Marx out of 5?

5 - Orthodox Marxist
9% (7 votes)
4 - Marx has a strong influence on your philosophy
51% (40 votes)
3 - Marx did some good
31% (24 votes)
2 - Marx is irrelevant
3% (2 votes)
1 - It would be better if he’d never existed
6% (5 votes)
Total votes: 78

Posted By

Lazy Riser
Aug 24 2005 18:44

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Lazy Riser
Aug 24 2005 18:44

Hi

Quote:
everything Marx ever said or wrote was and is without exception complete rubbish. The man was an idiot.

What do you give Marx out of 5? I’ll work out the average as we go along, and then we’ll know.

5 - Orthodox Marxist

4 - Marx has a strong influence on your philosophy

3 - Marx did some good

2 - Marx is irrelevant

1 - It would be better if he’d never existed

Revolutionary Passports Please.

LR

meanoldman
Aug 24 2005 18:47

"Marx has a strong influence on your philosophy" for me. Although if I was to give the guy marks out of 5 he'd get around 4.8.

And how come 5 is for orthodox Marxists, what about all those (10) autonomists?

Volin
Aug 24 2005 18:57

I put a 3 which might be surprising, but I don't hate him as much as those who purport to be his followers. I think he made a valuable contribution to understanding capitalism and to socialism, but it can only be of any meaning within a libertarian/anarchist context.

Bakunin all the way, but even he respected his work to some extent.

Lazy Riser
Aug 24 2005 18:58

Hi

You right brainers, you kill me. You really don’t like disambiguation do you? Marxist Autonomists in the Italian tradition should probably put down 5.

Love

Chris

meanoldman
Aug 24 2005 19:21

Hate it. I've spent my own time proving that there are only odd and even integers. I like rigorous definitions and proofs.

Lazy Riser
Aug 24 2005 19:42

Hi MoM

I thought that made you a left-brainer. Have I got my hemispheres mixed up?

http://www.funderstanding.com/right_left_brain.cfm

Love

Chris

sublimembject
Aug 24 2005 20:10

4, although I think (arrogant sod that I am) that I'm truer to Marx than the so-called orthodox Marxists.

Clyde
Aug 24 2005 23:38

replied orthodox marxist, but I think the word 'orthodox' may be wrong for me.

Refused
Aug 24 2005 23:48

I gave a 3. He loses a point for having a shit beard, and hanging around with geeks like Engels.

Peter Good
Aug 25 2005 07:44

Maybe the real people to ask are the millions of the 20th centuries supernumerary dead as to whether marxism was a force for liberation or a force for repression.

Peter Good (TCA)

pingtiao
Aug 25 2005 07:47

that was spectacularly simplistic Peter- well done!

Volin
Aug 25 2005 14:02

wtf, go back to Introductory Thought!

Lazy Riser
Aug 25 2005 15:34

Hi

The current average is 3.6. That's "sort of Marxist" in my book. I wouldn’t worry too much about being orthodox if I we’re you. If you think you’re orthodox, then you are.

Love

Chris

oisleep
Aug 25 2005 15:53
Lazy Riser wrote:

If you think you’re orthodox, then you are.

Steven.
Aug 25 2005 17:39
Peter Good wrote:
Maybe the real people to ask are the millions of the 20th centuries supernumerary dead as to whether marxism was a force for liberation or a force for repression.

Peter Good (TCA)

What an intelligent remark. You'd make a good sociology professor.

roll eyes

afraser
Aug 27 2005 01:02

Was Marx an Idiot?

Since the decline or collapse of the avowedly Marxist states it has become generally accepted that all is not well with Marxism. Karl Marx himself though has, so far, gotten off lightly within the left.

The Trotskyite view is that the problem was with Stalin and his apparatus, that Marxist-Leninism is fine if taken back to its original form plus perhaps a little more democracy.

The orthodox anarchist view - by that I am thinking of 20th century Marxist influenced anarchists - is that the problem was with all the Bolsheviks, Lenin and Trotsky as much as Stalin, but that variants of Marxism outside or pre-dating Marxist-Leninism - Rosa Luxemburg, Council Communists - are fine, or at least reasonably acceptable.

Each group, and they are both equally anti-Stalinist, is going back further in time to their own particular golden age of Marxism, which is claimed was not then the horrible system it later became.

But what if the exercise is extended further back, to the time when Bakunin and Marx had their famous arguments over the direction of the socialist movement and future organisation of society?

For an anarchist, Marx does not emerge well from those arguments. Bakunin painted an all too accurate picture of what life would be like in a Marxist state - and Marx was unmoved, unperturbed, vengeful even.

The historical record makes the Trotskyite belief in the worthiness of Lenin and Trotsky seem ridiculous to anarchists. But how does the record of Marx stand up to the same level of scrutiny?

There could be an analogy with Christianity: Protestant reformers announced they were the true followers of an early, genuine, church which had been perverted by later betrayers. By the time of the Enlightenment, it was finally accepted that the problem was not a betrayal of an originally good system, but that the whole system was inherently wrong and had to be abandoned as rubbish from start to finish.

Marxist influenced anarchists side with Bakunin in the debate about the role of the state - so think Marx was wrong in the political sphere - but still think his economic ideas were right.

Marxism with the politics stripped out has too much to go into here, but much rests on the Marx's Labour Theory of Value - if that falls, Marxism as a whole edifice comes crashing down. Except there is no labour theory of value in any meaningful sense because no definition of value is given. Exchange value and use value are whipped in and out of the mystified readers view, like a ball and cup stallholder trying to fleece the public. http://afraser.com/value.htm.

In practice, the Marxist influenced do not accept all of Marx’s thought, but pick and choose particular elements to believe in. A lot of modern intellectual Marxism does that too, although with less open admission - because the problem with that approach is that an intellectual structure like Marxism is meant to stand together as a coherent whole. If one component, the labour theory of value, say, is discarded, the others start to look very shaky, and the whole structure becomes dubious.

Marx's historical predictions - increasing crises; immiserisation of the proletariat; declining rate of return on capital - may be separable from his economics to some extent, but their failure has been even more spectacular and few people believe in them now.

Take this process far enough and eventually you are left with nothing more than a vague sense of support for Marx as a fellow socialist and staunch anti-capitalist. But there are lots of socialist writers out there, many getting things as wrong as Marx did, and no one elevates them to the status of guru, or gasps when they are criticized.

For a large part of the 20th Century there was a strong pragmatic reason for anarchists to be sympathetic and receptive to Marxism - it was the overwhelmingly dominant ideology of the oppressed and within the Left, and those were the people anarchists had to work with. Many of those Marxists or semi-Marxists did good work, some pushed and pulled at the boundaries of Marxism so much that they became indistinguishable from, merged with, anarchism. They were good despite Marx, not because of him. Heterodox Marxists like that I think even massively outnumbered anarchists, it must have seemed likely that anarchism as a whole would simply be subsumed into such a 'Marxism'. So "Marx was an idiot" style statements would have been more productively kept discrete in those days. But now what does Marxism amount to, why keep quiet now? I'm all in favour of working with Trotskyite parties on particular campaigns, but the SWP are never going to forgive us our rejection of Trotsky and Lenin and Krondstadt, no matter how diplomatic we are on Marx. And I don't see the Chinese Government offering help for any anarchist revolutions even (or especially!) if we were believers in Marxian economics.

The emperor had no clothes. It is time to accept this and move on to new and better and living ideas.

Andrew.

Bodach gun bhrigh
Aug 27 2005 10:50

Personally, I think some of Marx's stuff is good, like the economic and philosophical manuscripts contain the best philosophical exposition of atheism I've ever read. And his stuff on alienation is good too. But his defence of the state, his fatalism, whereby mankind will just automatically become socialist because of the way they work, and his economism, stating what men do is determined by the way they produce, seem to me to be guff. Although I haven't read Capital, but I'm not holding my breath.

Lazy Riser
Aug 27 2005 11:03

Hi afraser

Do you agree that the LTV is central to Marxist crisis theory? I think it’s OK to be a kind of Marxist but see the LTV as a failed instrument and Marxist crisis theory to be incorrect.

Even if Marx’s technical analysis was flawed, his contribution to working class philosophy and the libertarian left project is overwhelmingly positive.

I advocate zero expenditure on anti-Marxist polemic. There are already plenty of well rehearsed anti-Marxist positions and I see no point in developing another, especially as doing so plays to the bourge’s hand.

Lots of love

Chris

Volin
Aug 27 2005 11:14
afraser wrote:
The orthodox anarchist view - by that I am thinking of 20th century Marxist influenced anarchists - is that the problem was with all the Bolsheviks, Lenin and Trotsky as much as Stalin, but that variants of Marxism outside or pre-dating Marxist-Leninism - Rosa Luxemburg, Council Communists - are fine, or at least reasonably acceptable.

I wouldn't say that's the "orthodox" anarchist view. The anarchist position on Marx and Marxism goes, as you say, "to the time when Bakunin and Marx had their famous arguments over the direction of the socialist movement and future organisation of society". Decades before the Bolsheviks it was argued by Bakky and others that the ideology that had acquired Marx's name, along with his political ideas fundamentally could only result in failure and resumed subjugation. The Marxist Anarchists are strange creatures, but they aren't many and they don't represent our movement as a whole.

Lazy Riser wrote:
There are already plenty of well rehearsed anti-Marxist positions and I see no point in developing another, especially as doing so plays to the bourge’s hand.

Fuck, we are already in the bourgie's hands and still the greatest purported "challenge" to it comes from twisted-Marxist-loons that repeat the exact same mistakes as their mentors and do nothing but breath neo-bourgeois politics. If we want to get out of this situation we need to ditch the Old Left and Marxism.

*waits for pink-eyed workerists to pounce*

Lazy Riser
Aug 27 2005 12:05

Hi

Quote:
If we want to get out of this situation we need to ditch the Old Left and Marxism

Perhaps. But why waste your energy refuting Marx when the bourgeoisie are already doing the job for you? Indeed, the left has already made excellent work of discrediting Marx, it doesn’t need the likes of us to stick the boot in or place a few final nails in the LTV’s coffin.

I’ve got some time for PLA sentiments, but a movement to vociferously ditch the left is at least is as irrelevant as the left itself.

Chris

Lazy Riser
Aug 27 2005 12:26

Hi

Quote:
And Marxs Labour theory of value has never been refuted

Something of a blanket statement. Oskar Lange…

http://www.eco.utexas.edu/faculty/Cleaver/rcp1.html

Don’t Bookchin et ‘al have serious problems with it? The LTV has had so many holes poked into it from the right, that there’s not much point in investing energy in inventing our own.

Quote:
it is afterall at it's base a statement that value is a product of human labour, that it can only come from real human activity. Unless someone knows something I don't perhaps they could tell me how this has been proven false?

Disproving the LTV is like disproving the existence of God. As an instrument or model it may be useful to you but as a philosophical pillar it's disregard for subjective value and the notion of demand render it practically useless.

What's your take on the relationship between the LTV and crisis? Go on, you know you love it.

Love

Chris

Volin
Aug 27 2005 12:28
Quote:
explain how LTV been discredited.

um, yeah it was amazing how quickly that was brushed over.

Lazy Riser wrote:
why waste your energy refuting Marx when the bourgeoisie are already doing the job for you? Indeed, the left has already made excellent work of discrediting Marx, it doesn’t need the likes of us to stick the boot in or place a few final nails in the LTV’s coffin.

Look, the bourgeoisie hasn't discredited Marx, they "discredit" a stereotype that has nothing to do with the concepts we're speaking of. An alienated Marx! But the emptiness of ideological state capitalism is still very much with us, they're doing such "an excellent job" that they have in just a few of their organisations more members than all the genuine revolutionaries and anarchists combined! That's how discredited it is.

It's not about finishing them off, I'm saying the Old Left and its hold on us is probably the greatest factor keeping anarchism (libertarianism, lib communism fuck) back. From the pamphlet I'm meant to be reading at the moment;

“The workers’ movement that existed in 1900, or still in 1936, was neither crushed by fascist repression nor bought off by transistors or fridges: it destroyed itself as a force of change because it aimed at preserving the proletarian condition, not superseding it. At best it got a better life for the toiling masses, at worst it pushed them into world wars. It all belongs to the past now..."

Voila! Take what you can from Marx's thought, but for the love of God leave him in Highgate.

Lazy Riser
Aug 27 2005 12:42

Hi Volin

Are you alright there mate?

Quote:
Look, the bourgeoisie hasn't discredited Marx

Indeed. The left has discredited Marx, the bourgeoisie simply attack him.

In solidarity

Chris

Lazy Riser
Aug 27 2005 14:00

Hi

I'm prepared to entertain the idea. Go on.

Love

Chris

afraser
Aug 27 2005 20:15

Lazy Riser asked a few posts ago [http://www.libcom.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=6245&start=18]:

Quote:
Do you agree that the LTV is central to Marxist crisis theory? I think it’s OK to be a kind of Marxist but see the LTV as a failed instrument and Marxist crisis theory to be incorrect.

LTV is central alright, and a failed instrument, makes no sense as a concept at least in the way Marx uses it. But if LTV is taken out, and crisis theory, and the dictatorship of the proletariat, and all the other components of Marxism that rely on the LTV (alienation, market mystification, and so on) are either taken out too in a domino effect, or are at least weakened or altered to suit the changed fundamentals, then what kind of Marxism do you have left? It's like the old Bishop of Durham taking out the virgin birth, and the resurrection, and not being too sure about the whole God idea, but still being a kind of Bishop. I think Marxism hacked up to that extent would require restating from first principles, really would be a new theory.

Quote:
Even if Marx’s technical analysis was flawed, his contribution to working class philosophy and the libertarian left project is overwhelmingly positive.

Or maybe overwhelmingly negative, at least in the past 35 years or so, when Marxism retreated in the West to Social Science departments who engaged in arcane scholastic disputes which were not helpful at all. Where there were popular Marxist movements, Latin America for example, their Marxism was a hindrance both for them and the populations they represented. Maybe it helped inspire people to sacrifice for the cause, but inspiring people with flawed analysis is worrying.

If Marx's analysis is flawed then I think it is dishonest to attempt use it for propaganda. Intellectuals should state things plainly and truthfully, not try to mislead the masses with noble lies. If that means an ideology that appears less certain and triumphalist, so be it. Socialism should be an ethical, not a scientific, system, which means an end to claims of its inevitability, and means that it must argue its case against competing ethical systems.

Quote:
I advocate zero expenditure on anti-Marxist polemic. There are already plenty of well rehearsed anti-Marxist positions and I see no point in developing another

You may be right on that - not least because the amount of effort would be enormous, given the volume (and inscrutability) of Marx's own writings plus all the later Marxists. And yet, with so many people still true believers, I fear there may be no choice but to take Marx on. I had thought Marxism would wither and die all on its own after the collapse of the USSR, but seems that was hoping for too much. The Left is going nowhere until the Marxist baggage holding it down is jettisoned, either discretely or explicitly.

And are there already plenty of worthwhile anti-Marxist analyses out there? If so, I've missed them, other than to some extent Bertrand Russell [?History of Western Philosophy?] and Thorstein Veblen’s 1906 lectures on Marxism [http://socserv.mcmaster.ca/econ/ugcm/3ll3/veblen/marx1.txt and http://socserv.mcmaster.ca/econ/ugcm/3ll3/veblen/marx2.txt] which include:

Quote:
Except as a whole and except in the light of its postulates and aims, the Marxian system is not only not tenable, but it is not even intelligible.

Yep.

afraser
Aug 27 2005 21:42

Revol68 wrote:

Quote:
And Marxs Labour theory of value has never been refuted, it is afterall at it's base a statement that value is a product of human labour, that it can only come from real human activity. Unless someone knows something I don't perhaps they could tell me how this has been proven false?

That is a statement that value is the product of human labour. Not a theory but a statement, it is a "labour statement of value" or a "labour definition of 'value'". That can neither be proven or disproven because it is a statement of opinion. It is perfectly reasonable for Marx to announce that he believes 'value' should be defined as the product of human labour. Other people (like me) might use other meanings for 'value', but that's fine too so long as we're all clear on what we mean, that we announce at the start what we mean by 'value' and stick to that meaning throughout.

But Marx doesn't. He has two totally different 'values': use-value and exchange-value, and although only the first of which is stated by him to be the product of human labour, he then goes on to mix them up throughout. His surplus value and iron law of wages arguments depend on this sleight of hand. Critics of LTV are really criticising this larger structure rather than the simple and reasonable statement (or definition) that ‘value’ is the product of human labour.

Lazy Riser
Aug 28 2005 11:47

Hi

Quote:
out of interest Lazy Riser if one rejects the labour theory of value where doe sit leave your nice libertarian socialist market? What will the monetary system be linked to? Gold?

Good question. First, some readers may be interested in the wiki entry on the Gold Standard…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold_standard#Effects_of_gold-backed_currency

At present, the money supply is controlled by setting interest rates to throttle the amount borrowed by banks and local authorities from the Bank of England. Inflation is curtailed by taking money out of circulation using interest and taxation.

I would be looking to introduce a universal income set by consensus and price controls for items that society sees fit to make available by right, like staple foods, housing and energy, clothing and communications, healthcare and education. Democratic investment banks would make funds available for business proposals. People are free to profit from commerce, and neighbourhood councils are free to prevent funds being hoarded against the public interest.

So, the money supply in this situation is backed by human endeavour and potential rather than a precious metal or fiscal slight of hand. If you take comfort from seeing that as a kind of LTV, then I’m very happy for you.

You’re being very nice to me today revol68. Am I growing on you?

Love

Chris

MalFunction
Aug 30 2005 11:37

greets

IIRC castoriadis has a good critique of marx.

its a few years since i read my solidarity pamphlets but modern capitalsim and revolution seems to be one of the best. (also can be found in vol2 of castoriadis political and social writings)

redefining revolution and history and revolution also worth reading.

what would be handy is a concise summary of castoriadis' critique in a single pamphlet. (or on-line essay)

mal

afraser
Aug 30 2005 12:27

What is Marx’s Labour Theory of Value?

Simplified as much as possible, Marx’s Labour Theory of value is:

1) [definition] That some objects (called commodities) have an inherent property called ‘value’;

2) [definition] That this ‘value’ is equal to the amount of labour expended on making the commodity (strictly: the amount of socially necessary abstract labour expended);

3) [deduction] That in a market system with private ownership of capital, prices will tend to be greater than ‘values’, with the excess (surplus value) retained by the capitalists.

4) [ethical judgement] That, in order to be fair, the price that a commodity trades for should be equal to its ‘value’. The more price differs from ‘value’, the more immoral that system is;

What is wrong with Marx’s Labour Theory of Value?

[1 and 2]: First, imagine that the definitions (1) and (2) are accepted, regardless of how comfortable I am with them (I return to this below). This is Marx’s theory, in it he can define the terms he uses any way he wants. So let’s take those as accepted and move on to the theory proper:

[3]: Follows naturally from the preceding definitions, when simple rules of classical political economy are applied. Marx’s reasoning here is uncontroversial, even obvious, so this too can be accepted, this time without any reservations. At most there is controversy about how to measure surplus value, to what, if any, it extent it differs from profit.

[4]: Marx opines that price ought to equal value, that price ought to equal the amount of labour time spent (strictly: socially necessary abstract labour). That’s his opinion, not mine, and, more importantly, not really anybody else’s other than Marx himself (if even him, see below). If you do not accept this ethical judgement, if you believe that it is not necessarily wrong for prices to differ from amount of labour expenditure, then you do not agree with Marx’s Labour Theory of Value.

Restating Marx’s Labour Theory of Value in this simplified form shows quickly where it fails. Marx I think was aware of the weakness of (4) and attempted to hide it with ocular obscurities: price is restated as exchange-value, which is followed by convenient omissions of the ‘exchange-’ qualifier; and in Hegelian terms, (4) becomes restated as exchange-value being a form, the ‘phenomenal form’, of ‘value’.

Note that every market system would fall foul of (4) – not just capitalist market systems. The issue does not arise in communism, because there are no prices, and strict price settings systems such as Parecon can hope to fix prices and wages to suit this (or any other) ethical stricture, but with market trading that becomes impossible – although it is possible that socialist markets could come closer to the LTV rule than capitalist markets.

Did Marx really believe this?

Not according to this:

Quote:
The use-values, coat, linen, &c., i.e., the bodies of commodities, are combinations of two elements -- matter and labour. If we take away the useful labour expended upon them, a material substratum is always left, which is furnished by Nature without the help of man. The latter can work only as Nature does, that is by changing the form of matter. Nay more, in this work of changing the form he is constantly helped by natural forces. We see, then, that labour is not the only source of material wealth, of use-values produced by labour. As William Petty puts it, labour is its father and the earth its mother.

[Karl Marx, Capital, Volume 1, Chapter 1]

Either Marx’s ‘value’ is the amount of labour spent making a commodity, or it is the sum of the land and labour inputs that went into the making of the commodity. And most people, if they had to choose a cost-of-production definition of ‘value’, would think that ignoring land and natural resource inputs would not make sense, especially in the modern oil dominated economy.

If there is more than one input, their relative contributions have to be calculated somehow – which takes us straight into marginal utility, which is completely incompatible with Marx’s Labour Theory of Value.

MalFunction
Aug 30 2005 13:36

greets

interesting series of articles in aufheben here:

http://www.geocities.com/aufheben2/auf_4_dec1.html

deal with marx's theory of capitalism, labour theory of value - includes observation that:

[excerpt]

Quote:
Marx was always aware that what counts as the necessary means of subsistence is a point of struggle between the combatants but in Capital he holds it constant expecting to deal with it in the 'Book on Wage Labour',[10] a book that was never written. Thus the value of labour power is dealt with in Capital only from the point of view of capital because here Marx was essentially concerned with showing how capitalism was possible. For capitalism to exist it must reify the worker, yet for the worker to exist and to raise the level of her needs she must struggle against this reification. In Capital Marx presented the proletariat with an account of how capitalism operated. Such an account is one part of the project of overthrowing capitalism but only a part. The problem with objectivist Marxism is that it has taken Capital as complete. Thus it takes the provisional closure as final. Cardan's criticisms grasp an important one-sidedness to Capital, and it is the failure to recognise that one-sidedness that leads to the one-sidedness of orthodox Marxism.

http://www.geocities.com/aufheben2/auf_3_dec2.html

personally i've never had the time or inclination to read that much Marx.

mal