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Recently in the mainstream media one now can read short essays (well, OK, they're really Ideological Guides To What You're Supposed To Think) on the idea that "Marxism" (to be distinguished here from marxism, which is "Marxism" without all of the straw man connotations) is now intellectually an Accepted Part of the Conversation.  Well, sort of.

Much of this recent Marx vogue has to do with the publication of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, a book which compiles nearly seven hundred pages of evidence and several disavowals of Marx to show what the real marxists knew already: if you are rich and own capital, capital accumulation makes you richer.  

To be fair, Marx himself stacked the deck in his analysis of capital accumulation: capital is itself defined as money designed to make more money.  So of course capital accumulation makes you richer -- it's defined that way.  However, Marx also walks us through the process of capital accumulation: the capitalists skim off the surplus produced by wage labor, and redeem this surplus as profit through sales.  The capitalists watch the money roll in, while the workers must be satisfied with mere wages, which they use to buy back a portion of what they themselves produced.  This really happens, folks.

This walking-through bit is the main difference between actual marxists and commentators upon "Marxism."  The rich have been getting richer since the inception of capitalism; yet the commentators upon "Marxism" conclude, time and time again, that the whole of Marx is constituted by his hubris about revolution in his (1847) propaganda work "The Communist Manifesto" -- oh, but long analyses of the labor theory of value are so tedious!  Much easier to simplify the whole of Marx to that one bold statement at the beginning of the Manifesto:

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
That way you don't need to read the rest of Marx's stuff, especially that tricky book Capital.  

A recent manifestation of this "Marxism revival" talk is Ross Douthat's recent column in the New York Times, titled "Marx Rises Again."  Douthat's pattern is common to the genre: Mention the name "Marx," then loudly dismiss the idea that history has anything to do with class struggle.  Insist that Marx only came up because of some media event (in this case, the publication of Piketty's book and the conversation around it).  Promise that this subject will eventually go away.

I suppose the name "Marx" has to be mentioned at all because even the serious people have had to recognize that there's something very marxist about the present moment -- that in keeping the profit rate for the rich people high while fortunes for the rest of us decline, our economy has wandered into increasing crisis.  All this has, all along, been very well described by those marxists doing serious work on the subject -- Robert Brenner, David Harvey, and so on.

Ross Douthat is of course a prominent conservative -- and that's what's amazing here: that a conservative of his pedigree would even bother to mention Marx, when it's so much easier for conservatives to avoid writing about such a topic.  A couple of Douthat quotes will reveal the unstable realities he's trying to hide. Quote #1:

Even if the income and wealth distributions look more Victorian, that is, the 99 percent may still be doing well enough to be wary of any political movement that seems too radical, too utopian, too inclined to rock the boat.
I dunno, Ross.  Occupy looked pretty big to me, and Occupy was designed by anarchists.  Quote #2:
The taproot of agitation in 21st-century politics, this trend suggests, may indeed be a Marxian sense of everything solid melting into air. But what’s felt to be evaporating could turn out to be cultural identity — family and faith, sovereignty and community — much more than economic security.
Reassertions of "cultural identity" only appear to center the various agitations surfacing now and then around the world (if they indeed do that -- Occupy was a primarily economic phenomenon) because "cultural identity" binds people together.  What causes agitation, of course, is that people feel a need to agitate, and here if Douthat had bothered to examine why people were agitating, he might have found economic reasons in each instance.

What apparently motivates Ross Douthat's need to comment upon Marx is that another such discussion appeared in The Nation magazine two weeks ago -- Douthat refers to Timothy Shenk's piece, "Thomas Piketty and Millenial Marxists on the Scourge of Inequality."  Now, of all the comments made on Shenk's piece, those made by marxist blogger Louis Proyect are often a bit on the caustic side -- but his critique of Shenk's piece is on-target here.  Even though Shenk appears to know his stuff given the sheer volume of historical names he drops, his piece isn't all that substantial.  As Proyect insists, marxists already knew that history was and still is a tough thing to get right.  It was never really true that (as Shenk said) "all that socialists needed to seal their victory was a revolution, which capitalism’s contradictions would deliver to them" -- marxists knew that the real work begins once capitalist government has been removed from power.  And I'd also like to cite Shenk's conclusion, as Proyect does:

Reflexive grasping at the language of the past, vividly displayed in the Marxist resurgence, brings a sense of order to what would seem like chaos. But a more promising alternative might be on the way. Marxism is one kind of socialism, but history suggests a much richer set of possibilities, along with some grounds for hope. So does a work like Capital in the Twenty-First Century—a sign that another lost tradition, the postcapitalist visions in abeyance since the 1970s, could be poised for a return; or, even better, that we might put aside old pieties and chart our own path.
Blah blah blah.  All the cool people who want to get published in The Nation (with a few exceptions) make marxism or radicalism into some sort of straw man -- "you see," we are told, "the radical 'Marxists' are all a bunch of dogmatists who think revolution is the big thing, and so you should loudly proclaim your indifference to the scene."

In real life, however, there's a tradition called "marxism" because Marx addressed philosophical issues which weren't being addressed elsewhere.  In avoiding these issues, moreover, the mainstream academy made Marx into an obvious absence -- and so scholars built an alternative discussion around "marxism."  No, they don't all agree with Marx on everything.  No, their tradition is not being "revived" -- it was there all along.  Yes, they read and interpret Marx and apply some of what he said to the current scene.  Serious marxists are not dogmatists.  Yes, you actually have to read Marx if you want to have something to say about what he said.  And, finally, no, Marx isn't just about revolution, nor are marxists only revolutionaries.  "marxism" constitutes a great number of different lines of thought, all of which are studied in earnest by a fair number of people who wish to know what's going on in the world today.

Appendix: Marx you should know

The 1844 manuscripts: contains Marx's early philosophy of alienation, and of money

The German Ideology: written with Friedrich Engels, contains Marx's early ideas of history

The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon: This is about French history, of 1851

A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy: This contains some of Marx's earliest doodlings on political economy -- the preface is well-known, however, by students of culture.

The Civil War in France: This is about the Paris Commune, Marx's model for the revolution

The Critique of the Gotha Program: This contains the most complete idea we have of what Marx thought needed to be built after capitalism.

Capital, vol. 1: This is the volume of Capital that Marx saw published in his lifetime -- there are also two other volumes compiled by Friedrich Engels after Marx's death.  It contains the core of Marx's critique of political economy.


(also published at Voices on the Square)

Originally posted to The Rebel Alliance on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 02:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight and That Group.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (147+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, sneakers563, terremoto, Gooserock, One Pissed Off Liberal, WB Reeves, Free Jazz at High Noon, EighteenCharacters, wildweasels, tampaedski, TheMomCat, Calvino Partigiani, Louisiana 1976, gooderservice, Meteor Blades, Chaddiwicker, Matt Z, monkeybrainpolitics, Pierro Sraffa, lucid, Youffraita, Publius2008, BlueDragon, Pablo Bocanegra, Auriandra, BruceMcF, slowbutsure, pashber, bobswern, hazzcon, CitizenJoe, PhilJD, Teiresias70, vcmvo2, eyo, rapala, Superpole, DeadHead, Wolf10, triv33, LynChi, KBS666, joedemocrat, jbsoul, unclejohn, ActivistGuy, hubcap, Capt Crunch, shpilk, offgrid, Snarky McAngus, Rogneid, The Rational Hatter, eru, Mimikatz, Involuntary Exile, myrmecia gulosa, Lost Left Coaster, penguins4peace, Choco8, golem, Dirtandiron, GDbot, joe shikspack, 4Freedom, Catte Nappe, skybluewater, Geary, Agathena, 1BQ, gulfgal98, gnothis, poligirl, DavidMS, Galtisalie, Jay C, Shockwave, ceebee7, rexxnyc, socal altvibe, Ditch Mitch KY, caliberal2001, here4tehbeer, KJG52, owlbear1, run around, MrJayTee, chrississippi, ItsaMathJoke, jadt65, roses, YucatanMan, CA Nana, claude, FogCityJohn, solublefish, OllieGarkey, ChemBob, Funkygal, SCFrog, Island Expat, PrahaPartizan, sawgrass727, tofumagoo, Dolphin99, dharmasyd, Liberal Thinking, basquebob, Time Waits for no Woman, Kevskos, northsylvania, kurt, bluehammer, Floande, Sharon Wraight, radarlady, caul, DRo, maryabein, laurel g 15942, SouthernLiberalinMD, smokeymonkey, zerone, Fabienne, thirty three and a third, unfangus, LanceBoyle, mkor7, Bob Duck, DEMonrat ankle biter, jrooth, GeorgeXVIII, FindingMyVoice, ER Doc, JosephK74, Aaa T Tudeattack, flygrrl, Wreck Smurfy, Robynhood too, skepticalcitizen, Colorado is the Shiznit, fabucat, nolagrl, Dave in Northridge, moldyfolky, Situational Lefty, Oh Mary Oh

    "Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust" -- Karl Marx

    by Cassiodorus on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 02:00:16 PM PDT

  •  Good essay. (38+ / 0-)

    I agree.  They turn marxism into a strawman.  This is good:

    "marxism" constitutes a great number of different lines of thought, all of which are studied in earnest by a fair number of people who wish to know what's going on in the world today.

    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by TomP on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 02:10:09 PM PDT

    •  What would one call a president w/ a 91% top (11+ / 0-)

      marginal tax rate?  How about having corporations pay as much as 32% of federal revenue compared to about 10% today?

      I guess if you were a 5 star general who won 2 landslide victories as a Republican, the label "Marxist" doesn't fit.

      Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

      by RFK Lives on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:02:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Back then, it mattered less that he was a (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RFK Lives, RhodeIslandAspie, ER Doc

        Republican, and more that he had won those victories in a war that was, IMO, eminently justifiable.

        Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:37:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Comrade Eisenhower (14+ / 0-)

        was president in the socialist utopian 1950's when unions were powerful, blue collar workers were paid decently and retirement plans were adequate to cover the cost of retirement.

        “Industry does everything they can and gets away with it almost all the time, whether it’s the coal industry, not the subject of this hearing, or water or whatever. They will cut corners, and they will get away with it. " Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D, WVa

        by FishOutofWater on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:42:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  ROTFLMAO! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ER Doc, moldyfolky

          Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

          by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 06:05:02 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Socialist Social Democrats r modeled on capitalism (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          moldyfolky

          That is the predominant form of socialism in the world these days and looking at it one sees it is like circa late 1940's through 1960's American capitalism. They have a regulated system with markets, when one can open a business, own a store or a corporation. Though in a system generally with high progressive taxes and a strong voice for labor. With large government investment plowed into their states.  

          Which was how we did capitalism back in the day when we used the Marshall plan to rebuild Europe and Japan. When we grew the most prosperous nation ever with ever increasing trends towards equality, economically and otherwise. I believe that they learned that from us  and that in a way they've carried the torch for that kind of capitalism while we've allowed it to be extinguished. And even with all of their current economic problems the EU now has a GDP equal to that of America. They prospered as well.

          We need to spend more time showing how stupid and boring the claims of 'creeping Marxism' are when a.) Social Democracy is probably closer to the model Marx envisioned than b.) Communism, which now has only about 1/2 dozen mostly poor economies still supporting it. That failed economic system is not the kind of liberalism we aim at and it is time to call bull$h*t on conservatives who spread that lie.

          While many of them traipse blissfully unaware of the creeping Fascism many of their Neoconservative corporate masters envision

          •  Social Democracy and Nation Socialism are both... (0+ / 0-)

            critiques of orthodox marxism which developed around the same time and from some of the same philosophical writings, they just placed their emphasis on different facets. Check out "The Primacy of Politics" by Sheri Berman

            "Congressmen should be just like athletes. They should have to wear the brand of the corporation they're working for." - Robin Williams

            by Independant Man on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:15:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I'm afraid this isn't entirely accurate (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              moldyfolky

              Up until 1914, Social Democracy was the repository of orthodox Marxism. There were division and debates within the movement, such as the disputes between Bernstein and Luxemburg but no one seriously questioned the SD's Marxist bona fides.

              It was only with the onset of WWI and the abandonment of internationalism by the major European SD Parties that an actual split began to manifest. No less a figure than Lenin refused to believe that the German SD's had voted for war credits when the news first broke. He thought it false propaganda put out by the German government.

              The split became final only with the revolutionary wave that the war brought forth. First in Russia and then in Germany. In both cases the Social Democrats broke into Revolutionary and anti-revolutionary factions. In Germany, the Right SDs actively aided in the violent suppression of the revolutionary Left.

              The motivations in both camps were multifaceted and complex. It's important to recognize that there were those on both sides that argued they were upholding "true" Marxism. In the case of Russia, it was the Mensheviks who were upholding the traditional view of orthodox Marxism, whereas it was the Bolsheviks who were arguing for an innovative departure in the Marxist analysis and program.

              The narrative you present is a relic of this conflict, where each side vied with the other for the mantle of "true" Marxism. This led to a resort to obscurantism and historical falsification by both sides in order to buttress their competing claims.  

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 01:09:32 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  I'd call him a successful President. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RhodeIslandAspie

        Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 06:09:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But nowadays I wouldn't call him a Republican n/t (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SouthernLiberalinMD
          •  Capitalism is not so (0+ / 0-)

            much about how much money you have, as it's about how you make your money.  If you use your money to make your money, you're a capitalist.  Capitalists invest money (in labor, stocks, rents, etc) to make their money.  The rest of us sell our labor to make our money.  Capitalists use their money to make money.  We use our money to buy the goods we need so that we can continue working.  

            I'd be interested to hear where Obama's money comes from.  If primarily from his book sales he's not a very good example of a capitalist.  If from investments, then he's an excellent example of a capitalist.  That said, Obama's economic policies have been decidedly tilted in favor of capitalists rather than the rest of us (workers).

    •  When Douhat suggests (4+ / 0-)

      that it's really cultural identity that has turned into air he reveals his ignorance of Marx.  Marx argues, among other things, that the evaporation of cultural identity is among the consequences of capitalism.  Of course, for Marx this is one of the few good things about capitalism.  Oppressive institutions such as the church and patriarchy, along with bigotries like racism, sexism, homophobia, nationalism, xenophobia, etc., are gradually worn away under capitalism because, well, it doesn't matter whether you're gay or straight, male or female, black or white, catholic or atheist, you can do the same labor for the same wage and your money is as green as anyone else's.  Similarly, through things like global communications and extreme mobility and migration, backwards rural cultural norms are gradually eroded.  So under capitalism we get a lot of emancipatory progress on the cultural front, while we also come to see what the most fundamental form of exploitation is:  capitalist exploitation of labor.

      The ironic thing about these rightwing culture warriors is that they don't recognize that the very economic system they support so vehemently is what is eroding their "traditional family values" (hatred, sexism, sexual repression, cruelty towards others, etc).  It's not Hollywood or crazy liberals doing this.  It's capitalism.  Couldn't happen to a better bunch of boneheads.

  •  When I was an undergraduate (22+ / 0-)

    I took a literature class where we read Jean Toomer. I remember that in one of his books, there's a character who decides to read Capital because they come to the realization that, like the Bible, one need not have read it in order to hold an opinion about it.

    To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

    by sneakers563 on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 02:14:59 PM PDT

  •  He's right that there is more than one kind (39+ / 0-)

    of socialism.
       The problem is that so few of Marx's critics have ever actually read Marx.
    (same goes for Adam Smith and John Keynes)

    "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

    by gjohnsit on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 02:21:13 PM PDT

    •  I'm currently struggling to finish reading (18+ / 0-)

      The Fountainhead of all things. Every time I read something anti-marxist by an "Objectivist", it's completely obvious to me that none of them have ever actually read Marx. See this garbage, for instance. I decided I should read some Rand, lest I be guilty of the same thing.

      I'll tell you, though, it's not easy. The only way I've been able to motivate myself to continue past the halfway point has been a fervent hope (no spoilers, please) that the book ends with a piano falling onto Dominique Francon from a great height. I realize it probably won't end that way, but there's always a chance!

      To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

      by sneakers563 on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 02:31:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm currently fighting my way through Das Kapital (25+ / 0-)

        Marx may have been a great thinker, but no one would accuse him of being a great writer.

        "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

        by gjohnsit on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 02:32:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh I dunno - I think Marx has kind of a dry wit (22+ / 0-)

          that comes through in places. I love the ending to Part One, when he has that line about the worker being like "a man whose brought his own hide to market, with nothing to expect except... a tanning!" I took part in a Marx reading group in graduate school and used to read it in bed before turning in. My wife thought it was crazy that I would lie there laughing at Marx.

          I will say, though, that the money chapter is a real killer. I would advise anyone to skip that one as it doesn't come up again until Vol. 2 and the CMCMC stuff is sooooooo boring.

          Do you know about the recordings of the lectures from David Harvey's "Reading Capital" class? They're available here, and are really handy if you're reading it without the benefit of a group.

          To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

          by sneakers563 on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 02:43:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  May I recommend -- (9+ / 0-)

          Peter Hudis' book "Marx's concept of an alternative to capitalism"?  I thought Hudis broke down Marx's writing really well.

          "Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust" -- Karl Marx

          by Cassiodorus on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:15:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  If you are only in Volume I, I have bad news... (15+ / 0-)

          ...Volumes II and III put together by Friedrich Engels from Marx's notes are even tougher.

          Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:19:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's what I've heard (6+ / 0-)

            Volumes II and III are on my list to read, but they will wait. I've put Keynes' General Theory and Smith's Wealth of Nation and George's Progress and Poverty before those.

            "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

            by gjohnsit on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:23:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Engles irritates me about the Irish. (0+ / 0-)

            At least, I dimly recall starting a firestorm in class by remarking on what certainly seemed to me to be his anti-Irish racism.

            Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

            by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:43:00 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Marx is a great writer (6+ / 0-)

          It just helps to have some experience within the philosophical tradition in which he wrote - namely Hegel.

          “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

          by lucid on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:27:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well, that's just your thesis (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            chrississippi, TomP, dallasdunlap, nicteis

            This is my antithesis. Now synthesize THAT!

            "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

            by kovie on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 05:48:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  That is true but the Hegelian parts of Marx (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TomP, Alhambra, unfangus

            have not weathered so well. Hegel had a terribly hard time trying to articulate and systematize his own ideas.

            For me, Marx is a lot like Freud. Freud was a brilliant, learned man and a very talented writer. Most of Freudian theory has not held up well over time. But there is a core part of it that is still valid. Freud had the basically true insight that our conscious mind is only part of what is going in our brains. He tried to describe what the unconscious part was like, but it's not an exact or scientific description. It is a instead a bunch of approximations and metaphors, some of which are more useful than others, but none of which are really scientific. Freud himself knew his theories had limitations and he kept revising them.

            Marx also had some basically correct insights. There is such a thing as class struggle, and it is one of the central features of modern history, and we are still engaged in it. There is a a huge amount of injustice built into the capitalist system. So we can and we should think about alternatives to that system. I tend more towards the democratic socialist end of the left spectrum vs. the revolutionary end of it but I can appreciate that sometimes people suffer enough that they are driven towards revolution.

            •  I disagree about the 'poor' aging of the (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Castine, caul

              Hegelian influence. In fact, looking at an object [be it history or otherwise] from a dialectic perspective is one of the lasting achievements of German idealism within the history of not just philosophy, but political science, sociology, art history, literary criticism - even science.

              It is a perspective which explains how ideas develop organically within any given structure that are not only antithetical to that structure, but will eventually force a new structure to develop based on the ideas birthed in the previous. That's all a dialectic is. In fact, Marx mastered it more thoroughly than Hegel insofar as by the later Marx, he left intimtated the possibility that dialectics are open ended - they don't result in a final state of socio-economic organization required by Hegel [owing to Hegel's insistence on the 'final cause' from Aristotle's Physica].

              Marx also wasn't a revolutionary, in the Revolution! sense. The demise of capitalism would come, of necessity, by its very dialectic nature. The notions of human freedom and univeralism birthed by the relations of production in capitalism will eventually come in conflict with its socio-economic organization once the forces of production conquer scarcity [which, quite frankly, they have]. At that point capitalism will unwind, not by revolution, but evolutionary necessity... Whether or not one believes that to be correct, is quite a different issue, however.

              My point about Hegel was merely that it's much easier to read and understand Marx [and appreciate the quality of his writing] if one is well versed in the Hegelian lexicon.

              “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

              by lucid on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:25:34 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Perhaps the historical failure (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sneakers563, WB Reeves

                of Marxism (in the sense of its Soviet state socialist embodiment) could itself be considered an antithesis leading to a higher, more refined synthesis. Perhaps it is just beginning to emerge, so we cannot yet discern its essential features.

                Those Soviet professors of Marxism-Leninism I knew back in the 1970s were wrong to think the dialectic "stopped" with and culminated in Soviet State socialism. But Fukuyama et al were also wrong to think the dialectic stopped with post-industrial globalizing capitalism.

                •  I don't understand how they could have thought (0+ / 0-)

                  that. Lenin described the economic system of the Soviet Union as "state capitalism". It was explicitly supposed to be a transitory stage. Why would they think that the Soviet model represented the end of history, when Lenin didn't?

                  To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

                  by sneakers563 on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 09:52:40 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Lenin viewed NEP, (0+ / 0-)

                    the successor to failed War Communism, as the return to a gradualist state capitalist development strategy. But Stalin, in abandoning NEP in 1929 for a centralized planned command economy, considered himself to have transcended state socialism and achieved Socialism. Under the Stalinist definition of Socialism there was no longer any possibility of further dialectical movement through class conflict because class conflict was now over in the USSR: "There are but two friendly classes--workers and collectivized peasants-- and one stratum--the technical intelligentisa serving them."  

              •  It is the evolutionary necessity bit (0+ / 0-)

                that many people have difficulty with. Evolutionary necessity may make sense in the biological realm but the idea that Marx had discovered laws in the realm of societal evolution is problematic. At least, I think so. We have very recent examples of socialist societies devolving back into capitalism .. although you could certainly argue that they were never proper realizations of the socialist vision.

                •  Yes is it a biologistic metaphor (0+ / 0-)

                  It is the incorporation of Aristotelian causation into an understanding of history. My position on it has nothing to do with its ultimate truth value as a predictive science, but rather as an heuristic tool to apprehend a specific object - and this is what I mean by saying it is the lasting achievement of German Idealism.

                  As far as capitalism goes - it will collapse, be it due to it's internal contradictions [per a Marxist analysis], or the shear environmental catastrophe it is in the process of creating. What arises will be interesting to see & I certainly hope it isn't a new dark age.

                  “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

                  by lucid on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:28:04 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  What follows collapse is almost always worse (0+ / 0-)

                    than the conditions that caused it. If there were any such thing as "Laws of History," that would be one of them.

                    There isn't.

                    --Shannon

                    "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
                    "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

                    by Leftie Gunner on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 04:14:27 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

        •  You think that's bad (7+ / 0-)

          Try reading Chomsky's academic writings.

          "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

          by nosleep4u on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:59:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  They're more coherent than his political writings. (0+ / 0-)

            Of course, that's because they're in a domain that he actually understands.

            They're also lot harder to read, for the same reason.

            --Shannon

            "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
            "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

            by Leftie Gunner on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 04:16:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  David Harvey's course can be helpful: (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          travelerxxx, 4Freedom, KJG52, TomP, caul

          Reading Marx's Capital with David Harvey

          The side bar "About the Course" will get you to the lectures on Kapital.

          The 99% are watching.

          by unclejohn on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 04:25:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Good luck (21+ / 0-)

          I tried Kapital a couple of times in college and gave it up early on.  Aside from Finnegan's Wake, I can't think of a more completely unreadable book I've ever opened the covers of.

          Uncharacteristically, I think the diarist was a little too kind to the right-wing propagandists here:

          Douthat's pattern is common to the genre: Mention the name "Marx," then loudly dismiss the idea that history has anything to do with class struggle.
          The genre usually is devoted to furthering the cause of econoic oligarchy, the precise condition both Marx and Piketty write about. It consists of clumsy juvenile propaganda in which any argument pertaining to economic justice or social equality is automatically ascribed to Marx, with a red hammer-and-sickle flag waving not too subtly in the background.  The wealthiest among us accumulating more wealth and power is crudely contrasted as representing the Stars and Stripes, with the common lie that democracy = capitalism implicitly or explicitly repeated.  

          Juvenile propaganda, in which patriotism is equated with the interest of the oligarchs and self-interest is treasonous.  It is the tragedy of America that our people are generally too brainwashed to see through it.

          We have always been at war with al Qaeda.

          by Dallasdoc on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 04:32:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The dialectic (heh) can basically be reduced to (8+ / 0-)

            Marx = Lenin + Hitler - Stalin

            Something something. It's a pavlovian thing with anything Marxist or socialist or in any way collective or communitarian (which are all not the same things) being about the same thing as a child molester stealing your money. They have no concept of or interest in the actual ideas and values behind these ideologies. To them it's all the devil's work, perhaps literally. They've been brainwashed into shutting off their minds as soon as these words are uttered.

            "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

            by kovie on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 05:53:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  So far (8+ / 0-)

            Marx writes Da Kapital with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. He doesn't make a point. He destroys a point.
               For instance, the point of all value coming from labor (the central point of Marxism) he doesn't actually come out and say until Chapter 5. However, he had already proven the point in Chapter 1. And in Chapter 2. And Chapter 3. And Chapter 4. And Chapter 6. etc.

              The good news is that his logic is unassailable. By the time he's made his point he's approached it from every possible angle, as if anticipating his critics beforehand. His point is now a reinforced fortress upon a mountaintop, sourrounded by a moat filled with sharks.

              That's why his critics so often have no idea what Marx actually said. And they are usually speaking to people who also haven't ready his books.

            "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

            by gjohnsit on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 06:20:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sounds like a similar approach to Darwin's (8+ / 0-)

              Darwin took over 20 years to write Origin of Species because he wanted an exhaustive treatment of the idea, addressing all conceivable objections and marshaling all the evidence he could scrape up.  Darwin's book is exhaustive but readable, and you can see why he's doing what he's doing.  It's a mighty challenge to one of the most hallowed truths of the day.

              Marx had a similar challenge, and perhaps he took a similar exhaustive approach.  I just wish he'd been a little more linear in his arguments and less, uh, Teutonic in his writing style.  I felt the same way about Kapital that I feel about lobster:  pretty good, but not worth all the trouble.

              We have always been at war with al Qaeda.

              by Dallasdoc on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 06:31:47 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Discussing class struggle with students (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gjohnsit, sneakers563

              My experience is that most students are open to the idea that politics is driven by class struggle-- they sense this from personal experience-- but they're still very resistant about using Marx to discuss it because terms like "bourgeoisie" and "proletariat" remain alien and suspicious to them.

            •  The problem with Marx has never been (0+ / 0-)

              his description of the problem, which was quite often dead right.

              It's with his solution, which is dead wrong. "Dead wrong," as in "lots and lots of people dead because it's wrong."

              Any solution to a society-wide problem that relies on altruism to work is doomed to failure... altruism is simply too rare to be relied upon on that scale. So a resort to force to compel it is inevitable, and that's always when the bodies start piling up.

              Central planning, which although it is not (that I recall) a feature of Marx's model, was a feature of every implementation of it, runs into insurmountable complexity and information-density problems... a modern economy has too many decisions happening for any finite group of planners to make them, and too much information content for them to have a prayer of making them correctly. I think that the reason that central planning always comes in is an attempt to solve the first problem. Since people will always tend to make decisions that benefit them, even if they harm the collective, the only solution is to make the decisions for them. Then, because people don't like to have decisions made for them, and they especially don't like it when the decisions are wrong, (which is guaranteed by the complexity and information problems,) the decision will always be made to resort to force to try to make it all work... and to protect the planners' power and position.

              The analogy between Freud and Marx is actually quite good... brilliant men who took a valid analysis of limited data and expanded it into a model that was as brilliantly wrong as phlogiston chemistry... and whose brilliance hid their wrongness for so long that they did incredible damage to the fields they were working in. Both psychology and economics would be a lot further along the road to being actual sciences than they are if Freud and Marx had stopped writing a lot earlier than they did, or if subsequent practitioners and educators had been willing to call out their wrongness much sooner.

              By now, both Marx and Freud should be taught in the same way as Lamarck...  it seemed plausible at the time, but it's utterly incorrect.

              --Shannon

              "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
              "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

              by Leftie Gunner on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 04:49:51 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Blah blah blah. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Dallasdoc

                Please take a look at actual Marx, and at Peter Hudis' "Marx's Concept of an Alternative to Capitalism," which goes through the MECW with a fine-toothed comb, before saying things like this:

                It's with his solution, which is dead wrong. "Dead wrong," as in "lots and lots of people dead because it's wrong."
                One of the reasons I write this diary was that practically everyone who talks about Marx has his/ her head up his/ her ass, because somehow it has become OK to claim to be an expert on Marx without having read a word of it.

                Marx conceived of communist society as an extension of capitalist society's highest ideal -- freedom -- only Marx realized that capitalist society only grants formal freedom to workers, which in actual practice means a choice of different forms of (wage) slavery.

                If you want Marx's last word on the post-capitalist world, you might start with the passage in the Critique of the Gotha Program:

                In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly -- only then then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!
                Yeah, lots of mass death there.  Uh-huh.  To continue:
                Any solution to a society-wide problem that relies on altruism to work is doomed to failure... altruism is simply too rare to be relied upon on that scale. So a resort to force to compel it is inevitable, and that's always when the bodies start piling up.
                The stock right-wing libertarian argument as stated above fails, as usual, because the Karl Marx utopia relies not on "altruism" but rather in the common interest in freedom shared by members of the working class.
                Central planning, which although it is not (that I recall) a feature of Marx's model, was a feature of every implementation of it, runs into insurmountable complexity and information-density problems...
                Marx doesn't commit himself one way or another about "central planning" -- and there are TWO concepts in Marx to work with, one as regards Marx's ideas about the TRANSITIONAL stage to communism, and the other as regards ACTUAL communism.  There is no central planning in actual communism because there is no state -- the state having been (in Marx's words) "withered away."  The picky details of how to manage the transitional stage so as to get actual communism (and not the USSR) are dealt with in great detail in a number of works by marxists -- see e.g. Peter Critchley's essay "Marx, Market Socialism, and Participatory Planning."  One thing to keep in mind as one reads through all of the marxist discussions of post-capitalism is this: what Marx wanted was a "union of free producers."

                Meanwhile, the proponents of "actually existing socialism" have tried a number of different models, from Lenin's USSR to Mao's China pre- and post- Great Leap Forward to Cuba to Sandinista Nicaragua to "21st Century Socialism" in Venezuela worked with the assistance of Marta Harnecker.

                Marx is not to be blamed for Stalin.  You, however, should be held responsible for your post here, which contains little (if anything) with which I agree.

                "Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust" -- Karl Marx

                by Cassiodorus on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 06:04:48 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Unlike capitalism (0+ / 0-)

                  Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

                  by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 07:08:57 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Nor did I ever claim otherwise. (0+ / 0-)

                    There are no good answers. There are only variations of more and less bad... which is a much more important distinction anyway.

                    "Good enough for now, and subject to revision" is the best we're ever going to be able to do.

                    --Shannon

                    "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
                    "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

                    by Leftie Gunner on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 08:54:54 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Right now, if we don't have some version (0+ / 0-)

                      of representative government and the rule of law, it won't matter what kind of economic system we have. And any economic system that mitigates against representative government and the rule of law is in the way of survival.

                      Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

                      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 09:35:57 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  There is no end state. (0+ / 0-)

                  You can no more prevent humans from politicking than you can prevent us from fornicating... and for the exact same reason:

                  "Let's go over there, fuck all their women and take all their shit" is baked into us too deeply to ever be rooted out.

                  So, the most important questions in politics are "who decides?" and "how do we limit the damage?" And, "nobody" and "there won't be any" aren't answers... after a couple of hundred thousand years, if there was a perfect system, we'd have found it by now. There are no perfect systems for organizing humans, because humans are not perfectible.

                  Utopians are terrifying.

                  --Shannon

                  "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
                  "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

                  by Leftie Gunner on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 08:52:08 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Nonsense. (0+ / 0-)
                    "Let's go over there, fuck all their women and take all their shit" is baked into us too deeply to ever be rooted out.
                    Billions of people the world over live out their entire lives in this era without any sense of "let's go over there, fuck all their women and take all their shit."  Overgeneralizing a few historical instances to some imagined innate tendency of the human race will convince nobody.

                    "Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust" -- Karl Marx

                    by Cassiodorus on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 09:04:19 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  It used to be known as: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dallasdoc

            Americanism vs Communism.
            Taught in my high school up to a few years before I got to it, by which time it was renamed "Advanced Political Systems."

            Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

            by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:44:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Oh, you should give Henri Lefebvre's (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gjohnsit, Dallasdoc

            The Production of Space a try. You'll be begging for Marx.

            To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

            by sneakers563 on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:13:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You encourage me (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dallasdoc

            I've read Finnegans Wake (Note that there's really no apostrophe - The title is an exhortation to the sleeping finnegans) from cover to cover, with frequent bafflement and more frequent guffaws.

            So, maybe Das Kapital, whose bulk has always intimidated me, isn't as impenetrable as I've always assumed.

            But I'd better buckle down and read it soon. Before another two years is out, I'll be retiring. And from what every retired person I've ever known has always told me, I will suddenly be too busy to read anything. Plus, I want to read Pickety first.

        •  If there is one thing all marxists seem (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gjohnsit, sneakers563

          to be able to agree upon is that Das Kapital is a challenge to read.

          that being said I really wanna give his writings a look.

          •  It's not *that* bad, really (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nicteis, gjohnsit

            It's best to read it as part of a group with someone who's read it before. Marx's approach is a bit strange at first. He doesn't take a conventional textbook approach where you define a subject completely up front, then move on to the next subject, etc. Rather, he continually circles back to things, looking at them from different perspectives. It's really at the end that you get a sense of the concepts in their totality.

            Also, some of his formulations are a bit strange from a modern perspective. For instance, he talks a lot about value but doesn't examine supply and demand at all in Vol. 1. These two things, continually refining concepts, and starting from an unfamiliar place, make the early part of the book difficult for new readers. That said, once you get to Part 2 of Vol 1, it gets considerably easier. For one, you're used to his writing style, and it's in Part 2 that you finally start to understand things. Most people give up in the money chapter, which is understandable, because the money chapter is by far the most tedious chapter in the book. It's unfortunate though, because it's material that's not taken up again until Vol. 2. I usually recommend skipping it.

            If you have an interest, you should try to find a reading group of some sort and give it a go. It really does give you a perspective you will not get anywhere else, and can't be reduced into little soundbites. It's quite amazing.

            If you can't find anything local, David Harvey's Reading Capital series is quite good.

            To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

            by sneakers563 on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:11:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  He has his moments. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mkor7, gjohnsit

          Marx's rage shines through when he describes the conditions faced by children working in factories - describing kids who reach their teens without having heard of Jesus Christ, or knowing that there was such a thing as the Queen of England.
             And there is his mockery of the business types boasting (in song) that the English will ever be free, while these same men employ enslaved children to toil in their factories.
            Or there's this little gem, in the middle of a dry discussion of the function of religion: "Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people."
             Most of Marx's writing (particularly the ponderous "das Kapital) is pretty slow going. But there are enough brilliant passages in his work to make it worth reading.

        •  The biggest problem (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gjohnsit

          with Marx's style is that he rather stubbornly thought that his writing had to mimic or mirror the dialectical relations of the things that he was describing.  Rather than giving you a bloody thesis to tell you what he's going to demonstrate when discussing the secret of value in capital (how capitalist trade can produce profit as if by magic), he instead goes through all sorts of contortions to derive the concept of surplus-value.  This writing style is a terrible idea and completely unnecessary (I know purist Marxists will disagree with me, but they're wrong).  Had he been more direct and forthright we might be a lot further along in these debates.  Horrible and idiotic stylistic choices aside, it is one of the top five must read books for anyone on the left, I think.  Democratic activists really suffer from their lack of knowledge of Marx and endless get caught up in sideshows (which are really diversionary bait) rather than addressing the real issues.

          •  Then rewrite Marx (0+ / 0-)

            in a form more accessible to the working class who are rather short on energy after a day's work.

            We need to get past Marx the person, to the realm of knowledge which no one owns.  One of my criticisms of Marxists is the heavy reliance on the writings of single personality. If something has merit, certainly this can be expressed in a better, more accessible way, unless we want a society completely run by academics. Marx doesn't own the knowledge.

            I think one of the best sources of knowledge is what is experienced as a worker in a capitalist society. If all workers must read Marx's tomes (which even intellectuals commenting in this thread find challenging) before they are considered worthy or knowledgeable by Marxists, then we're doomed.

            I posted below part of an interview of Chomsky where he speaks of "factory girls" who hadn't read Marx or Bakunin, and yet organized anarchically against the owning class. People who work often wake up, and they do understand quite well the exploitation. Some prefer to debate in academic terms, some use the common language and experience of the working class. It isn't helpful to think exploitation can't be understood and expressed without having read 4,000 pages of impenetrable writing.

            The Spanish peasants and urban workers either understood through their experience or had read Kropotkin, Bakunin, and others, and they understood quite well the economic and political basis for revolt, and for forming the Spanish collectives.

            As Kropotkin wrote:

            Every machine has had the same history--a long record of sleepless nights and of poverty, of disillusions and of joys, of partial improvements discovered by several generations of nameless workers, who have added to the original invention these little nothings, without which the most fertile idea would remain fruitless. More than that: every new invention is a synthesis, the resultant of innumerable inventions which have preceded it in the vast field of mechanics and industry.

            Science and industry, knowledge and application, discovery and practical realization leading to new discoveries, cunning of brain and of hand, toil of mind and muscle--all work together. Each discovery, each advance, each increase in the sum of human riches, owes its being to the physical and mental travail of the past and the present.

            By what right then can any one whatever appropriate the least morsel of this immense whole and say--This is mine, not yours?

            "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

            by ZhenRen on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 01:04:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I watch Downton Abbey in the same spirit of (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sneakers563, kovie, caul

        schadenfreude. As for what Masterpiece Theater did to Zola, don't get me started.

        The frog jumped/ into the old pond/ plop! (Basho)

        by Wolf10 on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 04:16:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's a good show with likeable characters (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          claude, caul, mkor7, Wolf10, FindingMyVoice

          But then you realize that some of these people effectively own or have owned other people, and are enjoying privileges and wealth that they haven't really earned, but view as an absolute entitlement. And I've noticed that the writer, Julian Fellows, appears to have made a career of endlessly glorifying the British aristocracy and royal family in his many works. This show and others like it are, I suspect, at least partly Tory propaganda.

          "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

          by kovie on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 05:56:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  If you want Dominique to meet such an end... (0+ / 0-)

        ...you could always write the sequel.  I'm sure it would be of a higher quality than Rand's soap opera.

    •  I've encountered the (6+ / 0-)

      same thing with Nietzsche--people who have never read a word hate him (probably that whole god is dead thing--which requires context and thinking to understand).

      You can wake someone who is sleeping, but you cannot wake someone who is pretending to sleep.

      by gnothis on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 05:39:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  So true. Most economists I know have never (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IreGyre, gjohnsit

      actually read Marx's "das Kapital," Smith's "Wealth of Nations," or even Keynes's "General Theory."
         So, discussions of any of the three are hampered by the fact that their understanding comes from second and third hand sources.
         I've never seen the value as "congealed labor" explanation given by Marx refuted except by simple affirmation.
         And neo-classical types are hilarious in their misunderstanding of Keynes, and their acceptance of things like the Friedman-Phelps long run Phillips Curve, which is entirely a creature of theory based on questionable simplifying assumptions.
         Whether history can be explained entirely as class struggle I don't know. But Marx's description of late stage capitalism (in which capitalist enterprises become more and more consolidated and international) seems right on target to me.

    •  Actually Read Smith (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IreGyre, gjohnsit, nicteis

      I feel that very few free market advocates have actually read Adam Smith. Smith makes very clear and persuasive arguments that unfettered capitalism leads to the poverty and destitution of the laboring class.

      •  Yes, David Caye Johnson points that out a lot. (0+ / 0-)

        For a Republican ( a traditional conservative, not some Neocon) he's a bit of a hero to many of us here on the left. Actually I wonder if he still considers himself to be one.

  •  Competition is good. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Termite, Don midwest

    It's even better if the competition isn't parading tanks and missles or brutalizing the neighbors.

    "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

    by Yamaneko2 on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 02:29:44 PM PDT

    •  Not so good if you are a capitalist ... (6+ / 0-)

      ... which is why there is a much stronger push for "free" markets than for competitive ones.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:46:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yet capitalism *in theory* depends a great (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BruceMcF

        deal on competition.

        In other words, the idea of competition is used to cover a number of sins, at least in Adam Smith's work as I understand it (it's been a while, so I might be misremembering it).

        the funny thing is how the idea of competition disappears as soon as that would interfere with an extremely rich person making money. As in the market-based public option, which really was presenting nothing more threatening than an economic competition, which capitalists are supposed to love.

        Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 07:15:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Whose theory? (0+ / 0-)

          There are approaches to economics designed to legitimize capitalism that rely on the strategy that if capitalism is assumed to work differently from the way it can be observed to work, then it would have a variety of benefits ...

          ... but to me that is more propaganda, even if dressed up in scientific-looking mathematical models, then it is scientific theory.

          I think all of the actually scientific approaches to the study of the economy agree that capitalists in practice work assiduously to destroy competition whenever they can do so to their own individual advantage.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 09:38:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Certainly. I guess I was just pointing out (0+ / 0-)

            the hypocrisy. Probably unnecessary, in this diary, where most people know that capitalism is hypocritical. But this particular hypocrisy really pisses me off.

            Don't make it look like it's some kind of tourney of noble knights with the idea that the best man will win because of his own strength and God's guarantee against injustice, when it's actually just a bully robbing defenseless people.

            Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

            by SouthernLiberalinMD on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 09:02:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  And as far as the theory ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SouthernLiberalinMD

              ... don't make it look like a repeated series of fair tourneys, when the rules are there for all to see that the winner of a joust can end up with the horse of the loser, forcing the loser to drop out of the knight business ...

              ... so in the end you get a bunch of contests with the one knight sitting on his horse, winning all contests by default and collecting the grand prize without risk.

              Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

              by BruceMcF on Wed Apr 23, 2014 at 10:38:11 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  Nice piece. (11+ / 0-)

    Succinct and cogent.

    I, frankly, find Douthat's reference to

    "cultural identity — family and faith, sovereignty and community"
    more than a little sinister, evoking as it does the 20th century's chief ideological rival to Marxism. The crux of which being that nationalist, ethnic and racial cohesion could substitute for a radical revision of political economy.

    I haven't yet read The Nation article, so I've no opinion of your take on it. However, is this an actual quote:

    "...the radical 'Marxists' are all a bunch of dogmatists who think revolution is the big thing, and so you should loudly proclaim your indifference to the scene."
    or only a summation of your own view?

    Nothing human is alien to me.

    by WB Reeves on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 02:35:49 PM PDT

    •  The above sentence-clause (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WB Reeves, eyo, 4Freedom, TomP, caul, FindingMyVoice

      is my characterization of the general dismissal of marxism and of radicalism that you see among certain writers who want to define themselves into a non-marxist peer group.  Shenk wrote a biography of Maurice Dobb, after all, and so it stands to reason that he ought to know better than to end his piece in The Nation with such an offhand dismissal of marxism.

      "Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust" -- Karl Marx

      by Cassiodorus on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:08:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for the clarification (0+ / 0-)

        I thought as much but I wanted to be sure I was getting it right.

        I'll have to read the piece. My off hand reaction to the quoted portion is colored by the fact that I recently read a long, rhetoric laden exchange where a small business owner, a shop keeper with no employees, was denounced for being petit bourgeois and incapable of solidarity with the interests of workers, despite having expressed sympathy with those interests.

        Not the kind of thing I think Marx had in mind but every such instance gets hung around the neck of both Charlie and marxism generally.

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:39:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Even creepier, he writes about populist energy (12+ / 0-)
      from movements like the Tea Party, Britain’s UKIP, France’s National Front and others that incorporate some Piketty-esque arguments (attacks on crony capitalism; critiques of globalization) but foreground cultural anxieties instead.
      a litany of fascist, racist, xeonophic groups.  Invoking them as anything but malevolent forces is very revealing for Douthat.

      Steve Gilliard Lives.

      by Bethesda 1971 on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:48:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Woah! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dirtandiron, TomP, Bethesda 1971

        That is pretty blatant. Disturbing.

        Such people bear watching.

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 04:32:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  in fairness, those groups are populist (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dirtandiron, Bethesda 1971

        Populism is anti-elite, not simply anti-rich, and it's also anti-other.  Populists are always and everywhere going to be skeptical of immigration and foreign influences in general out of the fear that these are necessarily hostile to "the people" simply by virtue of being different from them, and that bringing them over in large numbers and legislating accommodating them is going to smother the people.  The cynical populist laments that the only people who have any rights in a country are people who don't live there, and that's as true for rich countries as it is for poor countries.

        Ironically the belief that all poor people everywhere are on the same side simply by virtue of being poor is quintessentially Marxist.  Marx rejected national identity as well as racial and religious identities as part of "false consciousness".

        Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

        by Visceral on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 04:40:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I suspect it's just idiocy (0+ / 0-)

      rather than Nazism.

      Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:45:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Important to recognize that Nazism is a subset (0+ / 0-)

        of the larger phenomenon of Fascism.

        Both are historic proof that idiocy is no measure of the danger an ideology can pose.

        Nothing human is alien to me.

        by WB Reeves on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 09:37:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What I'm saying is that the dipshit assertion (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          WB Reeves

          that writer just made about how the problem isn't anything economic but the fading of cultural identity, etc etc ignores the obvious connections between, duh, economics and culture. I'm going to assume here that this is willful ignorance on part of writer, who needed a handy binary to get him out of his troubles, no matter how false said binary was.

          I mean, really; like Mexican culture wasn't affected by NAFTA and its effect on Mexican agriculture? Like indigenous cultures haven't been affected by the economics of reservation life, or the economic aspects of being a racial minority? One really really obvious way that economics influences culture quite directly is in real estate development.

          For instance, this is one example of culture, recorded on film and integrated into John Landis' movie The Blues Brothers, itself, of course, culture in a different way:

          But if you get Landis' Director's Cut of Blues Brothers you get to hear that Maxwell Street, where this scene was filmed, no longer exists. The land became part of the University of Illinois, the market was moved, gentrified, and moved a second time. Presto chango! Where did that bit of culture go? The quickness of the hand deceives the eye. Oh, well, that probably wasn't important; culture isn't anything real anyway. Except when we need to throw around the concept of culture to evade a logical conclusion.

          Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

          by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 01:59:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Shenk doesn't know Marxism (16+ / 0-)
    The disasters of 2008 were not quite what Marxists had hoped capitalism’s internal logic would supply—the particular form the financial crisis assumed took almost everyone by surprise
     Actually it was almost exactly what Marxism had said would happen. What's more, the political response was what Marx predicted as well, and that was more important.
       Global capitalism could never fail by letting the big banks fail. Although it would have caused a global depression.
       The only way global capitalism could fail is if the governments went "all in" for the global banking masters first. Which is what happened.

      Shenk talks about the Communist Manifesto, but completely fails to mention Das Kapital.

    made it easier to see labor not as the province of middle-aged white men attending AFL-CIO meetings but as an issue of universal significance. The commitment was lighter, but easier to share, maybe with a post on Facebook.
    Wow! Amazingly patronizing. I expected to see this one New Republic. not The Nation.

    "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

    by gjohnsit on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 02:45:27 PM PDT

    •  And note that ... (17+ / 0-)

      ... the "took almost everyone by surprise" leans heavily on ignoring the existance of those who it did not take by surprise.

      Focusing on the conventional wisdom that "almost everyone" was taken by surprise is an easy way to ignore that those who got it right may have a better understanding about how financial capitalism works than "almost everyone".

      Heck, Senator Byron Dorgan got it right on the Senate Floor in 1999 in opposing the appeal of Glass-Steagall.

      Wynne Goddly and L. Randal Wray saw it coming, both separately and, in March 2000, together in the Journal of Economic Issues, "Is Goldilocks Doomed?" Mike Hudson saw it coming. Stephen Keen saw it coming. Christopher Brown saw it coming. Eric Tymoigne saw it coming. Dean Baker saw it coming.

      And, of course, Hyman Minsky saw it coming.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:54:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the bubble was there for all to see and denial (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BruceMcF

        was primarily corporate media and owned politicians cheerleading the runaway economy while denying the bubble existed. Essentially they were bubble denying at the behest of the bubble blowers who stood to gain the most by dangerously overextending it longer than could have been possible in the past but it would seem this time some were prepared to gain the most while everyone else lost when the "surprise" crash came. Those who arranged the bubble extension were ready for the bursting of the bubble and to come though as winners... with their bailout enablers in place and the bank rescue packages for them  all set to go...

        Surprise? I am hardly educated in economics... never took a course or really read the books... but have kept up on concepts... and read opinion and news... it was clear to me and a great many others when we had Enron etc. and Glass Steagall went that we were headed for a bubble... then it was clear we were in a super bubble and sensible people knew that bubbles are not sustainable... and that counter to any sanity... policies and laws, regulations and guidelines were all enabling extending the bubble no matter what the later cost would be...

        And worst instead of wising up in time and then working to avoid the worst and get a soft landing and learn from the errors the powers that were and still are stifled any and all moves to do that... the owned pet Media and Journalism in general failed to get the word out... or were really just hamstrung and drowned out by louder more pervasive news massagers and while there were plenty of voices crying in the wilderness... they were smirked at by the corporate kissing media who instead cheer-led the indefinite prosperity pipe dream... and those who sell a lie sell it better if enough of them truly believe it or want to...

        And socially and politically all the lessons of the Great depression and New Deal have been allowed to slip away and be replaced with corporate driven economic, social and political revisionism about all of it... inverting causes and effects, fixes and problems...

        For the very rich the long term lessons of the depression and the New Deal for the Current Wall street crop and associated Billionaires and conservative claque was not how to keep a sustainable equitable economy without extreme boom and bust.... no the lessons learned were:
        A) how to remove the impediments to boom and bust which allow them to shake down an economy faster and more vigorously like they used to do in the good old days...
        B ) how to avoid a  reaction by regular folks when it all goes bad for them that enables a new Democratic wave that restores a new and improved New Deal to protect the average person again...

        So they had to co opt populism ahead of time with a right wing incarnation to bleed off enough on the conservative side with faked uproars over "Social issues", ensure more comprehensive media control and corporate friendly meme propagation and get political power by any means necessary... supreme court with a corporate pandering majority, state houses controlled in time for reapportionment, removal of election funding reforms, voting rights, voter suppression and wall to wall ads by Super PACs etc...

        Who could have known about the "surprise" in advance?... the perpetrators knew and were prepared and the helpless but aware onlookers and ignored voices who shouted warnings... yes they knew .... but not the far greater number of the duped, the misinformed and the ignorant and indifferent most of whom were among those most harmed but it.

        Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

        by IreGyre on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 06:34:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Training in real economics ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... would help bring it into sharper focus ... but since so much of mainstream economics is fancy mathematical rationalization of the status quo, training in mainstream economics more often obscures than reveals what is going on.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 09:24:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  oh Jeez! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gjohnsit, northsylvania

      Marx rolls in his grave as he realizes the irony of the exploited class taking up arms to defend the exploitative system.  Even if they are just doing it for the money.  Or workers, with the right to freely vote (said right, won with the blood of their forefathers, no longer deemed worth honoring by 30-40% of the eligible population),  voting for politicians and policies that are clearly not in their  own self-interest.

      I think the Nation,  old and venerable as it may be, lost me around the time they started offering  Caribbean  cruises with Famous Old Leftists as a fund-raising gimmick.  I think I saw ads for them in The New Yorker, that enduring bastion of marxian irony.

      don't always believe what you think

      by claude on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 09:07:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What on *earth* is Shenk talking about? (0+ / 0-)

      Ah, drzombie is right:  we are in the Age of Wrong.

      Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:46:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well apparently "Socialism" (14+ / 0-)

    is no longer scary enough.

    And those who bandy the word "Marxism" about fail to understand that Marxism is not a political or economic system, but a philosophy.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 02:47:31 PM PDT

    •  oops (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      twigg

      just wrote a similar comment without having seen yours.

      Steve Gilliard Lives.

      by Bethesda 1971 on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:26:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Do people below the age of 35 know (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      twigg

      that Marxism is supposed to be scary?

      Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:47:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sure ... (0+ / 0-)

        Fox tells their Dad, and their Pastor, who then share the love :)

        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

        Who is twigg?

        by twigg on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 06:27:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hmm. Given what Pew says they think of (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          thirty three and a third

          socialism, I wonder what a good poll would unearth on that score.

          Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

          by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 06:33:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Has anyone seen the Howard Zinn play, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SouthernLiberalinMD

        "Marx in Soho"?

        It's funny. We all grew up here thinking the Russians are the great masters of propaganda. But as an adult I view America's use of it is to be even more pernicious, subtle and crafty as it is, with its subliminal orders to stay on the consumer treadmill while shopping slavishly, embrace self-interest and gulp down mouthfuls of American Exceptionalism as part of the education system's indoctrination process.

        I never knew a thing about Marx, Communism, Socialism, etc, aside from that they were "evil" things to be universally disparaged and not spoken of. Then I went to college and took a sociology course freshman year and after hearing the basic tenets of communism, though, the basic idea is wonderful - why such a vehement backlash? One never hears a serious debate/discussion in the mainstream media about its virtues (or those of socialism, which seems more attainable), it's only dismissed out of hand with no further consideration (propaganda again). But that reflexive antipathy toward it (especially socialism) seems to be softening when the theories are explained, and especially as our capitalist system shows all signs of destruction and disaster.

        Zinn's play about Marx, delivered brilliantly as a one-man play by NYC teacher and activist Brian Jones, is a dignifying, humanizing portrayal of a man whose very name sends people here into spams of fright and anger.

        May go a long way in representing him not only as a thoughtful, dedicated family man, but how humanistic and compassionate his theories were then and how sensible and prescient they seem now.

        "Human history began with an act of disobedience, and it is not unlikely that it will be terminated by an act of obedience." Erich Fromm

        by thirty three and a third on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 08:46:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for this, didn't know it existed. n/t (0+ / 0-)

          Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

          by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 01:44:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Marx as a philosopher (0+ / 0-)

      It is fairly common knowledge that Marx was a trained philosopher, and taught philosophy until he was exiled. Marx agreed with Hegel, and he believed that Hegelian theory ended philosophy, and that there was nothing left for philosophy to do. While in London, his interest turned to economics, because he saw the flaws in the economic model that was most popularly put forth to replace feudalism, namely capitalism.

      To my mind, the most important and most often misunderstood part of Marx`s economic theory concerns the distribution of the surplus that every enterprise of industry creates. There have been no National efforts to create a Marxist style of economics wherein Labor has control of the distribution of the surplus...There have been many failed National efforts where the state has been given control of the distribution of the surplus, but not Labor. Marxism can not function if Labor is not in control of the distribution of the surplus. Marx`s insight was that Capitalism will ultimately fail because labor has no say in how the surplus is distributed. "Capital"is the defense of that assertion.

      These points are brought out very forcefully by Richard D. Wolff in his many writings and lectures.  I wonder how we have 250 plus comments on Marxism and no reference to Dr. Wolff?

      While I agree that Marxism is not a political system, I must most emphatically assert that it is fundamentally only an economic system. An economic system that is designed entirely to function within, and is morally based upon the philosophy of the Enlightenment, wherein personal freedom is paramount. Because it challenged the rights of property, it had to be quashed and denigrated by the capitalists in the most thorough manner possible. So even today, we argue the ideas of Marxist theory from an (purposefully created) disjointed and inaccurate  knowledge base.

      It is my opinion that Marxist economic theory fits within a democratic political system quite nicely, because its very function as an economic system is very democratic.
      Conversely Capitalism functions most effectively in a fascistic type of political system, where industry controls governance.

      Just one other insight that I have gleaned from a series of lectures by Leo Strauss, was the idea that Marx made a conscious effort to turn economics into metaphysics, in other words, that economics was the true nature of man. I am not quite sure I fully agree with this assessment, but it is very apparent to anyone who has read Capital, that every theory is laid out and defended as a science. It is also true that much of economic theory cited to this day is still based in the findings of Karl Marx.

  •  Marxism is coming back? (7+ / 0-)

    Dare we hope?

  •  I hate to have to say this, but a ... (16+ / 0-)

    ...lot of Marxists (though no marxists) also have not read him.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:21:07 PM PDT

    •  I'm looking at you IAC! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassiodorus

      “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

      by lucid on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:32:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Grundrisse (5+ / 0-)

    should be on your Marx reading list as well.

    And once you're done with Marx try Sraffa's Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities...

    "The attack on the truth by war begins long before war starts and continues long after a war ends." -Julian Assange

    by Pierro Sraffa on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:24:57 PM PDT

  •  Recommended (8+ / 0-)

    Up to now it's been "Socialism!"  However, socialism actually polls well.  Not sure Marxism will have enough scare potential though.

  •  Interesting isn't it. (13+ / 0-)
    if you are rich and own capital, capital accumulation makes you richer.  
    This is the first chapter of every How to Get Rich guide.  The rest has to do with how to accumulate capital while no one else is looking: leverage, other people's money, control over accounts, and real estate (or the other promotable asset of the moment).

    And with the sales of these books, one would think that the US would have no poverty at all, especially since the glory years of Saint Ronald.

    The problem is that Marx was a better analyst than a revolutionary, better at fundamental understanding than applications.  Plus his best friend Engels was at base a model capitalist (even if his strategy or just his story was working within the system to overturn the system).

    The open questions at the moment have to do with alternatives and how they do not slip into? back into? the same old pre-Victorian capitalism that Marx analyzed.  How is it that the revolutions in most (but as of the moment not all) countries have wound up in oligarchic capitalism regardless of popular pressure.  And some snap back quicker than others.

    Or is it possible for a highly contradictory capitalism to limp along in a failed condition forever just because it finances the political power and force to prevent its replacement with an alternative?

    But it is interesting that the people who caused the current financial crisis, the ones who sought to reverse the mixed system that saved capitalism through the New Deal are raising the Red Scare again just like they did when labor had real power after World War II, briefly until Taft-Hartley stripped it, and could have begun to provide an alternative.  It is also interesting that ethnic anxieties were at the root of that snap-back.  The US could not deal with civil rights and labor together regardless of how much Walter Reuther tried to reform that.

    What is more interesting is that the book that is making the powers that be send out the media dogs is not even that philosophically marxist.   Its like "Isn't it interesting that the current global oligarchs and their political organizations (called corporations) are acting like Capital said they would."

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

    by TarheelDem on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:33:01 PM PDT

    •  One of my conservative friends (10+ / 0-)

      Rates Marx as an excellent diagnostician but a poor practitioner.

      •  I agree with that. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jay C

        Marx was a pessimist concerning capitalism and an optimist on bloated beauracracy (Sp?).

        "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Thomas Paine

        by shrike on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 04:22:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  So does Thomas Piketty... (5+ / 0-)

          So far as I have read in C21C, he has nothing but admiration for Karl Marx's work as an economist (especially, as given that in the 1840's, the "discipline" of economics scarcely deserved the term), and nothing but dismissal for Marx's political polemics - IOW, as the old saw about Marx goes:

          "Everything he wrote about capitalism was correct: everything he wrote about communism was wrong"

          •  Everything he wrote about communism (0+ / 0-)

            ...was vague.

            In practice, that vagueness was clarified by Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh,....and an honest analysis today is that a revolutionary party with antagonistic neighbors and governmental socialist management of the entire economy winds up with oligarchic state capitalism.

            But a "free enterprise" economy with corporate private capitalism and government limited to only some forms of infrastructure also winds up with oligarchic state capitalism.

            In both cases the oligarchs control the capitalist state.

            Someone needs to come up with a well-thought-through alternative direction.  Unfortunately Capitalism in the 21st Century does not quite reach that for all his discussion of Marx.

            It doesn't even begin to grapple with the almost "original sin" issues of commodification and the commodification of money that sets a society on the path to that of knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.

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

            by TarheelDem on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:47:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  True. Revolution hasn't worked out so well in (0+ / 0-)

      practice.

  •  I was wondering what peoples' reaction would (6+ / 0-)

    be to that Douthat piece.  

    The problem, of course, with capitalism is that its tentacles reach to every aspect of life and makes demands on the soul as well--a point that Douthat seems to raise.  But then it gets wasted by his "cultural identity" (which sounds like a Brooksian euphemism supporting the culture wars).

    "You cannot win improv." Stephen Colbert (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6tiaooiIo0 at 16:24).

    by Publius2008 on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:39:58 PM PDT

    •  It's the dumbest response I've seen in a while. (0+ / 0-)

      Almost not worth the trouble of puncturing.

      Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:48:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  3 way better articles for learning about Piketty: (11+ / 0-)

    I've read about 30 articles on Thomas Piketty & am working my way through "Capital in the 21st Century." These articles are my favorite. (Krugman's, in the New York Review of Books, is the longest. McElwee's is the most thought-provoking).


    ● NewYorker: John Cassidy: Is Surging Inequality Endemic to Capitalism? http://nyr.kr/... supplement: Piketty in 6 charts http://nyr.kr/...

    ● NYRB, Paul Krugman: Why We’re in a New Gilded Age http://bit.ly/... on Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the 21st Century"

    ● TheWeek, Sean McElwee & Lew Daly: What if economic growth is no longer possible in the 21st century? http://is.gd/...


    Progressives should celebrate Piketty's book. His economic cred is unassailable. The IMF is already incorporating a review of inequality into its recommendations.

    "All politics is national."

    by Auriandra on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:40:48 PM PDT

  •  "Fighting Marxism" Is A Nazi Trope (11+ / 0-)

    So are saving the Fatherland from class struggle and accusing ones opponents of "envy."  Notice how widespread the "envy" trope has become?

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 03:47:46 PM PDT

    •  Even the Nazis flirted with Marxism for a time (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bernardpliers, JJ In Illinois, kurt

      I always found it a bit odd that quite a few leading Nazis were so vehemently opposed to communism but much of their economic theory was more or less derived from it.  Look up Strasserism, the ideology of the left-wing of the Nazi Party and it's hard to see much difference between it and communist economic theory.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      Of course we never did have to opportunity to see it in action as the right-wing (Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, etc.) of the Nazi Party won the power struggle over the left-wing faction (Strasser brothers, Rohm, much of the SA leadership, etc.).  The Night of the Long Knives annihilated the Nazi left-wing for good.  It's interesting to imagine how things would have gone for Nazi Germany had the left-wing of the party won the power struggle.  

      •  Fascism Is Syncretistic - It Absorbs Things (3+ / 0-)

        Fascism is anti-intellectual and populist, so it absorbs various things, unlike the intellectual purity of Communism. And the Nazis were absorbing all sorts of minor political parties.  Look at the Bundy ranch - law enforcement "Oath keepers" lining up "Sovereign Citizen" cop killers! But this was also a feature of Continental Dialectic philosophy that came in about a hundred flavors. The Nazis were "socialist" like the Republicans are "socialist" - it's socialism for whites only.  And the Strassers were "socialist," not "Socialist." They wanted a military junta run by the Junkers (hereditary army officer class) minus all the racist nuttiness.  there was also a regional difference with the north being more Socialist.

        But that was all over by 1934, so that form of Nazism had nothing to do with WW2.

        Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

        by bernardpliers on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 09:07:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is spot on: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sweatyb, JJ In Illinois
    capital is itself defined as money designed to make more money.  So of course capital accumulation makes you richer -- it's defined that way.  However, Marx also walks us through the process of capital accumulation: the capitalists skim off the surplus produced by wage labor, and redeem this surplus as profit through sales.  The capitalists watch the money roll in, while the workers must be satisfied with mere wages, which they use to buy back a portion of what they themselves produced.

    Even though you wrote that as a pejorative capitalism is still the most efficient system for getting the most goods to the most people.

    For instance Amazon "skims off" about 2% as profit.  

    "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Thomas Paine

    by shrike on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 04:14:24 PM PDT

    •  Capitalism is the most efficient system (8+ / 0-)

      for getting the most goods to the families at the top of the economic pyramid.

      "Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust" -- Karl Marx

      by Cassiodorus on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 04:21:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So if Medicare served more people (55 up) (0+ / 0-)

        but were privately administered to reduce cost you would oppose it?

        "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Thomas Paine

        by shrike on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 04:27:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Huh? (11+ / 0-)
          "...privately administered to reduce cost..."
          Privitization never reduces cost, at least not without reducing quality.

          "If you lose your sense of humor, it's just not funny anymore" Wavy Gravy

          by offgrid on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 04:47:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And yet... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JJ In Illinois

            ...major companies outsource ("privatize") various functions all the time. It must be because they like throwing away money.

            (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
            Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

            by Sparhawk on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:35:17 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Collectives (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lucid, RabbleON

              can do the same: they can coordinate with other collectives, allowing each to produce what they produce best.

              The difference is the lack of worker exploitation. It doesn't have to one big monolith owned by a central communist state. The Soviet model didn't work. Federations of collectives, with workers in each collective self-managing their own workplaces, can have diversity and a plethora of choices.

              "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

              by ZhenRen on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 09:08:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Like I said (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JJ In Illinois, nextstep

                Go nuts, nothing stops you from making a collective today.
                In this nation, people are free to voluntarily form economic relationships in any form they want.

                (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                by Sparhawk on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 09:21:43 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  With what resources? (0+ / 0-)

                  Most of us live hand to mouth, thanks to you capitalists and your wage slavery.

                  "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

                  by ZhenRen on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 01:03:37 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  So there we go.. forced collectivization (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Sparhawk, nextstep

                    "Collectives" have only ever been successful in a coercive society.. and only briefly successful at that.

                    Collectives run against human nature, which is why you don't see collectives, even in very small scale, much less at the national level.

                    With what resources?
                    Workers have the resources of their labor.  As Sparhawk says, nothing stops laborers from collectivizing.  Without labor - i.e. a person's work hours traded for capital - capitalism doesn't work.  Yet, most critiques of capitalism ignore this point.  Those critiques concentrate solely on the top end of capitalism.. those "exploiting" laborers.
                    •  Nonsense (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      lucid, offgrid

                      You've made a series of unsubstantiated statements supported only by capitalist conventional wisdom.

                      The old human nature canard, which isn't what capitalists claim it is, or wish it to be. We're social animals.

                      And apparently, when you speak of coercion, you're referring to your notions of authoritarian socialism, with centralized authority, rather than a society founded on participatory communities based on free association, and direct democracy, where each person has an equal voice.

                      People have collectivized without coercion, unlike capitalism which by necessity is based entirely upon coercion and violence to protect the private assets of the owning class, a minority.

                      Capitalism is highly coercive, which is why so much effort has been spent on crushing unions and worker uprisings from the onset. The one thing capitalists fear more than anything else is a coming together of the working class (an overwhelming majority) into a unified power, which is why so much effort is placed on pitting the working class against itself, using patriarchy, racism, and nationalism to keep the workers fighting amongst themselves. You tell them over and over that it is their natures to behave as competitive, rugged individualists, rather than the social animals that they are.

                      Reciprocity and cooperation is stamped out as much as possible by the ruling class, and after centuries of serving masters, lords, monarchs, and capitalist bosses, who have long ago seized resources as their own property, its no wonder people have forgotten they don't need to be rendered into slaves.

                      You speak of socialist coercion? Really? Only a person completely out of touch thinks workers have real choices, and that they aren't completely dominated by their employers for the duration of their lives.

                      "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

                      by ZhenRen on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:23:11 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Start small and grow (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Sparhawk

                    just like most every other human organization that became substantial in size.

                    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

                    by nextstep on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 09:39:39 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You're rather optimistic... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      offgrid

                      considering that the reality is that most new business start-ups in capitalism fail. The statistics were, in the past, something like 1 out of 17 attempts to create a new business succeeds, the rest failing. And those failures mean losses of capital (one's life savings) by those who make the attempt. And in today's economy this can't be any better. You do know, certainly, that it is almost impossible for most working people to get business financing? Most refinance their own homes, putting their families at risk of losing everything.

                      You just have no real clue. Have you ever tried to start up a business with insufficient funding?

                      Forming collectives is not any different. It takes a great deal of money to start a successful business, all of which is at risk of being lost. This is one reason few will donate their savings, or refinance their homes to liquidate the equity, to start a co-op. People tend to hold fast to what they have secured in a competitive, dog-eat-dog market place. Many small enterprises have been run out of business by big corporate players like Wall-Mart.

                      My father had small businesses. So have I. It is very difficult to break out of the pack and succeed. For every success there are countless failures.

                      Despite this, there are some good examples of co-ops which have done well. But capitalism favors the wealthy, and often it is the very wealthy who succeed in killing off the competition, since they, with more money and assets to draw on, have the enormous staying power required to endure the first years of a start up enterprise while trying to secure a positive cash flow.

                      Go visit any main street of a small town and notice the series of empty commercial spaces. The old bicycle shop, the lawnmower repair guy, the stationary store, the appliance store... probably all gone, or just barely getting by. Then seek out the nearest Wall Mart and notice how well they're doing, with the stream of customers. They kill small business. Easier to go work for Wall-Mart than try to make it on your own.

                      You really just don't have a clue.

                      I agree that more co-ops should be founded. But make no mistake. It is very difficult to start a business.

                      "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

                      by ZhenRen on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:47:33 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I didn't say it would be easy (0+ / 0-)

                        And I have started successful businesses and have been in businesses that failed.

                        I suspect that the success rate of coops is lower than conventional businesses, as the people with the strong entrepreneurial, organizational, sales and marketing skills are far more likely to go to businesses founded on capitalist principals as they will be better compensated there.

                        If cooperatives were a better way to organize economic activity, it would be far more commonly used.  

                        You say in your comment that you had started a business, why didn't you choose to form it as a cooperative?

                        The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

                        by nextstep on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 02:38:38 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  It is "easier" (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          offgrid

                          to create a business which exploits workers... that's why capitalists do it. Of course they compensate themselves more than they do their wage slaves. That's the entire point of creating a business in capitalism. When "successful," it results in wealth for the owner(s) at the expense of the workers. It is only due to the class difference (owning vs working) that there is disparity in wealth. And yet without the labor of the workers the business can't succeed. Or do you think only the owning class has the knowledge to successfully manage a business? Many good, well trained managers are working class.

                          I have a friend who worked at a liquor store recently. The owner was rather handicapped in intellectual ability, and had inherited her business from her father. She relied on her workers to do everything for her, and her business succeeded despite her ineptitude, since employees quietly ignored her orders and corrected her mistakes when she was absent.

                          Newsflash: Many workers can run a business far better than their bosses. Day in and day out, it is the workers who make the world function.

                          Its easier to thieve the wealth produced by the working class than to distribute the wealth with more egalitarianism.

                          Duh. Reread my comment. It seems you missed my point.

                          As Kropotkin wrote in the book, The Conquest of Bread:

                          Every machine has had the same history--a long record of sleepless nights and of poverty, of disillusions and of joys, of partial improvements discovered by several generations of nameless workers, who have added to the original invention these little nothings, without which the most fertile idea would remain fruitless. More than that: every new invention is a synthesis, the resultant of innumerable inventions which have preceded it in the vast field of mechanics and industry.

                          Science and industry, knowledge and application, discovery and practical realization leading to new discoveries, cunning of brain and of hand, toil of mind and muscle--all work together. Each discovery, each advance, each increase in the sum of human riches, owes its being to the physical and mental travail of the past and the present.

                          By what right then can any one whatever appropriate the least morsel of this immense whole and say--This is mine, not yours?

                          "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

                          by ZhenRen on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 03:07:25 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

              •  It's a commonplace among economists that (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                nextstep

                co-ops and collectives have a "horizon problem." People join a co-op for whatever reason, but have different time horizons from other people in the co-op. So co-ops are prone to dissolution as members eventually go their separate ways.
                   Corporations solve the horizon problem by making ownership sellable. A shareholder who is no longer interested in the corporation can simply sell her share to someone else.
                   Co-ops that have longevity are those that have a large number of incoming members to replace those who leave - co-op bookstores near a university campus, eg.

                •  I was referring (0+ / 0-)

                  to a society completely based on collectives, rather than forming collectives in a capitalist society. There would be no private ownership of the means of production.

                  "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

                  by ZhenRen on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:55:11 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Nobody said privatization was bad -- (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              kurt, RabbleON, offgrid

              for the privatizers.  It doesn't raise costs for those who are making a profit from it.  Duh.

              "Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust" -- Karl Marx

              by Cassiodorus on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 09:16:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Companies outsource... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                JJ In Illinois, nextstep

                ...because it saves money.

                (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
                Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

                by Sparhawk on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 09:19:05 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Actually (2+ / 0-)

                  One practice of large corporations is to get a small company to produce a needed item (a part for a machine, for example), and then coercing the small business into a contract which requires them to sell the item for tiny percentage above cost, over a period of years.

                  These small companies, meanwhile, must pay for all of their operating costs, even if they are struggling. They become essentially owned by the larger business, without the larger business risking its own capital.

                  That is why they outsource.

                  "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

                  by ZhenRen on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 11:00:41 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  So if we were to save the world (6+ / 0-)

          from runaway global warming mass death, saving billions of human lives, but we got rid of the capitalist system and redistributed the investment wealth of the richest 1% to the people as a whole, would you oppose it?

          "Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust" -- Karl Marx

          by Cassiodorus on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 04:50:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I never ever shy away from a good question. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cassiodorus, WB Reeves, claude

            And yours is a good one.

            I think AGW is our gravest concern so I would accept your proposal.  I don't think we could achieve consensus on it but in theory - yes.  I agree to it.   I would not oppose.

            "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Thomas Paine

            by shrike on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 06:48:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Privately administering Medicare would (10+ / 0-)

          not reduce cost. Adding a profit-seeking entity in the middle would never reduce cost in a million years without drastically reducing the quality of service to the end-user.

          "As the madmen play on words, and make us all dance to their song / to the tune of starving millions, to make a better kind of gun..." -- Iron Maiden

          by Lost Left Coaster on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 05:00:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Ever heard of Medicare Advantage? (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassiodorus, kurt, IreGyre

          We already have a private option for Medicare and it's been a disaster.  The costs of Medicare Advantage are far higher than traditional Medicare plans.  Anything you privatize is going to just end up costing more with the parasites we have running private corporations.  Health insurance companies are the worst of the scum.

      •  Awesome, I see the troops have finally arrived. (0+ / 0-)

        Sound the trumpets, cavalry!

        Half a league, half a league,
         Half a league onward,
        All in the valley of Death
         Rode the six hundred.
        "Forward, the Light Brigade!
        "Charge for the guns!" he said:
        Into the valley of Death
         Rode the six hundred.
        Or is it more like this:

        Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:50:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's also the most efficient system (0+ / 0-)

        for destroying the planet's potable water and arable land in short order.

        Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:51:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  This is what we call begging the question (5+ / 0-)
      capitalism is still the most efficient system for getting the most goods to the most people.
      This is a massive assumption that you're going to have to back up with some evidence. What is "efficient" about capitalism when so far it has left millions hungry, homeless, and dead from imperialist wars?

      "As the madmen play on words, and make us all dance to their song / to the tune of starving millions, to make a better kind of gun..." -- Iron Maiden

      by Lost Left Coaster on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 04:59:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You have added a moral dimension to the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        side pocket

        equation.

        Mechanistically, the system is efficient as described. But add the dimension that the system needs to incorporate an element of the humane, and the system shows its moral bankruptcy.

        The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. ~ John F. Kennedy

        by 4Freedom on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 05:15:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  How is the system 'mechanistically' efficient? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          congenitalefty, ChadmanFL

          It is predicated on exploiting both material resources and human resources in order to have access to both the material resources and the products of human resources. The whole thing is structured so as to waste all of the above in the pursuit of wealth & thus bring on the environmental calamity we now face.

          I can imagine many economic arrangements that are more efficient than that, including feudalism.

          “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

          by lucid on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 06:12:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If the goal is rapid wealth accumulation with no (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cassiodorus

            regard for consequences, there is a window of opportunity some are willing to seize.

            The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. ~ John F. Kennedy

            by 4Freedom on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 06:51:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  True but it is not efficient at distributing (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              congenitalefty, ChadmanFL, 4Freedom

              resources [which is usually the claim], nor is it efficient in using them. The whole thing is a homage to waste.

              “It takes no compromise to give people their rights...it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.” ― Harvey Milk

              by lucid on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 07:05:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I have worked on Wall Street with high level (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                lucid

                bankers and brokers. When I say they have little or no consideration of the consequences of their actions, I am speaking from my experience with most, but not all, of those in power positions that I have personally met.

                In truth, I believe that if there was a moon or Mars colony they could escape to after pillaging this planet, that is what they would do.

                They simply lack the moral compass that directs so many of our actions. Considerations about systemic waste or inefficiency isn't part of their lexicon. They are the masters of smash and grab, and they know how to get out of potentially sticky situations quickly because they have the funds to buy their way out.

                Attempting to understand them as you might others you meet would be a fallacy. Yes, if you prick them they bleed, but that would be the last time you were permitted anywhere near them.

                The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic. ~ John F. Kennedy

                by 4Freedom on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 08:38:40 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  It's mechanistically efficient at (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lucid, Lost Left Coaster

            wrecking the potable water and arable land on the planet in short order.

            Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

            by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:52:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  That's where we are. Thanks capitalism! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SouthernLiberalinMD

              Although I would add that communism as practiced in the 20th century was pretty good at wrecking the environment too. But communism is a non-issue now. China is an authoritarian capitalist state. There are no real communist states of influence out there.

              "As the madmen play on words, and make us all dance to their song / to the tune of starving millions, to make a better kind of gun..." -- Iron Maiden

              by Lost Left Coaster on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 09:29:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Correct. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Lost Left Coaster

                Communism was way too entranced with the Big Dirty Industrial Factory System.  But I guess everybody was back then.

                Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

                by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 01:38:26 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Not at all - LLC is factoring in the externalities (3+ / 0-)

          which you would prefer to neglect, as your thin pretense of an 'apples to oranges' comparison shows very clearly.

          Imperialism as not accidental to modern capitalism; it is and has been essential to it.  You don't have to read Lenin to know that (or even Hobson, who was no marxist) - just go and read Shoup and Minter's Imperial Brain Trust

          The system is only 'efficient' when you arbitrarily ignore the aspects that are inefficient.

          •  Bingo. (0+ / 0-)

            Been thinking a lot lately about the concept of subsidies, and applying it to cultural ideas, ideologies, etc; if an idea needs massive help, in the form of propaganda, the control of politicians via bribery and blackmail, etc., from a culture to stay in place, doesn't that perhaps say something about the internal value of the idea?

            Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

            by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 06:07:19 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  It is all just "Godfather" Unrefusable offers... (0+ / 0-)

            stripping away any bargaining power by others in an economic agreement/social contract in whatever form it takes.

            Gaming leverage to one party only in the exchange or deal.

            Mafias are very efficient means to the desired ends....

            Robber Barons, Barbarian raiders, slavers, locusts corporate raiders... all cut out indirect means... eliminate sharing with other parties to a deal providing goods, services, labor, creativity, innovation...

            Stealing via means and methods defined or codified as legal... and made admirable and exalted as good for all... is a lot less troublesome than using weapons and killing lots of people directly to "extract value"... wealth transfer in genteel and creative ways is admired for its finesse and for its much greater efficiency as much as for the magnitude of the plunder.

            Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

            by IreGyre on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 07:08:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  First: Economists describe efficiency as getting (0+ / 0-)

          goods and resources to their highest valued use; or production of goods at the minimum average total cost (thus without waste of resources) or maximizing consumer and producer surplus.
            Since "value" is based on the buyer's willingness to pay, capitalism is, by definition, the most efficient possible system.
            And, since labor is a resource, the lower the cost of labor, the more efficient the system is.
            Now, does capitalism get the most goods to the most people? Probably. But its weakness is that it requires "the most people" to constantly demand more and more goods. If consumers decide that they just don't want any more i-phones, Apple is in trouble.
            If consumers decided that they'd better start saving for retirement, the economy goes into recession.
            And if consumers earn money to buy goods by selling their labor, and if capitalists are forcing wages down in order to make production more efficient, then we have what Marx would call a contradiction.

          •  Value? (0+ / 0-)

            I think "value" is selling for more than the cost of production. What would make capitalism more efficient than Marxism?Are you supposing that only Marxists want to sell products that have no market? Especially based on your last paragraph!
            Contradiction indeed.

            Another bone to pick, capitalist don`t usually force wages down to make production more efficient, machines do that,  they force wages down to increase the surplus value.

        •  Yes, morality is one more externality. (0+ / 0-)

          The great thing about capitalism is that you can justify it by externalizing any and all of the things wrong with it.

          Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

          by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:53:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Those are just side effects. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lost Left Coaster

        Stop internalizing what are clearly external events.

        Or, alternatively, proclaim loudly that that's just life. Inevitable.

        Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:52:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Shit happens, right? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SouthernLiberalinMD

          At first I thought your comment was serious...but I saw your other comments above and saw that we're on the same page here. But yeah, people do that, they appeal to "shit happens" a lot as if that justifies something. I'll never forget protesting the Iraq war, telling people there would be and were civilian deaths, and they would say, yeah, well, that's what happens in war. You can't avoid it. And I would say, yes, that's why I'm protesting it! That's why it shouldn't happen!

          "As the madmen play on words, and make us all dance to their song / to the tune of starving millions, to make a better kind of gun..." -- Iron Maiden

          by Lost Left Coaster on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 09:35:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The inevitability meme is WAY strong (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lost Left Coaster

            over the past 3 years or so. Mostly because (I think) it's the only talking point they've got left to derail resistance/opposition.

            Well, that, and "here's my gun in your face, shut up" which isn't exactly a talking point.

            Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

            by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 01:42:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, as long as you don't care about the relative (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassiodorus

      quality of the goods, or the concentration of their distribution across a population.

      Nothing human is alien to me.

      by WB Reeves on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 07:23:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Capitalism is the worst, except for all the others (0+ / 0-)

      There is no perfect system. There is no system that delivers perfect social justice and perfect capital allocation. There is no system that delivers either of those things.

    •  it cuts out the "Fat" of people below (0+ / 0-)

      getting much return for their contributions to the economy... and takes money out of circulation in increasingly strangled localities and speeds it to investment portfolios and bonuses at the top...

      Fat cutting... like Walmart underpaying its huge army of employees using every squeeze tactic they can dream up... and likewise squeezing all their suppliers out of business if they cannot become like little Walmarts in their operations... and eventually turning to 3rd world sources and that destroyed even more livlihoods in the USA...

      And before all that they destroy all the other locally owned and operated retail and distribution just by moving into an area... stores on main street, mom and pop operations, family businesses... with deeper stock and better customer service and knowledge...

      and Amazon? they are just as bad they have an army of poorly paid drones in their vast warehouses and their delivery drivers are all "self employed"  contractors who bare survive on the low fees and only a punishing delivery schedule every day that barely covers expenses to have something close to a fair return or a decent income... and they like more and more people have to go to Amazon and Walmart because they cannot afford to shop anywhere else...

      all of this is "efficient"... but it is a race to the bottom... their business model has already squeezed a large portion of their customer base... their own employees and all the people they ran out of business and the local businesses that relied on them...

      This does run up against a limit... when the average person's income has stagnated or shrunk to the point that mere hand to mouth survival with no appreciable discretionary income there is no more "fat" to scrape off the bones... Walmart is already hitting that wall... they have overworked skeleton crew staffs and their stores are not getting stocked properly and their customer base has less to spend...

      Amazon's model is to undersell everyone so completely that they become as close to the only source for anything that reality can allow... at that point they have no customer base worth mentioning... wages in China will go up and the artificially suppressed value of their currency will come closer to its real value internationally and the US
      and Amazon and Walmart will all suffer...

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 06:57:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lenin started where Marx left off (7+ / 0-)

    "The Communist Manifesto" ends with a call for socialist revolution.  But Marx was an economist, not a politician, and he had little or nothing to say about how the revolution is to be made and how the socialist society is to be built upon the ashes of capitalism and "false consciousness".  He only concludes that the revolution must be violent, but simply because there's no way the capitalists will voluntarily give up their property and the power that comes from it.

    Marx lived his whole life in Germany and died in 1883.  Lenin was born in 1870, was only attracted to leftism through his older brothers, and had no personal connection to Marx.  Lenin was a politician and his chief modification of Marx's ideas was to argue that Marx's "false consciousness" made it impossible for the working class to revolt on its own initiative the way Marx believed they had to.  Orwell echos this in 1984 when Winston both places his hope for change in the minimally indoctrinated and policed proles, but in a shining example of doublethink, also concludes that they have neither the education to recognize the system for what it is nor the will to overthrow it.

    Lenin concluded that a radical cabal of true believers, i.e. educated intellectuals like himself, was necessary to give structure to the masses' resentments and give focus to their actions in order to make the revolution.  Furthermore, Lenin was not a narodnik romantic; he believed that once the revolution was made, obviously everything couldn't just be handed to the proletarians who, without any education, would rapidly fall back into old habits.  The purpose of the Soviet state was to systematically demolish old ways of life and thought and pave the way for communism.  Mao only modified Lenin's philosophy to deal with the fact that China had no real urban proletariat; his only possible power base was farmers, not factory workers.

    Everything the Soviet Union became was 100 times more Lenin than Marx and 100 times more Stalin than Lenin.

    Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

    by Visceral on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 04:28:35 PM PDT

    •  I do think the Soviet state (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Visceral

      Got it right on the destruction of religion.  Lenin and his successors knew full well there could be no compromise with organized religion and did a good job dismantling and smashing it to pieces.  Even post-USSR much of eastern Europe has remained highly irreligious.  Sadly Russia has slipped back to some extent towards the Orthodox church and it's outdated dogmatic ways.

    •  I don't think you really meant to say that Marx (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassiodorus

      lived his entire life in Germany. He wrote Das Kapital while living in London and that is where he is buried.

      I had the occasion to visit his grave in Highgate on one of my visits there.

      Nothing human is alien to me.

      by WB Reeves on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 01:13:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well now, (0+ / 0-)

      Karl Marx was exiled to London! He wrote Capital in London. He is buried in London.

      I do agree that the Soviets were not based on Marx though!

      Marx only laid out how to run the economy, and they never followed his suggestion.

  •  One Problem with Douthat's Piece: (13+ / 0-)
    For now, even as the rich have gotten much, much richer, the 99 percent have shared in growing prosperity in real, measurable ways.
    Really? What are those measurable ways, I wonder? Douthat doesn't tell us. I suspect this is because these "measurable ways" are bogus , laughable, and would be ripped to shreds by people who know what they're talking about.

    I think One Percent front men like Douthat are getting a bit nervous-- SIX years out from the crash, our economy still sucks for tens for millions of people. However, for the One Percent, everything's just ducky.

    The longer the current obscene level of wealth inequity goes on, combined with our apparently terminally sucky economy, the LESS credible, sustainable is our particular brand of dog-eat-dog capitalism is for tens of millions of people-- and the MORE attractive an alternative system looks.

    "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

    by Superpole on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 04:38:14 PM PDT

    •  cable tv, cars, microwaves (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JJ In Illinois

      quality of food, quality of clothes, quality of education, ability to travel, etc...

      If you can't accept that there have been gains for the 99% in the last 30 years, then you're being just as dishonest as Douthat.

      But the 99% don't need to be destitute on the street in rags in order to make the argument for more equitable distribution of wealth. Our economy works better for everyone when the rich can't hoard. That's not Marxism, that's capitalism.

      Douthat is not half as clever as David Brooks (who's not that clever). And it's a shame that those two are what stands for conservative intellects.

      •  Capitalists are innately hoarders. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lucid, kurt, Superpole

        The only way in which they differ from mere hoarders is that they use investment as a means to their hoarding.  From Chapter 4 of Volume 1 of Capital:

        The circulation of money as capital is, on the contrary, an end in itself, for the expansion of value takes place only within this constantly renewed movement. The circulation of capital has therefore no limits. [6]

        As the conscious representative of this movement, the possessor of money becomes a capitalist. His person, or rather his pocket, is the point from which the money starts and to which it returns. The expansion of value, which is the objective basis or main-spring of the circulation M-C-M, becomes his subjective aim, and it is only in so far as the appropriation of ever more and more wealth in the abstract becomes the sole motive of his operations, that he functions as a capitalist, that is, as capital personified and endowed with consciousness and a will. Use-values must therefore never be looked upon as the real aim of the capitalist; [7] neither must the profit on any single transaction. The restless never-ending process of profit-making alone is what he aims at.

        One of the nicest things Marx did was to put paid to all of the dross about how capitalism is somehow "moral."  

        "Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust" -- Karl Marx

        by Cassiodorus on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:24:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  building a system on physical laws makes sense (0+ / 0-)

          the reason capitalism works is because it operates on as close to a physical law as we can come in human behavior. That is, wealth generally seeks to increase wealth.

          With that single "truth", you can set up a system of exchange that uses that impulse to generate a functioning and efficient economy. Like how you can use the dynamics of lift and thrust to lift a body off the ground.

          But lift and thrust must be understood and purposely guided in order to work. Maneuvers that are required when the plane is taking off would be catastrophic in the air (and vice-versa). The person designing the aircraft and the people flying the aircraft need to understand the full magnitude of the forces they are controlling.

      •  LOL... Having Cable TV Means I'm Wealthy? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cassiodorus

        Having a cell phone means I will one day retire comfortably.. be able to do what I want to do?

        Utter nonsense.

        Yes, there have been some gains for the 99% in the last thirty years-- but to imply this gain is somehow on par with the one percent is a joke.

        I'm more concerned about the last ten years and what lies ahead.

        In the last ten years, the U.S. childhood poverty rate went thru the roof. Food banks are barely keeping up with the demand for food aid. the number of people on disability increased what? 1,000%? Tens of millions of people still unemployed and under-employed.

        How are these indicators of "wealth" for the 99%?

        "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

        by Superpole on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 03:35:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "wealthy" is a strawman (0+ / 0-)

          The 99% are unquestionably better off than they were 30 years ago.

          That doesn't mean the system is working.

          It doesn't mean that we have nothing to complain about or our grievances about inequitable wealth distribution aren't legitimate.

    •  his argument - a common and foolish one - (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Superpole

      is the basic "look - people have cell phones, so they're richer" and "look - people have TVs, so they're richer" and so on.

      He ignores a number of different ways of measuring prosperity, and he - very conveniently - ignores the fact that many people don't have access to those particular items.

      •  But most people do (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JJ In Illinois, nextstep

        And the people who don't today have access wouldn't have had it in the past either.

        Given massive recent global improvements in living standards it is hard to argue that large numbers of people have been injured by capitalism or are worse off than they would have been without it.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:38:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not really. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lucid, Superpole

          We could eliminate world hunger in a couple of years -- just remove the capitalist control over food.  Most of those who are hungry are so because they can't afford food.

          "Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust" -- Karl Marx

          by Cassiodorus on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 09:20:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  really? (0+ / 0-)

          It's actually not hard to argue at all. Try drinking the water in West Virginia these days. Or are you already full from having drunk the kool-aid?

          What about the massive numbers of people who have been injured, poisoned, and killed as a result of "third world" mass production methods (both overseas and in the US)?

          And if your argument is that "poor people today would have been poor in the absence of capitalism" well, that's not much of an argument for "global improvement in living standards."

  •  The vast majority remain disenfranchised (5+ / 0-)

    in any real, meaningful sense.  We theoretically have the "franchise", to choose between whose millionaires will get to cheat and rob the rest of us.  Look at the charts of the u[pward redistribution of wealth over the past 40 years, partisan power has no impact one way or the other.  The one thing that momentarily stalls out the upward curve are the increasingly frequent recessions.  This is what reserving the whole of socioeconomic power to the capitalist class creates.

    People want to denounce the Marxist critique?  Fine.  In doing so they accept the obligation  to develop and implement a program that includes and empowers working people.  First of all respect, not the disdain given because the rich decide who gets how much, and "surprise, surprise" decide to keep everything above the Iron Law of Wages for themselves.  Then, according working people a voice, a fair share of the social surplus, and as Eugene Debs put it, a chance to "rise with the ranks, not from the ranks."  If they reject both marxist critique and the obligation to offer a meaningful alternative, then they are nothing but the bootboys of capitalist hegemony.  

    Pay no attention to the upward redistribution of wealth!

    by ActivistGuy on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 05:00:09 PM PDT

  •  Your recommended (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus, TomP

    Marx reading list is an excellent primer--actually adding Capital to the list makes it more than a primer. Tangentially, Engel's The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 is also a must read.

    You can wake someone who is sleeping, but you cannot wake someone who is pretending to sleep.

    by gnothis on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 05:36:19 PM PDT

    •  I thought of adding Engels -- (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gnothis, TomP

      "Dialectics of Nature," "Socialism Utopian and Scientific," and "Problems of Communism" are interesting.  Maybe another diary!

      "Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust" -- Karl Marx

      by Cassiodorus on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 06:30:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ah, Horse Feathers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus, claude

    This discussion isn't worthy of A Night at the Opera. So stop Harpoing on it.

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 05:46:23 PM PDT

  •  I don't make studying Marx's writings the center- (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ZhenRen, kkkkate

    piece of my socialist education. Time is too short, and I am too old and have hard choices to make about how to focus my limited energy. Yet, again and again I have learned what a wonderful visionary he was not only as an anti-capitalist but also as a humanitarian. He inspires me to be the best species-being I can be; to espouse a global society that is not only fair to all but also in environmentally sustainable balance, including in relation to soil chemistry; and to make work as liberating and enjoyable as possible for all. None of these things make it into a Douthat-type straw man column. But they are part of why I no longer run from being classified as a marxist although I do not knowingly seek out the classification and also have other important sources of inspiration and guidance. Solidarity.

    garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

    by Galtisalie on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 06:04:55 PM PDT

    •  Some people forget... (4+ / 0-)
      I don't make studying Marx's writings the center- (0+ / 0-)

      piece of my socialist education.

      ... that Marx didn't invent socialism, and wasn't the only thinker on the topic. I've been spending my time working through the wonderful world of anarchist literature (which hard core Marxists tend to denigrate) and one thing that becomes clear as a strain in anarchist thought is the working class often will spontaneously organize around anarchist principles without having read a word of Marx, much less anarchism.

      I've got Marx's major works on my Kindle and am presently slowly wading through Das Kapital (as a back burner effort), and am using some reading guides (Harvey), but frankly, my understanding of socialism, most importantly through the lens of my experience as a conscious worker, as well as through my readings of Kropotkin, Bakunin, Proudhon, and several other 19th century writers, in addition to some contemporary anarchist writers, and including several histories of such events as, for example, the Paris Commune, the anarchist Makhnovists in the Ukraine, the Spanish collectives during the Anarchist Revolution in Spain, as well as some anarchist critiques of Marx, leaves me feeling as if I understand anarchism and socialism sufficiently to know what it means me as part of the working class.

      "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

      by ZhenRen on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 06:27:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Under your inspiration, a year ago (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ZhenRen

        I ordered an old copy of one of the great works of Kropotkin. It arrived by snail mail while I was away and apparently was stolen. It had some "collectibility" value to go with its "collective" value. I had been so proud to get an old edition of something so cool for a low price.

        I guess if something deserved to be stolen it was that book. Serves me right for coveting something on the topic of mutual aid. But it did discourage me. I'm sure I'll read at least one of his works one day, but it would have been cool to read and make my margin notes on an old copy of a book that had helped one or more other humans a hundred years ago.

        I love your point about the organic concepts that seem to arrive spontaneously. Anarcho-socialism to me is an important concept and must play a key role in the future. Jesus was another socialist in my way of understanding. I also like Gramsci and Michael Harrington. I'm mixing and matching inspirations and guidance, and I thank you for your continuing contribution to my thought.

        garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

        by Galtisalie on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 07:10:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Great ironic story and I'm sorry you lost the book (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Galtisalie

          I wonder if the thief ended up reading it! A lot of books by Kropotkin can be found online in various formats.

          "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

          by ZhenRen on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 07:42:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Somewhat enlightenting lectures on youtube (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus

    from professor raymond geuss

    there are actually 7 these; this is just one

  •  Marx is never coming back (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Musial, dallasdunlap

    The idea that capital accumulates capital isn't some idea thought up by radicals in the 19th century; it's the very essence of capitalism. Nor is the idea that too much capital accumulation is bad.

    Douthat must know that. Which is why he switches from discussing economics (about which he clearly knows nothing) to his more comfortable mode of moral righteousness (about which he also knows nothing, but thinks he does).

    But there's no need to engage Douthat. He's just a troll in a suit (the NY Times has a matching set).

    Marxism isn't coming back. His name only survives as a bogeyman for the right. His ideas about capital and labor are stale.

    If we're going to stumble across a new organizing principle for our society it will be due to the work of a new generation of thinkers who address the inequities of our current model. They might well harken to Marx, but their ideas will be new, modern and completely different than anything we think about now.

    •  What would be nice (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lucid, mkor7

      is if we could get to a place where people (the majority working class) can have the freedom to decide for themselves, horizontally and from the bottom up, just how they want to self-manage their society with a "new organizing principle" without an owning class forcing upon them a social order from on high, much less scheduling such minutia as their bathroom breaks for them during the 50+ years of their working lives.

       

      "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

      by ZhenRen on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:21:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Macroeconomics is a function of the ongoing (0+ / 0-)

      civil war as Reagan proved. Plutocrats emerge as a ruling class by a coup'etat against the New Deal, tweak some tax and election laws and you get US crony capitalism merged with the MIC and the secret gvt. Lincoln and Sumner, FDR and Huey Long are more relevant to US politics than is Marx or really any economist. The Constitution is whatever you can get away with, the key to equality is to check judicial supremacy. The future of the US as a democracy has always been in the hands of nationalist lawyers who can get legislative victories.

      •  How do you get legislative victories (3+ / 0-)

        when 1)elections are auctions, and 2)the media, owned by the 1%, is used as a spiked club on any decent politician who actually makes it in there?

        Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 06:36:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Go to the link, you make moneyouttapolitics (0+ / 0-)

          your issue- has 90% approval, proven to attract non- voters as Ventura in Minnesota, proven to split the GOP as Perot did. This is not rocket science- its Dem Party history, legislative revolutions, New Deal, Civil rights. Read Ackerman, "We the People, The civil rights revolution." This is an easy sell. Women got women's suffrage without even having the vote. Afro-Americans got the vote by exposing the Bull Connors. This is a lot easier, more like the anti-saloon league where you need 20% of swing voters to flip the parties on the issue.

          •  Hmm. Well, maybe, but that's going to be (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Musial

            a long haul and there's a very ugly judiciary in the way. Still worth doing though.

            Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

            by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 02:04:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  There's no judiciary in the way-total myth- (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              SouthernLiberalinMD

              it's the Dems who are against the exceptions clause, afraid of taking Congress and doing something with it. The lessons of FDR, LBJ, are forgotten. The Dems are lost and the GOP knows it. This issue goes 90-10 against them and they are winning. Look at the GOP, they haven't changed their essential anti-New Deal message since 1936 and talk about Coolidge in the 1920's, they know what they're doing, you don't beat that without masterful LBJ-level legislative strategists.

  •  Great diary, great humor (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mkor7

    Especially liked your capsule review of Piketty's book:

    a book which compiles nearly seven hundred pages of evidence and several disavowals of Marx to show what the real marxists knew already: if you are rich and own capital, capital accumulation makes you richer.
    It has long struck me as a travesty of education in the US that the work of Marx (not to mention modern 'marxists') is so studiously ignored, when he was perhaps the most brilliant thinker in political economy of his century.  To teach modern history or economics without studying Marx strikes me as akin to doing high school physics without mentioning Newton or utilizing his theories of motion.

    Like other serious scientists of his time, Marx worked from the foundations of his predecessors' theories plus the evidence around him, building on Smith, Ricardo, Malthus, etc etc - exposing and correcting their flaws and weaknesses, clarifying their implications, extending their insights where he found them.

  •  Anyone who likes communism... (0+ / 0-)

    ...is free to get together with several thousand of their closest friends and voluntarily form a commune together. Nothing in the world prevents this event from happening.

    If that mode of economic operation is better than capitalism your commune will naturally increase in size.

    The fact that no (sizeable) workable commune presently exists tells you everything you need to know about how viable this economic model is. If a commune won't work on a small scale, how can it possibly work on a large scale?

    (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
    Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

    by Sparhawk on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:44:15 PM PDT

    •  To do that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RabbleON, mkor7

      we would need to liberate the resources thieved by the owning class.

      And as I've told you before, please stop calling yourself a "left libertarian". By all that you've indicated you're not left, but more along the lines of the faux libertarianism of the right wing. You're misusing the term.

      Chomsky explains this term well, and explains a little of the history:

      "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

      by ZhenRen on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:57:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Resources? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nextstep

        Resources are easy. You can pool your salaries and redistribute them however you want. If you want more resources, just convince upper-income people to join your commune. You don't even need 1%ers, just 10%ers. Draw up a standard contract that everyone signs when they enter the commune about how resources are distributed and you're all set.

        Like I said, if you can't do this on your own, how can you possibly expect a whole nation to do it?

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 09:17:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Pool salaries? (4+ / 0-)

          You'd have to be completely out of touch to make this comment. For most Americans, there is nothing left over to pool. With all the debts they carry, and the expenses of daily living, their just a couple of paychecks away from insolvency.

          Upper income people aren't motivated, since they are the beneficiaries of the inequality, so they won't be of any use, and won't be convinced.

          And as to doing it on our own, the best chance we had was the Spanish Revolution, but FDR made sure that would fail by allowing American corporations to fund the fascists with crucial supplies needed in their war effort, including thousands of trucks and badly needed petrol, which was given on credit, without which Francoists would have probably lost the war. With that, along with the anarchists being stabbed in the back by Stalin and the Communist Party, and the aid to Franco from the Nazis and the Mussolini, the anarchist revolution failed.

          Only by violence has capitalism won. And capitalists have demonstrated that they favor fascism over socialism, and authoritarianism over liberty, every time that choice has been faced.

          "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

          by ZhenRen on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 12:58:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I may just start hide rating you for the (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RabbleON, mkor7

          "left libertarian" lie.

          "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

          by ZhenRen on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 01:00:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Resources would be: Land, labor, capital (defined (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mkor7

          as goods used to produce other goods) and entrepreneurship.
             Potential communalists have labor and entrepreneurship but will probably be a little short on land (meaning natural resources) and capital.
             A communal enterprise is not impossible. You would need access to financing. A group of people could probably incorporate, whip up a business plan and marketing plan, and hit the banks up for loans.
            Ultimately, the goal would be to establish a going concern, with the employees as shareholder/owners.
             A good example of a commune is the religious based Koinonia Farm in Georgia.
             In fact, communal enterprises are doable. But you need a large enough group of people with a common vision.
             

          •  Very hard to do (0+ / 0-)

            as anyone who has tried to start a business would know. It's a goal worth pursuing, but still very difficult in a capitalist society which basically gives enormous staying power to the wealthy, making new start ups without sufficient funding a perilous endeavor.

            Have you ever tried to get business financing?

            It's almost impossible for most. People usually put up their home equity (if they're lucky to have a home, much less a home with enough equity), thus risking everything their families have built up. And most new enterprises fail.

            That's capitalism.

            "The political arena leaves one no alternative, one must either be a dunce or a rogue." Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays

            by ZhenRen on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 11:11:42 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  maybe you should check out Mondragon (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mkor7, ZhenRen

          http://en.wikipedia.org/...

          A communal corporation... that succeeds? not new.

          and there are cooperative flat organizations/companies in China, England and the US too and in many other countries... plenty of other flavors world wide... from local source communal lending in the 3rd world to crowd sourcing moving to new areas...

          no need to try and match some theoretical "communist" society to the nth degree... when these kinds of things already exist

          Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

          by IreGyre on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 07:15:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  What a load. (3+ / 0-)
      Anyone who likes communism... (0+ / 0-)

      ...is free to get together with several thousand of their closest friends and voluntarily form a commune together. Nothing in the world prevents this event from happening.

      Are you going to donate the land and (now-privatized) resources for my several thousand close friends to live upon -- out of the kindness of your super-rich heart?

      "Assume man to be man and his relationship to the world to be a human one: then you can exchange love only for love, trust for trust" -- Karl Marx

      by Cassiodorus on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 09:22:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Your confusion is astounding (0+ / 0-)

      Marx never advocated communism. He advocated an economic model where Labor dictated the distribution of surplus value, not the corporate board of directors.

  •  Welcome to the Casino. Let Me Give You Some Chips. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, mkor7, SouthernLiberalinMD

    It's not hard to understand Marxism (small or large cap). All you have to know is that capitalism is like a casino.

    Have you ever noticed how casinos are Ritzy? They're large. They're loud. They are open all night. They're gold plated (it's just that the plate is very, very thin!). That's because they have all your money if you play there.

    How can  that be? You win a little, you lose a little. It all seems fair.

    The reason is the house percentage. On average, a small percent of what you gamble goes to the house. It's a very small amount, often only a few percent. The secret is that it happens on every bet.

    Just like when you buy something in the store. The owner gets a small percent, a profit. A tiny fraction goes to the rich, up the chain, with each transaction. A dollar spent is divided into two parts: one for the investor, one for the worker.

    But what happens when the worker spends their part of the dollar? One part goes to another worker, and the remainder goes to the rich. After enough transactions, it's ALL gone to the rich.

    Do we need a revolution to stop this? No, of course not. If we had that, eventually (after a lot of people died) we'd have exactly the same thing, because no matter what you do, some part of the transaction is going to go to the worker and some part to an investor.

    What we do need is a progressive tax.

    Without a progressive tax, all this money pools at the top of the social income ladder. It goes into the rich pool, behind a gate, where it is used to float yachts and buy limousines.

    You saw what happened after the Bush tax cuts, right? Not long later we had a recession. What a shock! They drained all the money out of the working part of the economy and it stopped working!

    Capital will accumulate. If you don't like it, you have to use economic tools to stop it. One is a progressive tax. Another is a minimum wage. These are the real tools of Marxism,  not the gun.

    •  Sure, I'm with the reformists too, but LT (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mkor7, Liberal Thinking

      how exactly do you get progressive tax or progressive anything without the rule of law and democratic governance?

      Organizing the non-Lesters is a good start, for sure, but there's no denying we're in a bad spot and this problem is an exceedingly tough nut to crack. It's an economic and political trap that was designed 40 years ago and we're at the end stages of it.

      Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 06:00:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Welcome my friends.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Liberal Thinking

      Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 02:07:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Liberalism was The Scourge Of Marxists (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, IreGyre

    So it is amusing when you see liberal proposals come up to deal with inequality (we are not talking nationalization of industry, we are talking modest progressive taxation etc.) they bring up the boogeyman of Marxism to try and oppose it. The reality if one id looking for the middle ground in the battle between left and right, it is the liberals. We have the extremist  right hunkered down with Bundy. You have the rare Marxists. And you have the liberals in the middle. If the Broders of the world are looking for the middle ground of compromise, the liberals are there waiting for them.

  •  Even if Marxism is coming back (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe the question the Right should be asking is, "Why?"

    I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. - Susan B. Anthony Everything good a man can be, a dog already is. - pajoly

    by pajoly on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 04:44:34 AM PDT

  •  Well, what's really going on is (3+ / 0-)

    as one of the lead guys at Davos said a couple years ago, they're on the verge of losing their credibility.  The stories they tell about capitalism to make its sins seem OK are falling apart (I don't think people on any part of the political spectrum understand how momentous the bailout was in puncturing a lot of Wall St's own mythology about itself, and the mythology of capitalism generally. The idea of meritocracy, for one, got its worst blow in fifty years, at least in the eyes of Americans. And that matters because if those mythologies had an address, America would be it. I don't think there's anywhere in the world that believes in these narratives more strongly than the United States. Losing credibility here would be worrisome for the people who defend the status quo.)

    Not only is the meritocracy narrative getting some holes in its tires, the idea that people who aren't rich can do well, or at least do OK, under capitalism is also getting massive holes shot in it--by the captains of capitalism themselves (can't blame a terrorist or a hippie or a protester for this one, son: you did it your own damned self). This is what happens when you trash the New Deal and show everybody who isn't rich exactly how worthless you think they are, driving them downward into ever-increasing poverty with impunity while the governments hover in the background asking you if you'd like a warm-up on your coffee or a more comfortable chair.

    They're particularly nervous because the young in America don't believe the narratives of the Cold War (why should they? most of them weren't born until well after the Cold War ended). If the majority of a generation in America has no faith in capitalism, that's, um, bad for capitalism. If they don't automatically hate socialism, that's even worse. And the evidence is, they don't (again, why should they:  most of them were born well after 1989. None of this red-baiting stuff means squat to them).

    Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:07:13 AM PDT

  •  So this is kind of like an inoculation (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mkor7, IreGyre

    they're injecting Marxism into the debate in order to be able to develop ideological immunities against it. And boy, do they need them:  their own ideology is vulnerable right now due to what amounts to an auto-immune disease.

    And yes, the fact that we don't read Capital in the U.S. is a problem:  I read the Manifesto in high school, but managed to get through college and the first two years of grad school without having Capital assigned to me; it may be a coincidence but the professor who finally did assign it to me was British. Turns out it would have helped a lot to read it in college, as a lot of French literary criticism would have made a hell of a lot more sense if I'd known they all shared Capital as a cornerstone text they had all read and the source of ideas that they shared as a common language; as an American non-French speaking student, I was shut out of those texts on two counts.

    That said, I think Marx's position in the Manifesto is remarkably similar to the narrative advanced by the worst defenders of capitalism at any cost:  the hyper-capitalists love the narrative of a zero-sum game played between classes that results in a war, the more apocalyptic the better. People like Dimon and that asshole who wrote about the Progressive Krystallnacht in the WSJ recently practically jack off to narratives like that--they just want to change who wins at the end of the story. And that's why they hate the New Deal:  whatever its failings and hypocrisies, the New Deal is a story of survival through coming together as a people and using democratic governance and the rule of law to restrain the excesses of reckless greed. They hate, hate, hate that narrative.

    Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:18:51 AM PDT

  •  This is intellectually contemptible. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mkor7
    But what’s felt to be evaporating could turn out to be cultural identity — family and faith, sovereignty and community — much more than economic security.
    I've known college freshmen that could knock that pathetic excuse for a thesis down in two minutes. Try again, asshole.

    Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:20:46 AM PDT

  •  I don't know (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus, mkor7
    It was never really true that (as Shenk said) "all that socialists needed to seal their victory was a revolution, which capitalism’s contradictions would deliver to them"
    Seems like capitalism's contradictions are doing their damnedest to deliver said revolution gift-wrapped. Like most reformists, I've been really wishing they would fucking stop before they manage to invent the apocalyptic class war that they want at least as much as, and probably more than, Marx did. (Are they trying to decrease the surplus population?)

     In retrospect, it may have been a mistake to challenge their assumption that they are pillars of the community; with that fiction removed, they seem to have turned into anti-societal and often antisocial piranha intent on maximizing profit at any cost despite the fact that they already have massive wealth; the argument that George Bailey makes to the board of the Building and Loan would get laughed out of the room if presented to capitalists these days. They know they're being horrible. That's why their fantasy life tends toward Krystallnacht.

    Just a minute... just a minute. Now, hold on, Mr. Potter. You're right when you say my father was no businessman. I know that. Why he ever started this cheap, penny-ante Building and Loan, I'll never know. But neither you nor anyone else can say anything against his character, because his whole life was... why, in the 25 years since he and his brother, Uncle Billy, started this thing, he never once thought of himself. Isn't that right, Uncle Billy? He didn't save enough money to send Harry away to college, let alone me. But he did help a few people get out of your slums, Mr. Potter, and what's wrong with that? Why... here, you're all businessmen here. Doesn't it make them better citizens? Doesn't it make them better customers? You... you said... what'd you say a minute ago? They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home. Wait? Wait for what? Until their children grow up and leave them? Until they're so old and broken down that they... Do you know how long it takes a working man to save $5,000? Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about... they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn't think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they're cattle. Well in my book, my father died a much richer man than you'll ever be!

    Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:29:53 AM PDT

  •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus
    there's a tradition called "marxism" because Marx addressed philosophical issues which weren't being addressed elsewhere.  
    Yeah, that's what happens when you try to monopolize the conversation, capitalists:  some upstart jerk somewhere invents a new discursive "business" and challenges you to a competition, and after that it's nothing but work, work, work, all day long.








    Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 05:36:28 AM PDT

  •  In related news (0+ / 0-)

    gotta get ready to go downtown for the opening of the week-long anti-KXL protest, put on by the Cowboys and Indians alliance (ranchers and indigenous folks camping out on the Mall).

    Good discussion, Cass, thanks for the diary.

    Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 06:09:24 AM PDT

  •  Communist Manifesto after Tourism (0+ / 0-)

    There is a spectator haunting Europe . . .

  •  The Marxists Internet Archive (0+ / 0-)

    is the largest publisher of Marx's works (along with a lot of Marxists). I think the author of this essay here for the 'plug' of using the MIA and for providing links to it. The MIA is also available to you for purchase on a hard drive, details are here and all proceeds goes to supporting the MIA:

    https://www.marxists.org/...

    Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

    by davidwalters on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 01:58:10 PM PDT

  •  The GOP having NOTHING at all to offer… (0+ / 0-)

    …they are thus using the cheapest thing you can think of: boogeymen.

    This might get them the votes of scared people, who would already give it to them. But what it also does is FOREVER chase away non partisan rational people with their asinine, low level and intellectually fraudulent ways.

    For one, I'm no democrat or liberal, but they've made me into an anti-conservatve. Well done, assholes.

  •  Well Said, I Say! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus

    Now...can we move on to what "socialism" looks like?

    First order of business; everyone has the right to a job (ie, contribute).  

    It sounds crazy, but giving everyone the right to work would go a long way to rebuilding lost parts of American culture.  

    The symbol for the Republican party shouldn't be an elephant -- it should be a unicorn.

    by Deadicated Marxist on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 07:54:04 PM PDT

  •  There's reason the 'Manifesto' is taboo in 'Murk (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus

    (The bourgeoisie)... has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

    The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers.

    The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation. "

    keep in mind - Economics is a Social Science, not a real Science.  Communism is an economic theory.

    You can have freedom or ignorance. Never both. - me

    by nolagrl on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 09:01:43 PM PDT

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