I Have A Question About The Dialectic of History According to Marxists

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Joij21, Oct 22, 2021.

  1. Angst

    Angst Rambling and inconsistent

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    If you want to claim Marxists have a singular codex, The Wealth of Nations fulfils this role for capitalist economists, even if capitalists rarely understand what it's actually saying. Marx was very much influenced by Smith.

    No, nonono, NO. The Manifesto is functionally a political pamphlet, even if a long one, and its purpose was propaganda* as easy reading. The Manifesto is something you usually read in high school. It's usually thrown about among non-Marxists as some kind of Bible, which it isn't, and this is especially a problem when it comes to understanding what Marxists actually think. It's clear from the OP that you weren't much enfranchised in Marxism, and that's fine, but I'd suggest you don't listen to people discussing Marxism by taking that text that seriously as a primary nexus of discussion. It outlines the general historical idea of Marxists, yes, but it doesn't go much into detail about how Marxists think this comes to pass. If there's any codex, it's Das Kapital. Which is also a good book - even if you don't agree with Marxism, it describes some very real structural problems in capitalist economies, many of which Marx foresaw and came to pass. Of course, there are other economic works that better outline the issues more succinctly, with no overt communist intention, and written later. But beware, these works are usually done by spooky leftists.

    Sidenote, and please people, let's not make this thread a Marxism vs. Capitalism thread, but the whole idea of the Manifesto as some elevated Bible goes vastly beyond popular spaces, and is sometimes entrenched in hack right wing academia. The Peterson-Zizek discussion was the biggest facepalm in my life for this reason.

    EDIT: *By propaganda, I mean it in its strictest sense, ie not the common usage that it's ill-intended manipulation. It's a political text with an agenda. English is not my first language.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2021
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  2. aelf

    aelf Ashen One

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    You're couching it as a gotcha that's specific to Marxism, but it isn't, and you seem to have some inkling of that.

    If you are looking at it from the standpoint of Marxist theory, then the answer can be found by going back to the theory. In Hegelian dialectics, there is an endpoint, the Absolute. Dialectical materialism posits that the end point for economic organisation is communism. If you want understand why, you need to follow the argument.

    But if you want to independently ask how Marxists know that they are right, sans the full theoretical framework, then I'll reply to you as I have. They know as well as most people - with a certain level of certainy without being able to predict what happens from now till eternity. The notion of historical progress and teleological endpoint is not unique to Marxism, so your question can also be asked to others and the conversation shouldn't specifically be about dialectical materialism.

    Not to mention there has been development to Marxist thought and different strains of it, which you don't seem to know.
     
  3. Joij21

    Joij21 Emperor

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    Yes, tell me this argument. I must know the source of your power!

    Oh I know, they just don't seem to get along with each other. Difficult to find out which one is which when they denigrate their own kind for not being the "correct" form of Marxism.
     
  4. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    And yet you manage it very well. When you feel you fall short, try using Legos. ;)
     
  5. Angst

    Angst Rambling and inconsistent

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    Haha, Legos are indeed great. Some of my friends collect sets for fun.

    But thanks, it's nice of you to say.
     
  6. aelf

    aelf Ashen One

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    This format is not going to be able to achieve that. Whole books have been written about it, going to back to The Phenomenology of Spirit and Capital.

    In short, as Angst mentioned, communism lacks the inherent contradictions of capitalism - namely, workers who produce will no longer be denied most of the fruits of their production, and money, whose value does not reflect the actual use value of things, will no longer be the determinant of how much use value from things people get to enjoy.

    If by the orthodox/non-revisionist you mean devotees of young Marx, then there have been way more 'revisionists' that them. Even Marxist-Leninists are revisonists in that sense. Where do you want to draw the imaginary line?
     
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  7. amadeus

    amadeus Nilknarf!

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    I don’t see any contradictions inherent in the system.
     
  8. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    Capitalism has been in play for long enough that it has taken on many different forms and been twisted many different ways to the like of the rich and powerful. Of course it has contradictions and is hardly like any theoretical version one might read about. Communism has little to no real world history beyond the failed attempts of "not really communisms". Theories often are contradiction free until they are put to the test of the real world. Look at theoretical democracy versus reality. Communism will fail as soon as someone tries to actually implement it. I've noticed that few who espouse communism will talk about how to get there or what it will look like once there beyond theoretical platitudes.
     
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  9. Angst

    Angst Rambling and inconsistent

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    I'm a bit rusty on this so others are free to correct me.

    They're used in a very specific way in Marxist thought, so it's terminology within theory, and it's just called contradiction. You could just call it tensions.

    There are two major points here I remember.

    One is the obvious one (gathering a lot of what Marxist thought believes is exploited people in workplaces means there is concentration of organization). Exploitation cannot be sustained if you keep a system that causes the exploited to be organized.

    The other major contradiction is that profit is made through the difference in value from labour wages to product price, but consumption is only possible through labour wages. Therefore the profit is "hollow" in a sense, if I'm making sense here. Classical Marxists believe that this would naturally cause profil margins to fall, and have to be enforced in a way "economically unnaturally" through power, which causes tension.

    The idea is that both problems are naturally occuring in capitalism and can only be enforced by brute force, which is artificial and necessarily temporary. Marxists note that these two factors cause a naturally unstable system that will collapse through some math work they propose.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2021
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  10. Angst

    Angst Rambling and inconsistent

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    Capitalism has basically only survived through implementation of social policies drawn directly from Marxism to fix some of its problems and cause appeasement. It was grim for capitalism in Europe in the early 20th century if you look at worker organization. The largest Danish party today, the Social Democrats, are standard social liberal today (infused with some "fun" racism), but if you read their earliest pamphlets, they were outright Marxist in many cases and cooperated with communists. I don't know about the States, of course.

    edit: must note, not a Marxist; I merely think capitalism has a lot to learn from Kapital.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2021
  11. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    All government and economic systems adapt to the current regional and world situation. No system is pure anything. Leaders respond to the people they are most beholden to. Capitalism didn't "survive" because of Marxist pressure. It responded and continues to respond to social pressure. Governments that fail to respond to social needs are likely to fail. It is convenient to attribute all humanitarian social change to Marx, but one only has to go back to 1789 Paris to see that when people get upset enough, they invoke change. Marx provided a framework to talk about social change and educate people with the language of change. This was not unlike how Darwin provided a language and framework for talking science and evolution in a religiously dominated world. Such transitions are important for social progress because they open new areas for dialog. Darwinian theory has amended and improved over the years as real world data has been added. In the same way Marxist/communists have been altering their views to accommodate the 21st century changes. The few failed data points they can reference played a part in reshaping their thinking. To my thinking the biggest failure among Marxists is they they still dwell in the world of the theoretical and mostly ignore real world stuff. It is way to close to philosophical musings to be particularly useful.
     
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  12. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    Is it? Even the historian Robert Service, who has referred to Communism as a 'bacteria', grudgingly admits in Comrades! A History of World Communism the highly effective role played by Communist parties in India and much of the developing world in promoting rural and urban health care, literacy programs, and education. I think your image of Marxists as being too into theory and ignoring the real world comes from American Marxists; non-Western Marxists/Communists have a reputation for being very into deliverables.
     
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  13. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    Acting as such in the real world is laudable and it is a way be persuasive while doing good things. Christian churches have been doing so many many years. I see no relationship between such efforts and whatever future world Marxist would see happen through revolution and the dismantling of capitalism.
     
  14. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    Different Marxists believe and emphasize different things. Painting them all with one brush is like painting the Koch Brothers, to Warren Buffet, to Elizabeth Warren as all 'Capitalists'.
     
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  15. Angst

    Angst Rambling and inconsistent

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    Look, it's a great post, but I'd like to note that the social pressure was most often actual Marxism. This is what I meant by appeasement.

    I agree that no system is pure, which is kind of the point. Capitalism was succesful in a sense, but it grew a massive underbelly of poverty and unrest, much of which was Marxist even after the Sovjet Union, something that was largely alleviated by meeting the demands of the very unions that mostly drew upon pretty radical leftist politics.

    Or, like, they could go full McCarthyism and seed unrest deep into the 21st century. And what's largely happening among young people in the US today? Yea, they're seeking out alternatives due to ingrained problems that are largely sustained by force.
     
  16. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    Yes, I would agree, but with the caveat that my only actual contact (discussion) with Marxists of any persuasion happens here. There seem to enough Marxist oriented posters here that I think there are some differences of opinions among them. Most freely criticize capitalism through many real world examples of "bad business" and economic atrocities. Those same are very reluctant to put any details about how to transition to some improved communist state or what the details of such a world would look like. They are saying "our theoretical world would be much better than your real world, but you have to just trust us."
     
  17. Zardnaar

    Zardnaar Deity

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    That's because they're dancing around the forced seizure of assets which in addition to theft they would have to use force and people gonna die.

    They're trying to white wash the fact they're little better than the fascists just with a different target.

    There methods would largely be the same just different victims.
     
  18. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    Are you saying that there was no underbelly of poverty and unrest prior to some point in time when capitalism became dominant? When do you see the approximate start of capitalism? 17th c? earlier? later? Did it originate in Northwestern Europe?
     
  19. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    Do we have any active Marxists here? I know we have some people familiar with Marxist concepts, but the last person I was aware of who regularly posted here and identified as a Marxist - Traitorfish- is on an extended break. Back in the day Cheezy devolved into a particularly nutty Tankie, and schaulfuchs/sophie barely posts here any more.
    Back in ye olden days, how would 'capitalism' be seen? "Yes, we want to destroy traditional bonds and relations on land, traditional rights, and collective membership in favor of a theoretical world; but trust us, it will be better". For Bob the Freeholder in early 18th century Britain, 'Capitalism' was a theory for urban weirdos with too much time on their hands.
    In your structure, how much time elapsed between 'Capitalism' first starting to be articulated as a theory to it, in your opinion 'working' for everyone?

    EDIT: As an aside, it is sort of funny seeing how political sides shift between groups. A reason I got kicked out of the CFC-exile discord was because I kept getting into arguments with Marxists, believing they were too focused on theory. Here, I'm defending them. Strange world.
     
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  20. Zardnaar

    Zardnaar Deity

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    Modern capitalism 1600 roughly, bank of England, rise of stock exchanges etc.

    Modern banking Italy and Templar Knights.

    Currency 7th century BC.

    Regardless of the system your gonna get a hierarchy you're just replacing aristocrats and priests with capitalists/party officials.
     
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