Some people in the movement seem to want to hold on to the
relics of the past as if their lives depend on it. I believe this is due to an
inability to comprehensively come up with new approaches to age old problems.
Of course, that is only a part of it. There is also the refusal to face the
reality of the situation, as it is now and how it has been. In some places, the
idea of a socialist revolution based on the precepts set forth by Marx may make
sense, but most places don’t fit the bill. Marx was concerned with the struggle
between to unique classes, the bourgeois and proletariat. I have heard
bourgeois applied to so many different people and ideas that the word has no
meaning any more. Anyone that points out the reality of the situation is
bourgeois. It is pretty sad really. It is no longer a prerequisite that someone
be intellectually honest. Honesty and intellectualism are shunned. And the
revolution is a failure because of it. Socialism has brought about more authoritarian
governments than the ones they attempted to replace. Marx already said that,
“The traditions of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the
brain of the living.” He was an advocate of looking forward as opposed to
living in the past. It is time that revolution meant just that. Revolution.
Ancient Language and
It is important to consider history and the context within
which Marx was writing before we attempt to apply those terms and words to our
modern world. The situation today, though we can draw parallels, is not the
world of the 1800’s.
Wealth in the 1800’s was measured by psychical property. The
more psychical property, the wealthier someone was. Land ownership was
restricted, by law, to the bourgeois class that Marx was talking about. They
owned “the means of production” because the property and everything on it,
regardless of who did the work to produce it, belonged to the land holders.
These bourgeois claimed all sorts of rights and liberties with the people whose
lives they controlled. And all of this was enforced by the legal system that
was in place. There was no way to move from the lower class and it was
reinforced by the law.
Today the socialists equate the poor with the proletariat.
This is not an apt comparison. Yes, there are struggles to being poor. Getting
by day to day can be a struggle and the prospect of home or land ownership
seems like a pipe dream to some. But this condition is not necessarily imposed
by law. There are definitely things that the government does to maintain this
lower class, after all, one side needs the cheap labor and the other side needs
someone to point to so they can say how far we need to go. But the days of the
company or landlord being able to oppress them are long gone.
There is a monopoly on land and how it can be used and by
whom. But that monopoly isn’t in the hands of the rich landlord anymore,
instead it is in the hands of the government. They draw borders and institute
programs that control the flow of people and goods and restrict ownership of
land that is not being used. The federal government in the US is the largest
single land holder. And I assure you, they are not about to let the productive
class claim any right of appropriation on that land. It is in this way that the
government controls the scarcity of resources and keeps the poor from using
their labor and mixing it with the land to create a life for themselves.
The scarcity that existed in the time of Marx and Engel’s no
longer exists in this day and age. Yes there is a “class gap” between the rich
and the poor, but the ability to transverse that gap is no longer limited to a
direct uprising and “theft” of the wealth. Today people change between these
groups on a regular basis. The idea of redistributing wealth is nothing more
than advocating theft. The reason a large Marxist movement has never taken hold
in the United States, and never will, is because the conditions of scarcity of
basic resources do not exist. We have only ONE class that controls the wealth,
the government class. We don’t have a group of people starving and working for
their mere sustenance, despite the claims of some. There are not people dieing
of hunger in the streets, there are not great lords of the manor forcing people
to work their factories just to get by. Some people like to paint this picture
but it simply isn’t true. Again, there is an inability or a direct attack on
honest discussion, based solely on the need to create a struggle that doesn’t
exist. Without that struggle, the conditions Marx pointed out for the seeds of
revolution do not exist.
So we are left with socialist movement within government
institutions as the means of effecting the change from a statist society to a
free society. What do they create instead though? A regime that is even more
authoritarian than the previous one. Instead of creating a free society, they
create a society were all “citizens” are condemned to equal slavery. The idea
that the accumulation of power into the hands of these self-proclaimed
defenders will result in more humane treatment has proven to be false time and
again. Their actions do nothing to return the power of self determination to
the people; instead their programs drive the wedge between the ruling class and
the people deeper. They set the chains in stone, they make the whip seem to be
made of velvet and they convince the people to give up freedom in the name of
the “greater good”. There exists no greater good in society than freedom. Only
one class benefits from this relationship, the ruling class. Far from the
ruling class of Marx’s time this group uses their social programs to maintain
the illusion of a compassionate hand. The illusion is so appealing that it is
accepted by most without question.
There is a class struggle in this country as I briefly
touched on above. Far from being the bourgeois class spoken of by Marx, the
current ruling class consists of the government itself. With a monopoly on the
land, the law, the money and the use of force, they are able to create social
and economic situations that seek to ensure that they maintain power. The goal,
no matter how altruistic they try to make it appear, is to keep the
hierarchical system in place, with them firmly on top.
So why do some people embrace this “collection of power”,
even if it is into the hands of a local council or group? The very idea that a
group or collective can adequately represent the individual is a fallacy. Only
the individual can and will work in their best interest at all times. This may
include appointing a representative for themselves, but only if the
representative is willing and able to make their wishes known to the letter.
That means for a society to exist each person must have their voice heard and
be allowed to make their decisions based on their own internal truth.
Any system that doesn’t recognize the sovereignty of the
individual is an enemy of freedom. Government, even on the local scale, is
still government and by nature is the enemy of freedom. It is time that we refocus
the class struggle from the economic angle and realize that the struggle exists
not between the rich and the poor, but between the controllers of the markets
and the labor. This was the actual message of Marx and one that seems to have
been largely ignored or at least hijacked by self serving would be gods.
The favorite target of the old movement was capital. But we
have to look at what capital and wealth were in that day and age. It is time to
ask ourselves if the situations that Marx described at the time fit with our
knowledge of what capital is today. Capitalism has become the enemy, even
though the word is taken out of context and applied to an economic system that
it doesn’t represent.
Every person is their own highest authority. No one has a
moral right to place limitations on what they can achieve, how they can live or
who they can associate with. The free person knows that their life has value.
Knowing the value of that life, they are able to make any decisions necessary
to sustain that life. Thinking and acting on those thoughts can not be
interfered with by anyone else, unless those actions interfere with the freedom
of another. Self ownership is one of the cornerstones of life. All other rights
are derived from the idea of self ownership. The state can only infringe on
that fundamental right, by proclaiming themselves the voice of the people. The
only person that can speak for me is me. Anyone else that tries to do it is
robbing me of self ownership. No government or group can come “close enough” to
holding my best interest at heart. No one, not government or a group or an
individual, can ask me to trade or act in any manner that causes me a loss of
any sort. That is an underlying part of self ownership. By nature, man will
always act in their own best interest; therefore transactions between people
are always a net gain so long as people are allowed to enact those transactions
of their own free will.
This is capital. Each person, their skills, their beliefs,
their thoughts, their actions, the fruits of their labor, all those thing are
included in capital. Simply stated, capitalism is a belief that an individual
has total moral right to all those things.
Instead of embracing capitalism, it comes under attack. I
have to assume it is from a misconception of what capitalism is. Just for the
record, we don’t live in a capitalist system. We live in a system that business
has set up, in collusion with government, in which exploitation MUST happen for
the system to work. From the worker being exploited by the owner to everyone
being exploited by the government, this system is evil to the core. This is not
the free market.
In the free market, you are free to make voluntary exchanges
for goods, commodities or services. These transactions are between two people.
There is no outside force that can be applied to any part of the transaction.
When the transaction occurs, both parties gain from it. The environment for a
free market to work in can’t exist in conjunction with a government that is
able to influence those transactions. Any criticism of capitalism that blames
the system for the actions of the government is at least ill-informed, at most
an outright fabrication.
158 Years of the Same
Ol’ Song and Dance
The failure of the Marxist revolution has not stopped people
from holding onto the ideas that he espoused. At the time they were
revolutionary, today they are tired and empty rhetoric. Marx never intended for
his work to become the bible of anyone. He wanted to provide a basic insight
into revolutionary thought and action, which he succeeded well at doing.
Unfortunately we see people have stagnated and can’t get past the ancient
slogans and movements. There is no movement today. There is nothing but small
groups holding on for dear life to ideas that many of them barely comprehend
today. The only remnants of that school of thought making any movement today
are unable to come up with a plan to get from here to there. They realize that
the communist society they envision can not come about through socialist
revolution, so they advocate and end to the state. But to what end? Only to
replace it with a new state when the old one is gone. Though this is a broad
generalization, it is easily seen within their ranks.
We have seen the rise of socialism in many facets and many
countries around the world. Usually leading to a depressing, oppressive end.
The nature of man is to work in his own self interest. We can not deny that, in
fact we should embrace that. To ever see real change we have to take into account
the nature of humankind focus our thoughts on achieving change with that nature
in mind. As soon as power is concentrated in one central body it has the effect
of growing exponentially until it is all inclusive. Without competition there
is no motivation for those in power to work in a manner that will insure that
their personal needs are met while at the same time working to be more
attractive to the persons they wish to represent.
The inability of the socialist movement to get past the
dictatorship phase is well known. Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Ho, all have proven
beyond a shadow of a doubt that total power concentrated in the state or
councils ends up in the hands of the most vicious perpetrators on Earth. Even
the socialist influence on other countries like, Great Britain, the United
States and Germany have shown that the aim of true freedom can not be achieved
in a collectivist society. Unless we turn away from the mistaken thought that a
small group can represent the whole of society, we can make no progress towards
securing our own liberty, much less the liberty of even the smallest minority
group in society, the individual. The only system that can achieve that is the
one were every individual is totally free to make all decisions regarding their
“self ownership”. Their property must be respected by all. The fruits of their
labor must be theirs to negotiate or trade with as they choose. We must realize
that there is no greater societal good than the freedom of the individual to do
as they please in all maters, provided they grant us the same courtesy.
Solutions to Distribution
The problem of distribution of wealth has been addressed
many times. But the answers, for the most part, have been unsatisfactory. The
main reason for this seems to lie with the means of distribution. Only one
system has consistently proven itself a model of efficient distribution and
like it or not that is capitalism. When the individual has total control over
the worth of themselves and are free to trade with anyone they wish, on any
terms they wish, they can exercise true freedom. All transactions must be
between individuals or their representatives. There can be no outside influence
that will always consider THEIR interest in a transaction that does not concern
them. They will always influence those trades in their best interests, despite
what is in the best interest of the other parties involved. It doesn’t matter
if this is a large centralized government or a local council. If they are given
the power to intervene in transactions, their nature will require them to look
out for their own interests in the transaction over anyone else involved. Not
to mention the fact that giving someone, even if it is a local council, the
ability to intervene in private transactions is giving them the ability to
exert force against non-compliance.
The successful model of distribution will see that the real
value exists in the individuals and that their transactions will lead to the
betterment of the society. Just as freedom comes from the ground up, so does
Today, to see any real change, we need to change our
language. What existed at one time no longer exists. Holding on to failed ideas
and slogans that mean nothing will not change anything. The most that can
accomplish is to keep everything “as is”. That is unacceptable to the person
that yearns for freedom.
It is time to learn from the lessons and words of people
like Marx and tailor them to fit our personal reality. Not the reality of 19th
century Europe, but today. It is time to live in the present and bury the dead.
They are stinking up the place.
The No Name Group Project