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Marxism for Fun and Profit

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In my quote from Marx's Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts above, note the list of activities that the acquisition of wealth supplants under unregulated, i.e., free-market capitalism, "[The economics of capitalism--RJG] " is therefore simultaneously the science of renunciation, of want, of saving and it actually reaches the point where it spares man the need of either fresh air or physical exercise [emphasis added--RJG] " the less you eat, drink and buy books; the less you go to the theatre, the dance hall, the public house; the less you think, love, theorise, sing, paint, fence, etc.." Marx went further concerning the dehumanization of the worker, and the subordination of the worker to his employer and the employer's needs in Das Kapital :

"...Within the capitalist system all methods for raising the social productiveness of labour are brought about at the cost of the individual labourer; all means for the development of production transform themselves into means of domination over, and exploitation of, the producers; they mutilate the labourer into a fragment of a man, degrade him to the level of an appendage of a machine, destroy every remnant of charm in his work and turn it into a hated toil; they estrange from him the intellectual potentialities of the labour-process in the same proportion as science is incorporated in it as an independent power; they distort the conditions under which he works, subject him during the labour-process to a despotism the more hateful for its meanness; they transform his life-time into working-time, and drag his wife and child beneath the wheels of the Juggernaut of capital." ( Das Kapital, Volume I ; Part VII, The Accumulation of Capital; Section 4: Different Forms of Relative Surplus Population, The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation; page 401.)

Let see what Marx has to say, as he looks at the exploitation of workers outside of the workplace:

"...Universal exploitation of communal human nature. Just as each one of man's inadequacies is a bond with heaven, a way into his heart for the priest, so every need is an opportunity for stepping up to one's neighbor in sham friendship and saying to him: 'Dear friend, I can give you what you need, but you know the terms. You know which ink you must use in signing yourself over to me [blood and sweat]. I shall cheat you while I provide [the means for] your pleasure.' He places himself at the disposal of his neighbor's most depraved fancies, panders to his needs, excites unhealthy appetites in him, and pounces on every weakness, so that he can then demand the money for his labor of love.

This estrangement partly manifests itself in the fact that the rent of needs and of the means of fulfilling them gives rise to a bestial degeneration and a complete, crude and abstract simplicity of need; or rather, that it merely reproduces itself in its opposite sense. Even the need for fresh air ceases to be a need for the worker.

Man reverts once more to living in a cave, but the cave is now polluted by the mephitic [hellish stench--RJG] and pestilential breath of civilization. Moreover, the worker has no more than a precarious right to live in it, for it is for him an alien power that can be daily withdrawn and from which, should he fail to pay, he can be evicted at any time. He actually has to pay for this mortuary. A dwelling in the light, which Prometheus describes in Aeschylus as one of the great gifts through which he transformed savages into men, ceases to exist for the worker. Light, ire, etc.--the simplest animal cleanliness--cases be a need for man. Dirt--this pollution and putrefaction of man, the sewage (this word is to be understood in its literal sense) of civilization -- becomes an element of life for him. Universal unnatural neglect, putrefied nature, becomes an element of life for him.

None of this sense exist any longer, either in their human form or in their inhuman form -- i.e., not even in their animal form. The crudest modes (and instruments) of human labor reappear; for example, the tread-mill used by Roman slave has become the mode of production and mode of existence of many English workers. It is not only human needs which man lacks -- even his animal needs cease to exist. The Irishman has only one need left -- the need to eat, to eat potatoes, and, more precisely, to eat rotten potatoes, the worst kind of potatoes. But England and France already have a little Ireland in each of their industrial cities... The savage and the animal at least have the need to hunt, to move about, etc., the need of companionship. The simplification of machinery and of labor is used to make workers out of human beings who are still growing, who are completely immature, out of children, while the worker himself becomes a neglected child. The machine accommodates itself to man's weakness, in order to turn weak man into a machine." (Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts , pp. 81-2).

However, Karl Marx had a noble motive behind his ideas: the opportunity for everyone to fully develop their human potential. OpEdNews published a satirical article by Chris Floyd on March 1, 2011, entitled " Revealed! The Ancient Mystery at the Heart of the Worldwide Communist Conspiracy. " Mr. Floyd begins his article as follows:

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"Here is the deep, dark secret at the heart of the socialistic Commie Red Pinko Conspiracy--the esoteric doctrine kept hidden by hooded illuminati since time out of mind, revealed at last by Terry Eagelton in the London Review of Books:

'Marx, too, was an artist of sorts. It is often forgotten how staggeringly well-read he was, and what painstaking labour he invested in the literary style of his works. He was eager, he remarked, to get shot of the 'economic crap' of Capital and get down to his big book on Balzac. Marxism is about leisure, not labour. It is a project that should be eagerly supported by all those who dislike having to work. It holds that the most precious activities are those done simply for the hell of it, and that art is in this sense the paradigm of authentic human activity. It also holds that the material resources that would make such a society possible already exist in principle, but are generated in a way that compels the great majority to work as hard as our Neolithic ancestors did. We have thus made astounding progress, and no progress at all.'"

Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America (volume 2, part 3, chapter 21; 1840); made an observation that I believe describes all of us who works to live, rather than lives to work; who is not obsessed with acquiring ever greater amounts of wealth and power; who, unless his own comfort--or that of family or friends--is threatened, would generally prefer to simply be left alone:

"Consider any individual at any period of his life, and you will always find him preoccupied with fresh plans to increase his comfort. Do not talk to him about the interests and rights of the human race; that little private business of his for the moment absorbs all his thoughts, and he hopes that public disturbances can be put off to some other time."

It is not that such individuals are lazy; rather, it is that they would prefer to do something more interesting; something that if they could ever figure out a way to make a living doing it, they would not hesitate to quit their job tomorrow and start their new avocation.

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Marx would never have thought that using your spare time solely to get drunk, high, laid, etc., was a worthwhile use of your free-time away from work, any more than he would think mind-numbing hours of repetitive labor was proper use of your time at work. The real essence of Karl Marx's philosophy was an attempt to give meaning to the everyday lives of every man, woman, and child on this planet. His error was in believing that it could be done with a one size fits all solution for the problems of the newly industrialized world.

The greatest danger we face in America today is a populace without the education or interest in developing and applying the science, engineering, and other skills we need for our nation's future. Corporate overemphasis on "business administration," especially in terms of higher salaries has, because of increases in college tuition, led our colleges to disregard the need for domestic enrollment in our engineering and science schools. This fact represents a waste of talent from which we will need a generation or more for our nation to fully recover.

Much of this has to do with the fact we are no longer emphasizing research and development in modern American corporations, as a way to improve the bottom line. When corporations cut R&D for higher dividends, it is like a man who loses weight by cutting off his arm. Yes, he weighs less, but he is still fat and unhealthy.

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Richard Girard is an increasingly radical representative of the disabled and disenfranchised members of America's downtrodden, who suffers from bipolar disorder (type II or type III, the professionals do not agree). He has put together a team to (more...)

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on Marx for my niece in her sociology class, and g... by Richard Girard on Thursday, Nov 15, 2012 at 2:35:12 PM
maybe  you will hep me to formulate  the... by Mark Sashine on Thursday, Nov 15, 2012 at 5:37:43 PM
Right on, man. ___And a great Economist he was.... by jean labrek on Friday, Nov 16, 2012 at 8:30:07 PM
Excellent article! Very informative. Keep up the g... by meggy meggy on Saturday, Nov 17, 2012 at 12:53:36 AM
INTERESTING study on great economist K.Marx __ Mos... by jean labrek on Friday, Nov 16, 2012 at 8:20:40 PM
We must always remember that even those we disagre... by Richard Girard on Saturday, Nov 17, 2012 at 3:36:45 PM
respectfully,  neither you nor me can say tha... by Mark Sashine on Sunday, Nov 18, 2012 at 12:28:09 PM
...adulation even to my heroes, Thomas Jefferson, ... by Richard Girard on Monday, Nov 19, 2012 at 4:38:49 PM