Wednesday, December 9, 2009

More On Marx

Withy writes:
Lots of benefits from capitalism? Umm ... dehumanizing, making the poor poorer ... as a first approximation, "Marx didn't like capitalism" seems reasonable to me.

Brother Marx writes:
The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation. The cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.

The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life. Just as it has made the country dependent on the towns, so it has made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilised ones, nations of peasants on nations of bourgeois, the East on the West.

The bourgeoisie keeps more and more doing away with the scattered state of the population, of the means of production, and of property. It has agglomerated population, centralised the means of production, and has concentrated property in a few hands. The necessary consequence of this was political centralisation. Independent, or but loosely connected provinces, with separate interests, laws, governments, and systems of taxation, became lumped together into one nation, with one government, one code of laws, one national class-interest, one frontier, and one customs-tariff.

The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of Nature’s forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalisation of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground — what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labour?

Perhaps he had profound reservations about capitalism and the bourgeoisie, especially "concentrated property" (hence, the idea that capitalism was a means to another, non-capitalist end), but the above passage also contains immense appreciation and awe for what it and they'd accomplished. It is certainly not an anti-capitalist screed for which his name has become synonymous on the Right.


Withywindle said...

Powerful, yes; good, no. Who among the anti-capitalist left doesn't think the bourgeoisie and capitalism are powerful?

FLG said...

Some select quotations:
"it calls civilisation into their midst"

"has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life"

"made barbarian and semi-barbarian countries dependent on the civilised ones"

According to Marx, capitalism rescued large numbers of people from barbarism and idiocy.

Withywindle said...

I grant you he assumes the existence of civilization, mentally stimulating in nature. But does he ever say this is a good thing?

George Pal said...

Marx’s observational views of the product of Capitalism might as well be anyone’s views on the inevitable product of the laws of nature when put into practice – anyone’s except Marxists.

It’s the Left that’s done mucked up Marx and when the Right makes a point of calling a Marxist a Marxist it does so with those professors you mentioned and the itinerant actors making their hajj to Castroland and Chavezville in mind. It’s not fair to Marx but…well, you know about fair.

Furthermore, the Right is closer to the rails in their use of ‘Marxist’ as an epithet than the Left is in their use of Hitler as simile for anyone they disapprove of. Google ‘Bush Hitler’ and the results number in the millions.


I am not a Marxist.
- Karl Marx

One of my all time favorite quotes:
Anyone who knows anything of history knows that great social changes are impossible without feminine upheaval. Social progress can be measured exactly by the social position of the fair sex, the ugly ones included.
- Karl Marx

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.