Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Marx May Have Had a Point

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the but-i'm-not-a-commie dept.

The Almighty Buck 1271

Hitting the mainpage for the first time, Black Sabbath writes "While communism has been declared dead and buried (with a few stubborn exceptions), Karl Marx's diagnosis of capitalism's ills seem quite bang on the money. Harvard Business Review blogger Umair Haque lists where Marx may have been right." It's a pretty good read once you get past the author's three paragraph disclaimer that he is not a communist. The MIT news also ran a short interview discussing the economic trends in August this morning.

cancel ×

1271 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

I got a noose I'd like to sell you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326464)

Or, I'll buy your defense technology from you for the right price! It's a win-win!

Marx ? (0, Offtopic)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326466)

Groucho, Harpo, Chico, or Zeppo

iFight Karl Marx (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326542)

Shelby [youtube.com] .

Nothing to surprising (3, Interesting)

Squiddie (1942230) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326472)

I think everyone knew that even Capitalism has its down sides, we just agreed that they were acceptable. Yeah, he may have been right, but it's nothing we didn't already know.

Re:Nothing to surprising (4, Insightful)

BeardedChimp (1416531) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326518)

I don't think everyone agreed that they were acceptable, I think that the wealthy agreed that it was more profitable.

Re:Nothing to surprising (5, Insightful)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326632)

And yet under communist rule there are still wealthy power brokers who know how to game the system for their own profit.

Re:Nothing to surprising (5, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326728)

In Capitalism, Man exploits Man.

In Communism, it's the other way around.

Re:Nothing to surprising (0)

Flyerman (1728812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326816)

Damn, I wish I had mod points. I dunno if it's funny or insightful, but I like it.

Re:Nothing to surprising (1)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326836)

Exactly!

Re:Nothing to surprising (0, Offtopic)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326850)

Where are all the "in Soviet Russia" trolls?

OK, I'll start...

In Communist Russia, dog eats dog.

Oh snap.

Re:Nothing to surprising (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326732)

Not under what Marx theorized about. Under state-capitalist states that call themselves communist, yes. I also am not a communist, for other reasons but I am able to read.

Re:Nothing to surprising (1)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326866)

There is no way to implement what Marx theorized about. That's the whole point. Once the theory hits the real world, human nature screws it up.

Re:Nothing to surprising (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326740)

That's not communism.

Re:Nothing to surprising (5, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326760)

That's because communism has never been tried. A communist regime in the model that Marx was pushing hasn't ever been implemented. Marx wanted a state like the US, except where the people owned all of the shares of the companies they worked for rather than random investors. And where there was only one class.

To date there has been precisely zero countries where they did away with class and where the workers truly owned the means of production.

The level of ignorance that people express about how it's been tried and failed just boggles my mind, when it hasn't even been tried once.

Re:Nothing to surprising (1, Redundant)

Lundse (1036754) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326834)

Mod up!

People (especially in America, sorry) have this weird assumptions that they know Marx, communism and socialism, from what they saw Lenin, Stalin and their breed of fascism do. You may as well argue that monarchy does not work because the nazis were bad people.

Capitalism, on the other hand, has been tried. It is not working, and never have (I know it's great for growth and accumulation of wealth - it just sucks at liberty, life and the pursuit of happiness).

Re:Nothing to surprising (5, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326846)

It's been tried and failed because Marx made the critical mistake of assuming you could remove greed from the human condition, it can't be done.

Re:Nothing to surprising (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326874)

So what happens when I sell my share of the company to my friend for something? How do you "own" a part of the company you work for unless you are given something to own? If you are given something to own, who's to say you can't give that to someone else in trade?

Re:Nothing to surprising (1)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326892)

It's amazing how so many people cling to the delusion that it is possible to implement theoretical communism. It's just not possible.

Re:Nothing to surprising (5, Interesting)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326770)

And yet under communist rule there are still wealthy power brokers who know how to game the system for their own profit.

Corruption is corruption, no matter what "wrapper" we put around it. Greed (whether personal or financial) always has been and always will be the Achilles heel of ANY model. Every model will fail if greed and corruption are left unchecked. Again, this should come as no surprise to anyone.

Re:Nothing to surprising (2)

Blackajack (1856892) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326838)

There hasn't been a communist country on the earth yet. There's been many permutations of socialist dictatorships/oligarchies but no communist rule.

Communism is a dream. A perfect state whose only problem is that we are short-sighted, self-serving and nepotistic monkeys who turn the greatest dreams and aspirations into a dog-eat-dog contest for power and wealth.

Homo homini lupus. We have what we deserve.

Re:Nothing to surprising (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326536)

I think everyone knew that even Capitalism has its down sides, we just agreed that they were acceptable. Yeah, he may have been right, but it's nothing we didn't already know.

I'm not sure if you're trying to pat yourself on the back there or not, but any decent student of history would realize that the USSR (which was not a true communist state anyways) collapsed not primarily under the pressure of capitalism, but rather primarily under the weight of its own corruption and internal power struggles.

Re:Nothing to surprising (1)

Squiddie (1942230) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326570)

Yeah, I didn't say that. All I said was that we knew what downsides there are to our system and society has accepted them. This says nothing about the USSR or communism.

Re:Nothing to surprising (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326742)

Yeah, I didn't say that. All I said was that we knew what downsides there are to our system and society has accepted them. This says nothing about the USSR or communism.

Which is why I said

I'm not sure if you're trying to pat yourself on the back there or not

Because a lot of people would start with what you said, and then immediately segue into declaring a great moral victory over a system that is poorly understood in the US.

Although whether or not society as a whole is accepting of the downsides of capitalism is very much open to discussion. Plenty of people are not satisfied with the end product currently; however they lack the means to do anything about it.

Collapse (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326786)

any decent student of history would realize that the USSR (which was not a true communist state anyways) collapsed not primarily under the pressure of capitalism, but rather primarily under the weight of its own corruption and internal power struggles.

Any decent student of human nature would know that centralizing power to the degree that even the most mild form of communism attempts to do will be overrun by corruption and power struggles. That result was inevitable; it's built into the model. The only thing that works is decentralizing power and keeping it local so that corruption is close enough to people that have the possibility of rooting it out. That means local and small where possible.

Re:Nothing to surprising (1)

JWW (79176) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326844)

I always love the "but the USSR was not TRUE Communism" line.

True Communism requires an elite ruling class with total control over the activities of the entire populace.

That elite ruling class requires obscene amounts of power, lets call it .... absolute power.

It is well known that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Therefore any Communist state ever attempted will be run by people that are fantastically corrupt.

Now we could discuss the distribution of power in Capitalistic systems, because its there too. But at least in capitalism the people, err consumers in capitalism's case, are required to have at least a little decision making power for themselves....

Who's we? (0)

SlippyToad (240532) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326588)

You got a mouse in your pocket, friend?

OK, now I am waiting for Slashdot because I type too fast. Since I type 100wpm or more, I am penalized by constnat "slow down, cowboy!" imprecations. Maybe slashdot could bother fucking counting how long the comment is before deciding I'm typing too fast.

Totally meta, unrelated, but since Slashdot forced me to sit here and wait, I decided to rant more.

Re:Nothing to surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326596)

Capitalism is a perfect system with many assumptions about a controlled environment and a perfect world. Add in greedy people, and it unravels pretty quickly.

I think it has its merits, but the problem is that nothing has feasibly been melded with it to make it more compatible with the real world.

Re:Nothing to surprising (1)

medcalf (68293) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326688)

Capitalism is a perfect system with many assumptions about a controlled environment and a perfect world. Add in greedy people, and it unravels pretty quickly.

I think it has its merits, but the problem is that nothing has feasibly been melded with it to make it more compatible with the real world.

^Capitalism^Communism

Re:Nothing to surprising (2)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326792)

Capitalism is simply economic survival of the fittest. In a laissez-faire economy, its is might that makes right. Problem is, manipulating the markets themselves are just as important as one's actions within a market.

I think it's funny that concepts like patents, trademarks, and copyrights are actually anti-laissez-faire, in that they're outside regulation, yet they're used to hold innovation hostage by the same people who rant about too much regulation.

Re:Nothing to surprising (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326748)

This was even discussed in the "Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith which was published in 1776.

Re:Nothing to surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326764)

What is interesting here though, not that Marx was right, is how his prophecies on what Capitalism would likely turn into were surprisingly accurate.

Re:Nothing to surprising (3, Insightful)

Evangelion (2145) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326784)

Who was "we"?

Wealthy capitalists pretty much spent the first half of the twentieth century indoctrinating every western culture they could into believing communism and socialism are capital-E Evil. Some places the propaganda took better than others.

This is a direct factor in why the healthcare debate in the states is so broken. When a good portion of your culture genuinely believes that socialism is absolutely Evil, trying to build a modern system to help them is difficult.

The silly thing is, is that there are huge sections of the US that are entirely funded by tax dollars (and they aren't necessarily what you think [partialobjects.com] ), but to ever acknowledge that in public, and to try and make it better, given that it is what it is, is heretical.

Re:Nothing to surprising (1)

Squiddie (1942230) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326886)

Hey, I know, and I don't think that socialism is evil, but a capitalist system is probably the best a society can do right now. Yes, it must be accompanied by heavy regulation, especially of big corporations, but I don't think that a pure socialism or a pure capitalism are the answer for anyone.

Re:Nothing to surprising (1)

Inconexo (1401585) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326810)

When you say "we", who are you talking about?

Re:Nothing to surprising (1)

brainzach (2032950) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326814)

I think everyone knew that even Capitalism has its down sides, we just agreed that they were acceptable.

You don't have to accept the downsides of capitalism. All developed countries have mixed economies which allow the government to intervene to correct the problems with capitalism, while still enjoying the benefits of free markets.

Re:Nothing to surprising (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326882)

The problem is that once you point out that Marx voiced these issues, or people find it out, even if Marx wasn't the first to say it you're dismissed as a communist and everything you say on the matter is ignored.

People like to do so little thinking that ideology is everything, if you say something against what they believe, even if you're right or your views merit a discussion, you're wrong and ignored.

Of course he had a point (4, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326474)

Actually, as the article shows, he had several. However, the people who most loudly proclaimed to be acting out "Marxist ideals" generally had no idea what his points were. One point that was crucial to Marxism - and not mentioned in the article - is that Marx was specifically laying out the communist manifesto for smaller countries (no larger than Germany or the UK) as he did not expect it to be applicable to larger countries like Russia or China.

While he never outwardly admitted it, he likely realized on some level that an idealistic approach such as his communism would not be able to stand up to the crushing weight of human want and corruption in a large country. Which is, of course, exactly what happened in Russia and China; neither of which ever accomplished true communism on a national scale.

Re:Of course he had a point (2)

ArrowBay (2326316) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326564)

While he never outwardly admitted it, he likely realized on some level that an idealistic approach such as his communism would not be able to stand up to the crushing weight of human want and corruption in a large country. Which is, of course, exactly what happened in Russia and China; neither of which ever accomplished true communism on a national scale.

Agreed. I always thought Marx knew that ideals would never come to fruition -- not even his ideals. Capitalism does not create greed; people do. Greed will exist wherever human nature exists.

Re:Of course he had a point (2)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326768)

Greed will exist wherever human nature exists.

Which is why we must exterminate the humans.

Re:Of course he had a point (2, Insightful)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326574)

The fundamental flaw in Communism is human nature. Humans are corrupted by money and power. True communism can never be free from that corruption no matter what the scale. Even a small community eventually sees the inequities build and the exploitation start.

Then again, pure capitalism suffers that fatal flaw as well. The corruption of money and power allow capitalists to exploit people just the same.

And, of course, this problem of money and power going hand-in-hand with corruption is the fatal flaw of just about every political and economic system. There's really no way to solve it. You can expose it. You can fight it. But in the end, the golden rule always wins through. "He who has the gold makes the rules".

Scope of Effect (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326724)

The fundamental flaw in Communism is human nature. Humans are corrupted by money and power. True communism can never be free from that corruption no matter what the scale. ....
Then again, pure capitalism suffers that fatal flaw as well. The corruption of money and power allow capitalists to exploit people just the same.

But the real difference is in the scope to which corruption can effect you. Under communism power flows to a very small central group where corruption effects a whole nation. Under capitalism, you can have companies that exploit workers but if they do that too much workers are free to leave and start new companies that start afresh... at least you have that ability as long as regulations do not impose too heavy a burden to start a new company to compete.

Regardless though capitalism is a model where corruption is far more easily isolated and either worked around or purged. It's a system that is much more self-correcting in nature, which is why to paraphrase a famous quote, it's the worst system except for all the others.

Re:Scope of Effect (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326796)

Under capitalism, you can have companies that exploit workers but if they do that too much workers are free to leave and start new companies that start afresh... at least you have that ability as long as regulations do not impose too heavy a burden to start a new company to compete.

You mean like the patent laws....

Re:Scope of Effect (2)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326806)

In unregulated capitalism, the power brokers can set the cost of entry so high that people do not have the choice to start their own business. Monopoly power, left unchecked, is no different than the concentrated power of the ruling elite of a communist nation.

Re:Of course he had a point (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326642)

I personally don't think Marx realized how far capitalism would take things either.

It's real easy to see things at the worse point of non-slavery capitalism and think it's failed, but I don't think that the US (one of the places with larger income disparities in the developed world) is as bad as things looked like tthey would be. Capitalism has appeared to worked, perhaps slower than a revolution, but also perhaps more effectively.

Marx felt very strongly that peoples' work should be connected to the end product, rather than them acting as cogs in a machine. I think that idea alone would destroy productivity (specialisation and exchancge using currency allowing so much to be done).

I'm not a radical capitalist, and I would like to see income gaps narrowed some, but people tend to do pretty well at exploiting eachother the right amount in general.

I did really like Marx's take on slavery and technology though.

Re:Of course he had a point (2)

psychonaut (65759) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326690)

Cite? Everything I've read from Marx indicates that he intended for communism to be an international goal. This was most famously stated in The Communist Manifesto: "Working men of all countries, unite!"

Re:Of course he had a point (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326736)

Commuism can't even stand up to the crushing weight of human want and corruption in a community that is any larger than a few hundred people

Re:Of course he had a point (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326776)

Neither can capitalism. In general humans suck.

Re:Of course he had a point (1)

Inconexo (1401585) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326868)

That's why I love my computer.

Re:Of course he had a point (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326754)

The core problem with pure communism is that it detaches labor and incentive. Eventually the population as a whole doesn't feel the need to work harder than needed. It's the start of a downward spiral leading to equality at the lowest common denominator.

Re:Of course he had a point (1)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326772)

Eastern Germany communism was not that successful either, don't blame it on the country size.

omg... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326480)

i dont know what to be afraid of anymore...

terrorists... wmd.. arab spring.. muslims... and now.. out of nowhere... communism is jumping at me again.. trying to kill me....

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326484)

Even a broken clock is right twice a day!

Wrong (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326496)

So lets see.

Capitalism - companies such as banks should be allowed to fail.

What has happened?

Banks that failed have been nationalised - taken into social control, by the government. ie. Nothing to do with capitalism, everything to do with Marx and socialism.

That has failed, and so now the socialists are blaming capitalists, for their own failures.

Marxism ends up with mass murder in China, in Cambodia, in Russian, and vast impositions against the individual such as not being allowed to travel, to having citizens spying on each other.

Re:Wrong (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326600)

Banks fail, then they are bailed out like socialism so you retroactively apply socialism to the reason they are a failure?

Re:Wrong (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326872)

No.

Banks failing isn't the problem.

Socialism was being presented as the reason for the systemic failure of the economy as a whole, not of indiviudal bank failures.

Instead of what you would have with capitilism: owners and investors in the banks that fail lose their money, rest of the economy doesn't give a shit. You get the entire economy failing because badly managed banks are propped up and given an ever increasing proportion of the economy's working capital.

Now it wasn't "socialism" that is the sole cause of this mess. Nor was is "capitalism". Under actual socialism it wouldn't have happened. Under actual capitlism is wouldn't have happened. However, taking the worst parts of each and combining them produced pretty much exactly what you would expect.

Re:Wrong (0)

WNight (23683) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326626)

You couldn't be dumber with a lobotomy.

Re:Wrong (5, Insightful)

brainzach (2032950) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326722)

Lehman Brothers was allowed to fail which resulted in making the financial crisis much worst. It was a test of pure capitalism that failed.

Marx did have a point (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326500)

And it's been something economists, philosophers, politicians and, y'know, the actually wealthy have all been struggling with since capitalism was a thing. Wealth accumulates. That's what it does. Much has been said for and against the process (See Rawls, Nozick, et al.) by which this wealth is then redistributed. But in the end it really just boils down to Marx's depiction of haves and have-nots. It's just as true now as it was when he wrote Das Kapital.

NOT Capitalism (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326506)

What we have in the US is NOT capitalism or free market economics. Come on people -- we're talking about the most expensive, most powerful government in world history. Free market economics is dependent on the exact opposite: a government strictly limited in power and revenue.

What we have in the US is much closer to corporatism [wikipedia.org] or even fascism [wikipedia.org] .

Re:NOT Capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326624)

Exactly, but mot slashdotters simply lack the knowledge and background to understand your point (which is why the score for your comment is only a 1). Crony capitalism which has reached epic proportions under Obama. And, yes, crony capitalism has been way too extensive since FDR decided to explode the power and expense of the Federal Government to start picking capitalism's winners (his friends) and losers (his non-friends).

Re:NOT Capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326640)

What we have in the US is NOT capitalism or free market economics. Come on people -- we're talking about the most expensive, most powerful government in world history. Free market economics is dependent on the exact opposite: a government strictly limited in power and revenue.

What we have in the US is much closer to corporatism [wikipedia.org] or even fascism [wikipedia.org] .

Well said. More people need to understand this.

Re:NOT Capitalism (2)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326750)

The free market is not the panacea that most purist make it out to be either. Every system has its benefits and drawbacks. However, although we may have our industrial and commerce sectors based on corporatism, our financial markets are very close to lassez-faire capitalism, which isn't exactly the shining example that free-market purists make it out to be.

Wait a second... (2)

Sparx139 (1460489) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326520)

Karl Marx's diagnosis of capitalism's ills seem quite bang on the money.

*squint*

I see what you did there...

need a tryanny, the Greeks had them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326532)

Have a look at what Marx wanted. He wanted to be able to farm in the morning, go hunting in the afternoon, exchange ideas and write papers in the evening or just do none of it as pleased his fancy with no looking ahead as to what was needful beyond the moment. He wasn't a communist, he was an anarchist.

Give me a good tyranny under someone who understands the responsibility he carries and realizes that as his subjects prosper so does he. Not these modern days idiots who suck their countries dry to provide them with luxury and entertainment.

Evidence Throughout the Ages of This (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326544)

In the United States: The abolition of slavery, taxation, social security, child labor laws, welfare, the interstate highway system, eminent domain, anti-trust laws (Sherman Act), minimum wage, the draft, the inability to sell your organs, pollution laws, laws against exploiting poor people, the list is endless really. We started out as a very Capitalist nation and have slowly migrated to a better middle ground with some Socialist programs and laws. Conversely, China started out fairly Socialist and everyday move toward more Capitalist tendencies. You can argue all day which is the better way but the truth is that 1) for every country it's different and 2) the best solution is always somewhere in between the spectrum of capitalism and socialism. So you can shut up about demanding "pure capitalism" and "truly free markets" just as well as you can stop branding someone a "socialist" for merely proposing or exploring or investigating movements toward the middle.

Re:Evidence Throughout the Ages of This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326774)

Can you name me some failures of socialism?

Most of the ills of "capitalism" narratives I see are coming from those that seem completely blinkered to any downsides to the unintended consequences of socialism and re-branding the failed outcomes as "capitalism."

No credit for Milton Friedman ending the draft? Socialists did everything good?

Minimum wage not pricing out the unskillled younger workers?

How is that organ shortage working out? Doctors and surgeons and blood-typers and rejection drug makers not getting paid for selling their services? I guess our bodies are just meat for the state

Your narrative seems to be biased a little.

Re:Evidence Throughout the Ages of This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326858)

Um, most of things you listed as things we've "abolished" (nice loaded language there, tying it all to slavery) are the things that caused our late woes. Particularly minimum wage, whereby we simply demanded that being a poor manufacturing laborer was fine, but not in America!

As for organs, if I own my organs then I can sell them. If I do not, well, you sure as hell don't either. So you can't stop me from selling them.

Technology (2)

h00manist (800926) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326546)

Has made both labor and capital obsolete. Capital has been defined as sufficient money to contract salaried labor. It other words, nothing but the force and ability to gather and organize labor, by paying for it. Technology substitutes a lot of the labor, and now, it's substituting the methods for gathering, organizing, and paying for the labor.

Capitalism died a long time ago, but (almost) nobody knows how to work any other way. Humanism remains an idea nobody has ever heard of.

Technology is just the beginning (2)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326730)

Consider advancements in automation, robotics, AI, and networking... the world is increasingly becoming run by non-humans. The only impediments to our continued success are global natural disasters, climate change, disease, war, political and religious extremism... The means of production will be irrelevant, it's only the access to the raw materials, security, free flow of information, and goods and services that will determine our collective prosperity.

Long-Term or Short-Term Trends? (2, Interesting)

thepainguy (1436453) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326552)

Would you rather be poor in Marx's day or today? It seems to me that today's poor have it pretty good, considering.

You could also argue that a big part of the problem of late is people living beyond their means. A nice, but modest, suburban home like the one you grew up in is no longer acceptable. Now, you need a McMansion, and that drives the overextension and the debt. Just watch any of the "Real Housewives" shows.

In terms of immiseration, the problem isn't exploitation but globalization (and cheap transport and communications). Back in the day, you competed for wages largely with people in your own country. Now, you're competing with workers from around the world.

Re:Long-Term or Short-Term Trends? (3, Insightful)

Hydian (904114) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326822)

I don't know. Going hungry is about the same no matter what era it is in. Freezing to death under a bridge or in your unheated home isn't really any better in 2011 than it was in the middle ages. Dying from the flu or some other easily treated ailment seems to be just as much of a downer today as it was 40 years ago when such things weren't so easily treated.

Yes he was (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326554)

Yes he was right.

However he did not take into account the douchebag factor. The lazy bum who does not want to work. So you have to make him work. Then it becomes an authoritative society. Communism works until someone figures out they dont have to work as hard and can get the same amount of benefit out of it.

However we have a *HUGE* problem. Automation. Eventually everything will be automated, *EVERYTHING*. What then? Who works? There is no one needed to do work as machines do it all, even our thinking. Eventually when it is all automated what do we do?

Re:Yes he was (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326708)

However he did not take into account the douchebag factor. The lazy bum who does not want to work. So you have to make him work. Then it becomes an authoritative society. Communism works until someone figures out they dont have to work as hard and can get the same amount of benefit out of it. However we have a *HUGE* problem. Automation. Eventually everything will be automated, *EVERYTHING*. What then? Who works? There is no one needed to do work as machines do it all, even our thinking. Eventually when it is all automated what do we do?

Essentially the premise of this short science fiction story: Manna [marshallbrain.com] , an AI for automating restaurant management tasks, starts to get really good at automating the sorts of mundane business processes we all take for granted, and as the economy is optimized for efficiency, society gets interesting. (Meanwhile, half a world away, another group of AIs are optimizing for a different metric...)

Capitalism isn't in itself flawed... (4, Insightful)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326558)

But there needs to be some way to prevent capital from influencing politics, especially in a democracy. Our representatives are owned wholly by the people that give them the most money, and until we definitively block money from being a driving force in politics we will be ruled by the richest.

Barring direct financial contribution to political candidates and forcing them to run on equal funds would help. Barring the movement between high public office and private business, especially government contractors, would help as well. Good luck on any of this every coming to pass. Our elected representatives directly benefit off the system the way it is now, and as they're the only ones who can legally change it, we're pretty much effed...at least, until the general public breaks out the torches and pitchforks and goes all French Revolution on their asses.

Re:Capitalism isn't in itself flawed... (1)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326678)

But there needs to be some way to prevent capital from influencing politics, especially in a democracy.

Yeah, let me know how that works out for you...

I bet it would be easier to figure out how to walk to the moon.

Re:Capitalism isn't in itself flawed... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326870)

Barring direct financial contribution to political candidates and forcing them to run on equal funds would help. Barring the movement between high public office and private business, especially government contractors, would help as well

A lotto system is acceptable for jury trials. It should work for legislative and executive branch as well. Provide a lifetime pension of 8 times the median income and mandatory felony prison time if their tax return ever shows any other source of income. Income multiple is high to prevent familial corruption; "vote this way and I'll give your kid a really nice job", "naw, I got enough pension income that he doesn't have to get a job".

This was 'discussed' almost 80 years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326562)

Read "The Mass Psychology of Fascism [whale.to] " for a much better writeup.

gibson's russian joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326586)

William gibson in pattern recognition posited a modern russian joke... Everything lenin told us about communism was false, but everything he said about capitalism was true.

RMS (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326598)

This submission gave Richard Stallman an errection.

Bakunin (3, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326606)

Bakunin saw that Marx was right in his analysis of capitol, but did not appreciate the dangers of the state either. He famously said "liberty without socialism is privilege, injustice; and that socialism without liberty is slavery and brutality". Marx accurately predicted the end state of Capitalism. Bakunin accurately predicted the end state of Marxism.

For sure Marx had a point (3, Insightful)

drolli (522659) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326614)

But identifying a problem is not identical to finding the correct solution.

Re:For sure Marx had a point (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326698)

It is a prerequisite, though.

Re:For sure Marx had a point (1)

psychonaut (65759) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326804)

That's why Marx not only identified the problem but the solution. He famously remarked that "philosophers have interpreted the world in various ways; the point however is to change it." Whatever criticisms can be levelled at Marx, being an armchair philosopher who didn't propose any concrete course of action isn't one of them.

Why did this even make slashdot? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326628)

We're certainly starting to see the decline in quality after the departure of CmdrTaco.

Re:Why did this even make slashdot? (1)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326818)

Technology is at the heart of our current civilization. This is still News for Nerds is it not? Stuff that matters? Get a clue man.

It is rarely the system that's at fault... (1)

bhunachchicken (834243) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326634)

The true failing comes when you add in one key component that breaks it: people. Scholars have said otherwise, but I believe that human beings are ultimately very selfish, the most selfish of those being the exceedingly rich, who will do anything, even screw their best friends, to move just that one rung higher on the ladder.

Example? Look at Apple's recent behaviour. That's being driven by shareholders and the suits that now run the firm in Steve's place.

Re:It is rarely the system that's at fault... (1)

arcite (661011) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326802)

The flaws inherent in the system are not the primary concern, as these flaws exist in all systems. However, the flexibility and possibility for change is what will ensure survivability. Innovation (in all its forms) has been most robust during times of democracy and capitalist systems of governance. The only thing communism has ever innovated was to identify the most efficient way to kill as many people as possible (ie. catastrophic famine from forced labor, exterminating intellectuals, examples are too numerous...).

Marx was right about capitalism ... but. (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326650)

I have always thought that Marx was right in a lot about what he wrote about capitalism. The "Crisis of Realisation" may have been delayed by globalisation and the move of consumption into the corporate world, but we cannot continue growing the economy for ever. Where Marx falls down though is his assumption that once you get rid of capitalism you will naturally fall into a perfect society, with everyone consuming according to their needs and producing according to their abilities. Even without the repeated historical proofs that it won't happen I can't see why on earth he would even suggest such a thing. It is far more likely that Capitalism will pick itself up again very slowly with local trade or some totalitarian regime will take over.

Some things are off... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326654)

Immiseration - A PC used to be $5000. Now it is much cheaper, even with inflation. This goes for other goods as well. Gini coefs. have been rising, but the pie as also been expanding instead of shrinking.

Crisis - "too little demand chasing too many disposable widgets" - i'd like an example of this. Disclaimer: I am a fan of these guys who don't have so much an "overproduction" theory as they do a "malinvestment" theory: http://mises.org

Stagnation - as tax rates go up, regulation gets more burdensome, government spending increases, money printing screws up the economy, and we have transfers of wealth to the unproductive rich and the unproductive poor, we will get stagnantion.

Alienation - mixed feelings about this one. Basically, Marx argues this is a problem. If we want to eliminate alienation, we need to restrict the ability to service one another. Also, jobs on the assembly line can be alienating, but programming jobs might not be so much.

False consciousness - Yeah, right. The people at Walmart are happy to work there rather than a better-paying job. They take the job because it's all they can get/the best they can currently get. People don't pay loyalty to employers like they used to, and in a quasi-capitalist system, I consider this a good thing.

Commodity fetishism - This is a problem I see everywhere. This is what happens when society as a whole embraces liberalism as an ethos and discards tradition.

On Karl Marx & communism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326656)

Marx = brilliant analysis of what is wrong, horrible solution.

Speaking as a communist - in the sense that I think that property should be common, or already is, but we pretend (enforced) it is not. Marx goes wrong when he choses for a dictatorship (of the proles or whatever/whoever) to have the common property grabbed by a state.

His examples do not support his point (2)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326682)

The author's examples do not support his point. Over the time period where he shows that average workers incomes have stagnated is the same time period where the government has increasingly intervened in the market on the basis of socialistic principles. The examples the author gives of the "failures" of capitalism are the result of the government applying Marxian theory to "ease" the failings of capitalism. This does not mean that capitalism is perfect, no system involving humans, or designed by humans, will be.
This is a common argument I see: problem A is evidence that we need more government regulation, even though problem A was caused by bad government regulation in the first place. Problem B is evidence that Marx was right, even though problem B is the result of applying Marx's theories (usually partially).

Re:His examples do not support his point (1)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326808)

That is disingenuous to the extreme. Wages stagnation followed crashes caused by deregulation and it is taking increasing longer to recover from recession in the ages of deregulation.

"See this suspicious looking brown guy? He's a.." (2, Interesting)

Brian Stretch (5304) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326696)

"card carrying communist!!"

Given that a suspicious looking brown guy whose political mentor in Chicago was a communist domestic terrorist [nationalreview.com] has been elected President, I think you're safe Haque.

(Let the battle between "+1 Funny" and "-1 Troll" commence!)

Philosophers can't be wrong (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326700)

Karl Marx was a philosopher in the tradition of the Hegelians, a Romantic and a materialist. If you evaluate his work in those terms it's very compelling, offers many interesting critiques of Adam Smith, Ricardo and the post-enlightenment economists, but it makes no testable hypotheses. He is very historicist, he makes claims about what WILL happen, but they're couched in such a way that there's always room for interpretation and he never says exactly WHEN something will happen.

It's all really brilliant but you can't base an entire state or political economy on it, it's very impractical. Of course you can say the same thing about Smith or Robert Nozick: philosophy is not a good foundation for government.

35 and had my first real exposure to Marxist ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326714)

I grew up hearing the same thing everyone else did: communism is evil and needs to be destroyed. (thank goodness I wasn't born in the 50s though) I figured there was something up but just kept my head down.

I took sociology during the summer and one thing really stood out. The text gave an (seemingly anyway) unbiased look at Marx's theories on society. I know why communism and socialism is so evil now. It's because the rich and powerful are afraid and terrified of poor people. If people ever stood up for themselves, the rich and powerful would be pulled down.

I know now also that all versions of communism right now are not really communism. They're usually dictatorships or oligarchies masquerading as communism. These people misunderstood (intentionally?) marx's ideas. The main problem is that you can't have socialism/communism until there's enough for everyone. There isn't enough yet. And selfishness still rules just about all human lives.

Anyway.. that's my take on things. Maybe there's a lot I'm missing, some of which I hope to pick up in other classes.

Oh... and I was constantly stunned by the amount of foresight Marx had.

I can't remember who said it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326716)

"Capitalism is the worst form of economics ever invented, except for everything else that's ever been tried."

Resource based economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326752)

I think we have the technology to feed and house everyone on earth. we need a global technocracy like suggested by the people at The Venus Project.

Communism not necessarily bad, but won't work (1)

Creepy (93888) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326824)

Communism isn't necessarily a bad idea, but true communism relies on everyone buying into the idea, not a strong arm dictatorship forcing it to work. It is built around the idea of everyone sharing what they have or skills they have voluntarily for the benefit of others. Star Trek was actually quite communistic when you think about it - everyone worked together for the benefit of the whole. Star Wars was similar, but the rebels all had a buy in (defeat the evil dictator). The revisited Battlestar Galactica was pretty much just the opposite of both of those.

The only successful "communists" I know of are communal Mennonites and Amish. Their buy in is religion, and they've managed to successfully keep their communes in capitalist countries, though not without some hiccups - there's a reason many of them fled the US for Canada during the first World War - religious persecution in the US (like tossing 4 kids into Leavenworth prison for being conscientious objectors and killing 3 of them).

I like the ideals of Communism, but the reality is we can't even keep marriages together, and getting an entire country to work together like that is like keeping a big marriage together. It looks nice on paper, but since there is no buy in except a promise, the only way to make it work is to force it with a strong dictatorship - in marriage terms, you need an abusive husband to beat his wife and children into being completely submissive, with the husband being the dictator and the wife and children being his people.

Define "capitalism" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37326830)

There are a few well established and rather different definitions of the term. Marx used it in a way that is not like those in the anarcho-capitalist and/or Austrian economic school would define it.

If you don't agree on semantics saying he was correct is meaningless since not everyone are speaking about the same thing.

Marx was indeed, partly correct (3, Insightful)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 2 years ago | (#37326890)

Communism, nor socialism did not exist in the USSR. The USSR was a state capitalist country where a wealthy elite controlled and owned all resources. Communism is a stateless society where there is no elite at all and no central planning or authority. Socialism is a system where there is a democratic system whereby the people elect those who will make economic decisions and everyone has an equal voice in economic issues.

The Economy of the USSR is actually pretty similar to that of the USA, with a wealthy, powerful elite that controls all of the resources (capitalism). There is very little difference between state capitalism and corporate capitalism, both lead to massive consolidation of wealth and capital. In the US, the corporations maintain their dominance by controlling resources and capital people depend on, and controlling markets, this is maintained by factors such as size advantages, economy of scale, and other monopolistic-oligarchistic practices. The Corporations also have their own security forces which could even protect and assert their control over these resources. The only limit on corporate, unelected power is a democratic government, corporations would vastly expand their power in the case that democratic government is weakened or abolished, and that is the goal of the Republican party, to overthrow democratic government in the US and usher in the Corporations as absolute unelected economic royalty.

Communism as i said is a stateless, anarchic system. It is the opposite of corporate capitalism or state capitalistm found in the USSR, or today in North Korea. I do not sure Communism would work as, while most people are really wonderful, eventually an evil few would try to consolidate resources and begin to build up aggregations of resources, along with a security force to maintain such control, these things usually lead to the formation of a absolute monarchy. Free market mom and pop type capitalism in absense of a democratic government is almost exactly the same as communism, and would fail for the same reason that communism can often fail, that out of the decentralisation some evil individuals will try to decentralise and consolidate power.

A democratic state is necessary to guard against the antidemocratic consolidation of power by such evil, power hungry people. Democratic states rarely form spontaneously, the trend in centralisation by a want-to-be elite is to get power and keep it. Creating a democratic state by filling the power void can pre-empt the formation of monarchies however. And the more democratic government is weakened, the more the non democratic capitalist systems will take its place. In the US today, we have an already established anti democratic agalmation of power and the more the democratic government is weakened, the more of democracy itself that we lose as the corporations become even less regulated and their powers become more boundless.

Marx was properly correct in his diagnosis of the problems of capitalism, in that it is utterly repressive and seeks to exploit common workers to enrich an elite. Capitalism also seeks to manipulate or totally destroy democratic government, as democratic government limits corporate power, eliminating democratic government would infinite expand corporate power and turn corporations into economic monarchies. We have the fact that is the fact that capitalism is an emerging economic monarchy that often fights a war with or totally defeats or pre-empts formation of democratic states. Despite what people in the US believe, our capitalist system is not associated with democracy, it is a anti-democratic system where a few control many via vast control of resources. Power corrupts people and therefore it is wise through democracy to distribute power authority, both politically and economically, this means higher income taxes on the wealthy and limits to resource ownership that assures resource and income distribution are more equal.

Marx however, was overly optimistic and believed that capitaists could be easily defeated or that a communist anarchy was a natural and unavoidable outcome, when instead communism creates a power void that is ripe to be filled by evil persons who consolidate power, including their military and violent means. The only way to really permenantly secure peoples rights and freedoms is to have a democratic state created to protect people, including their economic rights via rights to resources, food, water, land etc, prevent large consolidation of capital by private entities and regulate corporations. Democratic government and safety net systems should exist alongside democratic, employee owned corporations, in a form of market socialism where you have many corporations, all equal share employee owned (a form of socialism), competing in a market system. The democratic government, regulates things to make sure that these corporations operate under laws under democracy, rather than becoming apex states themselves. This fills the power void and pre-empts corporate oligarchies, plutocracies, state capitalism, and economic royalty.

Due to the degree that nUS corporations have been able to buy the government off and therefore corrupt and destroy democraric government, corporations have become above the law and unelected apex states that are challenging democracy. We need to restrict and limit corporate power, placing it under firm regulation of democratic government, and we need to end the corporate campaign donations to politicians (bribes). so that corporations are no longer able to manipulate elections.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>