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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/8476/the-well-read-marxist/

The well-read Marxist

September 6, 2008 by

One of my favorite websites is the Marxists Internet Archive (marxists.org). The folks there maintain a huge volume of Marxist writings. In addition, they provide online books and articles that are essential to the well-read Marxist — as well as the free market Misesian looking to do some research.

One of those books is from none other than Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk. That’s right, the site includes a free version of his Karl Marx and the Close of His System. And they give the book fair treatment with this summary:

Written in 1896 for a series of independent Essays on Political Science, Böhm-Bawerk’s work has held up as a classic criticism of Marxist economic theory. In Capital Vol I., Marx explained the profits of capital as resulting from surplus value. He left open the problem of explaining how capitalists with differing ratios of labor to machinery can have similar profits, a contradiction to be resolved in further works. Marx, in Capital Vol III, takes up the matter again, but according to Böhm-Bawerk’s essay, does not resolve the issue logically. He concludes with a critique of his contemporary, Werner Sombart’s interpretation of Marx in Sombart’s essay, “Zur Kritik des ökonomischen Systems von Karl Marx”.

Ironically, while the site claims to maintain over 8 gigabytes of written material, it’s this one book that turns the rest of the Marxist scholarship into nothing more than interesting relics of our past. Yet the Marxists continue on, just like our two major parties and their continual rehashing of the same old economic nonsense. It must be tough being an ideologue in the face of a Böhm-Bawerk or Ron Paul. Of course, invalid theories and a pocket full of scapegoats have worked for centuries.

{ 31 comments }

flint September 6, 2008 at 11:57 pm

Agreed. Very informative stuff, especially Marx’s letter to Mr.Lincoln…

A more open and honest gang of despots, I have yet to see.

theblob September 7, 2008 at 5:16 am

It’s really interesting that they are so open about Böhm-Bawerks critic. Do socialists think these points have been refuted?

Can someone can give me a good response to Böhm-Bawerk? The one I tried to read just praised how good Marx was in his dialectic or something, horribly written.
(On a side note, socialist literature is usually very badly written, so I might not make much use of the archive, but it’s good that it is there.)

Bruce Koerber September 7, 2008 at 9:36 am

Which comes first the civilization or the virtuous character? (Which came first the chicken or the egg?)

In reality they are inseparable and so we are called upon to be individuals of goodly character and praiseworthy attributes.

One of those praiseworthy attributes is knowledge – knowledge of the merits of the principles of classical liberalism.

If you gain that knowledge socialism will be undone!

William H. Stoddard September 7, 2008 at 9:57 am

A number of years ago, I visited an old friend who lives in Amherst on her fiftieth birthday. She took me on a tour of used bookstores. I can vividly remember the sudden moment of revulsion that hit me in one of them, when I looked at an entire wall devoted to shelves of literary criticism, and realized that roughly one-third of it was Marxist and another one-third was psychoanalytic; and I thought, “Don’t these people realize that they’re basing their criticism on ideas that no one in economics or psychology has taken seriously in decades and that are hopelessly out of touch with reality?” But both schools of thought seem to live on as myths.

Even so, it’s possible for a Marxist to read real economics and learn from it. I’m thinking of the science fiction writer Ken MacLeod, a Trotskyite who discovered von Mises’ economic calculation argument and decided that von Mises was right about the impossibility of socialism, and whose fiction includes many sympathetic references to both anarchocapitalism and classical liberalism. I wish there were more like him.

Deacon September 7, 2008 at 1:50 pm

#######
#######

So very few understand Marxism
as well as this scribbler does.

NEVER, EVER draw your conclusions
by what Marxists provide as theory on
what the ideology means to do for Man
or how it may best be applied.

Always point out the RESULTS of
Marxism, and you’ll kill it to death in
the mind of anyone with even a
modicum of intelligence.

Here’s my report on what MARXISM/
SOCIALISM/COMMUNISM means…
by its RESULTS, not by what those
shallow-brained, emotion-driven and
FILTHY Marxists – LEFTISTS – may
tell you:

Communism is the goal of socialism, which is
but a temporary pause in leftists’ forced march
of humanity towards hell on earth, about which hell
this scribbler has been giving warnings to anyone
sympathetic to that cause – to that horrific
insanity! – of socialism/communism, which ism’s
bottom-line underpinnings are expertly retold by
Long Visalo, a returnee to Pol Pot’s communistic
Cambodia in 1973, and who gave this horrifying
account of an indoctrination seminar for
intellectuals at camp K-15, conducted by Khieu
Samphan ["Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare," by
Philip Short, pp. 316-317]: “How do we make a
communist revolution? The first thing you have
to do is to destroy private property. But private
property exists on both the material and the
mental plane…To destroy material private
property, the appropriate method was the
evacuation of towns…But spiritual private
property is more dangerous, it comprises
everything that you think is ‘yours’,
everything that you think exists in relation
to yourself—your parents, your family, your
wife. Everything of which you say, ‘It’s
mine…’ is spiritual private property.
Thinking in terms of ‘me’ and ‘my’ is
forbidden…The knowledge you have in your head,
your ideas, are mental private property, too.
To become truly revolutionary, you must…wash
your mind clean…So the first thing you must
do to make yourself fit to participate in the
communist revolution…is to wash your mind…
If we can destroy all material and mental
private property…people will be equal. The
moment you allow private property, one person
will have a little more, another a little
less, and they are no longer equal. But if
you have nothing – zero for him and zero for
you – that is true equality…If you permit
even the smallest part of private property
[and private thinking!], you are no longer
as one, and it isn’t communism”…[p. 325]:
“The whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow
the range of thought…In the end we will
make thought-crime literally impossible,
because there will be no words in which to
express it. Every concept that will be
needed will be expressed by exactly one
word [no hint of what that one word is
here], with its meaning rigidly defined
and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out
and forgotten…Every year fewer and fewer
and fewer words, and the range of
consciousness always a little smaller…In
fact there will be not thought as we
understand it now. Orthodoxy [communist
orthodoxy] means NOT THINKING [my emphasis]
…Orthodoxy is unconsciousness”; an
INSANITY, dear reader, that’s lost on all
leftists harboring any hope of goodness and
truth being found in socialism/communism,
and so extreme in its Utopian pursuit of
equality that even to THINK of how beautiful
a sunrise is or to smile at the missteps of
a toddler at play or to feel even a hint of
pleasure from a warming morning sun invites
MENTAL INEQUALITY, which necessarily leads
to material inequality, according to the
leftist Utopians. How dare you to steal
a mental pleasure that some comrade,
somewhere, cannot equally share with you?
There can be no private thoughts! And
today’s socialism-/communism-/feminism-driven
Left within Western democracies is
incrementally leading us there, as today’s
fairness-driven leftists are tomorrow’s
equality-driven Pol Pots – those Marxian
ARCHITECTS and their liberal-Christian and
secular-humanist dupes! – who’ll eventually
come to TORTURE and/or KILL any opponents of
their perfect Marxian equality, and which
fact about them ought to horrify any reason-
driven person anticipating future results of
the Marxists’ DIVERSITY MOVEMENT and
requisite FORCED INTEGRATION, which their
open-borders immigration policies now demand
worldwide.

#######
#######

nick gray September 8, 2008 at 12:35 am

Let me make the obvious joke- is there any sort of Marxist other than well-red?

Deacon September 8, 2008 at 6:59 am

#######
#######

Here’s something to ponder,
by using Aristotle’s method
of EXTRAPOLATION to
arrive at a soundly logical
conclusion about an idea
or thing:

“Judaism is COMMUNISM,”
an admission made by many
Talmudic- and/or Torah- based
rabbis.

Here’s another one:

Feminism is COMMUNISM.

Ponder that, dear reader!

#######
#######

Brad September 8, 2008 at 9:40 am

The easiest way I can boil down Marx’s mistakes in theory is that he never created anything of value and he never turned in a hard day’s labor his whole life. He was an indigent journalist who lived by the kindness of trust fund babies. Therefore, while he had a keen eye toward history, and what superstitions had done to enslave man, his theories on how to break from the past had to include the way that layabouts like himself were placed at the top of the pyramid. That’s when his assessments of the past as to plunge into future went from keen assessment to spoiled roadkill. And it’s the same with all socialists – the record of what artists and poets and librarians is plain for all to see. People who are theorists, people who can’t suffer themselves to actually turn in a decent days labor. The people who couldn’t invent a better mouse trap much less figure out the one that already exists and what they visualize the world to be. Basically erudite people who have little practical to offer anyone. They are the ones who lay their hands on the power supply and use whatever brutality is required to put themselves at the top despite their clear mediocrity (or worse).

I have (in the past) spent some time at marxists.org. I have read many of Marx’s shorter essays and can find much to agree with, again as far as trying his hand at taking a systematic look at history. It is when he has to pull together his manifesto, and he describes some sort of nonsense about dictatorship of anything that it becomes clear that this shabby little man who has done near nothing of value means that the likes of him will be those very dictators and decide when paradise has decended. That’s the time when one who is an individualist realizes that Marx has taken an extreme turn in logic. Marxists.org helped fill in much that is lacking if one just reads the Manifesto. It fills in much of the “backstory” and one is left in a position to criticize more roundedly against the moral void that is created by the application of Marxist theory.

Vanmind September 8, 2008 at 11:39 pm

“…he never created anything of value”

Tell that to all the Marxians who continue to derive a great deal of subjective fantasy-utopia value from his absurdities.

JRS September 25, 2008 at 3:29 am

Good post Jim; however, when one discusses Marxism it’s often best to remember that Marx commented on a variety of issues, and put forth a vast array of theories and opinions on those issues. As William pointed out, Marx had a _huge_ effect on Literary criticism – mainly because his Historical-Materialism method helped remind people of a particular novel’s unique historical birth. Yes, the pricing problem did disprove much of his writings – but his theories, as they are relevant to the field at hand, are still cognizant and valid – so why not use them? Personally, I find Marxist literary criticism to be much more tolerable than the current post-modern chic.

Winnie Westrop October 2, 2008 at 5:42 pm

Was the Archbishop right to look to Marx in his recent remarks? I have written a critique at http://www.theatheistconservative.com/articles/2008/10/01/under-the-bed-at-lambeth-palace.

Winnie Westrop October 2, 2008 at 5:43 pm

Was the Archbishop right to look to Marx in his recent remarks? I have written a critique at http://www.theatheistconservative.com/articles/2008/10/01/under-the-bed-at-lambeth-palace.

AZ January 5, 2009 at 4:01 am

Note that Marxists.org is maintained by non-Marxists. It should not surprise you that they are willing to host works critical of Marxism.

This is quite maddening for Marxists like myself. Imagine if you had learned everything you know about the Austrian School from Mises.org, then you discovered that it was run by Marxists. It is possible that they had been presenting the Austrian School honestly and fairly, but you would always wonder.

We Marxists feel betrayed by Marxists.org.

Joe July 19, 2009 at 11:00 pm

Bohm Bawerk’s criticism is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the first volume of capital. He wrongly believes it to be a theory of price, when it is actually a sociological work(Marx was above all a sociologist!)…labor value is an abstraction, a tool used to demonstrate social relations obscured by commodity fetishism. Marx outlays his price theory in volume three, and Bawerk accuses him of abandoning his old theories.

Believe it or not, many Marxists read about opposing theories…perhaps you all should do the same, because you look like dogmatic loons when you discount Marxism without ever trying to get a grasp of Marxist theory.

Inquisitor April 26, 2011 at 6:16 pm

So Marx wasn’t just full of shit in economics, he was full of shit in general. Any Marxists trying to find anything of value with respect to economics in him should just give it up.

Joe July 19, 2009 at 11:03 pm

This is also interesting:

“According to Böhm-Bawerk, in Volume I Marx claims that the labour theory of value is valid, while in Volume III, published posthumously by Engels, Marx, recognising that he had been wrong in the first volume, admits that commodities do not, in fact, sell at their values.

Böhm-Bawerk is wrong on two counts. Firstly, as Engels pointed out in his preface to Capital, Volume II, Marx had already written the draft of Volume III when he finished Volume I!”

fundamentalist July 20, 2009 at 8:20 am

Wherever two or three Marxists are gathered together, there will be five opinions on what Marx wrote.

xxx September 5, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Joe, you wrote that Böhm-Bawerk is wrong on two counts. Yes, he might not have known what was the correct order in which Marx wrote his works. But hey, what is the second one? How have you marxists refuted Böhm-Bawerk s actual criticism? As far as I know you either ignore it (sweet sweet ideology :-) or you do not care to know about it (which is plain stupid but evidently not your case). Please, please, surprise me and prove yourself to be more than a dogmatic loon.

Karl Marx October 19, 2009 at 6:53 am

Aren’t we about due for a Gay, Socialist President?

F.C. Payne June 16, 2010 at 8:47 pm

“Believe it or not, many Marxists read about opposing theories…perhaps you all should do the same, because you look like dogmatic loons when you discount Marxism without ever trying to get a grasp of Marxist theory.”
“Believe it or not, many Marxists read about opposing theories…perhaps you all should do the same, because you look like dogmatic loons when you discount Marxism without ever trying to get a grasp of Marxist theory.”
One more time:
“Believe it or not, many Marxists read about opposing theories…perhaps you all should do the same, because you look like dogmatic loons when you discount Marxism without ever trying to get a grasp of Marxist theory.”

F.C. Payne June 16, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Aren’t we about due for worker’s democracy?

Komrade April 26, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk’s assertion of “He left open the problem of explaining how capitalists with differing ratios of labor to machinery can have similar profits, a contradiction to be resolved in further works. Marx, in Capital Vol III, takes up the matter again, but according to Böhm-Bawerk’s essay, does not resolve the issue logically” is wrong so far as Marx was right, but could not find proof. The proof was found by Nobuo Okishio, a Japanese economist, who mathematically PROOVED Marx’s claim true.

Whoever wrote the article is likely uninformed, a result from bad habits of scholarship.

If your going to use Eugen’s statements you’ll somehow need to disproove Nobuo Okishio’s economically accepted proof. It’s honestly more relevant to check out what David Harvey has to say on Marx’s Capital, through his 13 part lecture series hosted across the web, then to listen Jim Fedako’s opinions on the subject

Inquisitor April 26, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Why should anyone take your word on it? Relay the economist’s proof here. Don’t appeal to authority. No one gives a shit about it, especially when from dubious sources like a Marxoid crank.

Komrades! Swords into Plowshares! April 26, 2011 at 10:08 pm

As you study Nobuo Okishio you will come across a Mathematical theorem. If anyone would be the one to explain the theorem it would hardly be I, instead I say you should invest the time to study into current economic theory. The theory is long and available on wikipedia and countless other sources on and off the web. I believe information is also available on his complaints of Marxism as well.

Authority isn’t so easily grasped with a single maxim, and neither are capitalist and communist ideological confrontations. I have inquired into the subject, why would anyone be so spanish as to knock me down before attempting their own inquisition? Obviously this will be my last reply because I have my point, and counterpoint, and I assume Inquisitor will present his own counter-rhetoric. This is hardly a dialectic (which would be a dubious logic anyway).

Marxism doesn’t work, but poor scholarship never refuted Marx, but clear historical analysis and the new computional aspects of deriving economic theory are fair attempts to.

The article above clearly states that Marx is refuted and more evidence is because Bohm-Bawerk showed this. But even he could not disprove it himself, merely states that Marx couldn’t and then uses various examples instead. What a lame critique and Bohm-Bawerk should know this, since this is the basis for his critique on Marx: That Marx does not analyze things in detail.

Perhaps this is where one ideological split seems arbitrary, in that it exists to all ideologies. The thought that you can complete an “event” so to speak or, more aptly but less accurately, achieve you goals. The Austrian School does believe that you can’t actually understand a system so complicated as the marketplace. Sounds zen. But if this were true how would people be able at all to manipulate that marketplace?

I think Ron Paul is an honest politician. I like him. If thats what the quick reply was related to, my statement was directed towards bohm-bawerk.

I repeat, why don’t you show me the mathematical proof? Or at least tell me someone who refuted Nobuo Okishio’s?

You think I’m complaining? If it weren’t for your anonymity I’d be humiliating.

Inquisitor April 27, 2011 at 8:31 am

Look, I don’t give a shit whether you’d be “Humiliating”, “crying”, whatever. Either convey his “proof” or begone. If you’re not qualified to do so, neither are you qualified to say it’s a “proof” of anything. You keep whining about Bohm-Bawerk, but he is complaining about an inadequacy in Marx’s own works. The fact that some professor later (supposedly) resolved it for him is little comfort. Oh but I forget… Marx doesn’t go into details and he’s a “sociologist”. Whatever.

“The Austrian School does believe that you can’t actually understand a system so complicated as the marketplace. Sounds zen. But if this were true how would people be able at all to manipulate that marketplace?”

I’m not sure what this is even supposed to mean. Manipulation to what effect?

Komrades Rise Against April 27, 2011 at 11:12 am

Again, I repeat The Proof was found by Nobuo Okishio. I think everyone who seriously debates Marx knows the inadequacy of Marx.

What are you trying to prove anyway

Inquisitor April 28, 2011 at 6:13 am

That if you want to claim that Marx has been vindicated you’d best understand the proof and be able to communicate it to others.

Colin Phillips April 28, 2011 at 7:15 am

Inquisitor and Komrades,

You two are talking past each other. Komrades referred to this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okishio's_theorem) which does not vindicate Marx, it disproves, from a Marxist perspective, at least, one of the claims made by Marx himself. Komrades was, I think, suggesting that people who claim they aren’t Marxists should be up to date with the latest Marxist criticisms of Marxism. I disagree, but it is an interesting side-note.

Okishio’s theorem, as I understand the wikipedia page, serves to show for simple economies that introducing a new, more efficient production technique will increase the general production of goods in that industry. This seems obvious to me, but Marx doubted it with his “Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall” hypothesis.

Dave M April 26, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Has anyone else noticed that, since the last election, there seems to be a lot of Marxists popping out of the woodwork lately?

Komrade April 27, 2011 at 1:14 am

What election? The one in egypt? I’m not American. Perhaps, more likely is the global recession has been going on for 3-4 years in some places and finally people are interested enough in political economy to make it a central issue in debates, therefore giving way to the old labels of economy; Like Newton said, “standing on the shoulders of giants”.

See my eariler posts for proof of a refute of this posts topic.

Jaydog April 27, 2011 at 1:54 am

In a 1999 BBC poll Marx was voted the “thinker of the millennium” by people from around the world.

Shouldn’t someone like Alexander Fleming top it instead?

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