The idea that some watered down form of Marxism can relieve poverty while a system based on free enterprise, personal liberty and responsibility and small government can only widen the gap between rich and poor is widely held and completely wrong.
Post anything anywhere these days that suggests any aspect of Marxism, (expansion of the state, redistribution of wealth, social engineering, politicisation of education, the law, whatever,) might actually be counter productive in the battle to alleviate poverty and the lefties in the thread will be falling over themselves to tell you that like all libertarians, neo â€“ Cons, capitalists, or Christian fundamentalist right wing nut jobs, you hate the poor.
They argue in clichÃ©s, claiming that capitalism couldnâ€™t survive without poverty, that it is driven by the constantly widening inequality between the classes, that it concentrates more and more power in the hands of fewer and fewer plutocrats, that free markets are a thing of the past (that at least is almost true, in these days of oligarchic collectivism banking and industrial cartels rule the world). I wonâ€™t bore you by going through the entire list. Trotskyite British blogger Sunny Hundal speaks for the majority of them in this plagiarised platitude: â€˜In fact capitalism (by definition) needs more poor people and prefers poor bargaining rights and gross inequalityâ€™
What is interesting is not just that Sunny - boyâ€™s proposition is wrong; itâ€™s that, like all the other often repeated knee jerk responses from the left it is lifted directly from Karl Marx and yet posted on a blog that hass the world Liberal in its name.
Marxism alone among political philosophies is presented by its devotees as a science. To the faithful its propositions are not speculative but empirical. As a good Hegelian, Marx saw his forecasts as part of an inexorable historical process. Yet every single prediction of economic atrophy under capitalism made by Karl Marx has turned out to be false and where Marxism has been adopted by government, everything it set out to do, the opposite resulted.
Capitalism was, Marx predicted, certain to destroy the middle classes, leaving a tiny clique of oligarchs ruling over a vast proletariat. In fact, capitalism has enlarged the bourgeoisie wherever it has been practised while socialism has always led to authoritarianism and as in the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and everywhere else it has been adopted. Communism has always led to a small clique of oligarchs, the party's political and bureaucratic elite, ruling over a vast, disempowered and socially immobile proletariat (â€œthe prolesâ€ of George Orwell's visionary novel 1984), the exact result Marx predicted for capitalism.
Capitalism was supposed anihilate the living standards for the majority, reducing the middle classes to hopeless poverty and plunging the poor into slavery. In fact, the world is now wealthier than would have been conceivable 150 years ago, the material standards of the middle and working classes are higher than were those of our parents and grandparents. The whole market system was supposed to be on its last legs when Marx and Engels were writing their philosophy that was supposed to emancipate the poor. In fact, market led prosperity was entering a golden age, dragging with it social reform which was due as much to conservative as socialist forces but brought in reforms hugely beneficial the poorest. As Josef Schumpeter put it, the princess was always able to wear silk stockings, but it took capitalism to put them within reach of the shop girl. The living standard of a Briton on benefits today is higher than that of a Briton on average wages in the 1920s.
I donâ€™t know how many of the people who parrot Marx are aware that theyâ€™re doing so. Given the educational standards accepted from universities these days I suspect very few graduates bother to even look at the dissertations they download from the internet.. But, whatever name we give to it, (communism, socialism, Bolshevism, Stalinism,) the quasi religious doctrine of Karl Marx has turned out to have real staying power to back up it's ability to charm those idealistically puritanical types whose monastic existence in the cloistered halls of academia have shielded them from the harsh realities of the real world, thus enabling them to believe it is possible to create Utopia by passing laws.
One might have thought â€“ I and many others did think â€“ that the collapse of the Soviet Union and it's client states in 1989 would have hammered enough nails into the coffin of corporate â€“ state socialism. Yet successive generations of graduates and political rookies continue to be seduced by it's mantras of fairness and equality. Such talk plays well to the disadvantaged or those who believe they are disadvantaged and so as even conservative politicians are obliged to talk about fairness while the poor, like Turkeys voting for Christmas (or Thanksgiving) line up to elect people controlled by the very interest groups that would enslave them.
Some fans of behavioural psychology suggest that ideologies are as much a product of peopleâ€™s nature as of observed experience. As an idea it appears to have some substance. The doctrines of violent revolution and the creation of an all powerful central authority that formed the political philosophy of the Bolsheviks may be embedded in the mindset of a portion of humanity. After the Russian revolution in which the workers were exhorted to unite and throw off their chains only to find that they had not lost those chains but merely swapped them for a new set it should have been clear that Marx's dream of collectivism was impossible to realise.
The famines, political and industrial chaos and nationalist uprisings in Russia, the millions of deaths by starvation, political purge or simply despair should have proved that for all time. For Marxism to be successful it would be necessary for all people to be the same and that will never happen. Thus all attempts to impose conformity are doomed to failure. Some people however are determined to see all property as theft, every profit as a swindling of someone else, every transaction as an exploitation, every exercise in freedom as a violation of somebody's inalienable human rights, every belief and tradition as a superstition. How delicious that, as we approach the bicentenary of his birth, Karl Marx should have become the thing he claimed that he loathed above all else: the prophet of an irrational faith.
Sleeping with conservatives
The flight from freedom Schumpeter's Warning
I Am Not A Socialist For The Same Reasons as I Am Not A Creationist
The polarization of society: Captive minds and Intellectual Cowardice
Creativity must triumph over conformity if we are to save civilisation">
The genocide of ideas
How leftist intellectuals have always despised the masses
All is for the best in this the best of all possible worlds: The blindness of Dr. Pangloss