Monday, March 16, 2009
American Thinker: What is Marxism?
What is Marxism?
By Steven Plaut
March 16, 2009
Marxists claim that Marxism is a science. It is not. It is a sort of pagan religious cult. It is a theology. It is a form of superstition.
Marxists claim that Karl Marx understood capitalism and economics. He did not. They also claim that the entire validity of Marx's set of theories on all subjects rests ultimately on how valid Marxist economic thought is. Marxist economic thought was completely wrong.
Marx claimed that all products contain value that is directly proportional to the amount of labor embodied within them. He was wrong. All the rest of Marxism is based entirely on this mistaken and falsifiable premise.
Marxists claim that the operations of markets have a natural tendency to spawn monopolies. They call this "monopoly capitalism." In reality, markets have a natural tendency to break up and undermine monopolies. Almost all monopolies under capitalism are those set up by governments stifling and interfering in the operations of markets.
The most harmful monopolies in modern economies are the labor unions.
Marxists claim that corporate monopolies are growing in importance and in power. In fact, monopolies have been losing power and strength under capitalism for well over a century.
Marxists think that large corporations collaborate and operate power-sharing arrangements among themselves. They do not and cannot. Large corporations compete, undercut, and threaten one another's market shares every day. As one of many proofs, just look at the number of inter-corporate law suits.
Marxism is based on conflict between "social classes." But social classes do not exist at all. This is not to say that there are not richer folk and poorer folk all about. It only means that all the richer folk share no collective common interests, and the same is true for all the poorer folk.
Marxists claim that people's ideas and ideals are dictated by property relations. They are wrong.
Marxists and socialists in general care a lot about the distribution of material wealth. But they have no idea how to bring about the creation of the material wealth that they wish to redistribute. They just assume it all gets produced all by itself. That is why people in communist regimes starve.
Marxists claim that workers are oppressed in capitalist societies. Workers in communist societies always try to sneak out into capitalist societies. No one in South Korea is trying to sneak into North Korea. The Berlin Wall was not built to keep West Germans from sneaking into East Germany's collective farms. Cubans in Florida do not steal boats to seek asylum in Cuban collective farms.
Marxists claim that lower-income people support the Left and that higher-income people support the Right. Generally the opposite is the case. Let's not forget the Hollywood Left.
Marxists claim that capitalism creates "crises of surplus," where materials build up that cannot be sold. They are wrong. Surpluses just cause prices to drop.
Marxists claim that capitalists do not work and that workers do not own capital. That is why they comprise "social classes." But nearly all capitalists work, often in work days with very long hours. Meanwhile, a huge portion of capital is held by workers themselves through their pension funds and other institutional investment intermediaries.
Marxists claim that businesses are owned by a small closed clique of capitalists. Actually, most businesses are "public," meaning they are owned by shareholders and anyone at all can be a shareholder in them.
Marxists claim that capitalism cannot be democratic. But every single democratic society on earth is predominantly capitalist. Not a single communist regime was ever democratic. Communists take power via military coups and military conquest, not via elections.
Marxists claim that capitalists use violence to protect their perquisites and privileges. In truth, Marxists in power use violence to protect their perquisites and privileges. They use violence to suppress opposition wherever they manage to seize power, including violence against opposition groups of workers. It is conservatively estimated that 100 million people were killed by Marxism and by Marxists in the twentieth century.
Marxists claim that people are prisoners of their material circumstances and of their classes of birth. Tell that to the limousine Marxists, the endowment-fund Trotskyists, and the tenured socialists.
Marxists claim that all workers share common interests and shared goals, making them into a "class." In reality, they share nothing in common and have no common interests.
Marxists think that all capitalists share common interests and get together in large stadiums every few weeks to plan out a program to achieve those. In reality, if capitalists were ever to congregate in such a stadium, they could agree on absolutely nothing, not even on the price of the beer. There is no single issue in economic policy over which all capitalists have the same position or share the same interest.
Marxists claim that workers in capitalist societies feel "alienated." In reality, pampered children in capitalist society feel alienated because capitalism produces wealth, makes material comfort possible, and so creates the opportunities for idleness and leisure that lead to recreational feelings of alienation.
Marxists think that if you earn more money than me, it means you are exploiting me. In reality, it means you are more talented, harder working, better skilled, and luckier than me.
Marxists think that if one person has more wealth than a second person, it can only be because the first one stole the wealth of the second. Ditto for richer and poorer countries.
Marxists think that only things matter in economics, meaning tangible products, and so services do not. They believe that big products are more important than small products, big industries being more important than small industries. They also believe that consumer goods are superfluous and should not be produced much. All those ideas are why the quality of life and the standard of living are so miserable under communist regimes. In wealthy countries, small- and medium-size enterprises are the main engines for producing wealth.
Marxists do not see why workers should need to be allowed to vote. The interest of workers is always defined as whatever those claiming to speak in the name of the working class happen to support and desire.
Marxists think that socialism works. It does not. The only form of "socialism" that has not produced mass impoverishment and starvation is Scandinavian capitalism merged with a bloated "socialist" welfare state.
Marxists claim that most Marxists come from the working class. In reality almost all Marxists are the pampered children of middle class and wealthy parents. There are more Marxists today on the campuses of some American universities than in all of eastern Europe.
Marxists claim that under Marxism everyone receives according to his needs and contributes according to his capabilities. In reality, under Marxism everyone receives according to whatever the entrenched party apparatchiks decide their needs are, usually sub-sustenance levels of consumption, and the same people decide what are your abilities, generally assumed to be your ability to work endlessly at whatever you are told to do without getting paid much. To put this differently, in the absence of positive incentives, no one is capable of doing anything and everyone's needs are infinite.
Marxists think that "experts" can tell what needs to be produced. They cannot. That is why Marxist experts produce starvation. In some cases Marxist starvation has produced cannibalism. There is not a single Marxist scholar or expert on earth who could produce a pencil by himself.
Marxists think that efficiency in production can be achieved by terrorizing factory workers and communal farm members. While terrorizing them, it has never successfully achieved efficiency that way. People are always smarter than the terrorizing officials and manage to thwart them.
Marxists believe that economic incentives do not matter. That is why they think there is no need to pay people more for working hard or exerting effort. It is enough to appeal to their "class interests." That is why people starve under communism.
When a Marxist speaks of "dictatorship of the proletariat," he means he thinks he has the right to use violence to impose his own arbitrary dictatorship upon members of the working class and upon everyone else, without asking for their approval or votes.
Marxists claim that Marxism is fundamentally democratic. In reality it is always fundamentally anti-democratic.
Marxists pretend to be in favor of the working class collectively owning all property. In reality Marxists always steal the property of members of the working class and turn it over to well-paid party apparatchiks.
Marxists think that Marx understood economics. In fact, virtually all Marxist "theories" were completed debunked 160 years ago. Marx was wrong about virtually everything he wrote on economics. It is more difficult to say whether he was correct about anything in sociology, but that is more a commentary on the nebulous and muddled nature of sociological thinking.
Marxists see no need at all for "finance capital." That is why they always steal everyone's savings in communist societies. It is also why workers in communist societies hide their savings in banks in capitalist societies.
Marx did not have the slightest inkling about what determines wages of workers in markets. He had even less understanding of what determines prices.
Marxists use the term "concrete" whenever they do not know how to finish a sentence, or whenever they have no idea of what is being discussed.
Marxists think that women live better lives under Marxism. That is because they never speak with any women who grew up under communism.
There is not a Marxist on earth who has actually read and understood Karl Marx's tedious book "Das Kapital." You can read a summary of the book on Wikipedia, written by people who did not read it either. In reality, Marx had no idea at all even what capital is.
Marxists often want to abolish the family, but that is because they became Marxists in the first place as a way to antagonize and irritate mommy and daddy.
Marxists believe that people living under Marxism lose interest in religion. They do not.
Marxists believe that in every voluntary transaction, one side wins and the other loses, and so it is impossible for two sides to profit from it. That is why they think you should be told what to buy and how much you should pay for it.
Marxists claim that capitalist countries engage in imperialism. But since World War II the largest empires of imperialist conquest were those headed by Marxist regimes.
Marxists believe that there are no real conflicts of interest between the workers living in different countries and speaking different languages or coming from different cultures. That is without a doubt the very stupidest idea of all coming from Marxism. In any case, that is why Marxism is generally spread only via military conquest.
Marxists think that capitalism makes people greedy. Actually people living under communism become much greedier because they are poor and desperate.
Marxists claim that Marxism is a science. It is not. It is today little more than a form of mental illness.
Steven Plaut is an economist and teaches business administration.
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