Originally written to a poli-sci professor

[Yes, I defended Marx in an intro poli-sci classroom.  I think there’s some good insights in here, but again, I don’t think I’ll have the time to develop them…]

I would like to hear your thoughts and comments in reference to my thoughts below, if you have the time before next Monday.

As you stated, Marx saw things economically.  One of the major goals of economic systems is efficiency and maximizing production.  If all individuals in a society acted purely rationally, a sort of enlightened self-interest could be envisioned as the direct result.  That is, someone whose abilities were suited to intellectual labor would
naturally partake in such labor, someone who was not so skilled would choose manual labor rather than being inefficient.  Marx would, I think, state that choosing to get “stuff” is not true freedom, because it is an irrational desire created by another’s influence.  In this, he predicted manufactured discontent many decades before its formulation in the automobile industry (and from there, to marketing as a whole).  As I
understand it, humans who were truly free would be aware of their own needs and abilities, and would reject desires as irrational impulses.

This would also lead to a rational altruism, which is seen piecemeal in our society today (good benefits mean healthy workers which mean increased efficiency and profits).

That, I think, would also be his major downfall – he expected people to act rationally, once they knew better.  A modern example would be the desire to be a NBA star.  Any rational analysis indicates that most with that dream will never make it to college basketball, let alone the NBA – but yet, many with sub-standard (by NBA standards, anyway) abilities ignore the opportunity cost and focus on that elusive goal.  It’s
irrational, but commonplace [1].

What I said last night (that I disagreed with your reasons for Marx’s failings) wasn’t truly accurate;  it would be more accurate to say that I would put the emphasis differently – and that Marx’s idea of freedom is different, even incompatible, with the lassez-faire capitalistic idea.

What also struck me as especially interesting was the emphasis on economics;  a frequent justification of capitalistic injustice [2] in recent years has been to appeal to the need to greater efficiency, something that was also a goal of Marx’s system.  That emphasis on efficiency (in Marx) leads to unacceptable loss of freedom [3];  I’m
intrigued as to why it’s right-sided counterpart is seen as acceptable.

[1] I’d attribute it to some specific memes.  I mention this because I
may need to resort to that model of cognation for my paper, and if
you’re unfamiliar with the idea, I’d like to know ahead of time.
[2] Admittedly, *my* idea of injustice.
[3] From a generalized American point-of-view

Technorati Tags: marx, economics, politics, failures, capitalism, communism

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