Marxism’s arrogant assumptions
According to Marxist mantra, the capitalist system will collapse, because after the working class has gained class consciousness, they will overthrow their bosses in a revolution. In other words, the belief is that the communist ideal was a historically inevitable occurrence, i.e. there’s nothing one can do to stop it. Ernest van den Haag of Fordham University summarizes this Marxist position:
The class struggle between capitalists and proletarians unavoidably would become more intensive as capitalism develops: wealth is concentrated, the “misery”, i.e., poverty, of the proletariat grows, and crises and wars arise from the various “contradictions” of capitalism; ultimately the workers who have “nothing to lose but their chains,” overthrow the system and replace it with socialism which abolishes private ownership of the means of production – capital – and thus classes and class struggles.
This unfounded arrogance, of course, proved to be incorrect, with capitalism all but destroying global poverty and making life easier for everyone.
Today’s Marxists, be they in a Starbucks in the United States or a university lounge in South Africa, are living a life their parents and grandparents could only dream about, and they are bitching about it in a very radical and ungrateful way.
Wealth has not ‘concentrated,’ as the pie of wealth has only increased since Marx and Engels wrote their fictional dystopian tale so many years ago. African countries have the fastest-growing economies in the world, when only a few short years ago at the height of the Cold War and the height of Soviet-Sino influence, Africans were starving. The poor of today have access to transportation, cellular communication, virtually free education, and cheap fast food.
The so-called ‘contradictions’ of capitalism – at least capitalism in the free market sense – either proved to be false or were of a merely academic value. Free market capitalism has not led to one war in history, perhaps with the exception of the Cold War, but that is another example of Marxism’s self-fulfilling prophecy, which is discussed below.
Finally, the poor workers of the world have had no desire to overthrow anything. On the contrary, they have seen their peers escape the chains of poverty because the free market allowed them to do so. Destitution is going to be a thing of the past in the near future, and that bright future can only come quicker if we free our markets even more.
Marxism’s self-fulfilling prophecy
Imagine if John Doe writes a book theorizing that it is a historical inevitability that King Donald II will be assassinated on the second anniversary of his rule. On the second anniversary of Donald’s rule, John Doe assassinates him. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy, because Doe himself caused his own prophecy to become true.
Marxism is self-fulfilling because communism did not result from the ‘inevitable’ forces of class consciousness and historical progression. Instead, communism became the order of the day in many societies because of nothing other than Marxist agitation. It was Marxists, relying on Marx and his subsequent intellectual bedfellows, who manufactured class consciousness, not because of any real ‘shared class interests’ between diverse workers with their own views and goals, but because their Marxist leaders’ literature said so.
Van den Haag makes this point aptly:
If you convince people that they should act according to what you tell them are their class interests, they might. The prophecy becomes self-fulfilling. But the action comes from race or class propaganda – not from race or class as objective facts.
Conflict and the Marikana massacre
Thomas Piketty, the left’s newest rockstar economist who wrote Capital in the Twenty-First Century used an event from South Africa as his only contemporary example that free markets inevitably lead to conflict. This example was the so-called Marikana massacre of August 2012, when dozens of mine workers were shot dead by police during a wage strike. According to Marxist propagandists, blood was spilled because of exploitative capitalism in this epic battle of class warfare between the workers and the bosses. Bring about equality, or else this will keep happening, goes the Marxist mantra.
Gillian Schutte, a ‘social justice’ activist who constantly crusades against ‘neo-liberalism’ in South Africa’s press media, relied on Piketty’s use of the Marikana example in an article recently published in the Johannesburg newspaper The Star. According to Schutte, if South Africans want to avoid further bloodshed, we must do away with free markets and allow the dead hand of government to regulate us into prosperity.
What both Piketty and Schutte fail to mention or realize, of course, is the self-fulfilling nature of the Marxism underlying their theories.
The trade union agitators at Marikana were mostly, if not all, Marxists. It is not uncommon to see these agitators using megaphones to speak to the striking crowds, telling them that the executives at the mines are ‘exploiting’ them and are refusing to pay them more because of ‘greed’ or ‘racism’. This is rarely true, of course.
South Africa’s mining industry, for instance, is dying a slow and painful death because government nationalized minerals at the turn of the century, thereby stealing trillions in wealth from mining companies. South Africa is also experiencing a below 1% economic growth rate; we have one of the most unfriendly labour markets in the world where striking is common and easy, and freedom of contract is severely curtailed. Employing anyone in South Africa is a massive risk because of how difficult it is to get rid of them.
But these are all facts conveniently omitted when our Marxist agitators go about informing the workers how they are being oppressed for no reason other than greed or their race. Some class ‘consciousness’, huh?
Hans-Hermann Hoppe wrote an influential paper titled “Marxist and Austrian Class Analysis”, highlighting the similarities and differences between those two schools of economic thought. Hoppe wrote that Austrians and Marxists, in fact, agree that there exists such things as ‘exploitation’ and the ‘ruling class’. He however notes, correctly, that it is Austrian economics which provides the valid answers to many of the problems identified within Marxism. Writes Hoppe:
… what makes the rise of an exploitation firm possible, and what alone can in turn bring it down, is a specific state of public opinion or, in Marxist terminology, a specific state of class consciousness.
Only if and insofar as the exploited and expropriated develop a clear idea of their own situation and are united with other members of their class through an ideological movement that gives expression to the idea of a classless society where all exploitation is abolished, can the power of the ruling class be broken.
It is, of course, not our economic class which unites us as a ‘class’, but instead our subservience to the State. To break free from this is certainly a shared class interest among all individuals who aren’t consciously parasitic, everywhere.
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