Fifty Shades of Marx*

Yesterday on Facebook, someone took exception to my saying that Marxist ideas are ascendant in the world.  This shocked me so much I didn’t know how to react, and before I had time to explain – I was trying to finish the novel.  No, it’s not done yet.  Long story, but hey HVAC people this afternoon – people were in a big argument over whether or not we’re living in a police state.

I have opinions on that too (duh) but it has nothing to do with the incontrovertible fact that we’re soaked in Marxist philosophy on all sides.

It’s entirely possible, in fact, that my commenter isn’t aware of that, because fish aren’t particularly aware of water.  It takes an effort to become aware of the Marxist premises underlying everything because they’re taken for granted.  No one studies Marx himself, because we assume his theories as proven, and the stuff we live in, all over the world, is dictated by his premises.

This would be a little less damaging if the Hairy Grifter (he was once described as an angry, hairy inkspot) weren’t wrong about … everything, really.

You want to look at the decay of Western civilization?  It’s mostly the unexamined absorption of Marxist ideas.

Now, I’m one of those people who live too much in books and theories, and, as such, I can tell you why they’re absorbed and treated as gospel: it’s because they make internal sense.  This is not the same as having even a glimmer of real world application, of course, but they satisfy the minds of intellectuals by dividing everything into categories and presenting a (false but deceptively smooth) system for historical change and, in general, sounding REALLY plausible.

Take the Marxist theory of value.  It is utter nonsense of course. The idea is that what gives value to something is the labor put into it.  You can see how this would appeal to Marx, or, indeed, to any intellectual.  Laboring forever over a book that sells one copy is now a genuine, bonafide “injustice”.  The book is valuable.  Just look how much work you put into it.

The REAL theory of value, is much messier and doesn’t fit nicely within the pages of a book, even if you beat it with a hammer, because then the blood oozes out all over the theory.  The REAL theory of value goes something like this: something is worth what people are willing to pay for it.

This means if caveman Grog just was LUCKY to be near where the thunderbolt struck dry wood, the caveman could then sell the flaming branches for a year’s worth of hunt.  No work involved.  He just was there.

Our monkey brains want things to be “fair” (Dave Freer tells me fairness is wired into simians, part of being a social species that lives in small bands.  It helps survival.)

The fact that the Marxist theory of labor has buggerall to do with real life – you can spend seventy years polishing a dog turd.  It still won’t be worth a million – doesn’t matter.  It has such BEAUTIFUL internal logic.  (By which you should read no logic at all but an appeal to our back brains.)  It allows serious people behind desks to make decisions on what everything is worth.


Well, let’s say that we’ve got out of mandatory prices in every day goods – the crash was that big when we tried that – but what do you think Obamacare will do but set prices for highly specialized knowledge and services.  And what do they set them based on?  Well, they set them based on how much effort they think is involved.  This is where we get that doctors should be paid like teachers.

It’s also part of the trite, ridiculous idea that professional athletes should make less than teachers, because teachers “work harder” or are “More important to society” or whatever.

It’s all bokum, but it’s penetrated through the society to such an extent that people – with a  serious air of much learning – will tell you that books will be better (of course) if they take longer to produce.  They will say the same about any art work, or discovery REGARDLESS OF WHAT HISTORY TELLS THEM ABOUT REAL BOOKS OR ART.

That last about teachers being more important to society than professional athletes?  Marx again.  We’re supposed to prioritize the good of the collective over the good of the individual.

You want to see a good basketball game or a good wrestling match and are willing to pay for it?  Why you selfish capitalist pig.  Don’t you know the children need better teachers?  We should pay more to the teachers, so they’ll be better.  It’s for the good of society.

This has penetrated everything, too, including literary criticism.  It’s now all “is this book socially relevant?”

What in living daylight this has to do with being a good book (or poem or play) is beyond me.  No, seriously. Look, Shakespeare wrote his “socially relevant” works.  They’re the historical plays and by and large we ignore them.  They’re certainly not among the most watched/read.  Those are the ones where he touched humanity on the raw and took us, despite ourselves, on an emotional ride: Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, yes, even Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Scottish Play.

I’m fairly sure if asked about relevance, Jane Austen would think Mansfield Park, having to do with raising kids and the behavior of young women, and the division between classes was the most relevant of her works.  To us it reads turgid and infused with a totally alien morality (unless we belong to particularly strict sects.)  Pride and Prejudice, though, which, again captures humanity in a nutshell?  THAT we have read and watched and dreamed ragged.

BUT publishing is being run according to “relevant” works, which of course means agreeing with the social vision of those in power which is – largely – Marxist.

This is because it is the vision being promoted in college, where they actually DO Marxist literary analysis.  (Even if Marxism had any point of contact with reality, using a political theory to analyze why a book is good or enduring is sort of like using an ax to comb your hair.)

Then we get into sociology/politics/moral/religion, where the idea of collective guilt and collective punishment has taken hold.  And it’s insane.  (It’s particularly insane in Christianity where for the sake of ten righteous men G-d would have spared an entire corrupt city. [He probably would have gone to one, except he could tell the one to skeedadle with his family.])

It’s not just that they assign guilt to people on the basis of what group they belong to.  It’s that they throw people into groups based on characteristics that don’t mean anything.  Take White Males (not mine. Okay, the boys are technically Latin and look it.  But they’re still mine.  You can’t take them.)  I live with three of them, and they’re all very different people.  I have a multitude of male friends, gay and straight (I always got along better with men than with women.  Probably the result of growing up with an older brother and HIS friend group.  In fact, right now I have more women in my inner circle than ever before, and it startles me a little, but I still have more men.) None of them is guilty of slavery, sexism, exploitation.  If  any of them enjoys white male privilege they haven’t done it where I could see it.  Most of them work really hard and don’t get any breaks that they didn’t fight for for years.  In fact, particularly in federal jobs, women are likely to be promoted ahead of them.

Mostly what they get is blamed for the “historical oppression of women” and slavery and stuff that wasn’t happening when they were born, wasn’t happening when their fathers were born, and into which they had absolutely no say.

Now take white women.  Look, do you really think their ancestors didn’t participate in any oppression going among white men?  Why, of course they did.  Good heavens, we had white female queens.  But they’re “victims” because women are in the victim class of Marxism.  And so women now are born without sin and OWED.  No, it doesn’t matter what they’re owed.  Whatever their little heart desires, I guess.  They also always get to claim discrimination when things don’t go their way.

(Were women oppressed?  Some of them, undoubtedly.  Some still are.  Look at Islam and some of the more traditional cultures.  Mostly it has to do with the horrors of biology and the fact women couldn’t control their own reproduction until we had the pill.  But that doesn’t fit in Marxists’ pointy heads, see.)

Entire tribes in Africa subsisted from hunting other tribes and putting them on boats headed for slavery.  But these days anyone born of those slave-selling tribes is considered as much of a victim as the rest, because he’s black and he’s from Africa and therefore he’s a “victim.”  He’s a “victim” even if he was born to one of the Kleptocrats of Africa and his pampered feet never left the limo to touch the ground.

And let’s not get into social classes.  That will make your head hurt.  Is a small businessman, owner of his own business, a worker?  No? Because Marx said the workers didn’t own the means of production?  BUT what if this poor guy paints houses for a living and spends his time schlepping paint and ladder around and working REALLY HARD.  Nope, he’s still not a worker, because you see, Marx’s vision was limited to industrial revolution England and limited is the point.  He wasn’t even very up to date on his reading.

AND if that small business man hires an employee to help schlep the paint cans, he’s suddenly a guilty part and an exploiter.  Even though most small businessmen will make payroll before they pay themselves, and work into the night, while the employee keeps regular hours.

But, you say, Sarah, no one takes the Marxist theory of classes seriously anymore!

Really?  No?  That is why we have people talking about the “one percent” as though they were an homogeneous group?  That’s why we have taxes on people who “make too much.”  (Too much for what?) That’s why our entire tax system is based on redistribution.  Because for a long time it was believed that extreme redistribution was the way to stop communist revolution, which the scientific theory of history said would come otherwise.  This is how the Scandinavian countries got in the trap they’re in, and we too, just later and slower.

And that’s why people can’t be IQ tested the old way, because IQ tests are “inherently racist” – let alone that this theory is based on the idea that every race is alike within itself, and therefore is a racist claim in itself.  That’s why women are given breaks to get into STEM degrees, because even if their performance is inferior to keep them out would be sexist.  Their under performance is because their group are traditional victims!

ALL our society is run according to the theory of classes and designated historical victims.  And our churches.  Don’t get me started on our churches.

There was, circulating on Facebook, the story of this minister, hired by a mainstream congregation, who decided to try a stunt and come to his first service dirty, disheveled and looking like a homeless man.  He then “discovered” that his congregation didn’t “behave like Christians.”  They didn’t eject the man, mind you, but they gave him a seat in the back, and clearly kept an eye on him.

They didn’t ask him to sit up front and treat him as an honored guest, therefore they weren’t Christ-like, and when the minister did his big reveal, he excoriated them, and this got written about and distributed with approval.

Had I had hiring power in that congregation, I’d have called him aside after that stunt, told him that sorry, but the holy book in this church isn’t bound in red, given him his paycheck and a handshake.

But, SARAH, you’ll say. Christ got beggars and…

Yes, indeed.  And Christ’s world was very different.  It was very easy – in fact it was the norm – for hard working people to find themselves starving and destitute.  Without help, without any form of social services, MOST PEOPLE WERE POOR.  Helping the poor, and yes, even the prostitutes (I still wonder what He was up to with tax collectors. Never mind) most people starved or worse.

BUT we don’t live in Christ’s world.  There are layers of government services and private charities.  Most of our homeless are in fact mentally ill, drug addicted or both.

How many of us have NEVER seen a homeless man expose himself/been threatened by a homeless person/been pursued by a beggar yelling curses?  If you haven’t, you must either be very lucky or live in a very small place.

I’m sorry, but people go to church with their families, including small and vulnerable children.  When a dirty, disheveled homeless person shows up, you’re going to wonder what he’s going to do next.  Putting him at the back and watching him isn’t lack of charity.  It’s lack of death wish.  (Not too many years ago, a man shot himself in the bathroom of a church in town.  A homeless, mentally disturbed man.  If they’d watched him and kept an eye, perhaps that wouldn’t have happened.  Before the elections in 2008, two naked men showed up outside the church door of a church in town, supposedly to protest priestly abuse but in fact they were both mentally ill.)

These days, in the world we live in, keeping the homeless at a distance is called “self preservation instinct.”  It doesn’t mean we don’t help them, but we can’t treat any homeless person who shows up, particularly a dirty disheveled one, as an innocent victim who IS NOT going to do something awful suddenly and for no reason.  (Look, the sane homeless aren’t usually dirty and disheveled and you won’t know they’re homeless unless they tell you.  Yes, I’ve seen someone wash AND PUT ON FULL MAKE UP in a public bathroom.  People do that when they care and are trying to find help.)

A priest/minister who doesn’t see that is in fact drinking Marx by the cupful and thinks in terms of classes.  And in the world of classes the homeless are just “victims” and thus entitled to the best treatment REGARLESS of personal safety or the facts of life about most of the homeless today.

I suspect Christ might tell the man a thing or two about causing scandal, in fact.  It was, if nothing else, a piece of self-aggrandizing, showing a lack of respect and priory condemnation of his future congregation based on class.  “They’re comfortable, therefore they must be afflicted.”

SOCIAL justice was never part of the gospel or of any Western religion.  Justice, guilt and sin are individual and expiated as such.  (Yes, ancient Judaism, but it’s different when you’re in a land RULED by G-d.  And even there… ten men would spare a city.)

Only Marx thinks that on the terrible day of judgment in which he doesn’t believe, people will come before their Lord in classes and ranks of standing, and be condemned or forgiven according to things they could do nothing about.

In fact making the homeless into a Marxist victim-class precludes helping them as individuals.  You can’t say they need to be clean or moderate their behavior, even if you offer them help towards that.  Because they’re discriminated against, see?  And heaven forbid you try to help the mentally ill, because then you’re the Soviet Union, incarcerating “dissenters.”  Yay and verily, ask a college sociology professor and he’ll tell you that by standing on the corner and peeing himself, a homeless man is protesting heartless capitalism.  (The same heartless capitalism that allows him to eat at a soup kitchen and gives him clothes and sundries, no questions asked.  You got it.)

And don’t get me into the Marxist view of history.  Faced with the fact that the proletariat has not risen up as the great master predicted, they keep finding surrogates, mostly in third world countries, and treating THOSE as the international equivalent of homeless people.

You know, Somalia is starving because you’re rich, you bastard!

The fact that the aid western countries sent is pilfered or left to rot, the fact that their – Marxist, most of them educated at the Patrice Lumumba university in Moscow – are kleptocrats who line their pockets over those of their citizens, the fact that our surplus of donated goods destroy local industry has nothing to do with it.

You see, Marx thought that wealth was a finite pie.  That meant that for you to be rich someone else had to be poor.  And colleges still teach it that way.  No, seriously.

Apparently knowing that what kept a tenth of the population in bare subsistence in medieval times now keeps ten times as many beyond the dreams of medieval kings means NOTHING to them.  There’s finite wealth in the world, and if you take more than you “need” (from each according… yeah) then someone else will starve.

And those countries are by the way, always victims, because the “colonialists” took their “raw materials.”

No, I kid you not.  Seriously.  They are poor because people in the eighteenth century got gold or iron or cotton or something from them.  That makes them poor forever.  It’s the evil of Colonialism.  The kid’s college Geography book tried to sell that one.  I pointed out to the kid that Portugal was colony and colonizer and if it were a matter of stealing raw materials, then Portugal should be the richest country on Earth.  (And we won’t go into how fair trade isn’t stealing, even if fair trade for the time was something else.)

I’m sorry, Portuguese culture and the made infatuation with various forms of socialism probably has more to do with the mess the country is in then the fact that the Romans took all our gold.  (Which is why the area beneath the village looks like swiss cheese and sometimes vast portions cave after a heavy rain.)  Or is it Portugal is comfortable (relatively) for reasons having nothing to do with the fact it stole piles of gold from South America.  Which one is it?  It makes my head hurt.

None of Marx’s theories stands up to real world examination or real world scrutiny.  And yet you have people running around declaring themselves Marxist and neo-Marxist.  And, inexplicably, people don’t point and laugh.

His ideas have penetrated how things are done UNEXAMINED.  Which is the only way they could penetrate because if you examine them they crumble into incoherence.

The last time I pounded on Marx some twit informed me that it was very useful for literary analysis by which he (she? I don’t remember) meant that it’s a handy self-contained system that you can apply to books and decide what is good and what isn’t by what conforms and what doesn’t.

It makes me think of that mythical king who cut off the parts of men who didn’t fit into his box.

It might be easy to apply, but it doesn’t touch reality at ANY point.

And this is where Western civilization is.  Admitted (and a lot of is admitted on college campus) or not, we’re bound in fifty shades of Marx.

And no one has given us a safe word.

*By which we mean Karl and not one of the three geniuses of comedy.  If we’d arranged the world according to NHUK NHUK NHUK it would be less of a mess. UPDATE: I’m reliably informed I confused my pop culture references.  Never mind.  Any three comedians are interchangeable.  I still say Nhuk Nhuk Nhuk is a better organizing principle!

429 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of Marx*

  1. Hate to do this but I associate “NHUK NHUK NHUK” with the Three Stooges not the Marx Brothers. [Wink]

    1. Comrade, what are you saying?

      Bourgeois inherently naughty. Saying “naughty bourgeois” imply NOT naughty bourgeois exist. Off to the camp, you wrecker! You learn not to spread such revisionism!

  2. I run into the Marxist theory of value all the time. It’s popular with people who insist that their time is valuable even if what they do with it is meaningful and useful only to themselves. It’s why social workers and teachers feel unfairly underpaid, and why people are shocked that a CEO or personally unappealing sports or rock star can earn millions.

    Just today I read a funny Salon article about some poor schmo who’d been asked to give a short speech but couldn’t figure out how to ensure he’d be paid for his time–the idea of simply demanding a price and refusing to deliver without it apparently is quite alien to him. (Why can’t some wise central authority simply ensure that the paychecks arrive in the right hands?) The comments to that piece focused heavily on the unfair fact that people like Johnny Depp get $20 million to do a movie because the movie will make money for “rich people.”

  3. I have read with my own eyes someone claiming that a kindergarten that favors girls is only fair because the boys have been getting the favor for thousands of years. . . .

    As if we would let anyone thousands of years old into kindergarten.

    1. Hey! You’re being ageist, discriminating against someone who might not have had the opportunity to attend kindergarten a thousand-years-ago. *does best community organizer impression, fails miserably because of the giggles*

    2. My favorite immortal little girl, Melissa (the “Child of All Ages”) looks about 11-12 and hence wouldn’t fit into kindergarten very well. But she’s around 2500 years old, so she has been discriminated against on the basis of her sex for “thousands of years.” 🙂

  4. You see, Marx thought that wealth was a finite pie. That meant that for you to be rich someone else had to be poor. And colleges still teach it that way. No, seriously.

    Well, of course– they’re relative, it’s like there having to be “cool” for there to be “warm” and– wait, you don’t mean like that? You mean like they think “ten” changes depending on if there’s a 1 or a 20 nearby?

    That’s crazy…..

    1. I heard an otherwise street-smart young missionary bemoaning the availability of cheesburgers and frappuccinos at JFK Intl. Arpt. because that meant there were less resources for the needy people in the country where she’d been stationed. She also could not understand why the US provided more aid to Rwanda than to to a certain region of the Congo (this is in the middle of the Congolese civil war, after Rwanda had settled down). Zero sum economics, hook, line, and sinker. *Sigh*

    2. That’s why I point out that there’s no poverty in America. Outside of crimes or severe mental illness nobody in this country starves. People might not be too sure where their next meal is going to come from, but they can be confident that there will be a next meal. That makes them rich beyond avarice when compared to the global historical average of our species.

  5. “SOCIAL justice was never part of the gospel or of any Western religion. Justice, guilt and sin are individual and expiated as such.”

    Exactly! Social justice is a contradiction in terms. There is not and can never be such a thing. There is only Justice, and Justice is based on individual circumstances. In fact that is the basis of almost all literature. The dramatic tension of attempting to apply general rules that are good for society to an individual case which Justice would demand otherwise is the cornerstone of lasting literature. Les Miserables anyone? That is a much more useful and even simpler paradigm to apply to literary criticism. And yes, it takes an effort of will to remind yourself that the commonly accepted wisdom based almost totally on Marx, is utter nonsense.

    1. Exactly! Social justice is a contradiction in terms.

      The perversion used commonly, yes; it’s a perfectly fine theological term which, like most religious things, is frequently perverted or out-right stolen and re-purposed for a totally different, political, end.

      Posting links largely because I expect someone to show up and try an “ah-ha! The Catholics have social justice, you nasty person!” You just got “lucky” enough to point out the thing and remind me that the web spiders do show up for that kind of thing…..

      long quote:
      Yet, Catholics who are steeped in Catholic social doctrine are not the only ones who use the term “social justice.” It has become a code word used by some to advance a libertine social agenda coupled with a collectivist economic agenda that walks and talks like socialism. In other words, to appeal to Catholics, especially those who might tilt to the left religiously and politically anyway, some political operatives use Catholic jargon like social justice or common good or preferential option for the poor to influence public opinion. But what they mean and what the Church means are not always the same.

      This is unlike the homosexual activists’ commandeering of the word gay a couple decades ago. For the most part, gay is hardly ever used as an adjective meaning “happy” or “lively” or “merry” any more, and even when it is, it’s not confused with the new usage of gay. So gay has become more like bark, which can be either the sound a dog makes or part of a tree. From the context, one can readily figure out what the speaker means.

      When it comes to “social justice,”though, ambiguity is the rule, not the exception. Sometimes social justice can mean the entire body of Catholic social teaching, perhaps summarized as “a personal commitment to serve the poor and address the causes of poverty.” Yet it can also just as easily mean “a personal commitment to . . . address the causes of poverty by advocating the specific policies that liberals prefer” (Timothy Dalrymple, “Is the Tea Party a Social Justice Movement?,”, June 16, 2010). No wonder the term has become politicized, leaving some Catholics to believe that only political progressives care about “social justice.”

      End quote.

      1. Foxfier, while it’s certainly true that the Catholic teachings have been abused and distorted beyond recognition by those who would never think to follow a moral life, just as Pope Francis’ statements are taken out of context and distorted, I still can’t find a reason for the term “social justice”. I consider Dorothy Day to be a muddled thinker rather than a theological light or a saint. She was easily misled by her own conception of social justice into sympathizing with Mao, Castro, and Ho Chi Minh. I agree with Dennis Prager that clarity is of utmost importance. Just because Justice is inherently individual and can only be imperfectly implemented by human beings, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to create a more just and perfect union.

        In any case, all I mean is that I respectfully disagree that it is “a perfectly fine theological term” that can ever be used for the good. There is a reason the classic Greek statue of Justice is a woman with scales in one hand, a sword in the other, and wearing a blindfold. That image endures because it represents the truth. We must always try, imperfect as our efforts may prove. The needs of the many do not outweigh the needs of the one to act justly. We all have to answer to our Maker for our own actions, not for those of others.

        BTW thanks for the link to the article in Catholic Answers. Needless to say, we are not in disagreement on anything but the use of the term.

        1. I think you win the “most polite disagreement this week” award, hands down– and that’s usually not awarded before Friday!

          1. I think it more appropriate to defer that decision in light of the challenge its early awarding presents to others. Surely, due deference to established order entitles others to an opportunity to enter the competition?

        2. FWIW, I consider “Social Justice” used outside of a strictly orthodox, theological conversation to be a HUGE flashing warning that there’s going to be equivocation coming left, right and center. (A fallacy I’ve hated since “do you love pizza? So why don’t you marry it!” was the height of wit in grade school.)

          1. Rule of thumb is that the word “social” when used as an adjective can be accurately replaced with “not”. So “social science” is “not science” and “social justice” is “not justice”.

              1. “Social” means “of the society”. Any “social justice” would be justice for the society, with ALWAYS means injustice for some. It can’t help it. “Society” is too big for every member to be equally in need of “justice”, however it’s defined. The broader the net, the greater the probability of whatever “justice” is applied will be harmful to many. The only way “social justice” can be applied is by creating a system that itself is just, which goes back to one that is applied equally to all. That again boils down to equal justice before the law, equal rights to life, liberty and property, and equality in dealing with others. Anything else is soft-padded chains.

                1. The only way “social justice” can be applied is by creating a system that itself is just

                  Which is what the term was coined for….
                  Kind of ironic how it then got “borrowed” to forge more chains, no?

                2. “Equality” has curious interpretations, as well.

                  For example, is it “equal” to serve every kid in the school mac & cheese? What about the kid who is lactose intolerant? Is that macaroni gluten free or low carb? What about a kid like me who is so unable to digest the heavily processed powdered substance employed as “cheese” that projectile vomiting occurs?

                  Do we also serve the same portion to the 5’10” 200-lb football player and the 4’6″ 85-lb geek girl?

                  1. There is a Biblical precedent that that would specifically be *injustice*: “Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together” (Deut 22:10) implying that treating the dissimilar as the same is in fact cruel.

    2. “Social justice” understood as organizing society so as to most effectively allow people to reach their just rewards is much more rational, and universal– and poisonous to greed and socialism, since you have the right to the work of your hands. So, it doesn’t get mentioned that way most of the time.

        1. Totally agree– the “if you’re Catholic, you must be a socialist like me!” folks drive me up a wall, especially when they’ve been entrusted with teaching authority.

          Part of why I put in the huge glob of a post that’s probably still in the spam filter. 🙂

          It is for darn good reason that various Popes have pointed out that Marxism is totally not cool.

        2. *fippantly* Little red book, bit red book, what’s the difference?

          (Sorry, I saw one of my RPG characters standing there saying this and just had to share, once the giggles stopped. He’s a sarcastic Nightcrawler fanboy.)

                  1. LOL. I shouldn’t post controversial posts. I get all “fighty” and then start shaking and fighting the berserker. Note none of the brave sir Robinses dares face the Huns on my blog. (Or even my web page, actually. The big sneering is going on over at the web page of someone who echoed it to diss.)

                    1. OK, foxifier, maybe it’s all the long shifts this week getting to my sense of ridiculous, but you just made me giggle so hard I almost fell off my chair.

                      May they remain ever so bored. It’s far better than the excitement!

                    1. Oy, don’t they know better than to upset an Excitable Latina ™?

                      `Repair companies like that leave me in a state like my cat when she can’t decide to purr at me or kill me. I end up waffling between “I bake you cookies so you do good work?” and “I keel you! I keel you two times!” Like Heisenberg’s kitty, the actual and final state is unknowable until the competance of the repair technician (vs. their dispatcher) is observed.

                    2. That’s just mean, Dorothy. 😉

                      I meant the calico on my lap that alternates between buzzing at me and nipping me for imagined slights.

                    3. Kili !Ma Njaaro looks very similar to this cat:

                      My Calmer Half, upon seeing her in my arms for the first time once she was coaxed out of the shelter’s cage, remarked “She looks like a little serval!” Made him a little homesick, it did.

                      As far as temperament, she’s a cat. Alternating between I love/I kill you and often both states at once. And then there’s the early morning mugging for the milk Calmer Half is putting in his first cuppa of the day – how five pounds of cat can successfully mug a man of his milk is a hallmark of felinity.

          1. Hey, now. The brass band of the USAF Band of the Pacific is awesome. Especially when you catch ’em doing a warm-up practice when they think they aren’t being observed by anybody higher up…

            1. Sigh.

              It was a play on the old saw “Military Justice is to Justice as Military Music is to Music.”

              That one is actually pretty fair-minded for those of us who actually grasp the function of military justice. But I acknowledge the variant I put forth as unfair to military music.

              How about:
              Social Justice is to Justice as Political Integrity is to Integrity?
              Social Justice is to Justice as Political Morality is to Morality?
              Social Justice is to Justice as Political Virtue is to Virtue?

              1. ‘Social justice’ always reminds me of Mark Twain’s remark: ‘Morals consist of political morals, commercial morals, ecclesiastical morals, and morals.’

          2. “To the Colors” can always send chills down my spine, and a well-played Sousa march stirs my soul. “Boots and Saddles” can get one’s blood pumping in a rough situation, and I dare anyone to listen to “Taps” at a military funeral and not shed a tear. Maybe it’s just me (and a few million of my comrades in all the services!), but military music has been a part of my life since I was 17, and I kind of enjoy it, even now, 50 years later.

        3. Toynbee called Marxism “a heterodox Christianity”. It can be understood as a variant strain of Christianity without a personal God who cares. The Marxist thought that surrounds us is not seen because few people have actually read Marx in the USA. Coming from Portugal when you did allows you to see it because you were actually taught unrepentant Marxism. Having read Marx, Lenin, Mao during my “read the foundational texts” phase it is easy to see. BTW-if you point out when an idea is actually Marxist you are then called a McCarthy by liberals and democrats, the actual Marxists call you a Trotskyist if they think you disagree with them.

            1. Why do Liberals or “Progressives” (as they love to cloak themselves) call others fascist when they want centralized control?

  6. Quite a few years back, I went to see my oldest friend in Amherst for her fiftieth birthday. Knowing my tastes, while I was there she took me on a tour of used bookstores. That area had some truly magnificent used bookstores! (I wonder how many have survived the Internet?) But in one of them, I saw an entire wall of literary criticism, and roughly one-third was psychoanalytic and one-third was Marxist. And I had a sudden feeling of something in between vertigo and nausea; I wanted to say to those authors, “Don’t you all realize that your theories have been found to have no contact with reality at any point, that they contain no valid information about human beings or human societies at all?”

    But I think your explanation of Marx’s endorsement of the labor theory of value is a bit too purely personal. Marx didn’t invent the LTV, after all. Its fully developed form was mainly the work of David Ricardo, after he made his fortune as an investor and retired. Of course, Ricardo carefully explained that the LTV was only an approximation, and that there were commodities whose value it completely failed to explain; Marx’s contribution was to fall in love with the theory to the point where he thought that it must be absolutely true for everything and that if reality disagreed that was reality’s problem. But that’s the characteristic behavior of anyone who falls in love with a theory. We have them in libertarianism too; consider for example Hoppe’s argument that because private ownership is superior to public, absolute monarchies such as the Austro-Hungarian Empire must be freer than parliamentary states such as Great Britain or constitutional republics such as the United States!

    1. Or urgh, the idiots who think there can be NO intellectual property. (I’m perfectly willing to say our copyright laws are a mess, but this is not information. It’s a creative performance.) I’d be willing to take life of author and ten years to account for partners who endured our tantrums. Or just fifty years. My kids can make their own money. BUT “No intellectual property” is nuts. I DID build that.

      1. Er, can I vote for a flat 50 years or something?

        Mostly to avoid the rush of murder mysteries where the solution is “was killed by (BIG COMPANY HERE) so they could steal their story.”

        1. I’m still holding out for 50 or life.

          That way, the solution to your rush of murder mysteries is as follows: ‘Fenella Bloodsworth, the dear sweet little old mystery writer with the shoebox full of recipes for arsenic tea, was murdered last night. It was NOT done to get hold of her copyrights, because all her books were written over 50 years ago, and the copyrights expired when she did.’

                1. Thus the shoebox full of recipes for arsenic tea. Bitter woman, was Ms. Bloodsworth, and not one you’d want to cross lightly…

          1. I’m past fifty and I am only now getting started so I’d vote for life. Especially since I have no legal heirs apart from a now 90 years old father (I’d assume I will outlive him) and I’m not sure who I’d want to testament those copyrights to, except that without a testament our government gets them. Any good suggestions for good heirs, just in case those copyrights will actually turn to be worth something some day? 🙂

                    1. Extremely disorganized.

                      Small groups would get into arguments over the precise definition of “Brainzzzz” while others would debate whether Communists have sufficient to be sustenance and ALL of them suggesting books to read while encouraging one another to write for indie outlets.

            1. A well managed charity of your choice would be a good place to donate them. They’ll have an incentive to make sure they keep making money and thus your works remain available.

                1. It worked for J.M. Barrie. It also creates a party with an vested interest in keeping the material “in print.”

              1. Well, for me it would be Finland, but since my money (if there will be any) would most likely end used for something like buying some bad art or towards building an unnecessary museum in the middle of the most high prized land in Helsinki in order to house bad art (while probably some beautiful old buildings are going to be razed from that spot in order to make space for the modern art museum, that seems to keep on happening here in spite of repeated howls of outrage from the people living in those cities who’d like to see some of our history preserved instead), or something along those lines, I’d rather not take the risk of letting them play with anything I might earn, or what I have created may earn in the future.

                Also equally likely that if the stories are not selling well at that point they will never then get the chance to, not if the owner of the copyrights is going to be state of Finland for several decades. What I write is not going to be seen as valuable examples of Finnish culture, no way. 😀

                  1. United States, states or individual citizens? Let’s see, I’m somewhat disinclined to trust your federal government currently, there seem to be some states which are not doing too bad, and yep, some citizens or their preferred local charities or something, why not. I suppose I could make a testament for the benefit of something like some military charity organization. American military has, after all, done quite a lot of bleeding which has benefited non-Americans during even the decades I have been alive.

                    1. If I were seriously going to try to do a last will, I’d probably do something like make a trust where whoever is in charge gets 10% of the profits and the rest goes to, oh, the Swiss Guard or something…but that’s not as amusing as “give us money to pay our debt!”

                    2. Heh. I’m in no hurry, but as said, if I don’t do something at some point the state of Finland is going to be the inheritor, so I probably have to get serious about it sooner or later. Giving them mere money would be bad enough, but I certainly don’t want trust the state with my intellectual property, who knows what they’d do with it (and now I got this urge to go and wash my hands).

                    3. ….is the Gutenberg site organized by an actual organization?
                      It’s not like you’d really CARE about not getting royalties at that point, and it’d be kind of cool for your stories to go to funding the spreading of other stories…..

                    4. OK that meets the definition of irony. Donating the royalties from your copyright to a group dedicated to publishing public domain work on the web. Maybe they’d rather have your work as public domain, or maybe not? Can I declare my work to be public domain upon my death? Have it changed to free on Amazon upon my death?

        2. My vote is for life plus twenty.
          Life plus eighteen and nine months might be more precise, but twenty is a nice round number, and gets any minor children of the copywrite holder grown up.

          1. I’d say the longer of life or twenty. Allows a person to profit from their labor while also covering the U.S. Grant scenario.

          2. Life plus twenty? Oh, come on, judge. All I do is write novels. Can’t you give me time off for good behavior? (Yes, I woke up bratty. Any other questions. You can’t hit me with the carp cannon. It’s MY carp cannon.)

      2. The idea that there should be no intellectual property is a lot like the idea that there should be no property at all. None of us actually creates the value out of thin air, after all, whether we’re talking about novels or Model Ts or iPhones. But human beings are so constituted that they will behave differently depending on whether they can count on having exclusive benefits from things to which they stand in the relation that our laws describe as “owner/owned.” Part of how they behave differently is to create a lot more wealth, which all of us enjoy. So whether “property” makes existential sense or not, it makes tremendous legal, social, and economic sense.

      3. How do you account for the hugely different lengths of patent versus copyright terms? Patents last for (in most cases) 20 years from date of filing. Copyrights–even under the far more reasonable terms you propose–would last far longer?

        Is it because the inventions of inventors are less valuable to society, and therefore deserve less protection? Sometimes–but sometimes not. I’d happily trade the complete works of Robert Heinlein for a cure for Alzheimers. On the other hand, there are scads of bogus “business method” and software patents that are of less value than a single work from those dinosaur erotica authors you posted about last week.

        Is it because copyrighted works make less money than patented inventions? No, that can’t be it, either. Again, it’s “sometimes–but sometimes not”. Movies can gross over a billion dollars and major video game release even more, while a majority of patented inventions are never even put into production.

        Is it because patents are usually held by Big and Evil Corporations and copyrights are usually held by Selfless and Struggling Artists? Mr. Artist, let me introduce you to Ms. Work-for-Hire.

        Is the investment or required creativity/genius/hard work different for a Copyrighted work versus a Patented invention? Again, it depends, and is highly subjective. What’s not is that a Patent takes years and thousands of dollars to get and a Copyright is automatic.

        How has this disparity evolved? The Patent Act of 1790 set a time limit of 14 years for Patents. The Copyright Act of 1790 set a term of 14 years for Copyrights, with one renewal of 14 years (if the author was still living). But Patent terms have risen only modestly over the intervening 223 years, while Copyright terms have ballooned to the level set in Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 to life of the author plus 70 years (or for works-for-hire 95 years after publication).

        1. No. Look, it might be perfectly fine in ten years, after the indie kicks in, but here’s the thing — PATENTS PAID better and more quickly. In publishing, you could spend YEARS just trying to break in, before you could EVER sell anything. And those years you made nothing. Now you’re going to say the same of an inventor, but it’s not the same. The inventors didn’t have to funnel through a very small market and get only a (small) percentage, pre-set. Using those conditions, and under the circumstances where your initial sale might net next to nothing and where (if it’s a series) you might work at it for years, life or fifty years or ten years after life made sense.
          It might all change with indie, of course.
          It might also have a rider “As long as writer is working with these characters/series.”

          1. Something like the way writing contracts have a thing about the rights returning to the author if it’s not published for X amount of time?

            That would be a really evil way to make sure you got to keep reading your favorite characters. 🙂
            “Why, yes, Mr. Pratchett– you do have copywrite of your work for X years after publishing. It can be extended to X years after the last work with those characters was published by application….”

            1. Yes, but also if a writer’s 20th book in the series goes big (not unusual, at least with Indie, it takes build and not everyone writes as fast as I do.) THEN the movie companies will have to pay him for the first, not just swoop in and make the movie with this series which is ONLY successful because he wrote 20 books over 20 years.

            2. Sounds like a formula for tedious series when the author really needs the artistic freedom to burst loose — and the money to foot the bills while he does it.

          2. No. Most patents don’t pay better or more quickly. Take my father for example. He’s the smartest man I’ve ever known. After he retired from spending 45 years as an engineer at General Dynamics–later Lockheed, he started a company to pursue what has been a lifelong dream of his: an inexpensive new form of mass transit. He applied for and received a number of patents on the various inventions required to make his system work. And has been working on trying sell the concept ever since. ( )

            You think trying to break into publishing is hard? Try breaking into this industry. You think the publishing world is leftist? Try dealing with “public transit advocates”. (Especially when you are challenging their tidy little fiefs.)

            But your copyrights will be good 70 years after your death. My father’s in his early 80s, and in good health, but he’s likely to outlive his patents. Which is fine. I’d much rather have my father around!

            But the fact remains that US IP law does not treat patent holders and copyright holders equitably.

            1. SPQR says it’s because patents are MORE needed. I don’t know. I think 20 years is too short, but 70 after death is ridiculous (and ensures the work becomes irrelevant before it’s free to work with.) I’m not defending the current system. I’m saying that “no one owns intellectual information” is NUTS.

              1. It’s not totally nuts. There is an inherent tension between free speech rights and copyright and patent rights. Your ability under Copyright law to prevent Warner Brothers from making a hypothetical TV series based on Darkship Thieves limits Warner Brothers’ free speech rights.

                The idea of limited terms for copyrights and patents (as expressed in the Constitution) was to balance the need to provide incentives for artists and inventors with the right of free speech.

                But as you point out, that balance has gotten way out of whack.

                1. Commercial speech is not free speech. If I publish and sell my own original work under copyright, it is both free speech AND commercial speech. No one else is allowed to take part or all of my commercial speech and turn it into their own.

                  1. Hmmmm, I wouldn’t agree with how you wrote that. Fair Use concept incorporates some First amendment protection. And commercial speech is not outside of First amendment protection entirely (and the definition of “commercial speech” in First amendment law does not match yours. “Commercial speech” is speech that proposes a business transaction I.e., advertiding) it is metely subject to less protection from govt regulation.

                  2. If commercial speech is not free speech, you are starting down a very, very slippery slope. Does the fact that you are trying to make money on your work give the government the right to censor it? Nearly all news outlets are for-profit corporations, can the government control their commercial speech?

                  3. So, when you’re saying commercial speech isn’t free speech, you don’t mean free as in the 1st amendment, you mean free as in beer.

                    That still doesn’t work, especially with something like a Creative Commons license, where some of those are commercial speech that has specific guidelines attached that allow (maybe even encourage) others to take that particular work and remix, refine, cut, paste, and borrow into their own new work, which may also be commercial in nature.

                    And anything under a Creative Commons license is still under copyright. Releasing under CC doesn’t mean copyright law doesn’t apply, it just outlines up front certain permissions.

                2. Well, I see that SPQR has already weighed in on part of the interpretation of “Free Speech”, but as I understand it, “Free Speech” has to do with OPINION, and your freedom to voice (or print, etc) your opinion, particularly in regards to political speech.

                  Preventing the use of someone’s work being used in substantial part by someone else, without their permission, for profit, is not “limiting their free speech rights”.

            2. “But the fact remains that US IP law does not treat patent holders and copyright holders equitably.”

              I disagree. Certainly copyright holders are treated equitably. And patent holders have a lot of extraordinary powers – which is why we have so many patent troll outfits.

              If you meant “equally”, US IP law should not treat them the same way. They are not the same thing. As I mentioned, patents protect ideas. Once a patent is granted, it prevents anyone in the US from practicing the described invention. A copyright lasts longer but does not prevent anyone from using the idea – only from copying the expression. A copyright is longer in time, but thinner in scope.

              1. It strikes me as unreasonable to demand that all IP be treated “equally” or even that so disparate an array of interests could agree as to what constitutes “equitably.”

                Because there are different pressures in play it is no more reasonable that two branches of IP law should develop in the same way as it is to think two branches of a tree should grow the same.

                1. I am trying to use metaphorical “thin” and “thick” to describe the different scopes of copyright and patent but evidently not successfully.

                  1. Patent is “thicker”. Ideas themselves are protected, and independent invention is no shield from infringement. The branch is thicker, and therefore does not extend as far from the tree.
                    Copyright is “thinner”. The idea is not protected, and anyone can come along and make their own interpretation of the idea – George Romero doesn’t control who can and does make zombie movies, for example. Independent invention IS a shield from infringement – that is, if two people both (somehow) write, say, 50 Shades of T-Rex Scales (holla back to earlier posts, y’all), the two of them being remarkably similar in content, character names (Heather? Buffy? Unga-Nookie?), etc., they may sue each other, but they won’t have infringed on each other’s copyright. The branch is thinner – lighter – and can extend potentially much further from the tree.
                    Theoretically, anyway. Once you get human beings interpreting law, results get a bit fuzzier. And don’t get me started on what happens when human beings start trying to WRITE laws. Heh, heh… heh… yeah…

          1. Oh yes, that’s well-known in circles where copyright idiocy is examined. “Current copyright is [x], which should last until Mickey Mouse approaches [x].”

            I like the idea of characters still in use by a creative individual or group adhering to different rules than regular copyright, or the idea that corporations can maintain a copyright by an exponentially-increasing set of fees. (First year after “normal” copyright is $2. The next year is twice that. The next year is twice that. Eventually, said company decides it’s not worth keeping said property out of the public domain.) But basically, anything that would get copyrights down to a sane level and stop Disney’s necrophiliac profit margin. (I don’t *mind* Disney making money. But sheesh, they’re churning out enough new stuff to do just fine—they don’t need to keep sucking off the fairy tales that were based on tales in the public domain. Plus they’re sue-happy and that annoys me.)

            1. The government(s) profit greatly by DisneyCo.’s continued exploitation of its copyright. That income generated increases tax revenues, after all.

        2. Patents and copyrights have vastly different scope of protection. A copyright only protects a particular expression of an idea. It protects against essentially literal copying (I am oversimplifying, yes, deal as our host would say).

          A patent creates an exclusive right to practice the described idea in any form. Its far broader.

          1. ^^This^^

            Patents (generally) cover reproducible goods, so the balance is struck between the patent holder profiting from their work and the benefit to society of more producers utilizing the design/idea. Copyright covers a far-more constrained idea and there is no/little benefit to society in having more producers churning out the work free of duty to the creator.

          2. That’s not quite correct. Copyright grants protection against unauthorized derivative works, too. Which is why Disney was so hot to buy Mickey Mouse the Sony Bono Copyright Extension act of 1998 for his 60th birthday.

                1. If you didn’t stretch it that far, then anybody would be free to make a movie out of a book, or publish a translation of a book into another language, without paying the author anything.

            1. Protection against unauthorized derivative works just means that the person has to actually do a little work to file off the serial numbers better.

              I don’t know how many it is, but for stories, there is supposedly a limited number of plots. It’s up to the writer to plaster over this framework in such a way as to put a personal touch on it.

              1. “there is only a certain number of plots” also known as “reductio ad tvtropsium.” *chuckle* Depending on how far down you reduce the plot to generalities, it can be quite accurate, too…

                1. And people keep writing about those lists as if they were useful for writers. I’ve never heard a writer describe them as useful.

                  Even lists of character types can be more useful. I’ve heard of one who uses one list to check her work; if she can recognize a character’s type, it needs more work. And another who uses one to orchestrate her characters, because unless she consciously assigns types to them, they all turn out the same type.

                2. I don’t think TV tropes (the thing the site is about, not the site itself) had even been established when Doc Smith wrote the afterword in one of his books where he talked about his writing and alluded to having been taught at different times that this number was either 3 or 7. So we’re talking about down at the really base level, here.

                  1. “I don’t know yet whether there are three basic plots, or eleven, or whether an author has a brand-new plot when he changes his hero from a bright young lawyer to a brilliant young physicist, and his heroine from a wise-cracking brunette stenographer to a witty blonde stewardess.”

                    Full text here:

                3. Yep, and my favorite riposte to the only n plots folks is to say, “There are only 2 types of people in the world–those who eat peas, and those who don’t eat peas.”

          3. Referencing the Wiki article on the Statute of Anne —

            the Licensing Act 1662 … was not “copyright” as is normally understood; although there was a monopoly on the right to copy, this was available to publishers, not authors, and did not exist by default; it only applied to books which had been accepted and published by the [Stationers’] Company. A member of the Company would register the book, and would then have a perpetual copyright over its printing, copying and publication, which could be leased, transferred to others or given to heirs upon the member’s death. The only exception to this was that, if a book was out of print for more than 6 months and the publisher ignored a warning to make it available, the copyright would be released and other publishers would be permitted to copy it. Authors themselves were not particularly respected until the 18th century, and were not permitted to be members of the Company, playing no role in the development or use of its licenses despite the Company’s sovereign authority to decide what was published.

            — we see that copyright was initially developed for the benefit of publishers, not authors.

            Authors benefited incidentally by the fact that English copyright law (prior ro the Statute of Ann) was an inducement for publishers to purchase and publish authors’ works. Without such right of exclusivity it is doubtful many authors could have realized much from the sale of their work as they could not guarantee the kind of exclusivity necessary for publishers to pay decent fees for publication rights.

            A patent, in contrast, denied exclusive use of the process/concept/mechanism patented but ensured the patent holder’s fees for use. I will now stand aside while people argue whether that same principle couldn’t have been employed for copyright.

        3. I can actually (sort of) answer that. Patents are for a shorter time, because they can be replaced by newer versions. It actually _forces_ companies/patent holders to keep improving the product. The exception is drug patents. There it takes 10-14 years to get through drug trials, and proof of usability.. OTOH, with the exception of Marxist “thought,” there is no “better” version of a good book. In fact, there really are a limited number of plots. Nearly(?) all of which can be found in the Bible, in one form or another.
          Since we all know that Sarah will live to the age of 2500, life plus 50, won’t matter to her. 🙂

        4. How do you account for the hugely different lengths of patent versus copyright terms? Patents last for (in most cases) 20 years from date of filing. Copyrights–even under the far more reasonable terms you propose–would last far longer?

          One of the reasons for patents in the first place is that one trades full disclosure for a limited monopoly. Without patents the only way to “protect” an invention (and prevent people from undercutting it) is by keeping its workings secret. And that’s still done to some extent: Coke’s secret formula. The Colonel’s 11 secret herbs and spices. But if anybody learns the secret you’re out of luck. They can produce the product and not pay you a cent.

          With patents, you have to fully disclose how the invention works in the application. You can’t keep it secret. (Mind you, in some cases the government may keep it secret from the public but you can’t keep it secret in the application.) In return for that disclosure, you get to have exclusive use of the idea for a limited time. And the disclosure means that others can build on it later.

          Copyright is a different beast. “Trade secret” is a non-starter in writing or the creative arts. What you see, really is what you get. So it starts from a different position and it’s no surprise, then, that the result is different.

          Also, I think copyright law, got influenced by some examples of writers who sold “all rights” for a pittance then had their work turn out to be wildly popular–years after the original sale–earning lots of money for the publishers but nothing for the author who was destitute (IIRC, Dickens was cited as an example of this). And so we ended up with “Life plus” for the copyright with a provision that an author/creator could recover his or her rights some years (35, IIRC) after they were sold.

          That does underscore one aspect about copyright. It can sometimes take years, or even decades before a creative work’s “value” becomes apparent. It’s not all that common, mind you, but there have been enough cases that having some protection against same in copyright law makes a certain sense. Whether the current protections are the right protections is another story.

          Or, it could be simpler. Copyright law is whatever “The Mouse” needs to have passed to keep Steamboat Willie under copyright. (Wish I could say I was joking).

          1. A lot of US copyright law is based on the stereotype of the alcoholic song writer (for a long time, there was far more money in song writing than books).

            The old Copyright Act of 1909 with its term of 28 years plus a renewal of 28 years. If the alcoholic songwriter signed away all his rights to a song for enough for a drink, but conveniently died before the end of the 28 year initial term, then his heirs could recover the copyright for the renewal term – scraping off the previous licenses. But if the alcoholic songwriter inconveniently survived to the beginning of the 28 year renewal term, then his license was still valid.

            A vestige of that remains in the current Copyright act. A termination right exists at the 35 year mark where an author may terminate his/her licenses/assignments. If the author has passed away, his/her statutory heirs can exercise the termination right. (The termination right cannot be willed away from a widow(er) or children/grandchildren of the author – say to the no-good tramp mistress of the alcoholic song writer – which makes estate planning for authors such a great challenge)

        5. The biggest hit to patents is that they were seldom useful after twenty years. Technology, even during the horse-and-buggy days, moved rapidly, and depended upon what went before. Twenty years was judged long enough for the inventor to profit from his work, yet not so long that it tied up the technological development of NEW things with patent torts. Not much of that applies to copyright, which originally was set at 35 years. Before the 20th century, that usually guaranteed the author was dead or doddering before the FIRST copyright expired, and dead by the time his last one expired (if he were even moderately proliferate). It made sense at the time. The current copyright laws are a bit nonsensical, and need to be brought in line with reality. “Life plus 20 years” makes sense for me, at my age and current situation, as it would give me an income for the rest of my life (meager as it is), and support my heirs until Timmy is grown and through college. With the possibility that life may become extended to two hundred years or more (the medical discoveries of the last 10 years are truly phenomenal), there will need to be an adjustment.

    2. That’s probably why there were so many of them in a Used book store. Probably after they were removed from the holes in the drywall.

      1. Doesn’t it seem that the selling of used books is a crime against the author, denying her (him) of just compensation for their labor? Shouldn’t Marxists refuse to engage in such an exploitative trade?

        Further, simply because a book has been read once should not, under Marxist theories, diminish the value of the book. It certainly hasn’t diminished the author’s contribution of labor.

  7. This has bugged me for years, the insidious underlying assumptions derived from Marx. (Really bugs me when I find myself hemmed by them. Breaking the cultural gestalt requires constant opposing pressures.) It corrupted my college experience in years past because it created such a disconnect from what I understood by observation and what was being taught everywhere .

    I was (am) enough of an alien in my thought processesn that I constantly struggled with believing my lying eyes. Nowdays I just wanna kick ’em in the shin.

            1. ‘Bout six, seven inches or so down from their belly buttons. Remember, these people put a special emphasis on “feelings.” You want them to “feel your pain.”

            2. The poor dangles, always targets for the squishy grey-matter’s faults. Alas poor meaty spheres, violence is afoot.

                1. Well, in the case of Marxists fleshy spheres betwixt the thighs might simply be (strangulated) inguinal hernias. While they’re full of something it ain’t meat.

              1. “violence is afoot.”

                Violence is also sometimes a fist, a keychain, a tonfa, a cricket bat, a logging chain, not to mention various more destructive devices. I must protest this flagrant discrimination of foots. This is… this is distal-limbism!

                1. You think the dangles are ready to hear about logging chains? That crawling sensation in your belly? That’s some testy dangles climbing back up the rope and seeking cover, that is.

                  Tonfa, the man says!

        1. Shins is about as high I can kick. Well, I might manage a knee, but unfortunately much higher than that and forget it. I could punch rather lower than a belly button, though, I’m short.

          1. Don’t despair! One good bone-crunching stomp on the instep, or a nice kick that sweeps out an ankle, will bring any and all targets you desire down to an easy kicking level!

            1. Good advice.

              And that makes me think. Nice shoes or boots with a bit of a sharp pointed heel, maybe the type dancers use where the heel is reinforced. Looks nice, good for stomping.

              Ah, now you made me think that maybe I’d need a new pair of shoes. Or boots. Both? 🙂

              1. Boots, go western. The ones with hardwood soles and heels (rubber tread, but base sole made out of hardwood, usually oak) particularly those with pointed toes work well. And the taller tops not only provide ankle support, but also provide a measure of shin protection for yourself.

                  1. Those among us too young to have seen this movie —

                    — in a crowded theatre may be unaware of a notable phenomenon: at the scene’s critical moment two distinct sounds can be heard from the audience. Along with a collective gasp from the men there is an outburst of laughter from the women. Clearly there is a part of the American female psyche that finds the act of kicking a man in the crotch deeply, amusingly satisfying.

                    While it is not a topic I have pursued in any depth, I believe this to be the first instance of such a kick on film. Obviously, it has become a cinema and TV convention since this film was released.

                    1. I recall the time I went to see Mrs. Doubtfire with a female friend and *her* female friend. The “blouse catches fire” scene had them both covering their breasts and gasping in sympathetic shock.

                      Haven’t seen that particular type of discomfort portrayed in cinema since, though whether that’s intentional or not I don’t know. Probably the only reason it was shown at all is that “Mrs. Doubtfire” was (is a spoiler alert really necessary here?) a man in drag.

                    2. I have got to watch that movie.

                      Worst example I’ve ever seen is at the end of Tommy Boy, when they dropped a sandbag from the rafters on to Rob Lowe’s lap. Every guy in the theater (and a couple of the women) let out a reflexive “Ohhhh!”

                    3. There is anyone too young to have seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? I didn’t think it was possible to be old enough to read and not have seen that movie.

                    4. Those among us too young to have seen this movie in a crowded theatre …

                      The film was originally released in October, 1969 and while it has certainly showed many times on television it has not had a theatrical re-release of any note. With the exception of film series presentation nobody born since 1960 is likely to have seen this in theatre.

                      It is only in a crowded theatre that the uniformity of the division of response along “gender” lines can be noted.

            1. I’d probably rather try to grab or punch there, or stab with something like a pen or key (things I often keep in my pockets) if I ended that close and had at least one hand still free. I have bad balance so trying to use a knee, especially if not successful, could end badly. The balance issues are a big part why I can’t kick well high too, bad knees the other part. I have to pay so much attention to keeping my balance that I can’t usually get much power behind those kicks, or probably not kneeing either (I have tried, and occasionally still do. There is a punching bag in the cellar mini gym my apartment house has, and I did get some training in jujitsu when younger so I have some idea how to kick or punch, although not much. I quit early when the inner ear balance problem gave me a week long vertigo attack after I practiced rolling ukemis for an hour or so in the gym after one class. Didn’t want to risk that happening again).

                    1. They are sold here, but we do have these laws… If I ended up using something like that, or police happened to find one in my pocket or bag in a public place I could get into trouble since we are not really supposed to carry any kind of weapons in public. I need something which does not look like it has been meant for a weapon. Because of that I do sometimes carry a pen, or a short rod of polished wood which can be explained as ‘it’s pretty’ or ‘it’s for stress relief, I play with it’. (Practices a wide eyed innocent and a bit dense aunt look.)

                    2. Look for a rubber ball filled with sand or shot — the sort of thing used by knitters to work the tension from their hands after hours spent knitting. Carry an extra pair of socks for wet mornings when it might be necessary to don a fresh pair.

                      Combine as needed.

                    3. Thanks, that’s a good idea. While I don’t knit I do drive several hours per morning, and my hands do get a bit stiff sometimes. Makes a good excuse. 😉

                    4. I have also sometimes carried a pestle in my bag. Found it in a flea market somewhere, forgot it in the bag. I am kind of scatter brained, I’m afraid.

                    5. Do they roll coins in paper rolls to deposit in the banks in Finland? A roll of nickels fits my hand nicely, adjust coins used according to size of your hand. Completely innocent looking, you were of course going to deposit it next time you are at the bank.

                    6. I had that same thought, with a roll of dimes.

                      In this under-recognized Cary Grant film from 1943 it is established that he carries a roll of dimes “because they come in handy,” giving rise to a scene where

                      Dorothy invites Joe to accompany her to the docks, where Comstock, a supplier, has refused to unload a shipment of supplies without payment. At the docks, Joe follows Comstock into his office and strongarms him into releasing the supplies.

                      From outside the door we hear a brief tussle, a meaty thwack and a bunch of coins falling to the floor … as Grant comes out rubbing his knuckles and a few stray dimes roll out after him.

                      The whole film appears to be available for free online viewing. Heartily recommended.

              1. You don’t always have to kick or knee–hand or elbow to the nose, throat, and temples can really hurt someone. Elbows are my secret weapon. 😉

                1. I have been looking at human anatomy from a non-artist angle lately. Where the nerves run, and that kind of stuff. Of course it’s just research for stories. 🙂

  8. Sometimes you have to engage in a practical demonstration of the absurdity of Marxism. I went to college in the 70’s (Yes I’m old. Shut up!). In one of my classes, my professor explained how the Soviet Union did its 5 year plans, see Gosplan on wikipedia This typically resulted in a matrix, spreadsheet if you will, of over 100 rows by 100 columns. All the outputs (cars, tanks, consumable food, other goods) were rows, and the columns were the raw material needed for each output. So you had a hundred by hundred matrix where the sum or of each column of raw material had to match exactly the amount needed for all the rows of outputs. That’s 10,000 cells, and if anyone proved erroneous, the whole system would not work! THAT is what collective planning gets you. Once it was laid out like that I immediately saw how totally impossible such a system is.

    1. My University Used to get the Soviet movie review magazine. Now why the Soviets would publish, in English, a magazine about Soviet movies, that in the ’80’s were not even available in VHS is beyond me. One movie stuck with me. It involved trains, and since I liked trains I read the review. The movie revolved around the need of an oil refinery for some tank cars. The plot was basically the usual Soviet Lesson story about not letting corruption and drunkenness get in the way of your duties of the state and above all don’t ask the system to adapt, as the refinery manager secretary seduces the car despatcher to get the extra tank cars and the extra train required causes a wreck due to operator drunkenness. A Soviet disaster movie. I found it interesting because it was a good example of how the system could not meet the needs of the users and in fact, crashed because the system could not change. That is the fatal weakness of Socialist systems.

    2. 10,000 values? I know of systems that do more calculations to figure out how many people need to be scheduled to work at a grocery store for a week.

      And, in the end, the policy is that the local manager can override anything the system says, they just have to accept responsibility if they’re completely wrong.

      1. Illustrates the failure of communism very nicely, doesn’t it? That system was designed because there are all these gives and takes, and even then it’s just a cruise control, relying on a human going “looks OK” or “no, this is a BIG problem, we need to—“

      2. And, in the end, the policy is that the local manager can override anything the system says …

        The solution to Hayek’s “knowledge problem” in a nutshell. No centralized system/person can know all the relevant facts, so let the guy on the spot make the call if he has to.

        … they just have to accept responsibility if they’re completely wrong.

        And this is also the balance needed to make sure the guy on the spot only makes the call when he has to, and not on a routine basis. Which grocery store is that, if you can say? They’re apparently doing logistics right. My private guess is Walmart, but I’m curious if I’m guessing right.

  9. Wondeful post. One thing I must dispute however. While you are absolutly correct about Marx’s theory of value being a crock, your statement that “something is worth what people are willing to pay for it.” is also fundementally flawed. In reality, the value of a thing is less than what it brings in the market to the seller and greater than what it brings in the market to the buyer. This is why the sale happens at all. This is also the miracle of free markets, that each time something is sold, there is an increase in the total wealth in the world as each party to the sale gets more than they gave the other party in their own estimation.

      1. Thanks. I figured that you probably knew, but too many people don’t and it is a very important distinction.

  10. I have, on multiple occasions, been cornered by a woman who was fond of actually using the phrase ‘The workers must control the means of production’ in re the company she worked for. When I reminded her the company was public, and a small investment by each employee would have made them the MAJOR stockholders, she pointed out that their labor had been stolen from them, and the company should give itself to them in retribution

    Everytime I remember this, I have a migraine because I didn’t beat her.

    1. Oh, it gets better, Tad Williams who is the person who thinks there are no Marxists around, echoed it on his page, and there’s an idiot claiming the deaths that follow communism are NOT the fault of the communists. You know, Hitler was Catholic… (No, he wasn’t. He renounced it for paganism. BUT OMG, the stupid.)

      1. No, he disapproved of paganism for distracting from GERMANY!!! But not enough to expel pagan revivalists from his inner circle.

          1. But everyone knows that all good Catholics practice wholesale execution of the Jesus killers.*

            *Now there is a good example of ‘social justice’ at work.

      2. I lost track of where, but I recently ran across yet another iteration of the No True Scotsman, Communist edition, where someone said it was unfair for people to argue that communism was bad because [X] (Stalin, the NHS, whatever) was bad because True Communism includes end states of endless abundance and the withering away of the State, and none of those people got anywhere near that…

        You might as well say Hitler wasn’t a real Nazi, because the True Nazi definition of Nazi includes the Nazis driving everything before them and making a Thousand Year Reich, but in reality they were losers who only lasted some thirteen years.

        1. In essence, modern leftism/emotional marxism/emotional socialism doesn’t really have much to do with traditional socialist/communist/marxist theory any more, it’s more of a Timocracy in disguise, where those who pay lip service to Marxist flavored ideas of equality are seen as having honor but those of us who don’t, don’t. But there’s so much circular logic in there (“I choose this worldview because people with honor are telling me this shit and I believe they have honor because of my worldview”) that we can nominate the guy who socialized Massachusetts’ health care system as our Presidential candidate but he (and we) still have no honor in their eyes.

        2. Yep. Keep running into that argument of “well, that wasn’t true communism. True communism hasn’t been tried yet.”

          To which I answer. “Yes. There. is. a. reason. for. that.”

            1. I should probably edit that comment, but I don’t know how. I’m at the end of the day and my brain isn’t working.

              1. In the paradise-on-earth that is WordPress commenting, editing of one’s comment is not allowed.

                1. Yes, yes, will move from this here dunghill as soon as I have a week to work at it. On the good side this is more likely now that HVAC is fixed. Maybe it’s psychosomatic, but I already feel better. No, I’m not less congested, but that slight burning in the air passages is considerably lessened.

                  1. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

                    …it’s probably not psychosomatic. If you’re sitting where a fresh draft is reaching you, then the easing in the burning sensation is not just the effect of clean, filtered air – it’s that times the effect of not breathing a draft of freshly awful air. Like stepping out of a bar full of smokers or a closed apartment gone moldy, you’ve got a lot of cleaning the air to go from the current state to well, but not piling more bad on is a blessed relief.

                    I know that feeling all too well. My bronchi rejoice with yours!

                  2. I didn’t mean to complain to you or anyone else, I just didn’t like that I was careless in editing and wound up posting some Word Salad. I probably shouldn’t post while checking my mail from an empty classroom after the 2 hour CAD class, during which subcontractors were calling to bug me about money…

                    Anyone have some Thousand Island or Bacos to put on my word salad?

                  3. Yes, yes, will move from this here dunghill as soon as I have a week to work at it.

                    The new-ish blogging software I’ve been keeping an eye on, Ghost, is now available at last. At least if you’re a techie or are friendly enough with a techie that he’ll do free* work for you. They say that “in the coming weeks we’ll be rolling out our hosted service,” but being a techie myself, I prefer to roll my own.

                    * For values of “free” that may sometimes include recompense in the form of, for instance, cookies of the chocolate-chip variety.

                    1. I keep seeing that. Can’t try it myself because I’m on a cPanel hosting service for at least the next two months, but… I do love the Markdown drafting function.

                    2. Cable installer, definitely. Repairmen have a connection to the waiting party. Cable installers? Nobody really knows.

          1. Actually, it has been. Read the Book of Acts, Ananias and Sephira.

            I’ve broken that down before, and much lefty sputtering has ensued when I ask them “If the 12 Apostles backed up by God couldn’t make communism work, what makes you think you have a shot?”

      3. Dagnabit, does this mean that I can no longer read Tad Williams? I mean, besides the crime against humanity that was Stone of Farewell? I wanted to break that book into tiny pieces. And couldn’t because I’d borrowed it from a friend. Whom I then called immediately to return it…

        And woke her up. Ah, those crazy days of college when I was staying up past 9 PM. (eyeroll)

    2. Given how quickly even the most solid company would disintegrate if actually operated by the workers, I believe such retribution would indeed be just.

      Explaining to such a person how transferring ownership of the company in such way would constitute a theft of labor from its investors (capital is the excess of one’s profits from their labor over the cost of their living; investing capital is a deferral of contemporaneous consumption) would go over her head (easily done when a person has inserted their head between their buttocks to protect it from harm.)

      1. I read What Are We Fighting For? by Joanna Russ, which shows her as an unregenerate Marxist after the fall of the Soviet Union. She actually thought we could throw out the capitalists and then evenly divvy up the profits of the factory. . . . I noticed she included no provision for replacing the machinery.

  11. I’m so confused.
    What I’m doing right now, commenting on a blog post, could not have been done a very few years ago for ANY money.

    How valuable is it?

    1. Your question presupposes that there’s a paradox because (1) value is not always expressed only in money and (2) things change in value over time. When the ability to have one’s views heard at their convenience on a semi-public stage was rare, people could and did pay a lot of money for the privilege, sometimes directly, and other times by buying a newspaper and controlling its OpEd page, or perhaps working for peanuts in someone else’s newspaper office. How valuable is the ability to sound off? It depends on the supply and the demand.

      Of course, the megaphone is a little devalued now that there are so many easy ways to deploy it. Look how upset traditional journalists are that mere bloggers can steal their thunder!

    2. I believe the true believer answer would be to rhetorically ask “How much do you need?” and then, without waiting for an answer, direct you to the Peoples Bread Line, Sorry No Bread Today edition.

      Over here in reality, the worth of a thing is what that thing will bring, so given for your post, made possible through the miracles of capitalist technological development, you get the honor and privilege of gracing us all with your thoughts – So in the end you end up with the same thing, but with no useless line-standing required, so you are net ahead!

  12. Back in the olden days, right after dirt was invented, we were never taught Marxism or the wonders of Communism, exactly the opposite in fact. Until I went to college where there were some pretty far left folks, but none in the science department where i fortunately spent most of my time. The idea that I was due something just because I happened to be alive never occurred to me, and if it had I’m sure that my hardworking parents would have seen to it that i didn’t get what I thought I deserve because of my existence.

    The idea that the value of something is somehow connected with the time it takes to produce it might be true if what is being produced has some value to someone. After all Rolls Royce’s take longer to produce than Fords and cost a lot more too, quality of materials notwithstanding. Charlie Russell, the western artist who resided in Great Falls, Montana, where I grew up used to spend his time in The Mint bar when Nancy wasn’t keeping him busy anyway. He had a blob of clay and had crafted a grizzly bear (as I remember) from it. Someone asked him how much he wanted for it, Charlie gave his price, the potential buyer offered half that since it had only taken him a few minutes to model the bear. The artist then smashed the bear flat, and set about crafting one that was half the size of the original which also only took a few minutes. The potential buyer wasn’t impressed, but Charlie didn’t care. He did what he did and if someone didn’t like it that was too bad. Value was what someone is willing to pay, and the seller doesn’t have to take the price offered, and the buyer doesn’t have to buy at the price asked. Simple as that and if that offends someone then maybe they need to go find a job of work then quibble with the employer about spending time versus doing actual work for the money on offer.

    1. When still a callow youth I heard the story of the Society Dame who entered the shop of Paris’ finest milliner, declaring that she must, must have a new, original hat for that evening’s soiree. After she had rejected every hat in the shopp as inadequate for the event, he asked her a few questions about her gown and how she planned to style her hair, then pulling several yards of ribbon from a spool, fashioned her a bonnet perfect for the occasion.

      “Marvelous!”, she declared. “It is perfect! Name your price, Monsieur.”

      “I am so glad it pleases you. Fifty thousand frans will suffice.”

      “FIFTY Thousand!! For a few yards of ribbon????”

      With a deft tug the milliner reduced the ribbon to a tidy pile and presented it to the customer with a flourish and the words, “Madame, the ribbon is free; knowing what to do with it is 50,000 francs”

      1. I remember a similar story, where a factory worker was replaced by a machine, but when the machine broke down, he was called in to consult on how to fix it. He came in, looked at the machine, and made an X on the trouble spot. He then presented his bill. “One chalk mark, $1. Knowing where to put it $49,999.”

    2. You know, the thing that gets me about the general view of the creative arts is that people only see the time it takes to craft the immediate product—they don’t see all the training and practice which enables that product to be crafted in a short period of time. They say it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to become good at something (though skills do translate to similar media, so it’s not as though you have to start from scratch every time.) Those few minutes of sculpting were the end result of all the works he had done up to that point.

      (I work in photography, and it’s appalling to see how people think an amateur with a brand-new camera is a better idea than someone with training with older equipment. You’re not paying for the equipment; you’re paying for the skill set. Thank God my studio isn’t a wedding photography studio, because schools are bad enough.)

  13. A ten year old quote of mine:

    “From Each according to his Abilities, To Each according to his Needs” is a
    pretty sweet deal, if you’re a needy incompetent, but it makes a slave of
    the capable and independent. Advocating such a position says an awful lot
    about the individual who does so, and which side of the equation he expects
    to be on.

  14. While the faux homeless minister in your anecdote was most likely just wanting to rub his moral superiority in the faces of his congregation, there is a very clear link between Christianity and Marxism. A link that most Christians and Marxists in the West like to pretend doesn’t exist. I would go so far as to say that the Bible laid the philosophical and moral foundation for Marxism to flourish in our Culture.

    Matthew 25:31-46 (King James Version)

    31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

    34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

    37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

    40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

    41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

    44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

    45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.’

    That’s the most famous, but there are dozens and dozens of other Bible verses repeating the same lesson. It is a very short leap from taking Biblical injunctions about how one should live his or her own life to prescriptions for how society should be organized.

    The political Right does this, too. The Bible says marriage should be between one man and one (or occasionally more than one) woman. But the Bible does not say that the US Federal or State governments should be enforcing its mandates.

    Likewise the Bible says, “20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” (Matthew 19:20-22, KJV)

    As an individual choice, that may be admirable, but if everyone did it, society would collapse, and we would all be very poor indeed.

    1. Like Islam, Communism is a religion derived from Christianity which came from Judaism (and from Greek philosophy, but that’s a saga for another blog). Also like Islam, Communism enshrined certain tribal mentalities that thus far appear to be pathological in the long term, and for any group larger than a small clan.

      As I told my students last year, voluntary charity is encouraged by pretty much every philosophy to some degree. When you start having the State demanding redistribution, you get into trouble.

      1. That’s a reasonable way of looking at it. Interestingly both Islam and Communism join “church” and state in similar ways.

        1. Could you also say that if it isn’t voluntary, it isn’t morality? (I would agree with both that statement and with yours.)

          1. If an action is coerced then the morality depends on the degree of coercion? If I twist your arm your compliance is at a different level of morality than if I threaten to shoot your child. But certainly you deserve no moral credit for compliance with coerced charitable giving as your donation is prompted by self-interest (avoiding discomfort), not by generosity.

          2. You mean that my refraining from murder, or even assault and battery, is not moral because it’s not voluntary?

            At least not in any sense in which paying taxes is not voluntary.

            1. An interesting question. Am I a highly moral person at the moment I wake up in the morning, for having not murdered, stolen, worshipped false gods, or coveted my neighbor’s goods (or her spouse)? Or am I merely a normal, civilized person, and the true test of my morality being when I see my neighbors getting into their nice new vehicles without coveting, and not murdering the bicyclist wearing black clothing who cuts in and out of traffic in the predawn light, depending on cars to get out of its way?

            2. Are you refraining because you fear punishment, or would you most likely refrain anyways?

              Contrast with involuntary “charity,” where you are very unlikely to hand your money to someone you don’t know to put through a system you have no knowledge or control of to be handed out to people who fill out paperwork reviewed by yet different people for purposes that may or may not change between the time your money is taken and the money is handed out.

            3. “Our moral decisions about ourselves can be spiritual. Our moral decisions about other people can only be practical.” Andrew Klavan

    2. No. You’re simply not reading what the passages are about, removing them from their context like a good Marxist/Postmodernist is supposed to, and imposing Marxist meaning upon that superficial understanding. Marxism is not derived from Christianity, it’s derived from the mumblings of a few anti-Christian philosophers mixed with Marx’s personal bitterness at an uncaring world that did not bless him with success. Then again, people who think Marxism is derived from Christianity often misunderstand Marx as well.

      1. Marxism is derived from Christianity in much the same way manure is derived from cattle: it is what remains after all nutritional content has been removed.

        1. I’m SO stealing that. BTW, Foxfier, the incomprehension I get, when I explain that true Capitalism, is based on Christian thought, is amazing. It is both Christian, and genuinely capitalist, to pay a _true_ fair wage (based on productivity). Of course, it presupposes that the worker will apply him/herself to being a better, more productive worker. The drone worker ends up with exactly what they deserve. Same pay for X years, because they never improve. Screwing the worker always fails, as evidence Communism/Socialism/Fascism/etc.

          1. Take, for example, the recent heckler at the McDonald’s stockholder meeting, who was complaining about being in the same position for ten years, and making minimum wage, with which she, as a single mother, could not provide for her two children.

            1. To which I always wonder: how did you work for McD (or BK, or the Colonel) for ten years and not get promoted? Or fired?

      2. I’m okay with being called a Marxist. I’m used to those kind of wide swings in meaning. I’m a libertarian tea party type and we’ve gone from being called fascists to being called anarchists in just a few weeks. (Though I understand that we remained Evil Racists throughout.)

          1. I was being somewhat facetious in my answer. However, I do believe that a literal reading of the Bible is fundamentally incompatible with free market economics. You either get support for feudalism or marxism (which after a few generations amount to the same thing).

            1. Do you know, I don’t think God was trying to teach economics at all – he was communicating to people in the context they found themselves.

              1. Yep.
                And as an aside the Bible verses quoted above were specifically talking about individual justice for individuals, not group or ‘social’ justice. To paraphrase the verses, God gathered the nations together and separated each individual of the nations into one of two groups, based on that individuals personal actions, then said, “this group of people who have all INDIVIDUALLY did Y are going to heaven, and this group of people who have all individually did X are going to Hell.

            2. If Jesus was preaching that an omnipotent Church/State should be running a command economy and redistributing all the resources as it saw fit, wouldn’t he have gotten along more with the organized priesthood of the time?

              1. Yeah, I can also induce lefty sputtering by asking them to quote me the Bible verse where Jesus endorsed sending out the legions to extract alms at spearpoint, followed by passing them out to only a few with as much hoopla for the passer as possible. I have yet to get a cite.

        1. Rather than ‘being OK with it’, you might try being just bothered enough to recheck your argument. None of your conclusions actually follow from your premises.

          1. My premise was “the Bible laid the philosophical and moral foundation for Marxism to flourish in our Culture”. I still believe that to be correct. I should probably have avoided debating religion, but then our hosts post touched on two of the most popular.

            1. I’m pretty sure the philosophical foundation is irrelevant – as long as you ignore the context and any supporting actual intent, you can base a Marxist-like nobody-owns-it-so-I-can-take-it kleptocracy on anything*.

              * I was going to use “the Manhattan phone book” as my ultimately redefinable source material, but I’m pretty sure such a thing no longer exists, at least in printed form. Damn you kids, get off my lawn!!

              1. Today, the Left revels in the death cults like militant Islam because the fundamental attraction of Leftism is not the inherent merits of any particular issue, nor the actual expansion of freedom. The attraction is hating the correct class enemies.

                Even if those class enemies are doing you more good than your “allies”.

                Its all about hatred. Not principles.

                1. Have you ever noticed that the most left-wing periodicals depend upon advertisements for out-call prostitutes and strip clubs for revenue?

                  1. I don’t even use left-wing periodicals for bum-wipes, so I had not noticed. There does not seem any especial amount of such advertising in the New York Times, except in the editorial content.

            2. Nah, doesn’t jive with the popularity of Marxism in places the Bible has barely reached and not impacted the culture at all, like China, Malaysia, the Stans, and Central Africa.

              Marxism slots well into the tribalistic worldview, where human life is cheap and individuals are unimportant compared to the survival of the tribe as a whole. It actual conflicts massively with the basic Christian worldview that each individual is so important that the Christ died for their sins, and that G-d is interested and invested in their individual soul, thoughts, actions, and deeds… and conscience must be followed before the dictates of any earthly power, including the tribal leader/state/politburo.

                1. Sure they do. They want to steal all they can of everything successful, and try to make everyone follow them with some handwaving and fast talk. After all, they believe in no religion but communism, so clearly these other people with all this power and followers don’t actually believe in anything and should be easily swayed with just the right argument, eh?

                  Oleg once noted that he went to a church service (Catholic, may have been a holiday mass) after arrival in the USA, and was extremely uncomfortable – after long reflection and questioning friends, he began to realize that the Catholic Church hadn’t set out to rip off the Communist pomp & splendour, it was the other way ’round.

                  1. after long reflection and questioning friends, he began to realize that the Catholic Church hadn’t set out to rip off the Communist pomp & splendour, it was the other way ’round.

                    I wish wish wish WISH that some of the libertarian-from-Protestant-roots folks I know would figure this out… I get really tired of them leaping because their spidey-sense tells them that something is like Communism without realizing what is getting to them!

                2. Ooh, ooh, ooh! Next time some Christian communist-leaning person starts talking about Jesus chasing the moneylenders out of the temple because he was offended by their making a profit (which misses the real point of the story, but never mind), I’m going to point out to them that he was a property owner defending his right to kick people off his own property. Let’s see if anyone’s head explodes…

                    1. Great. Just great. Now I want to find one of the pious 19th century gravures of Jesus chasing out the money lenders, scan it and put that caption on it. It’s not enough the Marxists hate me, I’ll also lose my Christian friends. Thank you, RES for putting the idea in my brain.

                  1. I meant “exercising” his right, but I noticed that just too late — i.e., one millisecond after clicking the “Post Comment” button. 😀

        2. Actually what I said was that your interpretation utilized the inherently flawed methods used by postmodernists and marxists. There’s a reason I don’t make my living from writing.

          I’m not so sure a true Marxist could read more than a few lines of that blog post without suffering a fatal apoplexy. Maybe we should link it on Reddit and find out?

          1. Oh, one of them did and linked it on his page and over the rest of the day, he and his friends managed to subsequently maintain that there was no more marxism, there was nothing wrong with marxism, Marxism and communism weren’t bad, not by ‘arf. No one had ever tried true marxism. Marxism was no more responsible for the deaths of millions than Catholicism was for Hitler. I was calling them mass murderers. I was a horrible writer and the post made no sense. (Well, I do have a ton of typos. it comes from doing these early morning and not editing, because it is NOT the work that pays. Or at least it doesn’t pay nearly as much as even just writing a post a week costs me. But as for making no sense.) I was excitable and nuts. I was stupid and uneducated and NOT like their brilliant selves. All this in rotation, OR at the same time, which gave me a very odd impression of what we must call — for lack of a better word — their reasoning process.

            1. ” All this in rotation, OR at the same time, which gave me a very odd impression of what we must call — for lack of a better word — their reasoning process.”

              Or, more colloquially known as a circle jerk.

    3. That’s like saying that if someone co-opted a vehicle and ran it into a crowded plaza, that the existence of the vehicle laid the foundation for the eventual deaths of those run over.

      One will note that the injunction (general) to visit the sick and the afflicted, assist those in need, etc., as outlined in Matthew 25 does not presuppose the divesting of all of one’s worldly goods. Indeed, one may even suppose that in order to help others, one must first a) have worldy goods, and then b) be willing to use them for the benefit of others.

      The specific command to the young rich man was not made generally. It wasn’t made to Christ’s disciples, and in fact wasn’t really even made to Christ’s apostles. It was made to this ONE guy. Why? Because of the question he asked – What Lack I Yet? Where is my character flaw? What is my weakness? What is the thing that I have to do? Something remains, I can feel it. And Christ, perceiving the young man, said, in essence, “You’re too attached to your stuff. Get rid of it, and follow me.” And the young man couldn’t do it. He literally was putting his material possessions before following the Lord.

      But people still use these scriptures as a bludgeon against Christians, accusing them of not following Jesus because they have resources. In so doing, they ignore significant disciples of Christ, specifically I’m thinking of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, both of whom believed in and tried to follow Christ’s teachings and yet were themselves rich men who were not castigated by Christ for their material wealth.

        1. I’m quite happy to listen people who disagree with me, especially when they express themselves in a civil and intelligent manner like you did. No need to apologize for anything.

    4. “When an unclean spirit goes out of a person it roams through arid regions searching for rest but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my home from which I came.’ But upon returning, it finds it empty, swept clean, and put in order. Then it goes and brings back with itself seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they move in and dwell there; and the last condition of that person is worse than the first. Thus it will be with this evil generation.”

  15. The late John McCarthy has a reasonable summary of Marxism and it’s “left” derivatives at ‹›.

    Someone knowledgeable ought to expand this summary to include the various flavors of fascism—the Spanish, Italian, and German versions were very different in their economic thought. Such an expansion would also be helpful in combating the fallacy that individualist-libertarian* opposition to Socialism is somehow “fascist”.

    Of particular relevance to this blog: If I’m reading the dates right, what Mrs. Hoyt has referred to as the Marxist society under which she grew up is considered by many (e.g., Wikipedia) to have been a “right-wing dictatorship”—as if that makes it somehow less Marxist.

    (Out of curiosity, Sarah: When you get the inevitable charges of “fascist!” for opposing PC or Socialist ideas, does the red-hot berserker rage come up first, or unbelieving hysterical laughter?)

    Note: Individualist-libertarian, i.e., opposition to Marxist collectivism based on the principles of individual liberty. Not to be confused with “Libertarian”, big- or small-l. I’d avoid the confusion if I could, but there isn’t another good word for “based on the principles of liberty”.

    1. Right-wing Fascist, Left-wing Communist — it’s still the same bird. Libertarianism or free-market “capitalism” puts you off the turkey and in line to achieve prosperity.

        1. Indeed, its Bolshevik propaganda that began casting every socialist movement other than orthodox Marxism-Leninism as “right wing”. Terminology that the Left has adopted even as it was intended to attack their legitimacy.

        2. The political terms of “right” and “left” come from the French Revolution, those where were the victims of The Terror on the right, and those who would become so on the left.

          In this context, it can be argued that the National Socialist Workers Party was on the “right”, because they regarded the gentry class as a useful thing to have around (and even expand).
          But doing so also removes economic attitudes from the left/right spectrum.
          Of course, most people wanting to spout the line know little to nothing about history, and care even less.

          1. Expand? It was a populist movement that did many anti-gentry things, such as stopping recruiting its military officers from the gentry.

      1. From history, the only difference is how far up the corporate reporting structure you go in sending folks off to “reeducation” camps/dark corners of the forest carrying shovels. Everything else (secret police, show trials, government control of production, propaganda ministries, cults of personality, body counts, etc.) is the same.

      2. There’s a post over on Clare Spark’s blog about the difference between Nazism and Communism, arguing that the Nazi movement was right-wing after all, and that consrvatives should not try to put it on the left. It has to do with the underlying intellectual developments in their history: as best I remember, she concluded that Nazism was a reaction against enlinghtenment philosophy, returning to primitivism, while Communism was a natural, albeit corrupted, outgrowth of that philosophy.

        Which does make it curious that the end result is effectively the same for either one.

        1. Which leaves those of us who are shoved into the right wing for being classical liberals, i.e. children of the enlightenment rather without a home. Is Clare European? Those definitions of right and left are.
          Also, look, communists could became Nazis at equivalent rank. I’d trust scum to know their own.

          1. I think she’s American, but I’d say her academic training has her sufficiently steeped in European thought that her actual origin is irrelevant.

            And it certain does feel like you are without a home when the conservatives no longerwant you after you point out that their beliefs are largely those of classical liberals.

        2. Communism had its rejecting elements too, particularly of education, for the simple wisdom of the working man.

  16. You give Marx too much credit. He was a cunning cowardly wannabe patricide reifying crime, that’s all.

    Likewise his followers, especially the patricide. Marxists seek revenge on the people who prosper by accepting reality for what it actually is. Helping the weak is camouflage. The objective is to hurt normal, healthy, self-sufficient people. Repeat: The goal is hurting people for being good.

    But: None of this matters. We need maps to virtue, not encyclopedias of vice. Marxism only matters right now because it is unopposed. When egoists finally dare to celebrate — and evangelize — their egoism, Marxism will die a loud, ignominious death.

    1. Yeah. There’s less need for satire than for romantic inspiration in fiction nowadays.

  17. A good example of a popular assumption based very explicitly on Marxism is the idea that the main reason why real wages for blue-collar workers have increased since the mid-19th century is the existence of labor unions; its corollary being the idea that — absent labor unions — these wages would not have increased. Connected to this is the notion that minimum wages are the only thing preventing most employers from offering absurdly low wages for jobs.

    What this misses is that (1) no employer can afford to offer (long-term and on the average) higher wages than the profits earned on the productivity of the worker; and (2) employers compete for employees just as employees do for employers.

    The first point is directly obscured by the Labor Theory of Value, which implies that all value comes from labor. This deliberately ignores capital, natural resources and entrepreneurship, because from a Marxist point of view natural resources are fixed, capital could as easily come from all according to their abilities to enterprises according to their needs, entrepreneurship is an imaginary factor created to mystify the workers and steal some of the fruits of their labor. Consequently, given that the owners are richer than the workers, wages could obviously be increased by large amounts without affecting the survival of the enterprise.

    The second point is obscured by class-based assumptions under which the “capitalists” constitute a different (and socially-superior) class than the “workers.” This (ironically, given Marx’s claim to be scientifically-predicting the future) is actually a relic of the pre-industrial past, which survived to contaminate early capitalism. From this point of view, the capitalists would not deign to bargain for the best workers, instead set terms freely with the unfortunate workers having no choice but to take or leave the terms offered.

    This second point is in fact mostly correct as regards one worker applying for one job at one company. The company does set a salary (or salary range) and above that will not hire. However, it breaks down when one considers that a company is not a monopoly in offering jobs to a particular group of workers. Most workers have sufficiently general skills that they are qualified to work at a whole variety of jobs within the same general fields, and numerous firms offer such jobs.

    Suppose that the typical salary for an office assistant in a particular region is (say) $12.50/hr. Suddenly, all miminum wages are repealed. Boris Snideley, the Evil CEO of Greedycorp, rubs his hands together. “Mwah-hah-hah!” he says. “Run an ad for a new office assistant. We’ll pay only $1/hr!”

    The immediate problem Mr. Snideley encounters is that other companies are offering more money for office assistants. Not only that, but the wage he’s offering is so low compared to the overall cost of living that it may not be worthwhile for anyone with the required qualifications to take the job, even if they are unemployed and have no offers: it makes more economic sense for them to search a little longer than to waste their time working for such scant return.

    Another problem Snideley discovers as soon as he actually gets a taker is that this will not be a truly-qualified office assistant. Qualified office assistants will wait for better offers from other companies: the ones willing to take Snideley’s low wage will be those unemployable for various reasons. Some will be incompetent, some ex-felons, some plotting to embezzle from Mr. Snideley himself. They are likely to do such damage through malice and incompetence to Greedycorp as to cost that company far more than the $11.50 an hour (I’m ignoring taxes and benefits for the purposes of this illustration) Snideley saved by offering his low wage.

    This is of course an extreme example, but it makes the point: the higher the salary the employer offers compared to the average rate in the field, the higher the class of employees he will attract. Converseley, the lower the salary, the lower the class of employees. (All other things being equal).

    This is competition, and it exists in any market, including the market for labor.

  18. Yes the problem is the Marx assumes that their is a common class interest among capitalists in low wages for workers, that over rides the individual interest of capitalists to get the workers they need. It is Marx’s class theory fucking up his economics.

  19. Yes the problem is that Marx assumes that there is a common class interest among capitalists in low wages for workers, that over rides the individual interest of capitalists to get the workers they need by offering higher wages. It is Marx’s class theory fucking up his economics.

    1. It also fails the decision, information and defection costs test. How would all employers requiring a particular skill set decide at what level (below the market price) to set wages? How would they transmit this decision and monitor compliance with the conspiracy? And how could they punish defectors, given that any defector would enjoy a competitive advantage over his rivals?

      It’s the same reason why oligopolistic pricing agreements tend to fail, only more so because there is very rarely an oligopoly in a skill set — and where there is, it’s a very rare and hence commercially-valuable skill set indeed.

      1. Oh, for the love! Jordan, pleeeeeeeease. They’d do it the same way ALL the men all around the world are in a conspiracy to keep women down. Do I REALLY have to explain these things to you? 😉

    2. Oh, don’t be too hard on Marx’s class theory. It’s true, and trivially so, that Marx’s class theory is nuttier than a soup sandwich, but Marxist economics would have been sufficiently fucked up without that extra help.

  20. You know, there’s a simple test to see if any governing system is viable. If you say some variant of the phrase “This will work if only these people aren’t in it,” you’ve automatically created an unviable system. In other words, if the only way to make something work is to change human nature, it isn’t going to work.

    Oh, and FWIW, “if only these people aren’t in it,” invariably leads to the slaughtering of “these people.” Mass murder is an automatic invalidation of a working system. And… my god, have you seen the photos of the environmental disaster that is North Korea? There’s no trees left. There’s no bushes left. I think there’s hardly any ground cover. I have no idea how that particular top keeps spinning, but it’s going to be awful for the residents when it crashes because they have nothing left.

      1. They can be there, they just can’t be allowed to run things. Capitalism has a place for them, typically as Barristas at Starbucks.

      2. Well, I think we’ve proven that a free market economy will struggle along, badly, after a century of marxists in it, so nope, robust enough to fit that test.

  21. RES: Not just that. I’m pretty sure the only hope a Marxist economy has of working is if the Marxists don’t run it either. Which appears to be how communist China became 15th century Venice. Or Mussolini’s Italy, I forget which.

  22. What that pastor was almost certainly trying to do was make a point about the Bible’s command in the second chapter of James:

    My brothers*, show no partiality as you hold the faith … if a man wearing a gold ring and find clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

    But by disguising himself as a homeless man, he brought in legitimate safety concerns, as Sarah pointed out. He would have been much smarter to dress in oil-stained coveralls and slightly grubby jeans, and look like he’d just come off an eight-hour shift as a mechanic. But then he might not have gotten the results he was aiming for — he might have found that his church really doesn’t discriminate, just as James said we shouldn’t. By dressing as a homeless man, he got his “results”, but invalidated his experiment at the same time.

    1. Forgot to add my footnote. The Greek work translated “brothers” is gender-neutral, and could be accurately translated as “brothers and sisters”. I left it as “brothers” because I was quoting the translation I have open on the desk in front of me.

  23. ” Mostly it has to do with the horrors of biology and the fact women couldn’t control their own reproduction until we had the pill. But that doesn’t fit in Marxists’ pointy heads, see.)”

    The fact that I should have to pay for Slutty Suzy’s pills, because they are her ‘right’, does seem to penetrate their pointy little heads, however.

      1. Nonsense! Just because you can get it for $9 a month doesn’t mean you don’t spend $3000 for it over three years.

        1. Um, you misplaced a decimal there. Not that that’s at all unusual with government accounting… but the rounding error is particularly egregarious. it’s $324. Any good government employee bent on increasing their share of the appropriations would tell you that’s $4000, as it’s over 3, plus the decimal movement for hiding funding other programs / kickbacks/ personal pockets.

          1. Ever hear of a woman named Sandra Fluke?

            Apparently she was not up to community-based-reality math, either.

  24. For those of you who were looking into the kubotan keychains; you might want to look into ‘tactical pens.’ They’re pens made of milled aircraft aluminum. Work wonderfully, legal to take anywhere. The back end is slightly rounded so it doesn’t cut your pocket but good for grinding and poking; the front pen nib is slightly sharper.

  25. While there is something to this, I do not think you have a deep understanding of American culture. The Puritans who first colonized much of the North East, had a communitarian political orientation. They emphasized self-denial for the common good and the political heritage of that believe system is reflected in the North East even today. Since this political believe system goes back to the early sixteen hundreds, I hardly think Marx had anything to do with it.

    Collectivist political orientations have been a feature of human civilization for many, many centuries. Marx proposed a particular kind of collectivist political system that he thought was optimal for his time. He was wrong about that.

    It is a big mistake to attempt to label all collectivist or communitarian believes as originating from Marx. It will be seen as simply ill informed name calling.

    1. That collectivism nearly killed the Plymouth colony, and likewise wreaked ruin on Jamestown until they abandoned it and harnessed the power of human self-interest.

      1. Note that in Plymouth it took ONE YEAR for them to abandon it.

        Would that all Marxists were as sane.

    2. Oh, for the love of Bob. I’m not attempting to label all communitarian impulses Marxist. Yes, I know about the puritans. DO you know what my degree is? It included more American history than you’ve had.
      BUT NONE OF THEM DID THIS OUTSIDE A RELIGIOUS FRAMEWORK AND THROUGH THE STATE. That’s one. The other one the recent fountainhead is Marx and this is EXPLICIT in college courses.

    3. Where did she, in this post or any other, label all collectivist or communtarian beliefs as originating from Marx? As for being “simply ill informed name calling”, suggesting that Sarah not have a “deep understanding of American culture” falls right in there. Perhaps instead of doing fly-by comments, it might behoove you to actually read what she’s written in this post and in her others before deciding you know what she does and does not understand. Until then, goodbye.

  26. “That last about teachers being more important to society than professional athletes? Marx again. We’re supposed to prioritize the good of the collective over the good of the individual”

    Human civilization is about collectivism. As humans evolved from hunter gathers to a city/state society we became more collective. We sacrificed some of the good of the individual for the good of the collective.

    Google understands that good programmers are important to their business. They pay programmers higher salaries than other companies. Lots of programmers at other companies are asking for more money because of the salaries their friends at Google are making. Is Google doing this because it thinks programmers deserve more money? Of course not. They just want to best programmers, and paying higher salaries is well understood capitalist way of getting better programmers. This is not the only way of running a successful business (see Walmart for example), but it is one possible business strategy.

    Professional athletes make very high salaries because there is a very competitive market for their talents and fans are willing to pay very high prices to watch.

    School teachers make very low salaries, especially compared to the cost of living here is Silicon Valley. There is a competitive market for the best teachers between school districts and private schools, but funding decisions for public schools keep their salaries very low. Some private schools pay more than public schools, but not much more.

    I have a number of friends that started their professional careers as public school teachers. They quickly realized they could not make enough money as a school teacher and moved on to some other profession. That’s the result of paying low salaries. Many of the best and brightest people look for some other career that pays more money.

    Here is California we have decided to limit the funding for schools and as a result teacher salaries are low. The message that sends to young people graduating from college is that California does not value public education very highly compared to other career possibilities. Most of the best and brightest find some other profession. We are left with those that are strongly dedicated to teaching and usually have a spouse to support them and those that are unable to find another profession that pays more. It is not Marxist to suggest that if teachers were paid more, we might have better teachers.

    As to teachers saying they “deserve more money,” that is just human nature. Everybody thinks they deserve more money. Those are probably the teachers who were unable to find an alternate profession that pays more, and they are more likely to be the teachers I would like to see replaced, but it is not Carl Marx whispering to them that they deserve more money.

    1. Human civilization is about collectivism. As humans evolved from hunter gathers to a city/state society we became more collective. We sacrificed some of the good of the individual for the good of the collective.

      Um…no. Cooperative systems are not collectivist systems. Society and civilization are not inherently collective. Or even mostly. Human nature objects to collectivist practices.

      1. Thank you; I was so busy being boggled by the mental gymnastics required to think that hunter/gatherer was better for the individual than civilization, and that functional hunter/gatherer societies didn’t involve group action.

        Biggest difference I see is that civilization offers bigger rewards for cooperation.

              1. And your point is?

                If you want to run around calling everything Marxism, go right ahead. Just don’t be surprised when people who do not live inside the same information bubble you do, don’t take it seriously. I actually think Carl Max is probably turning over in his grave from all the Marxist labeling going on in America today.

                1. Mike, arguments over precise definitions of terms are so tedious. Couldn’t you address the substance of her arguments instead?

                2. Comment nesting is important, at least as long as the ‘reply’ button is still there.

                  As regards information bubbles…um. There is a vast array of experience on display in these parts. Derived from a huge variety of experiences. There is information coming into this system from all over the globe, and from all sorts of people. I’m having a hard time seeing a bubble that doesn’t closely correspond to the outer limits of Earth’s atmosphere. Perhaps that’s not what’s happening here, when folks disagree with you? Maybe?

                  1. Oops. We’ve got folks running around with astrophysical information backgrounds. Bubble just got bigger…

                3. Yo, Mike, I’m real happy for you, and I’mma let you finish, but while you’re accusing people of living in an information bubble, it helps if you don’t misspell “Karl Marx” as “Carl Max”.

                  Just sayin’.

              2. You ain’t never gonna get the hang of this interwebz if you don’t learn to use linked videos to underline you points.

                Leave this one alone.

    2. There seem to be some fundamental elements of your argument which you are taking for granted. A partial list is hereby provided with no claim of comprehensiveness:

      Professional athletes make very high salaries because there is a very competitive market for their talents and fans are willing to pay very high prices to watch.

      And because they benefit from union agreements which, by allowing players to negotiate as a unit but requiring teams to negotiate individually, establishe extremely favorable bargaining leverage to the players. That is why players with no bargaining leverage still make league minimum salaries of approx. $500K (MLB), $400K (NFL) and from $500K to $1.2M, depending on various factors (NBA).

      As for teachers’ salaries being kept low because of funding decisions, those decisions include the following factors not included in your exegesis: the decision to carry extremely high administrative overhead expenses, the decision to unionize which restricts an individual teacher’s incentive to excel so as to merit higher pay, and the decision to defer pay in the form of absurdly generous benefits which primarily advantage more senior teachers over younger ones.

    3. “As humans evolved from hunter gathers to a city/state society we became more collective.”


      …Somebody has never, ever, ever seen, met, or heard of anything that has to do with tribal life. pffft. We became more collective when we split from the tribes and clans and came to cities. Heh. Heheheheheheh. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

      Next you’re going to tell me unicorns are real and they fart rainbows, you can tax your way into prosperity, and dig your way out of a hole if you go straight down.

      Keep digging, Mike. Keep digging. And assure yourself that Zulus are far more fond of individual rights than New Yorkers.

        1. Whoo boy. The anthropological record I was taught said nothing of this. Nothing! I have been… deceived! *curses the low-paid marginal teachers he paid a mint to educate him*

          Seriously, though. Reconstructing early modern human behavior is tricky at best, but the very best tool we have for that is comparison to modern human behavior we *do* have historical records of. Tribal life is definitely not “characterized by a political, economic, or religious theory advocating collective control, especially over production and distribution.”

          Nobody here wants me to trace the history of how technology, culture, and political systems interact (mostly because that would be incredibly long, boring, and introduce brain bleed in all but the most masochistic mind), but I assure you the archaeological record bears this out. Evidence of long distance trade does much to diminish the idea that “we become more collective” as we “evolve” from hunter-gatherers on up.

          The biggest physical evidence from *prehistory* that collectivism didn’t hold sway? Graves with a buncha stuff in them. Grave goods. Possessions of the deceased, to take with him to the afterlife, or to honor his life and his passing, etc. Why would a collectivist group do that? After all, those items are owned by the “group” and little Bokky might want pretty rocks or sharp flint to scrape hides with.

          Or do you want to tell me that those pyramids in Egypt were constructed by collectivists. Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

          Look, there’s a bloody reason that the most common form of political system *throughout human history* is the Strong Man system. The very antithesis of collective, that (well, no, that would be individual liberty, but still). We’re a fractious, quarrelsome lot. We want our fair share, and then some.

          The key part of that quote about teachers being more important to society than pro ballers? “More important to society.” Pair that up in your brain with “from each according to his ability to each according to his needs.” they fit quite comfortably together.

          If we were paying teachers more because we individually wanted a good quality education for our little ones (as opposed to indoctrination in provably failed system…), and were willing and able to pay for it ourselves, that would not be Marxism. However, if our hard earned wages are taxed to achieve some arbitrary social good (“pay teachers more”), *that* is taking from us according to our “ability” to pay for “the chirren!” according to their “needs.”

          . . . I’m telling you people, somebody needs to start *selling* these soapboxes, there’s a market for it! Anyone want this one for cheap? It’s only slightly used…

          1. “The biggest physical evidence from *prehistory* that collectivism didn’t hold sway? Graves with a buncha stuff in them.”

            Are you serious? You realize those graves were the rulers graves or at least the graves of the elites. In many cases it was a religious belief that people would need those things in the afterlife.

            “The key part of that quote about teachers being more important to society than pro ballers? “More important to society.” Pair that up in your brain with “from each according to his ability to each according to his needs.” they fit quite comfortably together.”

            I guess if you are a true believer this makes sense. It does not to me.

            I have listened to many people reporting to me say they deserve more money, because ….. somebody they know at some other company is making more or they are guessing that some other employee reporting to me makes more than they do. This is human nature. Everyone things they deserve a higher salary.

            The argument that professional athletes make more money so teachers deserve more is an absurd argument on its face. Are teachers threatening to quit and become professional athletes? The point of this argument though is that teachers salaries are controlled by the funding level of public schools. Teachers are saying the that the current level of funding for schools does not provide them the salary they think they deserve. They are simply making an absurd comparison to try to make their point. It would be better if they compared their salaries to programmer salaries, because many public school teachers here have quit teaching to become programmers as a way of making more money.

            I am not saying whether teachers should be paid more or not. I’m sure the answer varies depending on where you live, and people are entitled to their own opinion on this issue. I know that here in Silicon Valley California, teacher salaries are low compared to the ridiculously high cost of living. Just paying higher salaries is no magic bullet, although it might in the long run allow schools to recruit and retain better teachers.

            Saying that teachers claiming to deserve higher salaries is Marxist, is just a rhetorical labeling device so that the actual merits of the issue do not have to be discussed. It can just be dismissed because obviously Marxism is evil.

            1. “[T]hose graves were the rulers graves or at least the graves of the elites”??? Your claim is unsupported and thus is merely your opinion. Unless you can demonstrate greater subject matter expertise than heretofore demonstrated you are merely peddling fable.

              Your initial statement about teacher salaries was “Here is[sic] California we have decided to limit the funding for schools and as a result teacher salaries are low.”

              Do you know of any locality where school funding is unlimited? Your conclusion does not follow from your premise; as has been pointed out there are many reasons for low teacher salaries, reasons including high administrative overhead expenses and deferred payments (aka generous retirement benefits.)

              Any locality has the option of taxing itself to fund those activities it values at a level suitable to purchase those services at the quality the locality desires. That even applies in Silicon Valley, so their disinclination to pay higher salaries for teachers reflects a purely local phenomenon — unless they have set their teacher salaries according to some state established level which would foolish indeed, presuming that living expenses were uniform statewide.

              You continue to ignore rebutting arguments and to conflate issues in a manner indicating an incapacity for linear thought.

            2. Prehistory, Mike. This is way, way, WAY before we have rulers over any but maybe fifty individuals or so. Not thousands, tens and hundreds of thousands of years ago. And that goes on for a long, long, long time. Rulers/elites of the time? Highly ephemeral in the period of “nasty, brutish, and short.”

              The case for “it was a religious belief” is there, but again, makes my point, not yours. Collectivists don’t worry much over the *individual.*

              But let that lie, if you want. If you are invincibly convinced that you have all the pertinent facts at hand, nothing I can say will change your mind. I can be disproven of what I asserted. I have not seen sufficient evidence of it yet. Dorothy Grant has more first hand experience with tribal groups than I ever will (dunno about you), and has pretty well debunked the idea that they are or ever were collectivist to my satisfaction. Again, if you cannot be convinced by credible evidence, so be it.

              We can agree that everyone has wants. That is a characteristic of the human condition. We can even agree that most of us want more money. Well, other than those of the political bent that say they don’t pay enough taxes.

              Mike, no one *here* is making the argument that professional athletes make more money so teachers deserve more. Not a one, that I see. But that argument is being made elsewhere. What Sarah said is:

              “It’s also part of the trite, ridiculous idea that professional athletes should make less than teachers, because teachers “work harder” or are “More important to society” or whatever.”

              It *is* a ridiculous idea. Saying that teachers deserve a higher salary is not Marxist. Saying they deserve a higher salary because this group or that one is making too much money *is.* That is simple Marxism, where total wealth is finite and in order to add income to this group you *must* take it from that one.

              Marxism is like that. “From each according to his ability…” If you do not see the link between taking money from me, you, and every taxpaying citizen in order to address some social injustice, in this case pay teachers more, you are redistributing wealth on a grand scale.

              It already happens in this country all the time, this taking from those who produce wealth to give it to those who “deserve” it. This is why we bemoan the insidious growth of Marxist thought in America. There are a great many folk, like you, who do not see the connection. This does not also mean that it does not exist.

            3. It is not clear to me from your comments that you understand what collectivism means. Your responses here do not incline me to assume so.

              And the teacher thing you keep bringing up? Has nothing to do with what was actually said in the original post.

              Just because it bugs me that you keep talking about it: Wages and cost of living are reflective of different market forces. While there is interaction, they are not inextricably linked. Employers do not need to respond to cost of living pressures unless they cannot fill their positions at the current wage. Since there are people willing to take a disadvantageous wage in order to enjoy the benefit of living in California, employers are in a favorable position. And the teachers have made their decision.

            4. “You realize those graves were the rulers graves or at least the graves of the elites. In many cases it was a religious belief that people would need those things in the afterlife”

              You realize that this statement of yours only confirms the refutation of your false claim? No of course you don’t…

      1. I agree with SPQR. For instance in Nevada teacher salaries around 50,000. Normal people’s salaries in Nevada are between 25,000 to 35,000. Teachers complain here too about having too low of salaries, but they are doing much much better than normal folks.

        1. In all but a tiny handful of states, K12 teachers are paid above average for college graduates of equivalent experience.

          1. And that’s before you even factor in the perks like only working 180 days a year, and then not even working 8 hours a day. The local high schools run from 7:20am-2:20pm, and as much as teachers moan and act martyred about “staying late and coming in early for extracurricular activities”, that’s only a 6.5 hour work day to start with, so I’m not exactly crying tears of sympathy for them.

            Want to recalculate their wages based on their actual hours worked per year, and then try to tell me they’re low-paid?

            1. Its been more than a few years since I did the calculation, but I think I once calculated that avg. starting teacher salaries exceeded avg. starting attorney salaries in either 44 or 46 states based on that year’s salary data. And that was comparing 4 year college graduate teachers to 7 year college/law school graduates.

              I considered going into teaching high school once, from practicing law, and at that time (I was salaried at a medium sized law firm – non partner track) it would not have been much of a pay cut ** mumble**none** mumble **.

          2. A college degree ought be unnecessary to teach K-6 and not especially necessary for grades 7-9 … and not assuredly necessary for teaching 10-12. I doubt any studies have been performed that reliably correlated teacher education level with instructional results, and based on comparable performance demonstrated by home educated students versus the output of the public schools suspect there are “good” reasons why this is so.

            1. When I was in high school one of the teachers was complaining to the class about their low salary. When I pointed out that my family lived comfortably on less, and my dad worked year-round, she wanted to point out how much schooling was required to become a teacher, indicating that should be worth a higher wage. She really didn’t appreciate it when I pointed out that teacher salaries were a matter of public record, and anyone who didn’t check and see if the salary for their proposed career was acceptable BEFORE they took several years of college to become qualified, was an idiot.

                1. Oh yea– when I was in college two different eras, Education degree was at the Business degree level (i.e. didn’t have the academic integrity). 😉

        2. Some years ago, my niece was talking about her starting salary as she had just become a brand-new teacher. She was starting at a salary that was equal to the one I was receiving after several years’ experience as a Tier2 Tech Support agent (one that actually did tech support, not where the first person you talk to has a script they have to follow for troubleshooting).

          1. Yep– I still think their pay should be equivalent to the normal population– heck many of them don’t even know a subject, just the propaganda of teaching.

  27. I drafted and trashed some replies several times but the contradictions and misapplications were just too much trouble to parse to bother going forward. Nobody around here needs my explanation and he’s not going to get it.

    1. Um…since I pointed out nesting earlier, I might blush at a nesting fail of my own… How’d that happen?

      Anyroad, link that^^ to this:

      accordingtohoyt | October 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Reply

      Yes, exactly. He’s so far down the information well, he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

  28. Having read all these comments and thought deeply about these points, I have come to an amazing realization. I have been misguided all these years. Clearly Jesus was a Marxist.

    He was opposed to the personal accumulation of wealth:

    ‘Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”’ Mathew 19:23.


    “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Mathew 19:21

    Jesus even encourage people to pay unjust taxes when he said ““So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” (See Mathew 22:15-22).

    Clearly Christianity is just Marxism masquerading as a religion. No wonder the country is so screwed up when the president and almost every member of Congress is a prod member of a Marxist religion.

    Wait…. is Obama a Christian or a Muslim? Are Muslims Marxist too? Can somebody tell me if Islam is Marxist so I don’t have to read the Koran to figure it out.

    (In case your sarcasm detector is malfunctioning, yes this is a sarcastic post.)

    1. And once again you come and refuse to address the responses to your previous comments. Maybe you’ve lived in the People’s Republic of California too long or perhaps the schools there — or wherever you went to school — failed to teach you fundamentals like critical thinking and comprehension. So let me put it to you in words you should be able to understand.

      You are not nearly as witty and smart as you think you are. You are impressing no one by coming here and commenting on things without actually trying to comprehend the meaning of the post in question. You are not convincing anyone that your point of view is valid when you merely jump from one idiotic comment to another, never offering proof for your arguments and certainly never responding to the comments coming after yours.

      So, let me make a suggestion. Why don’t you go find another blog to haunt for awhile? We like discourse here and even a good argument from time to time. You, sir, are merely boring us. Move on. I’m sure you can find another blog that will think you are the bestest, most entertaining California lib around.

      1. Many of the response have been either calling me ignorant, lame attempts to mock me or arguing that school teachers are not underpaid.

        I have no interest in arguing about whether school teachers are actually underpaid. That was not what the point of the original blog post or of my response.

        So far I have only found one response that tries to defend the original statement. I found that defense unconvincing, and I have replied to that post.

        “So, let me make a suggestion. Why don’t you go find another blog to haunt for awhile?”

        You know, people in this country have become too insular. They spend all their time discussing issues with like minded people who agree with them and refuse to discuss issues with people who disagree with them. The result is that different groups of people really cannot communicate with each other in a civil way. They don’t know how to formulate their ideas in a ways that sound convincing to someone that is not already a true believer.

        And to people who are accusing me of drive by commenting, I’m sorry, but I have a job and cannot spend all my time here replying to comments.

        1. The drive by commenting has nothing to do with how often you comment and everything to do with how you comment.

          Swinging by to throw out a disruptive comment once in a while, without recognizing, acknowledging or addressing the people who have taken the time to deal with the last mess you left is drive-by commenting.

        2. Mike — I don’t think anybody here realized your comments about underpaid teachers were a red herring. You might have more time to actually, y’know, engage with others’ arguments if you reduced the amount of irrelevant filler in your commentary. As about 60% of your post to which folks replied was about teacher salaries it is unreasonable to demur that as its subject.

          Assuming your original point was expressed in the statement “Human civilization is about collectivism” please note that it has been multiply rebutted and relies on a false definition of the word “collectivism” which conflates significantly different things. As you have failed to support your definition the rest of us are left to assume you incapable of doing so.

          Further, your caution that “It is a big mistake to attempt to label all collectivist or communitarian believes[SIC] as originating from Marx” relies on a false assumption that all collectivist or communitarian beliefs were attributed as Marxist in origin. Most here recognize that Marx was exploiting preexisting human predilections, but few find it necessary to make that point in every statement about Marxism, collectivism or communitarianism.

          Please also note that your repeated use of such insulting non-arguments as “true believer” and “liv[ing] inside [an] information bubble” is likely to encourage people’s replies to adopt a similarly hostile tone.

            1. Patrick, his posts convey an aggressive obnoxious tone which prompts similarly hostile responses. This would be true even were he not an imbecile.

        3. In point of fact, cretin, it has already been proven in this blog that teachers are _not_ underpaid. My wife works in education as a paraeducator. They most certainly are underpaid given what paras have to put up with from the students they serve. Teacher these days are not. The popular impression of the underpaid, overworked teacher is promoted by the teacher’s unions who want more federal money, and thereby more federal control, in schools. In the last few decades we have doubled, and then doubled again and then doubled yet again the amount of money we spend on education, with appreciably worse result than when education was controlled by local school boards. Dolt. If you do a little research (I have but you lackwits really need to learn to do your own work) you’ll find that while per-pupil spending has gone up greatly, very little of that has made it’s way into teacher salaries. It’s mostly gone for technology and administrator salaries none of which seem to have made education any better in this country and quite likely have made it worse.

          That said, when the median starting salary for a teacher is higher than, or on par with, the median starting salaries for attorneys it becomes rather difficult to argue they are underpaid.


        4. People in this country have become too insular? Some of us, yes. But to imply we here spend all our time discussing issues with like minded people is flatly false, by your very presence here, and all the others who come by to discuss their views.

          Drop by Michael Z. Williamson’s blog and make the claim that we (conservatives, libertarians, and so on) don’t discuss issues with the opposing viewpoint. To put it delicately, he and those there will disagree. We here also welcome discourse with differing political views. As long as it is reasoned, intelligent, and carries a modicum of decorum- we can play a little rough here as long as the issues are discussed.

          Unfortunately, those like you who drop by do not often express themselves clearly and take the time to respond after thoughtfully reviewing the replies. Most often we see that very insular thinking you’ve mentioned. Frequently ad hominem attacks, bare political soundbites, and the occasional badly wobbling spin are the rule.

          Most who comment here are readers. Compulsively, often enough. Marx laid out his manifesto in an achingly mind numbing fashion, but his meaning was clear enough that avowed Marxist admit and proudly proclaim that they will usher in a new stateless world where wealth is redistributed to each according to his contribution to society. Class struggle, collective ownership of the means of production, and all the rest have been openly proposed in this country as a solution to whatever crisis of the day we face.

          If I am a “true believer” in anything at all, it is that America is the greatest country in the world, and it is so because we are more free than any other. Yes, I believe in having a federal government, state and local branches, the whole nine yards. I like the interstate highway system, eating foods that are safe to eat, and having contracts guaranteed under the law. I also like keeping the fruits of my labor, and distributing them as *I* choose.

          When the people we’ve elected to positions of power choose to take more money from me because this group or that one deserves it more, that is Marxism. Taking money from me is taxation. It is put to some good uses, like paying the salaries of policemen and upkeep of necessary infrastructure. The tax code is also put to some bizarre tasks, as well. How does three quarters of a million dollars spent on a soccer field at Guantanamo make us more free?

          Liberal thought is quite enchanted with Marxist ideas. Yes, there are many forms of Marxism. By and large, they think that we’re not doing enough to address the issues- poverty, joblessness, poor education, racism, social injustices, violence and crime, sexism, and so on. Healthcare, too. Their proposed solutions tend to be sweeping and involve taxing (taking) money from all taxpayers and fixing those very issues. Taking money from taxpayers is “from each according to his ability.” The taxpayers ability to make money, that is. They then redistribute it to “each according to his contribution.”

          Who decides how much that “contribution” is worth? Why they do, of course. To address, say, racism, they tax us to pay for Affirmative Action. This is addressing a perceived social injustice by taking a piece of all of our money and putting it towards the education of a certain subset of all Americans. I won’t go into racist effects here, because I’d either be preaching to the choir or accused of being a “true believer” again. Besides, Thomas Sowell went into a lot more detail and said it more credibly than I ever could.

          The point is, liberals are much more concerned with intentions than outcomes. So is Marxism. If we were all governed solely by the angels of our better natures, intentions and outcomes would likely be closer together. The idea that we all must give up a piece of our lives, time spent earning our paychecks, to balance out some societal moral failing is redistributionist. Redistribution is a core tenet of Marxism.

          Or, you could not listen to me. Listen instead to someone who’s actually lived under Socialism- the long term goal of Marxists and some liberals. I think her experience and eloquence far exceeds mine.

        5. “You know, people in this country have become too insular. They spend all their time discussing issues with like minded people who agree with them and refuse to discuss issues with people who disagree with them. The result is that different groups of people really cannot communicate with each other in a civil way. They don’t know how to formulate their ideas in a ways that sound convincing to someone that is not already a true believer. ”

          Note that the people who are always complaining that people really can’t discuss their views in a civil manner, actually mean, ‘people just won’t accept that I’m right and agree with me. Their insistence on arguing with me is uncivil, mean, and discriminatory bullying.’

          I’ll sit down and sing kumbaya with you shortly after hell freezes over.

    2. God I love proof-texting.

      In point of fact Jesus was not against personal accumulation of wealth. His point, nitwit, was that wealth — things — are a distraction. If all you are concerned about is _things_ then yes it will become difficult to focus on the things you _should_ as a christian.

      Paul makes it rather clear that personal wealth is not the issue. The oft misquoted “for money is the root of all evil.” which is actually “the love of money is the root of all evil.”

      It’s a warning against idolatry, that most dangerous of sins which creeps in all unnoticed.

      Oh, and for the record, no I don’t think Obama is a Christian, whatever he claims

      Mathew 7:21-23
      21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

      The black liberation theology to which he subscribes is no more Christian than Islam, to which it bears much more resemblance.

      As to your point about Islam, it actually, as a philosophy, has much in common with Communism, outside the whole atheist thing.

      Moreover, twit, Sarah has not said the president is a Marxist, nor that anyone in particular _is_. Just that Marxist thought and Marxist theory is pervasive in public life today.

      Additionally, going back to black liberation theology, you really should google it. You’ll find that it is, inherently, a Marxist theology.

      Of course this would require you to have the brains to find your ass with both hands and a map. And since I have become convinced from your previous statements that if brains were gunpowder you wouldn’t have enough to blow your fucking nose, the former is unlikely.

      1. I’m guessing he’s using “sarcastic” in the sense of “something that is rhetorically useful and that, if challenged, I can hand-wave away.”

        It’s sort of like the definition of “humor” that means “I attack you with all sorts of claims, and if they’re shown beyond the ability of even me to deny they’re false, I can accuse you of having no sense of humor because it was just a joke, you don’t understand humor.”

    3. Is the drive-by commenting fun? ‘Cause as much as folks around here enjoy a moving target your fail is so large it’s not really presenting anybody with a challenge. Maybe pare down your bloated thought a bit, could make you a more nimble.

      Or, I dunno, engage the counter-points. Dodging return fire can focus the mind wonderfully. But this stuff? Bleh.

    4. And since you are such a theologian perhaps you can point out the Scripture where Christ said charity should be accomplished by sending out the legions to collect charity at spearpoint to be redistributed by politicians with great fanfare? Because I can cite a dozen where he said that charity was to be accomplished privately.

  29. In thinking about the central tenant of Communism a couple of years ago–“From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”, I couldn’t help buf have an interesting observation: that this isn’t all that bad of a desire!

    Indeed, this statement is the *core* of the Free Market system: I figure out what abilities I have, and I offer X to person P, who has needs Z. Person P, in turn, decides he has abilities Y, and offers to me W, which fulfills *my* needs. And thus, both of us prosper! (Z and W could literally be anything, but more often than not, one of Z or W is usually money of some form, because it makes the exchange so much easier.)

    Similarly, this statement is the core of charity: I figure out what my abilities are, and what the needs of some unfortunate soul is (and see that they lack abilities to return favor to me), and offer them some of my abilities to help. This might be offered to better karma, or as a favor (that may or may not be returned), or simply because I sincerely would like to help; to the extent that the ability of the unfortunate soul is taken into account, it is whether or not the person is willing or even able to pull himself out of his circumstances. I wouldn’t be willing to give money to someone unwilling to learn to budget, for example, but I would be willing to give money to someone suffering from cancer, who simply isn’t able to find enough energy to even think about developing a budget.

    Now, the genius of Marx, is to realize that this is perfect individual credo can be used to incite jealousy: Workers of the world, look at the Capitalists and how much more rich they are than you, and Unite! And the evil follows: “Give me power, and *I* and my fellow bureaucrats will decide who has ability, and who has need. We will *take* from the able, to give to the needy, and we will have a Stateless Worker’s Paradise! And anyone who will oppose us will die.”

    If everyone, personally, lived by this core principle, we actually *would* achieve a Utopia of sorts. We almost have it in the United States! But the great Dystopias come when bureaucrats decide that *they* know better than the bourgeois–the middle class–and even the proletariat–on how everything should be run, and starvation and mass executions follow.

    1. I don’t think you understand the meaning intended by the statement.

      “From each according to his ability… ” means that you produce what you are able (read: good at) to produce. Not what you WANT to produce. Not what your analysis of the market says would be good for you to produce. What you’re ABLE to produce, with the subtext that you should produce AS MUCH as you are able.

      “… to each according to his need.” means that each person gets their basic needs met, whether they are able to do anything worthwhile or not. You need food, water, a place to sleep, some amount of protection from the elements, transportation to and from work. Sometimes you need medical attention, sometimes you need repairs on your dwelling, sometimes you need repairs on your transportation. These (and perhaps a few others) are your NEEDS. Your wants are immaterial.

      That part about, “whether they are able to do anything worthwhile”? That’s the part that makes it not work. Before long, people realize that being as productive as they can is pointless, and many of them stop being productive at all. That part goes away after a while, when the leaders realize that the people like that are a burden to the machinery of the collective. It gets ugly real fast after that.

    2. Well, it all depends on who defines what you need, don’it? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? applies always. Frankly, I am not sure you really need that next breath; certainly you ain’t earnt it.

      “The pursuit of happiness” is much more reasonable — it recognizes you are free to attempt to fulfill your desires, whatever might be your needs. It also doesn’t entail anybody else’s pursuit of their happiness in order for your pursuits.

    3. Wayne and RES, I think we are violently agreeing here: Marx’s “From each, to each” works when it’s individuals deciding for themselves what they can (and will) produce, what their needs are…the problem is that Marx expected that bureaucrats would be better at figuring this out, than individuals.

      Well, no, I think I’m wrong about that: Marx didn’t account for bureaucrats at all. If I understand his philosophy correctly, he expected the “workers” to overthrow the “capitalists”, and dissolve all property, and *then*, somehow, with no State, and no capitalists to ruin things, everyone will somehow, naturally (and inexplicably) will give of their abilities to the needs of all.

      Come to think of it, I remember someone saying (possibly even in my Economics class) that Marx didn’t have a good explanation of how “socialism” was supposed to rise from the ashes of a collapsed capitalist society. After writing that paragraph, I think that’s understating things a bit: it’s *impossible* to have the kind of society Marx was trying to describe, without either individuals working things out for themselves (aka capitalism) *or* having bureaucrats trying to work things out for everyone else (aka statism).

      In other words, Marx’s theory is just one big contradiction, if you really think about it!

      1. Alph – didn’t intend to disagree, merely illuminate (one of) the semantic games played in the Marxist Bait’n’Switch.

        1. I realized this some time after I made this comment; I was probably just a little too tired to catch the subtleties of the comments at the time. Three days later, I’m still tired, in such a way that doesn’t make sense to me: While I can grant that I didn’t get to bed in a reasonable hour either Friday or Saturday nights, I *did* last night, and I even fell asleep immediately (as far as I can tell), and as far as I can tell, I never woke up…

          1. Glad you said something again. I had forgotten that I wanted to say that the reflexive reaction I had above is at least partially because ANY statement that sounds like a defense of Marxism will be used as such by one of its defenders who happens across it. Then they will point (ignoring the context), and say, “See! Even this guy over on this libertarianist blog say’s it’s right!”.

  30. I had another random thought about Marxism sometime this last weekend. We like to say that Marxism won’t work on humans because we aren’t ants…but I’m not sure if it would work all that well on ants, either. One thing I’ve noticed about ants is that they actually have a healthy preservation instinct–no one ant really wants to “die”, to the extent that we can attribute feelings to them. And further, there isn’t a central planner in an anthill planning anything. Some of it is certainly the result of instinct, but how much individual initiative is involved too? Somehow I doubt that ants are going to the Queen and asking “What shall we do today?”

    I suspect that if we could take a Marxist, and shrink him to ant size, and teach him Antese, he’ll be just as destructive to any anthill as he would be to any human civilization…assuming, of course, that ants are just as susceptible to Marxist rhetoric as far too many humans are, of course. If ants are born with a certain amount of common sense, however, then they’ll be perfect for Marxism: they’ll just ignore the Marxist, and continue on with their work.

  31. “Our monkey brains want things to be “fair” ”

    Is this why so many species (mountain goats, deer, elk, ……..) have an “alpha male”, whose job it is to butt heads with the pretenders until they understand that he’s the one who’s going to get the girl?

    Farm cats (at least) are known for killing kittens fathered by other cats.

    Life stops being “fair” right after kindergarten – where it is artificially imposed.

    As far as Marxism goes, by its fruits shall it be judged. Find us one utopian Marxist political/economic/social system and I’ll eat my copy of Das Kapital.

    Without even chocolate sauce.

    ” Any three comedians are interchangeable.”

    That’s cultural blasphemy. The Marx brothers are infinitely superior to Larry, Curly, and Moe.

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