Friday, February 26, 2010

Class Action

You tell me it's the institution
Well you know
You better free your mind instead
--The Beatles

Just chewed thru Marx and Engel's (1848) Communist Manifesto. Officially the title translates as Manifest of the Communist Party, and was first published in London in 1848 by a group of German refugees.

This reads more like a political pamphlet than a well reasoned book. It proposes a world of class conflict, where workers struggle and gradually lose against oppressive capitalists. And that workers should use their majority weight to overthrow the capitalist system and replace it, ultimately, with a single class rule where all property is publicly rather than privately owned.

On the surface, one can see why this publication makes lovers of liberty nervous. It reflects an explicit call-to-arms against individual freedom.

But just because there's a bully on the playground threatening to beat you up doesn't mean you must pre-emptively attack. All the same, Sun Tsu would certainly advise knowing, and maintaining acute awareness of, your potential enemy.

One would think that this book would appeal to those interested in upping their standard of living by political rather than economic means. And the class conflict construct of Marx and Engels apparently is enough to whip some people into an emotional frenzy of compliance.

The irony is that the core thesis, that a class-less state where property is publicly owned and operated will produce a higher standard of living, is terminally, and almost laughably, flawed from an economic standpoint. We have been treating this point, and will continue to treat it, in other missives.

Dismissing the threat on rational grounds, however, would be a mistake. The socialist proposition seems to be aimed at the brain's limbic system. The limbic system houses emotional rather than rational process, and is ground zero for the herding impulses that drive such phenomena as mob rule.

Perhaps the most useful portion of the Manifesto is the 10 point playbook suggested by Marx and Engels for gradually overthrowing a free society:

1) Abolish private land ownership
2) Institute a progressive income tax
3) Abolish the right to inheritance
4) Confiscate property of all emigrants and rebels
5) Centralize credit and banking in the hands of the State
6) Centralize means of communication and transportation in the hands of the State
7) Increase State ownership of factories and means of production
8) Establish industrial armies (read unions)
9) Distribute population more evenly between town and country
10) Educate children in public schools

It is undeniable that at least some items from this list are in motion today.

After a lengthy slumber, perhaps some folks are waking up to this reality.


Marx, K.H. & Engels, F. 1848. Manifest of the Communisty Party. London: Burghard.

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