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The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living.
Karl Marx

I pass every April’s rain preparing for my favorite holiday – May 5th, birth date of Karl Marx, the father of communism. I sit in my corner chair, lulled by the roar of the electric space heater and raindrops striking the windowpanes. I hear neither, as I’m re-reading my collection of the great man’s work along with what, to my mind, is the most well written rundown of his life and thought, Thomas Sowell’s Marxism.

Born 192 years ago today in Trier, Germany, Karl Marx "grew up a brilliant and spoiled child" (Sowell, 165) then spent his college years driving his father to exasperation, poisoning his mind with Hegel, and writing of the day when he would obtain enough political power to "wander godlike and victorious...I will feel equal to the creator". (Sowell, 166)  So even from his youth it’s safe to say the boy had issues. A man who knew him later in life commented "a most dangerous personal ambition has eaten away all the good in him" (Sowell, 183) so the wisdom of age slipped right through him, his monomania left every potential lesson unheeded and unlearned.

Like many born before and since, Karl Marx looked at humanity in our flawed state and decided God had done a rather shoddy job with us, His favorite creation. Granted, whether browsing a bookstore’s history section, watching prime time television, or reading a "letters to the editor" it’s hard to come to any conclusion but that in creating man God certainly came up short. The difference between Marx and most, though, was the former displayed the lunatic’s worth of hubris necessary to believe that he could improve on God’s design. A bad education will do that to someone.

Despite providing the intellectual framework for much of the modern world, during his lifetime he was little known outside the small circle of Europe’s oddball professional revolutionaries and his most influential work, The Communist Manifesto, was not even his best seller. (That distinction belongs to The Civil War in France, published in 1871.) Marx was the proto-type of the modern American "activist", those who Florence King nailed as "thin-skinned pseudo-intellectuals who make their living second-guessing people completely different from themselves". For an example of the type, pick a Congressman, any Congressman.

As his prose meandered and had only a passing acquaintance with logic, coupled with a fondness for giving words (such as "value") a different meaning from their common usage (and the fact that most of his followers (like those of any great thinker) rarely bothered to actually read what he’d written) his intellectual children ran off in so many directions that Marx once declared himself "not a Marxist". (Sowell, 189) The passage of time has not remedied this trait.

For example, one can cherry pick his quotes and make him out to have been either a Thomas Jefferson or...well, a Karl Marx. He wrote in Critique of the Gotha Programme "government and church should rather be equally excluded from any influence on the school" (Sowell, 45) and no true progressive can disagree with him there, but he also insisted that political control over education is fine as long as the communists get "to alter the character of that intervention". (Smelser, 63)

One of the chuckles earned from a study of Marx’s work comes from reading his self-righteous denunciations of the Filthy Lucre, yet all the while it’s hard to dismiss his belief that true freedom is freedom from want; so for all his salvos against crass materialism he himself was, at base, as pure a materialist as history can provide. Combining the tone of an angry prophet with the fact that the underlying pillar of his economic philosophy (the insistence that all value is derived from labor) was debunked by the marginal revolution of the late 1870s, in the end reading Karl Marx brings to mind The Great Gatsby’s Tom Buchanan who "flushed with his own gibberish, saw himself standing alone on the last barrier of civilization". Sometimes you almost feel sorry for the man. Almost.

Marx’s hatred of capitalism was not because such a system fails to raise the standard of living of the working masses – he always conceded the point that it did – but the fact that some earned more than others, those others reduced to the drudgery of factory work and thus "alienated", making them somehow lesser men. To him, the tragedy of a free market was that it "thwarted human desires for more humane, just, and loving relationships". (Sowell, 123) He’d take the Cambodian killing fields over a shopping mall, every time.

But it was in his most famous political treatise, The Communist Manifesto, where he gave voice to the ultimate fear of every socialist – spontaneous change. That is the monster in the closet for every planner and much the reason for all the bloodshed they inflict to pursue their dream. Marx shuddered, "the bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production...and with them the whole relation of society." (Marx & Engels, 83)

From this primal fear springs the planners’ desire to make the world stand still, then to only move in goosestep to the genius plan they’ve outlined in their heads. The end game of all their attempts is on display cruising the decayed streets of Havana, where the Cuban masses have been reduced to driving cast-off American cars from the 1950s, everyone imprisoned in a sad time warp.

From Nothing To Everything

The philosophy of today is that of Karl Marx. To a considerable extent, without knowing it, many people are philosophical Marxists.
Ludwig Von Mises

By the time Marx passed away in 1883 "socialism was already defeated intellectually", (Mises, 8) but nonetheless his time would come, and when it arrived (as a newspaper he once owned declared on its last day of publication) "we shall not disguise our terrorism". (Sowell, 184) That was a promise well kept. Sub-human creatures such as Lenin, Stalin, and Pol Pot - and the earthly utopias they willed into being – all grew from the seed of Marx’s twisted hatreds and petty envies. When all is said and done, the summation of his life’s work are the 100 million slaughtered innocents, they are the fruit of his revolution. (Kramer, 4) I usually don’t go in for infanticide, but it would have been better for a lot of people had his mother strangled him at birth.

Marx spent his life working (in the sense of getting paid) in a haphazard, desultory fashion; but he was far from lazy, he just had more important things to do. He poured his prodigious energy into his writings, all of which sold poorly. (He once quipped that his earnings from sales of Das Kapital wouldn’t cover the cigars he smoked while writing it.) He relied for support on inheritances and generosity and, when that all wasn’t enough, he simply endured the poverty and his family suffered along with him.

His life long friend and collaborator Friedrich Engels was of the upper class and his money allowed Marx to sit in the British Museum’s reading room for months on end, scribbling madly and releasing a flood of work. It was only during the last dozen years of his life, when Marx attained a modicum of material comfort, that he slowed down and wrote almost nothing whatsoever. (Sowell, 175)

Maybe he simply wanted to enjoy what little time he had left and leave the revolution to his intellectual heirs. It was with his children and grandchildren where Karl Marx seemed finally human, and he was by many accounts a loving parent and grandparent, "gentle and indulgent" towards all his offspring, playing games for hours and telling them fairy tales of his own making. (Sowell, 182)

Hitler was nice to dogs.

In the eulogy delivered over his grave Engels said of Marx, "his name will endure through the ages, and so will his work". (Sowell, 186) How true. Read The Communist Manifesto (available in any bookstore) and note the ten planks of the party platform – seven of them are currently in operation from sea to shining sea, all with the cheering approval of the American mob. The contribution of Karl Marx to the organization and outlook of our society is unmatched by any other historic figure.

When it came to economics Karl Marx was crack smoking stupid, on that subject he leaves behind nothing of value, but when it came to the seizure of political power he proved himself an absolute genius. His prediction that a socialist utopia would rise triumphant not by the bullet but the ballot has been proved correct – for evidence just read the newspaper editorials or watch Congress on C-SPAN for an hour. Mises may have won the "socialist calculation" debate but his wisdom was smothered beneath 100 million corpses. Our last, blood drenched century belonged to Marx, and likely will this one, too.  

So every May 5th I rise extra early and, being a stickler for historical accuracy and a proud patriot, slip on my Che t-shirt, run up the Stars and Stripes, and blink away tearful visions of Iwo Jima as she spreads proud in the breeze. No work for me today, and after I bring my son home from our local public school, (plank number ten of the party platform, incidentally) I’ll stop by the bar and raise a glass in homage to the father of modern America.

Happy Birthday, Karl Marx.

Suggested Readings

Marx, Karl & Engels, Friedrich. The Communist Manifesto. (London, Penguin Books, 1967)

Smelser, Neil J., ed. Karl Marx On Society and Social Change. (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1973)

Sowell, Thomas. Marxism: Philosophy and Economics. (New York, William Morrow, 1985)

Cain, Maureen & Hunt, Alan, eds. Marx and Engels On Law. (New York, Academic Press, 1979)

Von Mises, Ludwig. Marxism Unmasked. (Irvington-on-Hudson, NY, Foundation for Economic Education, 2006)

Padover, Saul K, ed. The Letters of Karl Marx. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice-Hall, 1979)

Engels, Friedrich. The Role of Force In History. (New York, International Publishers, 2006)

Kramer, Mark, ed. The Black Book of Communism. (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1999)

Originally posted to CJ Maloney on Wed May 05, 2010 at 02:45 AM PDT.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    green minute

    C.J. Maloney's first book (on Arthurdale, West Virginia during the New Deal) is to be released by John Wiley and Sons in February 2011.

    by CJ Maloney on Wed May 05, 2010 at 02:45:45 AM PDT

    •  Which 7 planks are up and running right now? (4+ / 0-)

      I'm looking and I'm not really finding them.

      1. Abolition of private property and the application of all rents of land to public purposes.
      1. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
      1. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
      1. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
      1. Centralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
      1. Centralization of the means of communications and transportation in the hands of the State.
      1. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state, the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
      1. Equal liability of all to labor. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
      1. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries, gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of population over the country.
      1. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production.

      We need another Huey P. Long and federal funding for abortion. -9.00, -4.05

      by KVoimakas on Wed May 05, 2010 at 03:09:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What's Marx's position on concealed carry? n/t (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SpamNunn, sethyeah, KVoimakas

        When your dream comes true, you're out one dream --The Nields

        by Rich in PA on Wed May 05, 2010 at 04:24:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I can only support #10. This is America (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        We like freedom and being able to enjoy the unlimited fruits of our labor.

        How did that communism thing ever work out where it has been tried?  Nice theory, poor in its application.  Just substitutes one tyranny for another in real life.  

        I yam what I yam. And that's all what I yam.

        by SpamNunn on Wed May 05, 2010 at 05:08:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  7 out of 10 (0+ / 0-)

        Sir: Plank 2, the heavy graduated income tax - check. Plank 3, abolition of all rights of inheritance, check. The "death tax" is a long established part of the federal tax code. While at times it is more and others less, at all times it is certain that the power of the political class to strip however much of your property from your descendants after your death is unquestioned. We no longer have any "right" to an inheritance - it is a privilege. Plank 4, when you give up your American citizenship, you must pay a heavy poll tax should you have enough wealth to attract the politicians' attention. And as the interned Japanese-Americans prove, you don't even need to be a rebel to have all your property confiscated. Plank 5, the Federal Reserve, with its govt granted monopoly on the provision of money. Plank 6, the FCC and FTC, to regulate is to control. Plank 7, every Wall Street bank, the auto makers, and the farm legislation takes care of the rest. Plank 8, during times of war industrial armies are established. While their primary product is to make corpses, they still are industrial. Plank 9, my soon to be released book details the Subsistence Homestead Program. It was abandoned as impractical after FDR's death. Plank 10, no need to elaborate.

        That's 9 out of 10, but the death tax is not in operation (at the moment) and the draft has been done away with.

        My point is that nobody, not Washington or Jefferson or FDR or anyone else has nearly the influence on modern America as Karl Marx.

        C.J. Maloney's first book (on Arthurdale, West Virginia during the New Deal) is to be released by John Wiley and Sons in February 2011.

        by CJ Maloney on Wed May 05, 2010 at 06:18:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think you're full of shit. (3+ / 0-)

          Heavily graduated income tax? Not even close. Now, if you went back quite a few years, we had a more progressive income tax and the country prospered. I'm all for a more heavily graduated income tax. 100% tax on anything made over 12 million dollars a year for example.

          All rights of inheritance have been abolished? Really? When my Grandpa died, we inherited quite a bit. There's no way to hand down anything to your kids when you die? Nope. There is an income tax that your kids pay when they receive your money. And it's not high enough.\

          Plank 4: ok, so you're stating that not everyone has to pay a 'heavy poll tax' when they leave the country permanently. Good enough for me. As to the Japanese Americans, could you think of a more recent example?

          Plank 5: if we had federal control of the financial market, we wouldn't have entered this grand recession. Regulation is our friend when it comes to Wall Street.

          Plank 6: regulate, sure. Are you stating that with the millions of firearms in this country, the government has complete control over them because they regulate the firearms industry? Regulation =/= complete control, though I'll grant you, it does give you a modicum.

          Plank 7: ?

          Plank 8: elucidation of your explanation would be nice.

          Plank 9: Synopsis would be nice.

          Plank 10: this is the one I'll give you. Public education is a great thing. Now we just need to remove all of the private institutions for primary and secondary ed so everyone gets the same education.

          We need another Huey P. Long and federal funding for abortion. -9.00, -4.05

          by KVoimakas on Wed May 05, 2010 at 10:25:40 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Marx has explanation for profit. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mahakali overdrive, KVoimakas

      For everyone else it appears like a bunny out of the hat. POOF!

      "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others"

      by fitzov rules on Wed May 05, 2010 at 05:19:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  First diary (7+ / 0-)

    and readers of this diary are invited to peruse this diarist's limited comment history.....perhaps they will, as I have, come away somewhat suspicious of the writer's intent in posting this here.

    Muéstreme su identificación.

    by kestrel9000 on Wed May 05, 2010 at 03:12:53 AM PDT

    •  I was concerned he sits so close to his (5+ / 0-)

      electric space heater while the rain streaking his window...hopefully the window is closed.  I also wondered if perhaps this diary was supposed to exhibit the dialectical thought process?  Or perhaps the diarist meant that We are supposed to hammer our sicles into swords, or maybe Harley-Davidson belt buckles?  This exceeds my capacity to parse and dissect convoluted irony...and dang it all, I thought I had that sort of thing cornered, at least on par with you kestrel!  I fear a grumpy old guy spat may lie ahead...except, luckily for me, I'm going to bed...again...perhaps to dream dialectically.  

      When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

      by antirove on Wed May 05, 2010 at 03:25:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My dear kestrel (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      goinsouth, KVoimakas

      This is the fourth diary of this diarist.

      His above tip jar is his first comment.

      I added commas between his tags for him.

      I am glad you and others do not agree so much with the diarist.

      I posted a diary about Marx and communism on may day:

      Here is my link.

      I am, at this point, one of those who sees Marx as very much like Jefferson, or like Locke.

      I feel that the pursuit of happiness, from the Declaration, the General Welfare from the Constitution, and the laying and collecting of taxes, for the General Welfare, from the Constitution, all these things match up loosely with Marx.

      I feel that Marx would tell Americans who must work very hard, that they are the working class, regardless of their income.  Joe the plumber, included.

      Marx was calling for the elimination of the upper class, which I feel he defined as those who never need to work at all, and not because of disability, like my neighbors.  But because of having enough wealth to hire trusted managers to run all of their business affairs, and their household chores.

      I am just starting to learn about these things.  But I am glad I am not the only one who does not agree with this diary.


    •  yeah - right-wing hack (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      no comments on Kos, but on the other hand, on the Ludwig von Mises web page, he's all over the place. His favorite book on Marx is written by a well-known conservative economist (Sowell). He himself seems to be a right-wing libertarian with a fondness for the Austrian school of economics

      The things he says about Marx are mostly bizarre. That he had the "planner's fear of spontaneous change?" Wow. Never heard that one before. What Marx actually said was that the bourgeoisie had revolutionized the world, created whole new industries and ways of life. (Not being a free-market theorist, it never occurred to him this was "spontaneous". It was planned. Just planned by industrialists.) Hint: When Marx says someone is a revolutionary, he doesn't think that's a bad thing. In fact, everyone else in the world reads that passage for what it is: one of adulation and praise for the historical accomplishment of the bourgeoisie, which he thinks has now opened the way for even further revolutionary change (since that's what the document in question actually says.) So for instance the passage right before the one he quotes:

      The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the brutal display of vigour in the Middle Ages, which reactionaries so much admire, found its fitting complement in the most slothful indolence. It has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former Exoduses of nations and crusades.

      Note too how the diarist is constantly changing Marx's argument in ways that only a free-market fanatic would: i.e., by saying Marx was against "the free market" because it twisted human relations and caused alienation, when in fact, he was talking about wage labor, which the diarist never mentions at all (since it's existence is apparently too inconvenient for him to want to draw attention to), etc etc.

      •  Marx's attitude towards spontaneous action... (0+ / 0-)

        Sir: I speak to my "lack" of comments below, and regarding Marx's attitude towards spontaneous action, in the paragraphs which follow (and therefore explain) your quoted paragraph above, Marx makes it clear that the "bourgeoise" are not something to be admired, but deeply feared, as they bring about "constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones". He meant to do away with that, to concentrate all production in the hands of the political elite - the state.

        "By freedom is meant, under the present bourgeois conditions of production, free trade, free selling and buying" and calls for "the Communistic abolition of buying and selling, of the bourgeois conditions of production, and of the bourgeois itself".

        He most certainly feared the spontaneous action of the free market.

        In regards to "wage labor", it is correct that the pay differences meant a lot to Marx (as I do mention in the diary) yet "Owing to the extensive use of machinery and to division of labour, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the machine". So on that last point, we both are correct. You can do this exercise a LOT with Marx.

        It's obvious that Mr. Graeber has read Marx, extensively. Everyone in this country should do the same. He is our father, methinks.

        C.J. Maloney's first book (on Arthurdale, West Virginia during the New Deal) is to be released by John Wiley and Sons in February 2011.

        by CJ Maloney on Wed May 05, 2010 at 06:38:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Why I Swim This Pool, Too (0+ / 0-)

      I have always enjoyed the Daily Kos. First, I think it's far more important to read what you do not agree with than just those who preach to your choir, and there are a number of positions that the "liberals" and the "libertarians" agree on completely.

      I do not comment much on stories because if something strikes my fancy I'll write about it. It's what I do.

      It is on the far edges of politics - the "Obamaites" and the libertarisn - where all the fun is. Everything else is just the big, soft, squishy middle.

      C.J. Maloney's first book (on Arthurdale, West Virginia during the New Deal) is to be released by John Wiley and Sons in February 2011.

      by CJ Maloney on Wed May 05, 2010 at 06:22:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  LOL. An Austrian fool criticizing Marx. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bigjacbigjacbigjac, KVoimakas

    Where have you been the last 3 years as Marx has been proved right once again and your Austrian fools have been shown for the Capitalist whores they are.

    Go down to Chile and tell the families of the murdered what a great guy old Ludwig is.  They really loved Pinochet's buddy and von Mises' pal, Hayek.

    "Capitalism is irresponsibility organized into a system." -- Emil Brunner

    by goinsouth on Wed May 05, 2010 at 03:28:43 AM PDT

  •  Uh. Fail. n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kestrel9000, KVoimakas

    "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Wed May 05, 2010 at 03:40:43 AM PDT

  •  If y'all like this here diary... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Deoliver47, KVoimakas

    ya might be a COMMANIST.

    Muéstreme su identificación.

    by kestrel9000 on Wed May 05, 2010 at 03:44:40 AM PDT

  •  Sowell is the tell (6+ / 0-)

    Quoting Thomas Sowell on Marx's biography is like quoting John Wilkes Booth on Lincoln's biography.  Sowell has a huge axe to grind and it has proved to provide great upward mobility for him.

    It is symptomatic of America's problems that the few Americans who have actually read a popular introduction to economics have most likely read Sowell's, which is ensconced in almost every public library in America.

    It's time we left Marx in his rightful place back with other Romantics who were moved by the 1848 revolution.  You know the European revolution that failed miserably.  Instead of using him as a perpetual whipping boy to avoid dealing with the economic challenges that face us today.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Wed May 05, 2010 at 03:55:34 AM PDT

    •  Thank you for this comment. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I have only just barely read the Communist Manifesto. and I like it.

      But I am not so silly as to think I truly understand a great deal about economics or philosophy of government, just on reading a little here or there.

      But the way the diarist used Sowell, made me suppose and guess what you confirmed: Sowell hates Marx.  So, does that make Sowell correct?

      We need to, as you say, deal with our current challenges.

      Starting with either the premise that Marx must be right, or the premise that Marx must be wrong, maybe either premise is not so wise.

      Is that the thrust of your comment?


      •  What we must start with (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Panurge, david graeber, KVoimakas what we know and see going on in the economy.

        There are some simple things we know:

        1. We can't do everything.
        1. Economic relationships form a closed (therefore circular) network; trying to benefit from gaming the system always winds up creating some type of crisis.  What goes around comes around, as the proverb goes.
        1. Financiers starve to death without farmers; the division of labor and its economies are what create the wealth.
        1. Money isn't wealth but a "store of value and medium of exchange".  In other words, money is an information token about the perceived relative worth of two items.  Gaming the system to make more money reduces the value of the tokens for presenting real information.
        1. Under conditions of perfect competition, profits tend toward zero.  Ergo, if there are real (and not phonied up accounting) profits, you are not in a situation of perfect competition.
        1. Corporations are not economic institutions; they are political (bureaucratic) institutions that happen to work with the economy.  They are means of communication and cooperation, but ruled more or less autocratically (don't think shareholder democracy amounts to anything).
        1. Markets are tools for rationing scarce goods based on ability to pay.  If you don't want stuff rationed that way (like health care or education), don't put it in a market.

        For most Americans, "Marxism" is a way of trying to shout down any criticism of the American economy whether the analysis is Marxist, Marxian, or as is most likely the case, none of those.

        50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

        by TarheelDem on Wed May 05, 2010 at 06:29:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  that's nice (0+ / 0-)

          "Money is a rationing device" - I always say that too. Obviously some rationing is always necessary but it seems sensible to want to keep rationing to a minimum. Certainly not to seek it out as a morality unto itself!

          The one quibble I'd introduce, though. Money is not just a measure and medium of exchange of "two items." Well, first of all, not unless "item" includes things like "listening to your problems" (if you're a psychiatrist), taking care of your children, cleaning your park, or an hour spent harvesting fruit or working in a steel mill. This was Marx's big point you know: money is the means by which we measure the importance of what we make or do. Second of all, it's not just the measure of items and acts that currently exist. It's the measure of promises, of items and acts that someone insists might exist in the future. Some theories of money say that's all that money really is: an IOU, a credit. At present, 97-98% of all money doesn't actually represent the value of anything that currently exists but the value of things people have speculated might exist later. Obviously, the recent credit crunch has shown the limits of this. But it's hard to see how some analogous system must continue to exist in any social system. The question is what sorts of promises would we be making in a truly free society and what would be the medium through which we'd be making them.

          •  Marx was wrong (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            money is the means by which we measure the importance of what we make or do.

            Money is the means by which we measure the importance of what we want to have made or have done for us.

            And it isn't money that I call a rationing device, it is markets.

            Money fundamentally acts as a medium and time-shifting mechanism.  Unfortunately, it takes a life of its own in finance when money itself is the commodity. It doesn't represent the value of things that might exist later but the relative value of time of purchase and of retaining the flexibility not to incur an opportunity cost.

            The heart of the issue is that because we can't do everything, all goods and services are rationed in some way or another.

            I'm not sure what you mean by "truly free society".

            My observation is that rationing is an unavoidable limitation of existence.  Societies ration either through traditions (administered democratically, aristocratically, or autocratically), command (administered democratically, aristocratically, or autocratically), or markets (administered democratically--competitive; aristocratically--through oligopolies or oligopsonies; or autocratically--through monopolies or monopsonies).  Exchanges within corporations, such as wages and salaries, are administered by command not by markets.

            Different goods and services have different forms of rationing; resources in estates are rationed by tradition through wills, which are then enforced by the law; resources that are gifts are rationed traditionally through different cultural observances.  Public goods and services are rationed (hopefully democratically through representatives) by command.

            The credit crunch really isn't a shortage of money; it is the lack of trust that bankers have with each other after the credit default swap fiasco.  Which raises the who psychology of money; for it to work, there has to be trust that it will be honored and not just treated as a rock, a cow, a worthless hunk of metal, or a sheet of paper.

            50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

            by TarheelDem on Wed May 05, 2010 at 11:24:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  some things have to be rationed (0+ / 0-)

              other things don't - my point was simply that it would be reasonable to ration things as little as possible

              I find it never pays to argue about broad issues with someone who has a fully-developed system (like most Marxists, for instance, or someone like yourself, who makes absolute definitive statements about things on which there is no intellectual consensus whatsoever, amongst economists, critics of the current economic order, or anything else.)

              okay, have it your way

  •  Marx's conception of socialism is silly. (0+ / 0-)

    It might as well be Asimovian science fiction.  It's his analysis of capitalism that's the keeper.  If there's a better 19th-century analysis of 19th-century capitalism, I haven't heard of it and nobody else has, either.  And Marxism is still the best 100-words-or-less basis for understanding our reality.

    When your dream comes true, you're out one dream --The Nields

    by Rich in PA on Wed May 05, 2010 at 04:23:20 AM PDT

  •  Capital vol. I (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I recommend that one over the manifesto, which is really just a pamphlet.

    "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others"

    by fitzov rules on Wed May 05, 2010 at 05:16:51 AM PDT

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