The fatal flaw in Marxism

Discussion in 'Politics' started by BennyF, Nov 10, 2010.

  1. billvon Valued Senior Member

    All ideologies are based on human nature. Capitalism is based on greed. Communism is based on altruism. But just as there are no purely altruistic people (or purely greedy people) both of those things are unrealistic, and attempts to implement them in their pure forms fail.
    Exactly. Eventually you say "get your own damn food" - your greed overcomes your altruism.

    Likewise, imagine if you lived with a few friends and acquaintances and you said "everything I do - you are going to pay me for. I am a proud capitalist." They say "whatever" because the rent is cheap.

    Then one day your neighbor Jenny gets attacked in a parking lot and she calls you to come get her. "I don't have any money," she says. "They stole it." And you decide to abandon your ideology and go pick her up.

    Capitalism, like socialism or communism, does not mirror human nature accurately either.
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  3. river

    Seattle said↑
    What Human Nature ? Define

    Hence the Compromise Between the Two , is what Advanced Countries do . Some better than others .
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2020
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  5. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Communism is not based on altruism. Many capitalist setups are not based on greed.

    You are comparing concepts from two different category levels. Capitalism is a large category with many and disparate subcategories of political arrangements; many different setups come under that heading. It compares with socialism - which likewise includes many different setups (authoritarian vs libertarian, for example).
    Communism is a subcategory of socialism - authoritarian communism would compare less confusingly with fascism (authoritarian capitalism).
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  7. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    In my opinion, Karl Marx's slogan "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!" embodies a perverse set of disincentives. It rewards lack of ability, since the less able won't be required to work as hard. And it rewards neediness, since the neediest will receive the most.
  8. billvon Valued Senior Member

    At the most basic level - yes, they are.

    What drives capitalism is the desire to get more money. In capitalism, money directly provides comfort, leisure, medical care, housing, food, all the necessities and luxuries of life. It indirectly provides status and political power. A successful capitalist is one who accumulates lots of money. Someone in a capitalist society who does not want any money, and does not work to get any, is considered a failure.

    What drives communism is the theory that society, through its collective wisdom and altruism, will provide each person what they need. In return communism expects labor from each member to support the system that allows them to provide what people need. There have been no very successful large communist societies out there but small societies (communes) work.
  9. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Yea! Send those infants and epileptics to work in the coalmines! Cull the old and sickly! Reward hard wor.... well, no, actually, that wouldn't leave enough profit for the most worthy. Reward the ownership of coalmines where other people can work hard for minimum wage, unless you can get undocumented refugees to work even harder for a fraction of that.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2020
  10. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    "Slogan" ?

    It's a statement of criteria for evaluation of an economic system: To the extent a national economic system fails to draw upon the abilities of its citizens, or fails to provide for their needs, it is failing according to Marx.

    Would you claim otherwise? I doubt that many reasonable people would regard an economic system that suppressed ability and neglected needs as a good one, a desirable setup.
    - - - -
    Depends on the setup.
    Nothing drives capitalism, any more than baseball. Capitalists are often driven by the desire to get more money - not all of them, of course, and different setups abet different motives.
    Not "directly", some of that. But never mind - bigger point:
    As noted above, it depends on the setup. Try taking as your example the slave plantation economies of the Confederacy - they were capitalist.
    Society does not have "collective altruism". People have such motives, not abstract systems.
    Communist economies are set up with communities - not a "society" - at their base. By definition.
    And that describes (when the confusion of community and society has clarified) the theoretical benefits of setting up a communist economy, not its "driver". You can set things up so the driver is fear or pride or lust or greed - any reasonably powerful and reliable human motive.
    Some of the American Indian communistic setups comprised tens of thousands of people in dozens of different communities.
    And you are still trying to compare capitalism with communism. As noted above, that's a category error - they occupy different logical levels, so valid comparisons are quite difficult.
  11. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 70 years old Valued Senior Member

    From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!

    There are many flaws in the statement the main one is who makes the various decisions?

    If you make your own ability you will slack off, make your own need you will over estimate

    There are other defects ino the slogan (yes it is a slogan)

    Try to find a group of honest, fair minded, thrifty, compassionate, knowledgeable, educated dictators. Might be able to do something with those

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  12. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    People do. In every system, regardless of its economic basis. If the system is democratic, all the people have a say; if it's autocratic, only those in power can make decisions.
    If I made my own ability, I'd sing and repair machinery way better than I do. Ability isn't something you can "make"; it's what you get when natural talent is given appropriate training and sufficient opportunity.
    You "make your own need" by jumping off a balcony in order to cripple yourself. Otherwise, need is a compounding of age, physical condition and environment.
    Or, hold clean, inclusive elections for a generation.
  13. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 70 years old Valued Senior Member

    Precisely and the decisions made favour those doing the making

    If I have the ability to dig a ditch for 10 hours I am going to decrease my ability and slack off

    If I need a car to travel to work I need a car. A VW is a car. I over estimate and need a Rolls Royce

    Think have more chance finding

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  14. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Communism is inefficient. You end up with a smaller economy. If the idea is to have the largest economy so that you can do the most (whatever you want to "do") then Capitalism has been the best approach so far.

    You can work all day and just feed your population or fewer can work and you can feed the world. All you have to do is get over misconceptions of "greed" and worrying about equal outcomes.

    Communism is a reaction to those complaining that "life isn't fair". You can have "fair" or you can have a better life.

    By the way, life isn't fair.
  15. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Which is why the less corrupt a democracy is, the more it tends toward socialism: if the people are allowed to decide, they decide in favour of the people.
    I'm not exactly sure what you think the word ability means.
    No, you don't.
    Of course. Ruling classes of every stripe corrupt political systems to favour themselves.
  16. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Correct. Capitalists are driven by the desire to get more money. That's what drives capitalism, just as the desire to win games by getting more runs in than your opponent drives baseball.
    Absolutely right. Plantation owners wanted to make more money, and they found that by employing slaves they could do just that. So they purchased them. Capitalism was one of the main reasons that slavery lasted as long as it did. Few in the South wanted slavery because they thought it was morally correct; they wanted it mainly because their economy was based on the cheap labor it provided.
    It does indeed. That's why many societies do things that are not profitable but help its members. Handicapped ramps are an example. Without support by non-disabled people, they would never have happened.
    Systems created by people express the motives of the people who comprise it.
    You can indeed. And as I mentioned, capitalism is set up so that greed drives it; communism, driven by altruism.
    Exactly. At levels of hundreds to thousands they work well. At tens of thousands they start to work poorly, but can still work. For hundreds of millions - they don't work well at all.
  17. billvon Valued Senior Member

    In communism you get a bus pass. In capitalism you want a Rolls Royce but end up buying a used Yaris.
  18. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Capitalism is just an efficient way to allocate resources. It's an economic system not a political system. The political system is where the handicap ramps come in although capitalism is still the system that allocates resources to build them.
  19. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    That's always true.
    That's why democracy was invented.
    Always the central problem - with any system. Best to have it on the table.

    Besides, Marx was correct in that respect; we should evaluate economic systems on those criteria: Does it draw from each their ability, and for each provide their needs?
    Given any system: To the extent it does not meet those basic criteria, it's not working well - agreed?
  20. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    By me, absolutely, but i don't think we have consensus.
    That ability clause, for example. Somebody who is terrific at math may be able to dig a ditch all day, but he probably won't enjoy it as he would figuring out how to allocate next year's turnip crop, while somebody who can stock shelves but feels his powerful muscles atrophy day by day might be more happily and productively employed on an irrigation system. And nobody, not one character, in Office Space was happy. Abilities vary, but people are generally happiest and most productive when doing their best for the best possible reason: using their talents and strength and intelligence as part of a team, in the service of their community, and being duly appreciated by that community.
    A baby needs nourishment, hygiene, shelter, warmth, security, affection and stimulation. If it's given all that it needs, unconditionally, it has a pretty fair chance of becoming a healthy, willing and productive member of the society. If not, it will die, fail to thrive or become a predator on that society.
    A nurse who has contracted Covid-19 while tending patients suddenly becomes unable to perform her work, and needs a great deal of tending herself. Make sure she gets all that she needs, and in a few weeks, she'll be back at work, and maybe contributing valuable serum for the development of a vaccine. Deny her care, and you lose a valuable asset - either through her death or because she goes sour on an ungrateful system and tells you where to stick it.
    Pretty simple, really.
  21. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Depends on the setup.
    If it doesn't incorporate reasonably free markets, if instead it's set up as monopolies and monopsonies or some other such arrangement,
    it will fail to allocate resources efficiently - often spectacularly, as in the Iraq War.
    The slave plantations of the American Confederacy illustrate such failure. In the end that capitalist system was unable to produce enough gunpowder for its backers to kill their neighbors, or enough willing backers to make the attempt. Had the Confederacy been unable to confiscate some of the wealth of the Union, its ports and forts and railroads and such especially, that war never would have been started.
    - - - -
    As long as one insists on comparing the incommensurable - a broad class of widely varied and disparate systems with a restricted subset of closely related setups, say - no sense will be made.

    But allowing for the essential wrong-footing: In Cuba, to pick one, under communism you got a bus pass and a hospital to go to ; under capitalism you were promised a car but ended up dying in a roadside ditch, no doctor involved.
    Compare free and capitalist Haiti with even the authoritarian communism of a Cuba subjected to forty years of military and economic blockade (a forty year siege) by the most powerful nation on the planet.
    - - -
    Examples of not meeting the "from each" ability criterion ( and the "need" criterion, less directly). Not the best of systems, whatever it is.
  22. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    The slave owning Confederacy is hardly a prime example of capitalism at work. The Union was the better example of capitalism.

    Regarding Haiti and Cuba. Cuba is a good example of something (?) only in a relative sense to when comparing it to an even worse government.

    Capitalism is the economic structure. Pair it with a corrupt government and you still have a mess. Even a great government though isn't going to make Communism an efficient allocator of resources. Efficiency isn't what Communism does.
  23. billvon Valued Senior Member

    No, a government passes laws that require them to be built, and then allocates the money to build them on public thoroughfares. The money to do that comes from taxes, not profits.
    Both were good examples of capitalism - each one pushing policies that maximized their profits. For the South, that was slavery.

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