• Wallows
    9k
    Marx outlined two phases of progress that must be completed before communism can prevail. Essentially, he outlined the reason why we should move from capitalism to socialism, and finally from socialism to communism.

    However, I don't believe we will ever be able to make the leap from socialism to communism.

    Here's why... Socialism is the golden mean between the benefits of progress and prosperity that competition entails under capitalism, whilst preserving the benefits of the proto-communist state through high taxation and redistributive policies.

    However, given my understanding of the issue, when no more progress can be instilled through capitalism, such as machines replacing the labor force (which will happen soon), then there is a shift in the balance towards the appeal of communism.

    How far off are we, when productivity increases become redundant is another issue and capitalism will have nothing more to offer is profoundly unknown; but, I'd like to address this proposed evolution of capitalism towards socialism, and then the final leap towards communism(?)
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.8k
    I think a move in the direction of socialism would be a good start. Until we reach that point, the transition to communism is too distant to consider.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.3k
    It seems nonsensical to me. I have no reason to believe that Marx was exhausting the possibilities of how we can do things, and I have no reason to believe that Marx was ferreting out anything like scientific principles or logical principles or implications.
  • Shamshir
    856
    I think you're working in reverse. :meh:
    Space tourism is just one example for why it won't work like that.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    Whether we move so much as a millimetre closer to socialism depends on the ability of the working class -- which is 90% of the population in the industrialised world. Capitalism on its own has no reason to move anywhere whatsoever. Capitalists have nothing to gain from socialism.

    The working class, on the other hand, has everything to gain, and it is the efforts of the working class that will either move society toward socialism or leave it where it is -- in complete thrall to capitalism. How will/would the working class move society towards socialism? By organising the power of the working class in opposition to capitalists, and towards a society friendlier to the needs of the people.

    How likely is this to occur? I don't know. I hope it will happen; I wish it would happen; I fear that it will not happen.
  • Wallows
    9k
    It seems nonsensical to me. I have no reason to believe that Marx was exhausting the possibilities of how we can do things, and I have no reason to believe that Marx was ferreting out anything like scientific principles or logical principles or implications.Terrapin Station

    Well, this is a common misconception about economics. Marx couldn't have fathomed about the deflationary tendencies of progress in technology. Anyone correct me if I'm wrong on this, @fdrake?
  • Wallows
    9k
    How will/would the working class move society towards socialism? By organising the power of the working class in opposition to capitalists, and towards a society friendlier to the needs of the people.Bitter Crank

    Well, yes. That's the ad hoc method done through revolution. However, a more progressive measure would be done by reaching a point where deflationary tendencies causing printed money to become more valuable... A rising tide lifts all boats, as they say.

    Wrt. to the rich, since money is becoming more valuable, their power may as well grow, hence under our current FED guidelines of monetary policy, we have to maintain inflation at a stable and low level, as the top priority for the FED to do.
  • Valentinus
    558
    Marx outlined two phases of progress that must be completed before communism can prevail.Wallows

    Which texts are you referring to?
    There are a lot of interpretations. Some argue the reverse of what you are saying about "phases."
  • Wallows
    9k
    Which texts are you referring to?
    There are a lot of interpretations. Some argue the reverse of what you are saying about "phases."
    Valentinus

    I'm under the impression that this is the standard interpretation of Marxist economics. Anyone care to chime in about this?
  • ssu
    1.6k
    However, I don't believe we will ever be able to make the leap from socialism to communism.Wallows
    Socialism didn't work anywhere where it was tried, so hopefully nobody is trying to leap back to that misery.

    Here's why... Socialism is the golden mean between the benefits of progress and prosperity that competition entails under capitalism, whilst preserving the benefits of the proto-communist state through high taxation and redistributive policies.Wallows
    No.

    Your confusing a mixed economy to socialism. If you keep capitalism and add a welfare state to it, that's not socialism. Mixed economy is a form of capitalism where most industries are privately owned with only a small number of public utilities and essential services under public ownership and the government has a larger role than otherwise in the economy. Typically there is a welfare state.

    If you have a functioning democracy, it's likely that however dominant socialists (or basically social democrats) would be, the opposition will be heard and the policies will be basically a compromise. What this means is that the economy will likely stay capitalist thanks to (private ownership), even if the government has a lot to say and decides to nationalize some industries.
  • Wallows
    9k


    So, I may have been using the terms too broadly. I still feel as though the logic is sound in the OP, according to Marxist economics.
  • Valentinus
    558
    Socialism didn't work anywhere where it was triedssu

    Where was it tried?
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    A rising tide lifts all boats, as they say.Wallows

    So they say--but if you don't have a boat in the first place...

    Wallows: Marx was preaching revolution. He wasn't preaching monetary policy.

    The revolution which Marx was interested in was the seizure of resources (land, factories, etc.) and the power too direct production for the benefit of the proletarian class (which is most people). The formula "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" isn't about lifting the yachts of the FORMER ruling class. It's about enabling people to fully utilise their talents for the benefit of all, and receiving a share of goods proportional to their needs. Some people have more than others to offer (they are stronger, smarter, more skilled, handier, healthier, etc.) and can give more to the community. Most of us are kind of "in the middle". Some people have greater needs: they have children to care for; their spouse needs insulin every day, etc. As for needs, most of us are "in the middle".

    That's the basis on which goods are distributed. Monetary policy (making money more valuable) is irrelevant to the socialist/communist revolution. Forget about it.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    Back in the day when Turks were something to worry about, Martin Luther said "It is better to be ruled by a smart Turk than a stupid Christian."

    Bringing Luther's sentiment forward, I would say "It is better to be live in a well run capitalist economy than in a socialist economy run by jackasses. Similarly, "It might be better to try socialism than put up with a ruinous capitalist system run by jackals, even if socialism has not been proven to work."

    The fact is, capitalism is not proving itself compatible with a liveable future. The oil companies (capitalists all) clearly plan to suck up the last profitable drop of oil and burn it. By the time they get done doing this, a liveable future will likely be impossible. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like our democratic institutions are going to be able to control the economic powers.

    I'm not sure there will be any sort of socialist revolution. But I'm pretty sure capitalism is offering a no-win future. Socialism seems worth a try.
  • Wallows
    9k


    Yes; but, if the economic conditions are not ready to introduce pure socialism or even utopian communism, then it will fail. What I described in the OP is an operational rationale, under economic terms, for the state of affairs that would precipitate a successful socialist state.
  • Theologian
    160
    Now I have this playing in my head...

  • Willyfaust
    21
    Socialism is thriving for the well to do in America. Tax breaks, military spending, deregulation of the banking system, all supported by society as a whole. Capitalism, directed by the few, is farming the masses. The rich using citizens to promote their own gains is select socialism.
  • Banno
    6k
    The frustrations of Tiananmen Square were crushed and then placated by the distractions of middle class comfort.

    Western countries are finding it difficult to satisfy an increasing number of their citizens not because of a lack of growth but because of the extraordinary inequity in the distribution of the benefits of that growth.

    As for Marx, Popper's critique stands good for me.

    So what happens next?

    Totalitarian states in Asia encouraging capitalist growth. Asia is now the centre of scientific and technological development. The United States failed to support its education system and hence failed to invest in the future. It is only managing at the moment on the momentum built up by Google and Intel.

    Europe is a mess.

    Russia is too small an economy to make much difference on the world stage. All hot air and no fire.

    Africa remains a basket case.

    China. Japan. Indonesia.

    Then India and perhaps Brazil.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    Since you have the tune running through your head, you might as well put some nice updated lyrics to it. This is the British guy, Billy Bragg, singing his version of the Internationale:
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    Yes; but, if the economic conditions are not ready to introduce pure socialism or even utopian communism, then it will fail. What I described in the OP is an operational rationale, under economic terms, for the state of affairs that would precipitate a successful socialist state.Wallows

    You are right that "if the economic conditions are not ready to introduce pure socialism or even utopian communism, then it will fail"

    Uncle Karl would approve. However, the relevant "economic conditions" are not to be found in monetary or financial policy, one way or the other. The "economic condition" that matters is whether or not the workers have developed their intellectual and technical capacities to take over the management of the economy. This management job will have to be taken away from the capitalists. No way in hell are they going to just say, "Oh, well, it's your turn to turn things now. Here are the keys to the Kingdom."

    At the present time, corporations employ many people who have considerable technical insight into how the businesses who employ them work. What they do not have is an intellectual grasp of class consciousness (what it means to be 'proletarian' or 'capitalist') or the practice to work together with other members of their class to manage the economy. Class consciousness, and unionism, is anathema to capitalists. Some workers have it; many do not.

    It won't be easy, of course. As far as I know, nobody knows how to run any economy so that periodic crises are avoided. Capitalists have mechanisms to judge consumer need and demand. Some of these mechanisms can be carried over into capitalism, and some of them should not be. Socialist managers will have to develop coordinating systems to connect the people's material needs with the material production centers. This isn't a problem that any business school graduate will find mysterious.
  • Maw
    1.6k
    Socialism didn't work anywhere where it was triedssu

    Excluding wealth from home-ownership, Norway's government owns over 70% of the nation's entire wealth, which is notably more than the percentage of wealth in China that's owned by it's government. The state owns over 70 companies, including the largest financial company, telecom company, and oil company. That sounds like a successful and workable socialized ownership of capital to me. Additionally, other models that socialize capital such as worker co-operatives are successful alternatives to traditional company models.
  • Theologian
    160

    As for Marx, Popper's critique stands good for me.Banno

    Aye. It's important not to forget that it was advanced by Marx as a scientific theory. I can't recall Popper's exact line off the top of my head, but it was to the effect that when spontaneous revolution, as per Marx's original writings, failed to arrive, his devotees saved the theory at the expense of its falsifyability. It was no longer demonstrably wrong precisely because it was no longer scientific.

    I think there are a lot of shades of meaning that are important here. European capitalist countries do seem to have had a more constructive approach to global warming than... some others.

    Most people outside the USA are quite amused by what is considered "socialism" there. It seems both inevitable and hilarious that the end result of decades of conservative rhetoric damning any kind of social safety net as "socialist" has been that large numbers of people have concluded that they would actually quite like a bit of socialism, thank you very much!

    Marxist Leninism has obviously produced dystopias that that most people who've had to live in basically wanted to be rid of. But does that apply to socialism more generally? Command economies more generally? I'm not convinced. Once it became possible to measure the size of the Russian economy in Western capitalist terms, it became clear that it was basically the size of the Netherlands. If anything I'm more impressed by the fact that that such an economy managed to give the US a run for its money for as long as it did than I am by the fact that it collapsed in the end - as a result of the fact that it was spending something like 30% of its GDP on the military.

    A big part of the problem here is that social and economic theories become ideologies. At which point any meaningful analysis or criticism of the doctrine informing government policy largely stops, and publicly attempting to engage in such analysis or criticism often becomes quite dangerous - for the person attempting to provide this important social good. Perhaps the most important point here being that public analysis of the doctrine informing government policy is a social good, and there are consequences to not having it. Just as there would be if we stopped building roads.

    Another problem with the politicization of social and economic theories is that it often seems that everything has to be reduced to the level of a sound-bite to have any "cut-through" at all. But then, how can these theories be put into effect without being politicized?

    Not a situation that leaves one feeling terribly optimistic about the future of humanity.
  • Maw
    1.6k
    I can't recall Popper's exact line off the top of my head, but it was to the effect that when spontaneous revolution, as per Marx's original writings, failed to arrive, his devotees saved the theory at the expense of its falsifyability.Theologian

    anyone who says that Marx claimed Communism was inevitable - as if it can arrive fully formed without human agency - clearly hasn't read Marx.
  • Theologian
    160
    anyone who says that Marx claimed Communism was inevitable - as if it can arrive fully formed without human agency - clearly hasn't read Marx.Maw

    Okay, I have to cop to that. But such is my understanding of him. If it's wrong, perhaps you could tell us what he does say, and where.
  • Maw
    1.6k
    Okay, I have to cop to that. But such is my understanding of him. If it's wrong, perhaps you could tell us what he does say, and where.Theologian

    To put it simply, Marx wrote how Capitalism tends, in various ways, towards crises, which of course is historically true. The instability of the system, along with growing inequality that is packaged within it, presents the opportunity to restructure and reorganize the political economy.
  • Theologian
    160

    I realize that quoting out of context can be dangerous, and I don't claim to have done any more than a bit of searching online. But that said...

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/Manifesto.pdf

    "The Communist Manifesto had, as its object, the proclamation of the inevitable impending dissolution of modern bourgeois property."
    page 5

    "What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable."
    page 21

    The SEP also disagrees with you:
    "The analysis of history and economics come together in Marx’s prediction of the inevitable economic breakdown of capitalism, to be replaced by communism."

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/marx/

    I'll be honest: I am disinclined to invest the level of effort necessary to come to a really well informed view of my own. I remain open to the possibility that my current view is misinformed and... wrong. But if you want to convince me of that, I'll need a bit more than you've given us so far.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    Obviously, the Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital are not the same kind of book. The CM is a long pamphlet, writing to arouse the fervour of the working class. DK is a long analytical book, writing to explain, explicate, and inform.

    Marx described the reasons for class conflict (between the proles and capitalists) and that the proles would win--not because it was his preference, but because the exploited class would eventually achieve a level of development where they could, and would, dispossess the exploiters. Of course, they (WE) don't have to win -- now or at any time in the future. However, whether the proles are victorious or die trying, capitalism still contains within it the seeds of its own destruction. One of those seeds is its remorseless search for resources, markets, and profit. Capitalism is a feeding machine with no reason to ever stop. That's one of its fatal flaws.

    We see this fatal flaw in the behaviour of the oil companies (for just one example) who continue to seek new sources of petroleum, despite the accumulating greenhouse gases which are likely to bring about a catastrophe that is ruinous to capitalists and workers, petit bourgeoisie, and lumpen proles alike: global heating.

    Karl Marx didn't lay out a time table. Fortunately for impatient young people, they are likely to live long enough to see the grand demolition derby toward the end of this century, when major systems start crashing in a big way. I'm rather glad I won't be around for the show. Unfortunately, it will be a long time before another intelligent (whatever that might be) comes along.
  • Maw
    1.6k
    The Communist Manifesto was a political pamphlet written during the political upheavals that spread across Europe in 1848. It was an attempt to both explain the historical relevancy of class struggle and push the working classes towards revolution, with 'inevitability' being an added thrust for expediency.

    The SEP also disagrees with youTheologian

    Well besides the fact that the SEP statement doesn't include a citation to an actual Marx quote, the following sentence literally refutes that: 'However Marx refused to speculate in detail about the nature of communism, arguing that it would arise through historical processes, and was not the realisation of a pre-determined moral ideal."

    I am disinclined to invest the level of effort necessary to come to a really well informed view of my own.Theologian

    Well if you aren't willing to put in the time to read Marx, maybe stop pretending to know what he says?
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    I'll be honest: I am disinclined to invest the level of effort necessary to come to a really well informed view of my own.Theologian

    For Christ's sake, Theologian, that's not an excuse in heaven or hell. AT LEAST read the Communist Manifesto a couple of times (it's not long) or read a Das Kapital zum Dummkopfs
  • Maw
    1.6k
    "I haven't read anything this guy has written, but tell me why my view of him is wrong".
  • Bitter Crank
    8.4k
    It's almost mystical.
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