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arts / rec.arts.books / Refuting Marxism once and for all

o Refuting Marxism once and for allIlya Shambat

Refuting Marxism once and for all


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Subject: Refuting Marxism once and for all
From: (Ilya Shambat)
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 by: Ilya Shambat - Wed, 18 Oct 2023 02:21 UTC

Many people have written both in favor of Marxism and against Marxism. As a child in the former Soviet Union, I adopted it as gospel. At this point I seek to refute Marxism once and for all.

Marx used the concept of the dialectic, which he got from German philosopher Hegel. According to Hegel, a force – a thesis – is met with its opposite – an antithesis. The two forces struggle among one another to create a synthesis: A mix of the two. This synthesis is then met with another antithesis. According to Hegel, this process lead human history to spiritual betterment of humanity.

Marx took the dialectic and “inverted” it. He said instead that this process lead to material betterment of humanity, and that communism was going to be an inevitable result.

Dialectic is a useful concept, and one that has applications in all sorts of pursuits. However there is absolutely nothing inevitable about it working for any kind of betterment. Sometimes one force conquers the other. Sometimes there is an ongoing conflict with no resolution. Sometimes the forces combine to give one another their worst traits.

Marx was a historian, and he should have studied his history better. No dialectic was accomplished when Vandals sacked Rome. No dialectic was accomplished when the Spanish conquered the Incans, whose agriculture, architecture and infrastructure was vastly superior to their own. No dialectic is being accomplished now in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. And in the contemporary dialectic between America and Islam, so far the results have been mostly destructive. Muslim men have been coming to places like Oslo and Sydney and gang-raping Western girls and teaching young men in disadvantaged communities to be even worse to women than they had been before. Marxist scholars in academia do not get the results of this. The people who fund them do.

To believe in such a thing as historical inevitability is ridiculous. We have seen all sorts of orders rising, falling and changing for all sorts of reasons. In a world of 7 billion people, each possessing capacity for choice, nothing at all is inevitable. World changes, all the time, in all sorts of directions and for all sorts of reasons. That has always been the case; that will always be the case.

Nor is it in any way correct that history is driven by class struggles. History is not driven by any such thing. History is driven by choices that people make. That always has been the case. It always will be the case. Not every place had classes or anything like classes. There were no classes among Australian aborigines. As for America, it is intended to be a classless society in which anyone can rise - or fall - as far as their efforts would take them. Such ideas may have been credible in 19th century Europe, where bosses and their employers rarely mixed. It is not at all the case in places where there are no rigid class lines, where there is social mobility, or where employers and workers are working closely with one another.

Marx also claimed that religion was "opium for the masses." This is completely untrue. The Christian and Muslim religions started from "the masses" and then converted both the rulers and the ruled. Maybe some of the rulers were using some claims of St. Paul - such as that slaves should be obedient to the masters - to justify exploitative conduct; but that was never the intent or the founding of the religion.

He also claimed that people, if freed from their chains, would start a revolution and overthrow capitalism. The behavior of American people completely refutes the claim. Not only did they not agitate for a Communist revolution, but they lead the charge against Communism even when many among the elites were warming toward it. These people did not see Communism as a way toward liberation; they saw Communism as a way toward having to give away their liberty and follow the state. What some people in the "elites" believe people to be, and what people actually are, can differ greatly.

Another famous claim was that workers should control the means of production. What Marx failed to understand is that, at least in America, most of the people who are in control of the means of production started out as workers and then worked their way up. They were not a part of a "propertied class.." They were people who for the most part started from little and then became wealthy through their own efforts. His argument was credible in places where dynasties ruled; it is not credible in places that seek to accomplish equal opportunity.

What Marx was right about was affirming the interests of the worker. At that time workers were treated like trash, and Marx's idea of propertied classes exploiting the working classes was credible. In much of the world – particularly in the Western countries - business has since then learned its lesson. When I worked in the corporate world, I did not feel exploited.. I was being paid right, and I was being treated right. I have maintained good relations with a number of my former managers and employers, and none of them have been treating me as someone lower than themselves.

I do not reject Marxism, as did for example Ayn Rand, because it is not capitalism or democracy. I reject it because of its own glaring intellectual errors. Not everything in history is dialectical; and even in situations of dialectic there is nothing inevitable about it working for any kind of good..

Just that something has been a part of Marxism does not necessarily make it wrong. Similarly, “anything that Hitler or Nazis did” is not a workable definition of evil. Hitler was a fitness buff and a vegetarian, but that does not mean that every fitness buff and a vegetarian is going to kill 50 million people. Nazis built the Autobahn, but that does not mean that Eisenhower was a Hitler for building the Interstate. That Marx used the dialectic wrongfully does not mean that the idea of the dialectic is useless. The idea of it leading inevitably toward the betterment of humanity, however, is completely useless, and very obviously wrong.

Now I have heard it said by some people that the dialectic is a superior form of cognition to logic. I no more believe that than do I believe the people who think that logic is the higher function or that emotions are a lower function or that religion and spirituality is a delusion. It is a form of cognition. It is a useful form of cognition. But it is just that: A form of cognition – one that can go right, wrong, or in any number of ways..

To say that all history is driven by the dialectic, and that it has one or another inevitable result, is ridiculous. History is driven by choices that people make. When you have 7 billion people on the planet, each capable of choice, absolutely nothing is inevitable at all. Some idiot could come to power and blow up the planet. A major power could impose its ways upon everyone, or another major power could try to fight it – something that of course is happening already. Christians, Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists or New Agers may have a success in converting everyone to their religion. Anything can happen.

It is very much rightful to affirm the interests of the worker. However using a ridiculous ideology is not the right way to go about doing that. Use the Biblical Golden Rule. Use rational reasons – that workers are working at least as hard as their bosses and should be treated and compensated appropriately. Use simple compassion. Do not discredit yourself by adopting an ideology that is absolutely wrong.

I do not understand for one moment why so many people, many of them intelligent and many of them ethical and compassionate, bought into Marxism. Maybe they had rightfully had it with those in capitalism who thought that business was the only root of prosperity and that science or labor or education wasn't. Maybe they did not like the way in which workers were being treated.. Maybe they took objection to “traditional” roles of women.. All these attitudes are totally understandable. But why did they not see just how wrong Marx's central contention was?

The countries that did adopt Marxism did not end up treating workers better than did the countries that didn't. Instead Marxism was used to impose totalitarianism. Whereas capitalist democracies, although after very much struggle, ended up improving conditions for their workers and by so doing saved capitalism and democracy.

At this time in history, the interest in Marxism has increased. The American Dream has not been working for many people, and many in business have gone back to bad habits that business had had before. I caution them against doing such a thing. You re-create the conditions that preceded Marxism, you will be met with something like Marxism. Similarly the people who want to re-create 1950s will re-create the conditions that lead to 1960s and will be met with something like 1960s further down the road.

Personally, Marx and I have a lot in common. We are both nerdy overbearing Jews, and it takes one to know one. Marx had legitimate insights, but what he did with them was wrong. He created a terrible ideology. And many people died or suffered as a result.

It is legitimate to seek improvements in the lives of workers, women, etc. But it has to be done in the right way rather than the wrong way. Do not do it according to an obviously wrong ideology. Do it with rational arguments.. Do it with arguments toward compassion. Do it with the actual Christian value that is the Golden Rule.

Any number of my former bosses have treated me according to Golden Rule, and I have maintained with them solid friendships. We see the same done with many businesses in America, both large and small. These people have learned their lessons from history, and they have made the correct improvements in their behavior. These improvements are partly credited to the efforts of liberals and partly to intelligence on the part of business itself. It is essential that business maintain these improvements if the world be spared a resurgence of Marxist ideology.

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arts / rec.arts.books / Refuting Marxism once and for all


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