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  • A Class About Class


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Sunday, February 06, 2011 11:22 am Email this article

    ​Some of my friends have accused me of being a socialist, which is of course completely accurate and perceptive. And they wonder how I could possibly be one after the fall of Communism, to which I reply that Communism didn't fall. In the Soviet Union then and in China now, a wealthy class of party-members exploits the workers. Uh, that's not what Karl Marx proposed. I bet my friends never read the Communist Manifesto. If they ever do, they should read the new annotated version by Phil Gasper, especially pages 93-117 "Is the Manifesto Still Relevant?"

    Any rational middle-class or lower-class person would prefer to live in the socialist world described in the Manifesto. I could easily construct a socialist world from myself and a few dozen other good people I know. The trouble is, Mr. Marx, dude, is how to get from here to the socialist there? using the mass of human beings as they really are. The problem is not that the Soviet Union, China and the Paris Commune weren't Communist, but that they didn't become Communist, or stay Communist and survive. Why not? (If you're wondering what this has to do with obesity, it doesn't have much to do with it, except that I regard overeating as morally wrong. Just because you CAN do a thing, doesn't mean you should. News to most Americans.) There's no way to get to the socialist world in the first place because of human self-focus and greed, which, I am afraid, are the norm. One can overcome it with philosophy, or perhaps with religion, but most people don't overcome it at all and you can't expect them to. A related problem that surfaced recently is that socialism does not provide for innovation. Non-greedy, satisfied people don't innovate. I'm not sure so much innovation is necessary for human happiness, but still . . . People who haven't read the Manifesto have told me Marx thought the Proletarian Revolution was inevitable. No such thing. The first paragraph of the Manifesto states, "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave . . . lord and serf . . . [bourgeois and proletarian] in a word oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another . . . a fight that each time ended either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes [italics added]. In the U.S., where the top 20% has 85% of the wealth, the top 10% has 90% of the stock, you should bet on the second of Marx's two predicted outcomes. I bet every American under the age of 40 thinks proletarians are one-celled animals. Do you know what the word means? It means people who live by selling their labor. You know, 90% of us. See above.

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