Off the Marx

You know, I’m not a communist, but I have to admit the idea has a fair amount of appeal. Too bad it hasn’t worked, but then, it’s not like the form of capitalism we have in this country is really working either. That’s why, even though I wasn’t a fan of the Soviet Union, I think the a lot of the anti-communist propaganda of the Cold War went too far. It’s one thing to criticize communism as an economic and political system, but another to dismiss even the parts of the theory that might actually work. It’s sad that, even today, the rich and powerful can utilize fear of communism to make sure the rich stay rich and the poor poor. It’s like the elite basically said, “Hey, that hippie sharing crap just led to dictatorships in the Soviet Bloc, so that means being greedy and ruthless must be the way to go!” And a lot of people who really don’t benefit from this kind of system buy into it. Hey, dude with the misspelled sign, you’re not in the top two percent of wage earners, and socialized medicine would probably lower your costs! But the Haves can still keep the Have-Nots down by convincing them that a single-payer health care system and a minimum wage you can actually live on are the same as electing Josef Stalin as President. And hey, I’m for free enterprise, but I don’t think people should be forced into it. If you want to run your own business, more power to you. But some of us have no knowledge or skills in business, and just don’t want to play that game. A major problem with our system is that it doesn’t just allow competition, but forces people into it.

Anyway, the Norman Cohn book that I just recently finished referred to Marxism a few times, and I think there’s a strong connection between Karl Marx’s beliefs and the millennial cults of Germany in the Middle Ages. There was a time before private property, and this time would inevitably come again, but it would require the poor to take control from the rich. This is the same kind of stuff the apocalyptic believers were always on about. The main difference that I see is that the millennial cults tied the abolition of private property in with the second coming of Jesus, while Marx was an atheist. His was essentially an apocalyptic vision without the religion, so it’s no wonder that communism kind of comes across as a movement with a religious following, except without the god part. It’s interesting that, during the Cold War, some people viewed the struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union as that of good Christians against godless communists, when one of the greatest things about this country is that you DON’T have to follow any one particular religion. And as much as the Soviets claimed that communism was an atheistic movement, they still maintained ties to the Russian Orthodox Church. And really, a philosophy that taught helping the poor, giving up your possessions, a future paradise, and that the meek would inherit the Earth…I’m not sure you could much closer to what Jesus preached! Jesus, however, thought that this would be accomplished largely through divine magic, while Marx left it in the hands of humans. Still, when both Christianity and communism were incorporated into government structure, they were changed quite radically. In fact, what happened in countries that adopted communism was that those in charge altered it so that they’d stay in charge, and the poor and powerless would stay that way.

You know, almost the opposite of what Marx actually endorsed. Not that I think pure Marxism would have worked either, but it would have been ineffective for different reasons.

This entry was posted in Capitalism, Christianity, Cold War, Communism, Corporations, Economics, Historical Personages, History, Marxism, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Socialism and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Off the Marx

  1. Yes, it is a mystery to me why people vote against their interest. I don’t understand why a low income union worker would vote republican, be for tax cuts to the rich and against healthcare reform.

  2. SC says:

    I was born in USSR, I saw it all, and I say: f*ck communism, it’s a suicidal doctrine. People are naturally not equal and will never be. All attempts to change that lead to self-destruction.

    • Nathan says:

      Isn’t the United States also based on the idea that all people are naturally equal, though?

      • vilajunkie says:

        Right, but time and time again “all men are created equal” has been needed to assert the civil and human rights of all kinds of groups: obviously the slaves and women before either of them could vote, but virtually any “minority” or oppressed group in the United States, including patients in hospitals and doctors’ offices. So, in the immortal words of Elizabeth Swann, “Hang the code, and hang the rules. They’re more like guidelines anyway.”

  3. That’s like my husband who goes on and on about how there’s too many taxes and such and we’re GETTING A $1700+ RETURN THIS YEAR (which is somewhat typical for us). Um, we’re the people who BENEFIT from socialization….

  4. vilajunkie says:

    Michael Patrick Hearn mentioned something that was basically about communism when discussing the Wicked Witch of the East’s regime in The Annotated Wizard of Oz. It was originally a quote from Ronald Reagan about Benito Mussolini: “Fascism was really the basis for the New Deal. It was Mussolini’s success in Italy, with his government-directed economy, that led the early New Dealers to say ‘But Mussolini keeps the trains running on time.'” Indeed, Communist leaders might be horrible, genocidal dictators, but they seem to do a better job at regulating the economy and the bureaucracy than Democratic/Capitalist leaders, and keeping everything just, fair, and orderly in those two realms is probably one of the biggest complaints that we Americans (liberal OR conservative) have about the state and federal governments.

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