So Let it be Written, So Let it be Done!

October 29, 2008

Who is a Marxist?

Filed under: rant — kamakula @ 3:36 pm
Tags: , , , ,

The current charge in our political discourse is one of socialist. Some have even been so bold to call out others as Marxist even going as far to quote Marx to make their point.

From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.

This is used in making the argument that:

 Your rights to your property exist only so long as government will allow, and it’s just not fair to have more stuff than someone else.

Of course, this ignores the fact that even under the our current government, the first part of that sentence is true. Our right to anything exists only as long as our governing (and law upholding) body is able (has the legal means and authority) to allow.

The second part of that sentence requires a willful disregard on the part of the quoter of what Marx said. Specifically, if we look at the critical portion of the quote, to each according to his own need, it is clear that the amount of “stuff” you have isn’t controlled by enforcing some strict limitations on how much everyone can have but instead based on what you “need”. So, saying that it’s just not fair to have more than someone else is a very misleading interpretation of Marx. That implication brings into account an issue that Marx is not addressing there at all, fairness applied to a citizen’s wants, rather than needs.

Now, I’m going to let Boortz off the hook now since I’m primarily discussing attacks on political candidates, rather than misguided attempts to show that our schools are indoctrinating children with some government is the solution to everything view (a view that I’m not sure even counts as being socialist). I highlighted his piece to illustrate how pundits are deliberately misunderstanding Marx’s words in attempts to score cheap political points.

One of the arguments against Obama is that his “Marxist wealth redistribution plan” is bad. The rationale provided behind the arguments is that Obama is taking wealth away from hard workers (who are struggling as it is*) and giving it to layabouts who don’t work anyway and already live on the government (and our collective) dime. The problem with this argument is that it is NOT Marxist. As the quote above shows, Marx advocated that ALL citizens contributed according to their ability and are provided for according to their needs. 

This means that in a Marxist society, it would be impossible to find someone capable of productive work who is NOT working. The government wouldn’t allow it. Or society wouldn’t allow it.

I hate when people muddy the socialism vs capitalism argument with such bogus scenarios and claims. Fundamentally, the argument is about two viewpoints. One where the most important thing is the right of the individual and the other where the most important thing is the right of the society. The most important thing is more than just rights; it encompasses livelihood, values, etc.

Here is the problem, the ideal first view depends upon the assumption that everyone is equal. Equally hard working, equally intelligent, equal starts in life. That is impossible. The second requires that all work, intelligence, motivation, etc is treated equally, that is impossible because we are humans. As such, most of us are unable to live in a world where the reward for being a great window washer is exactly the same as that of discovering the theory of relativity.

Instead, we live in a medium between the two. There is no country that is truely capitalist anymore than there is one that’s truely socialist. Both are extremes that cannot exist due to the imperfections of humans. So, it is ridiculous to attempt to demonize someone as socialist or capitalist, given that our government, our political process, our economic process, whatever plans that either political party will conceive, will always have elements of both.



  1. Nice Site layout for your blog. I am looking forward to reading more from you.

    Tom Humes

    Comment by Tom Humes — October 29, 2008 @ 4:07 pm | Reply

  2. Out-fu*king-standing.

    Comment by Dorian G. — October 30, 2008 @ 12:52 pm | Reply

  3. I live in a very conservative state where the name “Obama” is often uttered in the same breath with socialist and Hitler. So I share your same irritation with bogus consructs of “socialist” and “capitalist”. Like you rightly said, very few countries can be purely one or the other. Plus, Whoopi Goldberg said something so true last week: what if some of Obama’s policies are socialist? We’ve tried everything else so far and it hasnt worked, we might as well try something new.

    While I have big qualms with universal health care, etc…your right, I hate the use of “socialism” to demonize.
    Great blog you have here by the way. Thanks for stopping by mine!

    Comment by nigeriandramaqueen — November 3, 2008 @ 1:04 am | Reply

  4. Hmmm…interesting point of view. I don’t think I ever considered the Marxist argument!

    Comment by Jaycee — November 3, 2008 @ 7:23 am | Reply

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