Weird Words

Developing International Socialism

As you could figure, the problem with Marx’ theoretical communism is in two concepts – first “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” kind of breaks down fast in the real world scenario, and second, when all property is publicly owned,  real decision-making is in the hands of the manager.  Lincoln Electric is our closest example – with the slogan “owned by the people we serve.”  I remember how many of the owners showed up over 30 years ago to take the co-op back – and what an unusual accomplishment it was.  The cooperative is technically owned by the members – but it is controlled by the manager except for rare occasions.

The term for the manager controlling a socially owned means of production was first used by Joseph Weydemeyer – a lieutenant colonel in the Union army, a Republican and a Marxist. He formed the first Marxist organization in the US.  I never did get a quiet chance to ask Winton Weydemeyer politely about what he might know about Joseph, and still regret the unasked question – there just never was a courteous opportunity.   Anyway, since a socially owned means of production can’t be managed by the owners, Joseph Weydemeyer gave us the term “dictatorship of the proletariat.”  It is an important term in differentiating between Marx’ view of communism and the international socialism we think of as communism.

While Marxist communism couldn’t get past this management problem, it wasn’t a problem until the Russian Revolution.  All at once the communists had a big country to manage – and the successor to Marxism was Leninism.

“Leninism can be explained as the political theory that works towards the organization of a vanguard party which is revolutionary and achieves to attain dictatorship of the proletariat in order to establish socialism. This vanguard party’s aim was supposed to provide the proletariat consciousness about their class in order to destroy capitalism in Imperial Russia. He knew that imperialism was caused by capitalism and it was the exorbitant point of capitalism. Communism is a higher form than that of capitalism, it was proposed that the revolution by the proletariat had to occur first in the economically and industrially advanced countries.

According to Lenin, the Communist party consisted of a scientific understanding of the history and of a society guided by the Marxist principles. They were deeply committed to ending capitalism and replacing it with socialism. They believed that this was only possible with the acquisition of political power. The aim of achieving this political power made them do anything that was possible, be it violence or revolution if required. Lenin argued that the workers or proletariats alone could acquire revolutionary and class consciousness that was needed. Deep within he was afraid that the proletariats would become easily content with smaller gains in their living as well as working conditions acquired through the various trade union activities. He feared that the proletariats would be diverted easily in their motive to dethrone capitalism. This was the point where Leninism differed from Marxism. For the Marxists, material conditions were enough to facilitate the workers to realize their need for revolting . . . Some of the unprecedented results of Leninism were that its pursuit of creating a socialist society led to the creation of a totalitarian state where all the social, economic, cultural, aspects of life were being controlled by the Communist party. Marxism and Leninism predicted the victory of the proletariat; it resulted instead in the increased power of the state.”

Basically, Joseph Weydemeyer and V. I. Lenin melded the dictatorship of the proletariat to the utopian socialist ideals of Robert Owens and the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels to develop the ideology of Leninism – the ideology of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – international socialism.

Community, Demography

Karl Marx Condensed

I notice a bunch of folks claiming to know the difference between socialism, communism, and fascism – and some of the explanations suggest they never read the manifesto.  So ride along with me for a condensed version of the manifesto.

First of all, Karl Marx studied capitalism – and saw that more and more capital wound up owned by very few people.  Glance online, and see the cheerful pictures of Bezos, Gates, Zuckerberg, etc.  It’s hard to argue with that observation.  For sociologists, Marx came up with the basis of social conflict theory – he based it on economic class.

The ten points of the manifesto are:

  1. Abolish private ownership of land and apply all land rent to public purposes.
  2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
  3. Abolish all rights of inheritance.
  4. Confiscate the property of all emigrants and rebels.
  5. Centralize credit with a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
  6. Centralize State controlled means of communication and transport.
  7. Extend factories and means of production (State owned);  bring wastelands into cultivation, and improve the soil in accord with a common plan.
  8. Equal liability of all to work. Establish industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
  9. Combine agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradually abolish the distinction between town and country by a more equitable distribution of the population.
  10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolish child factory labor.

It’s important to remember that Karl Marx studied early capitalism and examined its flaws.  He theorized that communism would eliminate those flaws.  The contemporary socialism of the time was French Utopian Socialism – far different than today’s versions of socialism, and, with the relatively recent French Revolution, recognizing the concept of social conflict.

We could go farther – graduate seminars go into a lot more detail – but this is a condensed version, just to provide enough background to be able to call BS on the ignorant ideologues.