Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Presumptions of Marxism

updated 2011.02.11

One big problem with debating controversial issues is that people tend to misconstrue the positions of the opposition. This is easily and sometimes unwittingly done, by those on any side of an issue. But deliberate distortion seems to be standard procedure when criticizing capitalism. I've noticed 11 general points where Marxians (classical Marxists, Communists, Socialists, liberals, leftists in general) exploit common mental laziness and gloss over the issue to promote their agenda. I'm not suggesting conservatives don't do the same, but let's face it, even when conservatives do this it doesn't reach nearly as big an audience as does left wing propaganda. What should be outrageous to intelligent people or just those who value integrity, misrepresenting someone else's argument is the antithesis of intellectual honesty.

1. Karl Marx's ideas are readily accepted as self-evident, putting capitalism on defense, as if Marxian ideas need not be proved. Marxian theory is presumptuously made the standard by which capitalism should be measured.

2. Any explanation of Marxian theory is portrayed in an ideal setting, whereas capitalism is typically shown in a negative and over-simplified light, promoting the presumption that Marxism is morally superior to capitalism.

3. Marxian theory treats the subjective notion of fairness as a sort of natural law desired by all, but it is only the Marxian definition of fairness that is considered legitimate. Marxian theory presumes life can be made fair, and that unfairness is manufactured only by capitalist mindsets, meaning greed or selfishness. The historically proven fact that manufactured fairness inevitably results in tyranny and oppression must be whitewashed.

4. Capitalist criticism of Marxian societies (i.e., the former Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Cuba, etc.) is dismissed as criticism of illegitimate examples of Marxian theory, because those states are not "pure" or ideal Marxian societies. But when the United States is described by Marxian followers as the preeminent example of a greedy and selfish society, the fact that the U.S. also is not a "pure" capitalist society (because it is heavily influenced by socialist/Marxian ideas) is conveniently neglected. In fact, the failed examples of Marxian nations usually follow the path of failure predicted by Capitalists (i.e., the Soviet Union being run by Stalin naturally devolves into a totalitarian society, because making life "fair" for everyone requires the sacrifice of most freedoms). Similarly, in ignoring the impure capitalism of the United States, Marxians may use a "dog eat dog" metaphor to describe a logical extension of capitalism, while avoiding the "equal misery" reality of Marxian ideals which contaminate American capitalism.

5. Capitalist attitudes are reflexively described as inherently greedy or selfish. The "capitalist mindset" (meaning selfishness) criticized by Marxians may not be a result of capitalism or so-called greed; such attitudes could be the natural state of individuals when allowed to make their own choices. Though a "selfish nature" is sometimes acknowledged, it is improperly attributed to "capitalist mindsets" by Marxians. This selfishness (which indeed exists and is common) may be inherent to humanity itself. Marxian theory prefers the dubious belief that humanity is not naturally selfish, but is made selfish by capitalism or by society in general.

6. Self-interest is unjustly equated with selfishness when criticized by Marxian followers. Marxian theory does not acknowledge the fact that greed can exist in any society, especially one where resources are scarce, which is very common among nations implementing Marxian ideas. For example, Cuba engages in trade with many nations, yet it is still a poverty-stricken nation. This sad fact is often blindly attributed to the trade embargo inflicted upon it by the United States. The possibility that Cuba's widespread poverty may be self inflicted is simply overlooked, because this would suggest Marxian ideals are fundamental flawed.

7. Capitalism is deliberately misunderstood by Marxians, as may be observed by their criticism of it (i.e., a lack of incentive for working one's best is often misconstrued as "a lack of incentive to work at all"). It is seldom (if ever) mentioned by Marxians that Capitalism survives only by serving the community, which is fickle, diverse, and too large and complex to be sufficiently understood by any theory or paradigm, socio-economic or otherwise, a fact Marxians often use to justify their rejection of Capitalism.

8. Marxians tend to discount individualism itself in favor of community. The desire, effort, skill and accomplishment of individuals are rejected to maintain a group mentality. For example, the concept of "earned wealth" is discarded so as to promote the Marxian pillar of class envy. In this manner wealth is not discussed as it actually works (via voluntary exchange), but rather in mythical terms of distribution - as if there were some high governing power deciding who will get an unequal share of available wealth. Likewise, individual charity is ignored to promote group charity (taxation and redistribution of wealth). With Marxian thinking, poverty is not itself a problem, as long as it is equal. It is unequal enjoyment of wealth that is the real injustice.

9. Marxians presume they know what is best for others, and the price required by Marxism (i.e., individualism, freedom, private property, religion and family) is justified for everyone, and should be enforced even by violent means, if necessary. In the Marxian mindset, fairness is valued above freedom, and those who value freedom above fairness are reflexively accused of being "greedy" or lacking compassion. Capitalist examples of compassion are ignored or explained away as something contrary to capitalist mindsets; and religion is certainly not given
credit for compassionate acts.

10. Marxian theory presumes a mythical endless supply of goods and services on one hand, yet a limited amount of collective wealth on the other hand. Capitalism recognizes goods and services must be produced in order to be consumed, but that they are produced only with sufficient incentive. The capitalist focus on liberty permits people to fulfill these needs as they see fit (requiring that individuals serve the community in some way). When people are rewarded with the fruits of their own labor the natural result is abundance (society's economic pie continually grows). The Marxian focus on fairness naturally hinders the incentive to put forth that extra effort, which reduces the total goods and services people are willing to provide, which reduces total available wealth. This results in the use of compulsion and oppression to meet society's needs. Where properly limited freedom tends to breed prosperity, manufactured fairness tends to breed poverty. Prosperity must grow to exist; it must be focused to grow, it does not grow by being arbitrarily redistributed.

11. Marxian theory oversimplifies human history by focusing on and defining it in the limited mindset of class struggle: the "oppressors and the oppressed". Though this perspective is not in itself inaccurate, the insistence that the study of society be approached almost exclusively from this point of view creates a biased and misguided understanding of human experience.

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