Marxism Ideology

A philosophical and economical system of thought, named after KarlMarx.

Marx divides human history in four phases: Apparently, we are now in the capitalistic stage. According to Marx, when mechanization and automation increases, workers are less needed and therefore get lower wages. This leads to society being split into two "classes": the capitalists who own the factories with the machines, and the proletarians, who own nothing and become poorer and poorer. Obviously, this isn't a stable situation; eventually the proletarians become so poor that they have nothing to lose by inciting a revolution, and the system breaks down ("Der Grosse Kladderedatsch"). After that, society becomes at first Socialistic, which means that all capital is owned by the State; at this point, distinct states still exist. Finally, the state becomes superfluous and the capital is directly owned by the people as a collective. At this point, we are in the Communistic stage, and everybody's happy. This resembles the society depicted in StarTrek.

In fact, empirical evidence suggests that wages actually increase when mechanization and automation increases, because workers become more productive. So apparently KarlMarx had a wrong minus sign in his calculations...

That is what you would say from a first comparison on the prices ... on the other hand, if you look closely you will find out that the actual prices go down, the wages go up, but the amounts of products generated are hugely increased and the overall profit is huge compared to the increase of the wages.

So Marx was not wrong, but I am not sure if he had predicted the technological middle class that this automation has generated. On the other hand, we can easily see Engineers and Programmers been quite close to being proletariat (we study 5-7 years but still compare the wages and our social position to a medical doctor) in the future.

The reason for the failure of Marx's theory is his assumption that manufacturing couldn't be used to bring down the cost of capital goods (ie, that manufacturing could not be used to make the machines necessary for manufacturing). Hence, the cost of consumer goods would keep going down while the cost of the capital goods required to produce these consumer goods would stay constant and the ratio between the two would climb without bound. This is presently the case with the semiconductors industry. -- rk

And not only whoever has thought of starting any kind of industry can see this problem of acquiring the initial capital driving his plans to a dead end. An exception to this may be IT, where the PCs are cheap and the market the last few years has been pushing venture capital towards it like crazy.

Huh? Wafersteppers might not be getting cheaper, but a modern waferstepper has a much better resolution and a much higher productivity than, say, 5 years ago. So in terms of production capacity per buck, they are getting cheaper. That may be the metric that matters to you as a consumer but it means that any producer has an incredibly high barrier to market entry nowadays. And if the demand for more and more CPUs ever lags behind, then watch out. For some reason, I don't foresee unlimited exponential growth.

In Marx' original theory, the revolution was supposed to happen spontaneously. But Lenin figured that you could help it a little (or a lot), and actually did so in Russia. This adaptation to Marx' theory is called MarxismLeninism?.

Another corollary of Marx' theories was that you shouldn't try to help to improve the situation of the lower class, since this only stalls the inevitable revolution. However, if you think that the fate of the lower classes can be permanently improved by revising the existing system through democratic means rather than by a full-blown revolution, you are a revisionist. Every real Marxist despises revisionists even more than a vulture capitalist. Most left-wing parties that participate in Western-European governments are revisionist now, and have sworn off MarxIsm? more or less recently.
Unfortunately, no one appears to be able to stage a revolution, and then maintain the self-control to abandon the power the revolution provided them. I doubt this form of socialism will work, although that shouldn't discourage people who like the LeftWing.

This is right .... but ... in this we take as a condition that a revolution will drive us to an end stage were everything will be fine and we will all be happy. This I think is not the case; a revolution is not something that is the end of things, it is the beginning of a new stage that will lead to a new revolution; the revolution never stops, it is a process towards a better world, and there will always be a "better world".The people that keep the control they were given by the revolution are the ones that establish a new somewhat better "state" that must be overthrown by the next revolution.

''There are many different types of revolutions. For humanity, the most profound have been the changes in the fundamental modes of childrearing (from infanticidal cannibals to today). These revolutions cannot be usurped by their founders since they do not center about their founders. There is some hope that the HelpingModeOfChildrearing? will produce people with the mindset necessary for Democratic Communism (Marxism).'' -- rk
Another view of the failure of Marxism is that it models an economic system with no negative feedback. -- gb
Why is everybody so sure the Marxist analysis is a failure? An argument can be made that the relative welfare of the US and Europe is acquired at the expense of the Third World. We have globalized our Lumpenproletariat but that doesn't mean the current situation is stable.
My question: what is the Marxist perspective on the information economy? He was thinking in terms of an industrial economy, where capital was machines and the proles were "slaves" to the machines. He didn't foresee (nor could he have) the situation today, where a company's most important capital is in people's heads and only available for rent, not sale. In short: where do the geeks fit in? -- RobMandeville

Aren't we the "workers by brain"? Most of us do fit into Marx's scheme because we work for companies owned by other people, other people who make more money from our work than we do. What Marx doesn't take into account is stock options.

My reading of Marx is that "Capital" is the (people who possess) the money to buy the machines. The workers are slaves to the capital owners who keep back the bulk of the profit from the proceeds of the sale of the product of the workers' labour (manual or otherwise) and pay the workers a small salary or wage.

Alternatively, "capital" is whoever has enough money to survive in comfort without working. "labour" is those of us that have to carry on working or be destitute in a couple of months.

Don't forget, 'knowledge workers' are just workers who do stuff the owners haven't figured out how to automate yet. As soon as they do, we'll go the way of the weavers... And we're helping them do it.

Contrary to popular belief, the Luddites were not a bunch of dolts, too stupid to understand new technology. They were a group of highly skilled artisans who knew that the mechanical looms and 'mills' marked the end of their lifestyle as highly valued skilled workers. Their analysis was right too. -- TomAyerst

"... the situation today, where a company's most important capital is in people's heads and only available for rent, not sale." -- see also: IntellectualProperty
The main failing of Marxism is that it ignores the critical problem of "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Marxism was doomed to fail from the start. For example, Mikhail Bakunin predicted that the attempted implementation of a Marxist Communist government system would be purely authoritarian and oppressive, and this was about sixty to seventy years before the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia. In the Russian Revolution, the Soviets that the Bolsheviks claimed to champion were actually subdued by the Bolsheviks, and were effectively destroyed at Kronstadt. On a more philosophical level, one shortfall of Marxism is that it views history as a one way street and it also views history as having to go through each step in order. If this was true, why did Red China become effectively fascist? It also ignores anarchism and libertarian socialism in general, but then, one could interpret anarchism and effectively all forms of libertarian socialism as falling under socialism and communism (but normally when discussing anarchism, (anarcho)communism (not Communism) refers to a form of anarchism that was founded by mainly Piotr Kropotkin, Errico Malatesta, and Emma Goldman (and which is the main form of anarchism today)).

My understanding of this was that Marx envisioned a proletarian revolution - that is, one from the bottom up - whereas what happened in Russia and China were top down revolutions imposed by a few powerful men on the theoretical behalf of the proles. Of course, this situation develops easily but that problem is not unique to Marxist revolutions; for instance, the French revolution ended in much the same way, but that never made Republicanism impossible. I am out to lunch here?

You are correct. Marx's ideas never caught on with the working class because Marx predicted things would get much worse for them before they got better. Educated middle and upper class folks organized political parties and revolutionary armies to manifest the future imagined by Marx. The revisionists and "possibilists" used trade unions to vote them into office. Many of them had honest intentions of helping the workers. A few even refused positions of power after their revolutions. Most had no preparation for being ruling elites and bungled the job horribly.

Marxism isn't something that is possible or impossible. In Marx's view, it was inevitable. All you had to do was wait. He believed he had discovered a new form of social science that predicted an end to nations and property. He was a loon.

It's quite remarkable how you dismiss the inventor of economics as a loon.

I can't think of a better word. He claimed to find scientific proof that industrial workers would band together and give up the ideas of property and nationality. Is "crank" a better word for someone like that?
"How do you know Communism isn't a good idea? Nobody's ever tried it." -- PeterMerel

Well, they actually did try. More than 80.000.000 people have been killed during this experiments.

They did?

This is not funny.

Technically no one has ever tried communism according to Marx. Many people have called their governments communist, but none have been pure. Modern Marxists use this point to avoid dealing with the available evidence of the failure of true communist-like governments.

"Communism according to Marx was indistinguishable from socialism - a moneyless wageless society of free access to goods and services and volunteer labour. This has never been tried. What has been tried is state capitalism which Lenin saw as a "step forward" in backward Russia of 1917. He then deceitfully relabeled socialism to stand for state capitalism - hence the confusing idea that socialism is an intermediate society between capitalism and communism. People who claim that communism was attempted but failed display their ignorance of the nature of the communist ideal Communism could not possibly have been attempted in 1917 because the two preconditions for a communist/socialist society - an advanced technological economy and mass socialist consciousness simply did not exist at the time"
Seen objectively, Marxism is really just a retread of primitive Christianity; while the theological terms may be different ('God' -> 'historical dialectic', 'Apocalypse' -> 'Revolution', 'Kingdom of Heaven' -> 'Worker's Paradise', etc.), the contents (and smug self-righteousness) are the same. And like other forms of Christianity, inevitably devolves into hatemongering and dogmatism disguised as peace and brotherhood. -- JayOsako

You know, that would be an interesting point of view if it were self-consistent. If apocalypse = revolution then there exist pre-apocalyptic marxism and post-apocalyptic marxism because the revolution actually occurred. If we're talking about post-apocalyptic marxism then this has no equivalent in christianity since no christian apocalypse has ever occurred. If we're talking about pre-apocalyptic marxism then I'd like to know where you see the hatemongering and dogmatism.

Another problem is that at the level of abstraction you're using, everything is indistinguishable, rendering your analogy useless. I mean,

-- RK

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