The Pen is mightier than the sword, but the Pen must sometimes move the sword against corruption if the corrupt are not moved by the pen.. An idea without an implementer is useless. "The Rulers do not carry the sword in vain"Rom 13:4

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Was Karl Marx a spoiled brat? HIs economic theory put to the test.

According to Dr John Buchanan, Director Work Place Research Centre, University of Sydney, when speaking at the "Sydney Ideas" forum, he was many things, but a reasonable conclusion based on Buchanan's "lapsed Marxist" description is that Marx was a bloke who hated work but loved to tell everyone else all about it and how economics should be.

Marx survived (?) on an upper middle class lifestyle because of oodles of Engel's capitalist derived money that enabled Marx to ponder the universe of economics and the issues of consumption and production. In short, Marx never, to my knowledge ever picked up a hammer or worked on a lathe or shovelled coal into a furnace for a living, nope...he just raised himself above all that 'ordinary and dirty work' type stuff to 'ponder' it as a philosopher/revolutionary.

It's all very well for Marx to be living the relatively high life and tell everyone else how the world should be, but it does sound kind of...er...'spoiled' where his own hands were never soiled by the need for survival. Not every worker has an Engels to spoon feed him money so he can navel gaze his predicament without worrying where his next meal is coming from!

Production and Consumption.

In his attempt to rationalize these two elements of social and economic life, Marx developed the idea that in contrast to the prevailing wisdom that most economics is based on a scarcity of commodities, he tried to reduce  Production/Consumption into a kind of  large equation where these things can simply be worked out by a central government/State, and there will always be enough for everyone.

The primary flaw in this rather attractive notion is what Will Rogers is quoted as saying in one of Ronald Reagan's speeches in reference to the UN peace talks "We'd do a lot better there if it were not for human nature".   The challenge of the 'take from the greedy and give to the needy' of Marxism is that the people doing the handing out of what they take from the greedy, doesn't all get passed on. The temptation to emulate the greedy in the process of helping the needy becomes too much and we just end up with a new class of 'the greedy' but one which has the backing and power of the the State.

We need only observe the lavish lifetstyles of  leaders of Socialist/Communist countries to verify this. China is one of those places where they still use the rhetoric of 'The People' but it comes from the mouths of powerful public officials who are in fact exploiting their power for private gain and wealth. FDR once said "We need an end to a conduct in banking and business that all too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing", but was it a failure of the American system or a failure of human beings which evoked this claim?

Rene Descartes believed, along with most of his enlightened fellow philosophers and academics, that all life and commerce could be reduced to, and explained by  some kind of mathematical equation. But he was wrong, and so where they.  The natural tendency for people with power is to play with it for their own profit. The English civil war demonstrated this with the purge of the greedy King Charles the 1st that was replaced with the equally greedy Parliamentarians post Cromwell. It all boiled down to who had power and who wanted it, but both for the same primal reasons.

Marx was the moral equivalent of the father sitting in a chair with a cigar on one hand and a shot of whisky in the other saying to his small son.. "Son...don't drink or smoke, it's bad for you". Knowing something is very different from living it. Marx was good at dispensing advice on how society should be run, but he did all this thinking courtesy of some very capitalist money from Engels and a lifestyle that was not too shabby by any standard.

Remember when you were a little boy or a little girl, when you could play with those match box toys and Barbies? You could make them do what ever you liked, and it was 'your' hands that dictated their movements. What a blast eh?

A Government without a Government is subject to the  whim and will of the Governor and his buddies. A constitution is meant to be the government over the governing.

American Senator Fullbright has said at Stanford University that the Constitution is outmoded. He referred to the President as "our moral teacher and our leader," and he says he is "hobbled in his task by the restrictions of power imposed on him by this antiquated document." He must "be freed," so that he "can do for us" what he knows "is best." And Senator Clark of Pennsylvania, another articulate spokesman, defines liberalism as "meeting the material needs of the masses through the full power of centralized government." (Reagan-"A Time for Choosing")

What Clark really meant was not "Liberalism" but "Socialism"... his statement would not have flown well though if he'd said what he really meant.
Organizing human society and a 'State' is no easy task. In fact I think the best we can ever hope for is that we will find ourselves on the better end of the pendulum swing as the social order sways between despotism and greedy tyranny on the one hand, and a more relaxed open freedom on the other. Sadly, the freedom we crave generally ends up being the vehicle and opportunity of the next tyrant, but they never use such language when begging for our votes. Imagine if the next vote you made turned out to be your last?

It seems  to me that life will always be a struggle between good government and lousy. The characteristics of 'good' government will be a genuine selflessness and a devotion to national interest which does not seek to expand by the violent acquisition of other peoples territory or have any notions of  racial superiority. Geneva's 'Theocratic' rule around the time of Calvin was referred to by Jean Jacques Rousseau as the closest thing to the kind of utopian existence that he was himself trying to formulate using his own rational and (so called) enlightened views. Yet Rousseau, who wrote the constitution for Poland and Corsica, and who's "Emile" ("On Education") transfixed Immanuel Kant, and who's brilliance of analysis with his "Social Contract" was evident, was a living denial of the very foundations which gave Geneva the things he so longed for. Geneva was based on Biblical Principles.

Rousseau on the other hand was a man of passion as well as social insight.  He fathered a number of children out of wedlock and gave them over to orphanages because they were inconvenient. He 'worked' as a gigolo, giving sex to an older women, and his 'Confessions' tend to make the jaw drop and the eyes bulge at times.  His own pilgrimage began when, at 16 he found himself accidently  locked out of the City of Geneva, but rather than wait till morning, he hived off toward Paris. His story makes entertaining reading (or listening on MP3) but I sense that when the gates of Geneva closed leaving him on the outside,  he also closed a gate to the very thing that would have enabled his social thinking to have real merit and be 'do-able'.

A Solution? (of course not, but perhaps it's worth a look)

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