Socialism — A Failed Ideology
Socialism seems to be the default ideology for many misguided people in the Twenty-first Century; whether they know it or not. It has infected the culture like a virus and has been spreading into the minds of many who do not even know they are afflicted. Social justice warriors, Neofeminists, Neoliberals (as opposed to Classical Liberals), anti-Capitalists of various kinds, misguided Egalitarians — so many belief systems of the day are seeded with Marxist ideals.
I have to admit, at the surface level, as far as stylistically well-written ideologies and ostensibly noble ideals go, you can’t beat Socialism: equal distribution of resource and value, everybody shares everything, everybody seen as equal in a legal sense, recognition and veneration of the working class, no rigid ethical or moral code to adhere to. Sounds great, but under Socialism in practice some people are always more equal than others, and the logistics, as far as attempts to implement the ideology on a grand scale, never seem to work out. Human nature and reality seem unwilling to accommodate this Utopian vision in such a way that it turns out as well in practice as it sounds in theory. All things considered, even with its rise in The West in recent times, Socialism is a failed ideology.
The core of the problem is that to bring a Socialistic state into being out of some other long-standing system requires upheaval of the most severe and paradigm-shattering kind. The idea of The Proletarian Uprising necessitates, prescribes, even glorifies violence and civil war. Karl Marx could really string prose together, and, as a result could make seem noble the call to theft and violence against one’s fellow man. The way the proletarian uprising is written as a revolt against oppressors for the good of everyone else is childlike in its abstraction from the crux of what it really implies; violent revolution.
We should not cheerfully assume that Karl Marx was a well-intentioned man. He was a troubled soul who seemed obsessed with death and violence. His poetry, although well-written, has fairly ominous themes and imagery that is like something out of a horror movie:
I shall howl gigantic curses on mankind:
Ha! Eternity! She is an eternal grief …
Ourselves being clockwork, blindly mechanical,
Made to be the foul-calendars of Time and Space,
Having no purpose save to happen, to be ruined,
So that there shall be something to ruin …
If there is a something which devours,
I’ll leap within it, though I bring the world to ruins-
The world which bulks between me and the Abyss
I will smash to pieces with my enduring curses.
I’ll throw my arms around its harsh reality:
Embracing me, the world will dumbly pass away,
And then sink down to utter nothingness(2)
As poet myself, this seems to me to be highly personal, and coming from a place of utter contempt for the world. It is undeniably dark, but the vein of nastiness expressive of a lust for destruction which runs through it is clear, stark, and rather disconcerting. Considering how Karl’s ideology calls for violent revolution, and has repeatedly has ended up with large-scale humanisation quickly leading to genocide: it might be time for people to start reconsidering their socialistic tendencies.
Marx made the claim that ‘religion is the opium of the masses’, but Marxism is at least as effective at mentally-sedating people through emotional appeals and empty promises as any religion. Marxism is a sentimental belief system which plays on human psychology to essentially trick the masses into thinking they are getting a bad deal in an economic sense, are members of a victim class in a socio-cultural or moral sense, and that Socialism is the only viable alternative. These are some of the hooks that entice people. They think ‘I do deserve more!’, ‘I am getting a bad deal!’ because people always want more, and often feel hard done by.
I am not making the claim that the the world of commerce is perfect, free from exploitation, or that some people are not getting bad deals. But, Marx’s approximations for how things work are grossly over-simplified, and his perspective casts a grim show over the light of reality. In actuality, the ability to earn money is liberating, and work itself is not only not dehumanising, especially for most workers in the twenty-first century’s developed world, but exposes one to social intercourse, and the human world of interpersonal interaction in ways that people not a part of the labour force do not experience; and are left poorer thereby; both monetarily, and as far as building skill, experience, and social cohesion through natural communion with the very heart of society itself. The ability to find or create new opportunities for one’s self is multiplied by virtue of the interactions with others one has in the work environment; new jobs, friends, sexual relationships are happened upon as a matter of course. Sure, most jobs are not high-paying or prestigious, but it sure beats being homeless, or foraging naked in the wilderness. Not everyone can live like royalty, and more people in this era live better than at any other point in time in human history; at least as far as wealth, security, and comfort.
I have always found belief systems rooted in Marxism particularly vapid and manipulative ways of thinking about how the world is run, perpetuated for the sake of subverting the will of The Everyman — as a means of convincing the broadest range of people into giving away their power. Claiming to speak for the downtrodden, yet resulting in totalitarian tyranny when the system is realised; like in The Soviet Union, Mao’s China, Cambodia under Pol Pot, or the Venezuela of today. Socialism is built on a foundation of seemingly decent ideas, but ideas which do not stand up to scrutiny, and exist in a realm outside of the domains of real semantic weightiness or workable practical application.
The central communistic claim is that workers are ‘exploited’ by being forced to take part in the production of goods, and are compensated for their labour unequal in value to the time they commit, with pay equivalent to only a portion of the value that they have produced in the course of that working day. This is what Marx called “surplus value” (‘s’ for short).
Marx’s exposition on this point is that the ratio of surplus value over the wage of a given worker is equal to only a part of the value produced, which Marx assigns the rather nebulous label of “variable capital” (‘v’); s/v(1). Marx even created pseudo-mathematical algebraic equations in attempts to legitimise this idea, but the fact that they are abstract, meaningless, and built purely on loose theorising seems to have been ignored. The idea is that, if in the course of a ten-hour working day a worker in a factory produces enough in five hours to cover his or her salary, the ratio of s/v in this instance would be 5/5, or 100 %. This is what Marx called “rate of surplus value”. The other name for this, which clearly shows Marx’s ulterior motive of victim-politic pushing is: “the rate of exploitation”.
There are many things not worked into the equation here which are critical, and the fact that they are left out seems disingenuously exclusionary. For example: the cost of the innovation and establishment of the means of production (factories/processing facilities/agricultural land) are high, as are the risks associated with the investment of large sums of capital, the task of managing a business is complex, and requires a depth of knowledge the factory worker generally does not have, there are many costs and complications associated with the maintenance and further development of the means of production. It is simply not fair to only consider the hours spent, revenue generated, and wage received in comparison to the value generated. That seems incredibly small-minded, selfish, and to be wilful ignorance of related costs, risks, and complications. But, selfishness — although thinly veiled — does seem to be a defining characteristic of Socialism.
Socialism exploits the endlessly justifiable want for more in people who have little. For Marx, the exploitation of people is the core mechanism of the capitalist system. And, yet, Socialism takes this exploitative nature to a whole new level in how it appeals to the bottom 95% of the pyramid to overthrow the top 5%, simply because that is a workable strategy in order to seize power. How does one win in politics, or at war? Vastly outnumber the opposition. Socialism perfectly idealises the herd instinct, and is the perfect political reimaging of what Nietzsche called Slave Morality because it appeals to the pettiness and greed in people, and plays psychological games that encourage people to feel oppressed, disempowered, and as though they are being taken advantage of. The logical conclusion to be drawn therefrom is that revolt is necessary. The psychology of the entire movement seems incredibly Oedipal in nature, like that of a spoiled child looking to overthrow the patriarchal order that prevails, and in dethroning it, to seize power for itself. The parallels are actually uncanny.
The Us vs. Them mentality Marxism breeds with the false dichotomy of The Proletariat vs. The Bourgeoisie, as well as the resentful envy of those who have greater material wealth, is dangerous. When large numbers of people take this nonsense seriously it leads to trouble, especially when coupled with the calls for revolution, and suggestions such as “if this labourer were in possession of his own means of production, and was satisfied to live as a labourer, he need not work beyond beyond the time necessary for the reproduction of his means of subsistence”; which means ‘if you take possession of the means of production, you will get all the money which is the end result of your input’ (while ignoring associated costs/risks/complications), which means, more crudely: ‘if you steal other peoples’ stuff you will get more money’.
Literally, to encourage ‘seizing the means of production’ is to condone theft. Theft which will probably have be achieved through the use of force and engagement in violent acts. It is rather… amusing that an ideology which does not accept the validity of the term ‘private property’ encourages people to ‘take possession’ of things. Is taking possession of something not commandeering it for one’s own use, and thus ownership? The Party will own it, and they are collective? Oh, how convenient… But: there is still ownership under Communism through possession and restrictive use. The utter hypocrisy at the heart of this belief system is so blatant that it is surprising so many people do not seem to notice it.
When one considers the tyrannies which have developed under Socialism, and the death-counts they have accumulated (many estimates citing statistics over over one-hundred million in The Twentieth Century alone (3)), the capitalistic system that is constantly under siege by Marxists looks a lot less problematic.
- R.J. Rummel, Death By Government (1994)