Why I'm no longer a Marxist - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#15127393
Many will find it hard to believe or think i'm lying, but I used to be a Marxist for over a decade in my idealistic younger days. I read my share of Marx/Engels, Gramsci, Wallerstein/World Systems Theory, Dependency Theory etc. In response to my friend @ckaihatsu:

ckaihatsu wrote:This is why the concept / strategy of *vanguardism* is important, because many people, and even entire countries, may want to just stand to the side while the proactive *revolution* takes place. (My motto is 'Don't be a counterrevolutionary.')

The issue here is why should people listen to these Marxist "vanguardians", based on their past failures over the past couple of centuries? Applied Marxist theory has been quite wrong in the past in a great many applications looking at the case studies. Why should any rational person trust that "this time" Marxists have it right? We're talking about millions or billions of lives and livelihoods that could be made much worse.

There's a great amount of risk to become a willing participant in these kinds of trial-and-error real-world social experiments that affect so many. For me, I'm always willing to change my mind if a new system comes along that real-world evidence shows is better. Capitalism is far from perfect. I'm just not willing to risk wanting to turn my successful country into eastern Europe without robust evidence that it works elsewhere and would be better than the status quo. To do otherwise is illogical if not insane.

Here's a question: Let's say a doctor gives you a choice between 2 vaccines you can take to prevent a deadly disease. The 1st vaccine is the standard one which has been been through rigorous scientific human testing trials & has been used by billions over the last 100 years & has been shown to be 70% effective in preventing the disease with some side effects occurring in some people. The 2nd vaccine by a different company is theorized to be 95% effective in preventing the disease with little to no side effects, but zero scientific human trails have been done to test its safety/effectiveness. Also, this 2nd company has produced a few dozens other untested vaccines over the past century that made the exact same claims about effectiveness and side effects, and virtually all of them turned out to be only about 40% effective and gave many people serious side effects including death.

Now, which vaccine should most people logically choose?

Marxists are like these scientists who work at the 2nd company who spend their lives in a lab trying to find a better vaccine and keep claiming they have found "the cure" & want everyone to jab a needle in their arms having never actually tested it. Sorry but theory and good intentions just aren't good enough. I spent my time in the Marxist lab looking for "the cure". I didn't find it, & I highly doubt it will ever be found. My advice to Marxists is to stop wasting so much precious time in your lives chasing magic fairies millions have been chasing for 170 years that nobody has found & likely never will. Go get laid & go get paid.
#15127418
This sounds more against the risk of a revolution not creating the opportunity for a better way of life and failing in some significant sense than it seems a criticism specifically of Marxism.

I don’t think all who advocate revolution seriously necessarily engage in mere adventurism. If they do, then they’re fucking idiots who aren’t concerned with what they’ll do after the revolution. Not that it has to be some perfect dream in the sky plan, but there certainly are problems that emerged from pst attempts that need answers.
#15127424
Wellsy wrote:This sounds more against the risk of a revolution not creating the opportunity for a better way of life and failing in some significant sense than it seems a criticism specifically of Marxism.

I don’t think all who advocate revolution seriously necessarily engage in mere adventurism. If they do, then they’re fucking idiots who aren’t concerned with what they’ll do after the revolution. Not that it has to be some perfect dream in the sky plan, but there certainly are problems that emerged from pst attempts that need answers.

Good reply, thank you. Those that propose country-wide or worldwide socialist revolution are engaging in adventurism though. I don't understand why some of these ideas can't be tried on smaller scales like cities, states, provinces etc, or smaller countries first. Or socialist reform brought in gradually...such as a creeping nationalization of industries in one country to see how things go, and adjust accordingly.

Something like the American Revolution and US Constitution didn't happen overnight. Liberal democracy in the West had been built in steps gradually since the Magna Carta. Before 1776 in the UK you had the Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, the Habeas Corpus Act 1679, and their Bill of Rights of 1689 etc. slowly taking eroding power from the Monarchy and Feudal Lords.
#15127442
Unthinking Majority wrote:Something like the American Revolution and US Constitution didn't happen overnight.

It's rather going to happen as the Civil War did, I think, although I don't mean it literally. It won't be like founding a new country, it will more likely be a transformation based on the North vs South divide and dynamics, which is transforming the country right now again actually. The next one will be the Marxist thing perhaps.
#15127447
Beren wrote:It's rather going to happen as the Civil War did, I think, although I don't mean it literally. It won't be like founding a new country, it will more likely be a transformation based on the North vs South divide and dynamics, which is transforming the country right now again actually. The next one will be the Marxist thing perhaps.


Very doubtful. They can't even get Bernie Sanders nominated lol. A bunch of kids raging in the streets and on twitter aren't representative of the vast majority of Americans. The silent majority doesn't make headlines, they go to work and bring their kids to soccer practice etc.

Young people are really fucking stupid, though they mean well. That's hard for me to admit because I was a young university kid once, and I thought I was really smart and wise about the world. Turns out if you still live with mom and dad's or just recently moved out you really don't know jack shit about how the world works. You're literally just a baby bird that just left the nest when there's a whole world out there to encounter, and wolves trying to eat you where you now have to fend for yourself. There's lots of stuff they don't teach you in school, and most people learn it the hard way.
#15127448
Unthinking Majority wrote:Very doubtful. They can't even get Bernie Sanders nominated lol.

By the next one I mean the next big transforming round, this current one is not the Marxists' time.
#15127452
Unthinking Majority wrote:Very doubtful. They can't even get Bernie Sanders nominated lol. A bunch of kids raging in the streets and on twitter aren't representative of the vast majority of Americans.


No, but the kids are the next generation and as such are part of the next stage of political thinking.

Dia-Mat was never intended to be a quick anyway. Just small things that change society massively over time due to contradictions they create and this can be seen today during the Covid culsterfuck. And on the whole America is more progressive today than it was 100 in any case with or without covid. Put in that Marx never went into massive detail what Communism would look like but how it would occur and you can see he has been proven right in much of his thinking although he was perhaps wrong where it occurred first.
#15127460
Unthinking Majority wrote:Many will find it hard to believe or think i'm lying, but I used to be a Marxist for over a decade in my idealistic younger days. I read my share of Marx/Engels, Gramsci, Wallerstein/World Systems Theory, Dependency Theory etc. In response to my friend @ckaihatsu:


The issue here is why should people listen to these Marxist "vanguardians", based on their past failures over the past couple of centuries? Applied Marxist theory has been quite wrong in the past in a great many applications looking at the case studies. Why should any rational person trust that "this time" Marxists have it right? We're talking about millions or billions of lives and livelihoods that could be made much worse.

There's a great amount of risk to become a willing participant in these kinds of trial-and-error real-world social experiments that affect so many. For me, I'm always willing to change my mind if a new system comes along that real-world evidence shows is better. Capitalism is far from perfect. I'm just not willing to risk wanting to turn my successful country into eastern Europe without robust evidence that it works elsewhere and would be better than the status quo. To do otherwise is illogical if not insane.

Here's a question: Let's say a doctor gives you a choice between 2 vaccines you can take to prevent a deadly disease. The 1st vaccine is the standard one which has been been through rigorous scientific human testing trials & has been used by billions over the last 100 years & has been shown to be 70% effective in preventing the disease with some side effects occurring in some people. The 2nd vaccine by a different company is theorized to be 95% effective in preventing the disease with little to no side effects, but zero scientific human trails have been done to test its safety/effectiveness. Also, this 2nd company has produced a few dozens other untested vaccines over the past century that made the exact same claims about effectiveness and side effects, and virtually all of them turned out to be only about 40% effective and gave many people serious side effects including death.

Now, which vaccine should most people logically choose?

Marxists are like these scientists who work at the 2nd company who spend their lives in a lab trying to find a better vaccine and keep claiming they have found "the cure" & want everyone to jab a needle in their arms having never actually tested it. Sorry but theory and good intentions just aren't good enough. I spent my time in the Marxist lab looking for "the cure". I didn't find it, & I highly doubt it will ever be found. My advice to Marxists is to stop wasting so much precious time in your lives chasing magic fairies millions have been chasing for 170 years that nobody has found & likely never will. Go get laid & go get paid.


Not exactly. This misses the point of the Northern European countries. It depends what you consider them though and I have to admit that they can be classified as Socialist but most likely Liberal Capitalist with heavy socialist leaning or something like that. Still, it is not so grim for the socialist/communist camp as you put it. There are alternatives besides the heavy handed approaches that failed or failing right now.
#15127496
Unthinking Majority wrote:Good reply, thank you. Those that propose country-wide or worldwide socialist revolution are engaging in adventurism though. I don't understand why some of these ideas can't be tried on smaller scales like cities, states, provinces etc, or smaller countries first. Or socialist reform brought in gradually...such as a creeping nationalization of industries in one country to see how things go, and adjust accordingly.

Something like the American Revolution and US Constitution didn't happen overnight. Liberal democracy in the West had been built in steps gradually since the Magna Carta. Before 1776 in the UK you had the Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, the Habeas Corpus Act 1679, and their Bill of Rights of 1689 etc. slowly taking eroding power from the Monarchy and Feudal Lords.

Why do you emphasize the US constitution and not the war of independence itself and the conditions there of?
The possibility of such a document would not have happened otherwise. Although revolutions seem to build up in the case of more direct confrontation, but reforms have occurred with the many social movements which don’t seek to overturn society as much as partially change it.
But I imagine the issue is that the conflict of different ways of life do not settle in such partial ways, if one asserts that a way of life is the ethical one, it is simply impotence that resorts to the liberal, everyone is free to partake in their own view of the good life. But this misses the essential relation in which modern life is dictated by capital and has encroached upon more and more social life such that one experiences others through the mediation of exchange more so than any voluntary association.
And it is in fact part of liberal ideology to assert the nonexistence of a common good as a means to defend the status quo based on an ethics of ones individual desires and consumption ie defense or the capitalist order while framing the open and endless choice in life. But rather you don’t get to do what ever you want and conflicts arise, its not as if the US itself is some hands off government looking at its own conflict during the cold war and anything it associated with socialism or communism.

And when one looks to say something like the amish and other communities, they are surrounded by a world dominated by capital and eventually are changed by such relations. There is increasing inequality as the Amish neeed to resort to paid work to sustain their booming population and commodify their culture for tourism.

Similarly, attempts of say workers running a company and having shares such as the example of mondragon while interesting don’t necessarily show themselves as embryonic to a future society. Perhaps you would like to engage with the points of evolutionary socialists or reformists who think socialism will gradually arrive by some necessity of the economy. But this seems to displace the role of a subject to change the world and makes them passive.

And one way that socia democrats are denounced if they believe it will lead to socialism is that they basically want a revolution without the revolution. They’re not really committed to trying to change things because they few the risks involved but there can never not be risks for such change as the class conflict is a war.
And the desire for changing the world if it comes from a critique of capitalism is that capitalism is global in nature, the socialism in one country is a kind of aberration in retreating from the struggle to focus inwardly.

And while I don’t think one can expect some sort of theoretical perfection lf the future, as this would be itopian. It does seem that many who aspire to communism haven’t made a proper study of Marxs capital and the such. The problem woth utopian socialists os that they have a dream of a new society without adequately understanding what it is about capitalism they oppose. Like they oppose exploitation, okay, so how do they explain such exploitation scientifically? This was Marxs critique of utopians and his need to write Capital.

But the problem today isn’t even utopians or those after a world revolution which if the opportunity was there they couldn’t even strike. The opposite of utopianism prevails today, the impossibility of imagining an alternative to capitalism. Let alone defining a path out of capitalism. And when i mentioned adventurism, it relates to intellectuals who wish to cause havoc independent the organized masses of workers. Such groups tend towards recklessness and terrorist acts that do not help at all to inspire and organize workers.
And this is another reason why I wouldn’t fear some revolution on the the part of leftists. There simply aren’t strong organization or groups of workers or people to press such changes. We have particularized social movements who don’t advocate changing capitalism but changing capitalist society.

This is a reflection of the suppression of leftists in a lot of the west. They’re weak theoretically, they are independent any organization of workers and many are pessimistic about real change even if they try to hope for something else. If a revolution occurs, it seems amply positioned for the right wing which is feel emboldened by right wing populism.

But this is all vague as typing things out quick on phone. More specific points would relate to debates over the nature and need for a revolution and the reasons why would oppose it as well as the theoretical revisionism of evolutionary socialists.
Although it seems to me the no alternative feeling simply has people aspire to social democracy as they know shits fucked and increasingly so with capitalism as the 20th century reforms were an anomaly of a capitalist crisis and strong working class which threatened it with welfare often being the product of unions but placed under the state.
Its simply the highest aspiration in a demoralized west.
#15127502
Wellsy wrote:
And it is in fact part of liberal ideology to assert the nonexistence of a common good as a means to defend the status quo based on an ethics of ones individual desires and consumption ie defense or the capitalist order while framing the open and endless choice in life.




That post was a rum mess.

That part was interesting because I get the feeling you are projecting. It sounds like you are using Buchanon's Virginia School, although you prob wouldn't know what it is even if you did. Friedman is the warm fuzzy PR side of Koch style libertarianism, Buchanon is what they're really about, burning the country to the ground so they can rule over the ashes.

I need to do a post about that. Anyway, the idea of a common good is one of the founding principles of the country, and of what you are calling liberalism.

The East Coast Establishment used to run the Republican party, after the West took it over, they got control of the Dem party. That may be what you are talking about, it's hard to tell.

I prob should have read the thread.
#15127514
I think the overall premise here is that basically Marxist want to upend everything in the current world, without really understanding if their ideas would really work. Further, the reason so many of us are against this, is that we don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water. :)
#15127518
late wrote:That post was a rum mess.

That part was interesting because I get the feeling you are projecting. It sounds like you are using Buchanon's Virginia School, although you prob wouldn't know what it is even if you did. Friedman is the warm fuzzy PR side of Koch style libertarianism, Buchanon is what they're really about, burning the country to the ground so they can rule over the ashes.

I need to do a post about that. Anyway, the idea of a common good is one of the founding principles of the country, and of what you are calling liberalism.

The East Coast Establishment used to run the Republican party, after the West took it over, they got control of the Dem party. That may be what you are talking about, it's hard to tell.

I prob should have read the thread.

It was indeed pretty messy as it wasn't an edited post in the slightest but trying to get thoughts out quickly before getting going for the morning.

And I base my point on a summary derived from Alisdair MacIntyre
https://www.ethicalpolitics.org/ablunden/pdfs/macintyre2.pdf
Maintenance of the illusion of “objectivity” is essential, and MacIntyre sees the universities as playing a crucial role in the maintenance of this illusion. Since academics rely for their livelihood on disproving each other’s theories, the resulting interminable and esoteric debate continuously re-establishes the impossibility of consensus.

“In the course of history liberalism, which began as an appeal to alleged principles of shared rationality against what was felt to be the tyranny of tradition, has itself been transformed into a tradition whose continuities are partly defined by the interminability of the debate over such principles. An interminability which was from the standpoint of an earlier liberalism a grave defect to be remedied as soon as possible has become, in the eyes of some liberals at least, a kind of virtue”. (p. 335)

Far from this failure to find any firm ground undermining liberalism, MacIntyre believes that it reinforces it, because one of the fundamental bases for liberalism is the conviction that no comprehensive idea (to use Rawls’ term) can enjoy majority, let alone unanimous, support. This then justifies the ban on governments pursuing the general good.

“Any conception of the human good according to which, for example, it is the duty of government to educate the members of the community morally, ... will be proscribed. ... liberal individualism does indeed have its own broad conception of the good, which it is engaged in imposing politically, legally, socially, and culturally wherever it has the power to do so, but also that in doing so its toleration of rival conceptions of the good in the public arena is severely limited.” (p. 336)

Such a ban on governments pursuing the social good of course serves a very definite social interest.

“The weight given to an individual preference in the market is a matter of the cost which the individual is able and willing to pay; only so far as an individual has the means to bargain with those who can supply what he or she needs does the individual have an effective voice. So also in the political and social realm it is the ability to bargain that is crucial. The preferences of some are accorded weight by others only insofar as the satisfaction of those preferences will lead to the satisfaction of their own preferences. Only those who have something to give get. The disadvantaged in a liberal society are those without the means to bargain.” (p. 336)

and consequently,

“The overriding good of liberalism is no more and no less than the continued sustenance of the liberal social and political order”. (p. 345)

In each of the historical settings that MacIntyre investigates, he is able to show that the type of justice and the type of rationality which appears to the philosophical spokespeople of the community to be necessary and universal, turns out to be a description of the type of citizens of the community in question. Accordingly, the justice of liberalism and the rationality of liberalism is simply that justice and that rationality of the “citizens of nowhere” (p. 388), the “outsiders,” people lacking in any social obligation or any reason for acting other than to satisfy their desires and to defend the conditions under which they are able to continue satisfying their desires. Their rationality is therefore that of the objects of their desire.


Liberalism is more akin to Hobbs war against all, many individual interests competing against one another. Any common good has arrived in spite of liberalism from illiberal struggles in civil society and their success.

A common good in the founding of the US is based on liberalism protection from others interfering with individual desire.
#15127519
Rancid wrote:I think the overall premise here is that basically Marxist want to upend everything in the current world, without really understanding if their ideas would really work. Further, the reason so many of us are against this, is that we don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water. :)


Why would the loser keep the status quo? Change is never risk free, but without risk there is no reward. Westerners in general benefit from capitalism, so perhaps this line of thinking is commonplace. Although the question remains that if the working class struggle to sustain a living or that economic turmoil causes a depression and significant job loses, would they remain docile and let the wealthy sit in their ivory towers as they struggle to feed their families? History says eventually everyone will revolt under the right conditions regardless what will come thereafter and that maybe we in the West are simply not there yet to change what we know doesn't work - which is Capitalism. :hmm:
#15127520
Rancid wrote:I think the overall premise here is that basically Marxist want to upend everything in the current world, without really understanding if their ideas would really work. Further, the reason so many of us are against this, is that we don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water. :)

I think this sentiment is more likely found in some anarchists than it is in Marxists as see with Lenin and others the sense that socialist builds upon capitalism and it's culture. The idea of starting from a clean slate is nonsense, although there is a desire to change things dramatically from the hegemony of capitalist ideology in daily living which needs to be changed.
https://internationalfriendsofilyenkov.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/artinian-2017-radical-currents-in-soviet-philosophy-vyyggy-ilyenkov.pdf
In order in renovate our state apparatus we must at all costs set out, first, to learn, secondly, to learn, and thirdly, to learn, and then see to it that learning shall not remain a dead letter, or a fashionable catch-phrase (and we should admit in all frankness that this happens very often with us), that learning shall really become part of our very being, that it shall actually and fully become a constituent element of our social life. (Lenin 1965: 488– 489)

In Gramsci’s terms, Lenin, but also politically astute philosophers like
Vygotsky and Ilyenkov, saw the need to engage in a “war of position,”
a protracted struggle waged over the entire “terrain” of Soviet society,
aiming for hegemony in all its domains. This opened a new difficult
chapter in the struggle, since the war of position was to be waged to
a large extent – as became apparent in the aftermath of the New Economic Policy, and especially during collectivization – against or within
the new Soviet political space.
#15127526
JohnRawls wrote:Not exactly. This misses the point of the Northern European countries. It depends what you consider them though and I have to admit that they can be classified as Socialist but most likely Liberal Capitalist with heavy socialist leaning or something like that. Still, it is not so grim for the socialist/communist camp as you put it. There are alternatives besides the heavy handed approaches that failed or failing right now.

The Scandinavian countries aren't socialist, they are capitalist with a strong social welfare system. Some industries have quite a bit of nationalization like healthcare or education but the vast majority of the economy is capitalist. This is the case to a bit lesser extend in many western countries besides the US.
#15127530
Wellsy wrote:Why do you emphasize the US constitution and not the war of independence itself and the conditions there of?

I didn't, I specifically mentioned the American Revolution as well as the US constitution.

This is a reflection of the suppression of leftists in a lot of the west. They’re weak theoretically, they are independent any organization of workers and many are pessimistic about real change even if they try to hope for something else. If a revolution occurs, it seems amply positioned for the right wing which is feel emboldened by right wing populism.

This seems like a US-centric view. There are a healthy amount of leftist parties in the West outside of the US. Not typically hardcore Marxists but many social democratic parties.
#15127538
Wellsy wrote:

Liberalism is more akin to Hobbes war against all, many individual interests competing against one another. Any common good has arrived in spite of liberalism from illiberal struggles in civil society and their success.




Yeah, if that isn't Buchanon, it's several miles too close for my comfort.

Not my cup of crazy.
#15127544
Wellsy wrote:Liberalism is more akin to Hobbs war against all, many individual interests competing against one another. Any common good has arrived in spite of liberalism from illiberal struggles in civil society and their success.

With liberalism, people compete, but they also cooperate when it's mutually beneficial. One company selling parts to other companies so they can produce products is cooperation based on mutual self-interest. Just like a person buying a product from a store. These are peaceful, voluntary and mutually beneficial interaction between both parties. Cooperation doesn't always mean charity. So it's not simply a "war against all", though i get your point, it's more complex than that. Liberalism is competition between individuals and entities that most often (certainly not always) produces overall benefits to society and the individuals in them.

There's always winners and losers, and there are also predatory "bad actors". In any healthy liberal system you also have to mix in rules and government laws or programs so that the losers aren't treated cruelly and have a fighting chance, and the winners play fair and their power isn't absolute, and bad actors can't get away with cheating the rules.

The international system is much more of a "war against all in the state of nature" situation. There is no global government to enforce laws to try to make the system more "fair" and avoid cruelty. International organizations like the UN or trade regimes like the WTO try to create a set of rules and laws, but the ability to enforce them is weak and there's no global police force/military to do it.

There exists both healthy competition that creates desirable overall outcomes for society, and there's also unhealthy competition that results in violence, war, theft, cruelty etc. The goal should always be to maximize the former while minimizing the latter. Marxists want to minimize competition with the main goal being cooperation for the common good, but one of the problems is how do you enforce this and deal with people who act self-interested? How do you ensure people put in maximum effort when the benefit is not to themselves but to the common good? There's incentive to not work hard when there's little/no personal consequences and little/no personal reward to work harder. You see that in a lot of union environments.
#15127562
Unthinking Majority wrote:The Scandinavian countries aren't socialist, they are capitalist with a strong social welfare system. Some industries have quite a bit of nationalization like healthcare or education but the vast majority of the economy is capitalist. This is the case to a bit lesser extend in many western countries besides the US.


In here lies the argument for socialism though. Nobody make it obligatory that the government should be the medium through which Socialism and Communism is achieved. It was just one of the implementations that failed. Is communal socialism/communism possible? Is "private property" socialism/communism possible?

So an implementation of socialism/communism within the confines of liberal capitalist democracy can also be considered socialism in my opinion. Just a kind of a morphed system. The reason why it works is because confining socialism in to liberal capitalist democracy makes the rough edges of socialism less problematic and addressable. Also Democracy, on average, is a far better feedback loop than the standard implementation of communism/socialism so iterations will be quicker if the system is not scraped.
#15127563
B0ycey wrote:
Why would the loser keep the status quo? Change is never risk free, but without risk there is no reward. Westerners in general benefit from capitalism, so perhaps this line of thinking is commonplace. Although the question remains that if the working class struggle to sustain a living or that economic turmoil causes a depression and significant job loses, would they remain docile and let the wealthy sit in their ivory towers as they struggle to feed their families? History says eventually everyone will revolt under the right conditions regardless what will come thereafter and that maybe we in the West are simply not there yet to change what we know doesn't work - which is Capitalism. :hmm:


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