A Marxist indictment of capitalism — and why the indictment must be wrong

The Anchoress posted at her blog a semi-animated video by a self-avowed Marxist explaining why Marxism, not capitalism, will save the world.  I have to admit that I didn’t watch it.  It wasn’t the content that drove me away, it was the choppy visuals, which trigger migraines.  Having just beaten back a migraine, I wasn’t willing to go for round two.  If you want to watch it, though, please do so, here.

Without having seen the video, though, I can still tell you that anything it says is fallacious, to the extent that it tries to argue that Marxism is a better system than Capitalism.  I know this because I’ve had a lifetime to consider that argument.

My father, who was raised a Communist before dying a Reagan Democrat, kept believing to the day he died that Communism could somehow work, if it was just done right.  The problem, in his Communism steeped brain, was that the Russians, and the Chinese, and the Cubans, and the North Koreans just weren’t doing it right.   Back in those days, since I was young, and hadn’t refined my thoughts, I argued with him simply by reiterating that because Communism hadn’t yet been done right, no matter the time or place tried, that alone was a pretty good indication that it couldn’t be done right.

Those arguments are long gone, but I have finally distilled the principles that, in my mind at least, establish conclusively that Marxism, which draws all power away from the individual and vests that power in the State, can never be done right.  A few epigrammatic statements about the State are all I need:

  • The State has no conscience.
  • The State will always put its collective survival ahead of the living, breathing “cogs” that animate it (and it will dehumanize those cogs to the status of disposable cockroaches if need be to maintain its survival).
  • The State is incapable of rapid response to changing situations (with the federal response to the Gulf Spill being the ultimate example of the rigidity that renders it incapable of abandoning its perfect standards in the face of an overwhelming amount of spilled oil).
  • An all-powerful State, without any competition, has no incentive to provide good service, whatever that service may be (health care, housing, etc.).  Competition is the spur to quality.
  • Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  This was true before Lord Acton said it, and it will be true in perpetuity.  If you vest all power in the State, you inevitably have, not only absolute corruption, but you have absolute corruption with unfettered life-and-death power over every living and breathing “cog” under its control.

Your comments about either the Anchoress’ video or my conclusions?

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

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  • suek

    Christianity has many of the same goals as Marxism.  The huge massive difference is twofold: first, Christianity considers the individual as paramount, even as it requires the individual to give up their own desires.  Second, Marxism – recognizing that human perfection is impossible, no matter what it says about the innate goodness of mankind and the importance of early indoctrination and raising of children – _demands_ compliance and either severely punishes or disposes of those who are unwilling to comply.  The good of the many is paramount to the good of the few.  Christianity assumes we are not perfect and places the demand on the individual to achieve perfection – but leaves it up to individual choice.  Marxism assumes we are perfect and simply eliminates those who do not comply.
    There is not perfect world, and there never will be -maybe _that’s_ why so many leftists are so willing to become environmentalists in favor of eliminating the human race.  Maybe they actually recognize that animals are not moral beings responsible for their actions but humans _are_.  They despair of achieving the perfection of humankind that they desire, and so – since perfect is so often the enemy of the good – would rather destroy imperfect humankind.  Maybe.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    They’re not going to destroy everybody. They’re going to keep themselves pristine and healthy, building castles in the middle of verdant forests and crystal blue sea sides.


    Never had a migraine, but if I continued watching beyond 30 seconds I could count on having my first.
    Your bullet points could be said of where we are in time now. My observation, in the Gulf, is that the governor and the fishermen have a better grasp of what needs to be done and were ready and willing to help fix it. Umpteen levels up and along the road, it’s nothing but too many cooks[cogs] in the kitchen, who hate to stand and stir.
    suek’s comment about Marxism is right on target
    it demands compliance and either severely punishes or disposes of those who are unwilling to comply
    The coastline is certainly being punished and so is Governor Brewer [failing to comply]. The rise of the grass roots Tea Party, the poll after poll that said No, to TARP, No to health care reform as passed, No, to a half dozen pieces of legislation and yet … here we are on the eve of July 4th and damn if I haven’t noticed that Capitalism has a new wardrobe, veiled in Marxism.
    I would add that Marxism or Communism insures that  the masses are kept needy, unable to mature, make decisions and assume responsibility –  a natural transition for the I ‘heart’ Che crowd, who are more than happy to transfer their suckling urges from mom and dad purse strings to the state.

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  • JKB

    You could substitute bureaucracy for State in each of your bullet points with no change in meaning.  Which, of course, makes since as Marxism is just bureaucracy dominate over citizen, leader, legislators and judiciary.  Just think about it, in Marxism, the bureaucrats of the party or of the state govern every action.  A despotic leader, such as Stalin, can corral the bureaucrats for a while but they eventually die whereas the bureaucracy is eternal.
    When I worked for the feds, I tried to not be evil long before Google co-opted the ideal.  It isn’t easy to not be evil when you are a cog in the most evil creation of man, bureaucracy.  I was fortunate as I worked in an operational environment most of the time where the dynamism kept the bureaucracy churning.  This was not so when you got into the headquarters environment where hundreds or thousands of self-serving decisions rarely left their victims unscathed.  That is the real tragedy, Marxism/bureaucracy is not evil by design but by action.  Cogs at every level make self-serving, even if well meaning, decisions that reward or punish smaller cogs, and sometimes larger cogs depending on alignment with the actuators goals.  It is in this way that marxism has no conscience since each self-serving decision is made independent of others and permitted to interact without thought, unless, of course, the ire of a powerful cog is provoked.

  • http://connectthedots2006.blogspot.com ConnectTheDots

    I just had an “aha” moment — I’m pretty sure Gene Roddenberry was a Marxist. From the end of Star Trek II/beginning of Star Trek III:
    Captain Spock: Don’t grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh…
    Kirk: …the needs of the few.
    Captain Spock: Or the one. I have been and always shall be your friend. Live long and prosper

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ Ymarsakar

    That’s more Utilitarian than Marxist.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    Leftists, and even old-fashioned liberals, tend to view government as an idealized parent. The point that government officials, whether elected officials or low-level civil servants, are *just people*, pursuing their own goals for power, influence, money, adulation, and security, really isn’t understood by many of them.
    The argument that Marxism could work if it was just done right reminds me of the joke about the engineer and the mathematician who are trapped at the bottom of a deep, dark well. The engineer is in despair, but the mathematician is optimistic…
    Engineer: How do you think we’re ever going to get out of here?
    Mathematician: Assume a ladder…

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    Recently ran across this quote from Stephen Vizinczey, which seems apt:
    “Dictatorship is a constant lecture instructing you that your feelings, your thoughts and desires are of no account, that you are a nobody and must live as you are told by other people who desire and think for you”

  • Mike Devx

    suek says in #1:
    > Christianity has many of the same goals as Marxism.  The huge massive difference is twofold […]

    Sue, another major difference is that being a Christian is voluntary.  You can always leave. When the State assumes control via Marxism, socialism, or any other totalitarian -ism, you can’t leave.  It’s always seemed true to me that early Christianity had a lot more in common with socialism than capitalism.  People joined the community and pooled their resources.  But again, the community was voluntary.  You joined, and you left, at your own free will.

    Modern leftists are rejecting religion in favor of secularism, and thus have managed to adopt environmentalism as THEIR new religion, with theocratic fervor.  But their new religion has more in common with Islam than Christianity, more in common with Marxism, too.  For they expressly want to use the power of the State to control us all, and make us bow to their environmentalist religious tenets.  Theirs is a theocracy as frightening as any.  Except, unlike Islam, they don’t kill you if you leave.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    One important point: Capitalism allows the separation of *the pursuit of wealth* from *the pursuit of political power*…whereas under Marxism, to an even greater extent than under Feudalism, these things are inextricably intertwined.

  • suek

    >>Sue, another major difference is that being a Christian is voluntary.>>
    Of course.  Exactly.  I thought that’s what I said!  Obviously I got my tongue in front of my teeth and couldn’t see what I was saying…or the online equivalent!!

  • suek

    “…in front of my eye teeth…”…!!
    It’s early.

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    One more thought on this. When comparing a *theoretical* system with a *real* system, it’s easy to make the theoretical system sound much, much better, because it doesn’t have the “friction” (in the Clausewitzian sense) that exists in things that are actual. Examples of this can often be seen in the corporate world, where a certain kind of people (especially in but not limited to IT) like to propose galactic new systems (often with nifty codenames like “Project X” or “Rainbow”) which will solve *everything*, in preference to actually figuring out why, y’know, simple customer orders require the same information to be re-keyed 3 times and 2% of the orders are actually just lost. By the time “Project X” or “Rainbow” actually gets done (if ever), it will have problems of its own….and then another mega-project can be proposed.
    Another example of theoretical wonderfulness vs real friction can be found in solar and wind power: sounded wonderful until it got real and you had to recognize that it involves hundreds of acres of aesthetic unloveliness, new transmission lines, bird kills, etc.

  • TommyC

    Two points, both of which apply equally to Marxism and to any other form of big government (hereafter referred to as BG).
    Under BG the best way to get rich /get ahead is to satisfy BG rather than everybody else.  Whether this is achieved by toeing the party line, via bribery, or by other means doesn’t really matter.  When doing these things is what gets rewarded, do you seriously think that such a society is going to produce the most food, the best cars, etc.?  To some extent we have already reached this point in the USA.  Just look at all the special favors (earmarks, government jobs and so much more) that are doled out in return for bribes (campaign contributions) and other types of support for BG.  It is pretty obvious that the path to wealth via political connections and ‘go along to get along’ is a lot easier than producing a better widget.
    I have to disagree that BG types believe that man is not perfectible.  Quite the contrary, the biggest advocates believe that they themselves have already reached that state.   The fact that most people haven’t yet reached it is why BG types don’t believe in majority rule, believe in the rule by the intelligentsia (themselves), and why government force (temporary, of course) is always needed.