A Science for Everyone, Demography

Thinking Karl Marx

I suspect that today’s average leftist or socialist has left a bunch of Karl Marx’ writings unread.  The big thing to remember is that Karl spent a lot of years studying capitalism, identified a lot of systemic inequities, then proposed communism as an alternative.  Since the closest thing to his proposed communism at the time was the utopian socialist agenda, and utopian socialism wasn’t a major player, he didn’t have a lot of examples of the inequities that occur under socialism.

I tend to look at things from a demographic perspective – and I do use Marx’ Social Conflict Paradigm.  As we look at Marx’ terms, and attempt to fit them in with today’s political parties, we find a spot where his structure doesn’t match today’s parties.

Karl had divisions among the Bourgeoisie – the haute bourgeoisie and the petit bourgeoise.  Marx expected the concentration and centralization of capital would, sooner or later, put the petit bourgeoisie into the ranks of the working class (like the peasants would become the proletariat regardless of their attachment to the land.  The petit bourgeoisie basically hired laborers and worked alongside them.  The haute bourgeoisie on the other hand, didn’t work alongside the wage slaves they hired.

So if I look at the folks who drive the game, Soros, Gates, Musk, Zuckenberg, Dorsey, Pelosi, etc. qualify as haute bourgeoisie, while Rand Paul as an MD is a great example of the petit bourgeoisie.  I think Donald Trump might be a better fit as a petit bourgeoisie than as one of the haute bourgeoisie – the top cutoff line is definitely well above a million dollars.

The difference between the proletariat and the lumpenproletariat is the difference between the skilled and semi-skilled workforce and the chronically unemployed.   Marx studied capitalism – but, born in Prussia in 1818, lived under the late stages of feudalism instead of something more similar to our system where votes select the leadership.  The university system at the time was just beginning to break away from church dominance – Marx hypothesized about a more ideal social system during a time of tremendous social change.  There is a bit of irony in the fact that Karl Marx could complete a Ph.D. but never hold a job other than journalism.  We live in a time when many, like Marx, are highly educated but do not find particularly great employment.

Marx saw the haute bourgeoisie, the petit bourgeoisie, the proletariat, and the lumpenproletariat.  He didn’t foresee the emergence of a highly educated class that crossed into all those four groups.  That intelligentsia with minimal capital is a fifth group that screws up Marx’ hypothesis – largely by taking jobs in the bureaucracies of government and education.  Max Weber studied bureaucracies after Marx died.  To understand Marx, we need to remember he wrote hypothetically of a world that he understood largely from his studies of capitalism.  The new educated class may not have the property to fit well with the petit bourgeoisie, but they give orders and make good incomes.

So if we look at today’s politics, we see the left, the left – as home to an alliance of haute bourgeoisie and the lumpenproletariat – something that Marx’ dialectic did not predict.  While Karl did see the petit bourgeoisie learning that their best interests were shared with the proletariat, he never saw the petit bourgeoisie allying with the working class proletariats to become the dissatisfied republican voters.  The educated class that Marx didn’t consider can either give orders like the petit bourgeoisie, follow orders like the proletariat workers, or be fundamentally as hard to employ as the lumpenproletariat – but they tend to identify with the left. 

Some of Marx’ writings and thoughts created a solid foundation for my own work.  I appreciate the good work he did.  On the other hand, he died 140 years ago.  There are many things he did not foresee – and a college educated proletariat subgroup is one of them.  The college educated lumpenproletariat was likely even harder for Marx to envision. 

A Science for Everyone, Community, Laws, Ordinances & Regulations

The Petit Bourgeoisie Role in Irish Democracy

Karl Marx thought the petit bourgeoisie would have a decisive role in the revolution – and I can’t think of better, more salt of the earth, examples of petit bourgeoisie than owner-operator truckers, farmers, and ranchers.  To Karl, the petit bourgeoisie were the small merchants, the self-employed artisans . . . folks who owned at least a part of their means of production.

I’ve known quite a few owner-operator truckers, and met a whole lot more.  A CDL alone and the driver is a proletariat.  A CDL, with a down payment and a bank loan, and you’re looking at a member of the petit bourgeoisie.  The social distinction between proletariat and petit bourgeoisie isn’t hard to cross in the trucking business.  I doubt if there are a whole lot of haute bourgeoisie in the trucking industry, but the business converts the proletariat to petit bourgeoisie overnight.

And truckers are near-natural participants in Irish Democracy – uncoordinated, wide-spread civil disobedience.  The multitude of regulations over the industry create awesome opportunities for civil disobedience.  The petit bourgeoisie with a restaurant has to stay put and conform.  The trucker, with 18 wheels, is harder to locate. 

It is hard to think of an occupation more likely to bring Irish democracy into a political rally.  I have often listened to owner/operators who explained the need to keep two separate sets of books to make a living.  I recall the popularity of CB radios that announced where the bear was on the road.  I recollect radar detectors. “Irish democracy”  may be more pervasive among truckers than in Ireland.  And the Canadian government decided that they would need to quarantine for two weeks after crossing the US border.  If you look at populations (the old demographer talking here) about 70 percent of Canadians live further south than I do in Trego.  Somewhere around 85% of Canadians live within 100 miles of the US border.  Geography and demography have a lot of influence on where truckers drive. 

Truckers – particularly owner-operators – are an occupation that can be described in Marxist terms.  A member of the lumpenproletariat with a commercial drivers license, a bank loan and a used truck moves into the petit bourgeoisie.  Equally important, if the truck goes and there is still money owed to the bank, he is back in the lumpenproletariat.  Close to the bottom margin of the petit bourgeoisie, the owner operator is in a position where carefully picking which regulations he (or she) observes makes the day more profitable.  The two week quarantine would end that trucker’s ability to make the payments on the truck.  Heck, a couple of hours beyond the legal allotment helps the bottom line.  Trucking is an industry that practices Irish Democracy during the good times.

So I’m watching my northern neighbors – they started with a Freedom Convoy driving to Ottawa, and now trucks and tractors have closed the main 24 hour crossing between Montana and Canada, over by Sweetgrass.  By Stalin era definitions, the petit bourgeoisie are right wing – so I can understand the cartoonist who labels the trucks fascist, and how the national media calls the convoy “right wing.”  Different ideologies have differing definitions. The libertarian sees a fascist as someone who comes up with, or enforces, rules that interfere with freedom. 

 It seems a bit strange that left-wing politicians turned out unable to use Marx’ definitions, class descriptions and the dialectic to see that the truckers were the social class, the industry, that could bring the protest to the capitol.  The small businessman with the restaurant, motel or grocery store is stuck in place.  Eighteen wheels and a diesel engine is a business that makes Irish Democracy more natural than compliance.

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.