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Give your best arguments against Marxism, from exploitation theory to the Marxian labor theory of value. I realize this is in the economics board, but more philoshophical critiques are welcome. 

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"Each according to his abilities, each according to his needs." If this is the founding principle of Marxist theory on labor and distribution, it has been an abject failure in practice. I believe this is the best argument, because it is the shortest and simplest argument.

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11 hours ago, Repairman said:

"Each according to his abilities, each according to his needs." If this is the founding principle of Marxist theory on labor and distribution, it has been an abject failure in practice. I believe this is the best argument, because it is the shortest and simplest argument.

For the wrong audience, "failure in practice" carries the implication that it would be "good in theory" if only people were "virtuous enough" or "selfless enough", etc.  Thus, the argument sidesteps or (by implication) disavows the simpler truth:

Such a founding principle is monstrous in theory.

Although it requires a rational inquiry and a rejection of ingrained falsehoods (such as the morality of self-sacrifice), it is clear that the principle is inimical to life, the good of the person and is an evil.

 

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I'm not concerned about the wrong audience. If they need an extensive explanation, I could provide that. But arbitrarily describing Marxism as evil and/or monstrous is not an argument, nor an explanation. As your motto suggests, if something is true in theory but wrong in practice, then the theory is wrong. Marxism is wrong.

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14 hours ago, Repairman said:

"Each according to his abilities, each according to his needs." If this is the founding principle of Marxist theory on labor and distribution, it has been an abject failure in practice. I believe this is the best argument, because it is the shortest and simplest argument.

Marx said it, but it's not a founding principle. It's a moral statement, yes, but it isn't a basis to his economic theory. As far as I know, it's a little more systematic, and Marxism's "wrongness" is more about how it gets facts wrong. Marx makes particular predictions alongside Hegelian premises. An effective refutation would require undermining the idea that workers/laborers are the source of value.

Marxism isn't something that "failed" per se. In a sense, political movements based on Marxism worked as intended, but the struggle continues. Problem is, when premises are wrong, you don't reach ends you want except accidentally. A Marxist utopia is an impossibility. Failure implies getting to the utopia but then the utopia collapses.

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Repairman, we are in agreement on this I'm sure. B)

My point is that (IMHO) the moral case (for an individual living under such a system) is the most important aspect and the stronger argument than one that focuses on "results" (whatever that might mean).

 

I wont belabor the point because I know we agree on most things, but I want to share an anecdote with you.  Once at a party I had a discussion with a political science undergrad who thought himself to be quite the philosopher (and intended to become a lawyer), in any case during our discussion Ayn Rand came up, and the subject of laissez faire capitalism, and he told me that Rand justified and defended the system, and I am paraphrasing, based on the argument that it produced the best results.  Now, I do not know if he was speaking of the "results" from a "public good", or a utilitarian framework POV, but clearly he did not understand that the LF Cap. is not justified by its economic performance or according to some metric of public welfare and that Rand did not defend it on that basis (even if she thought it would be the result).  I told him he was incorrect, and that she never advocated LF Capitalism "because" it results in some economic maximization of some sort, but because it is the only moral economic system (non-system if you will). (we know this because we know what is moral is rational self-interest)

The distinction is somewhat subtle.  Does it make sense to you?

Initiation of force is wrong and a violation of individual rights.  The only proper role of Government is the protection of individual rights, and any government which engages in the violation of individual rights, necessarily required by the foundational principle of Marxism you cite, is morally wrong, regardless of any aggregate economic outcome.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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17 hours ago, Parcus said:

Give your best arguments against Marxism, from exploitation theory to the Marxian labor theory of value. I realize this is in the economics board, but more philoshophical critiques are welcome. 

genocide.jpg

starving-people-in-the-soviet-union-1921

Edited by Nicky

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4 hours ago, Nicky said:

Photos of Russian famine...

And those photos can be contrasted with the US of the time.

Needless to say, a photo is not an argument, but one has to follow the photos, study the history, and that will reveal the argument. (Even that will never satisfy a Marxist though: the counter will be that the theory was never practiced right.)

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6 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Marx said it, but it's not a founding principle. It's a moral statement, yes, but it isn't a basis to his economic theory. As far as I know, it's a little more systematic, and Marxism's "wrongness" is more about how it gets facts wrong. Marx makes particular predictions alongside Hegelian premises. An effective refutation would require undermining the idea that workers/laborers are the source of value.

Marxism isn't something that "failed" per se. In a sense, political movements based on Marxism worked as intended, but the struggle continues. Problem is, when premises are wrong, you don't reach ends you want except accidentally. A Marxist utopia is an impossibility. Failure implies getting to the utopia but then the utopia collapses.

I'm sure you left out a great many other areas of Marxist theory that are wrong. Why did you excluded them?

I can tell you why I excluded them: its' not necessary.

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2 hours ago, Repairman said:

I'm sure you left out a great many other areas of Marxist theory that are wrong. Why did you excluded them?

I can tell you why I excluded them: its' not necessary.

As I said, the most important one is about where value derives. The moral statement you mentioned is not a founding principle - it's derivative. You can't say "Look at the USSR, it didn't work" about Marxism, it's that Communism as done by the Soviets failed to help workers attain their ends. And maybe supporters of Trotsky would claim they had a better plan, because Stalin's plan misconstrued how a worldwide worker's revolution comes to fruition. Someone could respond that way. But if you deny that value is going to be only derived from a worker's labor, you'd go a lot further than the "it failed" argument. You'd be able to say all Marxist-based political ideologies will fail due to a failure of understanding value. It'll always stop at the "dictatorship of the proletariat" stage and never progress to the State "withering away".

Even for your own sake, it is important to find the principle at work. "It failed" is too concrete-bound to stop there, especially because theories can be implemented in a factually wrong way.

 

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17 hours ago, Eiuol said:

As I said, the most important one is about where value derives. The moral statement you mentioned is not a founding principle - it's derivative.

And the opening post reads:

 

On 7/13/2016 at 7:05 PM, Parcus said:

Give your best arguments against Marxism, from exploitation theory to the Marxian labor theory of value. I realize this is in the economics board, but more philoshophical critiques are welcome. 

Parcus's request doesn't require an explanation about Marxist values. So why would you insist that any explanation of anything other than the moral, or practical application of Marxism is needed? For that matter, would you answer a question poised it this context with an explanation of the material dialectic? Unless you're conversing with someone with an academic background in philosophy, your interlocutor would likely go cross-eyed with boredom.

 

17 hours ago, Eiuol said:

You can't say "Look at the USSR, it didn't work" about Marxism, it's that Communism as done by the Soviets failed to help workers attain their ends. And maybe supporters of Trotsky would claim they had a better plan, because Stalin's plan misconstrued how a worldwide worker's revolution comes to fruition. Someone could respond that way.

For a fact, I could say exactly that, but then again, I didn't. Nor would I. And there's a reason why I didn't: Marxism has failed in nearly every nation brandishing a flag with a hammer and sickle, or an image of Marx at its May Day parade. In nations that continue to identify as Communist, the national economies have been integrated with so much capitalism that Karl Marx would be spinning in his grave if he knew it. Someone could respond to that, but they would look foolish denying the facts.

 

17 hours ago, Eiuol said:

 But if you deny that value is going to be only derived from a worker's labor, you'd go a lot further than the "it failed" argument. You'd be able to say all Marxist-based political ideologies will fail due to a failure of understanding value. It'll always stop at the "dictatorship of the proletariat" stage and never progress to the State "withering away".

 

I would have to assume my interlocutor has some knowledge of economic determinism and the global society of proletarian-workers. Generally, I would not have to go any farther than to point out the undeniable fact that Marxism failed, and that it failed because it was wrong. And I could explain why it was and is wrong, but why, as I've pointed out above, would I bore some unsuspecting victim with such details? Unless they specifically ask for them. I would enjoy an expanded conversation on Marx, his interpretation of the historic class-struggle, and the obscene life he led. And if you have a circle of associations who have enough time and knowledge of the subject to enjoy such a conversation, well bless your heart. I don't. I generally talk with people who a highly-functional, semi-literate wager-earners and business owners, and if they are not, they are usually beneficiaries of the social welfare-state, in which case, there is no sense in any such discussion. And I should assume that some of them vote, and that voting audience does concern me. Point being: Most people could not accurately explain the term, "proletariat," let alone use it in a conversation.

 

18 hours ago, Eiuol said:

Even for your own sake, it is important to find the principle at work. "It failed" is too concrete-bound to stop there, especially because theories can be implemented in a factually wrong way.

Don't you suppose it's a bit presumptive, if not arrogant, for you to tell me what's important for my sake? I realize that most of the participants on this forum are informed and intelligent. The folks I normally engage face-to-face  are for the most part concrete-bound. But they understand what works and what doesn't work. And if there's one thing that's wrong with the United States, it's not that people don't know what the founding principles of Marxism are; it's the tragic fact that Marxism or Marxist values are figuratively devouring the capitalist values that built this country. And for your sake, that ain't good.

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1 hour ago, Repairman said:

So why would you insist that any explanation of anything other than the moral, or practical application of Marxism is needed? For that matter, would you answer a question poised it this context with an explanation of the material dialectic?

Because Marxism is an economic theory that people then use to derive conclusions about ideal political progress. It's not about "working" but whether it accurately describes capitalism. In other words, -what- doesn't work? That a theory doesn't "work" is weird to talk about, it's either true or false, and derivative conclusions fail to reach their ends. I mean, if Marxism were true, it literally would suggest worker's really are oppressed, that capitalists don't really offer value, and all putative failures were the whole point, or some leaders truly failed to understand Marxism. You'd be strawmanning Marxism. To do it right, you'd need to say value is primarily from the mind, and that's what you then use to make a moral argument.  

You see, my point is that Marxism itself doesn't have a goal any more than LFCapitalism. What fails are political ends (e.g. Communism) or goals based on specific theories.

"Most people could not accurately explain the term, "proletariat," let alone use it in a conversation. " -Repairman
In that case there's no need to bring up Marxism. You'd just talk about why LFC is morally good based on how the mind is the source of value.

"Don't you suppose it's a bit presumptive, if not arrogant, for you to tell me what's important for my sake? " -Repairman

No, because principles are how one thinks well. If one does understand the principle at work, as I think you do, then it's all good. It's not for the sake of other people principles are crucial, but for oneself. Even if there is no one to argue against. If people are concrete bound, it works better usually to focus on a principle. It's not so wise to just stoop to their level, I think it's fair that the -best- arguments to make are going to be more than showing headlines.

Edited by Eiuol

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Eiuol,

Perhaps we should make it clear as to what standard constitutes the better argument. In either case, I am not living my life to lecture people about Marxism, as a subject I find interesting, but not worthy of an extensive or critical study. Indeed, I would promote laissez faire capitalism, and I am aware of the basics of Marxist metaphysics. The point I am driving at is that one is best understood when one does communicate at the level of one's interlocutor. The people I know usually resent someone who talks down to them, as if that one were a philosophy professor, especially when he holds no such accredited certification. 

If you wish to exercise your freedom of speech by delivering academic diatribes to guests at a party, I would defend your right to do so. But you're criticizing me for not automatically providing an elaborate and needless monologue on the metaphysical foundations, history, personalities,vision, horrors, and possible future horrors of Marxist Communism in casual conversation is a bit pompous to say the least. I won't force people to think, and I don't believe you can, either. Thinking is an act of volition. People must come to their own conclusions, and if someone more studied on the subject can engage them in the process of thinking, then one can explore principles and the deeper depths of a subject. Marxism is an unknown quantity to most with whom I talk. If I should find that rare individual who wishes to know more, or who has significant familiarity with Marxism, then I will enjoy the conversation. But I take find no gratification in alienating acquaintances with prolonged instructions.

I can appreciate your candor for wishing that more people understand Marxism and its influence on our world. It wouldn't hurt for more people to be better informed. But I will stand by my "keep-it-simple" policy in matters of discourse with casual acquaintances, until they ask for more. Each according to his ability, each according to his needs.

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The strength of an argument against a theory depends on how you deal with its fundamental principles. "To each according to his needs..." is not a fundamental principle (or axiomatic, or an inductive start) so arguing against it is fine, but not as strong as getting to the main ideas of the theory. Arguing against it is mostly a distraction. Similarly, "it failed to work" is not an argument against Marxism, as Marxism is meant to be a theory about economics. If it "failed to work", it'd be actually just more to say about the "march of history" and further proof of how it's capitalism's fault things like that happen. It doesn't say anything except Communism failed. For example, you wouldn't say that flat earth "fails" to work as a theory, you'd say it's false.

So we get to the concept of value. I don't mean you need a complete grasp of Marxism to make sophisticated argument. You don't need to talk like Hegel to argue against Marxism by going to the point. I do not know where you get the idea I said academic-level arguments are required. All you need is a good grasp of the Objectivist theory of value, then you'd be equipped to argue against Marxism as wrong on a key premise. How you precisely formulate it depends on what claim you're arguing against. And remember, maybe you'd be arguing against yourself!

But for the most part, "Mind is the source of value" is keeping it simple. You could say Marxism will never properly describe economics exactly because it is wrong about a concept that is so straightforward. Value isn't to be found in laborers, a capitalist's mental work can add value as well! Nothing too wild. I could argue conversationally to people curious about Marxism, or make it more formal to an academic, but the person you argue against isn't the point. No matter who it is, strong arguments against a theory are going to deal with principles of that theory.  

Talking about history is a good way to add context. Just remember that it all needs to be integrated with a principle.

 

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On 7/15/2016 at 8:33 PM, Repairman said:

Eiuol,

Perhaps we should make it clear as to what standard constitutes the better argument.

So far, we have not established the standard. Am I correct to assume that you believe the standard of a superior argument must include extensive explanations of principles?

 

On 7/13/2016 at 7:05 PM, Parcus said:

Give your best arguments against Marxism, from exploitation theory to the Marxian labor theory of value. I realize this is in the economics board, but more philoshophical critiques are welcome. 

Parcus isn't asking for the underpinning principles; in fact, he has left it so open as to allow a broad range of related facts, which may include principles. Being that he only requests an argument from the exploitation theory to Marx's calculations of labor values, one could prattle on needlessly, as if reciting from volumes of anti-Marxist literature. And yet, Parcus gives his approval to...

 

On 7/14/2016 at 0:55 PM, Nicky said:

genocide.jpg

starving-people-in-the-soviet-union-1921

...this, which not much more than a mere headline. Accompanied by a few photos.

 

On 7/15/2016 at 5:04 PM, Eiuol said:

 If people are concrete bound, it works better usually to focus on a principle. It's not so wise to just stoop to their level, I think it's fair that the -best- arguments to make are going to be more than showing headlines.

Really? Showing headlines seemed to do the trick in this cases. You are making an argument that my argument is incomplete. This is absolutely true, and I have no apologies for it. I am assuming that Parcus expected a practical argument. I provided one. A simple one. Someone presents a simple question, I provide a simple answer, if I am able. Until an extended conversation develops, I see little reason for launching into a history lesson (although I have been known to do exactly that, and regretted wasting my time in the process.) 

So, as I see it, you are creating the straw man of my brevity. It has less to do with my omission of the theory of Marxist principles, than the precision my response, as blunt as it may be. I could offer much information, and cover a broad range of flaws in Marxism, or just enough to provoke a real argument/discussion about the many false premises of Marxist communism. I choose the latter. I have found through experience that brevity is the soul of wit. And applying that kernel of wisdom has served me well. In the real world, I have reformed my tendencies to function as a gasbag. Perhaps this doesn't meet with your approval. Too bad. It's my choice, not yours. For that matter, I have not seen your comprehensive argument against Marxism, from the exploitation theory of labor to the labor theory of value. No doubt you have one. But so far, all I'm reading here is your condemnation of my posts. And the tedium is noteworthy. Did I get any of this wrong? Is there any reason we shouldn't move on?

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"Did I get any of this wrong? Is there any reason we shouldn't move on? "
Sorry, you got most of it wrong, all I can say is re-read my posts. We'll move on though. I hope you at least agree that the standard of strong arguments aren't anything to do with what convinces people best.

I will explain my argument more, I figured you pretty much know well Rand's arguments for value as deriving from the mind, so I didn't say more. I could either outline the argument's general form, or write out an argument with a specific opponent position in mind.  

 

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51r1fIJRLOL.jpg718m121nAUL._SL256_.jpg

The depiction of the aftermath through the eyes of Dagny and Hank in Starnesville and the various details brought forth in their search for the inventor of the motor found in the 20th Century Motor Company provided a pretty graphic portrayal of the philosophic underpinnings involved.

As to part of Repairman's retort:

1 hour ago, Repairman said:

I am assuming that Parcus expected a practical argument. I provided one. A simple one. Someone presents a simple question, I provide a simple answer, if I am able. Until an extended conversation develops, I see little reason for launching into a history lesson

reminds me of the 10 year old that asks his father "Dad, where did I come from?"

"Dad, where did I come from?" asks this 10-years-old. The father was shocked that a 10 year old would be asking a question like that. He was hoping to wait a few more years before he would have to explain the facts of life, but he figured it was better a few years early than a few days too late, so, for the next two hours he explained every thing to his son. When he got finished, he asked his son what prompted his question to which his son replied, "I was talking to the new kid across the street and he said he came from Ohio, so I was just wondering where I came from."

 

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dream_weaver,

Odd you should mention Starnesville. I am re-reading Atlas Shrugged, and I'm just passing through those parts.

Euoil,

As mentioned, I can see your more knowledge-concentrated message throughout your posts. So, there is no need to re-read them. And if they were edited to form a comprehensive reply to Parcus' request, they would be regarded as a fine answer, based on content and strength. But you insisted on editing your answers as rebuttals, not to Marxism, but to my abbreviated first answer, which while lacking the accuracy of your multilayered series of posts, did indeed open up the conversation to what appears to be a very broad request for an argument against Marxism. I can see that you have the means of making a terrific argument against Marxism. Of that I have no doubt, as this quote states, if taken in the intended context.

4 hours ago, Repairman said:

 No doubt you have one. But so far, all I'm reading here is your condemnation of my posts.

So long as you envelop your comments on Marxism within this pointless condemnation of my simple answer, I will defend my first comment as it is factual, if not lengthy or strong. ('Strength of argument' seems to be your criterion for receiving the highest grade.) I will concede that my answer is not as strong as yours; it wasn't intended to be. However, I maintain that a simple answer that prompts the inquirer to greater and/or more precise inquiry is often more appropriate to an elaborate one, such as that offered by the father in dream_weaver's anecdote. We're having a conflict over the proper means of persuasion, not Marxism. So, is this conflict really necessary?

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"From each according to his abilities to each according to his needs." If a college professor had made the error of stating: "If this is a founding principle..." only to interrupted by a clever and attentive student pointing out the mistake, the likely scenario would be that the professor would acknowledge the minor faux pa, and move on. So, I thank you for the correction, but the error normally would be regarded as a violation less offensive than dropping a plastic bottle in with the aluminum can recycling bin. Instead, you're treating it as if it were a misdemeanor, punishable by relentless harassment. Perhaps I could appeal to the court of public opinion: Is this conflict really necessary?

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No problem Repairman, wasn't trying to harass you about it, I apologize. My intent was to get at what it is a good argument would look like. Of course, criticism only goes so far (pointing out errors is helpful), so you're right to push me away from my criticism of other people's examples.

The gist though is value is from the mind, so it is not inherently exploitative to profit from a worker's labor, and a worker's value is from his own mind. A theory like Marxism which does not attempt to leave room for discussing how it is people come to judge value (except as a phenomena caused by the machinery of capitalism) in their own mind, will be plain incorrect. So the USSR isn't ugly because it failed to work per se, but because Marxism predicts capitalism would erode on its own and that erosion would lead to somewhere equitable despite the temporary struggle. Except, the inevitable progress never happened.

Let me know if you'd like me to expand on any part, but I'd say it's fine as is. Expanding on points depends on your target audience, e.g. it'd be a lot more detailed if it was for a book on economics. Still, the form would be identical, even if I were arguing against myself as a devil's advocate.

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As ironic as it may sound, perhaps the best approach with the "ordinary" Marxist (usually found on a University Campus) is a libertarian one. Think of a discussion as a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas in which you say one thing and they say the other. There will be differences of opinion, but that is not necessarily threatening and being open to exploring those differences can be rewarding. The thing to remember is that you cannot "pressure" Marxists or "coerce" them into giving up their beliefs by hysterics or appeals to ethical absolutes. that wouldn't work with anyone, and trying it with a marxist serves as evidence of how little respect you have for them as people trying to reason there way through the world. the truth is not enough- they desperately want people's respect because being "dedicated" to the cause is an attempt to have self-worth. 

The crucial thing is to NOT make a big deal out of it because Marxism, as a totalitarian ideology, is identical with the self. So an attack on Marxism is received as an attack on the Marxist's sense of self worth. If the goal is to "convert" a marxist over, be prepared to be flexible and do what works- not what we may instintively feel is "right" like telling them to go and live in North Korea (or whatever). you have to slowly encourage a separation between Marxism as an idea, and that "marxists" sense of self by showing they are in conflict. That's more to do with the person and what they want and thinking that Marxism is a means of achieving what they want.

the trouble is the degree to which the "selfish" reasons to be a Marxist are rationalised and covered up by "altruistic" ideology. getting a Marxist to be specific about what they want, to try to become informed on specific subjects rather than sticking to  vague "general principles" can plant the seeds of clear thinking. rather than saying "that can't work" go for "how would that work?" and you'll quickly see how much they actually know (often its very little). Only a handful of Marxists will have developed a really complete understanding of what they'd actually do if they got power- the rest of them are being used by empty promises of a "better world".

Marxism is primarily (but by no means exclusively) an emotional response to people's suffering and the longing that human beings may enjoy a "humane" condition. It is built around a sense of grievance, victim hood and identification with "victims". It is only when you grasp that behind the mask of militancy lies a deep sense of vulnerability, of feeling at the mercy of market forces out of control, of being afraid of losing in the "anarchy" of competition, of not having "individuality" without property, or "oppressed" by a exploiting ruling class, that the humanity of marxists becomes clear. something had to go badly wrong for them to end up this way and they are often grappling with legitimate personal problems that they themselves feel they cannot change or control. So they look for a magic bullet to "change the world" and solve it for them.  at its core- its selfish in wanting to not be overwhelmed or over-powered. 

Sadly, Marxists have chosen to respond to this vulnerability with a semi-conscious efforts to control their environment and surroundings through "planning" and ultimately, this means controlling people themselves (and being controlled). Often it can be more subtle in terms of adhering to a philosophical system that claim to explain, predict (and therefore control) everything as a "science". If you make a Marxist feel threatened- they will lose it and that will be the end of the discussion. all that vulnerability is a recipe for hatred, greed, lust and every other temptation known to man and its once you start to get the dissonance between the "ideal" and the "personal" that things really start to change. just like anyone else, they have things that set them off and limits to what they will discuss. you have to make them realise that if they had power- they would abuse it for their own selfish ends. it has to become personal and not just an abstract happening somewhere else to someone else in the world. That takes something "special" because the healthy part of the personality has to care about what would actually happen. its is a real turning point in a person's life and it can't be forced. From the outside, you can't help them- but you can help them help themselves

The trick is to respect them as people, recognise the vulnerability but suggest that they are being used and that the desire for control will not make them free or even safe from the things they are afraid of. This doesn't have to be big or dramatic but a steady "dripping tap" of doubts and insights that shows that- as emotionally invested as they are, as much as they want it to work and be true- they have let other use their vulnerability to become victims of a totalitarian ideology and system, and would readily betray their own ideals if they were even given the power because of how vulnerable they are. they have to create and find their own sense of value by becoming individuals.

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On 6/29/2017 at 11:47 AM, Laika said:

 From the outside, you can't help them- but you can help them help themselves.

Laika, this is an extraordinary explanation of the nuances involved in the art of persuasion, and it may almost be as easily applied to radical ideologies of either race or religion. Emotions run much deeper among the religiously and racially conflicted. Solid factual arguments rarely if ever have any effect on the true-believers. However, I will say that opening an individual up to such honest discussion would require quite a long time, patience, and in the end, that true-believer will need to draw his/her own conclusions, as you have mentioned. If someone is capable of thinking through the case for Marxism, I believe it is just as possible for them to reason the case against it.

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2 hours ago, Repairman said:

Laika, this is an extraordinary explanation of the nuances involved in the art of persuasion, and it may almost be as easily applied to radical ideologies of either race or religion. Emotions run much deeper among the religiously and racially conflicted. Solid factual arguments rarely if ever have any effect on the true-believers. However, I will say that opening an individual up to such honest discussion would require quite a long time, patience, and in the end, that true-believer will need to draw his/her own conclusions, as you have mentioned. If someone is capable of thinking through the case for Marxism, I believe it is just as possible for them to reason the case against it.

I agree with you on that. :) The emotional openness to opposing arguments is crucial to marxism's development but also uncharacteristic of Marxists both historically and in the present day. In my experience, I simply haven't met anyone of the Marxist-Communist persuasion who was really willing to be that open and honest. Not once have I met a Communist who could actually say "we killed innocent people and we were wrong to do so", nor really be open about whether that was what they would want. it was always disguised by political language of "class struggle", "dictatorship" and never really comprehended on a "human" level of experience, with all the personal turmoil and conflict that comes from caring about people- friends and so-called "enemies". That was a pretty strong indicator against the communist ideal of the "new man" as a noble and heroic standard bearer of "social justice" because it meant that the source of communist ideology couldn't be as simple as commitment to truth as a legitimate and moral source of political power.

To give an example, here's a quote from Felix Dzerzhinsky's prison diary:

...Where lies the way out of the hell of present-day life, in which the wolfish law of exploitation, oppression and violence holds sway? The way out lies in the idea of a life which is based on harmony, a full life enjoyed by the whole of society, by all mankind; the way out is in the idea of socialism, the idea of solidarity of the working people. This idea is already approaching realisation, the people are ready to receive it with open arms. The time for it has already arrived. The ranks of the advocates of this idea must be united and the banner carried aloft so that the people see it and follow it. And today this is the most urgent of the tasks of Social-Democracy, of the tasks of the small handful that survives.

Socialism should cease to be only the scientific prevision of the future. It should become the torch that kindles indomitable faith and energy in the hearts of people....

its a humane, bold and a courageous statement of socialist principle. And it makes absolutely no sense given that Dzerzhinsky was the founder of the Cheka, the soviet secret police that would torture and kill the regimes opponents:

“We stand for organized terror - this should be frankly admitted. Terror is an absolute necessity during times of revolution. Our aim is to fight against the enemies of the Soviet Government and of the new order of life. We judge quickly. In most cases only a day passes between the apprehension of the criminal and his sentence. When confronted with evidence criminals in almost every case confess; and what argument can have greater weight than a criminal's own confession?” 

There is virtually no statement regarding Marxist ethics systematic enough to explain how its possible to say the first quote and then say the second quote. The truth is, the Communists never even tried to develop a Marxist system of ethics (beyond a single statement by Lenin saying ethics are subordinate to class struggle), nor is it obvious how logic, reason, ideology or even emotion can make the leap. the closest approximation is Trotsky's "Communism and Terrorism". As damning as it is for its defence of terror, censorship and forced labour, its also very superficial in that the "enemies of the people" are never treated as more than a mere abstraction. there's no real discussion of the moral meaning of the state having the power to decide who lives and who dies based on an introspective emotional or existential awareness of human frailty or fallibility. the same "lack of an argument" is common through out Marxist literature so it cannot be said to be rational even by Marxist standards. there is only an eerie silence. its hard to tell what could be more chilling; killing 100 million people because you believe it was right, or because they didn't need a reason to do it at all. 

The problem with Communism isn't so much a question of facts, though Communists have become extremely good at ignoring facts. Facts do not exist in isolation from reasoning and means we attribute cause and effect to different facts, and give them significance. i.e. Was the collapse of the USSR the result of causes within socialism itself or somehow the result of forces outside of and alien or hostile to Socialism? Were the Purges the result of Stalinist ideology and its propensity to paranoia or was the paranoia a justifiable attempt to maintain ideological purity and orthodoxy in the face of counter-revolutionary forces? You can go on like this and personally its not clear why one interpretation is better than the other and emotions played a pretty powerful role in my originally favouring Marxist interpretation over alternatives. the inner struggle wears you out and you want something "more". So I can only conclude that my preference for Marxism was at least in part deeply irrational. its still been a valuable experience into the human condition though.

Edited by Laika

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Using marxist theory of exploitation :

Let V be the "variable capital" corresponding to wages and C the constant capital corresponding to machines, tools, buildings, land, etc. Let's suppose that pl is the capital gain derived by the employer from the labor of the employees. We define E, the exploitation rate by the equation E = pl / V, and P, the rate of profit by the equation P = pl / (C + V). The "organic" composition of the company's capital is defined by the equation K = (C + V) / V.


Using these equations, the profit rate (P) can be expressed as a function of the organic composition of capital (K) and of the exploitation rate (E). Indeed, pl = V.E; P = V.E / (C + V); Therefore P = E / K.


However, under the conditions of perfect competition which is the frame of reference of Marx, the exploitation rate (E) and the rate of profit (P) are the same in all branches of production regardless of the organic composition of capital . The last equation shows that if the organic composition of capital (K) varies from branch to branch or from enterprise to enterprise, the rate of exploitation being given and everywhere the same, the rate of profit (P) varies from branch to branch or from enterprise to enterprise. That is impossible.

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