3/20/2007

Mr. Peanut meets the business end of a good knight...

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Marxism refers to the philosophy and social theory based on Karl Marx's work on one hand, and the political practice based on Marxist theory on the other hand (namely, parts of the First International during Marx's time, communist parties and later states). Marxism discovers in Western European history several stages fundamentally determined by the material conditions at each stage - this means the relationships which people enter into with one another in order to fulfill their basic needs, for instance to feed and clothe themselves and their families (See Marx and Engels, The German Ideology):

The First Stage being Primitive Communism - hunters and gatherers with no private property.

The Second Stage is a Slave Society, the beginning of "class society" where private property appears. A few people "own" all the land and everyone else has nothing; these people are slaves working for no money. Slave society collapsed when it exhausted itself. The need to keep conquering more slaves made problems with maintaining the vast empire that resulted, and slave society (the Roman Empire) found itself in a dead end, and was eventually overrun by what it called "barbarians".

The Third Stage is Feudalism, where there are many classes such as kings, lords, and serfs, some little more than slaves. Eventually a merchant class develops. Funded by the merchants' riches, a capitalist class emerges within this feudal society, but the old feudal kings and lords cannot accept the new technological changes the capitalists want. The capitalist are driven by the profit motive, but are prevented from developing further profits by feudal society where, for instance, the serfs are tied to the land and cannot become industrial workers and wage earners. Marx says Then begins an epoch of social revolution (The French Revolution of 1789, Cromwell in Britain, etc) since the political organisation of society (or the property relations) is preventing the development of the capitalists' productive forces. [1]

The Fourth Stage is a Free Market Society. Here the profit motive rules, and people, freed from serfdom, work for the capitalists for wages and the capitalist class are free to spread their free market around the world. Laws are made to protect wealth and the wealthy. But, according to Marx, capitalism, like slave society and feudalism, also has failings, inner contradictions, which will lead to revolution. The working class to which the capitalist class gave birth, is the "grave digger" of capitalism. The worker is not paid the full value of what he or she produces. The rest is surplus value - the capitalist's profit, what Marx calls the "unpaid labour of the working class", and the capitalists are forced by competition to drive down the wages of the working class to increase their profits. Marx believed that capitalism always leads to monopolies and leads the people to poverty; the better the free market works, the sooner it will destroy itself.

The Fifth Stage (yet-to-be-attained) is Communism, although Lenin, basing himself on a thorough study of the writings of Marx and Engels, divided this into two stages: first socialism, and then later, communism (Lenin: The State and revolution). By now, the whole process stops and the real problem is seen to have been: private property. Now everyone has plenty of private possessions, but no-one can exploit another person for personal gain through the ownership of vast monopolies, etc. Classes are thus abolished, and class society ended. Eventually the state will "wither away" and become obsolete, as people administer their own lives without the need for governments. Few applications of historical materialism, the philosophical system used by Marxism to explain the past progressions of human society and predict the nature of communism, account for a stage beyond communism.

Marx, a 19th century socialist philosopher, economist, journalist, and revolutionary, often in collaboration with Friedrich Engels, developed a critique of society which he claimed was both scientific and revolutionary. This critique achieved its most systematic (albeit unfinished) expression in his most famous work, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy (1867), originally published in German as Das Kapital.

Nevertheless, there have been numerous debates among Marxists over how to interpret Marx's writings and how to apply his concepts to current events and conditions. The legacy of Marx's thought is bitterly contested among proponents of numerous viewpoints who claim to be Marx's most accurate interpreters. There have been many academic theories, social movements, political parties and governments that lay claim to being founded on Marxist principles.

Indeed, academic theorising on Marxism is so widespread that there are a number of different schools of Marxism in addition to the classical Marxism of Marx and Engels. Similarly, the use of Marxist theory in politics, including the social democratic movements in 20th century Europe, the Soviet Union and other Eastern bloc countries, Mao and other revolutionaries in agrarian developing countries have added new ideas to Marx and otherwise transmuted Marxism so much that it is difficult to define its core.

Anonymous said...

Classical Marxism
For more details on this topic, see Classical Marxism.
Classical Marxism refers to the body of theory directly expounded by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The term "Classical Marxism" is often used to distinguish between "Marxism" as it is broadly understood and "what Marx believed", which is not necessarily the same thing. For example, shortly before he died in 1883, Marx wrote a letter to the French workers' leader Jules Guesde and to his own son-in-law Paul Lafargue, both of whom claimed to represent Marxist principles, in which he accused them of "revolutionary phrase-mongering" and of denying the value of reformist struggles[citation needed]. Paraphrasing Marx: "If that is Marxism, then I am not a Marxist". As the American Marx scholar Hal Draper remarked, "there are few thinkers in modern history whose thought has been so badly misrepresented, by Marxists and anti-Marxists alike."

Classical Marxism can also refer to the second era of Marxism, where an organization known as the Second International propagated the expansion of socialism internationally.


[edit] Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels

Karl Marx - Co-founder of Marxism (with Engels)Karl Heinrich Marx (May 5, 1818, Trier, Germany – March 14, 1883, London) was an immensely influential German philosopher, political economist, and socialist revolutionary. Marx addressed a wide range of issues, including alienation and exploitation of the worker, the capitalist mode of production, and historical materialism. He is most famous, however, for his analysis of history in terms of class struggles, as summed up in the opening line of the introduction to the Communist Manifesto: "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." The influence of his ideas, already popular during his life, was greatly broadened by the victory of the Russian Bolsheviks in the October Revolution of 1917. Indeed, there are few parts of the world which were not significantly touched by Marxian ideas in the course of the 20th Century.


Friedrich Engels was the co-founder and a proponent of Marxism.Friedrich Engels (November 28, 1820, Wuppertal – August 5, 1895, London) was a 19th-century German political philosopher. He developed communist theory alongside Marx.

The two first met in person in September 1844. They discovered that they had similar views on philosophy and on capitalism and decided to work together, producing a number of works including Die heilige Familie (The Holy Family). After the French authorities deported Marx from France in January 1845, Engels and Marx decided to move to Belgium, which then permitted greater freedom of expression than some other countries in Europe. Engels and Marx returned to Brussels in January 1846, where they set up the Communist Correspondence Committee.

In 1847 Engels and Marx began writing a pamphlet together, based on Engels' The Principles of Communism. They completed the 12,000-word pamphlet in six weeks, writing it in such a manner as to make communism understandable to a wide audience, and published it as The Communist Manifesto in February 1848. In March, Belgium expelled both Engels and Marx. They moved to Cologne, where they began to publish a radical newspaper, the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. By 1849, both Engels and Marx had to leave Germany and moved to London. The Prussian authorities applied pressure on the British government to expel the two men, but Prime Minister Lord John Russell refused. With only the money that Engels could raise, the Marx family lived in extreme poverty.

After Marx's death in 1883, Engels devoted much of the rest of his life to editing and translating Marx's writings. However, he also contributed significantly to feminist theory, seeing for instance the concept of monogamous marriage as having arisen because of the domination of man over women. In this sense, he ties communist theory to the family, arguing that men have dominated women just as the capitalist class has dominated workers. Engels died in London in 1895.


[edit] Early influences
For more details on this topic, see Influences on Karl Marx.
Classical Marxism was influenced by a number of different thinkers. These thinkers can be divided roughly into 3 groups:

German Philosophers including: Immanuel Kant, Georg Hegel, Ludwig Feuerbach
English and Scottish Political Economists including: Adam Smith & David Ricardo
French Social Theorists including: Jean-Jacques Rousseau; Charles Fourier; Henri de Saint-Simon; Pierre-Joseph Proudhon; Flora Tristan; Louis Blanc
Other influences include:

Antique materialism
Giambattista Vico
Lewis Morgan

[edit] Main ideas
The main ideas to come out of Marx and Engels' collective works include:

means of production: The means of production is the combination of the means of labor and the subject of labor used by workers to make products. Means of labor include machines, tools, plant and equipment, infrastructure, and so on: "all those things with the aid of which man [sic] acts upon the subject of labor, and transforms it." (Institute of Economics of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R., 1957, p xiii). The subject of labor includes raw materials and materials directly taken from nature. Means of production by themselves produce nothing -- labor power is needed for production to take place.
mode of production: The mode of production is a specific combination of productive forces (including the means of production and labour power) and social and technical relations of production (including the property, power and control relations governing society's productive assets, often codified in law; cooperative work relations and forms of association; relations between people and the objects of their work, and the relations between social classes).
base and superstructure: The "base-structure" metaphor relates the idea that the economic relations between people with regard to the means of production forms the basis for a superstructure of ideas, social, religious and political institutions and legal frameworks that is ultimately determined by this basis. For Marx, the base determines the superstructure, though this relationship is not a one way process - it is reflexive, the base determines the superstructure in the first instance and remains the foundation of a form of social organisation which then can act again upon both parts of the base-structure metaphor. The relationship between superstructure and base is considered to be a dialectical one, not a distinction between actual entities "in the world".
class consciousness: Class consciousness refers to the self-awareness of a social class and its capacity to act in its own rational interests.
ideology: Because the ruling class controls the society's means of production, the superstructure of society, including its ideology, will be determined according to what is in the ruling class's best interests. Therefore the ideology of a society is of enormous importance since it confuses the alienated groups and can create false consciousness such as commodity fetishism (perceiving labor as capital ~ a degradation of human life).
historical materialism: Historical materialism was first articulated by Marx, although he himself never used the term. It looks for the causes of developments and changes in human societies in the way in which humans collectively make the means to life, thus giving an emphasis, through economic analysis, to everything that co-exists with the economic base of society (e.g. social classes, political structures, ideologies).
political economy: The term "political economy" originally meant the study of the conditions under which production was organized in the nation-states of the new-born capitalist system. Political economy, then, studies the mechanism of human activity in organizing material, and the mechanism of distributing the surplus or deficit that is the result of that activity. Political economy studies the means of production, specifically capital, and how this manifests itself in economic activity.
exploitation: Marx refers to the exploitation of an entire segment or class of society by another. He sees it as being an inherent feature and key element of capitalism and free markets. The profit gained by the capitalist is the difference between the value of the product made by the worker and the actual wage that the worker receives; in other words, capitalism functions on the basis of paying workers less than the full value of their labour, in order to enable the capitalist class to turn a profit.
alienation: Marx refers to the alienation of people from aspects of their "human nature" (Gattungswesen, usually translated as 'species-essence' or 'species-being'). Alienation describes objective features of a person's situation in capitalism - it isn't necessary for them to believe or feel that they are alienated. He believes that alienation is a systematic result of capitalism.

[edit] Class
Marx believed that the identity of a social class is derived from its relationship to the means of production (as opposed to the notion that class is determined by wealth alone, i.e., lower class, middle class, upper class).

Marx describes several social classes in capitalist societies, including primarily:

the proletariat: "those individuals who sell their labour power, (and therefore add value to the products), and who, in the capitalist mode of production, do not own the means of production". According to Marx, the capitalist mode of production establishes the conditions that enable the bourgeoisie to exploit the proletariat due to the fact that the worker's labour power generates an added value greater than the worker's salary.
the bourgeoisie: those who "own the means of production" and buy labour power from the proletariat, who are recompensed by a salary, thus exploiting the proletariat.
The bourgeoisie may be further subdivided into the very wealthy bourgeoisie and the petit bourgeoisie. The petit bourgeoisie are those who employ labour, but may also work themselves. These may be small proprietors, land-holding peasants, or trade workers. Marx predicted that the petit bourgeoisie would eventually be destroyed by the constant reinvention of the means of production and the result of this would be the forced movement of the vast majority of the petit bourgeoisie to the proletariat. Marx also identified the lumpenproletariat, a stratum of society completely disconnected from the means of production.

Mr. Peanut said...

If you are having trouble sleeping at night and you need assistance, check out www.ontheborderline.net. It will having you seeking electro-shock therapy in the morning. Look for me there. It's long in the middle of the night. Hell, it's lonely during the day watching the Big Red Dog in nothing but a pink headband and a peanut balancing in my navel.

Ayn Randers said...

Libertarianism in One Lesson

Part of the "Critiques of Libertarianism" site.
http://world.std.com/~mhuben/libindex.html

Last updated 01/28/07.

No, this isn't David Bergland's evangelistic text. This is an outsider's view of the precepts of libertarianism. I hope you can laugh at how close this is to real libertarianism!

Introduction

One of the most attractive features of libertarianism is that it is basically a very simple ideology. Maybe even simpler than Marxism, since you don't have to learn foreign words like "proletariat".

This brief outline will give you most of the tools you need to hit the ground running as a freshly indoctrinated libertarian ideologue. Go forth and proselytize!

# Philosophy

* In the beginning, man dwelt in a state of Nature, until the serpent Government tempted man into Initial Coercion.
* Government is the Great Satan. All Evil comes from Government, and all Good from the Market, according to the Ayatollah Rand.
* We must worship the Horatio Alger fantasy that the meritorious few will just happen to have the lucky breaks that make them rich. Libertarians happen to be the meritorious few by ideological correctness. The rest can go hang.
* Government cannot own things because only individuals can own things. Except for corporations, partnerships, joint ownership, marriage, and anything else we except but government.
* Parrot these arguments, and you too will be a singular, creative, reasoning individualist.
* Parents cannot choose a government for their children any more than they can choose language, residence, school, or religion.
* Taxation is theft because we have a right to squat in the US and benefit from defense, infrastructure, police, courts, etc. without obligation.
* Magic incantations can overturn society and bring about libertopia. Sovereign citizenry! The 16th Amendment is invalid! States rights!
* Objectivist/Neo-Tech Advantage #69i : The true measure of fully integrated honesty is whether the sucker has opened his wallet. Thus sayeth the Profit Wallace. Zonpower Rules Nerdspace!
* The great Zen riddle of libertarianism: minimal government is necessary and unnecessary. The answer is only to be found by individuals.

# Government

* Libertarians invented outrage over government waste, bureaucracy, injustice, etc. Nobody else thinks they are bad, knows they exist, or works to stop them.
* Enlightenment comes only through repetition of the sacred mantra "Government does not work" according to Guru Browne.
* Only government is force, no matter how many Indians were killed by settlers to acquire their property, no matter how many blacks were enslaved and sold by private companies, no matter how many heads of union members are broken by private police.
* Money that government touches spontaneously combusts, destroying the economy. Money retained by individuals grows the economy, even if literally burnt.
* Private education works, public education doesn't. The publicly educated masses that have grown the modern economies of the past 150 years are an illusion.
* Market failures, trusts, and oligopolies are lies spread by the evil economists serving the government as described in the "Protocols of the Elders of Statism".
* Central planning cannot work. Which is why all businesses internally are run like little markets, with no centralized leadership.
* Paternalism is the worst thing that can be inflicted upon people, as everyone knows that fathers are the most hated and reviled figures in the world.
* Government is like fire, a dangerous servant and a fearsome master. Therefore, we should avoid it entirely, as we do all forms of combustion.

# Regulation

* The FDA is solely responsible for any death or sickness where it might have prevented treatment by the latest unproven fad.
* Children, criminals, death cultists, and you all have the same inalienable right to own any weaponry: conventional, chemical, biological, or nuclear.
* All food, drugs, and medical treatments should be entirely unregulated: every industry should be able to kill 300,000 per year in the US like the tobacco industry.
* If you don't have a gun, you are not a libertarian. If you do have a gun, why don't you have even more powerful armament?
* Better to abolish all regulations, consider everything as property, and solve all controversy by civil lawsuit over damages. The US doesn't have enough lawyers, and people who can't afford to invest many thousands of dollars in lawsuits should shut up.

# Libertarian Party

* The Libertarian Party is well on its way to dominating the political landscape, judging from its power base of 100+ elected dogcatchers and other important officials after 25 years of effort.
* The "Party of Oxymoron": "Individualists unite!"
* Flip answers are more powerful than the best reasoned arguments, which is why so many libertarians are in important government positions.
* It's time the new pro-freedom libertarian platform was implemented; child labor, orphanages, sweatshops, poorhouses, company towns, monopolies, trusts, cartels, blacklists, private goons, slumlords, etc.
* Libertarianism "rules" Internet political debate the same way US Communism "ruled" pamphleteering.
* No compromise from the "Party of Principle". Justice, happiness, liberty, guns, and other good stuff come only from rigidly adhering to inflexible dogmas.
* Minimal government is whatever we say it is, and we don't agree.
* Government is "moving steadily in a libertarian direction" with every change libertarians approve of; no matter if it takes one step forward and two steps backwards.
* Yes, the symbol of the Libertarian Party is a Big Government Statue. It's not supposed to be funny or ironic!

# Political Debate Strategy

* Count only the benefits of libertarianism, count only the costs of government.
* Five of a factoid beats a full argument.
* All historical examples are tainted by statism, except when they favor libertarian claims.
* Spiritually baptize the deceased as libertarians because they cannot protest the anachronism: Locke, Smith, Paine, Jefferson, Spooner, etc.
* The most heavily armed libertarian has the biggest dick and thus the best argument.
* The best multi-party democratic republics should be equated to the worst dictatorships for the purposes of denouncing statism. It's only a matter of degree.
* Inviolate private property is the only true measure of freedom. Those without property have the freedom to try to acquire it. If they can't, let them find somebody else's property to complain on.
* Private ownership is the cure for all problems, despite the historical record of privately owned states such as Nazi Germany, Czarist and Stalinist Russia, and Maoist China.
* Require perfection as the only applicable standard to judge government: libertarianism, being imaginary, cannot be fairly judged to have flaws.
* Only libertarian economists' Nobel Prizes count: the other economists and Nobel Prize Committee are mistaken.
* Any exceptional case of private production proves that government ought not to be involved.

Counter image omitted.

Copyright 2005 by Mike Huben ( mhuben@world.std.com ).
This document may be freely distributed for non-commercial purposes if it is reproduced in its textual entirety, with this notice intact.