None Dare Call It Marxism

Once upon a time, back when Vampire: the Eternal Struggle Collectible Card game was actually in print, I played a fair amount of it. Then we all ended up friending each other on Facebook. And then Facebook recommends other friends based on the friends you have, and pretty soon you have people on your Facebook friends you’ve never met. That’s all well and good, but inevitably you end up in these political discussions with “friends” who are really strangers and you realize you have no common ground with these people. Worse, you don’t have the luxury of death actually meeting these people to keep things civil.

These exchanges tend to be a waste of time. Inevitably I end up discussing politics with people who parrot a few tidbits of history to support their rather outlandish points of view. These kind of discourses them to be rather tiresome, but I thought the one I had today was rather funny.

Let’s take a look.

Preston Poulter
The Republicans, on the other hand, love big business and all the money that big business throws at them. So they have no problem being total corporate whores, all in the name of the free market. The Democrats had build up some traction under the Bush Administration as being an opposition party, but now that they’re running the show, to have even less integrity. The Republicans are telling you they’re screwing you in the name of big business. The Dems are screwing you in the name of helping you out, which I find particularly galling.

David Paul Bowles That may be true as well. I can’t really tell. It’s too bad that Americans are so xenophobic, because Dems could point out how all other economies in the world save Singapore are market socialisms in one form or another. But Americans don’t care what goes on other places, even if we are getting beat to death by said market socialisms.
Preston Poulter Less regulation and market intervention has always equated with more wealth for all concerned. Always has and always will. You don’t read about decade long depressions during the 1800s, and there’a reason for that. It took the modern age with all of it’s wonderful trapping of countercyclical government spending, and all of that nonsense in order to really bring us The Great Depression, Japan’s Lost Decade, and the wonderful economic downturn we are currently experiencing.

David Paul Bowles I think that modern business thinking makes your assertion no longer the case, but I don’t think we are going to find out unless the US somehow dissolves itself. Ideology aside, I must admit I’d move to where ever I could get a job unless the pollution was intolerable. Which could very well be the case in a “market intervention” state.
Preston Poulter Well one would assume that a market interventionist state would have less pollution, otherwise what are their grounds for intervening?

David Paul Bowles Letting businesses regulate their own pollution is like letting a fox regulate the hen house. But whatever. Ecology will not be important until nations start failing because of it. I’ve accepted it.

Preston Poulter I keep having the same conversations over and over again. Oh well, here’s to one more time. If a businesses pollution is creating a problem for you in an unregulated marketplace, you are free to file suit to collect damages. Over time, case law becomes a form of regulation, but a far more flexible one because case law is constantly being updated for new technologies and new applications.

David Paul Bowles: Until said polluter just buys the court. Because in a free market economy, EVERYTHING is for sale. I don’t trust that kind of a situation. Sorry.

Preston Poulter Fortunately our current situation protects large organizations from dominating the government… Oh wait. No it doesn’t. So stop bagging in the free market economy. It works just fine.

David Paul Bowles: Where is the evidence for this? Has this mythical situation ever occurred? There is always going to be a state or a cult of personality or something exerting coercion in a free market. It has been shown time and time again that the merchant class needs to be smacked down from time to time to show that they are NOT the end all be all. I can provide examples of this starting with turn of the 20th century America.

Carey Weaver: Clintons work…too many people who couldn’t afford the homes they were buying…the national debt is 14 TRILLION…thats fourteen thousand billion to David…the GOP is not without blame, that much I admit, but the Dems definitely need to get the spending under control. Petroleum drives this economy, and Obama chooses to go with the “green”solution”, sorry boys and girls, but that doesn’t work. Yes we are fighting a couple of wars that are questionable, but that is what you get when you are the leader of the world….anyplace else you would like to live?

Carey Weaver We can still grab a brew together and agree to disagree…lol

David Paul Bowles Yeah, I’d actually like to move out, but I’m too poor and/or unskilled. I don’t blame the nations on top for having high immigration standards though.

David Paul Bowles You bring up a very good point about petroleum. Yes, this economy is currently driven by petroleum. But being behind the energy curve has contributed to the downfall of several empires. More specifically, the Spanish missed the wind revolution created by the Dutch, the Dutch missed the transition to coal by the British, and the British were slow to adopt the American super-fuel petroleum.
Petroleum will not be the fuel of choice forever, and in many ways, it is already not. Just consider all the unsavory regimes we must deal with to acquire sufficient amounts of this fuel. Also consider all the downsides of importing so much energy. Also, given that we have 2% of the world’s reserves but consume 25% of the petroleum we can not solve this by drilling here.

Carey Weaver Tell that to the commuter that is driving over 100 miles a day like me …are you the same David with the math problem?

Carey Weaver my bad..sorry…nice debating with you David

David Paul Bowles That kind of commute will be unsustainable as global demand pushes fuel prices ever higher. The entire infrastructure of the US is built around infinite cheap fuel, which is no longer a reality. This goes back to not planning for the next energy source. In many ways, the size of the US is now becoming a liability.

To my knowledge, my math skills are above average. I did pass physical chemistry.

Preston Poulter‎@David Where is my evidence for this? That free market works. Well I could just cite the entire field of Microeconomics, but I think I’ll actually point to Communism. The Soviet Union realized that free markets were the best mechanisms for translating the desires of the masses into the distribution of resources that they had their own economists try to model it to attempt to mathematically recreate them in order to set accurate prices for things and try to divide up labor and resources. Of course it didn’t work very well. The Soviet Union was always plagued by shortages because…. free markets work. Thank you. Now in terms of your other assertion that the “merchant class” needs to be “smacked down” from time to time to “prove that they are not the end all be all” you’re moving into territory I’m not familiar with. The Economics I studied did not put people into “classes” such as the “Merchant Class.” Nor did it say that they needed to be “smacked down” in order to learn their place. I do think that there was an Economist named Karl Marx who did preach Economics from an entirely class based point of view, but we all know how that story turned out.

David Paul Bowles Then why is a nation like China, whose foot is on the throat of the merchants prospering at our expense? In fact, why does no nation save Singapore follow this model of free markets? Or is a market socialism close enough? You see, the problems with Marxist Communism does not address the viability of market socialism and state capitalism at all. You can not logically use the failure of concept A to prove the validity of B.

David Paul Bowles And for the record, I consider economics a pseudo-science at best, because irrational human behaviours taint it at every step. Furthermore, I generally don’t approve of class assignments, but the merchant class in America is really making many of Karl Marx’s predictions laid out in Das Kapital come true. See, Marx’s true genius work was Das Kaptial, not the Communist Manifesto. His analysis of the problem was brilliant, but his solution was miserable and unworkable. Only America seems to not realize that a hybridization between the two is probably best for all.

Preston Poulter: Ah, I see I was successful in divining your Maxist viewpoints. It really permeates your thoughts to the point where I can’t even understand what they hell you’re saying. “China’s foot is on the throat of merchants prospering at our expense?” What does that even mean? And then you’re going into market socialism, and discussions of Singapore and I just can’t follow you here. It is very telling that you feel that Economics is a pseudoscience, yet revere the work of Marx. If anything, it’s at least nice to find a Democrat who is in touch with his Socialist roots and has bothered to read the intellectual roots of his party in Das Kapital. Personally, I find class based economics ridiculous and anyone who labels them as brilliant is clearly warping reality so as to confirm a predetermined conclusion, which again makes it hard to discuss things with you because I don’t see things in terms of the “Merchant class.”

David Paul Bowles So let me see……. I think one of Marx’s works is accurate and the rest are pretty much crap and this makes me a Marxist? Who is warping reality to confirm a predetermined conclusion now? And the man I admire is Bismarck, not Marx. But Bismarck was a pragmatist which today is a lost art. And, uh, I’m not a Democrat because they are complete cowards. They would be considered a right of center party in most other nations. So if nothing else, socialists can point and say “scoreboard!”

David Paul Bowles And, yea, I meant to say “China, whose foot is on the throat of their merchants, is prospering at our expense. Sorry about that.

David Paul Bowles The Chinese government by definition owns EVERYTHING in China. There are no true property rights. They execute state appointed CEOs who make too many mistakes. How is this not having their foot on the throat of merchants? I’m not advocating such a hard line approach. There are plenty of compromise situations to be found in places such as India, Germany, and Australia? Or do those nations not count?

David Paul Bowles And I find it laughable to call me a Marxist because I agree with the theories espoused in Das Kapital. I think private ownership is important to an economy, but with limitations and boundaries.
Also I wasn’t try to say the US was ” the merchants”. China has their foot on THEIR merchants. It seems to be working out so far them, which is impossible by free market theory, unless I am mistaken.

Preston Poulter Ah, well I’m glad I’m finally finding out exactly what you mean by your Chinese Merchant statement. I think you’re just shying away from the Marxist title because you don’t like the baggage that comes with it. You’ve read Das Kapital apparently. You think in terms of class. You feel that Socialism is superior to a free market economy. You champion ideas of Marx. This makes you a Marxist in the most common definition of the term.

David Paul Bowles One more thing…. Bismarck co-opted socialist ideas to prevent insurrection in Prussia. He mostly tried to stick to the ones that made sense as to achieve a compromise situation. He was no socialist, but recognized that there was some value in the oppositions demands and incorporated them into his platform.

David Paul Bowles Uh no. People who believe market socialism is better than raw capitalism are ………. market socialists! Not Marxists. Germany is full of market socialists, Marxists not so much. I know to the American conservative community there is no difference, but in the real world, there is a huge difference.

Preston Poulter Again, I feel you’re simply avoiding implications, because all I’m doing at this point is simply reposting. You champion the ideas of Marx. You feel economics is largely bunk, but Marx’s ideas are brilliant. You view economic problems in terms of class.

Preston Poulter The shoe fits, but I tire of this discussion.

David Paul Bowles Nice……….. or more likely, you need to label me a Marxist because the idea of alternative economic systems between total free markets and Marxism is threatening to the false choice fallacy American conservatives constantly commit.
You can “feel” however you like, but anyone who believes in any kind of private property can NOT be a Marxist. And I didn’t say economics was bunk. It is a pseudo-science at best. That means its “laws” and principles can be drastically different given culture and other factors. Protons behave the same in every culture. That’s science.

Preston Poulter No dude. I don’t need to label you a Marxist. It’s simply what you are. As I’ve already said at least four times, you meet the definition. You are furthermore making a ton of assumptions about my motivations, but since I’m not an American conservative, they’re are rather baseless. But you’re entire discussion has been nothing but baseless assertions, and seeing as how we can not even agree on the most basic of definitions, I see no reason to continue to discuss things with a wrong headed fanatic.

This exchange really strikes me because my opponent, David, identifies economic problems all in terms of class. I say that the free market works, and he responds with the need to keep the “merchant class” in line. This seems bizarre to my way of thinking because, despite being an entrepreneur who is the child of two entrepreneurs, I’m not exactly sure what the “merchant class” is. I’m a professional poker player right now, but I also do things on the side for other people to make money. Does that make me a member of the merchant class?

Furthermore, even from a societal distinction, the notion of a “merchant class” really has limited value because most businessman are out to destroy their competition. Hardly the kind of class oriented thinking that would call for shoving all of us into a box and treating us as though we all had the same interests. The reason why I love Austrian Economics is that it rejects the notion of treating the various segments of society in terms of large aggregates. And really, what have we really gained in this analysis by lumping a vast number of people into this nonsensical amalgam? Taken together members of the “merchant class” want what most everyone wants: for the law to favor them and to pay as few taxes as possible.

Of course, since the merchant class is constantly at war with itself (competition you know), it wants the law to favor them at the expense of other members of the class. There are certain things such as a restriction on Labor Unions that perhaps all business people might want, but then again perhaps not. Foreign competitors might support Labor Unions to hobble the competition, etc. Really, business tended to be as unique as the individuals who run them. What have we really gained by lumping them together? A hobgoblin, that’s what!

Now that we have designated all business people (and presumably their children since we are dealing with an entire class of people), as members of a class, we can now menace other people with the notion of what they might do. *Gasp* members of the Merchant Class want to pollute the atmosphere! It’s simple a Hobgoblin that a statist would use to intellectually necessitate the need for government to intervene and, to use the words of my opponent, “smack down the Merchant Class.”

Of course, this assumes that somehow government can somehow maintain itself free from any corrupting influences from the Merchants. Which is a hysterical notion in and of itself. Why if only there was some way for the state to take over the production and distribution of wealth we could rid ourselves of this problem… And we’re off and running into the arms of Communism.

What I find fascinating in this discussion is how vehemently my opponent denies that he is a Marxist, despite the fact that he:

  1. Feels that Economics is a junk science, with the exception of Das Kapital. That’s “brilliant” to use his words.
  2. Can’t help but break economic problems down into class warfare.
  3. Is very much in favor of, what he terms, “Market Socialism.” A rather oxymoronic term.

But despite all of this, he feels I am attacking him in labeling him a Marxist. This seems strangely telling to me. In the same way that Obama has rejected the label “Socialist”, he has rejected the label Marxist. This is no doubt because Marxism has been largely discredited with the fall of Communism. And yet people love to cling to the ideas of class warfare and the need for large government to come to the rescue and save them.

4 thoughts on “None Dare Call It Marxism”

  1. Preston,
    You missed Paul’s most damning statement in his whole diatribe. “I think private ownership is important to an economy, but with limitations and boundaries.”

    For someone to suggest that private property can exist ‘with limitations and boundaries’ means they are NOT a Marxist. It means they are a damned idiot.

  2. Oh my, how have I failed to visit this yet – great Blog!

    Master P, remember this is all just a matter of perspective. Since this David is seated at the hand of Mao lining up the loyal subjects for some percussive re-education, I would imagine you look like a fascist speaking all that “leave me and my freedom alone” crazy talk to him. Hilarious!

  3. Yea, I had another bout with another Socialist on Facebook over the weekend. Things get pretty heated because to me these people are always violating the “you’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts” rule. They furthermore have arrogance to match their ignorance, and it’s just a rough combination.

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