Thursday, October 21, 2010

Marx Missed Some Things (archived, finally)

Here's that infamous essay I keep referencing.

_____Marx Missed Some Things
_____Carina Botterbusch
_____Intro to Sociology
_____21642; W 6:30-9:35pm
_____September 16, 2008

_____Although the Communist Manifesto has influenced a lot of people, I found several flaws of logic in Marx’s thinking. He mistakenly thought that people are only motivated by greed, that the bourgeoisie would civilize primitive cultures, that any progress before his time was insignificant, and that revolutions must be violent. However, he wasn’t entirely wrong. He understood that any form of leadership cannot last forever and that strong, leading groups of people often sabotage themselves to the point of their own fall.
_____The first error of thinking I found was the claim that people had no other motivation or connection but greed and their own progress. “…No other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest…” (Marx, 1848, p. 2). Marx thought that there was no other possible reason that people would want to be involved with other people. He did not think of compassion or commonalities. If there were no compassion among people, we would not have the Red Cross or other similar groups. The Red Cross was founded in 1881 and the world certainly did not develop compassion in less than forty years. People are also united to one another by commonalities. While Marx focused on the negative separation by differences, that is only half of how it works. We can also be brought together by similarities.
_____Marx also thought that the industrial progress of the bourgeois state would influence and bring “…even the most barbarian nations into civilization” (Marx, 1848, p.3). While I agree that the progress of one country will effect or promote the progress of another, there will continue to be nations that do not want to be civilized, whatever you may consider ‘civilized’ to mean. Even today there are many cultures in Africa and South America that most people would call uncivilized. However, they are happy with the way they live and have not changed much, although some have been contacted by missionaries.
_____I feel like the entire Manifesto has an arrogant attitude about it, which is very clear when Marx says “…what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lab of social labour?” (Marx, 1848, p.4) Although I think he knew that previous cultures had contributed to the knowledge and technology of his era, he claims that the productive potential had not been touched. The Industrial Revolution was certainly an extremely large leap of progress, that does not make earlier progress any less significant.
_____When Marx predicts that war between classes will break out into “open revolution” and “violent overthrow,” he does not even consider the possibility of a revolution being peaceful (Marx, 1848, p.9). However, this is completely incorrect. A few months ago, I went to see the movie, The Singing Revolution, which tells the story about the country of Estonia and its non-violent revolt against Soviet occupation. The movie shows how the Estonians were brought together by their common interest in song in order to peacefully triumph over the Soviets (
_____However, Marx understood how and why leading groups (whether they be political or otherwise) eventually fall and that they typically bring this demise upon themselves. In the next to last paragraph, Marx explains that the bourgeoisie would no longer be capable to be the ruling class. This is common throughout history as we can study countries that enjoyed a time of leadership, but eventually fell, typically because they became too greedy, mistreated their subjects, or became overpowered by the people they led. The Roman, British, and other Empires may have appeared to be indestructible, but man cannot handle such great power.
_____Marx also realized that empires often fall because of unintended self-sabotage. “The bourgeoisie itself… furnishes that proletariat with weapons for fighting…” (Marx, 1848, p. 7). “The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself. …it has also called into existence the men who are to yield those weapons” (Marx, 1848, p.5). This is a common theme throughout the Manifesto and Marx seemed to have a good understanding of the concept that empires typically fall because of something the empire itself produced. Even the last sentence of Part I shows this idea: “What the bourgeoisie, therefore, produces, above all, is its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable” (Marx, 1848, p.9).
_____Although Marx showed a clear understanding of the concept that ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely,’ the four logical flaws that I mentioned cannot be ignored. Even though some of Marx’s ideas were correct and true, he clearly missed a few things.

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