Wednesday, 25 March 2009

I've Just Read The Communist Manifesto...

And it's a bag of shit.

Seriously, how this pamphlet became a document that shaped a large part of the world I've no bloody idea. It just comes across as the most unworkable pile of tosh, revolutionary thinking yes but utterly unworkable.

It closes with the rousing, if slightly off statement, of: "WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!"

With a view no doubt to destroy the bourgeois and then replace them but in the process not become bourgeois and to remain, somehow, stuck as exactly what you were, in some grand denial of the basic tenets of humanity itself, to become revolutionary but not revolt within oneself. To change yet be the same. Good grief, no wonder it all fell on it's arse.

One bit did hit home though, especially in the current climate of faux-socialism and fear of this faux-socialism (which is as odd as having a problem with fake fur but I digress...), when Marx writes in reference to what I paraphrase as liberal do-gooders, humanitarians and philanthropists:
"The Socialistic bourgeois want all the advantages of modern social conditions without the struggles and dangers necessarily resulting therefrom. They desire the existing state of society minus its revolutionary and disintegrating elements. They wish for a bourgeois without a proletariat."
This is the world we live in, of people thinking they can have their cake and eat it, that somehow the capitalistic hegemony we all exist in can happen without the nasty side effects and that somehow, individuals in the framework can be blamed, rather than taking on the Earth shattering news that is the entire framework and structure of modern existence that is, perhaps fatally, flawed.

No one, understandably so, wants to take this massive task on but rather offer populist band-aids for the wounds and hope no one notices as the thing creaks on.

11 comments:

  1. But Could Karl Marx Blow Bubbles Out Of His Nose......?

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  2. No.

    He was too busy coming up with unworkable ideas.

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  3. The Communist Manifesto was written as an agitational pamphlet.

    “Workers of the World, Unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains!” is a popularisation of the last three sentences, and is not found in any official translation.

    The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.

    The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.


    Sounds like he saw globalization coming.

    Are you joining the end of history, ideology and philosophy club?

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  4. Great stuff.

    Also, laughed out loud at the "fake fur" line.

    You should write comedy... :oP

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  5. Don't get me started on fake fur! ;-)

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  6. Ren:

    Well, it certainly got me agitated. As for him seeing globalisation coming, it was already well under way and the tone of the piece seems to say he don't like the idea when I do.

    And I'm joining no club, I was just surprised by how bad a piece of writing the Communist manifesto was.

    Aaron:

    Funny you should mention the writing...

    Ellie:

    You kid, you kid?

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  7. You have to put this into historical context. The introduction is incredibly well written and perceptive and many of the points made are still relevant today, especially as the market economy dominates every aspect of our lives.

    The precept of communism is to make every man equal and in order to be equal you have to work and no individual profit. Money is social power. Those who run the business inherently quash the workers and exploit them. Capitalism, by its nature, is exploitation for that's how you make a profit. If everyone was paid a fare wage, there'd be no profit. Again, this is the thrust of communism, to do away with the notion of profit and inquality and exploitation.

    Of course, some of these ideas are workable. While I was in favour of the minimum wage, for example, (which is probably the closest thing to an actual communist idea in our recent modern age besides the National Health Service and various social monetary benefits) is great for the worker, but a bit crappy for the small business owner. And I talk from experience there...

    We are so conditioned to accept the capitalist manifesto that the notion of everyone working for a living (and I mean working, not poncing about as an "actor" or a "musician" or an "artist") is unacceptable.

    The capitalist system promotes choice. Everyone has plenty of choices, because choice is the tool of the capitalism to get people aspiring. Aspiration = spending money. Spending money keeps the system working, the system that relies on profits.

    And so Marx's pyramidal idea of social strata becomes quite real. The more money puts you on the top of that pile. These are the bankers now and as you move down the pyramid the less money you have, the less social power you have and the less influence you have. While folks say that there is no class system anymore it is still in place with the lower levels of society encouraged to spend and work to bale out those at the top of the tree, who pull the strings and can make our lives all so very difficult.

    But communism as a system is flawed because man as a being, cannot exist in this kind of vacuum. It is an idealistic manifesto and you have to take from it a more personal credo, rather than a national or gobal one. The funny thing is that everyone raves about "Imagine" by John Lennon, but this is just the communist manifesto put to music, though with a healthy dollop of sentimentality.

    What I would say is that while the manifesto is flawed, it does provide an excellent insight to how the capitalist system works and the general unfairness that comes with working within that system, unless you are the bourgoisie business owner. Without the communist manifesto, there would probably be no National Heath Service or social security because these organisations are taken for granted in our society, but are truly communist ideas. Just compare that with health care in the US of course!

    Karl was never my favourite though. I always preferred his younger brother Groucho...I than' you!

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  8. An intelligent and lengthy comment Darren but I have a few issues.

    Of course historical context is important and of course my thoughts are with hindsight but that really is a given considering that it is 2009 and not 1848.

    Yes, it still has relevent points in it but the overall document is not relevent and more importantly, the over arching idea is a bad one. The Bible has good bits but that don't make it a great text by which to live your life.

    I'm more than aware what Communism wanted but it is so utterly unworkable and not based at all on human nature that it was and has failed horribly.

    We aren't equal, we don't all deserve the same and yes, our current framework of existence has many flaws but it's all we've got for now and is certainly a better device than Communism.

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  9. Find me the part where Marx says everyone will be equal?

    But one man is superior to another physically, or mentally, and supplies more labor in the same time, or can labor for a longer time; and labor, to serve as a measure, must be defined by its duration or intensity, otherwise it ceases to be a standard of measurement. This equal right is an unequal right for unequal labor. It recognizes no class differences, because everyone is only a worker like everyone else; but it tacitly recognizes unequal individual endowment, and thus productive capacity, as a natural privilege. It is, therefore, a right of inequality, in its content, like every right. Right, by its very nature, can consist only in the application of an equal standard; but unequal individuals (and they would not be different individuals if they were not unequal) are measurable only by an equal standard insofar as they are brought under an equal point of view, are taken from one definite side only -- for instance, in the present case, are regarded only as workers and nothing more is seen in them, everything else being ignored. Further, one worker is married, another is not; one has more children than another, and so on and so forth. Thus, with an equal performance of labor, and hence an equal in the social consumption fund, one will in fact receive more than another, one will be richer than another, and so on. To avoid all these defects, right, instead of being equal, would have to be unequal.

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  10. Forgive me, everyone will be equal after the slaughter of the bourgeois.

    GO REDS!

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  11. haha! bubbles from his nose.. you really are a good photographer..lol

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