Some Ideas So Wrong
Pontifications on Marx, Engels, Alinsky, and Orwell and how they shape our world.
Karl Marx was a wealthy man. Or more correctly, his father was. Marx himself never worked, never produced anything of value by his own hand. Instead, he was given a gold-plated education at one of the most elite Universities on the planet, paid for by his father. Thus, he lived on the dole of others all his life, with the freedom to sit around academia with his buddy Friedrich Engels and daydream about the utopia they might create. One might wonder how different things might be had his father made him get a job instead.
Augustine said that any time you take some aspect of the natural order and elevate it to a level of ultimacy, you create a false religion. But, unfortunately, Marx did precisely that with "material equality," a pseudo-religion founded in pseudo-science and enforced by political tyranny.
Marx was an economic determinist who believed the logic of human history is explained by tracing economic and class struggles. He divided history into five eras and argued that in each of these eras, you could see that human beings are inherently laborers and that their labor conditions determine who they are and the happiness of their lives.
The first era is the hunter-gatherer stage, where human beings were at the mercy of nature.
The second era is the ancient era, or the slave master era, where the master oppresses the slave.
Then came the feudal era, and it's but slightly better than the ancient era.
The problem with slavery was that slaves tended to run away and that the "property" can get sick and die. In the Feudal era, at least the peasants got to keep some of their work, their crops, etc., and thus were less prone to run away.
The fourth era is capitalism, wherein he argued that the "wealthy" oppressed the workers.
It is essential to understand that Marx lived in the industrial era, a period of rampant crony capitalism. Then, immoral market agents worked young children and adults 16 hours a day, under conditions and with abuses that we would never tolerate today.
This was NOT the free market, not what we mean by capitalism. On the contrary, such crony capitalism is much closer to authoritarian monopoly. It cannot long exist unless supported by the power of government coercion, which goes hand-in-hand with corruption when the "wealthy" have the government officials in their pockets.
Nevertheless, Marx blindly assumed that this was capitalism and did not understand, or care, the distinction between crony capitalism in a captive environment—sustained by government corruption—and capitalism in the free market. He didn't understand it then, and neither do today's Marxists.
The irony of this misunderstanding is that free-market capitalism promotes the very vision that Marx sought.
The fifth era, the future of Marx's vision, imagined the working class would disappear. Machines would replace them, and as the workers gained free time and power, they would rebel. Finally, he imagined that a few wealthy people would help them overthrow the affluent class, and then there'd be a socialist utopia. The great irony is that Marx himself was from the wealthy class. His wealthy lawyer father sent him to the University of Berlin and paid for all his expenses. As a result, Marx never worked in his life. A hero in his personal epic, no doubt.
Laughably, he believed that under the Marxist paradigm, the state would wither away. This might be funny if not so tragic. But, unfortunately, we've seen precisely the opposite of that happen every time Marx's ideal has been instantiated in actual society.
The state doesn't wither away, ever! Instead, it becomes a giant, foul, corrupt, stinking monster that jams slimy tentacles into every sector of society in every sphere of culture until eventually, it collapses in starvation and ruin. Marxism always leads to an all-powerful state that grinds those in the working-class down in extreme poverty and misery and elevates the wealth and power of the state and its members.
Marxism fails by its own benchmark. Abolition of private property has never led to utopia. On the contrary, it has always led to oppression. If you don't have private property, you have nothing. If the government owns everything, the government can take it away, and always does. Historically, the state has never withered away. On the contrary, it's consistently grown enormous and oppressive.
Because he believed that people's thinking is driven by economic class, Marx believed people could not be reasoned with. Thus his disciples believe that presenting a reasoned argument for their cause is impossible.
In 1972, Saul Alinsky's "Rules for Radicals" was published. Alinsky instantiated Marx’s rejection of reasoned debate. Little gems like "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon" and "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it" became the would-be Marxist’s default methods.
If people cannot be reasoned with, the only thing left is coercion, bullying—and that’s what we always see in Marxist societies; dissenters are imprisoned, assassinated. So if an opponent can't be reasoned with, and if you have Marx's utopian ethic, then the good thing, meaning good for the state, is to get rid of those people. Once the Marxists have power, they instantly shift from ridicule to imprisonment and assassination.
They had 800,000 executions and imprisoned 1.7 million people in the first three decades in the Soviet Union. Those are the Soviet numbers, not American numbers. If anything, they are grossly low. Some sources estimate 43 million were killed during Stalin's regime, not to mention those of Mao and others. The twentieth century Marxists were so bloody that the term democide was coined to describe the willful murder of citizens by their own government. Authorities disagree on the total numbers, but all agree that it was many, many millions. The blood of all of these souls taints the hands of Marx, Engels, and all who follow them.
Students today are taught the Alinsky method and the Marxist view of one's social and political opponents. As a result, we see a stunning unwillingness to engage in debate—this is why they resort to ad hominem, bullying, and violence. That is precisely what Alinsky taught.
These young socialists don't merely want a political revolution. A political revolution is a limited thing, where you replace one group of politicians with another. Instead, they are bent on an entire upending of the social order; dismantle everything, and rebuild it in their utopian vision. They, of course, see themselves as the elite in this world. No champion of socialism sees themselves as a peasant in their utopia but see themselves as the anointed, the natural leaders of a utopian society.
Orwell summed it all up concisely: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
The ultimate Orwell quote might be: "There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them."