Marxism One of History's Greatest failures

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
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Karl Marx and the whole Communist philosophy expounded in his communist Manifesto and his ponderous Work Capital turned out to be an unrealistic pipe dream that could never possibly work. And sadly millions of innocent people died in process. It failed miserably and quite frankly deserved to fail.

I often wonder what Marx would have thought of carnage and human suffering caused by his works ? If he had known would e have end bothered with the Manifesto and Capital?

Thoughts?
 
Given any particular type of government (or economic model), there are people who are ready to declare it a failure. And there are other people who are ready to declare it a success. Observe capitalism and democracy. The nay-sayers will tell you that democracy is nothing but the institutionalized purchase of votes, and capitalism is just another form of serfdom.
I think Karl Marx would have found a way to compartmentalize the failures and use some form of the No True Scotsman argument to dismiss them. If there's one thing that's been proven over and over and over, it's that people are capable of believing (or continuing to believe) anything, regardless of contrary argument, evidence, or logic.
 
Baylor - go visit a Kibbutz. You will find people living in a classless structure with their labour valued equally, without materialism and determining their own economic future and owning their own means of production.

Of course, that is only possible within a much larger capitalist society where there is a market for the goods they produce and where they are protected by a state military defence and have use of a currency backed by the state. It doesn't scale up at all well beyond a small community. Still, quite a sweeping statement to say that "it failed miserably!"

Also you say "millions of innocent people died in process," but those, and the many, many millions more that have died in what Marx would call 'the historical class struggle' have at least achieved political rights and working conditions that make life bearable for the 'proletariat.' The many other millions of innocent people who died in other wars fought over nothing but economic rivalries between states achieved what exactly?
 
Kibbutzim don't work anything like as well as Moshavim.* It's true they are the only real examples of communism. USSR, China, Cuba, Albania wasn't what Marx envisaged. Marx did of course borrow a lot of ideas from the Bible and Judaism. Early Jewish - Christian communities in the first century were very like communism and a Kibbutz. Though in USA the Religious is associated with Republicans and the Right, in many ways Judaism and Christianity are more naturally socialist, and many of those faiths have been socialist reformers. Marx was of course from a Jewish background.

Democracy is terrible, but it's better than any the others. It doesn't work everywhere either. There is more than one kind of it too. I hate what we have in Ireland, but the Israel PR seems daft and the USA and UK both seem less democratic and less politically functional for different reasons. I think the biggest issue here isn't the system but the legacy of corruption, political dynasties, civil war politics, IRA and SF, post-British reaction etc and essentially a British designed Civil service.

China is currently running an interesting experiment. In a way they have almost returned to pre-Mandarin structures, which in various forms existed for about 2000 years. It's certainly not Democracy, Communism as per Marx, nor USSR or Cuban style.

Real Communism only works for Angels.

(*I have visited a Kibbutz, but not a Moshav. I'm basing my statement on what many Israelis have told me rather than the Internet).
 
Baylor - go visit a Kibbutz. You will find people living in a classless structure with their labour valued equally, without materialism and determining their own economic future and owning their own means of production.

Of course, that is only possible within a much larger capitalist society where there is a market for the goods they produce and where they are protected by a state military defence and have use of a currency backed by the state. It doesn't scale up at all well beyond a small community. Still, quite a sweeping statement to say that "it failed miserably!"

Also you say "millions of innocent people died in process," but those, and the many, many millions more that have died in what Marx would call 'the historical class struggle' have at least achieved political rights and working conditions that make life bearable for the 'proletariat.' The many other millions of innocent people who died in other wars fought over nothing but economic rivalries between states achieved what exactly?


Millions starved to death him the Ukraine in the 1930's while food was being exported out by Stalin's Henchmen, and then there are the millions who died in his Labor Camps, Mao's great leap forward killed an cultural revolution killed about 30 million , There theses the 3 million who died in the Killing Fields of Cambodia. The end.
 
Could Kibbutz be elsewhere? I doubt it. I feel it can only exist in Israel.

Last February I paid a visit to Highgate Cemetery East part when in London, mainly to have a look at Douglas Adams' grave and a Piano gravestone. Marx is also one of the famous residents there. I popped up a question to that massive head: See what you have done? It seemed to me he just snorted: Heck, they f***ed it up!

Oh and there were fresh flowers laid at the grave by the faithful believers. Idealists will never die despite evidently his utopian ideology does not fit for the nature of mankind who have been proven to be the greediest, most dangerous animals on the planet. I do agree Marxism is one of the history's greatest failures. It's destined to be.
 
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Millions starved to death him the Ukraine in the 1930's while food was being exported out by Stalin's Henchmen, and then there are the millions who died in his Labor Camps, Mao's great leap forward killed an cultural revolution killed about 30 million , There theses the 3 million who died in the Killing Fields of Cambodia. The end.
Sorry, I thought you were talking about Marx.
 
Sorry, I thought you were talking about Marx.

True they were Marxist in name only but they did draw inspiration from Marx though none of them achieved a True Marxist state . They did Call themselves Communist/ Socialist ? They used Marx prominently displayed in the their propaganda, They attempted unsuccessfully to utilize his ideas.
 
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Baylor - go visit a Kibbutz. You will find people living in a classless structure with their labour valued equally, without materialism and determining their own economic future and owning their own means of production.

Of course, that is only possible within a much larger capitalist society where there is a market for the goods they produce and where they are protected by a state military defence and have use of a currency backed by the state. It doesn't scale up at all well beyond a small community. Still, quite a sweeping statement to say that "it failed miserably!"

Also you say "millions of innocent people died in process," but those, and the many, many millions more that have died in what Marx would call 'the historical class struggle' have at least achieved political rights and working conditions that make life bearable for the 'proletariat.' The many other millions of innocent people who died in other wars fought over nothing but economic rivalries between states achieved what exactly?

Ive read about the Kibbutz . A number of cultures used something like that, Native Americans tribes for example.

At the national level , it hasn't translated. At the very least I would call that, not a success.
 
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They attempted unsuccessfully to utilize his ideas.

Then is it Marx's fault? Stalin became an autocratic tyrant, very much like the Tsar before Communism. That is a much better comparison to my mind. I'm sure if there hadn't been Marx the anti-Tsarist revolutionaries would have come up with some other radical system to replace the Tsar in 1917. Although in practice the revolutionaries always tend to gravitate to what existed in the first place. (See Napoleon becoming an Emperor, for example). So the question is did Stalin kill millions of his own people because of his Marxist ideals or because he was a paranoid dictator that found himself with the power to deport, manipulate and kill a vast nation. I'm of the opinion it was far more the second than the first, and Stalin could/would have got there with another creed like fascism or whatever.

Actually Marx's critique of the capitalist system was pretty much spot on - apart from the inequalities he essentially makes the point that it will be a system that will be continually in a state of boom and bust. But that's his critique of the problems of the capitalism, not a feature of communism.

Does the system that he suggested to replace it work? In all honesty, IMHO, probably not with Humanities development, requirements and desires. Marx himself settled into a middle class and comfortable life in London after all, rather than storming the barricades and propagating his ideas by force.
 
because he was a paranoid dictator that found himself with the power to deport, manipulate and kill a vast nation.
Yes, nothing to do with Marxism.

Marx himself settled into a middle class and comfortable life
No-one has ever produced an economics / politics / social / other utopian blueprint that has worked in the real world?

Many of them hare thought provoking, have interesting ideas and worth reading. Perhaps I'll try reading what he actually said.

But which book to start with?
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/46

Inexplicably Das Kapital is only in Greek on Gutenberg.
 
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Marxism was a pretty influential idea in the Twentieth Century. I don't think it can be described as a failure.

Revolutions don't often result in stable governments, and the revolutions in Russia and China, while they were initially, theoretically, Marxist, pretty soon lost any real resemblance to Marxism. In the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 30s, most of the great Marxist theoreticians were subjected to show trials and executed.

I think what made Marxism attractive continues to exist: the idea that it doesn't have to be all about the individual all the time, that we share with other people, that the structures we have where people who cannot work, or who do necessary but unattractive jobs, are punished, poorly paid and despised, need to be questioned.

It's easy to say Marxism caused many deaths, and it did, but world-wide consumerism enslaves and kills many thousands of people, and still does. We look away from that because it's inconvenient. If we recognised where our cheap food and clothes come from, we'd feel bad about it, and we might even stop buying them -- and we can't have that.
 
A very simple critique of Marxism and socialism in general (I looked it up; he didn't originate this):

The central idea of socialism can be summed up as "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs". A very high-sounding sentence. But consider - Who is it that determines what you need? Because whoever it is, being human they will decide they need more than you do - and back we go to aristocracy. The Soviet Union had aristocrats, and China still does. The fact that they are not called aristocrats is irrelevant.
 
We let ourselves off with all sorts of nasty behaviour because "it's human nature", but there's as much evidence to indicate that humans are very good at living in collaborative, supportive groups as evidence suggesting people are innately selfish and want more of the resources for themselves even when they know it damages others.

One of the best things about Socialism in general is that it expects better things.

And, while it may, arguably, be likely that some people would have more than others (and perhaps not solely according to their needs), small inequalities on that level would be much better than what we currently have, where within the world and within countries like the UK and the US, the rich control an outrageous proportion of the resources while others go hungry or homeless or die of treatable diseases, and that -- this amassing of great wealth -- is seen as somehow admirable and virtuous. It's societal, aimed at making us consume, not somehow innate to humans.
 
...Marxism and socialism in general (I looked it up; he didn't originate this).
Read Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. Start at 4.32. I think that is the origin of your quote. It was written by Paul's Doctor, Luke, about early Christian sects around 4AD. The last time I went to church the Minister told the largely white, middle-class, Conservative leaning congregation, "Don't worry, it wasn't Communism" but I tend to think he was completely wrong.

And I have to agree with Hex. Social inequality in the world is the cause of all of our problems; probably every problem I have just heard on the News this morning from migrants and border controls, to Greece, to council services cuts. For the last century the gap between rich and poor was steadily reduced. In the last ten years it has started to grow greater again. I'm not advocating communism but this rise in social inequality cannot be good. It isn't even a good thing for the rich people, if they could only understand that. I know someone who worked in Ecuador for a large oil company. He and his family lived in a mansion with servants, security guards and every convenience, but they couldn't leave the house because they were followed everywhere by starving beggars with absolutely nothing. They effectively became prisoners within their own home.
 
Marxism is dangerous is because it's utopian. Many of the worst crimes in history have been at the hands of people who genuinely believe they're trying to achieve paradise. Utopian ideals are dangerous because they excuse almost any behaviour if its aim is achieving this ideal. Surely it's permissible, even our duty, to eliminate anyone who stands in the way of paradise?

Egalitarianism is distinct from Marxism. Egalitarianism doesn't posit a totalitarian system to govern society and enforce equality.

Social inequality in the world is the cause of all of our problems...

Specifically greed by those in control and also merely ordinary well off people.

I disagree. The wealthy and powerful aren't any more likely to be selfish and cruel than the poor. They only have a greater scope for acting on the flaws that are in every one our hearts. Any society or form of government is going to be flawed because humans are flawed. "Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made" [Kant]. We are not naturally angels. Greed, fear, violence, shame, status-seeking are part of our nature, as much as hope, compassion, reason, and altruism.

We are social animals. That means we care about other people. It also means we have strong innate desires to have status within our communities. Some people will always want to rise higher than others. In some cultures it's the number of eagle feathers in a head-dress. Or the number of cattle in the pasture. Or the number of wives, or the status one one's sons and daughters. In others it's the numbers of zeroes following the number in the bank account. Yes, ambitious people sometimes have unpleasant characteristics that go along with that characteristic (but then, so do the poor and apathetic). And yet, we all benefit from ambition. We're probably all be living in mud huts eating roots an grubs if it wasn't for ambition. Most of the great works of art we enjoy were created by someone with an unrelenting ambition for greatness.

I think the true flaw in humanity holding us back is the impulse to divide people into us and them that allows us to blame and dehumanize others. The wealthy. Foreigners. Muslims/Christians. Conservatives/liberals. We need to expand our radius of empathy to include everyone. That includes the rich and powerful.
 
Marxism is dangerous is because it's utopian. Many of the worst crimes in history have been at the hands of people who genuinely believe they're trying to achieve paradise. Utopian ideals are dangerous because they excuse almost any behaviour if its aim is achieving this ideal. Surely it's permissible, even our duty, to eliminate anyone who stands in the way of paradise?

Egalitarianism is distinct from Marxism. Egalitarianism doesn't posit a totalitarian system to govern society and enforce equality.





I disagree. The wealthy and powerful aren't any more likely to be selfish and cruel than the poor. They only have a greater scope for acting on the flaws that are in every one our hearts. Any society or form of government is going to be flawed because humans are flawed. "Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made" [Kant]. We are not naturally angels. Greed, fear, violence, shame, status-seeking are part of our nature, as much as hope, compassion, reason, and altruism.

We are social animals. That means we care about other people. It also means we have strong innate desires to have status within our communities. Some people will always want to rise higher than others. In some cultures it's the number of eagle feathers in a head-dress. Or the number of cattle in the pasture. Or the number of wives, or the status one one's sons and daughters. In others it's the numbers of zeroes following the number in the bank account. Yes, ambitious people sometimes have unpleasant characteristics that go along with that characteristic (but then, so do the poor and apathetic). And yet, we all benefit from ambition. We're probably all be living in mud huts eating roots an grubs if it wasn't for ambition. Most of the great works of art we enjoy were created by someone with an unrelenting ambition for greatness.

I think the true flaw in humanity holding us back is the impulse to divide people into us and them that allows us to blame and dehumanize others. The wealthy. Foreigners. Muslims/Christians. Conservatives/liberals. We need to expand our radius of empathy to include everyone. That includes the rich and powerful.

I disagree entirely with your last sentence. I am not empathetic, nor do I ever intend to be, towards those who wish harm to my society and/or individuals within it. That list includes religious fanatics (of any sort), habitual criminals, dishonest financiers, corrupt politicians and officials.

I agree with you that rich an powerful people aren't evil simply because of their riches and power. However, two points about that; first it matters a lot more whether a billionaire is evil than whether a beggar is simply because the billionaire's evil does more damage; and second that in today's society people are often rich and powerful because they are evil.

Edit: Ray snuck in first with the first point. :/
 
Let's wait and see just how big Capitalism's failure will be before we decide what was histories greatest failure. Western industrial and agricultural growth was built on cheap slave labour. In the States this was imported, in Europe we invaded and built empires instead. Domestic labour supported industry and agriculture for a while until they asked for more. Now it's labour in the far east. When they ask for their share it'll be Africa - then where? Right now we have financial crisis after financial crisis, each one coming closer and closer together.

Let's just wait and see...
 
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