DONATE NOW TO HELP UPGRADE LIBCOM.ORG

Your Favorite Misreadings of Marx's Critique by Right-Wing Ideologues

89 posts / 0 new
Last post
Angelus Novus
Offline
Joined: 27-07-06
Oct 29 2012 13:18
Your Favorite Misreadings of Marx's Critique by Right-Wing Ideologues

Just what the thread says. Give your favorite examples of anti-socialists getting Marx hilariously wrong, whether from your teachers, economics textbooks, online right-"libertarian" moonbats, etc.

Found this gem in a comments thread at Boing Boing:

Marxist society would end terribly when people measure worth only in labor hours. I would spend my day digging holes and filling them in so i can get maximum labor credits in Marxist society.

Railyon's picture
Railyon
Offline
Joined: 4-11-11
Oct 30 2012 09:25

Isn't that the infamous mudpie argument being thrown at Marx by Austrian tossers ever since... the dawn of the internet, at least.

But oh my god, the comments in general are atrocious.

Harrison
Offline
Joined: 16-11-10
Oct 30 2012 10:02

The undergraduate political-economy lecture on 'Was Marx right?' i'm currently sitting in now.

Lecturer just explained the base-superstructure theory as inherently deterministic. Is completely unaware of any theories of state-capitalism. Also explained dialectics as 'thesis-antithesis-synthesis'. FML

Joseph Kay's picture
Joseph Kay
Offline
Joined: 14-03-06
Oct 30 2012 10:16

When I was at uni Marx wasn't mentioned at all (though Smith and Ricardo extracts were core reading), except when I asked an awkward question to tell me 'Marx was wrong' (I hadn't read Marx at the time, but after repeatedly being dismissed as a Marxist I eventually got round to it). Ones I remember were 'Marx can't explain the value of water in a desert'; 'the labour theory of value is wrong, read Adam Smith' [first line of Wealth of Nations: "labour is the fund from which the wealth of nations is furnished"]; 'we don't have classes anymore'; 'i am a well paid lecturer, i am not exploited'; 'Marx fails to explain how trade creates wealth [no shit!]'. Funnily enough, we were told to structure our essays as 'thesis, antithesis, synthesis' (i.e. on the one hand, on the other, conclude with the wanky middle ground).

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Oct 30 2012 12:07

Silvio Gesell (still popular among some German anarchists) dismissed Marx's theory of value because the category value does not appear in ordinary balance sheets

georgestapleton's picture
georgestapleton
Offline
Joined: 4-08-05
Oct 30 2012 12:25
Entdinglichung wrote:
Silvio Gesell (still popular among some German anarchists) dismissed Marx's theory of value because the category value does not appear in ordinary balance sheets

I don't know much about Gesell but that's not that crazy an argument.

tigersiskillers
Offline
Joined: 7-08-06
Oct 30 2012 14:20

Richard Wurmbrand's 'Marx and Satan'?

'Marx's chief aim was the destruction of religion. The good of the workers was only a pretense....Communism is collective demon- possession"

Sadly the book's a bit duller than the title suggests.He has nothing really to go on and so just waffles on about nothing for page after page.

A flavour of the argument is summarised here. I've broken the link as I'm not quite sure what the fuck the host site is - the review they quote is by an out and out nazi:
http://www.BROKENwhale.to/c/marx_and_satan.html

Entdinglichung's picture
Entdinglichung
Offline
Joined: 2-07-08
Oct 30 2012 14:40

isn't there a Chick tract about Marx?

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Oct 30 2012 15:19

OH MY GOD, I HOPE SO!!!!

sabot's picture
sabot
Offline
Joined: 21-06-08
Oct 30 2012 16:56

Glenn Beck is always a classic.

mons
Offline
Joined: 6-01-10
Oct 30 2012 17:28

I've had some guy who claimed to have read all of Marx's 'Complete Chronicles' (...) tell me with absolute certainty Marx was actually really opposed to communism and only wrote about it as a warning to the bourgeois.

(Weirdly Marx is mentioned in pretty much every single lecture I've been to over 1 and a bit years at uni as a relevant significant figure in politics, economics, anthropology and sociology, and I don't think I've ever picked up on him being misrepresented. Even in supervisions and classes I don't think any of my teachers has said anything about Marx I disagree with, and like I say he comes up every time. In fact I've learnt most of the interesting stuff I know about Marx from liberal academics, like the fact he hated the language of equality and fairness, hated moralistic leftists, etc.

Also apparently his quote about hunting in the afternoon, criticising in the evening, etc. was meant as a joke and a critique of someone else - I can't remember who tho. Not sure whether the lecturer got that wrong or libcom has that wrong. At the time I was definitely sold, but my memory's shite so can't remember his argument.)

Alf's picture
Alf
Offline
Joined: 6-07-05
Oct 30 2012 20:00

I used to have tutor groups at my sixth form college. At the end of the last tutorials I got into a discussion with one of my students, who had just done his A-level in economics. I asked him who Karl Marx was and he professed not to know. A day or two later,his economics teacher - a bit of a Labour leftie - retired and made his leaving speech at the end of term get together. Afterwards I went up to him and told him about his student, adding with a smile 'your whole teaching career has been a failure really'. Oh how we laughed.
But for some really cringeworthy rightist distortions about Marx, look at what they say about Marx and the Jewish question, ie, that he was obviously a rabid antisemite and wanted to exterminate all Jews. Some of them, of course, admire him for this.

knotwho's picture
knotwho
Offline
Joined: 13-01-11
Oct 30 2012 20:23

There's this handy poster if you want to know how Marx pretty much fathered Barack Obama:

Get 'em by the dozens for $5: http://agendadocumentary.com/store/karl-marx-chart/

xslavearcx's picture
xslavearcx
Offline
Joined: 21-10-10
Oct 30 2012 21:38

that poster is SO going to be on my wall when i get my giro and back pay shit sorted...

omen
Offline
Joined: 20-09-12
Oct 30 2012 21:59

That poster is so batshit it's got me totally confused! confused The "CHARLES DARWIN" bit suggests it was produced by the Christian fundamentalist right, but there are lots of arrows pointing at a box marked "CHURCHES" that ultimately originated from one marked "KARL MARX"! So the fundies are controlled by godless communists inspired by Charles Darwin, who produced this poster to expose their own complicity!? eek

Hektor Rotweiler
Offline
Joined: 11-08-11
Oct 30 2012 22:16

I'm a Fan of Gary North's Marx's Religion of Revolution: Regeneration Through Chaos.

The general argument is totally bonkers:

Quote:
Gary North has assembled the evidence to prove that Marxism has been a success because it is the most perverse imitation of Christianity ever invented. It was invented by two men who had been baptized as Christians, had affirmed an evangelical faith in their teens, and had turned in fury against God in their early twenties. Few people know that Marx wrote a satanic play and wrote satanic poetry in his youth. But anyone who has read his early writings knows that his avowed enemies were not the capitalist but the Christians and the Jews. He hated God more than he hated capitalism.

Its got gems like this:

Quote:
The labor theory of value was one of the most fundamental doctrines of classical political economy. Given Marx's almost theological concern with man as creator, it is not surprising that he failed to abandon this particular economic principle. He placed it at the core of his system. Unfortunately for his system, it was wrong.

and this cover:

Hektor Rotweiler
Offline
Joined: 11-08-11
Oct 30 2012 23:27

Also gotta add:

Quote:
For Marx, communism demanded an “immanent critique” according to its “dialectical” contradictions, heightened to adequate historical self-awareness.

Quote:
Platypus: Marxism in the 21st century?

Now, what does this say about Platypus in this regard? There are two different generations of Platypus, broadly speaking: the generation of the 1990s and that of the 2000s. These two generations express (the tensions within) the possible recovery of the memory of Marxism against its passing means of effacement

by Chris Cutrone 'the last marxist'

princess mob
Offline
Joined: 26-01-07
Oct 31 2012 05:00
Entdinglichung wrote:
isn't there a Chick tract about Marx?

Yeah apparently he was secretly a Catholic double-agent:
[edit: image got broken, I'll try to find it again.]

princess mob
Offline
Joined: 26-01-07
Oct 31 2012 02:35

(off-topic, from a different Chick tract):

ocelot's picture
ocelot
Offline
Joined: 15-11-09
Oct 31 2012 11:52

That Agenda poster is fantastic. "It's not just another conspiracy theory", says the top of the website. For some reason this makes me think of those M&S ads.

Also I love that Nietzsche is a formative influence on Marx, despite being about 4 years old when the Communist Manifesto was written.

Theft's picture
Theft
Offline
Joined: 17-08-11
Oct 31 2012 18:06
Railyon's picture
Railyon
Offline
Joined: 4-11-11
Nov 2 2012 16:30

Along the same lines as the AGENDA movie I guess, just less conspiratory.

ocelot's picture
ocelot
Offline
Joined: 15-11-09
Nov 2 2012 17:05

I love the Obama badge.

Also the "Is not even successful in "model" socialist countries like Sweden" bit. Because US health care, child care, social services and general standard of living is just so much better than Sweden's. Yeah. Right.

Wozzeck
Offline
Joined: 11-01-12
Nov 3 2012 00:42

Islamist pseudo-thinkers and ideologues during the Cold War were funny as hell. They kept repeating with an annoying self-confidence that Marx's materialism was all about "sex" and "stomach". They often quoted imaginary passages from Capital.
How I hate those nuts.

Agent of the International's picture
Agent of the In...
Offline
Joined: 17-08-12
Nov 9 2012 23:06

One misreading I often get from critics is that according to Marx's theory of class struggle, there would literally be a "class struggle" between the bourgeoisie and proletariat all the time, violence and chaos. Obviously, that isn't the case. But they try to prove their "refutation" of Marx by highlighting the fact that their wasn't a "class struggle" during the origins of the species, or civilization. In fact, they went on to explain how upon the birth of civilization, humanity was divided into classes due to the existence of surplus wealth, which could have made them as much a Marxist or anarchist as anyone else here on Libcom. A lot of bourgeois thinkers expect a thick line of "class struggle" running through history in order for Marx to be right. Their criticisms of Marx reflects their own determinism.

Hektor Rotweiler
Offline
Joined: 11-08-11
Nov 4 2012 19:46

I'm on jag of looking at a related perverse phenomena--people who argue that Obama is a communist. The best i've found so far is 'Socialism, Communism and Obamism (http://obamaism dot blogspot.co.uk/) which has an extensive list of tenuous links between Obama and communism.

Stan Milgram
Offline
Joined: 30-10-12
Nov 7 2012 03:00

Oh geeze. Man oh man.

georgestapleton's picture
georgestapleton
Offline
Joined: 4-08-05
Nov 7 2012 11:43
Railyon wrote:

Along the same lines as the AGENDA movie I guess, just less conspiratory.

Oh good the unabridged version.

xslavearcx's picture
xslavearcx
Offline
Joined: 21-10-10
Nov 9 2012 20:58
Railyon wrote:

Along the same lines as the AGENDA movie I guess, just less conspiratory.

I watched AGENDA last week to procrastinate and for the lol factor. I've watched a fair few conspiracy theory documentaries in my time, but its always been easy to discard them as being something outside the mainstream and not really of much political significance. AGENDA seemed much more in the mainstream, wedded in particular to the republican christian right, they guy who wrote the programme worked for the republican party. it was ultimately shit, and didnt have anything about lizards in it...

Railyon's picture
Railyon
Offline
Joined: 4-11-11
Nov 9 2012 21:48

Yeah I tried to watch it too, started out great with a Stalin quote and black and white footage but then all this talk of decaying morals and family since the 60s and stuff... I couldn't handle that.

I got another one:

Quote:
Much as Marx may have explicitly advocated the idea of a democratic workers' government, his own personal style was dictatorial, manipulative, and intolerant. Those who complain that the Soviet Union has betrayed Marx have in mind the intellectual theories rather than the actual behavior of Marx the man. Whether Marx would have gone as far as Lenin or Stalin or Pol Pot is one of the great unanswerable questions of history. But Marx's own behavior already pointed in that direction, however much his words proclaimed a proletarian democracy. Moreover, even in the intellectual realm, the long Marxian tradition of speaking boldly in the name of the workers—not only without their consent but in defiance of their contrary views and actions—made Marxism an instrument of elite domination, with a clear conscience, long before Lenin or Stalin.

Mmmh, can you feel that strawman burning? (It goes on like this, the point basically is 'Stalinism happened because Marx was an asshole')

This is off Thomas Sowell's 'Marxism: Philosophy and Economics' and while he seems to be a more well-meaning critic, he doesn't quite know what he's talking about especially when it comes to the fundamentals of Marx' analysis of capital (dun dun dunnn value theory)

knotwho's picture
knotwho
Offline
Joined: 13-01-11
Nov 9 2012 22:10

From www.godlikeproductions.com forum:

wrote:
the daughter of karl marx married a dude that wrote a book called 'the right to be lazy'
proof that socalism is laziness. also she and her husband killed themselves. great system, marx