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View Diary: Marx for Dummies 1 (193 comments)

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  •  As a political scientist and an economics student (11+ / 0-)

    I applaud you for trying to popularly clarify the theory behind Marxism (my specialty and chosen profession though is on elections.

    As a leftist I applaud you for highlighting the importance of what Marx's insights actually were; that capitalism is fundamentally unfair, unsustainable, and inefficient and there's a reason that no country in the world is as purely capitalist as they were in Marx's day.

    I can't tell you how often people I talk to on the subject are shocked that Marx spent practically none of his time talking about what policies and structures would make the communist system work and the incredibly vast majority of his time (in works like the Manifesto) to describe the failings of the capitalist system as it existed. Aside from the labor theory of value, his economic contributions are a more or less cornerstone of modern economic thought.

    It was nothing short of revolutionary in 1848 to assert that economics was the fundamental driver of human social behavior, something that even the most ardent right wing intellectual cant help to deny today.

    •  It's still. . . revolutionary (?) (6+ / 0-)

      As a Marxist and not a Marxist, I find both a great usefulness in the method and a great limitation in it. Just as it frees us to puncture the gilted balloons, it is also reductive to allow the simplistic (Soviet/Stalinist) understanding of man as a material object.

      Recently, I pointed out that Marxism demands that the US Civil War be a dialectic, with two maladaptive forces clashing, not one. Good vs. evil rarely happens on a mass scale. At the same time, though, Marx would leave out shame and evil and greed, as the individuals and their essences disappear in the aggregate.

      In other words, like saying that we only think in the words we have or saying that infants are beastly, Marx's insistence upon the materialist dialectic as deterministic is useful but potentially reductive.

      Everyone is innocent of some crime.

      by The Geogre on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 04:06:12 PM PDT

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      •  Agreed, which is why I would never say that (7+ / 0-)

        I am a non-Leninist Marxist. Marx was stunningly visionary for his time, but like all philosophers of their own time, are limited in what they can teach us today. I only hope that the future generations of humanity (hopefully they exist centuries from now) rightly regard our theories as archaic because they know so much more.

        I think that today, as it will be a long time from now, Marx's most lasting impact upon political thought will be that economics is one of the prime drivers of politics. That seems to be a pretty rock solid truth even if you hate it or if you disagree with everything Marx stood for, even the most die-hard libertarians can't deny it. This was something that largely did not exist prior to his writings and certainly did not exist as formally as he said it.

        As someone who majored in Economics in college, it's impossible to imagine a world without Marxist theory. But no one, even the most left wing among us without being 'Marxist-Leninists' such as myself, believe everything he said is true. We just have so much more evidence than Marx could have imagined having at this date. It is that which allows us to formulate superior theories, regardless of what our views on politics are.

      •  The determinism (0+ / 0-)

        is, theoretically speaking, the problem, of course.  Part of why sociology is such an interesting social science is because human beings and the societies they organize into are not one-dimensional, thus making any singular type of determinism necessarily too narrow.

        Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

        by a gilas girl on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 01:33:11 PM PDT

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