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marx-was-right Karl Marx – Capital.
Rating: 2/10

I did earnestly try to read Capital on about three separate occasions in my early twenties, before I wised up and stopped wasting my time on a pointless historical relic.

At a basic level, Marx is just a very poor writer, and I say this as someone who read Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and Friedrich List’s National Economy from cover to cover. And to preempt accusations of ideological hostility, I also read Friedrich Engels’ Origins of the Family – and consider him by far the better and even deeper writer (if only because it was easy to understand what he was getting at).

Marx is another matter. To read his works is to struggle through pages upon pages of laborious explications of utterly banal concepts. It is to wade through a morass of shifting definitions, seemingly authoritative but unsubstantiated statements, long-winded and often irrelevant anecdotes, and imprecise verbal descriptions that confound any attempts to construct a rigorous economic model.

One supreme irony is that Marx’s sole contribution to scientific economics was a balanced growth model of a two sector economy under capitalism. Meanwhile, the apocalyptic prognostications about falling rates of profit and mounting crises of overproduction that he is far better known for went unfulfilled.

Had there been no Russian Revolution, whose success was a historical fluke, then Marx would be regarded as a 19th century graphomaniac, and warranting just a few paragraphs in the annals of philosophy. As it was, his dreary tome was foisted on a third of the world’s population as a latter day Bible.

 
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  1. Meanwhile, the apocalyptic prognostications about falling rates of profit and mounting crises of overproduction that he is far better known for went unfulfilled.

    Falling rates of profit certainly turned out to be false, and Marx himself ought to have recognized this himself given his dictum that, Capitalism tends toward monopoly. What kind of self-respecting monopoly loses money?

    The falling rate of profit as an explanation for the business cycle is also very wrong. Corporate profits are nearly always highest at the peak of the business cycle. Minsky is the one who got this one right. The Austrian Business Cycle Theory also has some value, though one needs to completely remove their bizarre, religious hatred of central banks and the dreaded FIAT money from it to get any kind of predictive power.

    That said, there are some interesting analogues. Declining EROEI in energy extraction (and related dynamics in mining) and scientific productivity come to mind.

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  2. songbird says:

    It is funny – I have a very distant, foggy memory of flipping through a few pages of some very turgid book – but I can’t definitely recall whether it was Das Kapital or Mein Kampf. I’m guessing neither one was much read compared to its fame.

    On the other hand, I think The Road to Serfdom was written fairly competently, but with the caveat that Hayek made the obvious mistake of attributing too much of the influence which shaped world events to minor intellectuals, who, only in their wildest flights of fancy, might have desired to write as turgidly as Marx and Hitler, or be read 1/10,000 as much.

    I think history is driven much more by instincts, personalities and circumstances, than anything else. Marx, for instance, was more important as a symbol than as someone who had written a book. If his name had a glottal stop, a fricative or ten syllables (like certain Hawaiian names), there would not be a single statue of him today.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dmitry
    Marx was clearly extremely intelligent, but for bizarre and cultish (you could say evil) goals.

    I can read today some of his text, and you see in the sentence many careful and subtle qualifiers (because he is carefully building up a theory). His way of thinking contains far more layers, than a normal writer (or anyone writing today). It's writing in the way of '4D chess'.

    At the same time, the end result of his theory is something quite evil.

    You can see his argument against money below.

    He's arguing in an extremely clever and multi-layered way, for an extremely bizarre and idiotic conclusion.

    We talk about IQ on this page. And Marx's arguments are like a religious or cult sermon, aimed at tricking people with a high-IQ into following his point of view. The point of view itself is an extremely bizarre one, but watching his argument constructed, is like watching professional chess players.

    That which is for me through the medium of money – that for which I can pay (i.e., which money can buy) – that am I myself, the possessor of the money. The extent of the power of money is the extent of my power. Money’s properties are my – the possessor’s – properties and essential powers. Thus, what I am and am capable of is by no means determined by my individuality. I am ugly, but I can buy for myself the most beautiful of women. Therefore I am not ugly, for the effect of ugliness – its deterrent power – is nullified by money. I, according to my individual characteristics, am lame, but money furnishes me with twenty-four feet. Therefore I am not lame. I am bad, dishonest, unscrupulous, stupid; but money is honoured, and hence its possessor. Money is the supreme good, therefore its possessor is good. Money, besides, saves me the trouble of being dishonest: I am therefore presumed honest. I am brainless, but money is the real brain of all things and how then should its possessor be brainless? Besides, he can buy clever people for himself, and is he who has [In the manuscript: ‘is’. – Ed.] power over the clever not more clever than the clever? Do not I, who thanks to money am capable of all that the human heart longs for, possess all human capacities? Does not my money, therefore, transform all my incapacities into their contrary?

    If money is the bond binding me to human life, binding society to me, connecting me with nature and man, is not money the bond of all bonds? Can it not dissolve and bind all ties? Is it not, therefore, also the universal agent of separation? It is the coin that really separates as well as the real binding agent – the [...] [One word in the manuscript cannot be deciphered. – Ed.] chemical power of society.

    Shakespeare stresses especially two properties of money:

    1. It is the visible divinity – the transformation of all human and natural properties into their contraries, the universal confounding and distorting of things: impossibilities are soldered together by it.

    2. It is the common whore, the common procurer of people and nations.

    The distorting and confounding of all human and natural qualities, the fraternisation of impossibilities – the divine power of money – lies in its character as men’s estranged, alienating and self-disposing species-nature. Money is the alienated ability of mankind.

    That which I am unable to do as a man, and of which therefore all my individual essential powers are incapable, I am able to do by means of money. Money thus turns each of these powers into something which in itself it is not – turns it, that is, into its contrary.

    If I long for a particular dish or want to take the mail-coach because I am not strong enough to go by foot, money fetches me the dish and the mail-coach: that is, it converts my wishes from something in the realm of imagination, translates them from their meditated, imagined or desired existence into their sensuous, actual existence – from imagination to life, from imagined being into real being. In effecting this mediation, [money] is the truly creative power.

    No doubt the demand also exists for him who has no money, but his demand is a mere thing of the imagination without effect or existence for me, for a third party, for the [others],||XLIII| and which therefore remains even for me unreal and objectless. The difference between effective demand based on money and ineffective demand based on my need, my passion, my wish, etc., is the difference between being and thinking, between that which exists within me merely as an idea and the idea which exists as a real object outside of me.

    If I have no money for travel, I have no need – that is, no real and realisable need – to travel. If I have the vocation for study but no money for it, I have no vocation for study – that is, no effective, no true vocation. On the other hand, if I have really no vocation for study but have the will and the money for it, I have an effective vocation for it. Money as the external, universal medium and faculty (not springing from man as man or from human society as society) for turning an image into reality and reality into a mere image, transforms the real essential powers of man and nature into what are merely abstract notions and therefore imperfections and tormenting chimeras, just as it transforms real imperfections and chimeras – essential powers which are really impotent, which exist only in the imagination of the individual – into real powers and faculties. In the light of this characteristic alone, money is thus the general distorting of individualities which turns them into their opposite and confers contradictory attributes upon their attributes.

    Money, then, appears as this distorting power both against the individual and against the bonds of society, etc., which claim to be entities in themselves. It transforms fidelity into infidelity, love into hate, hate into love, virtue into vice, vice into virtue, servant into master, master into servant, idiocy into intelligence, and intelligence into idiocy.

     

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/power.htm
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  3. Thank you for this review. Those of us who have not read the book (we must be legion) but have been subjected to the worship of it and its author thank you. Our college professors sometimes managed to convince us that Marx had the answers to history’s problems, but some things never seemed quite right.

    The ideas taught to us as having come down from Capital , or from Marx at least, seem built upon the flawed assumptions that Man’s nature can be changed for the common good and that the community or state can somehow be in charge of that change. Contrary to that, we today see plenty of evidence, both scientific and historical, that those assumptions are false.

    Human nature is heavily biological. The motive to own private property and to profit from one’s work and trade is part of that nature and cannot be removed. To do so is to destroy Man and his motivation. To give the community or state the power over this is simply to enable a select group of flawed human beings to become even more corrupt than they already are by nature.

    To read now repeated accolades to Marx in American newspapers is disheartening. To see the continued false teaching in American colleges is depressing. To watch how critics of our culture try to cram everything from art to entertainment to recreation into Marxist categories is laughable.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
    Karlin savages Marx more than is merited, likely because of the dire consequences for his native land.

    Historical materialism, Marxian class analysis, class struggle, labor exploitation, and commodity fetishism are all novel, interesting, and useful concepts.

    The ideas taught to us as having come down from Capital , or from Marx at least, seem built upon the flawed assumptions that Man’s nature can be changed for the common good and that the community or state can somehow be in charge of that change. Contrary to that, we today see plenty of evidence, both scientific and historical, that those assumptions are false.
     

    Honestly, it's a lot worse than that. The central idea of Marxism is that the creation of a socialist economy would eliminate economic classes and thus conflict, and therefore the state would disappear. It's really a Godless millenarian heresy.

    Marx also bizarrely believed that ordinary laborers could form the ruling class of society, a patently absurd idea. Workers are dumb proles and are workers for a reason, and the idea that meritocracy didn't exist before the 20th century is patently false. Even in the medieval period, when theories about nobility and commoners being different species were popular, there were cases of peasants becoming archbishops.

    The Bolsheviks themselves obviously figured this out in practical terms as evidenced by their Vanguard strategy.

    Human nature is heavily biological. The motive to own private property and to profit from one’s work and trade is part of that nature and cannot be removed. To do so is to destroy Man and his motivation. To give the community or state the power over this is simply to enable a select group of flawed human beings to become even more corrupt than they already are by nature.
     

    The distinguishing feature of the modern corporation is the separation of ownership and control. The vast majority of corporations have diffuse stockholders who exercise no meaningful control over the corporation, which is run by hired managers who are a self-perpetuating clique. I own a lot of shares of Union Pacific, but if I walked into a Union Pacific hump yard I'd be arrested for trespassing on the private property that I theoretically own part of.

    The success of these corporations, along with wartime economic planning success, convinced a lot of people that socialism was not only possible but would outperform capitalism. Lenin described the Imperial German war economy as a planned socialist economy subordinated to "Junker bourgeois imperialism".

    Skin in the game is of course extraordinarily useful, but the real reason capitalism outperforms socialism is routine entry and exit of firms. Planned economies don't have much entry of new firms, and there's no hard budget constraint to discipline existing firms. During wartime of course you generally don't want a lot of entry/exit, and you have something even more motivating than money.

    , @anon

    The ideas taught to us as having come down from Capital , or from Marx at least, seem built upon the flawed assumptions that Man’s nature can be changed for the common good and that the community or state can somehow be in charge of that change.
     
    Absolutely not. Marx is not a moralist, like utopian socialists he rightly skewers. Read at least the Communist manifesto, it is short and concise, if you want to talk about Marx and Marxism.

    Marx fancied himself as scientist like Newton, and claimed to discover laws of human society, like Newton discovered the law of gravity. The development of human society from primitive communism through slavery, feudalism and capitalism into fully advanced communism was supposed to progress according to inevitable law of nature. Human action could slow or speed up this development, but not to change it's course. This belief in historical inevitability, the absolute certainty that "history is on our side" was the strength of Marxism.

    Human nature is heavily biological.
     
    Marx himself was strong HBD believer/neanderthalist racist (choose what you prefer). If IQ science existed in his time he would be ardent IQ-ist. And he saw no contradiction with his theory, because Marxism is not about biology.
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  4. songbird says:

    Adam Smith is actually surprisingly readable for an English-language author of the 18th century.

    It is funny to read his put-downs of the New World civilizations too: they weren’t so great because they didn’t have real money.

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    • Replies: @DFH

    Adam Smith is actually surprisingly readable for an English-language author of the 18th century.
     
    Lots of writing from that period (excluding novels, at least in English) is very good and still readable today, Gibbon being the best example in English and Diderot in French.
    , @Yevardian
    English literature of the 18th century is perfectly clear and readable, especially if you compare it's usage of the time to German or French.
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  5. DFH says:
    @songbird
    Adam Smith is actually surprisingly readable for an English-language author of the 18th century.

    It is funny to read his put-downs of the New World civilizations too: they weren't so great because they didn't have real money.

    Adam Smith is actually surprisingly readable for an English-language author of the 18th century.

    Lots of writing from that period (excluding novels, at least in English) is very good and still readable today, Gibbon being the best example in English and Diderot in French.

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  6. @Buzz Mohawk
    Thank you for this review. Those of us who have not read the book (we must be legion) but have been subjected to the worship of it and its author thank you. Our college professors sometimes managed to convince us that Marx had the answers to history's problems, but some things never seemed quite right.

    The ideas taught to us as having come down from Capital , or from Marx at least, seem built upon the flawed assumptions that Man's nature can be changed for the common good and that the community or state can somehow be in charge of that change. Contrary to that, we today see plenty of evidence, both scientific and historical, that those assumptions are false.

    Human nature is heavily biological. The motive to own private property and to profit from one's work and trade is part of that nature and cannot be removed. To do so is to destroy Man and his motivation. To give the community or state the power over this is simply to enable a select group of flawed human beings to become even more corrupt than they already are by nature.

    To read now repeated accolades to Marx in American newspapers is disheartening. To see the continued false teaching in American colleges is depressing. To watch how critics of our culture try to cram everything from art to entertainment to recreation into Marxist categories is laughable.

    Karlin savages Marx more than is merited, likely because of the dire consequences for his native land.

    Historical materialism, Marxian class analysis, class struggle, labor exploitation, and commodity fetishism are all novel, interesting, and useful concepts.

    The ideas taught to us as having come down from Capital , or from Marx at least, seem built upon the flawed assumptions that Man’s nature can be changed for the common good and that the community or state can somehow be in charge of that change. Contrary to that, we today see plenty of evidence, both scientific and historical, that those assumptions are false.

    Honestly, it’s a lot worse than that. The central idea of Marxism is that the creation of a socialist economy would eliminate economic classes and thus conflict, and therefore the state would disappear. It’s really a Godless millenarian heresy.

    Marx also bizarrely believed that ordinary laborers could form the ruling class of society, a patently absurd idea. Workers are dumb proles and are workers for a reason, and the idea that meritocracy didn’t exist before the 20th century is patently false. Even in the medieval period, when theories about nobility and commoners being different species were popular, there were cases of peasants becoming archbishops.

    The Bolsheviks themselves obviously figured this out in practical terms as evidenced by their Vanguard strategy.

    Human nature is heavily biological. The motive to own private property and to profit from one’s work and trade is part of that nature and cannot be removed. To do so is to destroy Man and his motivation. To give the community or state the power over this is simply to enable a select group of flawed human beings to become even more corrupt than they already are by nature.

    The distinguishing feature of the modern corporation is the separation of ownership and control. The vast majority of corporations have diffuse stockholders who exercise no meaningful control over the corporation, which is run by hired managers who are a self-perpetuating clique. I own a lot of shares of Union Pacific, but if I walked into a Union Pacific hump yard I’d be arrested for trespassing on the private property that I theoretically own part of.

    The success of these corporations, along with wartime economic planning success, convinced a lot of people that socialism was not only possible but would outperform capitalism. Lenin described the Imperial German war economy as a planned socialist economy subordinated to “Junker bourgeois imperialism”.

    Skin in the game is of course extraordinarily useful, but the real reason capitalism outperforms socialism is routine entry and exit of firms. Planned economies don’t have much entry of new firms, and there’s no hard budget constraint to discipline existing firms. During wartime of course you generally don’t want a lot of entry/exit, and you have something even more motivating than money.

    Read More
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  7. anon[137] • Disclaimer says:
    @Buzz Mohawk
    Thank you for this review. Those of us who have not read the book (we must be legion) but have been subjected to the worship of it and its author thank you. Our college professors sometimes managed to convince us that Marx had the answers to history's problems, but some things never seemed quite right.

    The ideas taught to us as having come down from Capital , or from Marx at least, seem built upon the flawed assumptions that Man's nature can be changed for the common good and that the community or state can somehow be in charge of that change. Contrary to that, we today see plenty of evidence, both scientific and historical, that those assumptions are false.

    Human nature is heavily biological. The motive to own private property and to profit from one's work and trade is part of that nature and cannot be removed. To do so is to destroy Man and his motivation. To give the community or state the power over this is simply to enable a select group of flawed human beings to become even more corrupt than they already are by nature.

    To read now repeated accolades to Marx in American newspapers is disheartening. To see the continued false teaching in American colleges is depressing. To watch how critics of our culture try to cram everything from art to entertainment to recreation into Marxist categories is laughable.

    The ideas taught to us as having come down from Capital , or from Marx at least, seem built upon the flawed assumptions that Man’s nature can be changed for the common good and that the community or state can somehow be in charge of that change.

    Absolutely not. Marx is not a moralist, like utopian socialists he rightly skewers. Read at least the Communist manifesto, it is short and concise, if you want to talk about Marx and Marxism.

    Marx fancied himself as scientist like Newton, and claimed to discover laws of human society, like Newton discovered the law of gravity. The development of human society from primitive communism through slavery, feudalism and capitalism into fully advanced communism was supposed to progress according to inevitable law of nature. Human action could slow or speed up this development, but not to change it’s course. This belief in historical inevitability, the absolute certainty that “history is on our side” was the strength of Marxism.

    Human nature is heavily biological.

    Marx himself was strong HBD believer/neanderthalist racist (choose what you prefer). If IQ science existed in his time he would be ardent IQ-ist. And he saw no contradiction with his theory, because Marxism is not about biology.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
    Marx was a racist (as all people should be), but otherwise this claim is dubious.

    What kind of HBD believer thinks that the working-class is capable of running the state and the economy?
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  8. @anon

    The ideas taught to us as having come down from Capital , or from Marx at least, seem built upon the flawed assumptions that Man’s nature can be changed for the common good and that the community or state can somehow be in charge of that change.
     
    Absolutely not. Marx is not a moralist, like utopian socialists he rightly skewers. Read at least the Communist manifesto, it is short and concise, if you want to talk about Marx and Marxism.

    Marx fancied himself as scientist like Newton, and claimed to discover laws of human society, like Newton discovered the law of gravity. The development of human society from primitive communism through slavery, feudalism and capitalism into fully advanced communism was supposed to progress according to inevitable law of nature. Human action could slow or speed up this development, but not to change it's course. This belief in historical inevitability, the absolute certainty that "history is on our side" was the strength of Marxism.

    Human nature is heavily biological.
     
    Marx himself was strong HBD believer/neanderthalist racist (choose what you prefer). If IQ science existed in his time he would be ardent IQ-ist. And he saw no contradiction with his theory, because Marxism is not about biology.

    Marx was a racist (as all people should be), but otherwise this claim is dubious.

    What kind of HBD believer thinks that the working-class is capable of running the state and the economy?

    Read More
    • Replies: @German_reader

    What kind of HBD believer thinks that the working-class is capable of running the state and the economy?
     
    They might still do a better job than the parasites and incompetents currently running things. At least a lot of working class people have genuinely valuable skills which are necessary for the running of civilization...I doubt the same can be said of hedge fonds managers. They might also not be as prone to delusional beliefs and overly abstract theories as many "intellectuals".
    You've written before that you intend to enter politics at some point...I don't think open denigration of the working class will be useful for that goal. It kind of repels people, especially on the nationalist/populist right.
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  9. @Thorfinnsson
    Marx was a racist (as all people should be), but otherwise this claim is dubious.

    What kind of HBD believer thinks that the working-class is capable of running the state and the economy?

    What kind of HBD believer thinks that the working-class is capable of running the state and the economy?

    They might still do a better job than the parasites and incompetents currently running things. At least a lot of working class people have genuinely valuable skills which are necessary for the running of civilization…I doubt the same can be said of hedge fonds managers. They might also not be as prone to delusional beliefs and overly abstract theories as many “intellectuals”.
    You’ve written before that you intend to enter politics at some point…I don’t think open denigration of the working class will be useful for that goal. It kind of repels people, especially on the nationalist/populist right.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
    A golden retriever would do a better job of running things.

    At least a lot of working class people have genuinely valuable skills which are necessary for the running of civilization…I doubt the same can be said of hedge fonds managers.
     

    Very little of the working class has any talent for organization and management, which is why they're in the working class.

    Hedge fund managers are on the way out as they largely no longer generate alpha and thus do not merit their exorbitant compensation (traditionally the famed "2 and 20"--2% of assets and 20% of returns). UHNW individuals and families are exiting hedge funds, and even public pension funds (who are complete dopes) are starting to second guess.

    That said, nearly all successful hedge fund managers have a very important skill: salesmanship.

    A substantial minority of hedge fund managers are expert mathematicians and programmers. Robert Mercer is one such person.

    And since hedge fund managers are not one-man shows, most hedge fund managers are skilled in organization, management, recruitment, employee retention, setting compensation, and providing motivation and incentives. Those are precisely the skills you need to run things.

    People love to resort to cheap bashing of the financial sector because they simply don't understand it. The original premise of hedge funds is described in the name--it allowed investors to grow their portfolios while hedging against downturns. Later on they evolved into alpha-chasing vehicles, and quite of few of the early ones did, especially the quant funds. In the 00s they began to degenerate into a racket.

    But that's common in the investment business. The old joke on Wall Street is, "Where are the customers' yachts?" And the reason is just human nature. Investors are greedy and overrate their own competence. Good luck fixing that problem.

    None the less the investment business remains a necessity, and frankly it is developing in a good direction with the new focus on low costs, indexing, and rebalancing.

    They might also not be as prone to delusional beliefs and overly abstract theories as many “intellectuals”.
     

    Sure, that's like the old Bill Buckley line that he'd rather be governed by the first 200 names in the Boston phonebook than by the Harvard faculty. The solution, however, is not putting the double digit IQ crowd in power (if such a thing were even possible). It's the complete replacement of the existing Cathedral.

    You’ve written before that you intend to enter politics at some point…I don’t think open denigration of the working class will be useful for that goal. It kind of repels people, especially on the nationalist/populist right.
     

    No disagreement here, but that doesn't mean I have to delude myself or entertain falsehoods about the working class. And to be clear the working class has genuinely been victimized by the complete disappearance of noblesse oblige in the past half-century and is now falling apart.
    , @DFH
    The difference in genetic potential for intelligence of the working and upper classes was also almost certainly lower at that time, as is implied by the initial burst of social mobility once barriers to advancement were removed.
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  10. Dmitry says:

    I found a book in the library once which has short essays or extracts from Marx. I remember reading some pages on topics like how money makes a man more attractive. He seemed certainly a very intelligent writer, far more than modern writers are.

    The system of thought he created – with classes of people who are enemies of history and so on, – has something evil, and historical consequences support this. But he is nonetheless the most intelligent left-wing or socialist writer of his era.*

    I’m trying to think of other intelligent left-wing writers. In the 19th century, there is also Herzen, much more moderate and less systematic, but also very smart.

    I guess in the 20th century, there was Sartre, who is radical in the Western left-wing tradition. At the same, a very intelligent man, but with ridiculous ideas in practice.

    —-

    *These kind of short writings are very clever (you can instantly from some of the sentences, that he is more intelligent than people who write in our time, or on the internet of today).

    But his thought system is sophistical and full of tricks – requires very sane and steady people like von Hayek to really break down this worldview in the public mind.

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/power.htm

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  11. Anonymous[137] • Disclaimer says:

    Steve Sailer had a good post about this: the funny thing is, Marx was quite capable of powerful, simple, quotable rhetoric, like “workers of the world, unite!” And many of his quips, like “religion is the opiate of the masses” and “history repeats itself, first time as tragedy, second time as farce” have remained highly popular over time. But early-mid 19th century German philosophers really liked being as obtuse in their writing as possible.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dmitry
    The reason is because everything he writes fits into, and is for the purpose of persuading people to, an overall theory.

    Therefore, every sentence and conclusion has to be modified and qualified many times, so that it doesn't contradict the underlying theory (the theory itself is like a well designed computer virus).

    99.9% of people of the world do not have a 'theory of everything', that when they are writing they are trying to fit everything into. Therefore, they can be free to write sentences with not modifying and qualifying every word.

    This is the case, for example, of Herzen.

    Herzen is someone, for example - I enjoyed reading his book for pleasure, even 200 years after his birth. It is a good writer, and sensible and normal figure, much more easy to read than Marx (who is very painful to read). But Herzen impact on history was very minimal, as he had no 'theory of everything' - while Marx had a very cleverly designed and powerful 'theory of everything", that he managed to elaborate in all his texts, and spread like a virus (in fact it was designed exactly to spread like it did, and succeeded exactly as designed).

    Marx - I would say he was like a brilliant computer hacker, who designed a genius virus with several zero-day exploits, to shut down and reboot a society.*


    --

    The role of Lenin and Hitler, etc, is much more like script kiddies, which are using programs that had already been introduced, more or less recently into public circulation.
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  12. Dmitry says:
    @songbird
    It is funny - I have a very distant, foggy memory of flipping through a few pages of some very turgid book - but I can't definitely recall whether it was Das Kapital or Mein Kampf. I'm guessing neither one was much read compared to its fame.

    On the other hand, I think The Road to Serfdom was written fairly competently, but with the caveat that Hayek made the obvious mistake of attributing too much of the influence which shaped world events to minor intellectuals, who, only in their wildest flights of fancy, might have desired to write as turgidly as Marx and Hitler, or be read 1/10,000 as much.

    I think history is driven much more by instincts, personalities and circumstances, than anything else. Marx, for instance, was more important as a symbol than as someone who had written a book. If his name had a glottal stop, a fricative or ten syllables (like certain Hawaiian names), there would not be a single statue of him today.

    Marx was clearly extremely intelligent, but for bizarre and cultish (you could say evil) goals.

    I can read today some of his text, and you see in the sentence many careful and subtle qualifiers (because he is carefully building up a theory). His way of thinking contains far more layers, than a normal writer (or anyone writing today). It’s writing in the way of ’4D chess’.

    At the same time, the end result of his theory is something quite evil.

    You can see his argument against money below.

    He’s arguing in an extremely clever and multi-layered way, for an extremely bizarre and idiotic conclusion.

    We talk about IQ on this page. And Marx’s arguments are like a religious or cult sermon, aimed at tricking people with a high-IQ into following his point of view. The point of view itself is an extremely bizarre one, but watching his argument constructed, is like watching professional chess players.

    That which is for me through the medium of money – that for which I can pay (i.e., which money can buy) – that am I myself, the possessor of the money. The extent of the power of money is the extent of my power. Money’s properties are my – the possessor’s – properties and essential powers. Thus, what I am and am capable of is by no means determined by my individuality. I am ugly, but I can buy for myself the most beautiful of women. Therefore I am not ugly, for the effect of ugliness – its deterrent power – is nullified by money. I, according to my individual characteristics, am lame, but money furnishes me with twenty-four feet. Therefore I am not lame. I am bad, dishonest, unscrupulous, stupid; but money is honoured, and hence its possessor. Money is the supreme good, therefore its possessor is good. Money, besides, saves me the trouble of being dishonest: I am therefore presumed honest. I am brainless, but money is the real brain of all things and how then should its possessor be brainless? Besides, he can buy clever people for himself, and is he who has [In the manuscript: ‘is’. – Ed.] power over the clever not more clever than the clever? Do not I, who thanks to money am capable of all that the human heart longs for, possess all human capacities? Does not my money, therefore, transform all my incapacities into their contrary?

    If money is the bond binding me to human life, binding society to me, connecting me with nature and man, is not money the bond of all bonds? Can it not dissolve and bind all ties? Is it not, therefore, also the universal agent of separation? It is the coin that really separates as well as the real binding agent – the [...] [One word in the manuscript cannot be deciphered. – Ed.] chemical power of society.

    Shakespeare stresses especially two properties of money:

    1. It is the visible divinity – the transformation of all human and natural properties into their contraries, the universal confounding and distorting of things: impossibilities are soldered together by it.

    2. It is the common whore, the common procurer of people and nations.

    The distorting and confounding of all human and natural qualities, the fraternisation of impossibilities – the divine power of money – lies in its character as men’s estranged, alienating and self-disposing species-nature. Money is the alienated ability of mankind.

    That which I am unable to do as a man, and of which therefore all my individual essential powers are incapable, I am able to do by means of money. Money thus turns each of these powers into something which in itself it is not – turns it, that is, into its contrary.

    If I long for a particular dish or want to take the mail-coach because I am not strong enough to go by foot, money fetches me the dish and the mail-coach: that is, it converts my wishes from something in the realm of imagination, translates them from their meditated, imagined or desired existence into their sensuous, actual existence – from imagination to life, from imagined being into real being. In effecting this mediation, [money] is the truly creative power.

    No doubt the demand also exists for him who has no money, but his demand is a mere thing of the imagination without effect or existence for me, for a third party, for the [others],||XLIII| and which therefore remains even for me unreal and objectless. The difference between effective demand based on money and ineffective demand based on my need, my passion, my wish, etc., is the difference between being and thinking, between that which exists within me merely as an idea and the idea which exists as a real object outside of me.

    If I have no money for travel, I have no need – that is, no real and realisable need – to travel. If I have the vocation for study but no money for it, I have no vocation for study – that is, no effective, no true vocation. On the other hand, if I have really no vocation for study but have the will and the money for it, I have an effective vocation for it. Money as the external, universal medium and faculty (not springing from man as man or from human society as society) for turning an image into reality and reality into a mere image, transforms the real essential powers of man and nature into what are merely abstract notions and therefore imperfections and tormenting chimeras, just as it transforms real imperfections and chimeras – essential powers which are really impotent, which exist only in the imagination of the individual – into real powers and faculties. In the light of this characteristic alone, money is thus the general distorting of individualities which turns them into their opposite and confers contradictory attributes upon their attributes.

    Money, then, appears as this distorting power both against the individual and against the bonds of society, etc., which claim to be entities in themselves. It transforms fidelity into infidelity, love into hate, hate into love, virtue into vice, vice into virtue, servant into master, master into servant, idiocy into intelligence, and intelligence into idiocy.

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/power.htm

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    • Replies: @songbird
    It is interesting to read those who still idolize Marx today. Many put such broad and reaching interpretations on the text to serve new and different purposes as could be compared to certain new age churches citing scripture. This aligns somewhat with my perhaps dismissive view of Marx as serving the generic purpose of being a vague authority to appeal to, to burnish one's own power credentials, or to end a debate, as many agnostics will cite God, or some more atheistic people will speciously appeal to science, in a way that is often at best tautological.

    On the other hand, these people having the same basic instincts as Marx may indeed be speaking for him, if he were not transplanted through time, but rather born today.

    , @5371
    This famous passage, while turgid, is powerful, and a good example of why a 2/10 grade for the whole work is unjust.
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  13. @German_reader

    What kind of HBD believer thinks that the working-class is capable of running the state and the economy?
     
    They might still do a better job than the parasites and incompetents currently running things. At least a lot of working class people have genuinely valuable skills which are necessary for the running of civilization...I doubt the same can be said of hedge fonds managers. They might also not be as prone to delusional beliefs and overly abstract theories as many "intellectuals".
    You've written before that you intend to enter politics at some point...I don't think open denigration of the working class will be useful for that goal. It kind of repels people, especially on the nationalist/populist right.

    A golden retriever would do a better job of running things.

    At least a lot of working class people have genuinely valuable skills which are necessary for the running of civilization…I doubt the same can be said of hedge fonds managers.

    Very little of the working class has any talent for organization and management, which is why they’re in the working class.

    Hedge fund managers are on the way out as they largely no longer generate alpha and thus do not merit their exorbitant compensation (traditionally the famed “2 and 20″–2% of assets and 20% of returns). UHNW individuals and families are exiting hedge funds, and even public pension funds (who are complete dopes) are starting to second guess.

    That said, nearly all successful hedge fund managers have a very important skill: salesmanship.

    A substantial minority of hedge fund managers are expert mathematicians and programmers. Robert Mercer is one such person.

    And since hedge fund managers are not one-man shows, most hedge fund managers are skilled in organization, management, recruitment, employee retention, setting compensation, and providing motivation and incentives. Those are precisely the skills you need to run things.

    People love to resort to cheap bashing of the financial sector because they simply don’t understand it. The original premise of hedge funds is described in the name–it allowed investors to grow their portfolios while hedging against downturns. Later on they evolved into alpha-chasing vehicles, and quite of few of the early ones did, especially the quant funds. In the 00s they began to degenerate into a racket.

    But that’s common in the investment business. The old joke on Wall Street is, “Where are the customers’ yachts?” And the reason is just human nature. Investors are greedy and overrate their own competence. Good luck fixing that problem.

    None the less the investment business remains a necessity, and frankly it is developing in a good direction with the new focus on low costs, indexing, and rebalancing.

    They might also not be as prone to delusional beliefs and overly abstract theories as many “intellectuals”.

    Sure, that’s like the old Bill Buckley line that he’d rather be governed by the first 200 names in the Boston phonebook than by the Harvard faculty. The solution, however, is not putting the double digit IQ crowd in power (if such a thing were even possible). It’s the complete replacement of the existing Cathedral.

    You’ve written before that you intend to enter politics at some point…I don’t think open denigration of the working class will be useful for that goal. It kind of repels people, especially on the nationalist/populist right.

    No disagreement here, but that doesn’t mean I have to delude myself or entertain falsehoods about the working class. And to be clear the working class has genuinely been victimized by the complete disappearance of noblesse oblige in the past half-century and is now falling apart.

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  14. Dmitry says:
    @Anonymous
    Steve Sailer had a good post about this: the funny thing is, Marx was quite capable of powerful, simple, quotable rhetoric, like "workers of the world, unite!" And many of his quips, like "religion is the opiate of the masses" and "history repeats itself, first time as tragedy, second time as farce" have remained highly popular over time. But early-mid 19th century German philosophers really liked being as obtuse in their writing as possible.

    The reason is because everything he writes fits into, and is for the purpose of persuading people to, an overall theory.

    Therefore, every sentence and conclusion has to be modified and qualified many times, so that it doesn’t contradict the underlying theory (the theory itself is like a well designed computer virus).

    99.9% of people of the world do not have a ‘theory of everything’, that when they are writing they are trying to fit everything into. Therefore, they can be free to write sentences with not modifying and qualifying every word.

    This is the case, for example, of Herzen.

    Herzen is someone, for example – I enjoyed reading his book for pleasure, even 200 years after his birth. It is a good writer, and sensible and normal figure, much more easy to read than Marx (who is very painful to read). But Herzen impact on history was very minimal, as he had no ‘theory of everything’ – while Marx had a very cleverly designed and powerful ‘theory of everything”, that he managed to elaborate in all his texts, and spread like a virus (in fact it was designed exactly to spread like it did, and succeeded exactly as designed).

    Marx – I would say he was like a brilliant computer hacker, who designed a genius virus with several zero-day exploits, to shut down and reboot a society.*

    The role of Lenin and Hitler, etc, is much more like script kiddies, which are using programs that had already been introduced, more or less recently into public circulation.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mitleser
    Speaking of Herzen and Marx

    https://twitter.com/adam_tooze/status/984853727726026752

    https://twitter.com/_arrgrr_/status/984857705054703617
    , @Thorfinnsson

    Marx – I would say he was like a brilliant computer hacker, who designed a genius virus with several zero-day exploits, to shut down and reboot a society.*
     

    I agree with this. Swedish academia has a concept called "idea history".

    The only other person in history equivalent to Marx would be Mohammed, though Mohammed exceeds Marx since he was also a political and military leader.

    I can't even place Jesus Christ in the same rank as them, as Christ had considerably less to say about temporal affairs.

    Next rank would probably be various "Enlightenment" cranks like Locke, Rousseau, Paine, etc.

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  15. Mitleser says:

    Had there been no Russian Revolution, whose success was a historical fluke, then Marx would be regarded as a 19th century graphomaniac, and warranting just a few paragraphs in the annals of philosophy.

    You are underestimating Marx’s influence on the German social democrats, the most important social democrats Europe’s.

    Read More
    • Replies: @songbird

    You are underestimating Marx’s influence on the German social democrats
     
    I always thought it was quite humorous and edifying how many former communist officials in East Germany joined the SD, once the Wall fell. Of course, it was the Greens taking power that served as the textual prelude to the movie Red Dawn.
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  16. Mitleser says:
    @Dmitry
    The reason is because everything he writes fits into, and is for the purpose of persuading people to, an overall theory.

    Therefore, every sentence and conclusion has to be modified and qualified many times, so that it doesn't contradict the underlying theory (the theory itself is like a well designed computer virus).

    99.9% of people of the world do not have a 'theory of everything', that when they are writing they are trying to fit everything into. Therefore, they can be free to write sentences with not modifying and qualifying every word.

    This is the case, for example, of Herzen.

    Herzen is someone, for example - I enjoyed reading his book for pleasure, even 200 years after his birth. It is a good writer, and sensible and normal figure, much more easy to read than Marx (who is very painful to read). But Herzen impact on history was very minimal, as he had no 'theory of everything' - while Marx had a very cleverly designed and powerful 'theory of everything", that he managed to elaborate in all his texts, and spread like a virus (in fact it was designed exactly to spread like it did, and succeeded exactly as designed).

    Marx - I would say he was like a brilliant computer hacker, who designed a genius virus with several zero-day exploits, to shut down and reboot a society.*


    --

    The role of Lenin and Hitler, etc, is much more like script kiddies, which are using programs that had already been introduced, more or less recently into public circulation.

    Speaking of Herzen and Marx

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dmitry
    Herzen's memoir chronicle really needs a wider reading audience in all parts of the political spectrum.

    In general, these 19th century writers were of vastly higher and more interesting standard, than of today.

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  17. @Dmitry
    The reason is because everything he writes fits into, and is for the purpose of persuading people to, an overall theory.

    Therefore, every sentence and conclusion has to be modified and qualified many times, so that it doesn't contradict the underlying theory (the theory itself is like a well designed computer virus).

    99.9% of people of the world do not have a 'theory of everything', that when they are writing they are trying to fit everything into. Therefore, they can be free to write sentences with not modifying and qualifying every word.

    This is the case, for example, of Herzen.

    Herzen is someone, for example - I enjoyed reading his book for pleasure, even 200 years after his birth. It is a good writer, and sensible and normal figure, much more easy to read than Marx (who is very painful to read). But Herzen impact on history was very minimal, as he had no 'theory of everything' - while Marx had a very cleverly designed and powerful 'theory of everything", that he managed to elaborate in all his texts, and spread like a virus (in fact it was designed exactly to spread like it did, and succeeded exactly as designed).

    Marx - I would say he was like a brilliant computer hacker, who designed a genius virus with several zero-day exploits, to shut down and reboot a society.*


    --

    The role of Lenin and Hitler, etc, is much more like script kiddies, which are using programs that had already been introduced, more or less recently into public circulation.

    Marx – I would say he was like a brilliant computer hacker, who designed a genius virus with several zero-day exploits, to shut down and reboot a society.*

    I agree with this. Swedish academia has a concept called “idea history”.

    The only other person in history equivalent to Marx would be Mohammed, though Mohammed exceeds Marx since he was also a political and military leader.

    I can’t even place Jesus Christ in the same rank as them, as Christ had considerably less to say about temporal affairs.

    Next rank would probably be various “Enlightenment” cranks like Locke, Rousseau, Paine, etc.

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    • Replies: @Dmitry
    Ideological 'blue screen of death', on a third of the human race, for the majority of the century after he lived.
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  18. The only thing I read from Marx is the Communist Manifesto and I thought it was alright. I don’t ever plan to read Das Kapital. As far as the manifesto is concerned, I do think he got some stuff right and at the very least the manifesto is a good introduction to the materialist conception of history for an intro poli sci course. The idea that the development of history are due to the change in productive forces probably didn’t start with him, but he did articulate it. This idea is incredibly popular today, except “productive forces” is changed into “technology” but the underlying idea is the same. His theory that the only reason violence exists in the world is because of class warfare and that after the proletariats rise up there will be peace on earth is so obviously ridiculous it is more a religious belief than anything else. Regarding overproduction, it is quite clear monopolies are not going to randomly produce an infinite amount of stuff until they bankrupt themselves. That being said, it is the case today that supply vastly exceeds demand due to the augmentation of productive forces. So he was accurate about some stuff despite coming to some ludicrous conclusions.

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  19. songbird says:
    @Mitleser

    Had there been no Russian Revolution, whose success was a historical fluke, then Marx would be regarded as a 19th century graphomaniac, and warranting just a few paragraphs in the annals of philosophy.
     
    You are underestimating Marx's influence on the German social democrats, the most important social democrats Europe's.

    You are underestimating Marx’s influence on the German social democrats

    I always thought it was quite humorous and edifying how many former communist officials in East Germany joined the SD, once the Wall fell. Of course, it was the Greens taking power that served as the textual prelude to the movie Red Dawn.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Mitleser
    East Germany was run by the SED, a fusion of SPD and KPD and the latter, the communist party of Germany was founded and run by former SPD members.
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  20. DFH says:
    @German_reader

    What kind of HBD believer thinks that the working-class is capable of running the state and the economy?
     
    They might still do a better job than the parasites and incompetents currently running things. At least a lot of working class people have genuinely valuable skills which are necessary for the running of civilization...I doubt the same can be said of hedge fonds managers. They might also not be as prone to delusional beliefs and overly abstract theories as many "intellectuals".
    You've written before that you intend to enter politics at some point...I don't think open denigration of the working class will be useful for that goal. It kind of repels people, especially on the nationalist/populist right.

    The difference in genetic potential for intelligence of the working and upper classes was also almost certainly lower at that time, as is implied by the initial burst of social mobility once barriers to advancement were removed.

    Read More
    • Agree: German_reader
    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
    Read Gregory Clark's research.

    In almost every society he studied he's found social mobility to be about the same as far back as records go.

    The major exception is India, where there has apparently never been any significant social mobility at all (lol).

    CNBC article on the original paper: https://www.cnbc.com/2013/10/30/whats-in-a-name-wealth-and-social-mobility.html

    2013 paper is available here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Neil_Cummins/publication/260387815_Surnames_and_Social_Mobility/links/00b49530f4cbf0f685000000.pdf

    Preindustrial social mobility is invisible to us as the era before mass schooling, corporations, etc. is foreign to us. A good example is the New Men in England during the end of the Middle Ages. Richard Empson, one of the most powerful men in the realm, was allegedly the son of a sieve maker and smallholder.

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  21. songbird says:
    @Dmitry
    Marx was clearly extremely intelligent, but for bizarre and cultish (you could say evil) goals.

    I can read today some of his text, and you see in the sentence many careful and subtle qualifiers (because he is carefully building up a theory). His way of thinking contains far more layers, than a normal writer (or anyone writing today). It's writing in the way of '4D chess'.

    At the same time, the end result of his theory is something quite evil.

    You can see his argument against money below.

    He's arguing in an extremely clever and multi-layered way, for an extremely bizarre and idiotic conclusion.

    We talk about IQ on this page. And Marx's arguments are like a religious or cult sermon, aimed at tricking people with a high-IQ into following his point of view. The point of view itself is an extremely bizarre one, but watching his argument constructed, is like watching professional chess players.

    That which is for me through the medium of money – that for which I can pay (i.e., which money can buy) – that am I myself, the possessor of the money. The extent of the power of money is the extent of my power. Money’s properties are my – the possessor’s – properties and essential powers. Thus, what I am and am capable of is by no means determined by my individuality. I am ugly, but I can buy for myself the most beautiful of women. Therefore I am not ugly, for the effect of ugliness – its deterrent power – is nullified by money. I, according to my individual characteristics, am lame, but money furnishes me with twenty-four feet. Therefore I am not lame. I am bad, dishonest, unscrupulous, stupid; but money is honoured, and hence its possessor. Money is the supreme good, therefore its possessor is good. Money, besides, saves me the trouble of being dishonest: I am therefore presumed honest. I am brainless, but money is the real brain of all things and how then should its possessor be brainless? Besides, he can buy clever people for himself, and is he who has [In the manuscript: ‘is’. – Ed.] power over the clever not more clever than the clever? Do not I, who thanks to money am capable of all that the human heart longs for, possess all human capacities? Does not my money, therefore, transform all my incapacities into their contrary?

    If money is the bond binding me to human life, binding society to me, connecting me with nature and man, is not money the bond of all bonds? Can it not dissolve and bind all ties? Is it not, therefore, also the universal agent of separation? It is the coin that really separates as well as the real binding agent – the [...] [One word in the manuscript cannot be deciphered. – Ed.] chemical power of society.

    Shakespeare stresses especially two properties of money:

    1. It is the visible divinity – the transformation of all human and natural properties into their contraries, the universal confounding and distorting of things: impossibilities are soldered together by it.

    2. It is the common whore, the common procurer of people and nations.

    The distorting and confounding of all human and natural qualities, the fraternisation of impossibilities – the divine power of money – lies in its character as men’s estranged, alienating and self-disposing species-nature. Money is the alienated ability of mankind.

    That which I am unable to do as a man, and of which therefore all my individual essential powers are incapable, I am able to do by means of money. Money thus turns each of these powers into something which in itself it is not – turns it, that is, into its contrary.

    If I long for a particular dish or want to take the mail-coach because I am not strong enough to go by foot, money fetches me the dish and the mail-coach: that is, it converts my wishes from something in the realm of imagination, translates them from their meditated, imagined or desired existence into their sensuous, actual existence – from imagination to life, from imagined being into real being. In effecting this mediation, [money] is the truly creative power.

    No doubt the demand also exists for him who has no money, but his demand is a mere thing of the imagination without effect or existence for me, for a third party, for the [others],||XLIII| and which therefore remains even for me unreal and objectless. The difference between effective demand based on money and ineffective demand based on my need, my passion, my wish, etc., is the difference between being and thinking, between that which exists within me merely as an idea and the idea which exists as a real object outside of me.

    If I have no money for travel, I have no need – that is, no real and realisable need – to travel. If I have the vocation for study but no money for it, I have no vocation for study – that is, no effective, no true vocation. On the other hand, if I have really no vocation for study but have the will and the money for it, I have an effective vocation for it. Money as the external, universal medium and faculty (not springing from man as man or from human society as society) for turning an image into reality and reality into a mere image, transforms the real essential powers of man and nature into what are merely abstract notions and therefore imperfections and tormenting chimeras, just as it transforms real imperfections and chimeras – essential powers which are really impotent, which exist only in the imagination of the individual – into real powers and faculties. In the light of this characteristic alone, money is thus the general distorting of individualities which turns them into their opposite and confers contradictory attributes upon their attributes.

    Money, then, appears as this distorting power both against the individual and against the bonds of society, etc., which claim to be entities in themselves. It transforms fidelity into infidelity, love into hate, hate into love, virtue into vice, vice into virtue, servant into master, master into servant, idiocy into intelligence, and intelligence into idiocy.

     

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/power.htm

    It is interesting to read those who still idolize Marx today. Many put such broad and reaching interpretations on the text to serve new and different purposes as could be compared to certain new age churches citing scripture. This aligns somewhat with my perhaps dismissive view of Marx as serving the generic purpose of being a vague authority to appeal to, to burnish one’s own power credentials, or to end a debate, as many agnostics will cite God, or some more atheistic people will speciously appeal to science, in a way that is often at best tautological.

    On the other hand, these people having the same basic instincts as Marx may indeed be speaking for him, if he were not transplanted through time, but rather born today.

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    • Replies: @Dmitry
    The theory fits together in the very systematic (systematically wrong) way though. It is like a religious theology, but very doctrinaire one - in which people are for the following century, elaborating on the holy texts, or painfully admitting (like in Lenin's case) when they are adding something not contained in Marx's texts.
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  22. @DFH
    The difference in genetic potential for intelligence of the working and upper classes was also almost certainly lower at that time, as is implied by the initial burst of social mobility once barriers to advancement were removed.

    Read Gregory Clark’s research.

    In almost every society he studied he’s found social mobility to be about the same as far back as records go.

    The major exception is India, where there has apparently never been any significant social mobility at all (lol).

    CNBC article on the original paper: https://www.cnbc.com/2013/10/30/whats-in-a-name-wealth-and-social-mobility.html

    2013 paper is available here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Neil_Cummins/publication/260387815_Surnames_and_Social_Mobility/links/00b49530f4cbf0f685000000.pdf

    Preindustrial social mobility is invisible to us as the era before mass schooling, corporations, etc. is foreign to us. A good example is the New Men in England during the end of the Middle Ages. Richard Empson, one of the most powerful men in the realm, was allegedly the son of a sieve maker and smallholder.

    Read More
    • Replies: @songbird
    In a agricultural society, is not most of the social mobility downward though? I thought that was the major premiss of A Farewell to Alms Basically, the poor were getting smarter, since the rich had more children on average than the poor. The corollary to that is that economic opportunities are quite limited in an agricultural society. The number of landowners are generally quite few. have large estates, and many are forced to be tenants at will, without a lease or the real possibility to invest in land.

    In my view, it is easy to understand how a lot of people got carried away with feelings of universality, both before Marx and afterward. Even observing the stupid and acknowledging heritability, it was perhaps not obvious then what the average potential of man was.
    , @5371
    Clark's methods are, to put it politely, unsound.
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  23. Mitleser says:
    @songbird

    You are underestimating Marx’s influence on the German social democrats
     
    I always thought it was quite humorous and edifying how many former communist officials in East Germany joined the SD, once the Wall fell. Of course, it was the Greens taking power that served as the textual prelude to the movie Red Dawn.

    East Germany was run by the SED, a fusion of SPD and KPD and the latter, the communist party of Germany was founded and run by former SPD members.

    Read More
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  24. Dmitry says:
    @songbird
    It is interesting to read those who still idolize Marx today. Many put such broad and reaching interpretations on the text to serve new and different purposes as could be compared to certain new age churches citing scripture. This aligns somewhat with my perhaps dismissive view of Marx as serving the generic purpose of being a vague authority to appeal to, to burnish one's own power credentials, or to end a debate, as many agnostics will cite God, or some more atheistic people will speciously appeal to science, in a way that is often at best tautological.

    On the other hand, these people having the same basic instincts as Marx may indeed be speaking for him, if he were not transplanted through time, but rather born today.

    The theory fits together in the very systematic (systematically wrong) way though. It is like a religious theology, but very doctrinaire one – in which people are for the following century, elaborating on the holy texts, or painfully admitting (like in Lenin’s case) when they are adding something not contained in Marx’s texts.

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  25. Dmitry says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    Marx – I would say he was like a brilliant computer hacker, who designed a genius virus with several zero-day exploits, to shut down and reboot a society.*
     

    I agree with this. Swedish academia has a concept called "idea history".

    The only other person in history equivalent to Marx would be Mohammed, though Mohammed exceeds Marx since he was also a political and military leader.

    I can't even place Jesus Christ in the same rank as them, as Christ had considerably less to say about temporal affairs.

    Next rank would probably be various "Enlightenment" cranks like Locke, Rousseau, Paine, etc.

    Ideological ‘blue screen of death’, on a third of the human race, for the majority of the century after he lived.

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  26. Dmitry says:
    @Mitleser
    Speaking of Herzen and Marx

    https://twitter.com/adam_tooze/status/984853727726026752

    https://twitter.com/_arrgrr_/status/984857705054703617

    Herzen’s memoir chronicle really needs a wider reading audience in all parts of the political spectrum.

    In general, these 19th century writers were of vastly higher and more interesting standard, than of today.

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    • Replies: @DFH

    Herzen’s memoir chronicle really needs a wider reading audience in all parts of the political spectrum.
     
    I absolutely loved reading it (the first two volumes at least) when I was 16 or 17. Someone had especially given very nice copies to my school library.
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  27. DFH says:
    @Dmitry
    Herzen's memoir chronicle really needs a wider reading audience in all parts of the political spectrum.

    In general, these 19th century writers were of vastly higher and more interesting standard, than of today.

    Herzen’s memoir chronicle really needs a wider reading audience in all parts of the political spectrum.

    I absolutely loved reading it (the first two volumes at least) when I was 16 or 17. Someone had especially given very nice copies to my school library.

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  28. songbird says:
    @Thorfinnsson
    Read Gregory Clark's research.

    In almost every society he studied he's found social mobility to be about the same as far back as records go.

    The major exception is India, where there has apparently never been any significant social mobility at all (lol).

    CNBC article on the original paper: https://www.cnbc.com/2013/10/30/whats-in-a-name-wealth-and-social-mobility.html

    2013 paper is available here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Neil_Cummins/publication/260387815_Surnames_and_Social_Mobility/links/00b49530f4cbf0f685000000.pdf

    Preindustrial social mobility is invisible to us as the era before mass schooling, corporations, etc. is foreign to us. A good example is the New Men in England during the end of the Middle Ages. Richard Empson, one of the most powerful men in the realm, was allegedly the son of a sieve maker and smallholder.

    In a agricultural society, is not most of the social mobility downward though? I thought that was the major premiss of A Farewell to Alms Basically, the poor were getting smarter, since the rich had more children on average than the poor. The corollary to that is that economic opportunities are quite limited in an agricultural society. The number of landowners are generally quite few. have large estates, and many are forced to be tenants at will, without a lease or the real possibility to invest in land.

    In my view, it is easy to understand how a lot of people got carried away with feelings of universality, both before Marx and afterward. Even observing the stupid and acknowledging heritability, it was perhaps not obvious then what the average potential of man was.

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    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson

    In a agricultural society, is not most of the social mobility downward though? I thought that was the major premiss of A Farewell to Alms Basically, the poor were getting smarter, since the rich had more children on average than the poor. The corollary to that is that economic opportunities are quite limited in an agricultural society. The number of landowners are generally quite few. have large estates, and many are forced to be tenants at will, without a lease or the real possibility to invest in land.
     

    There were many other avenues of opportunity than land ownership.

    For instance, one could join a monastic order, which vast numbers of Europeans did during the high middle ages. Some monastic orders entered into trade and manufacturing to support their activities and were very successful. The Cistercians for instance were renowned in brewing and commerce. This also allowed one to become literate, and thus potentially very useful

    There was always the option of becoming a soldier, and a valorous (and vicious) man at arms would see his social position rise and gain opportunities for enrichment through plunder. If sufficiently successful he himself might become a noble.

    Then there were of course the trades. You could attempt to convince a tradesmen to take you on as an apprentice. There were many instances of peasants apprenticing with blacksmiths of course, and then they themselves ultimately became master blacksmiths rather than mere peasants. Medieval society needed blacksmiths, goldsmiths, silversmiths, swordsmiths, masons, brick layers, sculptors, carpenters, glaziers, armorers, shipwrights, teamsters, cobblers, tailors, actors, playwrights, painters, accountants, lawyers, glass blowers, jewelers, furriers, milliners, bakers, butchers, and so on.

    By the high middle ages substantial international commerce had returned to Europe, so there was the opportunity join a merchant house or become a sailor.

    While not exactly what is ordinarily meant by social mobility, one could become a criminal. The Middle Ages had a lot more crime than we do today. Medieval Paris was more dangerous than modern day Detroit and East St. Louis if you can believe it. Highwaymen, brigands, thieves, pirates, outlaws, etc. could and did gain wealth and even fame.

    Lastly of course, there was always the opportunity to emigrate to some sort of frontier zone. Marcher lords always needed more soldiers and subjects to keep hostile conquered populations in check. How do you suppose it ended up that so many Germans ended up East of the River Elbe, and even in the Baltic States?

    I imagine similar opportunities existed in preindustrial China, Japan, and the Islamic world.

    The whole idea that meritocracy only exists in the modern era results from the unprecedented industrial transformation of society, and perhaps the influence of America and communism.

    The big social structure difference between preindustrial times and modern times is that the middle classes are now much larger than they were historically, which incidentally was not foreseen by Karl Marx. Orwell has a good essay on this, I'll try to find it. Also today upper classes largely owe their position to commerce rather than war.

    , @Thorfinnsson

    The corollary to that is that economic opportunities are quite limited in an agricultural society. The number of landowners are generally quite few. have large estates, and many are forced to be tenants at will, without a lease or the real possibility to invest in land.
     

    Some further additions to this.

    The inequality of wealth in modern societies is far higher than the inequality of income. Gini coefficients for wealth inequality are generally double the income inequality limits.

    In the United States for instance, which has the most unequal wealth distribution of any Western country (along with Sweden lol), the top 10% own 75% of all assets in the country. The top 1% about 40%. The top 0.1% has 25%...so more than both 90% combined.

    So we're really not looking at anything very different from preindustrial times. Marx's observation that capitalism tends to monopoly was in fact not novel, because the exact same thing occurred in preindustrial times.

    What is novel in modern society (ignoring industry, science, etc.) is joint-stock corporations and financial markets.

    Feudalism of course involved quite a bit of coercion, but let's not pretend capitalism lacks coercion. The chains of debt are very powerful. There were also many ways for peasants to free themselves of their feudal obligations--depending on their lord and other factors of course. The rapaciousness of the Lords Temporal was powerfully checked by the Lords Spiritual throughout medieval times.

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  29. @songbird
    In a agricultural society, is not most of the social mobility downward though? I thought that was the major premiss of A Farewell to Alms Basically, the poor were getting smarter, since the rich had more children on average than the poor. The corollary to that is that economic opportunities are quite limited in an agricultural society. The number of landowners are generally quite few. have large estates, and many are forced to be tenants at will, without a lease or the real possibility to invest in land.

    In my view, it is easy to understand how a lot of people got carried away with feelings of universality, both before Marx and afterward. Even observing the stupid and acknowledging heritability, it was perhaps not obvious then what the average potential of man was.

    In a agricultural society, is not most of the social mobility downward though? I thought that was the major premiss of A Farewell to Alms Basically, the poor were getting smarter, since the rich had more children on average than the poor. The corollary to that is that economic opportunities are quite limited in an agricultural society. The number of landowners are generally quite few. have large estates, and many are forced to be tenants at will, without a lease or the real possibility to invest in land.

    There were many other avenues of opportunity than land ownership.

    For instance, one could join a monastic order, which vast numbers of Europeans did during the high middle ages. Some monastic orders entered into trade and manufacturing to support their activities and were very successful. The Cistercians for instance were renowned in brewing and commerce. This also allowed one to become literate, and thus potentially very useful

    There was always the option of becoming a soldier, and a valorous (and vicious) man at arms would see his social position rise and gain opportunities for enrichment through plunder. If sufficiently successful he himself might become a noble.

    Then there were of course the trades. You could attempt to convince a tradesmen to take you on as an apprentice. There were many instances of peasants apprenticing with blacksmiths of course, and then they themselves ultimately became master blacksmiths rather than mere peasants. Medieval society needed blacksmiths, goldsmiths, silversmiths, swordsmiths, masons, brick layers, sculptors, carpenters, glaziers, armorers, shipwrights, teamsters, cobblers, tailors, actors, playwrights, painters, accountants, lawyers, glass blowers, jewelers, furriers, milliners, bakers, butchers, and so on.

    By the high middle ages substantial international commerce had returned to Europe, so there was the opportunity join a merchant house or become a sailor.

    While not exactly what is ordinarily meant by social mobility, one could become a criminal. The Middle Ages had a lot more crime than we do today. Medieval Paris was more dangerous than modern day Detroit and East St. Louis if you can believe it. Highwaymen, brigands, thieves, pirates, outlaws, etc. could and did gain wealth and even fame.

    Lastly of course, there was always the opportunity to emigrate to some sort of frontier zone. Marcher lords always needed more soldiers and subjects to keep hostile conquered populations in check. How do you suppose it ended up that so many Germans ended up East of the River Elbe, and even in the Baltic States?

    I imagine similar opportunities existed in preindustrial China, Japan, and the Islamic world.

    The whole idea that meritocracy only exists in the modern era results from the unprecedented industrial transformation of society, and perhaps the influence of America and communism.

    The big social structure difference between preindustrial times and modern times is that the middle classes are now much larger than they were historically, which incidentally was not foreseen by Karl Marx. Orwell has a good essay on this, I’ll try to find it. Also today upper classes largely owe their position to commerce rather than war.

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  30. @songbird
    In a agricultural society, is not most of the social mobility downward though? I thought that was the major premiss of A Farewell to Alms Basically, the poor were getting smarter, since the rich had more children on average than the poor. The corollary to that is that economic opportunities are quite limited in an agricultural society. The number of landowners are generally quite few. have large estates, and many are forced to be tenants at will, without a lease or the real possibility to invest in land.

    In my view, it is easy to understand how a lot of people got carried away with feelings of universality, both before Marx and afterward. Even observing the stupid and acknowledging heritability, it was perhaps not obvious then what the average potential of man was.

    The corollary to that is that economic opportunities are quite limited in an agricultural society. The number of landowners are generally quite few. have large estates, and many are forced to be tenants at will, without a lease or the real possibility to invest in land.

    Some further additions to this.

    The inequality of wealth in modern societies is far higher than the inequality of income. Gini coefficients for wealth inequality are generally double the income inequality limits.

    In the United States for instance, which has the most unequal wealth distribution of any Western country (along with Sweden lol), the top 10% own 75% of all assets in the country. The top 1% about 40%. The top 0.1% has 25%…so more than both 90% combined.

    So we’re really not looking at anything very different from preindustrial times. Marx’s observation that capitalism tends to monopoly was in fact not novel, because the exact same thing occurred in preindustrial times.

    What is novel in modern society (ignoring industry, science, etc.) is joint-stock corporations and financial markets.

    Feudalism of course involved quite a bit of coercion, but let’s not pretend capitalism lacks coercion. The chains of debt are very powerful. There were also many ways for peasants to free themselves of their feudal obligations–depending on their lord and other factors of course. The rapaciousness of the Lords Temporal was powerfully checked by the Lords Spiritual throughout medieval times.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dmitry

    So we’re really not looking at anything very different from preindustrial times. Marx’s observation that capitalism tends to monopoly was in fact not novel, because the exact same thing occurred in preindustrial times.

     

    I think this is Marx's argument in 'Communist Manifesto" novella. The issue is that industrial process of development, transforms labour to becoming the homogeneous mass, removed of differences and with capacity of a class/revolutionary consciousness.


    The history of all hitherto existing society(2) is the history of class struggles.

    Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master(3) and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.

    In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations.

    The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.

    Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinct feature: it has simplified class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other — Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.

    From the serfs of the Middle Ages sprang the chartered burghers of the earliest towns. From these burgesses the first elements of the bourgeoisie were developed.

    The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development.

    The feudal system of industry, in which industrial production was monopolised by closed guilds, now no longer sufficed for the growing wants of the new markets. The manufacturing system took its place. The guild-masters were pushed on one side by the manufacturing middle class; division of labour between the different corporate guilds vanished in the face of division of labour in each single workshop.

    Meantime the markets kept ever growing, the demand ever rising. Even manufacturer no longer sufficed. Thereupon, steam and machinery revolutionised industrial production. The place of manufacture was taken by the giant, Modern Industry; the place of the industrial middle class by industrial millionaires, the leaders of the whole industrial armies, the modern bourgeois.

    Modern industry has established the world market, for which the discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land. This development has, in its turn, reacted on the extension of industry; and in proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital, and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages.

    We see, therefore, how the modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of a long course of development, of a series of revolutions in the modes of production and of exchange.

    Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied by a corresponding political advance of that class. An oppressed class under the sway of the feudal nobility, an armed and self-governing association in the medieval commune(4): here independent urban republic (as in Italy and Germany); there taxable “third estate” of the monarchy (as in France); afterwards, in the period of manufacturing proper, serving either the semi-feudal or the absolute monarchy as a counterpoise against the nobility, and, in fact, cornerstone of the great monarchies in general, the bourgeoisie has at last, since the establishment of Modern Industry and of the world market, conquered for itself, in the modern representative State, exclusive political sway. The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.

    The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part.

    The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

    The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers.

    The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.

    The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the brutal display of vigour in the Middle Ages, which reactionaries so much admire, found its fitting complement in the most slothful indolence. It has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former Exoduses of nations and crusades.

    The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

    The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.

    The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.

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

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

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

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

    We see then: the means of production and of exchange, on whose foundation the bourgeoisie built itself up, were generated in feudal society. At a certain stage in the development of these means of production and of exchange, the conditions under which feudal society produced and exchanged, the feudal organisation of agriculture and manufacturing industry, in one word, the feudal relations of property became no longer compatible with the already developed productive forces; they became so many fetters. They had to be burst asunder; they were burst asunder.

    Into their place stepped free competition, accompanied by a social and political constitution adapted in it, and the economic and political sway of the bourgeois class.

    A similar movement is going on before our own eyes. Modern bourgeois society, with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells. For many a decade past the history of industry and commerce is but the history of the revolt of modern productive forces against modern conditions of production, against the property relations that are the conditions for the existence of the bourgeois and of its rule. It is enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return put the existence of the entire bourgeois society on its trial, each time more threateningly. In these crises, a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises, there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity — the epidemic of over-production. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation, had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilisation, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. The productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered, and so soon as they overcome these fetters, they bring disorder into the whole of bourgeois society, endanger the existence of bourgeois property. The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them. And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.

    The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself.

    But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons — the modern working class — the proletarians.

    In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed — a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increases capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.

    Owing to the extensive use of machinery, and to the division of labour, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is required of him. Hence, the cost of production of a workman is restricted, almost entirely, to the means of subsistence that he requires for maintenance, and for the propagation of his race. But the price of a commodity, and therefore also of labour, is equal to its cost of production. In proportion, therefore, as the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage decreases. Nay more, in proportion as the use of machinery and division of labour increases, in the same proportion the burden of toil also increases, whether by prolongation of the working hours, by the increase of the work exacted in a given time or by increased speed of machinery, etc.

    Modern Industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist. Masses of labourers, crowded into the factory, are organised like soldiers. As privates of the industrial army they are placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants. Not only are they slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois State; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the overlooker, and, above all, by the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself. The more openly this despotism proclaims gain to be its end and aim, the more petty, the more hateful and the more embittering it is.

    The less the skill and exertion of strength implied in manual labour, in other words, the more modern industry becomes developed, the more is the labour of men superseded by that of women. Differences of age and sex have no longer any distinctive social validity for the working class. All are instruments of labour, more or less expensive to use, according to their age and sex.

    No sooner is the exploitation of the labourer by the manufacturer, so far, at an end, that he receives his wages in cash, than he is set upon by the other portions of the bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc.

    The lower strata of the middle class — the small tradespeople, shopkeepers, and retired tradesmen generally, the handicraftsmen and peasants — all these sink gradually into the proletariat, partly because their diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale on which Modern Industry is carried on, and is swamped in the competition with the large capitalists, partly because their specialised skill is rendered worthless by new methods of production. Thus the proletariat is recruited from all classes of the population.

    The proletariat goes through various stages of development. With its birth begins its struggle with the bourgeoisie. At first the contest is carried on by individual labourers, then by the workpeople of a factory, then by the operative of one trade, in one locality, against the individual bourgeois who directly exploits them. They direct their attacks not against the bourgeois conditions of production, but against the instruments of production themselves; they destroy imported wares that compete with their labour, they smash to pieces machinery, they set factories ablaze, they seek to restore by force the vanished status of the workman of the Middle Ages.

    At this stage, the labourers still form an incoherent mass scattered over the whole country, and broken up by their mutual competition. If anywhere they unite to form more compact bodies, this is not yet the consequence of their own active union, but of the union of the bourgeoisie, which class, in order to attain its own political ends, is compelled to set the whole proletariat in motion, and is moreover yet, for a time, able to do so. At this stage, therefore, the proletarians do not fight their enemies, but the enemies of their enemies, the remnants of absolute monarchy, the landowners, the non-industrial bourgeois, the petty bourgeois. Thus, the whole historical movement is concentrated in the hands of the bourgeoisie; every victory so obtained is a victory for the bourgeoisie.

    But with the development of industry, the proletariat not only increases in number; it becomes concentrated in greater masses, its strength grows, and it feels that strength more. The various interests and conditions of life within the ranks of the proletariat are more and more equalised, in proportion as machinery obliterates all distinctions of labour, and nearly everywhere reduces wages to the same low level. The growing competition among the bourgeois, and the resulting commercial crises, make the wages of the workers ever more fluctuating. The increasing improvement of machinery, ever more rapidly developing, makes their livelihood more and more precarious; the collisions between individual workmen and individual bourgeois take more and more the character of collisions between two classes. Thereupon, the workers begin to form combinations (Trades’ Unions) against the bourgeois; they club together in order to keep up the rate of wages; they found permanent associations in order to make provision beforehand for these occasional revolts. Here and there, the contest breaks out into riots.

    Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the ever expanding union of the workers. This union is helped on by the improved means of communication that are created by modern industry, and that place the workers of different localities in contact with one another. It was just this contact that was needed to centralise the numerous local struggles, all of the same character, into one national struggle between classes. But every class struggle is a political struggle. And that union, to attain which the burghers of the Middle Ages, with their miserable highways, required centuries, the modern proletarian, thanks to railways, achieve in a few years.

    This organisation of the proletarians into a class, and, consequently into a political party, is continually being upset again by the competition between the workers themselves. But it ever rises up again, stronger, firmer, mightier. It compels legislative recognition of particular interests of the workers, by taking advantage of the divisions among the bourgeoisie itself. Thus, the ten-hours’ bill in England was carried.

    Altogether collisions between the classes of the old society further, in many ways, the course of development of the proletariat. The bourgeoisie finds itself involved in a constant battle. At first with the aristocracy; later on, with those portions of the bourgeoisie itself, whose interests have become antagonistic to the progress of industry; at all time with the bourgeoisie of foreign countries. In all these battles, it sees itself compelled to appeal to the proletariat, to ask for help, and thus, to drag it into the political arena. The bourgeoisie itself, therefore, supplies the proletariat with its own elements of political and general education, in other words, it furnishes the proletariat with weapons for fighting the bourgeoisie.

    Further, as we have already seen, entire sections of the ruling class are, by the advance of industry, precipitated into the proletariat, or are at least threatened in their conditions of existence. These also supply the proletariat with fresh elements of enlightenment and progress.

    Finally, in times when the class struggle nears the decisive hour, the progress of dissolution going on within the ruling class, in fact within the whole range of old society, assumes such a violent, glaring character, that a small section of the ruling class cuts itself adrift, and joins the revolutionary class, the class that holds the future in its hands. Just as, therefore, at an earlier period, a section of the nobility went over to the bourgeoisie, so now a portion of the bourgeoisie goes over to the proletariat, and in particular, a portion of the bourgeois ideologists, who have raised themselves to the level of comprehending theoretically the historical movement as a whole.
     
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm
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  31. Dmitry says:
    @Thorfinnsson

    The corollary to that is that economic opportunities are quite limited in an agricultural society. The number of landowners are generally quite few. have large estates, and many are forced to be tenants at will, without a lease or the real possibility to invest in land.
     

    Some further additions to this.

    The inequality of wealth in modern societies is far higher than the inequality of income. Gini coefficients for wealth inequality are generally double the income inequality limits.

    In the United States for instance, which has the most unequal wealth distribution of any Western country (along with Sweden lol), the top 10% own 75% of all assets in the country. The top 1% about 40%. The top 0.1% has 25%...so more than both 90% combined.

    So we're really not looking at anything very different from preindustrial times. Marx's observation that capitalism tends to monopoly was in fact not novel, because the exact same thing occurred in preindustrial times.

    What is novel in modern society (ignoring industry, science, etc.) is joint-stock corporations and financial markets.

    Feudalism of course involved quite a bit of coercion, but let's not pretend capitalism lacks coercion. The chains of debt are very powerful. There were also many ways for peasants to free themselves of their feudal obligations--depending on their lord and other factors of course. The rapaciousness of the Lords Temporal was powerfully checked by the Lords Spiritual throughout medieval times.

    So we’re really not looking at anything very different from preindustrial times. Marx’s observation that capitalism tends to monopoly was in fact not novel, because the exact same thing occurred in preindustrial times.

    I think this is Marx’s argument in ‘Communist Manifesto” novella. The issue is that industrial process of development, transforms labour to becoming the homogeneous mass, removed of differences and with capacity of a class/revolutionary consciousness.

    [MORE]

    The history of all hitherto existing society(2) is the history of class struggles.

    Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master(3) and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.

    In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations.

    The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.

    Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinct feature: it has simplified class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other — Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.

    From the serfs of the Middle Ages sprang the chartered burghers of the earliest towns. From these burgesses the first elements of the bourgeoisie were developed.

    The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development.

    The feudal system of industry, in which industrial production was monopolised by closed guilds, now no longer sufficed for the growing wants of the new markets. The manufacturing system took its place. The guild-masters were pushed on one side by the manufacturing middle class; division of labour between the different corporate guilds vanished in the face of division of labour in each single workshop.

    Meantime the markets kept ever growing, the demand ever rising. Even manufacturer no longer sufficed. Thereupon, steam and machinery revolutionised industrial production. The place of manufacture was taken by the giant, Modern Industry; the place of the industrial middle class by industrial millionaires, the leaders of the whole industrial armies, the modern bourgeois.

    Modern industry has established the world market, for which the discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land. This development has, in its turn, reacted on the extension of industry; and in proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital, and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages.

    We see, therefore, how the modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of a long course of development, of a series of revolutions in the modes of production and of exchange.

    Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied by a corresponding political advance of that class. An oppressed class under the sway of the feudal nobility, an armed and self-governing association in the medieval commune(4): here independent urban republic (as in Italy and Germany); there taxable “third estate” of the monarchy (as in France); afterwards, in the period of manufacturing proper, serving either the semi-feudal or the absolute monarchy as a counterpoise against the nobility, and, in fact, cornerstone of the great monarchies in general, the bourgeoisie has at last, since the establishment of Modern Industry and of the world market, conquered for itself, in the modern representative State, exclusive political sway. The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.

    The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part.

    The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

    The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers.

    The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.

    The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the brutal display of vigour in the Middle Ages, which reactionaries so much admire, found its fitting complement in the most slothful indolence. It has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former Exoduses of nations and crusades.

    The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

    The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.

    The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.

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

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

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

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

    We see then: the means of production and of exchange, on whose foundation the bourgeoisie built itself up, were generated in feudal society. At a certain stage in the development of these means of production and of exchange, the conditions under which feudal society produced and exchanged, the feudal organisation of agriculture and manufacturing industry, in one word, the feudal relations of property became no longer compatible with the already developed productive forces; they became so many fetters. They had to be burst asunder; they were burst asunder.

    Into their place stepped free competition, accompanied by a social and political constitution adapted in it, and the economic and political sway of the bourgeois class.

    A similar movement is going on before our own eyes. Modern bourgeois society, with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells. For many a decade past the history of industry and commerce is but the history of the revolt of modern productive forces against modern conditions of production, against the property relations that are the conditions for the existence of the bourgeois and of its rule. It is enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return put the existence of the entire bourgeois society on its trial, each time more threateningly. In these crises, a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises, there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity — the epidemic of over-production. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation, had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilisation, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. The productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered, and so soon as they overcome these fetters, they bring disorder into the whole of bourgeois society, endanger the existence of bourgeois property. The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them. And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.

    The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself.

    But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons — the modern working class — the proletarians.

    In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed — a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increases capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.

    Owing to the extensive use of machinery, and to the division of labour, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is required of him. Hence, the cost of production of a workman is restricted, almost entirely, to the means of subsistence that he requires for maintenance, and for the propagation of his race. But the price of a commodity, and therefore also of labour, is equal to its cost of production. In proportion, therefore, as the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage decreases. Nay more, in proportion as the use of machinery and division of labour increases, in the same proportion the burden of toil also increases, whether by prolongation of the working hours, by the increase of the work exacted in a given time or by increased speed of machinery, etc.

    Modern Industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist. Masses of labourers, crowded into the factory, are organised like soldiers. As privates of the industrial army they are placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants. Not only are they slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois State; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the overlooker, and, above all, by the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself. The more openly this despotism proclaims gain to be its end and aim, the more petty, the more hateful and the more embittering it is.

    The less the skill and exertion of strength implied in manual labour, in other words, the more modern industry becomes developed, the more is the labour of men superseded by that of women. Differences of age and sex have no longer any distinctive social validity for the working class. All are instruments of labour, more or less expensive to use, according to their age and sex.

    No sooner is the exploitation of the labourer by the manufacturer, so far, at an end, that he receives his wages in cash, than he is set upon by the other portions of the bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc.

    The lower strata of the middle class — the small tradespeople, shopkeepers, and retired tradesmen generally, the handicraftsmen and peasants — all these sink gradually into the proletariat, partly because their diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale on which Modern Industry is carried on, and is swamped in the competition with the large capitalists, partly because their specialised skill is rendered worthless by new methods of production. Thus the proletariat is recruited from all classes of the population.

    The proletariat goes through various stages of development. With its birth begins its struggle with the bourgeoisie. At first the contest is carried on by individual labourers, then by the workpeople of a factory, then by the operative of one trade, in one locality, against the individual bourgeois who directly exploits them. They direct their attacks not against the bourgeois conditions of production, but against the instruments of production themselves; they destroy imported wares that compete with their labour, they smash to pieces machinery, they set factories ablaze, they seek to restore by force the vanished status of the workman of the Middle Ages.

    At this stage, the labourers still form an incoherent mass scattered over the whole country, and broken up by their mutual competition. If anywhere they unite to form more compact bodies, this is not yet the consequence of their own active union, but of the union of the bourgeoisie, which class, in order to attain its own political ends, is compelled to set the whole proletariat in motion, and is moreover yet, for a time, able to do so. At this stage, therefore, the proletarians do not fight their enemies, but the enemies of their enemies, the remnants of absolute monarchy, the landowners, the non-industrial bourgeois, the petty bourgeois. Thus, the whole historical movement is concentrated in the hands of the bourgeoisie; every victory so obtained is a victory for the bourgeoisie.

    But with the development of industry, the proletariat not only increases in number; it becomes concentrated in greater masses, its strength grows, and it feels that strength more. The various interests and conditions of life within the ranks of the proletariat are more and more equalised, in proportion as machinery obliterates all distinctions of labour, and nearly everywhere reduces wages to the same low level. The growing competition among the bourgeois, and the resulting commercial crises, make the wages of the workers ever more fluctuating. The increasing improvement of machinery, ever more rapidly developing, makes their livelihood more and more precarious; the collisions between individual workmen and individual bourgeois take more and more the character of collisions between two classes. Thereupon, the workers begin to form combinations (Trades’ Unions) against the bourgeois; they club together in order to keep up the rate of wages; they found permanent associations in order to make provision beforehand for these occasional revolts. Here and there, the contest breaks out into riots.

    Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the ever expanding union of the workers. This union is helped on by the improved means of communication that are created by modern industry, and that place the workers of different localities in contact with one another. It was just this contact that was needed to centralise the numerous local struggles, all of the same character, into one national struggle between classes. But every class struggle is a political struggle. And that union, to attain which the burghers of the Middle Ages, with their miserable highways, required centuries, the modern proletarian, thanks to railways, achieve in a few years.

    This organisation of the proletarians into a class, and, consequently into a political party, is continually being upset again by the competition between the workers themselves. But it ever rises up again, stronger, firmer, mightier. It compels legislative recognition of particular interests of the workers, by taking advantage of the divisions among the bourgeoisie itself. Thus, the ten-hours’ bill in England was carried.

    Altogether collisions between the classes of the old society further, in many ways, the course of development of the proletariat. The bourgeoisie finds itself involved in a constant battle. At first with the aristocracy; later on, with those portions of the bourgeoisie itself, whose interests have become antagonistic to the progress of industry; at all time with the bourgeoisie of foreign countries. In all these battles, it sees itself compelled to appeal to the proletariat, to ask for help, and thus, to drag it into the political arena. The bourgeoisie itself, therefore, supplies the proletariat with its own elements of political and general education, in other words, it furnishes the proletariat with weapons for fighting the bourgeoisie.

    Further, as we have already seen, entire sections of the ruling class are, by the advance of industry, precipitated into the proletariat, or are at least threatened in their conditions of existence. These also supply the proletariat with fresh elements of enlightenment and progress.

    Finally, in times when the class struggle nears the decisive hour, the progress of dissolution going on within the ruling class, in fact within the whole range of old society, assumes such a violent, glaring character, that a small section of the ruling class cuts itself adrift, and joins the revolutionary class, the class that holds the future in its hands. Just as, therefore, at an earlier period, a section of the nobility went over to the bourgeoisie, so now a portion of the bourgeoisie goes over to the proletariat, and in particular, a portion of the bourgeois ideologists, who have raised themselves to the level of comprehending theoretically the historical movement as a whole.

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm

    Read More
    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
    The passage you chose to quote is very interesting because of how thoroughly wrong it is.

    The most fundamental error is the idea that society was developing into merely the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. That turned out to be completely false, and all the gradations within classes Marx observed are replicated in newer classes. Machinery created in fact more classes of laborer. Certainly no one in Marx's time had heard of a CNC operator, a programmer, or an electrician.

    Then Marx proceeds to get many other things wrong.

    In most of Europe the bourgeoisie was not, in fact, opposed to the nobility. It saw the nobility as a model to emulate and a rank to aspire to. The bourgeoisie wanted political representation of course, but it often got that (e.g. the Free and Imperial Cities Marx alludes to, or of course Britain's House of Commons). This is often cited by English historians as a reason for British industrial decline for instance. And in Marx's native Germany the nobility actively participated in industry and commerce. Being a Jew barely removed from the ghetto he probably didn't know this.

    In Marx's time dowries were still paid, so the money relations of family were well understood.

    Then Marx projects the historical Iron Law of Wages, which was quite true in preindustrial times, onto the modern era. That turned out to be a whopper of an error, and was revealed very soon after Marx's death.

    Marx however is correct in noting the increasing labor value of women and the growing demise of small businesses.
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  32. Anon 2 says:

    Marx can be most simply regarded as a Bullsh*t Artist because he
    claimed to know what was unknowable in the 19th century, and remains
    unknowable today – how the economies of the world operate. Contemporary
    economists, when they are in a charitable mood, give him a grade of D
    for his contributions to economics. And economics, as everybody knows but
    few are willing to admit, is not a science. How many Nobel Prize- winning
    economists predicted the 2007-8 Great Recession? None. The so-called
    Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences should be abolished because
    to use the same word “science” in reference to physics, chemistry, and …
    economics is a sacrilege, and I say this as a scientist. Science is still in a
    fairly primitive stage. We have a very approximate level of understanding
    of simple systems such as those addressed by physics or chemistry.
    We don’t understand complex systems such as economies or societies at
    all. Physics can’t even solve the 3-body problem except in simple cases.
    How can anyone claim to understand and predict the future of a system
    consisting of, say, a million individuals?

    Freud (or Dr. Fraud as he is known today) was another example of a
    B.S. artist because, just like Marx, he claimed to know what was
    unknowable in 1918 and remains unknowable a century later – how the
    human mind operates. He had the chutzpah or shameless audacity
    to make that claim without knowing anything about brain science
    or genetics. No wonder Freud at American universities has
    been relegated to literature departments.

    If somebody like Marx or Freud were alive today, we’d tell them
    “Karl (Sigmund), you shmendrik, you forgot to take your meds
    again!” My thesis is that Marx (or later Freud) were taken seriously
    because people in the 19th century were essentially stupid and
    ignorant – levels of literacy and numeracy were extremely low by
    today’s standards. We have only become more sophisticated
    and therefore more skeptical since WW II. System making along
    the lines of Marx or Freud has gone completely out of style. We
    know today that Nature does not easily yield her secrets. Systems
    are typically nonlinear, and not linear like we’ve been assuming
    for 500 years. It’s a hard slog. Progress is glacial at best.

    Read More
    • Replies: @songbird
    One of the hallmarks of communism is that the revolution always has happened in places where the literacy is relatively low, below a certain threshold. This is one of the reasons I question the influence of Marx.

    Do intellectuals have a disproportionate influence in places where the literacy is lower? It's quite possible, but it does not seem parsimonious.
    , @AP

    No wonder Freud at American universities has
    been relegated to literature departments.
     
    People don't practice medicine 19th century-style anymore either. But the ideas of Freud's heirs or other analysts are still taught at the better medical or graduate schools. Jordan Petersen, a Jungian, is at the University of Toronto.

    My thesis is that Marx (or later Freud) were taken seriously
    because people in the 19th century were essentially stupid and
    ignorant – levels of literacy and numeracy were extremely low by
    today’s standards.
     
    Although the mean level of intelligence is higher now than it was then, in the 19th century the literate and educated classes were probably more intelligent than their modern counterparts, but the masses who outnumbered them were far more ignorant and illiterate (but perhaps, on some level, wiser - as Celine noticed, prior to mass literacy people wouldn't have voluntarily gotten themselves slaughtered by the millions for the sake of some national flag as they did in the early 20th century). Freud makes for much better reading than does Marx. The masses weren't the ones interested in his stuff in the 19th century, it was educated upper middle class people.

    I am not claiming that Freud was completely or even mostly right, but dismissing him as a total fraud and ascribing his popularity to ignorance and stupidity is incorrect.

    , @Thorfinnsson
    Please.

    People today argue seriously that race does not exist and that the only reason blacks don't perform well is sorcery and witchcraft (though this has been renamed "institutional racism" or something).

    In fact people even claim that shitbulls aren't inherently more aggressive than other dogs and agitate for laws to prevent local communities from prohibiting shitbulls.
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  33. songbird says:
    @Anon 2
    Marx can be most simply regarded as a Bullsh*t Artist because he
    claimed to know what was unknowable in the 19th century, and remains
    unknowable today - how the economies of the world operate. Contemporary
    economists, when they are in a charitable mood, give him a grade of D
    for his contributions to economics. And economics, as everybody knows but
    few are willing to admit, is not a science. How many Nobel Prize- winning
    economists predicted the 2007-8 Great Recession? None. The so-called
    Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences should be abolished because
    to use the same word "science" in reference to physics, chemistry, and ...
    economics is a sacrilege, and I say this as a scientist. Science is still in a
    fairly primitive stage. We have a very approximate level of understanding
    of simple systems such as those addressed by physics or chemistry.
    We don't understand complex systems such as economies or societies at
    all. Physics can't even solve the 3-body problem except in simple cases.
    How can anyone claim to understand and predict the future of a system
    consisting of, say, a million individuals?

    Freud (or Dr. Fraud as he is known today) was another example of a
    B.S. artist because, just like Marx, he claimed to know what was
    unknowable in 1918 and remains unknowable a century later - how the
    human mind operates. He had the chutzpah or shameless audacity
    to make that claim without knowing anything about brain science
    or genetics. No wonder Freud at American universities has
    been relegated to literature departments.

    If somebody like Marx or Freud were alive today, we'd tell them
    "Karl (Sigmund), you shmendrik, you forgot to take your meds
    again!" My thesis is that Marx (or later Freud) were taken seriously
    because people in the 19th century were essentially stupid and
    ignorant - levels of literacy and numeracy were extremely low by
    today's standards. We have only become more sophisticated
    and therefore more skeptical since WW II. System making along
    the lines of Marx or Freud has gone completely out of style. We
    know today that Nature does not easily yield her secrets. Systems
    are typically nonlinear, and not linear like we've been assuming
    for 500 years. It's a hard slog. Progress is glacial at best.

    One of the hallmarks of communism is that the revolution always has happened in places where the literacy is relatively low, below a certain threshold. This is one of the reasons I question the influence of Marx.

    Do intellectuals have a disproportionate influence in places where the literacy is lower? It’s quite possible, but it does not seem parsimonious.

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  34. utu says:

    Here is different take on Marx also lightweight as this anti-review:

    Marx Was Right: Five Surprising Ways Karl Marx Predicted 2014

    https://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/marx-was-right-five-surprising-ways-karl-marx-predicted-2014-20140130

    1. The Great Recession (Capitalism’s Chaotic Nature)
    2. The iPhone 5S (Imaginary Appetites)
    3. The IMF (The Globalization of Capitalism)
    4. Walmart (Monopoly)
    5. Low Wages, Big Profits (The Reserve Army of Industrial Labor)

    Read More
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  35. AP says:
    @Anon 2
    Marx can be most simply regarded as a Bullsh*t Artist because he
    claimed to know what was unknowable in the 19th century, and remains
    unknowable today - how the economies of the world operate. Contemporary
    economists, when they are in a charitable mood, give him a grade of D
    for his contributions to economics. And economics, as everybody knows but
    few are willing to admit, is not a science. How many Nobel Prize- winning
    economists predicted the 2007-8 Great Recession? None. The so-called
    Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences should be abolished because
    to use the same word "science" in reference to physics, chemistry, and ...
    economics is a sacrilege, and I say this as a scientist. Science is still in a
    fairly primitive stage. We have a very approximate level of understanding
    of simple systems such as those addressed by physics or chemistry.
    We don't understand complex systems such as economies or societies at
    all. Physics can't even solve the 3-body problem except in simple cases.
    How can anyone claim to understand and predict the future of a system
    consisting of, say, a million individuals?

    Freud (or Dr. Fraud as he is known today) was another example of a
    B.S. artist because, just like Marx, he claimed to know what was
    unknowable in 1918 and remains unknowable a century later - how the
    human mind operates. He had the chutzpah or shameless audacity
    to make that claim without knowing anything about brain science
    or genetics. No wonder Freud at American universities has
    been relegated to literature departments.

    If somebody like Marx or Freud were alive today, we'd tell them
    "Karl (Sigmund), you shmendrik, you forgot to take your meds
    again!" My thesis is that Marx (or later Freud) were taken seriously
    because people in the 19th century were essentially stupid and
    ignorant - levels of literacy and numeracy were extremely low by
    today's standards. We have only become more sophisticated
    and therefore more skeptical since WW II. System making along
    the lines of Marx or Freud has gone completely out of style. We
    know today that Nature does not easily yield her secrets. Systems
    are typically nonlinear, and not linear like we've been assuming
    for 500 years. It's a hard slog. Progress is glacial at best.

    No wonder Freud at American universities has
    been relegated to literature departments.

    People don’t practice medicine 19th century-style anymore either. But the ideas of Freud’s heirs or other analysts are still taught at the better medical or graduate schools. Jordan Petersen, a Jungian, is at the University of Toronto.

    My thesis is that Marx (or later Freud) were taken seriously
    because people in the 19th century were essentially stupid and
    ignorant – levels of literacy and numeracy were extremely low by
    today’s standards.

    Although the mean level of intelligence is higher now than it was then, in the 19th century the literate and educated classes were probably more intelligent than their modern counterparts, but the masses who outnumbered them were far more ignorant and illiterate (but perhaps, on some level, wiser – as Celine noticed, prior to mass literacy people wouldn’t have voluntarily gotten themselves slaughtered by the millions for the sake of some national flag as they did in the early 20th century). Freud makes for much better reading than does Marx. The masses weren’t the ones interested in his stuff in the 19th century, it was educated upper middle class people.

    I am not claiming that Freud was completely or even mostly right, but dismissing him as a total fraud and ascribing his popularity to ignorance and stupidity is incorrect.

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    While you're correct that Freud mostly sold his snake oil to the educated classes, which were probably otherwise of higher quality than they are today (if only because they were a smaller, much more select group), but Freud really was a total fraud, and I think it's a very bad thing if he's still being taught at medical schools. (A psychiatrist guy told me some fifteen years ago that in the 1990s at university they had a book with the title of 'What Freud got wrong' or similar as required reading. I don't think he should be taught otherwise.)
    , @Anatoly Karlin

    ... prior to mass literacy people wouldn’t have voluntarily gotten themselves slaughtered by the millions for the sake of some national flag
     
    Doubt it... see e.g. Paraguay in the War of the Triple Alliance. They were pretty enthusiastic about it.

    Demographically, makes what Serbia (also highly illiterate at the time) underwent in WW1 seem quaint.

    It seems that the main difference is that states back then had less organizational and resource capacity to undertake mass mobilizations. So mobilizing unenthusiastic people (e.g. for the Sun King's wars) was harder.
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  36. utu says:

    Here from Harvard Business Review Was Marx Right?

    https://hbr.org/2011/09/was-marx-right

    Immiseration, Crisis, Stagnation, Alienation, False consciousness, Commodity fetishism

    False consciousness. According to Marx, one of the most pernicious aspects of industrial age capitalism was that the proles wouldn’t even know they were being exploited — and might even celebrate the very factors behind their exploitation, in a kind of ideological Stockholm Syndrome that concealed and misrepresented the relations of power between classes. How’s Marx doing on this score? You tell me. I’ll merely point out: America’s largest private employer is Walmart. America’s second largest employer is McDonald’s.

    Commodity fetishism. A fetishized object is one which is more than a symbol: it’s believed to have actually the power the symbol represents (like an idol, or a totem with magical properties). Marx claimed that under industrial age capitalism’s rules, commodities became revered talismans, worshipped through transactional exchanges, imbued with mystical powers that give them inherent value — and obscuring the value of and in the very people who’ve worked labored over them in the first place. It’s one of Marx’s most subtle and nuanced concepts. Does it hold water? Again, I’ll merely pointing to societies in furious pursuit of more, bigger, faster, cheaper, nastier, now, whether it’s the retail temples of America’s mega-malls, or London rioters stealing, not bread, but video games.

    Read More
    • Replies: @DFH
    I honestly can't work out what he's trying to imply. What does the fact that Walmart and McDonald's have to do with false concsiousness? How is stealing video games fetishistic? Does he think that the blacks stealing them made shrines to them, rather than putting the discs into their Playstations?
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  37. DFH says:
    @utu
    Here from Harvard Business Review Was Marx Right?
    https://hbr.org/2011/09/was-marx-right

    Immiseration, Crisis, Stagnation, Alienation, False consciousness, Commodity fetishism

    False consciousness. According to Marx, one of the most pernicious aspects of industrial age capitalism was that the proles wouldn’t even know they were being exploited — and might even celebrate the very factors behind their exploitation, in a kind of ideological Stockholm Syndrome that concealed and misrepresented the relations of power between classes. How’s Marx doing on this score? You tell me. I’ll merely point out: America’s largest private employer is Walmart. America’s second largest employer is McDonald’s.
     

    Commodity fetishism. A fetishized object is one which is more than a symbol: it’s believed to have actually the power the symbol represents (like an idol, or a totem with magical properties). Marx claimed that under industrial age capitalism’s rules, commodities became revered talismans, worshipped through transactional exchanges, imbued with mystical powers that give them inherent value — and obscuring the value of and in the very people who’ve worked labored over them in the first place. It’s one of Marx’s most subtle and nuanced concepts. Does it hold water? Again, I’ll merely pointing to societies in furious pursuit of more, bigger, faster, cheaper, nastier, now, whether it’s the retail temples of America’s mega-malls, or London rioters stealing, not bread, but video games.
     

    I honestly can’t work out what he’s trying to imply. What does the fact that Walmart and McDonald’s have to do with false concsiousness? How is stealing video games fetishistic? Does he think that the blacks stealing them made shrines to them, rather than putting the discs into their Playstations?

    Read More
    • Replies: @utu

    I honestly can’t work out what he’s trying to imply.
     
    Maybe because people in a grip of a fetish do not see it as fetish and often the false consciousness has something to do with their lack of insight.
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  38. @Anon 2
    Marx can be most simply regarded as a Bullsh*t Artist because he
    claimed to know what was unknowable in the 19th century, and remains
    unknowable today - how the economies of the world operate. Contemporary
    economists, when they are in a charitable mood, give him a grade of D
    for his contributions to economics. And economics, as everybody knows but
    few are willing to admit, is not a science. How many Nobel Prize- winning
    economists predicted the 2007-8 Great Recession? None. The so-called
    Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences should be abolished because
    to use the same word "science" in reference to physics, chemistry, and ...
    economics is a sacrilege, and I say this as a scientist. Science is still in a
    fairly primitive stage. We have a very approximate level of understanding
    of simple systems such as those addressed by physics or chemistry.
    We don't understand complex systems such as economies or societies at
    all. Physics can't even solve the 3-body problem except in simple cases.
    How can anyone claim to understand and predict the future of a system
    consisting of, say, a million individuals?

    Freud (or Dr. Fraud as he is known today) was another example of a
    B.S. artist because, just like Marx, he claimed to know what was
    unknowable in 1918 and remains unknowable a century later - how the
    human mind operates. He had the chutzpah or shameless audacity
    to make that claim without knowing anything about brain science
    or genetics. No wonder Freud at American universities has
    been relegated to literature departments.

    If somebody like Marx or Freud were alive today, we'd tell them
    "Karl (Sigmund), you shmendrik, you forgot to take your meds
    again!" My thesis is that Marx (or later Freud) were taken seriously
    because people in the 19th century were essentially stupid and
    ignorant - levels of literacy and numeracy were extremely low by
    today's standards. We have only become more sophisticated
    and therefore more skeptical since WW II. System making along
    the lines of Marx or Freud has gone completely out of style. We
    know today that Nature does not easily yield her secrets. Systems
    are typically nonlinear, and not linear like we've been assuming
    for 500 years. It's a hard slog. Progress is glacial at best.

    Please.

    People today argue seriously that race does not exist and that the only reason blacks don’t perform well is sorcery and witchcraft (though this has been renamed “institutional racism” or something).

    In fact people even claim that shitbulls aren’t inherently more aggressive than other dogs and agitate for laws to prevent local communities from prohibiting shitbulls.

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  39. utu says:
    @DFH
    I honestly can't work out what he's trying to imply. What does the fact that Walmart and McDonald's have to do with false concsiousness? How is stealing video games fetishistic? Does he think that the blacks stealing them made shrines to them, rather than putting the discs into their Playstations?

    I honestly can’t work out what he’s trying to imply.

    Maybe because people in a grip of a fetish do not see it as fetish and often the false consciousness has something to do with their lack of insight.

    Read More
    • Replies: @DFH

    Maybe because people in a grip of a fetish do not see it as fetish and often the false consciousness has something to do with their lack of insight.
     
    Can you please tell me then, or is there something about this knowledge which means it can only be communicated through obscure implication?
    , @reiner Tor
    I haven't played with video games since I was a teenager (Doom II, Duke Nukem, Civilizaton I and Civ II, Dune II, Warcraft II, TIE Fighter, Prince of Persia - were these even called video games?), and I can see very little to no value to them (whenever I spent significant time playing them, I felt the time spent totally wasted), but I cannot see how people stealing it are in the grip of a "fetish."

    They steal it because they enjoy playing it, and they don't think of time spent playing it as wasted time, because they cannot think of more productively spent time, for example reading a book or commenting on The Unz Review.

    I fail to see how it's a "fetish."
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  40. Yevardian says:
    @songbird
    Adam Smith is actually surprisingly readable for an English-language author of the 18th century.

    It is funny to read his put-downs of the New World civilizations too: they weren't so great because they didn't have real money.

    English literature of the 18th century is perfectly clear and readable, especially if you compare it’s usage of the time to German or French.

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  41. DFH says:
    @utu

    I honestly can’t work out what he’s trying to imply.
     
    Maybe because people in a grip of a fetish do not see it as fetish and often the false consciousness has something to do with their lack of insight.

    Maybe because people in a grip of a fetish do not see it as fetish and often the false consciousness has something to do with their lack of insight.

    Can you please tell me then, or is there something about this knowledge which means it can only be communicated through obscure implication?

    Read More
    • Replies: @utu
    Sorry for trying to be smug. Now, I went back to your original question and after reading it again I feel like taking back the sorry part. Anyway, if you are a Walmart employee and think that all is swell and hunky-dori then most likely you might be in a state of false consciousness but if you realize that you are being exploited and wonder whether at least some trade unions could be established then most likely you are not. False consciousness however, offers less stress and more happiness.

    You might be a libertarian who thinks that free agents enter contracts out of free will and there is an infinitude of contract available and our lives are of infinite duration to eventually arrive at the most optimal solution after infinite sequence picking and rejecting all possible options. If this is the case, do not respond.
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  42. @Dmitry

    So we’re really not looking at anything very different from preindustrial times. Marx’s observation that capitalism tends to monopoly was in fact not novel, because the exact same thing occurred in preindustrial times.

     

    I think this is Marx's argument in 'Communist Manifesto" novella. The issue is that industrial process of development, transforms labour to becoming the homogeneous mass, removed of differences and with capacity of a class/revolutionary consciousness.


    The history of all hitherto existing society(2) is the history of class struggles.

    Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master(3) and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.

    In the earlier epochs of history, we find almost everywhere a complicated arrangement of society into various orders, a manifold gradation of social rank. In ancient Rome we have patricians, knights, plebeians, slaves; in the Middle Ages, feudal lords, vassals, guild-masters, journeymen, apprentices, serfs; in almost all of these classes, again, subordinate gradations.

    The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones.

    Our epoch, the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinct feature: it has simplified class antagonisms. Society as a whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps, into two great classes directly facing each other — Bourgeoisie and Proletariat.

    From the serfs of the Middle Ages sprang the chartered burghers of the earliest towns. From these burgesses the first elements of the bourgeoisie were developed.

    The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development.

    The feudal system of industry, in which industrial production was monopolised by closed guilds, now no longer sufficed for the growing wants of the new markets. The manufacturing system took its place. The guild-masters were pushed on one side by the manufacturing middle class; division of labour between the different corporate guilds vanished in the face of division of labour in each single workshop.

    Meantime the markets kept ever growing, the demand ever rising. Even manufacturer no longer sufficed. Thereupon, steam and machinery revolutionised industrial production. The place of manufacture was taken by the giant, Modern Industry; the place of the industrial middle class by industrial millionaires, the leaders of the whole industrial armies, the modern bourgeois.

    Modern industry has established the world market, for which the discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land. This development has, in its turn, reacted on the extension of industry; and in proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital, and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages.

    We see, therefore, how the modern bourgeoisie is itself the product of a long course of development, of a series of revolutions in the modes of production and of exchange.

    Each step in the development of the bourgeoisie was accompanied by a corresponding political advance of that class. An oppressed class under the sway of the feudal nobility, an armed and self-governing association in the medieval commune(4): here independent urban republic (as in Italy and Germany); there taxable “third estate” of the monarchy (as in France); afterwards, in the period of manufacturing proper, serving either the semi-feudal or the absolute monarchy as a counterpoise against the nobility, and, in fact, cornerstone of the great monarchies in general, the bourgeoisie has at last, since the establishment of Modern Industry and of the world market, conquered for itself, in the modern representative State, exclusive political sway. The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.

    The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part.

    The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.

    The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers.

    The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation.

    The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the brutal display of vigour in the Middle Ages, which reactionaries so much admire, found its fitting complement in the most slothful indolence. It has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former Exoduses of nations and crusades.

    The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

    The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.

    The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.

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

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

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

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

    We see then: the means of production and of exchange, on whose foundation the bourgeoisie built itself up, were generated in feudal society. At a certain stage in the development of these means of production and of exchange, the conditions under which feudal society produced and exchanged, the feudal organisation of agriculture and manufacturing industry, in one word, the feudal relations of property became no longer compatible with the already developed productive forces; they became so many fetters. They had to be burst asunder; they were burst asunder.

    Into their place stepped free competition, accompanied by a social and political constitution adapted in it, and the economic and political sway of the bourgeois class.

    A similar movement is going on before our own eyes. Modern bourgeois society, with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells. For many a decade past the history of industry and commerce is but the history of the revolt of modern productive forces against modern conditions of production, against the property relations that are the conditions for the existence of the bourgeois and of its rule. It is enough to mention the commercial crises that by their periodical return put the existence of the entire bourgeois society on its trial, each time more threateningly. In these crises, a great part not only of the existing products, but also of the previously created productive forces, are periodically destroyed. In these crises, there breaks out an epidemic that, in all earlier epochs, would have seemed an absurdity — the epidemic of over-production. Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation, had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilisation, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce. The productive forces at the disposal of society no longer tend to further the development of the conditions of bourgeois property; on the contrary, they have become too powerful for these conditions, by which they are fettered, and so soon as they overcome these fetters, they bring disorder into the whole of bourgeois society, endanger the existence of bourgeois property. The conditions of bourgeois society are too narrow to comprise the wealth created by them. And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones. That is to say, by paving the way for more extensive and more destructive crises, and by diminishing the means whereby crises are prevented.

    The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself.

    But not only has the bourgeoisie forged the weapons that bring death to itself; it has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons — the modern working class — the proletarians.

    In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed — a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labour increases capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.

    Owing to the extensive use of machinery, and to the division of labour, the work of the proletarians has lost all individual character, and, consequently, all charm for the workman. He becomes an appendage of the machine, and it is only the most simple, most monotonous, and most easily acquired knack, that is required of him. Hence, the cost of production of a workman is restricted, almost entirely, to the means of subsistence that he requires for maintenance, and for the propagation of his race. But the price of a commodity, and therefore also of labour, is equal to its cost of production. In proportion, therefore, as the repulsiveness of the work increases, the wage decreases. Nay more, in proportion as the use of machinery and division of labour increases, in the same proportion the burden of toil also increases, whether by prolongation of the working hours, by the increase of the work exacted in a given time or by increased speed of machinery, etc.

    Modern Industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist. Masses of labourers, crowded into the factory, are organised like soldiers. As privates of the industrial army they are placed under the command of a perfect hierarchy of officers and sergeants. Not only are they slaves of the bourgeois class, and of the bourgeois State; they are daily and hourly enslaved by the machine, by the overlooker, and, above all, by the individual bourgeois manufacturer himself. The more openly this despotism proclaims gain to be its end and aim, the more petty, the more hateful and the more embittering it is.

    The less the skill and exertion of strength implied in manual labour, in other words, the more modern industry becomes developed, the more is the labour of men superseded by that of women. Differences of age and sex have no longer any distinctive social validity for the working class. All are instruments of labour, more or less expensive to use, according to their age and sex.

    No sooner is the exploitation of the labourer by the manufacturer, so far, at an end, that he receives his wages in cash, than he is set upon by the other portions of the bourgeoisie, the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker, etc.

    The lower strata of the middle class — the small tradespeople, shopkeepers, and retired tradesmen generally, the handicraftsmen and peasants — all these sink gradually into the proletariat, partly because their diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale on which Modern Industry is carried on, and is swamped in the competition with the large capitalists, partly because their specialised skill is rendered worthless by new methods of production. Thus the proletariat is recruited from all classes of the population.

    The proletariat goes through various stages of development. With its birth begins its struggle with the bourgeoisie. At first the contest is carried on by individual labourers, then by the workpeople of a factory, then by the operative of one trade, in one locality, against the individual bourgeois who directly exploits them. They direct their attacks not against the bourgeois conditions of production, but against the instruments of production themselves; they destroy imported wares that compete with their labour, they smash to pieces machinery, they set factories ablaze, they seek to restore by force the vanished status of the workman of the Middle Ages.

    At this stage, the labourers still form an incoherent mass scattered over the whole country, and broken up by their mutual competition. If anywhere they unite to form more compact bodies, this is not yet the consequence of their own active union, but of the union of the bourgeoisie, which class, in order to attain its own political ends, is compelled to set the whole proletariat in motion, and is moreover yet, for a time, able to do so. At this stage, therefore, the proletarians do not fight their enemies, but the enemies of their enemies, the remnants of absolute monarchy, the landowners, the non-industrial bourgeois, the petty bourgeois. Thus, the whole historical movement is concentrated in the hands of the bourgeoisie; every victory so obtained is a victory for the bourgeoisie.

    But with the development of industry, the proletariat not only increases in number; it becomes concentrated in greater masses, its strength grows, and it feels that strength more. The various interests and conditions of life within the ranks of the proletariat are more and more equalised, in proportion as machinery obliterates all distinctions of labour, and nearly everywhere reduces wages to the same low level. The growing competition among the bourgeois, and the resulting commercial crises, make the wages of the workers ever more fluctuating. The increasing improvement of machinery, ever more rapidly developing, makes their livelihood more and more precarious; the collisions between individual workmen and individual bourgeois take more and more the character of collisions between two classes. Thereupon, the workers begin to form combinations (Trades’ Unions) against the bourgeois; they club together in order to keep up the rate of wages; they found permanent associations in order to make provision beforehand for these occasional revolts. Here and there, the contest breaks out into riots.

    Now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the ever expanding union of the workers. This union is helped on by the improved means of communication that are created by modern industry, and that place the workers of different localities in contact with one another. It was just this contact that was needed to centralise the numerous local struggles, all of the same character, into one national struggle between classes. But every class struggle is a political struggle. And that union, to attain which the burghers of the Middle Ages, with their miserable highways, required centuries, the modern proletarian, thanks to railways, achieve in a few years.

    This organisation of the proletarians into a class, and, consequently into a political party, is continually being upset again by the competition between the workers themselves. But it ever rises up again, stronger, firmer, mightier. It compels legislative recognition of particular interests of the workers, by taking advantage of the divisions among the bourgeoisie itself. Thus, the ten-hours’ bill in England was carried.

    Altogether collisions between the classes of the old society further, in many ways, the course of development of the proletariat. The bourgeoisie finds itself involved in a constant battle. At first with the aristocracy; later on, with those portions of the bourgeoisie itself, whose interests have become antagonistic to the progress of industry; at all time with the bourgeoisie of foreign countries. In all these battles, it sees itself compelled to appeal to the proletariat, to ask for help, and thus, to drag it into the political arena. The bourgeoisie itself, therefore, supplies the proletariat with its own elements of political and general education, in other words, it furnishes the proletariat with weapons for fighting the bourgeoisie.

    Further, as we have already seen, entire sections of the ruling class are, by the advance of industry, precipitated into the proletariat, or are at least threatened in their conditions of existence. These also supply the proletariat with fresh elements of enlightenment and progress.

    Finally, in times when the class struggle nears the decisive hour, the progress of dissolution going on within the ruling class, in fact within the whole range of old society, assumes such a violent, glaring character, that a small section of the ruling class cuts itself adrift, and joins the revolutionary class, the class that holds the future in its hands. Just as, therefore, at an earlier period, a section of the nobility went over to the bourgeoisie, so now a portion of the bourgeoisie goes over to the proletariat, and in particular, a portion of the bourgeois ideologists, who have raised themselves to the level of comprehending theoretically the historical movement as a whole.
     
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm

    The passage you chose to quote is very interesting because of how thoroughly wrong it is.

    The most fundamental error is the idea that society was developing into merely the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. That turned out to be completely false, and all the gradations within classes Marx observed are replicated in newer classes. Machinery created in fact more classes of laborer. Certainly no one in Marx’s time had heard of a CNC operator, a programmer, or an electrician.

    Then Marx proceeds to get many other things wrong.

    In most of Europe the bourgeoisie was not, in fact, opposed to the nobility. It saw the nobility as a model to emulate and a rank to aspire to. The bourgeoisie wanted political representation of course, but it often got that (e.g. the Free and Imperial Cities Marx alludes to, or of course Britain’s House of Commons). This is often cited by English historians as a reason for British industrial decline for instance. And in Marx’s native Germany the nobility actively participated in industry and commerce. Being a Jew barely removed from the ghetto he probably didn’t know this.

    In Marx’s time dowries were still paid, so the money relations of family were well understood.

    Then Marx projects the historical Iron Law of Wages, which was quite true in preindustrial times, onto the modern era. That turned out to be a whopper of an error, and was revealed very soon after Marx’s death.

    Marx however is correct in noting the increasing labor value of women and the growing demise of small businesses.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dmitry

    The passage you chose to quote is very interesting because of how thoroughly wrong it is.

    The most fundamental error is the idea that society was developing into merely the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. That turned out to be completely false, and all the gradations within classes Marx observed are replicated in newer classes. Machinery created in fact more classes of laborer. Certainly no one in Marx’s time had heard of a CNC operator, a programmer, or an electrician.

    Then Marx proceeds to get many other things wrong.

    In most of Europe the bourgeoisie was not, in fact, opposed to the nobility. It saw the nobility as a model to emulate and a rank to aspire to. The bourgeoisie wanted political representation of course, but it often got that (e.g. the Free and Imperial Cities Marx alludes to, or of course Britain’s House of Commons). This is often cited by English historians as a reason for British industrial decline for instance. And in Marx’s native Germany the nobility actively participated in industry and commerce. Being a Jew barely removed from the ghetto he probably didn’t know this.

    In Marx’s time dowries were still paid, so the money relations of family were well understood.
     

    Marx's wife was somekind of princess in Germany, while he was bourgeois. There was a documentary about her on Russia K channel last year. After she married him, they live almost in poverty.

    The quote is the chapter from the Communist Manifesto.

    It's interesting to read the whole book - I think it was the favourite text of Lenin.

    Some parts in this text are very interesting and you can see all the ideas are still used by radicals today: for example one paragraph seems a kind of theory against globalization (this is still a very fashionable style of thinking against 'multi-national' businesses):

    "All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature."

    , @Anatoly Karlin

    In most of Europe the bourgeoisie was not, in fact, opposed to the nobility. It saw the nobility as a model to emulate and a rank to aspire to.
     
    Very true.

    I don't know if Marx wrote about it or even knew about it, but another interesting fact is that during the French Revolution, it was the Second Estate (nobles) who voted the most radically; the Third Estate (bourgeoisie) were the most conservative, with the First (priests) in between.
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  43. @utu

    I honestly can’t work out what he’s trying to imply.
     
    Maybe because people in a grip of a fetish do not see it as fetish and often the false consciousness has something to do with their lack of insight.

    I haven’t played with video games since I was a teenager (Doom II, Duke Nukem, Civilizaton I and Civ II, Dune II, Warcraft II, TIE Fighter, Prince of Persia – were these even called video games?), and I can see very little to no value to them (whenever I spent significant time playing them, I felt the time spent totally wasted), but I cannot see how people stealing it are in the grip of a “fetish.”

    They steal it because they enjoy playing it, and they don’t think of time spent playing it as wasted time, because they cannot think of more productively spent time, for example reading a book or commenting on The Unz Review.

    I fail to see how it’s a “fetish.”

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  44. @AP

    No wonder Freud at American universities has
    been relegated to literature departments.
     
    People don't practice medicine 19th century-style anymore either. But the ideas of Freud's heirs or other analysts are still taught at the better medical or graduate schools. Jordan Petersen, a Jungian, is at the University of Toronto.

    My thesis is that Marx (or later Freud) were taken seriously
    because people in the 19th century were essentially stupid and
    ignorant – levels of literacy and numeracy were extremely low by
    today’s standards.
     
    Although the mean level of intelligence is higher now than it was then, in the 19th century the literate and educated classes were probably more intelligent than their modern counterparts, but the masses who outnumbered them were far more ignorant and illiterate (but perhaps, on some level, wiser - as Celine noticed, prior to mass literacy people wouldn't have voluntarily gotten themselves slaughtered by the millions for the sake of some national flag as they did in the early 20th century). Freud makes for much better reading than does Marx. The masses weren't the ones interested in his stuff in the 19th century, it was educated upper middle class people.

    I am not claiming that Freud was completely or even mostly right, but dismissing him as a total fraud and ascribing his popularity to ignorance and stupidity is incorrect.

    While you’re correct that Freud mostly sold his snake oil to the educated classes, which were probably otherwise of higher quality than they are today (if only because they were a smaller, much more select group), but Freud really was a total fraud, and I think it’s a very bad thing if he’s still being taught at medical schools. (A psychiatrist guy told me some fifteen years ago that in the 1990s at university they had a book with the title of ‘What Freud got wrong’ or similar as required reading. I don’t think he should be taught otherwise.)

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    • Replies: @AP

    While you’re correct that Freud mostly sold his snake oil to the educated classes, which were probably otherwise of higher quality than they are today (if only because they were a smaller, much more select group), but Freud really was a total fraud,
     
    Nonsense. And some of his insights are even finding empirical support.

    http://discovermagazine.com/2014/april/14-the-second-coming-of-sigmund-freud

    Skip the article's sentimental stories in the beginning and you get

    They could do worse than look to Freud for inspiration, suggests Eric Kandel of Columbia University, a Nobel Prize-winning expert on learning and memory and one of the most respected voices in neuroscience. “Flawed as it may be, Freud’s is still a coherent and intellectually satisfying view of the mind,” says Kandel. “You can’t have a meaningful science of the brain without having a meaningful science of the mind.”

    "Although many details of Freud’s theories are wrong, some of his major ideas have been borne out. One of those trailblazing observations concerns the scope and influence of unconscious thought"..

    In a study that is now legend, cognitive scientist Benjamin Libet asked people to press a button whenever they felt like it while he monitored the electrical activity in their brains. He could see that movement-controlling brain regions become active about a quarter of a second before subjects said they’d consciously decided to push the button. Some unconscious part of the brain decided well before the conscious mind did.

    Since then, thousands of studies have proven that people process most information, especially social data like other people’s behavior, unconsciously. We also make many decisions without much input from conscious thought. If anything, Freud underestimated the power and sophistication of unconscious thought, says social psychologist Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia. The nature of unconscious thought that emerges from contemporary experiments is radically different from what Freud posited so many years ago: It looks more like a fast, efficient way to process large volumes of data and less like a zone of impulses and fantasies. But he was absolutely right to put it at the center of psychology.

    Another Freudian premise that reappears in current science is that our minds are inherently conflicted, the terrain of a struggle between instinctual impulses and inhibitory mechanisms. Instead of the Freudian terms idand ego, biologists use neuroanatomical descriptions: Motivations like pleasure and reward arise from circuits in the limbic system, a center of emotion, loosely parallel to the id. The prefrontal cortex handles self-control and the override of habitual responses, sort of like the ego. The difference isn’t just a matter of terminology; Freud’s id was a chaotic zone that inspired barbaric, unpredictable behavior, whereas the limbic system is tightly regulated, the origin of rigid and inflexible emotional reactions. But the big picture — of a mind at war with itself — is fundamentally the same, says Bradley Peterson, chief of child psychiatry and director of MRI research at Columbia University, who also trained as a psychoanalyst. "
     
    Etc., etc.

    :::::::::::

    His wholesale rejection in some circles (not nearly as much in elite ones) is symptomatic of a general dumbing down of elite society. As is the popularity of pop versions of his ideas in the humanities.
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  45. Miletus says:

    ”I did earnestly try to read Capital on about three separate occasions in my early twenties, before I wised up and stopped wasting my time on a pointless historical relic.

    At a basic level, Marx is just a very poor writer”

    Let me see. Someone, who by his own admission, has never even bothered to seriously read Marx … then comes to the conclusion that he (Marx) ‘is a very poor writer’. Hmmm, that’s interesting. Could it possibly be that you are a very poor reader? Too sophisticated was it?

    Perhaps a little intellectual humility is called for here.

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    • Replies: @Dmitry
    While I agree this is a poor style of book review (to not read the book), I don't blame the fact he could not read the text (it is famous for this).

    The easy text to read is 'Communist Manifesto' (of the Communist Party) - and it is quite interesting by itself. This would be the more suitable text to review, since it is aimed at normal people, and still has many dangerous ideas that should be shown where they are wrong.

    , @songbird
    I think there are very few writers that one can appreciate through effort. Shakespeare might be one, but he was born in the 1500s and had an obvious poetical bent.
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  46. Dmitry says:
    @Thorfinnsson
    The passage you chose to quote is very interesting because of how thoroughly wrong it is.

    The most fundamental error is the idea that society was developing into merely the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. That turned out to be completely false, and all the gradations within classes Marx observed are replicated in newer classes. Machinery created in fact more classes of laborer. Certainly no one in Marx's time had heard of a CNC operator, a programmer, or an electrician.

    Then Marx proceeds to get many other things wrong.

    In most of Europe the bourgeoisie was not, in fact, opposed to the nobility. It saw the nobility as a model to emulate and a rank to aspire to. The bourgeoisie wanted political representation of course, but it often got that (e.g. the Free and Imperial Cities Marx alludes to, or of course Britain's House of Commons). This is often cited by English historians as a reason for British industrial decline for instance. And in Marx's native Germany the nobility actively participated in industry and commerce. Being a Jew barely removed from the ghetto he probably didn't know this.

    In Marx's time dowries were still paid, so the money relations of family were well understood.

    Then Marx projects the historical Iron Law of Wages, which was quite true in preindustrial times, onto the modern era. That turned out to be a whopper of an error, and was revealed very soon after Marx's death.

    Marx however is correct in noting the increasing labor value of women and the growing demise of small businesses.

    The passage you chose to quote is very interesting because of how thoroughly wrong it is.

    The most fundamental error is the idea that society was developing into merely the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. That turned out to be completely false, and all the gradations within classes Marx observed are replicated in newer classes. Machinery created in fact more classes of laborer. Certainly no one in Marx’s time had heard of a CNC operator, a programmer, or an electrician.

    Then Marx proceeds to get many other things wrong.

    In most of Europe the bourgeoisie was not, in fact, opposed to the nobility. It saw the nobility as a model to emulate and a rank to aspire to. The bourgeoisie wanted political representation of course, but it often got that (e.g. the Free and Imperial Cities Marx alludes to, or of course Britain’s House of Commons). This is often cited by English historians as a reason for British industrial decline for instance. And in Marx’s native Germany the nobility actively participated in industry and commerce. Being a Jew barely removed from the ghetto he probably didn’t know this.

    In Marx’s time dowries were still paid, so the money relations of family were well understood.

    Marx’s wife was somekind of princess in Germany, while he was bourgeois. There was a documentary about her on Russia K channel last year. After she married him, they live almost in poverty.

    The quote is the chapter from the Communist Manifesto.

    It’s interesting to read the whole book – I think it was the favourite text of Lenin.

    Some parts in this text are very interesting and you can see all the ideas are still used by radicals today: for example one paragraph seems a kind of theory against globalization (this is still a very fashionable style of thinking against ‘multi-national’ businesses):

    “All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.”

    Read More
    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
    His wife was the daughter of a baroness.

    Hard to call his observations about international trade novel either given that they were written more than four centuries after the voyages of Prince Henry the Navigator.

    Large scale international trade in the Baltic and North Seas was in Marx's time at least 800 years old, and in the Mediterranean has now been going on for 4,000 years.

    The Silk Road is 3,000 or more years old, and the Indian Ocean trade is 2,000 years old.

    We have actual archaeological records showing things like iron extracted from Spain being turned into industrial products in Italy and from there ending up in China 2,000 years ago. Some tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs from 3,000 years old have silk in them, which was not made outside of China until Byzantine times.

    Perhaps we should consider Marx the Malcolm Gladwell of the 19th century.
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  47. @AP

    No wonder Freud at American universities has
    been relegated to literature departments.
     
    People don't practice medicine 19th century-style anymore either. But the ideas of Freud's heirs or other analysts are still taught at the better medical or graduate schools. Jordan Petersen, a Jungian, is at the University of Toronto.

    My thesis is that Marx (or later Freud) were taken seriously
    because people in the 19th century were essentially stupid and
    ignorant – levels of literacy and numeracy were extremely low by
    today’s standards.
     
    Although the mean level of intelligence is higher now than it was then, in the 19th century the literate and educated classes were probably more intelligent than their modern counterparts, but the masses who outnumbered them were far more ignorant and illiterate (but perhaps, on some level, wiser - as Celine noticed, prior to mass literacy people wouldn't have voluntarily gotten themselves slaughtered by the millions for the sake of some national flag as they did in the early 20th century). Freud makes for much better reading than does Marx. The masses weren't the ones interested in his stuff in the 19th century, it was educated upper middle class people.

    I am not claiming that Freud was completely or even mostly right, but dismissing him as a total fraud and ascribing his popularity to ignorance and stupidity is incorrect.

    … prior to mass literacy people wouldn’t have voluntarily gotten themselves slaughtered by the millions for the sake of some national flag

    Doubt it… see e.g. Paraguay in the War of the Triple Alliance. They were pretty enthusiastic about it.

    Demographically, makes what Serbia (also highly illiterate at the time) underwent in WW1 seem quaint.

    It seems that the main difference is that states back then had less organizational and resource capacity to undertake mass mobilizations. So mobilizing unenthusiastic people (e.g. for the Sun King’s wars) was harder.

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    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
    Louis XIV mobilized the same share of France's population as Napoleon did, despite not having the levee en masse. 18th century absolutist states were mainly constrained by their limited taxing power, which is one reason Britain was able to consistently punch above its weight.

    The Romans suffered 450,000 casualties during the Punic Wars.

    Humans have literally evolved to fight and die so this should not be surprising. Our simian predecessors also fight wars against each other.

    We mimic this in more civilized ways as well by forming tribes to battle others in commerce, ideas, memes, team sports, etc.
    , @AP

    Doubt it… see e.g. Paraguay in the War of the Triple Alliance. They were pretty enthusiastic about it.
     
    I could be wrong, but IIRC Paraguay was a center of Missionary activity and had a surprisingly high literacy rate for its region. It was a sort of South American Prussia. This culture was mostly destroyed in the war that claimed ~70% of the male population.

    Demographically, makes what Serbia (also highly illiterate at the time) underwent in WW1 seem quaint.
     
    Literacy in Yugoslavia (pg. 161)

    In 1900 Serbian males were 66% illiterate, Yugoslav males overall were 52.5% illiterate.

    There is no specific data for 1921 but Yugoslav males overall were 40% illiterate in 1921. If the drop in illiteracy was even across all areas, this would make a rate of about 56% illiteracy for Serb males. This would naturally skew towards older ones - the majority of young fighting-age Serb males was probably literate at the time of World War I. They were capable of being given nationalist propaganda.

    Also, Serbia was invaded and occupied.

    So mobilizing unenthusiastic people (e.g. for the Sun King’s wars) was harder.
     
    By all accounts mobilization of young people was enthusiastic.

    I found Celine's funny, and very true, passage:

    It's the philosophers . . . another point to look out for while we're at it ... who first started giving the people ideas . . , when all they'd known up until then was the catechism! They began, so they proclaimed, to educate the people . . . Ah! What truths they had to reveal! Beautiful! brilliant! unprecedented truths! And the people were dazzled! That's it! they said. That's the stuff! Let's go and die for it! The people are always dying to die! That's the way they are! 'Long live Diderot!' they yelled. And 'Long live Voltaire!' They, at least, were first-class philosophers. And long live Carnot too, who was so good at organizing victories! And long live everybody! Those guys at least don't let the beloved people molder in ignorance and fetishism! They show the people the roads of Freedom! Emancipation! Things went fast after that! First teach everybody to read the papers! That's the way to salvation! Hurry hurry! No more illiterates! We don't need them anymore! Nothing but citizen soldiers! Who vote! Who read! And who fight! And who march! And send kisses from the front! In no time the people were good and ripe! The enthusiasm of the liberated has to be good for something, doesn't it? Danton wasn't eloquent for the hell of it. With a few phrases, so rousing that we can still hear them today, he had the people mobilized before you could say fiddlesticks! That was when the first battalions of emancipated maniacs marched off! ... the first voting, flagmatic suckers that Dumouriez led away to get themselves drilled full of holes in Flanders!...The free-gratis soldier . . . was something really new ... So new that when Goethe arrived in Valmy, Goethe or not, he was flabbergasted. At the sight of those ragged, impassioned cohorts, who had come of their own free will to get themselves disemboweled by the King of Prussia in defense of a patriotic fiction no one had ever heard of, Goethe realized that he still had much to learn. This day,' he declaimed grandiloquently as befitted the habits of his genius, 'marks the beginning of a new era!' He could say that again! The system proved successful . . . pretty soon they were mass-producing heroes, and in the end, the system was so well perfected that they cost practically nothing. Everyone was delighted. Bismarck, the two Napoleons, Barrès, Elsa the Horsewoman.The religion of the flag promptly replaced the cult of heaven, an old cloud which had already been deflated by the Reformation and reduced to a network of episcopal money boxes. In olden times the fanatical fashion was: 'Long live Jesus! Burn the heretics!' . . . But heretics, after all, were few and voluntary . . . Whereas today vast hordes of men are fired with aim and purpose.."
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  48. Dmitry says:
    @Miletus
    ''I did earnestly try to read Capital on about three separate occasions in my early twenties, before I wised up and stopped wasting my time on a pointless historical relic.

    At a basic level, Marx is just a very poor writer''

    Let me see. Someone, who by his own admission, has never even bothered to seriously read Marx ... then comes to the conclusion that he (Marx) 'is a very poor writer'. Hmmm, that's interesting. Could it possibly be that you are a very poor reader? Too sophisticated was it?

    Perhaps a little intellectual humility is called for here.

    While I agree this is a poor style of book review (to not read the book), I don’t blame the fact he could not read the text (it is famous for this).

    The easy text to read is ‘Communist Manifesto’ (of the Communist Party) – and it is quite interesting by itself. This would be the more suitable text to review, since it is aimed at normal people, and still has many dangerous ideas that should be shown where they are wrong.

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  49. @Thorfinnsson
    The passage you chose to quote is very interesting because of how thoroughly wrong it is.

    The most fundamental error is the idea that society was developing into merely the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. That turned out to be completely false, and all the gradations within classes Marx observed are replicated in newer classes. Machinery created in fact more classes of laborer. Certainly no one in Marx's time had heard of a CNC operator, a programmer, or an electrician.

    Then Marx proceeds to get many other things wrong.

    In most of Europe the bourgeoisie was not, in fact, opposed to the nobility. It saw the nobility as a model to emulate and a rank to aspire to. The bourgeoisie wanted political representation of course, but it often got that (e.g. the Free and Imperial Cities Marx alludes to, or of course Britain's House of Commons). This is often cited by English historians as a reason for British industrial decline for instance. And in Marx's native Germany the nobility actively participated in industry and commerce. Being a Jew barely removed from the ghetto he probably didn't know this.

    In Marx's time dowries were still paid, so the money relations of family were well understood.

    Then Marx projects the historical Iron Law of Wages, which was quite true in preindustrial times, onto the modern era. That turned out to be a whopper of an error, and was revealed very soon after Marx's death.

    Marx however is correct in noting the increasing labor value of women and the growing demise of small businesses.

    In most of Europe the bourgeoisie was not, in fact, opposed to the nobility. It saw the nobility as a model to emulate and a rank to aspire to.

    Very true.

    I don’t know if Marx wrote about it or even knew about it, but another interesting fact is that during the French Revolution, it was the Second Estate (nobles) who voted the most radically; the Third Estate (bourgeoisie) were the most conservative, with the First (priests) in between.

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    • Disagree: utu
    • Replies: @Dmitry


    In most of Europe the bourgeoisie was not, in fact, opposed to the nobility. It saw the nobility as a model to emulate and a rank to aspire to.
     
    Very true.

    I don’t know if Marx wrote about it or even knew about it, but another interesting fact is that during the French Revolution, it was the Second Estate (nobles) who voted the most radically; the Third Estate (bourgeoisie) were the most conservative, with the First (priests) in between.

     

    I'm not sure if this can be said- Estates-General was voted to dissoluted by the Third Estate itself in 1789?

    But Marx was representative of this attitude himself, as he was 'careerist', who married a woman from a higher status than himself, and did not want his children to play with poor children.

    Generally there is romanticization of a feudal world and aristocracy in many paragraphs in the Communist Party Manifesto:

    The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”.

     

    In relation to the French Revolution, he writes:

    An oppressed class under the sway of the feudal nobility, an armed and self-governing association in the medieval commune(4): here independent urban republic (as in Italy and Germany); there taxable “third estate” of the monarchy (as in France); afterwards, in the period of manufacturing proper, serving either the semi-feudal or the absolute monarchy as a counterpoise against the nobility, and, in fact, cornerstone of the great monarchies in general, the bourgeoisie has at last, since the establishment of Modern Industry and of the world market, conquered for itself, in the modern representative State, exclusive political sway.
     
    , @Thorfinnsson
    A lot of the continental nobility ended up fairly radicalized in the 18th century. The fundamental cause was likely the usurpation of their traditional powers, privileges, and role by absolute monarchs. The proximate cause was of course continent-wide status competition by sponsoring "Enlightenment" cranks and digesting their toxic propaganda. The new requirements of nobles to spend endless time at court essentially doing nothing but partying destroyed the vigor of the entire class, and also set in motion the disastrous modern fertility transition.

    After the Restoration the nobility tended to alternate between British (constitutional monarchy) and neo-feudal ideas. The class however was basically exhausted outside of perhaps old Prussia.

    Tired: The French Revolution destroyed the nobility

    Wired: Louis XIV destroyed the nobility

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  50. @Dmitry

    The passage you chose to quote is very interesting because of how thoroughly wrong it is.

    The most fundamental error is the idea that society was developing into merely the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. That turned out to be completely false, and all the gradations within classes Marx observed are replicated in newer classes. Machinery created in fact more classes of laborer. Certainly no one in Marx’s time had heard of a CNC operator, a programmer, or an electrician.

    Then Marx proceeds to get many other things wrong.

    In most of Europe the bourgeoisie was not, in fact, opposed to the nobility. It saw the nobility as a model to emulate and a rank to aspire to. The bourgeoisie wanted political representation of course, but it often got that (e.g. the Free and Imperial Cities Marx alludes to, or of course Britain’s House of Commons). This is often cited by English historians as a reason for British industrial decline for instance. And in Marx’s native Germany the nobility actively participated in industry and commerce. Being a Jew barely removed from the ghetto he probably didn’t know this.

    In Marx’s time dowries were still paid, so the money relations of family were well understood.
     

    Marx's wife was somekind of princess in Germany, while he was bourgeois. There was a documentary about her on Russia K channel last year. After she married him, they live almost in poverty.

    The quote is the chapter from the Communist Manifesto.

    It's interesting to read the whole book - I think it was the favourite text of Lenin.

    Some parts in this text are very interesting and you can see all the ideas are still used by radicals today: for example one paragraph seems a kind of theory against globalization (this is still a very fashionable style of thinking against 'multi-national' businesses):

    "All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature."

    His wife was the daughter of a baroness.

    Hard to call his observations about international trade novel either given that they were written more than four centuries after the voyages of Prince Henry the Navigator.

    Large scale international trade in the Baltic and North Seas was in Marx’s time at least 800 years old, and in the Mediterranean has now been going on for 4,000 years.

    The Silk Road is 3,000 or more years old, and the Indian Ocean trade is 2,000 years old.

    We have actual archaeological records showing things like iron extracted from Spain being turned into industrial products in Italy and from there ending up in China 2,000 years ago. Some tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs from 3,000 years old have silk in them, which was not made outside of China until Byzantine times.

    Perhaps we should consider Marx the Malcolm Gladwell of the 19th century.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dmitry
    These paragraphs in the Communist Party Manifesto of 1848, are the same as criticisms of globalization today.

    Final paragraph in below quote makes me think of China's relation with the world economy today:


    Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify.

    All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

    The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.

    The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country.

    In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.
     

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  51. Dmitry says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    In most of Europe the bourgeoisie was not, in fact, opposed to the nobility. It saw the nobility as a model to emulate and a rank to aspire to.
     
    Very true.

    I don't know if Marx wrote about it or even knew about it, but another interesting fact is that during the French Revolution, it was the Second Estate (nobles) who voted the most radically; the Third Estate (bourgeoisie) were the most conservative, with the First (priests) in between.

    In most of Europe the bourgeoisie was not, in fact, opposed to the nobility. It saw the nobility as a model to emulate and a rank to aspire to.

    Very true.

    I don’t know if Marx wrote about it or even knew about it, but another interesting fact is that during the French Revolution, it was the Second Estate (nobles) who voted the most radically; the Third Estate (bourgeoisie) were the most conservative, with the First (priests) in between.

    I’m not sure if this can be said- Estates-General was voted to dissoluted by the Third Estate itself in 1789?

    But Marx was representative of this attitude himself, as he was ‘careerist’, who married a woman from a higher status than himself, and did not want his children to play with poor children.

    Generally there is romanticization of a feudal world and aristocracy in many paragraphs in the Communist Party Manifesto:

    The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment”.

    In relation to the French Revolution, he writes:

    An oppressed class under the sway of the feudal nobility, an armed and self-governing association in the medieval commune(4): here independent urban republic (as in Italy and Germany); there taxable “third estate” of the monarchy (as in France); afterwards, in the period of manufacturing proper, serving either the semi-feudal or the absolute monarchy as a counterpoise against the nobility, and, in fact, cornerstone of the great monarchies in general, the bourgeoisie has at last, since the establishment of Modern Industry and of the world market, conquered for itself, in the modern representative State, exclusive political sway.

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  52. @Anatoly Karlin

    ... prior to mass literacy people wouldn’t have voluntarily gotten themselves slaughtered by the millions for the sake of some national flag
     
    Doubt it... see e.g. Paraguay in the War of the Triple Alliance. They were pretty enthusiastic about it.

    Demographically, makes what Serbia (also highly illiterate at the time) underwent in WW1 seem quaint.

    It seems that the main difference is that states back then had less organizational and resource capacity to undertake mass mobilizations. So mobilizing unenthusiastic people (e.g. for the Sun King's wars) was harder.

    Louis XIV mobilized the same share of France’s population as Napoleon did, despite not having the levee en masse. 18th century absolutist states were mainly constrained by their limited taxing power, which is one reason Britain was able to consistently punch above its weight.

    The Romans suffered 450,000 casualties during the Punic Wars.

    Humans have literally evolved to fight and die so this should not be surprising. Our simian predecessors also fight wars against each other.

    We mimic this in more civilized ways as well by forming tribes to battle others in commerce, ideas, memes, team sports, etc.

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  53. utu says:
    @DFH

    Maybe because people in a grip of a fetish do not see it as fetish and often the false consciousness has something to do with their lack of insight.
     
    Can you please tell me then, or is there something about this knowledge which means it can only be communicated through obscure implication?

    Sorry for trying to be smug. Now, I went back to your original question and after reading it again I feel like taking back the sorry part. Anyway, if you are a Walmart employee and think that all is swell and hunky-dori then most likely you might be in a state of false consciousness but if you realize that you are being exploited and wonder whether at least some trade unions could be established then most likely you are not. False consciousness however, offers less stress and more happiness.

    You might be a libertarian who thinks that free agents enter contracts out of free will and there is an infinitude of contract available and our lives are of infinite duration to eventually arrive at the most optimal solution after infinite sequence picking and rejecting all possible options. If this is the case, do not respond.

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  54. Dmitry says:
    @Thorfinnsson
    His wife was the daughter of a baroness.

    Hard to call his observations about international trade novel either given that they were written more than four centuries after the voyages of Prince Henry the Navigator.

    Large scale international trade in the Baltic and North Seas was in Marx's time at least 800 years old, and in the Mediterranean has now been going on for 4,000 years.

    The Silk Road is 3,000 or more years old, and the Indian Ocean trade is 2,000 years old.

    We have actual archaeological records showing things like iron extracted from Spain being turned into industrial products in Italy and from there ending up in China 2,000 years ago. Some tombs of Egyptian Pharaohs from 3,000 years old have silk in them, which was not made outside of China until Byzantine times.

    Perhaps we should consider Marx the Malcolm Gladwell of the 19th century.

    These paragraphs in the Communist Party Manifesto of 1848, are the same as criticisms of globalization today.

    Final paragraph in below quote makes me think of China’s relation with the world economy today:

    Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify.

    All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

    The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.

    The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country.

    In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Thorfinnsson
    This isn't a critique. It's an exaltation.

    Marx was in favor of international free trade as he hoped it would increase class consciousness.
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  55. @Anatoly Karlin

    In most of Europe the bourgeoisie was not, in fact, opposed to the nobility. It saw the nobility as a model to emulate and a rank to aspire to.
     
    Very true.

    I don't know if Marx wrote about it or even knew about it, but another interesting fact is that during the French Revolution, it was the Second Estate (nobles) who voted the most radically; the Third Estate (bourgeoisie) were the most conservative, with the First (priests) in between.

    A lot of the continental nobility ended up fairly radicalized in the 18th century. The fundamental cause was likely the usurpation of their traditional powers, privileges, and role by absolute monarchs. The proximate cause was of course continent-wide status competition by sponsoring “Enlightenment” cranks and digesting their toxic propaganda. The new requirements of nobles to spend endless time at court essentially doing nothing but partying destroyed the vigor of the entire class, and also set in motion the disastrous modern fertility transition.

    After the Restoration the nobility tended to alternate between British (constitutional monarchy) and neo-feudal ideas. The class however was basically exhausted outside of perhaps old Prussia.

    Tired: The French Revolution destroyed the nobility

    Wired: Louis XIV destroyed the nobility

    Read More
    • Replies: @5371
    Only the highest French nobility had to spend a lot of time at court (and incidentally, only they experienced a premature fall in fertility). That didn't apply to the great majority of the estate.
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  56. @Dmitry
    These paragraphs in the Communist Party Manifesto of 1848, are the same as criticisms of globalization today.

    Final paragraph in below quote makes me think of China's relation with the world economy today:


    Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify.

    All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

    The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.

    The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country.

    In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.
     

    This isn’t a critique. It’s an exaltation.

    Marx was in favor of international free trade as he hoped it would increase class consciousness.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dmitry
    He's criticizing, but in the same time seeing it as "part of story with a happy ending" as it the disillusionment and destruction of "ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions " that leads to eventual revolutionary consciousness (this is a religious Messianism element in his narrative).
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  57. AP says:
    @Anatoly Karlin

    ... prior to mass literacy people wouldn’t have voluntarily gotten themselves slaughtered by the millions for the sake of some national flag
     
    Doubt it... see e.g. Paraguay in the War of the Triple Alliance. They were pretty enthusiastic about it.

    Demographically, makes what Serbia (also highly illiterate at the time) underwent in WW1 seem quaint.

    It seems that the main difference is that states back then had less organizational and resource capacity to undertake mass mobilizations. So mobilizing unenthusiastic people (e.g. for the Sun King's wars) was harder.

    Doubt it… see e.g. Paraguay in the War of the Triple Alliance. They were pretty enthusiastic about it.

    I could be wrong, but IIRC Paraguay was a center of Missionary activity and had a surprisingly high literacy rate for its region. It was a sort of South American Prussia. This culture was mostly destroyed in the war that claimed ~70% of the male population.

    Demographically, makes what Serbia (also highly illiterate at the time) underwent in WW1 seem quaint.

    Literacy in Yugoslavia (pg. 161)

    In 1900 Serbian males were 66% illiterate, Yugoslav males overall were 52.5% illiterate.

    There is no specific data for 1921 but Yugoslav males overall were 40% illiterate in 1921. If the drop in illiteracy was even across all areas, this would make a rate of about 56% illiteracy for Serb males. This would naturally skew towards older ones – the majority of young fighting-age Serb males was probably literate at the time of World War I. They were capable of being given nationalist propaganda.

    Also, Serbia was invaded and occupied.

    So mobilizing unenthusiastic people (e.g. for the Sun King’s wars) was harder.

    By all accounts mobilization of young people was enthusiastic.

    I found Celine’s funny, and very true, passage:

    It’s the philosophers . . . another point to look out for while we’re at it … who first started giving the people ideas . . , when all they’d known up until then was the catechism! They began, so they proclaimed, to educate the people . . . Ah! What truths they had to reveal! Beautiful! brilliant! unprecedented truths! And the people were dazzled! That’s it! they said. That’s the stuff! Let’s go and die for it! The people are always dying to die! That’s the way they are! ‘Long live Diderot!’ they yelled. And ‘Long live Voltaire!’ They, at least, were first-class philosophers. And long live Carnot too, who was so good at organizing victories! And long live everybody! Those guys at least don’t let the beloved people molder in ignorance and fetishism! They show the people the roads of Freedom! Emancipation! Things went fast after that! First teach everybody to read the papers! That’s the way to salvation! Hurry hurry! No more illiterates! We don’t need them anymore! Nothing but citizen soldiers! Who vote! Who read! And who fight! And who march! And send kisses from the front! In no time the people were good and ripe! The enthusiasm of the liberated has to be good for something, doesn’t it? Danton wasn’t eloquent for the hell of it. With a few phrases, so rousing that we can still hear them today, he had the people mobilized before you could say fiddlesticks! That was when the first battalions of emancipated maniacs marched off! … the first voting, flagmatic suckers that Dumouriez led away to get themselves drilled full of holes in Flanders!…The free-gratis soldier . . . was something really new … So new that when Goethe arrived in Valmy, Goethe or not, he was flabbergasted. At the sight of those ragged, impassioned cohorts, who had come of their own free will to get themselves disemboweled by the King of Prussia in defense of a patriotic fiction no one had ever heard of, Goethe realized that he still had much to learn. This day,’ he declaimed grandiloquently as befitted the habits of his genius, ‘marks the beginning of a new era!’ He could say that again! The system proved successful . . . pretty soon they were mass-producing heroes, and in the end, the system was so well perfected that they cost practically nothing. Everyone was delighted. Bismarck, the two Napoleons, Barrès, Elsa the Horsewoman.The religion of the flag promptly replaced the cult of heaven, an old cloud which had already been deflated by the Reformation and reduced to a network of episcopal money boxes. In olden times the fanatical fashion was: ‘Long live Jesus! Burn the heretics!’ . . . But heretics, after all, were few and voluntary . . . Whereas today vast hordes of men are fired with aim and purpose..”

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  58. Dmitry says:
    @Thorfinnsson
    This isn't a critique. It's an exaltation.

    Marx was in favor of international free trade as he hoped it would increase class consciousness.

    He’s criticizing, but in the same time seeing it as “part of story with a happy ending” as it the disillusionment and destruction of “ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions ” that leads to eventual revolutionary consciousness (this is a religious Messianism element in his narrative).

    Read More
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  59. AP says:
    @reiner Tor
    While you're correct that Freud mostly sold his snake oil to the educated classes, which were probably otherwise of higher quality than they are today (if only because they were a smaller, much more select group), but Freud really was a total fraud, and I think it's a very bad thing if he's still being taught at medical schools. (A psychiatrist guy told me some fifteen years ago that in the 1990s at university they had a book with the title of 'What Freud got wrong' or similar as required reading. I don't think he should be taught otherwise.)

    While you’re correct that Freud mostly sold his snake oil to the educated classes, which were probably otherwise of higher quality than they are today (if only because they were a smaller, much more select group), but Freud really was a total fraud,

    Nonsense. And some of his insights are even finding empirical support.

    http://discovermagazine.com/2014/april/14-the-second-coming-of-sigmund-freud

    Skip the article’s sentimental stories in the beginning and you get

    They could do worse than look to Freud for inspiration, suggests Eric Kandel of Columbia University, a Nobel Prize-winning expert on learning and memory and one of the most respected voices in neuroscience. “Flawed as it may be, Freud’s is still a coherent and intellectually satisfying view of the mind,” says Kandel. “You can’t have a meaningful science of the brain without having a meaningful science of the mind.”

    “Although many details of Freud’s theories are wrong, some of his major ideas have been borne out. One of those trailblazing observations concerns the scope and influence of unconscious thought”..

    In a study that is now legend, cognitive scientist Benjamin Libet asked people to press a button whenever they felt like it while he monitored the electrical activity in their brains. He could see that movement-controlling brain regions become active about a quarter of a second before subjects said they’d consciously decided to push the button. Some unconscious part of the brain decided well before the conscious mind did.

    Since then, thousands of studies have proven that people process most information, especially social data like other people’s behavior, unconsciously. We also make many decisions without much input from conscious thought. If anything, Freud underestimated the power and sophistication of unconscious thought, says social psychologist Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia. The nature of unconscious thought that emerges from contemporary experiments is radically different from what Freud posited so many years ago: It looks more like a fast, efficient way to process large volumes of data and less like a zone of impulses and fantasies. But he was absolutely right to put it at the center of psychology.

    Another Freudian premise that reappears in current science is that our minds are inherently conflicted, the terrain of a struggle between instinctual impulses and inhibitory mechanisms. Instead of the Freudian terms idand ego, biologists use neuroanatomical descriptions: Motivations like pleasure and reward arise from circuits in the limbic system, a center of emotion, loosely parallel to the id. The prefrontal cortex handles self-control and the override of habitual responses, sort of like the ego. The difference isn’t just a matter of terminology; Freud’s id was a chaotic zone that inspired barbaric, unpredictable behavior, whereas the limbic system is tightly regulated, the origin of rigid and inflexible emotional reactions. But the big picture — of a mind at war with itself — is fundamentally the same, says Bradley Peterson, chief of child psychiatry and director of MRI research at Columbia University, who also trained as a psychoanalyst. “

    Etc., etc.

    :::::::::::

    His wholesale rejection in some circles (not nearly as much in elite ones) is symptomatic of a general dumbing down of elite society. As is the popularity of pop versions of his ideas in the humanities.

    Read More
    • Agree: utu
    • Replies: @Dmitry
    Have you read the book by Freud "Discontent with Civilization"?

    I have tried to read this, but did not finish it. (Although it seemed interesting while I was reading it).
    , @Bukephalos
    Gregory Cochran positively hates him. I'll find the time, someday, to read Michel Onfray's book about him, where iirc he absolutely savages him for his scientific "input" but still finds some value in him as a philosopher.

    Having had the intuition of unconscious thought carries as much scientific validity as Democritus making a lucky guess about the existence of atoms, though.

    , @reiner Tor
    What I read about Freud is that his ideas were either idiocies (I have read numerous examples), or things which others have developed before him (usually long before him). I'd need to read his corpus to form an independent opinion, and frankly, I'm not that interested, because I trust the authorities I read on it a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

    Though even if what I read is true, he might be given credit for popularizing those ideas. The problem is, by mixing it up with so much nonsense, he did probably at least as much harm as good.
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  60. Dmitry says:
    @AP

    While you’re correct that Freud mostly sold his snake oil to the educated classes, which were probably otherwise of higher quality than they are today (if only because they were a smaller, much more select group), but Freud really was a total fraud,
     
    Nonsense. And some of his insights are even finding empirical support.

    http://discovermagazine.com/2014/april/14-the-second-coming-of-sigmund-freud

    Skip the article's sentimental stories in the beginning and you get

    They could do worse than look to Freud for inspiration, suggests Eric Kandel of Columbia University, a Nobel Prize-winning expert on learning and memory and one of the most respected voices in neuroscience. “Flawed as it may be, Freud’s is still a coherent and intellectually satisfying view of the mind,” says Kandel. “You can’t have a meaningful science of the brain without having a meaningful science of the mind.”

    "Although many details of Freud’s theories are wrong, some of his major ideas have been borne out. One of those trailblazing observations concerns the scope and influence of unconscious thought"..

    In a study that is now legend, cognitive scientist Benjamin Libet asked people to press a button whenever they felt like it while he monitored the electrical activity in their brains. He could see that movement-controlling brain regions become active about a quarter of a second before subjects said they’d consciously decided to push the button. Some unconscious part of the brain decided well before the conscious mind did.

    Since then, thousands of studies have proven that people process most information, especially social data like other people’s behavior, unconsciously. We also make many decisions without much input from conscious thought. If anything, Freud underestimated the power and sophistication of unconscious thought, says social psychologist Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia. The nature of unconscious thought that emerges from contemporary experiments is radically different from what Freud posited so many years ago: It looks more like a fast, efficient way to process large volumes of data and less like a zone of impulses and fantasies. But he was absolutely right to put it at the center of psychology.

    Another Freudian premise that reappears in current science is that our minds are inherently conflicted, the terrain of a struggle between instinctual impulses and inhibitory mechanisms. Instead of the Freudian terms idand ego, biologists use neuroanatomical descriptions: Motivations like pleasure and reward arise from circuits in the limbic system, a center of emotion, loosely parallel to the id. The prefrontal cortex handles self-control and the override of habitual responses, sort of like the ego. The difference isn’t just a matter of terminology; Freud’s id was a chaotic zone that inspired barbaric, unpredictable behavior, whereas the limbic system is tightly regulated, the origin of rigid and inflexible emotional reactions. But the big picture — of a mind at war with itself — is fundamentally the same, says Bradley Peterson, chief of child psychiatry and director of MRI research at Columbia University, who also trained as a psychoanalyst. "
     
    Etc., etc.

    :::::::::::

    His wholesale rejection in some circles (not nearly as much in elite ones) is symptomatic of a general dumbing down of elite society. As is the popularity of pop versions of his ideas in the humanities.

    Have you read the book by Freud “Discontent with Civilization”?

    I have tried to read this, but did not finish it. (Although it seemed interesting while I was reading it).

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  61. @AP

    While you’re correct that Freud mostly sold his snake oil to the educated classes, which were probably otherwise of higher quality than they are today (if only because they were a smaller, much more select group), but Freud really was a total fraud,
     
    Nonsense. And some of his insights are even finding empirical support.

    http://discovermagazine.com/2014/april/14-the-second-coming-of-sigmund-freud

    Skip the article's sentimental stories in the beginning and you get

    They could do worse than look to Freud for inspiration, suggests Eric Kandel of Columbia University, a Nobel Prize-winning expert on learning and memory and one of the most respected voices in neuroscience. “Flawed as it may be, Freud’s is still a coherent and intellectually satisfying view of the mind,” says Kandel. “You can’t have a meaningful science of the brain without having a meaningful science of the mind.”

    "Although many details of Freud’s theories are wrong, some of his major ideas have been borne out. One of those trailblazing observations concerns the scope and influence of unconscious thought"..

    In a study that is now legend, cognitive scientist Benjamin Libet asked people to press a button whenever they felt like it while he monitored the electrical activity in their brains. He could see that movement-controlling brain regions become active about a quarter of a second before subjects said they’d consciously decided to push the button. Some unconscious part of the brain decided well before the conscious mind did.

    Since then, thousands of studies have proven that people process most information, especially social data like other people’s behavior, unconsciously. We also make many decisions without much input from conscious thought. If anything, Freud underestimated the power and sophistication of unconscious thought, says social psychologist Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia. The nature of unconscious thought that emerges from contemporary experiments is radically different from what Freud posited so many years ago: It looks more like a fast, efficient way to process large volumes of data and less like a zone of impulses and fantasies. But he was absolutely right to put it at the center of psychology.

    Another Freudian premise that reappears in current science is that our minds are inherently conflicted, the terrain of a struggle between instinctual impulses and inhibitory mechanisms. Instead of the Freudian terms idand ego, biologists use neuroanatomical descriptions: Motivations like pleasure and reward arise from circuits in the limbic system, a center of emotion, loosely parallel to the id. The prefrontal cortex handles self-control and the override of habitual responses, sort of like the ego. The difference isn’t just a matter of terminology; Freud’s id was a chaotic zone that inspired barbaric, unpredictable behavior, whereas the limbic system is tightly regulated, the origin of rigid and inflexible emotional reactions. But the big picture — of a mind at war with itself — is fundamentally the same, says Bradley Peterson, chief of child psychiatry and director of MRI research at Columbia University, who also trained as a psychoanalyst. "
     
    Etc., etc.

    :::::::::::

    His wholesale rejection in some circles (not nearly as much in elite ones) is symptomatic of a general dumbing down of elite society. As is the popularity of pop versions of his ideas in the humanities.

    Gregory Cochran positively hates him. I’ll find the time, someday, to read Michel Onfray’s book about him, where iirc he absolutely savages him for his scientific “input” but still finds some value in him as a philosopher.

    Having had the intuition of unconscious thought carries as much scientific validity as Democritus making a lucky guess about the existence of atoms, though.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dmitry
    It's a typical historical pattern. A certain worldview predominates over a generation. Later generations have to violently oppose and discredit it, in order to escape.

    But that requires exaggerating a little in the other direction.


    We have a similar situation with discussions of existence of racial differences in group intelligence/personality. And in questions of acquired characteristics.

    Having had the intuition of unconscious thought carries as much scientific validity as Democritus making a lucky guess about the existence of atoms, though.

     

    Democritus had no ability to do experiments, and no systematic knowledge of the field. So it is not comparable to modern physics.

    Whereas psychology has not yet made any revolutionary steps to systematic knowledge, and is still in the barbaric stage.

    The main difference between Freud/Jung, and the current psychology, is that they had a terrible methodology from even a social-science perspective, using stories of individual patients as their evidence, and their own philosophical beliefs and random intuitions.

    Whereas in current psychology, there is a strong belief in methodology that uses representative samples, statistical significances, etc.

    The newer psychology is obviously an improvement - but it still has no real theory of consciousness, or of systematic physical correlates of consciousness, so it is still not close to approaching a (non-social) scientific standard.
    , @5371
    Anyone who thinks Freud intuited the unconscious has never read, or even read much about, Hartmann or Schopenhauer.
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  62. songbird says:
    @Miletus
    ''I did earnestly try to read Capital on about three separate occasions in my early twenties, before I wised up and stopped wasting my time on a pointless historical relic.

    At a basic level, Marx is just a very poor writer''

    Let me see. Someone, who by his own admission, has never even bothered to seriously read Marx ... then comes to the conclusion that he (Marx) 'is a very poor writer'. Hmmm, that's interesting. Could it possibly be that you are a very poor reader? Too sophisticated was it?

    Perhaps a little intellectual humility is called for here.

    I think there are very few writers that one can appreciate through effort. Shakespeare might be one, but he was born in the 1500s and had an obvious poetical bent.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dmitry
    This is for literature. Other fields like philosophy, science, politics, economics, etc - the style of writing should not be relevant to the content.

    For example, Kant is a very bad style of writing - but it is one of the most important philosophies.
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  63. Dmitry says:
    @Bukephalos
    Gregory Cochran positively hates him. I'll find the time, someday, to read Michel Onfray's book about him, where iirc he absolutely savages him for his scientific "input" but still finds some value in him as a philosopher.

    Having had the intuition of unconscious thought carries as much scientific validity as Democritus making a lucky guess about the existence of atoms, though.

    It’s a typical historical pattern. A certain worldview predominates over a generation. Later generations have to violently oppose and discredit it, in order to escape.

    But that requires exaggerating a little in the other direction.

    We have a similar situation with discussions of existence of racial differences in group intelligence/personality. And in questions of acquired characteristics.

    Having had the intuition of unconscious thought carries as much scientific validity as Democritus making a lucky guess about the existence of atoms, though.

    Democritus had no ability to do experiments, and no systematic knowledge of the field. So it is not comparable to modern physics.

    Whereas psychology has not yet made any revolutionary steps to systematic knowledge, and is still in the barbaric stage.

    The main difference between Freud/Jung, and the current psychology, is that they had a terrible methodology from even a social-science perspective, using stories of individual patients as their evidence, and their own philosophical beliefs and random intuitions.

    Whereas in current psychology, there is a strong belief in methodology that uses representative samples, statistical significances, etc.

    The newer psychology is obviously an improvement – but it still has no real theory of consciousness, or of systematic physical correlates of consciousness, so it is still not close to approaching a (non-social) scientific standard.

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  64. 5371 says:
    @Dmitry
    Marx was clearly extremely intelligent, but for bizarre and cultish (you could say evil) goals.

    I can read today some of his text, and you see in the sentence many careful and subtle qualifiers (because he is carefully building up a theory). His way of thinking contains far more layers, than a normal writer (or anyone writing today). It's writing in the way of '4D chess'.

    At the same time, the end result of his theory is something quite evil.

    You can see his argument against money below.

    He's arguing in an extremely clever and multi-layered way, for an extremely bizarre and idiotic conclusion.

    We talk about IQ on this page. And Marx's arguments are like a religious or cult sermon, aimed at tricking people with a high-IQ into following his point of view. The point of view itself is an extremely bizarre one, but watching his argument constructed, is like watching professional chess players.

    That which is for me through the medium of money – that for which I can pay (i.e., which money can buy) – that am I myself, the possessor of the money. The extent of the power of money is the extent of my power. Money’s properties are my – the possessor’s – properties and essential powers. Thus, what I am and am capable of is by no means determined by my individuality. I am ugly, but I can buy for myself the most beautiful of women. Therefore I am not ugly, for the effect of ugliness – its deterrent power – is nullified by money. I, according to my individual characteristics, am lame, but money furnishes me with twenty-four feet. Therefore I am not lame. I am bad, dishonest, unscrupulous, stupid; but money is honoured, and hence its possessor. Money is the supreme good, therefore its possessor is good. Money, besides, saves me the trouble of being dishonest: I am therefore presumed honest. I am brainless, but money is the real brain of all things and how then should its possessor be brainless? Besides, he can buy clever people for himself, and is he who has [In the manuscript: ‘is’. – Ed.] power over the clever not more clever than the clever? Do not I, who thanks to money am capable of all that the human heart longs for, possess all human capacities? Does not my money, therefore, transform all my incapacities into their contrary?

    If money is the bond binding me to human life, binding society to me, connecting me with nature and man, is not money the bond of all bonds? Can it not dissolve and bind all ties? Is it not, therefore, also the universal agent of separation? It is the coin that really separates as well as the real binding agent – the [...] [One word in the manuscript cannot be deciphered. – Ed.] chemical power of society.

    Shakespeare stresses especially two properties of money:

    1. It is the visible divinity – the transformation of all human and natural properties into their contraries, the universal confounding and distorting of things: impossibilities are soldered together by it.

    2. It is the common whore, the common procurer of people and nations.

    The distorting and confounding of all human and natural qualities, the fraternisation of impossibilities – the divine power of money – lies in its character as men’s estranged, alienating and self-disposing species-nature. Money is the alienated ability of mankind.

    That which I am unable to do as a man, and of which therefore all my individual essential powers are incapable, I am able to do by means of money. Money thus turns each of these powers into something which in itself it is not – turns it, that is, into its contrary.

    If I long for a particular dish or want to take the mail-coach because I am not strong enough to go by foot, money fetches me the dish and the mail-coach: that is, it converts my wishes from something in the realm of imagination, translates them from their meditated, imagined or desired existence into their sensuous, actual existence – from imagination to life, from imagined being into real being. In effecting this mediation, [money] is the truly creative power.

    No doubt the demand also exists for him who has no money, but his demand is a mere thing of the imagination without effect or existence for me, for a third party, for the [others],||XLIII| and which therefore remains even for me unreal and objectless. The difference between effective demand based on money and ineffective demand based on my need, my passion, my wish, etc., is the difference between being and thinking, between that which exists within me merely as an idea and the idea which exists as a real object outside of me.

    If I have no money for travel, I have no need – that is, no real and realisable need – to travel. If I have the vocation for study but no money for it, I have no vocation for study – that is, no effective, no true vocation. On the other hand, if I have really no vocation for study but have the will and the money for it, I have an effective vocation for it. Money as the external, universal medium and faculty (not springing from man as man or from human society as society) for turning an image into reality and reality into a mere image, transforms the real essential powers of man and nature into what are merely abstract notions and therefore imperfections and tormenting chimeras, just as it transforms real imperfections and chimeras – essential powers which are really impotent, which exist only in the imagination of the individual – into real powers and faculties. In the light of this characteristic alone, money is thus the general distorting of individualities which turns them into their opposite and confers contradictory attributes upon their attributes.

    Money, then, appears as this distorting power both against the individual and against the bonds of society, etc., which claim to be entities in themselves. It transforms fidelity into infidelity, love into hate, hate into love, virtue into vice, vice into virtue, servant into master, master into servant, idiocy into intelligence, and intelligence into idiocy.

     

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/power.htm

    This famous passage, while turgid, is powerful, and a good example of why a 2/10 grade for the whole work is unjust.

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  65. 5371 says:
    @Bukephalos
    Gregory Cochran positively hates him. I'll find the time, someday, to read Michel Onfray's book about him, where iirc he absolutely savages him for his scientific "input" but still finds some value in him as a philosopher.

    Having had the intuition of unconscious thought carries as much scientific validity as Democritus making a lucky guess about the existence of atoms, though.

    Anyone who thinks Freud intuited the unconscious has never read, or even read much about, Hartmann or Schopenhauer.

    Read More
    • Replies: @songbird
    Freud is (1) a matter of ethnic pride for Jews - like Columbus used to be for Italians, before the PC police came after him. And (2) he is (largely as a consequence of #1) a pop culture phenomenon.

    He is, and never was, much else.

    Einstein is also #1 and #2. He is more important, but doesn't really justify being thought of as the greatest brain ever. Other than he has a funny-sounding and therefore memorable name, which isn't true of a guy like Newton, who has a very easy to remember but humdrum name.
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  66. 5371 says:
    @Thorfinnsson
    A lot of the continental nobility ended up fairly radicalized in the 18th century. The fundamental cause was likely the usurpation of their traditional powers, privileges, and role by absolute monarchs. The proximate cause was of course continent-wide status competition by sponsoring "Enlightenment" cranks and digesting their toxic propaganda. The new requirements of nobles to spend endless time at court essentially doing nothing but partying destroyed the vigor of the entire class, and also set in motion the disastrous modern fertility transition.

    After the Restoration the nobility tended to alternate between British (constitutional monarchy) and neo-feudal ideas. The class however was basically exhausted outside of perhaps old Prussia.

    Tired: The French Revolution destroyed the nobility

    Wired: Louis XIV destroyed the nobility

    Only the highest French nobility had to spend a lot of time at court (and incidentally, only they experienced a premature fall in fertility). That didn’t apply to the great majority of the estate.

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    I think that would still be a huge problem, because the lower nobility often looked up to the aristocracy for guidance or ways to emulate. By causing harm to the highest status group in the country (while keeping them high status) could easily have led to lower fertility in the upper classes and later in the general population. I find it interesting that I read somewhere about lower French fertility rates already in the late 18th century.
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  67. 5371 says:
    @Thorfinnsson
    Read Gregory Clark's research.

    In almost every society he studied he's found social mobility to be about the same as far back as records go.

    The major exception is India, where there has apparently never been any significant social mobility at all (lol).

    CNBC article on the original paper: https://www.cnbc.com/2013/10/30/whats-in-a-name-wealth-and-social-mobility.html

    2013 paper is available here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Neil_Cummins/publication/260387815_Surnames_and_Social_Mobility/links/00b49530f4cbf0f685000000.pdf

    Preindustrial social mobility is invisible to us as the era before mass schooling, corporations, etc. is foreign to us. A good example is the New Men in England during the end of the Middle Ages. Richard Empson, one of the most powerful men in the realm, was allegedly the son of a sieve maker and smallholder.

    Clark’s methods are, to put it politely, unsound.

    Read More
    • Replies: @reiner Tor
    Could you be a bit more specific?
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  68. @5371
    Only the highest French nobility had to spend a lot of time at court (and incidentally, only they experienced a premature fall in fertility). That didn't apply to the great majority of the estate.

    I think that would still be a huge problem, because the lower nobility often looked up to the aristocracy for guidance or ways to emulate. By causing harm to the highest status group in the country (while keeping them high status) could easily have led to lower fertility in the upper classes and later in the general population. I find it interesting that I read somewhere about lower French fertility rates already in the late 18th century.

    Read More
    • Replies: @5371
    No, but the gentry continued to have solid fertility when not only that of dukes had collapsed far below replacement, but a strong decline had set in even for peasants in several parts of the country.
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  69. @AP

    While you’re correct that Freud mostly sold his snake oil to the educated classes, which were probably otherwise of higher quality than they are today (if only because they were a smaller, much more select group), but Freud really was a total fraud,
     
    Nonsense. And some of his insights are even finding empirical support.

    http://discovermagazine.com/2014/april/14-the-second-coming-of-sigmund-freud

    Skip the article's sentimental stories in the beginning and you get

    They could do worse than look to Freud for inspiration, suggests Eric Kandel of Columbia University, a Nobel Prize-winning expert on learning and memory and one of the most respected voices in neuroscience. “Flawed as it may be, Freud’s is still a coherent and intellectually satisfying view of the mind,” says Kandel. “You can’t have a meaningful science of the brain without having a meaningful science of the mind.”

    "Although many details of Freud’s theories are wrong, some of his major ideas have been borne out. One of those trailblazing observations concerns the scope and influence of unconscious thought"..

    In a study that is now legend, cognitive scientist Benjamin Libet asked people to press a button whenever they felt like it while he monitored the electrical activity in their brains. He could see that movement-controlling brain regions become active about a quarter of a second before subjects said they’d consciously decided to push the button. Some unconscious part of the brain decided well before the conscious mind did.

    Since then, thousands of studies have proven that people process most information, especially social data like other people’s behavior, unconsciously. We also make many decisions without much input from conscious thought. If anything, Freud underestimated the power and sophistication of unconscious thought, says social psychologist Timothy Wilson of the University of Virginia. The nature of unconscious thought that emerges from contemporary experiments is radically different from what Freud posited so many years ago: It looks more like a fast, efficient way to process large volumes of data and less like a zone of impulses and fantasies. But he was absolutely right to put it at the center of psychology.

    Another Freudian premise that reappears in current science is that our minds are inherently conflicted, the terrain of a struggle between instinctual impulses and inhibitory mechanisms. Instead of the Freudian terms idand ego, biologists use neuroanatomical descriptions: Motivations like pleasure and reward arise from circuits in the limbic system, a center of emotion, loosely parallel to the id. The prefrontal cortex handles self-control and the override of habitual responses, sort of like the ego. The difference isn’t just a matter of terminology; Freud’s id was a chaotic zone that inspired barbaric, unpredictable behavior, whereas the limbic system is tightly regulated, the origin of rigid and inflexible emotional reactions. But the big picture — of a mind at war with itself — is fundamentally the same, says Bradley Peterson, chief of child psychiatry and director of MRI research at Columbia University, who also trained as a psychoanalyst. "
     
    Etc., etc.

    :::::::::::

    His wholesale rejection in some circles (not nearly as much in elite ones) is symptomatic of a general dumbing down of elite society. As is the popularity of pop versions of his ideas in the humanities.

    What I read about Freud is that his ideas were either idiocies (I have read numerous examples), or things which others have developed before him (usually long before him). I’d need to read his corpus to form an independent opinion, and frankly, I’m not that interested, because I trust the authorities I read on it a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

    Though even if what I read is true, he might be given credit for popularizing those ideas. The problem is, by mixing it up with so much nonsense, he did probably at least as much harm as good.

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  70. @5371
    Clark's methods are, to put it politely, unsound.

    Could you be a bit more specific?

    Read More
    • Replies: @5371
    Surnames don't mean what he thinks they mean.
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  71. songbird says:
    @5371
    Anyone who thinks Freud intuited the unconscious has never read, or even read much about, Hartmann or Schopenhauer.

    Freud is (1) a matter of ethnic pride for Jews – like Columbus used to be for Italians, before the PC police came after him. And (2) he is (largely as a consequence of #1) a pop culture phenomenon.

    He is, and never was, much else.

    Einstein is also #1 and #2. He is more important, but doesn’t really justify being thought of as the greatest brain ever. Other than he has a funny-sounding and therefore memorable name, which isn’t true of a guy like Newton, who has a very easy to remember but humdrum name.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dmitry

    Einstein is also #1 and #2. He is more important, but doesn’t really justify being thought of as the greatest brain ever. Other than he has a funny-sounding and therefore memorable name, which isn’t true of a guy like Newton, who has a very easy to remember but humdrum name.

     

    Einstein is most important physicist in the field of theoretical physics, since Newton. Newton is still more famous.

    Also everyone who studies mechanics at school should know some basic equations of Newtonian mechanics, as it remains accessible to the student.

    In any list by theoretical physicists of greatest theoretical physicists, across different languages - it is:
    1. Newton.
    2. Einstein.

    (Well sometimes, the other way round - but always these two as the top two)

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  72. While I do agree that “Capital” is virtually unreadable, I don’t think it is because Marx was a bad writer. Simply, the entire idea of “political economy” is absurd & one can’t extract anything meaningful from whole conceptual framework (surplus value is a metaphysical concept, something Wolfgang Pauli would term as “not even wrong”).

    Many eminent economists & historians of ideas have written about Marx’s failures, but- surprise, surprise- the best short analysis of “Capital” is, as far as I’m concerned, not in serious works of Schumpeter, Kolakowski, Austrian school.., but in gossipy Paul Johnson’s “Intellectuals”, chapter on Marx.

    http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=4AE5E9B2599AFE51303ACA004BA01C06

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  73. 5371 says:
    @reiner Tor
    Could you be a bit more specific?

    Surnames don’t mean what he thinks they mean.

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  74. 5371 says:
    @reiner Tor
    I think that would still be a huge problem, because the lower nobility often looked up to the aristocracy for guidance or ways to emulate. By causing harm to the highest status group in the country (while keeping them high status) could easily have led to lower fertility in the upper classes and later in the general population. I find it interesting that I read somewhere about lower French fertility rates already in the late 18th century.

    No, but the gentry continued to have solid fertility when not only that of dukes had collapsed far below replacement, but a strong decline had set in even for peasants in several parts of the country.

    Read More
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  75. Dmitry says:
    @songbird
    Freud is (1) a matter of ethnic pride for Jews - like Columbus used to be for Italians, before the PC police came after him. And (2) he is (largely as a consequence of #1) a pop culture phenomenon.

    He is, and never was, much else.

    Einstein is also #1 and #2. He is more important, but doesn't really justify being thought of as the greatest brain ever. Other than he has a funny-sounding and therefore memorable name, which isn't true of a guy like Newton, who has a very easy to remember but humdrum name.

    Einstein is also #1 and #2. He is more important, but doesn’t really justify being thought of as the greatest brain ever. Other than he has a funny-sounding and therefore memorable name, which isn’t true of a guy like Newton, who has a very easy to remember but humdrum name.

    Einstein is most important physicist in the field of theoretical physics, since Newton. Newton is still more famous.

    Also everyone who studies mechanics at school should know some basic equations of Newtonian mechanics, as it remains accessible to the student.

    In any list by theoretical physicists of greatest theoretical physicists, across different languages – it is:
    1. Newton.
    2. Einstein.

    (Well sometimes, the other way round – but always these two as the top two)

    Read More
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  76. Dmitry says:
    @songbird
    I think there are very few writers that one can appreciate through effort. Shakespeare might be one, but he was born in the 1500s and had an obvious poetical bent.

    This is for literature. Other fields like philosophy, science, politics, economics, etc – the style of writing should not be relevant to the content.

    For example, Kant is a very bad style of writing – but it is one of the most important philosophies.

    Read More
    • Replies: @songbird
    The other difficulty in reading Marx is that his work is in part a proposal or prediction, and we already have much of the history, which is naturally more interesting.
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  77. songbird says:
    @Dmitry
    This is for literature. Other fields like philosophy, science, politics, economics, etc - the style of writing should not be relevant to the content.

    For example, Kant is a very bad style of writing - but it is one of the most important philosophies.

    The other difficulty in reading Marx is that his work is in part a proposal or prediction, and we already have much of the history, which is naturally more interesting.

    Read More
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