From the beginning of man’s evolution toward communal living – and by the use of this word, I mean that as man started to organize into societal units and certain duties, responsibilities and benefits (or detriments, as the case may be) were shared by all members of a community – there have been disagreements of just how much of the individual output the individual “owed” to the community or how much the community had a right to take. This is represented by a continuum of pure communism on the left end of the line to total individualism on the right. It also follows that, as pure individualism requires no government control it supports the most individual liberty – conversely, the farther to the left one goes, the less individual liberty results.
Where we are at any given time is like a slider on this line that moves back and forth in response to elections, social forces and cultural change.
I would say, for the purpose of argument, that Marxism would be an ideology on the left that is about as far from center as the Objectivism of Ayn Rand is on the right. Most people who have enough awareness to even argue about these positions will recognize both of these but the argument over these is not the argument that we should be having.
It is an error because to argue over terms is a definitional argument and as we have seen debated on these pages, no action of the Obama administration, or the preceding Bush administration, fits the textbook definition of any ideology. As a matter of political reality, both have been a mixture of ideologies, only shaded to one side or the other due to the nature of our representative form of republic – there are simply too many voices that can garner majority support for “hybrid” ideas and solutions for a singular ideology to express itself. Modern Republicans have far more issues in maintaining solidarity than the Democrats do, and that is an opinion of mine that is approaching fact based on the existence of a pattern of monolithic votes and rare defections from Democrat positions on critical issues. Win or lose, Democrats tend to do either as a block, Republicans, not so much.
The argument we should be having is of a directional nature – that is to say, what direction are we going, what ideology fits better with the founding ideals of the country and the conditions of modern life. A legitimate argument from the left would include points that detail why trending toward Marxism is better for America, how it is compatible with the Constitution and recommendations on the process to get there. A legitimate argument from the right would be why Objectivism meets the same criteria.
I would note that this should be a very short argument because while those who favor a more collectivist, centrally planned state and may well be able to explain why they think Marxism would be better and craft a process to get there, they cannot possibly make the case that such a direction is compatible with the founding document that established our Republic. Based on my readings, I can clearly see the influences of philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Niccolo Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Charles Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Frederic Bastiat (Bastiat was born 14 years after the ratification of the Constitution but is an extension of Locke’s philosophies. I mentioned him as I think he is a good example of how the philosophies of the other men were synthesized.):
- Plato believed that government should create “good” for all collectively and that all individuals needed to give up certain things for the good of all citizens.
- Aristotle stated that an ideal government should be concerned with the common good or common interest.
- Machiavelli believed in “republicanism” and “civic virtue” where citizens act for the common good and they would put their selfish desires aside.
- Hobbes believed in “natural laws” where in nature before people formed by a society, preexisting principles arise. Believed in social contract.
- Locke believed that all men are created equal and that people should have the freedom to act. He believed in social contract between the people and their government and that there should be a limit to government. Locke also believed in Constitutionalism, this is the idea, often associated with the political theories of Locke and the founders of the American republic, that government can and should be legally limited in its powers, and that its authority or legitimacy depends on its observing these limitations.
- Montesquieu believed in separation of power and that there should be 3 branches of government: legislative, executive, and judicial (checks and balances).
- Rousseau agreed with Locke but didn’t think that the majority would always act for the common good. He believed that the role of the government was to ensure that the common good or general welfare was protected.
- Bastiat understood that government was a necessary evil in the world of men, through which one political force would compete to gain an advantage over others. He stated, ‘As it is certain, on the one hand, that we are all making some similar request to the Government; and as, on the other, it is proved that Government cannot satisfy one party without adding to the labor of the others, until I can obtain another definition of the word Government I feel authorized to give it my own. Who knows but it may obtain the prize? Here it is: “Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.”‘
I listed these in chronological order for a reason. If you notice that as time passed and societies increased in prosperity, education and moral codes became relatively standardized by Christianity – and as these aspects became more widespread in Western society, the idea of independence and self-government became far more prevalent. This lead to the concept of a minimal set of universal “natural” rights that our government was designed to protect.
One must remember that these were times when tyranny was relatively common through monarchical rule and tribalism. We like to think that the world was a stable place but in reality, political winds changed often and control was often determined by at the chain mail covered hand holding a large broadsword. If England can be used as a gauge, only 14 of the recognized 52 monarchs since 924 AD (almost 1100 years) ruled for more than 25 years, about the same as a 4 term US Senator, half of them ruling 17 years or less…many far less, so stability was not a prime feature of governments.
The American Republic was a reflection of these times and the Founding Fathers strove to create a government that could acclimate itself to changes and survive, yet be protective of the natural rights of its citizens – ergo the use of Constitutionalism.
The founding of the American Republic did include a facet of collectivism – but this was not the collectivism of Marx and Engels. This collectivism was a voluntary collectivism based on a moral awareness of what the community and the less fortunate members of that community could benefit from. Government was structured to address the minimum needs of the community as determined by the members of that community and the care of the less fortunate was an individual choice based on the worthiness of the individual – Christian charity. The maintenance of our electorate – voting – was also constructed in a similar manner, on a voluntary basis – there is no law that mandates or compels anyone to vote under penalty of law. The point being that the closer we approach pure individualism on the right end of the scale, the more the “common/communal” acts become voluntary and based on internal moral convictions. This is the legacy of the break with the English monarchy that was defined by the Declaration of Independence, executed by victory in the Revolutionary War and guaranteed by the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America in 1787.
This voluntary aspect of our relationship with our government – the idea that “…to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” is the very reason that Marxism will never and can never be implemented in the USA. This is also the reason that leaders like Woodrow Wilson, FDR and Obama have a callous disregard for constitutional provisions and the reason that progressives have worked for the better part of a century finding ways around it. Obama may have been a lecturer on constitutional law but from what little information we have about his “lectures”, it is clear that he viewed the Constitution as his enemy and not his ally.
The history of Marxism and communism is a history of an ideology implemented and maintained by force, not by choice. America has to build walls to keep people from illegally getting in, not to keep citizens from escaping. In the rare situations where communist ideas get voted in, it isn’t long before the tyranny begins to be institutionalized and once liberty is given up as a consequence, it is never willingly given back by those in power. Taking liberty from a population is the ultimate in power over them. The absence of liberty guarantees that there will be no choice and without choice, there can be no voluntary actions. It is for this reason that communism has never existed without tyranny and totalitarian rule – this is the only way to change what was once a voluntary act entered into by individual choice to a mandatory action required by a government authority.
Marx said that his philosophy was the bridge between socialism and communism and as such, it is clear that Marxism is the gateway drug to communism. We have been creating socialist policies and programs for about a century now and as the current debate over sequestration indicates, we have reached a point where socialism is institutionalized in our government. It is clear through the actions of Obama, the progressives in his caucus, the fascist and race-baiting Congressional Black Caucus and the liberal members of the Democratic Party that they want to dip their toes in the pond of Marxism. If you don’t think so, ask yourself this question: over your lifetime, how many things now require government approval or notification than did 5, 10, 15, 20 – and for those of us a little longer in the tooth – 30, 40 or 50 years ago. What simple and innocuous things dod you do when you were a kid that are prohibited or would result in a fine today?
Ace at AOSHQ had a very relevant example of this just about a year ago:
I grew up on the East Coast. For a while, I lived in California.
I was blown away to learn that people could just start bonfires on the beach, whenever they liked.
Now, to be honest, I learned on this when the government was trying to crack down on the practice, but I was blown away at the idea that a private citizen could, in this country, previous to changes in this law at least, simply create a bonfire on the beach and enjoy it. Just because he wanted to.
Then I started to think like this: What kind of a mind-screw did they do on me when I should be surprised that people would be allowed to do this?
You see what I mean? My default mental state, thanks to the more statist area I grew up in (at least as far as bonfires) was that of course I wasn’t permitted by The State to build a bonfire and enjoy it…
To what extent have we internalized that the “normal” situation of our life is to be unfree, to the extent that a simple pleasure, like building a bonfire on a beach and (get this!) drinking wine while watching it burn, seems like a bizarre indulgence of a malfunctioning anarchy?
I’m angry that someone put into my head the reflexive thought: Of course you mustn’t do that; you aren’t Allowed.
And once you’ve accepted that basic regime of requiring permission and licensing to do most everything in your life– that makes it quite easy for the state to simply begin forbidding you to do whole categories of things altogether.
After all, you’ve accepted you need a license to do this or that, and that license can only come from the government. And if the government then refuses– well, it’s up them, isn’t it? They have the right to deny you, right?
But did they?
When did they accumulate this power?
Just over the course of long decades, as a result of a thousand laws passed For the Public Good, and millions of decisions that it just wasn’t worth fighting over.
Whether you agree with the changes or not, if you are honest, your answers should shock you. That slider on the scale we talked about earlier has been moved pretty far to the left.
Socialism has already started to rot our foundation. Marxism will topple us to communism and totalitarian rule – and that incompatibility with our founding principles spells the end of the American Republic.
28 thoughts on “Marxism, Objectivism and Constitutionalism”
Nicely done — even if you did just steal the thunder — if not the lightning — of a post I’ve been working on. Still, this is solid work because it shows the direction of human history — ever backward, toward totalitarianism.
You know what they say about great minds…not sure that it applies in my furry case, but they do say that!
Thanks for a great post!
A few years ago, a friend of mine asked me to “Name 5 things you are free to do without government regulation.” I still can’t answer that simple question.
“Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.”‘
I loved this part. I copied it to my computer to share with others. What name would you like me to attribute this to, as I do believe you deserve kudo’s for this!
Just tell them that you heard Bastiat’s wisdom from a yeti – we are all disciples of Locke and the Austrian School… Yeti’s are classic liberals!
Bastiat’s “Essay on Government” is here: https://therionorteline.com/2012/11/28/bastiats-essay-on-government/
a shave and a bath, I might be able to pass you off as a conservative! 🙂
I tried a bath once but there wasn’t enough conditioner for another one.
Please, if I am anything it is a Lockeian, a free thinker devoted to liberty and an arch enemy of all things Marxist and communist. As I am a yeti, I fight for the right to simply be left alone.
Does this mean I can’t wax you?
Oh, I very much enjoyed your book, er, post.
Absolutely not, you may wax away!
Tu es beaux avec ou sans cheveux.
Si seulement tu pouvais me voir pour qui je suis vraiment.
A state of the people for the people, doing the will of the people. is the best state. not a state that guarantees individual rights and freedoms, a state that guarantees and protects right take the role of overseer, and an overseer can be corrupted by the private property of those who hold more private property. The people need to become the state and economy. it is the only way, the people will get their way. Individuals won’t get their way %100 of the time, but the collective will, and everyone knows the will of the collective is the greatest authority. Volutaryism is meaningless in the environement of private property. Who is to say the peasant working the lands of the feudal lord is any different from the worker working the factories of the bourgeoisie, They both are “voluntarily” working for the benefits of other men. private propert is private power, and private power is illegitimate because it robs the collective of the power it holds. Private power means certain individuals get whatever they want and manipulate way more people than an individual should, it institutes the supremacy of one individual over the masses. Collective power, organizes the people into a mass that will work for the needs of the mass. a true freedom for the masses. rather than lies of, becoming rich and hard work and persistence will make you rich and anybody can be rich. it is time people wake up that the path to power is a collective on, not and individualist one.
And your bullshit ideology has been proven wrong by philosophers, economists and most importantly…history.
Money is only a means to facilitate trade between me and you, what I produce for what you produce. If what you produce is of little or no value to me, the less you are paid for it is a way to measure its value. The fact of the matter is that if you knit sweaters and I need 5 pounds of 10 penny nails, your production has no value to me…and I have no reason to pay you for something I don’t value.
Under a capitalist society, each person does have a chance to be rich, under a communist regime nobody does. In your society the currency becomes influence, not money. Friedrich Hayek explains it all based on his observation of British socialism in the post WW II years.
As long as there are individuals, there will be individualism. As long as there is even one individual, your society fails.
Any idea how silly you sound trying to follow such a well reasond intelligent post with the hackneyed rubbush of marx, designed to mesmerize the illiterate mASSES such as your self?
The problem with Komrade Karl’s “from each according to his ability to each according to his need” philosophy is that the needy get progressively needier and the people with the ability have to work harder and harder to to supply the “needs”. As more figure out that their abilities can’t keep up with the “need”, they cross over to the needy side. It is not a plan for Utopia, it is a recipe for disaster and chaos.
You do understand that you are taking a position that is certifiably insane, don’t you? No sane man can advocate these ideas and expect that they wioll ever happen: they fly in the face of all recorded human history. Heck, they are counter to the very heart of man. They’re also intenrally self-refuting: property inequality will just do what it has done in real life: morph into power inequality. Only, once that happens, you have the masses of slaves and the priviliedge few who lord over them.
Face it, you’re greedy and lazy and looking to justify theft in a manner that will allow you to assert the moral high ground. Well, no matter, lipstick on the pigs (that’s a literary reference, karl)…
How do you expect armed organized worker’s to be controlled by a small clique? As long a the people’s liberation army is made up of and controlled by the people, the people will hold power, a military system similar to the swiss system.
From each according ability, and to each according to his need. Will produce more workers, since most can work. if you are an able-bodied man who goes to apply for an old-age or disability pension, you will be laughed out. In socialism the people will have the control of the means of production and be able to distibute work to the able-bodied. The people will get progressively needier, which is great, it means things that were luxuries in the past will become needs, causing a rising standard in living. a 100 years ago fridges were a luxury and now fridges are a necesity, as the people production capacity increases so will their “needs.” Needs are decided socially, what the collective decides a person needs to live.
There is no currency in socialism, just planned production and distribution.
The fallacy of your “unorganized” collective democracy was evident in the Occupy movements attempt at an asymmetric, “egalitarian” micro-society. They couldn’t even do it in massively small numbers – ergo the position that many have taken that collectivism is not a “scalable” concept. It turned into so much anarchy that even they started organizing – the moment they did that, one was put into power over another and the whole hot mess fell apart. Like I said, the greatest enemy of your position is history…and in this case, you only have to go back two or three years to see it.
Your assertion that there is “no currency in socialism” is patently incorrect. As I pointed out and is evidenced again by your primary enemy – history – the “currency” in collectivist societies becomes influence and “pull”. Favors are traded for favors. Influence is peddled for reciprocal actions. A person’s worth is determined and measured in strength of position within the structure and amount of influence, not in dollars…and this is a much less transparent and far less stable situation because while wealth is universally recognized, is measurable, observable and predictable, “influence” is none of those.
“Needs” are not determined by society. Needs are determined by nature – food, clothing and shelter are needs. “Wants” are determined by society. A refrigerator is no more a “need” than a microwave or a flat screen TV. We can exist without any of those – no doubt that they make life easier, but we won’t die if they disappear.
Thank you for displaying the primary issue, though. You indicate the fallacy that is modern progressivism/collectivism/socialism/Marxism/communism – you do not understand the difference between “needs” and “wants”. Your ideology thinks that if every poor person doesn’t have a car, an air conditioner and a cell phone that means that society needs to be changed so that they do. These are not “needs” and I have no moral obligation to contribute to someone else’s “wants” or participating in a system designed to create the moral hazards necessary to give it to them.
I have never suggested any unorganized social movements, organization is key to socialist success. Needs in the physical sense are undefinable, but can be defined socially. it is true that in a socialist system needs would be defined as popular wants, people will decide to create and distribute. For instance the people would likely vote to mass produce and distribute fridges and cell phones, but not niche objects like water beds or 60 inch televisions. The aim of most marxist is to eliminate currency, Fabian socialism is not marxist and the democratic party of the USA is certainly not marxist.
Tell that to the Communist Party USA, the platform of which is indinsquishable from that of the Democratic Party. You want to define socialism in the strict terms of the industrial revolution and it doesn’t fit because the tools have changed.
The aim of Marxism is worldwide dictatorship of the proletariat and the elimination of borders, not the elimination of currency – perhaps money – but not currency. The tertiary definition of “currency” is The fact or quality of being generally accepted or in use…and people wouldn’t “vote” to produce anything – the primary theme of socialist/Marxist/communist economies is central planning by some arbitrary authority, not democratic choice – democratic choice is a capitalist feature, people vote by buying.
I don’t know what it has to do with the argument but I concede your point on Fabian Socialists – they are not Marxists- they are anarchists and the more cheerful version of Malthusians.
I’m not going to get pulled back down this rabbit hole because it has already been said, you can go here and read a post that includes this:
There is not much else to say that hasn’t been said – only people who are ignorant of history and through that ignorance think that they have a better idea to make collectivism work in the face of evidence of actual human behavior make elementary school points – as you have.
what is so democratic about a working class man making 10 dollars an hour, having less than a hundredth of the “voting” power of a millionaire? is the voice of 99 working men less than that of one bourgeoisie. Socialist advocate for true democracy. you accuse socialism of “arbitrary” authority, I ask you what is more arbitrary, workers choosing their leaders through worker’s organizations, or workers working for whichever group of millionaires performed best in stock trades and had social connections to previous management.
Because all of it is done by choice. I do not accept your premise that the rich get rich by being rich. There are too many Sergei Brin’s, Larry Page’s. Larry Ellison’s, Mark Zuckerberg’s, Bill Gates’ and Steve Jobs’ out there to support your argument that people without “connections” can’t make it…and too many Henry Ford’s, Andrew Carnegie’s and Thomas Edison’s before them.
Why is it that you feel that anyone but the person with that money should have ownership of it? Why is it not clear that it is none of your concern how much another person has because the creation of value is not a zero sum game? They didn’t get rich by denying anything to you or taking it from you.
The arbitrary piece is the type of authority that must be exercised over who gets what and what “equality” really means. That is an imminently more corruptible system that a free market. You can never have total direct democracy in a nation the size of America – nothing would ever get done.
You say that a working man at $10 an hour has less voting power than a millionaire and in that statement, you prove my point because everybody’s vote counts just the same – it is when cronyism and corporatism, two features inherent in collectivist systems because both are fueled by influence, are present.
Again, this has all been argued before and until you can describe how your ideology is compatible with the Constitution, the points you raise are merely philosophical. If it is such a great idea, why does it not dominate the world’s governments? Why is it that when collectivist countries get in dire straits, they inevitably turn to capitalism to save them (like China has for the past 30 years)?
Utah has argued in the past 1) that the welfare state is immoral and 2) the free enterprise system is inherently fair and therefore, moral:
Horse. Dead and beaten.
corporatism and cronyism is only possible with undemocratic power being bribed by private property. I have never denied that some poor people can become rich, but most rich people were born into their class.
who gives a flip about fairness and morality, why should the working class care if their system is not moral in the eyes of the bourgeoisie. the consitution can be amended by the working class, when it wakes up to its true power.
socialism is about the working class taking over the means of production, people become socialist when they realize that there is no need for the bourgeoisie class to exist. when they realize that the workiner’s can control the means of production all by themselves. The bourgeoisie say they deserve every penny they get, they form moral systems to justifiy it, just as the old feudal aristocracy did, they both act in their class interest. Is it not time for the working class, to act in there class interest, while completely disregarding the morality and ideology of the bourgeoisie, that serves the sole purpose of justifying their parasitism on the working class.
“socialism is about the working class taking over the means of production, people become socialist when they realize that there is no need for the bourgeoisie class to exist. when they realize that the workiner’s can control the means of production all by themselves. ”
So you, or any of your compatriots could, at anytime leave your momma’s basement and sucessfully run a corporation. guaranteeing a fullfilling life style for every man,woman, and children thereof forever and ever.
One, show where this has ever worked.
Two, what are you waiting for? Put down the playstation, and show us!
If you were honest, you would admit that every time it has been tried, it quickly enslaves the people, murdering the percieved execess. NOTHING has killed more humans than the system you wish to foster on us.
Should you ever succeed, I will at least have the pleasure of seeing you and yours be the FIRST “up agaist the wall”
(usefull idiot’s are always the first to go!)
Again – OWS tried it and failed. News flash – the 60’s are over. Karl lives in a fantasy world. It does no good to try to debate someone this ignorant of the human spirit and history.
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So when is Karl going to invest his own money for a factory and the means of production? And are you just going to hand it over to the workers without any other compensation, but what you decide the workers get?
What? Komrade Karl isn’t going to invest, he and the proletariat are just going to take it over during the revolution!