the natural consequences of foolish capital investments. Look around, they’re everywhere you look, and they aren’t the ones carrying the banners.

  • AndyB

    I think you are all getting confused between Marxism as a revolutionary creed and Marxism as a particular perspective in the social sciences.

    As far as I am aware from my brief foray in Sociology, the two are rather destinct. Marx is still a respected in Sociology in much the same way as Freud is of interest to Psychology. No-one really buys into it wholesale but if you want to understand the history of the discipline, he occupies such an important place and has been used as the basis for some many other peoples critiques that he cannot be ignored.

    I get the feeling that it is in this sense that Marx is still read and taught in the West and discussed NOT as a blueprint for social revolution.

    Just for the record my personal view of Marx AND Freud is pretty unsympathetic and I am not a great fan of the social science perspective in general but I feel pretty much the same disdain for economics as it is currently practised. (They are all immature pseudo-sciences)…

  • The lead essay here makes several important points, but, as Porphyrogenitus observed immediately thereafter, those points bring no tactical insight. “You cannot reason a man out of something he has not reasoned himself into,” said somebody smart and eloquent, and that surely applies here.

    I’m no expert on persuasion, just another promoter of freedom. Yet, one thing does occur to me that might be applicable to the ideological battle: If ideas can only be defeated by opposing them with better ideas, perhaps the way to defeat a faith is to oppose it with a better faith.

    When Baby grabs your watch, you can try to wrestle it away from him and endure the overturned cereal bowl and the consequent tantrum, or you can offer him something else he’d like better.

    Why has “liberation theology” swept through the poorer parts of Latin America? Is it a “superior faith” to Christianity of the traditional sort? Plainly it’s not superior spiritually or theocosmogonically. But it must offer its adherents something they can’t get from the regular variety, something that fulfills and soothes them in a way that standard Christian doctrine can’t equal.

    Marxism and all other leftist political creeds must offer something special to their devotees, something that improves their interior lives. Perhaps it’s as simple as a scapegoat, someone to blame for their other dissatisfactions; after all, Marxist movements have usually included lots of propaganda about “the bourgeois,” “the counterrevolutionaries,” “the class enemies,” “the greedy landowners,” and so forth. Someone who attaches himself to a creed for the pleasure of hating vaguely specified others will not be seduced away from it by a rational, individualistic alternative.

    But… dare we to descend to tactics such as these? Dare we to offer a new scapegoat to those whose principal pleasure in politics is the occasion for hatred?

    There are other avenues and difficulties to be explored. For example, submergence in a creed such as Marxism frees the believer from having to think for himself, while surrounding him with a gaggle of the like-minded who’ll shield him from the sort of criticism that that desire would normally provoke. But one problem at a time is quite enough.

    Freedom, Wealth, and Peace,
    Francis W. Porretto
    Visit The Palace Of Reason:
    http://www.palaceofreason.com

  • Kevin Connors

    I frequently post on a BBS known as LibertyForum (where I am known as Oberon). The board is made up largely of those of our political meta-context. However, there is a rather large contingent which I’ll label broadly as the “conspiracy theorists”. Dispite that these people would decry socialism at every turn, their journalistic heros are guys like Pilger and Fisk.

    There is a common thread that binds these people, the Islamo-fascists, and the neo-marxists. And you have touched solidly on it here. It is an inability to deal with the modern world as it is. They all have a longing for some halycon days that never really existed. They cannot trust in the progress from chaos nature of the invisible hand,

    So, what empowers Marxism is no quality of it’s own, but this deeper disfunction in the human psyche.

  • Howard Veit

    Very good posts here. I’m old. I was around during the 50s when the 1930s communists were running academia, the arts, and had pretty well infiltrated the press and government.

    They were religious. Intolerant of everyone who wasn’t like them. Quoted Marx, Lenin, and a host of playwrites, novelists, and philosophers endlessly into the night. “Dialectic Materialism”, in which Hegel’s idea that a thesis produces its antithesis and that the long conflict between the two eventually produces a synthesis. is still in use today in the “post modern” bullshit we see at American universities. Hagel’s dialectics operated in the ideal while Marx’s operates in the “material world” and the erventual synthisis of material conflicts (dialectics) is Communism. Communism requires conflict to arrive at the result.

    The attraction, then as now, is “rescuing the poor” through destroying what is here: business. Revolution and saving the world is always attractive to the young who always seek fast results, and nothing is faster than a war (revolution). In fact in most communist theory it was said if a business class didn’t exist one would have to be invented in order to be destroyed and replaced by communism.

    In practice it is always the communists who will run things for the poor, who are too stupid to run it themselves. It has always been led by outsiders, people who couldn’t cut it in business and get to the top, people who found an easy way to “lead others” without paying the price.

    You don’t “fight communism” you allow it the full light of day, every day. Understand this dialectic and realize their goal is always destruction til the “synthesis” is achieved.

    The only system that has ever lifted most people is capitalism. Those left behind are easy recruits for Communist Parties. That is why education is crucial, a philosophy of growth is crucial, and democractic forms like our Bill of Rights is crucial.

  • What a fascinating thread! I line up on the “Marxism is more a faith than a political philosophy” for a lot of reasons, but the main one is exactly what many have pointed out: it never works, anywhere or anytime. It fails spectacularly, crashes and burns; it doesn’t just flame out after some early success.

    A theory that leads to bad implementation everywhere and always is proof of a fundamentally flawed theory, and must be discredited as such, and discarded. That Marx is still revered by academicians should be ipso facto proof of his incandescent irrelevance.

    Then you have the faulty assumptions underlying it, that people will ever find happiness is a world where everybody having the same exact life is desirable. It kills human spirit.

    Then, the fact that the opposite of Marxism, the USA, has produced the most vibrant economy and social structure in history. We don’t murder and starve people by the millions in this country, or kill them because they have glasses (thank God!). We don’t outlaw religion, freedom of speech, or the right to bear arms; the government rules by consent, not decree, offering legitimacy that is never found in any communist government. This is key, government must be a tool of the people it governs, or it fails.

  • Rob

    Whoever you are you’ve never worked in a factory.
    FUCK YOU.

  • Rob

    Waited for 2 minutes back to same page like I said :
    FUCK YOU,

  • Marxists have the perfect argument against cries of “Marxism has failed–repeatedly!” As mentioned above, it’s that Stalin, Mao et. al. weren’t really Marxists. This is in many ways true, in the sense that they didn’t look out for the working man, and oppressed and murdered the oposition.

    The problem with this argument is that any system centered around Marxist dogma requires massive amounts of government control over peoples’ day-to-day lives. This power allows monsters like Stalin and Mao to take over a country easily. Once this occurs, their manipulative and oppressive sides come out for full public display. By this point, their too powerful to stop. The problem isn’t that Marxism doesn’t work, it’s that it can’t form in the first place.

    Even if one could have a “truly” marxist government, I still don’t think it would work. From my view, however, this is a moot point.

  • One factor that could use more emphasis, though Howard Veit’s comment in particular goes a long way towards saying the same thing:

    Marxism appeals to man’s higher and lower natures at once. It promises that paradise is right around the corner, and it will be a paradise on earth, not some imaginary heaven, but we will have to work very hard to get there. But how exactly will we get there? By killing our bosses and looting their shops and factories! This combination of virtuous and altruistic hopes with the basest envy and the most juvenile lust for destruction is a virulently effective idea.

  • Howard Veit

    To the guy who said, “Fuck you, you never worked in a factory”. I worked in a factory (canning sardines at minimum wage in old Monterey), a diner, as a cab driver, til I finally worked my way out.

    If you don’t like your job, quit. But not you. You want the factory changed so that your job will be easier, so you don’t risk anything, and still get big time pay for doing as little work as you possibly can.

    Been there. Done that. Stay miserable. It is, in this society, actually your CHOICE, not your condemnation, destiny, or government demand.

  • J. Fielek

    Marxism is a religion. Much like Christianity or Islam, or pretty much any other religion, Marxism requires its followers to go against the basic human instincts.

    Capitalism uses those basic instincts to its advantage. Tempered with a solid ethical basis such as Christianity, and you have about the best you can get with humans involved.

  • So, if religion is the opiate of the masses, is Marxism is the opiate of the right-brain subjectivists?

  • JB

    I strongly suspect that “Rob” has never worked in a factory either, but that he’s read a lot about them in his university social science courses.

  • Theodopoulos Pherecydes

    I think the failure of communism lies in its erroneous economic theory. The “value theory of labour” posits that workers have a proprietary interest in finished goods. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Only the capitalist has a proprietary interest in finished goods which may be sold for nothing or a very great deal depending on the market. And it is this inability of communism to deal with markets that makes it impossible for them to put a proper price on anything. Communism was doomed from the start.

  • Theodopoulos Pherecydes

    I think the failure of communism lies in its erroneous economic theory. The “value theory of labour” posits that workers have a proprietary interest in finished goods. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Only the capitalist has a proprietary interest in finished goods which may be sold for nothing or a very great deal depending on the market. And it is this inability of communism to deal with markets that makes it impossible for them to put a proper price on anything. Communism was doomed from the start.

  • Alas, life itself is an IQ test.

  • RB

    Having worked my way through college in factories, I can say that my factory job was a welcome rest from my mental rigors. In the factory, I did not have to wrap my mind around complex concepts as I did in Physical Chemistry or Modern Physics. No Differential Equations to solve in the factory. My mind was free to soar to its escapist’s content.

    An excellent book on socialism/marxism’s modern roots is Heaven on Earth .

    As a former socialist who finally learned to examine social issues with both heart and mind, I can smile at the antics of the neo-revolutionaries–because the brightest of them will leave their ranks before too very long. Those are the only socialists worth interacting with. The ones who stay in the flock are the dullards.

    If you are not a socialist at 20, you have no heart. If you are still a socialist at 30, you have no brain.

  • Jabba the Tutt

    New tactics:
    1. Demand the globalist-eco-utopian-marxoids come up with an alternative. Demand that they work it out. Force them to be logical.
    2. What do the globalist-eco-utopian-marxoids hate more than anything else? Religion. Label them a religion. Call them fundamentalists. Accuse them of being the religious-left.
    3. Use the left’s terms against the left. Call them elitists. Call them baby-killers. Call them exploiters. Accuse them of hurting the poor. Accuse them of being reactionaries. Accuse them of doing the dirty work of the big corporations. Call them fascists.

    I’ve found that using the tactics of the left against the left cause them to stop and think for a moment. You can then use that moment, when they are adults (transactional analysis) to create the germ of self-doubt. It’s a slow process, but I don’t know anything that works.

  • ruprecht

    If Marxist is a cult (as the facts seem to support) we need to wait for the inevitable religious schism. Trotskites are already rewriting history to make him into an uber-pacifist, they are hoping to raise a new prophet to take over the thrown of Marxism. Fan the flames and perhaps the Marxists and Trotskists will go after each other.

    Then the rest of the world can work on deprogramming the salvagable ones one-by-one. Just as you deprogram cultmembers.

  • Bryan

    In reference specifically to the outrage of academics and books on Marx, which is quite a different subject than that of young folks marching about while wearing dumb hippie t-shirts:

    I’m no Marxist, and I agree that Marxism is inherently unworkable, but I have a hard time following the thinking of those who suppose that Marx should not be read because he has been fully discredited, and that someone saying that Marx was right about a lot of things must of course be a left-winger of the most vile sort.

    It seems to me from my readings of Marx and Engels that they had a lot of ideas, probably no doubt all bad, such as women’s suffrage, ending colonialism, the rights of workers to unionize and so forth.

    But surely among all the dreck that the two espoused, despite having lived in that long-vanished utopia of the early to middle 19th century, surely there were some simple pearls for the betterment of the society of that time that even we today, living in much worse times, could look back on and say “hey, that suggestion that the existence of slavery in America was highly immoral had some good points to it”, or “hey, maybe child labor in factories should be disallowed”.

    Of course I realize that it is the wisest and best manner of approaching the thought of anyone not our contemporaries by viewing such through the 20/20 lenses hindsight offers. I realize that Mr. Marx was in no way a canny analyst of the habits of his own time, and that he has absolutely nothing to offer us today to better our understandings of history. Because he was wrong, at least in his proposed remedies to what he saw as the problems of his day, and despite that in fact many of his proposed remedies have been adapted in our modern forms of governance, he must be thouroughly expunged from our memories; this would be the wisest course, just as many have suggested that because Mr. Washington and Mr. Jefferson were once wrong in their actions, would indeed have been judged wrong by the standards of Mr. Marx in the same matters that we judge them as having been wrong, we must totally expunge them from our memories. Yes, yes, I see it all now, we will be immeasurably enriched intellectually by not knowing anything whatsoever of these vanished idiots who did not manage to see the future as well as we see the very recent past.

  • Phil Smith

    Religionists cannot win the fight against collectivists because they both have the same moral base: the morality of Altruism. To look after ones own welfare is selfish and to look after the welfare of others is the only virtue. Religionist and collectivist leaders claim the right to loot anyone who has a dollar in order to pass it out to the lame and the halt. This right has a moral base for them. Those who share that moral base cannot effectivly fight
    against them.

    Until a man can stand up and scream that he has a right to live for his own sake it will be just a matter of time until he is stripped of all his possesions. Note that most of the work of our congress is the redistribution of wealth and that the moral base of that task is Altruism.

  • Lou Gots

    Not too many years ago, those who identified Marxism as the enemy of mankind were considered wackos–Made fun of: “little old ladies in tennis shoes,” Birchers, McCarthyites and all that. How things have changed! Most of us now know that Marxism is not only objectively false, it is (was) evil to its core. It is (was) totally vicious–grounded in vices of hatred and envy. As such, how could it now fail? As J.R.R. Tolkien put it. “Oft evil will doth evil mar.”

  • marvin

    Maybe Marxism will disappear when Ken Lay and Enron and Young Bush and Harken Oil are discredited by the “capitalists”.” And why not view with suspicion the “golden parachutes” capitalists negotiate for themselves so the can be paid when they walk away from failure in the market place?

    Marxism may not work, but when will capitalism succeed? What’s the alternative to “crony capitalism” where a worker lives at the whims of a CEO and his friends?

  • bryan

    I see that Phil in the spirit of an Ayn Randian Christmas has multi-posted.

  • T.J. Williams

    I think it is obvious that you have to fight the battle against the Marxists on their terms, on their field. A lot of libertarians don’t like that. We like to sit in our nice little logical ivory tower and expound to the masses how wrong they are. Part of it is that we pride ourselves in our rationality (and pride goes before the fall…) and part of it is that some of us like not being listened to. We can feel superior to those who are still such idiots.

    But if you want to really fight those on the left, you have to use weapons that are effective, and logic isn’t it. You have to use faith. For those interested in this, I would suggest starting with Thomas Jefferson. Like most libertarians, I prefer his protege Madison because he’s more rationally based. But that’ the very reason we need to envoke Jefferson. He worked from emotion and charisma. To him, liberty WAS a religion. I’d also grab some of the other revolutionaries while you’re there: Patrick Henry, Sam Adams, etc.

  • gsb

    The appeal of Marxism is often the appeal of envy – as many above commentators have noted. It also wants to “remake” human nature. Marxism is going to die the more we doubt the “blankness” of the slate and the more we recognize the diversity and passion that is human nature.

    The “solution” to Marxism may well be a religious interpretation of it (because it fills the vacuum inside lapsed Unitarians) but for more secular humanists, it is also often found wanting. The counter vision is that of. say, Whitman’s catalogs – endless and egalitarian tributes to diversity – or of Thoreau’s wonderful statement – “If you stand right fronting and face to face to a fact, you will see the sun glimer on both its surfaces as if it were a cimeter, and feel its swee edge dividing you through the heart and marrow, and so you will happily conclude your mortal career. Be it life or death, we crave only reality.” Marxism ignores the facts – of economics perhaps but more importantly of human nature. It is the love of reality, of true diversity, of openness that impelled America. But that life requires the courage to accept the flow of the world, to delight in and live within its mysterious and complicated movement. Wojuld that the “fact” of life were simpler and more masterable than it is – our lives would be more predictable and manageable. But is that what we really want? Our goal is to contain that flow by laws as simple and few as necessary for a civilized life. Without the rule of law we are not free; but Marxism wants to turn that rule of law into planning in the sense Hayek describes – into making choices for us. That is comfortable (why do men choose to go back to prison, why do we cry when we leave home, why is it easier to envy what others have than to define what we want and try to get it). We understand Iago and Ab Snopes, but a system that encourages that vision of ravening will and envy may lead to the killing fields but isn’t likely to lead to true diversity. Marxism fails because it simplifies man’s needs and encourages the worst of them. Capitalism, for all its emphasis upon material gain, allows for a diversity of interests and values. Thoreau can build his house in a capitalist society and opt out of the city and his family’s pencil factory. In communism, no one can opt out because it is not a variety of life choices but one. And, because of that, it does not make us stretch our limbs and our minds and our hearts.

  • Hello:

    Thanks for your very sane criticism of the leftist fundamental religion: Marxism.

    Two fundamental mistakes have been made in the commentaries attached to this article. The first is a doozy — the continued presentation of capitalism as an ideology.

    In fact, capitalism was and is an evolutionary system. You could say that it was created by nature or by God. Unlike Marxism, capitalism did not appear on the scene as the result of a logical, rationale intellectual argument, although it has had its theorists and explaners. No, capitalism happened as the result of millions and millions of individual decisions made by humans over tens of thousands of years. Evolutionary intelligence on a massive scale created capitalism. Capitalism is what happened.

    The second error is to assume that empirical logic is the way to attack the obvious idiocy of Marxism. Why not employ tradition and custom as the argument against Marxism? Since this evolutionary intelligence is tradition and custom, doesn’t this make greater sense?

    For the past 30 years we’ve been afraid to defend the intelligence of tradition and custom. Even in the U.S., hardly a revolutionary society, the rationale of the revolutionary has prevailed. Since tradition and custom contained within them such evils as racism, the only solution was to complete jettison tradition and custom.

    I’m suggesting that the way to fight back and defeat Marxism is a new found respect for tradition and custom, and the willingness to struggle to re-establish tradition and custom.

    Feminism is the most powerful strain of Marxism in America. I’ll skip the explanation and go right to the point. In casting fathers and husbands as violators and abusers, feminism succeeded in convincing us that we should jettison the traditional sexual roles and abandon religious ritual and tradition. Marxism always uses this tactic. The purpose in defaming the fathers and husbands was to erase the memory of the past, and this has been done very successfully.

    Re-establishing the traditional status of men and the traditional status of religion may be the only way to defeat Marxism. To paraphrase Dostoevsky’s famous question: “Without God, what is to stop me from murdering my neighbor and stealing his possessions?”

    Stephen

  • Porphyrogenitus wrote in the first comment:

    Will Samisdata unveil some new methodology as a result of this recognition, and not (in the future) concentrate so much on well-reasoned, logic-driven posts backed by appeal to evidence? But will instead employ this other strategy?

    Well yes, actually… I do indeed see another way forward. In one of the first posts I ever wrote on this blog called Giving libertarianism a ‘left hook’ (or how to make the traditions of the left our own), I advocated speaking to the left in the language of the left. If people cannot see the truth because of the emotional appeal of the collectivists, then wrap the truth in emotions that they can see… do not talk about ‘marginal utility’ or ‘moral hazard’ or ‘public choice theory’, talk about the consequences of Marx in emotional language. Do not talk about ‘state aid disincentives to indigenous agriculture’, talk about starving babies and HOW FUCKING ANGRY YOU ARE ABOUT THAT.

    Sometimes that is much more effective that dry logic regardless of how ‘true’ it might be. For an example of a pro-capitalist article phrased within the meta-context of the left, see Comments worth repeating.

  • Randy Hall

    In my debate with a Marxist he always wins because he says Marxism has never existed. He’s right because Marxism will only exist if it ever succeeds (never mind the oceans of blood left in the trials).

    Some startling truths I discovered about Marxist thought.

    Socialism is democracy. Socialism leads to people voting each other’s paychecks. Once this happens society usually degenerates. Anarchy ensues.

    Anarchy is communism, or people doing for each other without being forced too. I equate communism to libertarian principals. A libertarian hates force being used against them. It limits their freedom. Speed limits, stop signs, which side of the road to drive on, limit a libertarian’s freedom.

    In other words when Marx said the political husk would be shed, he foresaw that anarchy would be the ultimate freedom.

    Now we must try and understand if Marx was a satirist instead of a scientist.

  • What has me scared (and this one is based on religious capitalism) is the assumption in a comment above that the path to success is working hard and hoping to get a “promotion or a bonus”. The author has lost the faith, like many others, that one should strive to be a successful entrepreneur and not merely an employee.

    You got me all wrong. Since there is (or was) no marxist equivilent to entrepreneurship, I chose not to address it. I was merely demontrating the attitutudes involved in similar working conditions of the majority of people. Under either system, most people are just “average joes” who go to their job. How they feel about their job and how they approach it was my point. I suppose there is a similar situtation to entrepeneurism under marxism/communism. It’s called the black market. However, since it isn’t considered a legitimate part of “the system”, it can’t really be considered.

  • Peter

    The easiest way to counter Marxism is to wait until the self-appointed Revolutionary Vanguard comes to your town and shoot them in the head.

  • ct

    The second comment made on this page (by me) said it all. I’m a genius. All the words that have come after my comment would have been better used as commentary on my comment. I am a genius. Feel fortunate I’m not a Marxist because I would have you all killed.

  • ct

    I recognize Peter –

    The easiest way to counter Marxism is to wait until the self-appointed Revolutionary Vanguard comes to your town and shoot them in the head.

    as a genius in the making. The Marxists, though, would just use your laws against you (much like the “I worship a moon god, my ass is shaved, and I will flip you like a pancake, hi-eeeeee!!” Muslims used our airliners against us). The devil is not so easy to kill. Ultimately (Rev. 19) it will be fun.

  • Ryan Waxx

    Please. Anti-trade idiots are soooo easy to laugh at…. takes all of five seconds for most of them.

    Question 1: What has the U.S. been doing to Iraq right now that pisses you off?

    That’s right… trade sanctions… as in the enforced abscense of world trade.

    And what does Iraq say it does?

    That’s right, they say it kills hundreds of thousands of children.

    Now… WHAT did you say you wanted to do to mankind, you scumbags?

  • ct

    I wrote this idiocy above –

    “I worship a moon god, my ass is shaved, and I will flip you like a pancake, hi-eeeeee!!”

    because I didn’t have the courage to be my politically incorrect self and use the language I would normally use (because I’ve been banned from more forums and weblogs than anybody in the history of the internet).

    It should’ve read –

    “I suck the devil, I am a fag, and all you can do is kill me, but I will see to it that you will have to get my bodily fluids and flesh all over you in the process. I am a Muslim. Praise be to Allah.”

  • blabla

    Marvin,
    The evidence that capitalism “works” is around me every second of my life. I just went outside, walked a block to Tony’s, and nabbed myself a hot calzone for $6. This calzone is in season almost every day between 11 AM and 11 PM. The time it took to hunt down the calzone was about 10 minutes. I did not even have to risk my life to capture it, although it was fierce indeed. Even if I was working for minimum wage, the labor-cost of this calzone would be about 1 hour.

    In fact, there are a multitude of hunting grounds other than Tony’s within a 10 minute walk. For about the same price, I can have 2 slices of gourmet pizza, or a falafel wrap with tahini sauce, or Kung Pao chicken with rice, or 2 steak quesadillas, or aloo mutter with naan, or 2 Mickey D meals, or an all-you-can-eat buffet, or….

    Or if I wanted to buy the raw goods to make these meals myself, it would cost me about 1/10th the price.

    For 2 weeks worth of labor even at minimum wage, I can buy a computer that will give my kid an opportunity at the world’s best education. Where do you want to go today?

    If you want to see capitalism work, look around you. The man who cannot see the riches in his own life is the same man who is willing to point a gun at another man’s head for his own good.

    The miracle of economics is not that I have this calzone in front of me for so little a price, but that others in the third world socialist countries do not. It is the socialists of today that are creating miracles.

    Enron only proves that capitalism suceeds. After all, Enron is gone. In socialism, Enron stays around, enforced at the point of a gun. The CEO ships people of to Siberia. The henchmen of the Board of Directors arrests skeptical shareholders in the middle of the night for civil unrest. In socialism, Enron turns into an untouchable behemoth destroying lives and creating death and destruction.

    Open your eyes Marvin.

  • D.N. Narr

    Marxism a religion? Of course; along with its associated cults and creeds such as feminism, radical environmentalism, animal rights, etc.
    I agree with previous posters on the point that Marxism is impervious to logic. However, what saves us is that most people are open to logic — and truth. So by all means let’s keep telling the truth about Marxism and its appurtenances, but while we’re at it can we have a little fun? Ridicule is an effective weapon, and few sights are more ridiculous than, say, Barbara Streisand or “Meathead” lecturing us on social policy or political strategy. Michael Moore in a Sumo wrestling match with the concept of truth must be worth a few chuckles. What would P.G. Wodehouse have done with the concept of Bertie Wooster as an undercover animal rights investigator? Isn’t Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks the essence of brain-dead Marxist bureaucracy? We’re winning folks. Let’s have some fun with it.

  • ct

    Does anybody want my junk email? I just got alot of it in my yahoo bulk folder. It’s available if anybody wants it. Just email me.

    Now for something completely—

    You can’t make fun of people who are too stupid to get the joke. (I’m referring to D. N. Narr’s comment above.) I mean, D. N., just TRY to make fun of a liberal. They’re so dense any subtlety in your satire or ridicule or whatever not only will be missed but it will be mistaken for ‘ignorance’. It becomes a game of ‘silent communication’, yet, the others present inevitably give in to the liberal side because it’s difficult to maintain humor above the level of the lowest common denominator which is the audience and the strength of the left. Did I make myself clear? I’m a genius so assume I’m saying something worth absorbing.

  • Andrew Rettek

    blabla,

    The funny thing about enron is what everyone was upset about. The lost jobs and the sudden drop of stock price. If enron kept taking in money and not producing anything, no one would lose a job and no one would lose stock investmints.

    I don’t know if that is pro- or anti-communist, but i do know that if enron was still around then it would be a drain on the economy.

  • Peter

    “The Marxists, though, would just use your laws against you”

    The Law, as applied in the West, is an impediment to any Marxist. In addition, They don’t trust any existing institution to enforce their decrees. Therefore the instrument to enforce their will, whether it is known as Red Guards,Chekists, or Special Enforcement Teams of the Federal Election Commission, will be operating, by any convential standard, extra-legally. So I won’t have a huge problem with murdering a few of them when they show up.

    P.S. – I wouldn’t say genius, but definitely smarter than the average.

  • Brian

    I was told the other day that Stalin, because he built factories and had lots of people working for him, was a CAPITALIST. I stood there like Buster Keaton in The Blacksmith, you know that bit where his hat does a double flip and lands back on his head? Anyhow…

    The book to check out is Cialdini’s Influence, particularly the chapter on Social Proof. Social Proof = people are more comfortable believing something when there are others beside them who believe it too. This is used in advertising all the time when they talk about how popular a thing is to get folk to buy it.

    Cialdini applied this to cults and found something counterintuitive. When an apocalyptic cult predicted the end of the world or the arrival of the UFOs or whatever, and that event failed to come to pass, the cult members never said “this is rubbish” and quit. No, they instead redoubled their efforts at CONVERTING OTHERS. People who’ve made such a commitment to the cult – abandoning family, wealth, and all earthly possessions – would be psychologically destroyed if they believed themselves to have been so utterly wrong. But Social Proof tells them that if they can convince others of the rightness of their cause, then it’s prima facie evidence that they themselves were never mistaken in the first place.

    He says that a faulty prediction of The End is the best thing that can happen to a cult, and the book tells the story of many cults who’s membership doubled or tripled immediately after their Messiah flaked. I think we could add Marxism to the list.

    [Also check out Guilt Blame and Politics by Levite and The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality by von Mises. I’ve come to believe Leftism is more a mental disorder than an ideology. When John Derbyshire’s army of psychologists is through with the Middle East, they can start on the universities.]

  • ct

    This comment by Brian is in the budding genius category. There are actually many almost-genius-level comments in the overall thread (I see now that I’ve taken the time to read them rather than just reading my own comments over and over).

    I say ‘almost-genius-level’ because I’m using myself as the standard for genius.

    What will the next year bring… Perhaps a nuke attack. I don’t live in a target rich area. Though, Muslim terrorists are so stupid they might think: “Sacramento is the capital of a large state. California is central to the U.S. economy. We will hit Sacramento with the mother of all Allah KGB suitcase nukes!!”

    No, no, no, Muhammed. Sacramento is not a good target. Try maybe Hollywood. There are many bad Hollywood movies currently in production. You can do the world a great favor by melting the film stocks. Or, New York again.

  • Kevin Connors

    People who’ve made such a commitment to the cult – abandoning family, wealth, and all earthly possessions – would be psychologically destroyed if they believed themselves to have been so utterly wrong. But Social Proof tells them that if they can convince others of the rightness of their cause, then it’s prima facie evidence that they themselves were never mistaken in the first place.

    Indeed. we can also apply this to the Evil War on Drugs.

  • ct

    “Indeed. we can also apply this to the Evil War on Drugs”

    Some people can only think in absolutes. A sign of a mediocre mind. Not genius level. Just say no to drugs.

  • Kevin Conners;

    “I frequently post on a BBS known as LibertyForum (where I am known as Oberon). The board is made up largely of those of our political meta-context. However, there is a rather large contingent which I’ll label broadly as the “conspiracy theorists”. Dispite that these people would decry socialism at every turn, their journalistic heros are guys like Pilger and Fisk.”

    And Julius Streicher.

  • Phil Smith;

    “Religionists cannot win the fight against collectivists because they both have the same moral base: the morality of Altruism. To look after ones own welfare is selfish and to look after the welfare of others is the only virtue.”

    Can we please be spared the Randroid babbling about altruism?

    “Religionist and collectivist leaders claim the right to loot anyone who has a dollar in order to pass it out to the lame and the halt.”

    I’ve never met a pastor who believed that. You have at most a vague idea what you’re talking about.

  • David A. Fauman

    All human rights are property rights. The first property right is that you own yourself. This the Marxists cannot abide. You own yourself and the will, creativity, labor, and produce you create; this is to your benefit which benefits the world . There is no more revolutionary creed than “the pursuit of happiness”. The lazy self satified Marxist thieves cannot endure the productivity of the commons.
    To oppose Marxism is only and always to oppose thieves.
    If I am not for myself who will be for me.
    If I am for myself alone what am I?
    If not today then when?

  • Marxism is not really the problem. It is the human desire for utopia. (this includes those who long for Galt’s Gulch). All Marx did was apply a rationalistic veneer to Socialism that had, until him, relied on Romantic appeal; just like all the other cults of the time. Marx appealed to those who had at least a low level intellectual conscience. His resort to making socialism scientific was actually an improvement. It demonstrates the ascendency of rationalism. Marx as a rational social theory has been thoroughly discredited– see Sowell’s Marxism: Philosophy and Economics. Of course, this has in no way extinguished the Socialist vision.
    I agree with earlier posts that we should start ridiculing Socialists like the left does the other cultists. Those who come to socialism are not going to be argued away from it, no more than one can argue with a Baptist about the absurdity of God. (but it is fun hehe)
    They are not only immune to rational discourse, it is not even an option. Look at how much blood and suffering are just shiited off with a shrug and a quip: Can’t make an omlette without breaking a few eggs, True Communism has never been tried etc. Even when they appear to be participating in discussion they aren’t. The debate is long over, everything now is about gathering the power to impliment their vision. How much has the Left changed since Bellamy’s Looking Backward?

    My proposed tactics:

    1) Continued research into psychology of cult formation/maintenance

    2)Political Defeat of Socialists by any means necessary (including violence)

    3)Frame all debate in terms taht the audience can grasp. Show how how the Socialist vision is enemical to their desires.

    4)Intellectual Hygeine: realize that when you come up against those with the Socialist vision that you are NOT in a rational give-and-take situation. They are already idealogically immune to discourse. All that you are going to get is a debate with the sole purpose of making you look stupid/evil. Realize that you are dealing with human desire wich is not always rational. The greater the desire the less reason enters into it.

    5)Continue to nurture the fledgling institutions that allow liberty and rationalism to develop (ie private property, rule of law, minimalist state intervention, captilism etc.)

    6)Most importantly: Keep your head up
    What we are trying to change is a metaphysical-oriented psychology that spans eons. The intellectual conscience has really only just arrived. It needs time to develop the strength to dominate over man’s previous disposition.

    Keep hope alive!!

  • Have you ever had the experience of trying to convince an irrational friend to stop behaving in ways that were harmful to themselves and others? Ever failed miserably at that? I have. Its humbling.

    Ever tried to talk someone out of an irrational religious belief? Ever failed to talk them out of it? Again, isn’t it humbling to find that one’s powers of persuasion can be just totally inadequate?

    Some people are beyond reason on some or even most subjects. They can only be appealed to thru emotional irrational arguments. The real interesting question that doesn’t get asked often enough is this: Is some irrationality innate? Are there people who are just not analytical or objective by nature? I’m not talking about low intelligence. I’m talking about a highly emotional mode of thinking in seemingly quite intelligent people. Are such people a significant portion of any large human population?

  • ct

    Equating faith with Marxism in the way you have in this comment is deep inanity. A growing ability to discern and appreciate reality that is above vanity and pride is not the same subject matter as what is more practical and useful and humane in creating and circulating wealth. Dry yourself off and try again.

  • machno

    Marx was able to give us a comprehensive analysis of this economic system called Capitalism. He is the the only one who understood the underlying problem with the system and he was able to make us uderstand that working class are the truly creater of the world economy, and nobody else!
    Capitalism in itself is not in crisis, it merely distorted from their initial process.
    Everybody know that the priciple of capitalism is competitiveness, well where are you find this competitiveness today?
    Corporations do not compete, nobody like to lose!
    The problem now has to with the working class, after three century we are not better off than before. We may have better food or clothings but we do not have freedom. Working class do not decide of their lives but the system with its owan parasite government.

  • Ghaleon

    I think that the most interesting remark made here was when Rb said :

    ”If you are not a socialist at 20, you have no heart. If you are still a socialist at 30, you have no brain.”

    Now, just some remarks I have to make…

    1-Stop saying that capitalism is more in accord with ”human nature” as such a think doesn’t exist. Such a way of thinking is primitive and isn’t logical at all. We human have the possibility to be pretty much anything, and to decide that it is better to be generous instead of selfish isn’t making us less human…
    O.K… I must admit it, it is in our nature to be egocentric… It is a part of our devolopment we are obliged to live, when we are 2-7 years old… But it is in no way the ”normal” attitude for an adult (for a real adult).

    2-Only by reading many of the post here I’d say that communist aren’t more stupid than many capitalist.
    -Levendus when he says we should use violence to assure the defeat of socialists
    -Michael who is unable to elaborate more than ”shoot’em”
    -Rossz who say human are by nature selfish
    -Rob and Peter for their stupid comment
    Here the proof that a capitalist can also be illogical and stupid=)

    Now, I think a lot of you should calm down about marxisme. It will never succeed in America, so don’t think it is a real treat to capitalism. Keeping that in head, I think that it is a pretty good ideologie, as long as it don’t come into reality. I think it is a great thing many young people are interested in communism as it show that they have an heart, that they don’t only care about their own little ass. I think it’s a great thing that some people still believe in communism as they can’t do any harm(it’s at least the case here, in America) but they help to put in relief some of the dark sides of capitalism.

    I’m for capitalism but I’m not stupid enough to think that it is enough by itself. Capitalism need a strong moral doctrine behind it, or otherwise it can also do a lot of harm.

  • ct

    For an explication of capitalism (free market economy) read Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations.

    For a moral underpinning for capitalism read Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments.

    For a thorough analysis of Marxism and communists read the Black Book of Communism.

    For a real and thorough understanding of all the above read the Bible.

  • Peter

    “Stupid”

    Ghaleon, you jackass. Name a Marxist regime that didn’t proceed to murder their own citizens when they came to power? I can name three that did. Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Lenin’s Russia, and Mao’s China. Let’s add it up shall we. According to The Black Book Of Communism that’s 87 million people who I guess were a little too “selfish” for you. Why weren’t those people thinking of the greater good, as they were shot or worked to death. Some people, I tell you.

  • ct

    ”If you are not a socialist at 20, you have no heart. If you are still a socialist at 30, you have no brain.”

    This line is usually written with ‘liberal’ replacing ‘socialist’. Anyway it’s a false choice. Or, ‘false dichotomy’. You can be ignorant of any political or economic system and ‘have a heart’. You can be very understanding of the workings of free markets and have a heart. You can also be a socialist and be full of the resentment and hatred of a thousand devils.

  • blabla

    Keep your head in the sand Ghaleon.

    Now, I think a lot of you should calm down about marxisme. It will never succeed in America, so don’t think it is a real treat to capitalism. Keeping that in head, I think that it is a pretty good ideologie, as long as it don’t come into reality. I think it is a great thing many young people are interested in communism as it show that they have an heart, that they don’t only care about their own little ass. I think it’s a great thing that some people still believe in communism as they can’t do any harm(it’s at least the case here, in America) but they help to put in relief some of the dark sides of capitalism.

    This paragraph just might be the most ignorant piece of writing I’ve encountered in the 70-odd comments posted so far.

  • Ghaleon

    Peter, what I find stupid is the use of violence (in your two comments you speak about killing) I was already aware of the horrors communism created… its why I said I was for capitalism, because it’s 100x much better than those horrors.
    About the ”selfish” thing you didnt understand, what is said is that I find stupid to say that we are selfish by nature and by thinking such a thing we are limiting ourselve from being better (the point wasn’t pro-communism, it was only a remark about something many people said and which have no sense). Don’t speak like if I wasn’t affected by such horrors because I am, but still I consider that the people in universities in America who believe in communism are anything but a real treat. Still, as I said, they can help to put into light some of the ”dark sides” of capitalist (yes there is some, and im conscient their not so bad at those of communism but still we can work on them)

    Let just say it clearly, I’M NOT COMMUNIST.

    Yeah sure, I know that :
    ”If you are not a socialist at 20, you have no heart. If you are still a socialist at 30, you have no brain.”
    isn’t an absolute, that you can ignorent of politic and have a great heart… But I find that often this line is true in the sense that arround 20 we are all idealist and that, later on, we became more realist.
    And about uunderstanding the free market rules and having an heart the line don’t say anything against it. In the ”at 30” part, saying that if you are still a socialist you have no brain is meaning that, at a certain age, you have to admit that capitalism is more realistic in our world, even if you would like to live in a utopia like when you are younger. But anyway its just a line wich represent well what happen in the head of many people(its true that at 20 many are communism but they almost all quit later because they are confronted to a desilusion)

    I dont feel like reading an entire book just to understand that capitalism=free market economy.. I already knew that…

    The Black Book of Communism seem an interesting book to read and I was already planning to read it very soon.

    For the moral that capitalism is in needing well, I must admit I never even heard of that book but anything I doubt it is written in it ”share with the poor” ”dont let all the richess concentrate in a few hands”, etc… It is that kind of moral doctrine I was speaking about, a bit like those we find in christianism. But we aren’t all christian(i’m not)and many who are don’t really follow the advise it contain. It’s like what J.fielek said up there.

    BTW, true capitalism doesn’t exist in our time at my knowledge. Every government try to have a certain control over their economy (otherwise what could we do again monopol?!?) It’s not completely ”free market economy” or otherwise it would be a real mess. The ”invisible hand” of Adam Smith need a little help sometime, but not too much or it hurt economy.

    And sorry Peter, maybe the term ”stupid” wasn’t well used in your case, not like the others… but I have a really bad opinion about anyone that promote violence…

  • Kevin Connors

    M’thinks perhaps Ghaleon has become over-invested in “Christmas cheer”. 🙂

  • Pete

    Ghaleon,

    You can talk about Marxism all you want. It’s the people who want to apply Marxism to the real world who are going to have a problem. Marxism goes against every real-world experience that humankind has ever had since the dawn of history. Inevitably a Marxist regime has to eliminate every opponent of the new regime. Ironically, this turns out to be everybody at some point.

  • ”If you are not a socialist at 20, you have no heart. If you are still a socialist at 30, you have no brain.”
    isn’t an absolute, that you can ignorent of politic and have a great heart… But I find that often this line is true in the sense that arround 20 we are all idealist and that, later on, we became more realist.

    Well, I’m 20, and I’m beyond my idealist phase. My idealism went down with the WTC and Pentagon when I was 19. I guess I have no heart, but I’m glad I have a brain… 🙂

  • ct

    Point taken, Ghaleon. In my case I was just asleep to anything and everything at 20 and now I’m impressed with people at 20 and much younger who seem very sophisticated in their knowledge and understanding of things.

    Theory of Moral Sentiments is considered the true preface to Wealth of Nations. On his gravestone Adam Smith wanted engraved that he was the author of Theory of Moral Sentiments and Wealth of Nations.

    Some of your comments (in your most recent post as well) show a lack of understanding of capital and wealth and the vertical movement of people in a free market system (there is no permanent ‘worker’ class — perhaps a permanent welfare class, but that can’t be put at the feet of free markets). There are natural checks and balances. Unions, yes, but notice how they crumble naturally (and their members move on) if the market won’t support the demands. Etc., etc.

    Charity as well seems to flow alot more generously from the pockets of, for instance, Americans than any other people. In ‘the system of natural liberty’ self-interest is not necessarily selfishness, and competition keeps everybody honest. Good laws, low taxes, and peace through a strong defense, and you have a recipe for the pursuit of happiness.

  • ct

    And alot of Protestant work ethic. (:Code:)

  • ”And herein lies a clue: marxism holds no truths for those who examine the world rationally, but it is extremely seductive for those who do not. ”

    ANY commentary which has a close-minded statement like this one is mere masturbation.

    If you disagree with an idea, refute it – or are you simply upset that there is a marketplace of ideas and you may have to compete in it?

    Your writing is much like the attitude of an 8 year-old on a playground.

    john r

  • The weakness of the people who write in and read this weblog is plain to see — an insistence that emotion is not “real.” Since emotion is not “real,” emotional needs are renamed as “superstition.”

    Here’s the question I want to pose. Why do we always focus on whether the religious are empirically correct in their assertion that an anthropomorphic God exists? What if belief in God is a psychological and emotional necessity for human health and well-being? In short, what if something that strikes intellectuals as unnecessary and irrational, is essential to human happiness? Men are most prone to the type of thinking that dominates this discussion.

    I think that the defeat of Utopian thinking and Marxism lies in the re-establishment of traditional religious values and traditions. If a spiritual and belief system is essential to human well-being, and I believe that it is, then humans must have such a system or suffer in the absence of it.

    So, tradition and religious belief are not logical and sensible. So what? Humans need these things. The men who write on this discussion board need these things.

    If life demonstrably works better for people if they have a workable spiritual and belief system, why fix what ain’t broke?

    The modern, scientific, logical mind is partly reponsible for the continued seductive appeal of Marxism. That modern mind is not offering anything to fill the yearning for a spiritual and belief system.

  • Just a reminder to keep comments civil and please use the indicated html code for all links in comments.

  • Snide

    ‘If you are not a socialist at 20, you have no heart. If you are still a socialist at 30, you have no brain.’

    To which ct replied:

    This line is usually written with ‘liberal’ replacing ‘socialist’.

    Well ct, Perhaps in the USA that may be true but elsewhere in the English speaking world it certainly is not. ‘Liberal’ is a US euphemism for Socialist, elsewhere it has quite a different meaning.

  • Ghaleon

    Blabla, actually I try to read that paragraph again and again to find why its stupid but, well, I can’t find it.
    1-I find the idea of everyone having an egal ammount of richest a pretty good idea, on the moral side. I think that young people in university wanting that kind off utopia will end up being great people.
    2-It will never succeed in America, you can be sure of that. If you are afraid of communism in the U.S.A then you are a paranoid.
    3-Capitalism do have some dark sides… if you think its perfect well you are living in an utopia that isnt an empirical reality.

    I wont say American are the most generous. U.S.A is, at my knowledge, one of the Western industrialised country that give the smallest % of is income to foreign help (but as it is rich, it does represent a lot). American are generous, but don’t exagerate=)

    I don’t see how my comments are not in accord with what you said CT… Did I spoke about a permanent worker class or anything?

  • Chris Mitchell

    re: liberalism

    Reading the Economist article referenced in the original post is instructive in this regard, as it properly uses the term “liberal” (as in “liberal education”) and also expounds on Marx and capitalism from a traditionally liberal point of view.

    Most insightful in the article is the analysis of exactly where Marxist theory, in its evolutionary approach, breaks down. In the end, Marxism is a strong critical body of work, but less effective as a description of societal evolution, as the theory fails to accurately describe the social dynamics among citizens of a mature capitalist state.

    So, the revolution never arrives (at least not in any evolutionary sense that Marx envisioned). But the critical techniques pioneered by Marx are still useful to reformers, particularly analysis of the relative economic status of those “left behind” when compared with their manifold productive contributions and in light of institutional lack of access to opportunity (where such barriers exist — the US doctrines and system would appear to have a healthy bias toward progress in this regard).

  • ct

    Marxists know they can defile a healthy society by a little pinch of their poison here and there. Anyone who doesn’t see evil in Marxism, and who doesn’t see evil motivation in its adherents, after the history of the 20th century, is himself either evil or ignorant to the degree of evil.

  • Peter

    “Just a reminder to keep comments civil and please use the indicated html code for all links in comments.”

    Sorry, Perry. I’ve been rereading “The Gulag Archipelago” and it’s put me into a mood.

  • Ghaleon

    Ct, with that last comment I’d say you should reconsider your belief that you are a genius…

    The use of term like ”poison” and ”evil” are term that are used in propaganda, not in a purely logical and rational explanation. It’s a shame from someone from the sided that is considering himself rational and who consider the other side as too ”emotional”…Such terms are used to create ”emotional” reaction against communism.

    No, the youngs peoples in university(and those I live with in my cegep) and who believe in communism aren’t really ”evil”(anyway such concept is completely ridiculous and is only used by people that are… I won’t say what because it wouldn’t please Perry=). This is what we call ”binary mentality”.)

  • ct

    Ghaleon, you’re an fool.

    Too much blood has flowed to be humoring the kind of idiocy you exhibit.

    And you’re an atheist. Wow. That means you either can’t or don’t want to recognize anything you can’t f*** or eat. This doesn’t make you unusual or rare. This makes you a typical fool.

    (As to your young people in the university… It was the revolutionary Marxists themselves that coined the phrase ‘useful idiots’. Recall, I said evil, or ignorant to the degree of evil.)

    Then again don’t hurt yourself trying to grasp any of this…

  • Ghaleon

    Don’t worry for my capacity of understanding anything that have been said here.

    No idiocy have been said here, and to say that isn’t a proof in itself.

    Nothing in what I wrote was actually proving that I was an atheist so you shouln’t have made such a kind of attack against me, as you couldn’t have been sure anyway. But yes, I am.

    Oh, an atheist aren’t all fool. You over generalize here… but it’s no big surprise here=) If I was only interested in what I can fuck and eat, I wouln’t be here saying what I am saying.

    I’m not atheist because I’m too stupid to ask myself ”spiritual” questions and such. I’m not and atheist because I don’t care about anything but my sens as I’m not an epicurien(well, not in the sense this term is usually used…) but I won’t say why I am an atheist, because it could open the way to a religious debat and this isn’t what I want as I think anyone is free to follow any religions he want, or none if he prefer…

  • Ghaleon

    My call for violence was of the self-defense variety. It’s a historical fact that when Marxist/Socialist/Communist systems gain power they begin to round up the Kulaks.

    I’m not a pacifist, obviously, but how does that make me stupid?

    As to the non-threat that American Marxists represent I can only reply not yet. The power structure of the American polity has prevented them from gaining the power they crave but they do represent an incremental threat.

    As to the “dark side of capitalism” it is non-esistent. Any system is as dark or light as the people comprising it. Capitalism, as practiced in the US with a liberal government, has a diffused power structure. Therefore, those who crave power with ill intentions are limited, if not prevented, in the havoc they can wreak. In most socialist structures the power is concentrated and irresistable to psychopaths. Once they get power, and history has shown that they always do, they get to devestate their populations.

    What you consider the vagaries of capitalism is really just people violating your, and many others, compassion-centered ethic. Your call for a “strong moral doctrine” to underpin capitalism is just your own formulation for containing the damage caused by bad people.

    I believe when you say that you are not a communist, but you are an enabler. Compassion can muddle the mind when not kept in perspective.

  • themack

    So many people think capitalism is a “dog eat dog” way of doing things. Therefore they think socialism is a “safety net”. We have to prove to these people that you can’t get something for nothing. I usually say “Why do you think the government should have the power to take food out of your kids mouth to give money to someone who might be poor because of personal choice?” Of course they say the poor should be looked after. So I say “Can you give me proof that the government won’t take more that the poor need?” So of course they can’t. At that time I say that social programs have a built in slippery slope and are therefore immoral because they can be abused.

  • John Birch

    College professors and dreamy, good hearted 20 year olds with soft spots for communism generally aren’t those controlling governments. We have little to fear from them. The much larger problem is caused by the idealistic capitalists, who in their latter years grow tired of fighting in the free market (if they really did at all) and decide that it is far more “profitable” to protect their business interests from the vagaries of competition. It is these faux capitalists that represent the more powerful enemy to our individual freedoms. They are the ones with the wealth and means to prop up debunked and discredited systems. It is their wealth that picks up the tab for the professors salaries and the social events that provide the venue for impassioned “protestors” to parade their compassion before the cameras of the mass media. Communism is neither a theory or a religion, it is a marketing vehicle, a Machiavellian slight of hand useful for those who wish to gain or stay in control. The Berlin Wall falls and the Soviet Union “disappears” and “Capitalists” gloat over their “victory.” Meanwhile, the rest of the free citizenry of Europe is disarmed and their personal wealth is further looted by the new ultimate fiat currency. Welcome to the New Soviet. Comrade Gorbachev has a “New Ten Commandmants” for us too: http://web243.petrel.ch/GreenCrossFamily/gorby/newspeeches/interviews/laTimes.html

    But I digress.

  • I think freedom does have a substantial right-brain appeal. I dream of the glorious cities of the future, of the fantastic transport networks, of the low crime rates, of the fantastic opportunities and the belief “I could do that” widely held and widely acted upon.

    Secondly, I believe there are all sorts of people (David, you and I were among them a few years ago) among our opponents who are logical. The problem is either they haven’t heard our arguments, or not to put too fine a point on it, our arguments weren’t good enough.

    We have work to do on both the right and left hemispsheres. We need both.

  • Minstrel

    Two things: I am overwhelmingly surprised and pleased that there are so many thinking capitalists, conservatives, catholic (with a small c) out there. I am impressed with the complexity and maturity of the bulk of your comments. Of course, the odd “shoot ’em” can’t be avoided, but this is the internet after all.
    I am also entirely shocked that marxism is the only creed that has been attacked in this post. Of course, the topic of the article is the same, but what of the thousand other theories that are floating around? Why is Marxism being a religion so bad with examples of truly sympathetic religions like Buddhism or Zen? Must there be such a binary opposition? Since there will always be conflict, there must always also be debate. If such radical liberal notions are incorrect or lacking in some grievous manner, offer me up a more conservative and successfully lasting alternative. Is there any way that the ecosphere can last a handful of generations when we have such shortsighted presidents as we do now?

  • themack

    What you don’t understand Minstrel is there is a huge war going on right now and has been going on for some time. It’s a war of ideas. The left does not play fair. They have stacked the deck in their favor. If everone could see leftism for the lies it is made out of then everyone would reject it. The problem is leftists are very good at propaganda. The misteakes of the past are intensionaly clouded so power mad people can continue to cause human suffering on a worldwide scale.

  • themack: Exactly.

    That’s why I appear to be a “shoot em” booster. I’m not, entirely. I just realize that lefties may leave no other choice than the Carthaginian option.

    I’m not happy about it but I am not going to shrink away from it. I am not a pacifist but that doesn’t mean I revel in blood-shed.

    I want peace, who doesn’t, but not on Socialist terms. I will not just accept Socialist/communist/Marxist/TNP domination. Their form of government is not just another choice amongst others.

    As for your call for a stable alternative Minstrel, the US is pretty obvious.

    And yes the ecosphere can last. It will last until Sol goes nova. What I think you really mean is can it last as it is currently comprised? Which of course is no. What you fail, or disregard, to understand is that environmentalists are actively striving to make the dynamic biosphere homeostatic. What I don’t understand is why the changes, if any, wrought by humans are bad but those brought by other organisms, like plants, are good.

    I realize we have a choice, where as other organisms do not, but why should mankind be forced to render the earth into a well cultivated park?

    Isn’t it a remarkable coincidence that environmentalist agenda dovetails so well with the Socialist one?

  • themack

    Enviromentalists have one goal that should send up a warning flag to everyone. They want to get rid of private land ownership. They want all power in the hands of government. They don’t care about the enviroment it is only a tool they use to oppress “the people”. These people are dangerous. These people usually can’t be reasoned with. I slam them with the truth right in the face. I call them for what they are. Left wing nazis who seek to enslave humanity.