Lesson 11: Marxism
Course: Advanced Worldview Analysis
I now have an overhead that is titled the Economic Way of Thinking. I've referred to this on a couple of occasions. I told you about my friend who taught economics at the same university that I taught, and how impressed that I was at this guy's ability to answer what for me were really tough questions. And I really was skeptical and what impressed me the most was this guy wasn’t giving me canned answers. He really was operating according to certain principles and was thinking his way through to an answer. Well, this sort of thing has a name. It's called the economic way of thinking and here are 5, 4 rather of theses economic ways of thinking. Here they are. No. 1- People respond to incentives. People respond to incentives. If you are a business person and people aren’t entering the doors of your business establishment very frequently, you'll want to give them an incentive to come in. Now what are some of the ways in which people do that? They put coupons in the newspaper. They have sales. There's a piano company somewhere in Orlando. It has a 'Going out of Business Sale' for the last 20 years. And I suppose it works. People go in, 'And boy, I'm going to get a grand piano for 50 bucks or something like that'. People respond to incentives. Now, that also applies to the welfare state. This country has during the history of the great society programs, what a misnomer that is, the great society. But during the history of the welfare state what this country has done for far too long is give poor people bad incentives, wrong incentives. When the government upon which many of these people depend slavishly for a weekly or a monthly check, when the government give people incentives to bear illegitimate children, we should not be surprised when the illegitimacy rates in the inner city climb to 75% or 80%. We shouldn't be surprised. You give people incentives to have babies out of wedlock. Don’t be surprised when you got lots of babies who don't know who their papa is.
Secondly, every choice involves some cost. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Every choice is going to cost you something, either in money, or time, or energy, or all of those things put together. What we have is a welfare system in which a lot of people, often the people at the lowest rung of the economic leader, thought their choices involved no cost at all. Have a baby, shucks, government will take care of that. Government will pay for their healthcare. Government will give you a check. There's no cost. There is! But in a welfare system, the people who are doing the things don't have to bear the cost. It's other people who have to bear the cost.
Here's the third principle. Certainty in economics is unattainable. Certainty in economics is unattainable. Can I remember this joke? Let's try it. I actually tell it in my ethics tape. The story goes like this. And forget the theology. 3 men die on the same day and they all go to the Pearly Gates and after they pass through the Pearly Gates, 1 by 1 they run into Albert Einstein. And Albert Einstein says to the first guy, 'I don't want to talk to you until I know what your IQ is. Can you tell me what your IQ is?'. And the guy says, 'My IQ is 210'. Einstein says, 'Wow! Let's go over here and let's talk about quantum physics. Well, he talks to that guy for half an eternity. Then he comes back and the second guy is still waiting and he says, 'What's your IQ?' And he says, 'Well, my IQ is about 150. I joined Wenser??? when I was 5 years old. Einstein says, 'Well, let’s talk about square circles or something like that’. Then he comes to the third guy, and the third guy says, 'Well, Mr Einstein my IQ is 60.' Einstein says, 'I've been looking for someone like you. Tell me, what will interest rates do in the next year?' There is no certainty. You don't want to consult with me about what to do with your savings. I'm almost embarrassed to say this publicly. I've been expecting a depression for the last 10 years. And I finally said, 'Well, I think I've lost out on all of this stuff. Maybe I’d better put a little bit of money in a mutual fund called Euro Pacific. Boom! The bottoms are up now. Euro Pacific. It's a crap shoot???? The words c-r-a-p is referring to dais ??? Nobody knows. And the reason nobody knows is because it's all a playing out of the subjective valuations of millions of people. And you cannot really predict what will be important, what will be perceived as valuable in 2 months, let alone 2 years.
The fourth principle of the economic way of thinking is this. Always consider the long range consequences of your choices. Boy, this is important. Let me give you the name of a very interesting guy. His name is Henry Hesileth. He's now dead. I don’t believe Henry Hesileth ever graduated from high school. Because back then a lot of people didn't. He certainly never went to college, if he did graduate from high school. When he finally died a few years ago, he was 90 years or so But then he got a job with the Wall Street Journal. Then he began to write economic columns and then he wrote a book called 'Economics In One Lesson'. You ought to read that book. The one lesson in economics that would turn you into an Economic genius is stated right here. Always ask what are the long range consequences of this action. If you know this lesson you will be so much smarter than all the politicians in the United States. Let me give an example. Suppose the politicians in New York City say, "We want to make housing more available to poor people in New York City. So what we are going to do is we are going to impose rent controls. So that it becomes illegal for any owner of apartments in New York City to ask for more than 7 or 8 hundred dollars a month rent. Now, you are not a politician. I want you to think. New York City, rent controls. The politicians want inexpensive housing made more available to poor people. What world be the long range consequence of rent controls? Scarcity! You bet! Housing will be harder to find. And even though no one is going to break the law, what they are going to do is they are going to bend the law by finding other ways of getting more money out of you. And I think I mentioned some of the ways the other day. They'll say, you see this broom over here? You can have my apartment for the rent control price but that broom is going to cost you a thousand dollars a month. Or to use the example I gave you a couple of weeks ago, See my sister over there? You've got to date her, or maybe marry her. The long range consequences- all things being equal, describe for me the political party of people who are incapable of understanding the long range consequences of economic choices. All things being equal. In other words, you can get these people from just about any political party. But what is the name of the group to which they seem to move like flies to a light bulb? And the people who are listening to this, the name that they utter will reflect how much they have learnt from listening to these tapes during the past month or so.
Now, I want to talk to you about the four phases of Marxism. I include this in several different courses and this is so important that I included this in my History of Philosophy course and I also included it in my book on the Religious Left which you are going to read sooner or later. And I also included in Poverty and Wealth. Here are the 4 major phases of Marxism. First of all, there is social democratic Marxism. Secondly there is Marxism-Leninism. Guess who that came from, Leninism. Thirdly, there is real Marxism, sometimes known as Humanistic Marxism. We have to be a little careful there with Humanistic Marxism. And then, I wished I had a better term for it. But I used this term long enough. I always call it Chameleon Marxism. I borrowed that from a history prof who taught some place that I've forgotten the name of- Chameleon Marxism. Maybe by the time I get to that point I'll think of a better term.
This is the chronological development of Marxism, really. Social Democratic Marxism is what Marxism became after the death of Karl Marx in the 1880s. One of its early leaders was Frederick Engels, of all people. Once Marx died, whatever control Marx had over Engels, and perhaps Engels had more control over Marx because Engels gave Marx most of the money that he needed to survive. Social Democratic Marxism is the belief that it is possible to achieve Marxian goals through peaceful non violent democratic means. Through peaceful non violent democratic means. In other words. It's a matter of education. It’s a matter of propaganda. It's a matter of changing people’s understanding of the world. And if we can persuade enough people that most of these Social Democratic guys don't call themselves Marxist, they call themselves Socialists, and what's the difference? This is what happened in Britain in the last half of the 19th century. You have a strong socialist movement that waxed and waned a little bit, it came and went, and finally after Britain's greatest hour where under the leadership of Winston Churchill, the Allied forces finally defeated the Axis powers. In the very next election, the British people threw Winston Churchill out. They said we needed him when we had war but now we don't need him anymore. Now we want to go back to Socialism. And they put in a Socialist government. Or a Liberal government or whatever the official name was. It had left wing parties. The same is true in all of the Western states. The French had their Socialist party. But it has been a democratic. Sometimes as in Germany you get the Socialists and you get the Democratic Socialists, or the Democratic Socialists that I read about in Germany would be again these people, the Socialists. I guess when you just go by that name in an unqualified way, these are people who are going to be far more leftist than the Social Democrats. In the case of the United States, we have a Socialist party up through 1945, 1950, maybe 1960. The leader of that Socialist Party for many years was a man named Norman Thomas. I understand he was a man of considerable character, but he was devoted leftist, a devoted socialist. But what finally killed the Socialist Party in the United States was the changes in the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party in the United States adopted almost the entire program of the Socialist Party. So it put them out of business. Why do you need the Socialist Party when you got the Democrats. And I don't mean to pick up the Democrats but if people listening to this tape don't know that's true, I can't help them. Time you understand that. It was during the 60s and the 70s that a large number of fairly conservative Democrats especially in he South, including Texas changed political parties. If you had any idea how many of the major Republican leaders in the House and the Senate are formal Democrats who switched party because of the growing statism and liberalism of the Democrats who more and more were taken over by Northern and Western Statists. So that's Friedrich Engels. This party is still around, only in the case of the United States, those values are upheld by the Democrats and so on.
Then, you get Marxism- Leninism. This was Lenin's revision of the communism of Marx and Engels. This is the best place the 5 points of Leninism and let me do that. What I'm going to do here is give you a little synthesis of things that Marx taught and taht Lenin revised and I do this in the History of Philosophy course these days, but I don't think it hurts o put it on this tape either. According to Marx and in some cases according to Lenin as well you get 5 stages of Marxism within these 2 upper movements here. First of all you get the class struggle, then you get the revolution, then you get the dictatorship of the proletariat, then you get the withering away of the state, and then you get heaven on earth, you get the classless society. Now, actually each one of these ideas appear in Marx but in some cases Marx said very little about them. Marx really had no idea what the dictatorship of the proletariat. he taught it would be a brief period of time in which following the revolution there would be a kind of people's republic of workers and during that period of time the people would be reeducated, private property would be removed and by that time, everybody would be basically brainwashed into accepting Marx's ideology. Then there would be a withering away of the state in which the dictatorship of the proletariat which was this interim government would disappear and because private property would no longer exist and because people's nature would have been changed by this reindoctrination, we would have basically a heaven on earth without any evil, without any crime. Because the basic source of all evil among human beings is private property. So once you reeducate people and get rid of private property, and let's put this in parentheses, shoot everybody who disagrees, then you could have a classless society. That was what Marx taught. Well, Marx made 2 mistakes. One is, he thought that Marx's ideology would eventually produce these automatically and once you get rid of private property then you just move directly into the classless society. The fact is that every country that accepted communism did so in the wrong way for Marx. It didn't develop insight. It was imposed by totalitarianism means upon an unwilling people. And those who weren't willing were shot or killed or imprisoned. So that was one thing about which Marx was wrong.
The second thing abbot which Marx was wrong was that once we got here the dictatorship of the proletariat would be a very short interim people's government. And the fact is in all of these Marxist states no nation went beyond the dictatorship of the proletariat. No nation ever did. In the case of the Soviet Union, it was still going seventy some years after the revolution in 1917. What happened of course in the Soviet Union was that what was thought to be a people's populist government actually became a dictatorship of the party over the proletariat, that is the Communist Party, and then eventually under Stalin, it became the dictatorship of the dictator over the party over the proletariat. So that these guys would never go away. Now what you have in Russia is the dictatorship of the mafia and there may be some justice in this horrible situation. Because the mafia are really free market guys. Not really of course. It's the rule of the gun.
The class struggle, Marx thought this stuff was philosophical, historical, was deterministic, and that there were 3 forms of the class struggle. There was feudalism, slavery, and then there was feudalism, and there was capitalism. And all of that fell apart. Marx thought or at least many of his followers believe that you could never have a communist revolution until you first had capitalism. But here again is another irony. In country after country, as in the case of Russia for example, there was no capitalist revolution. Russia basically went directly from feudalism to communism. China went directly from feudalism to communism. Cuba went directly from this to that, and North Korea and so on. I mean Marx had it all wrong. even though I typically in certain circumstance say more about the differing views of the revolution and so on, I don't think I want to spend the time to do that tonight. Read my book, The Meaning of History and you'll find it there. That's Marxism-Leninism.
What is Leninism? A couple of keywords here. It is totalitarian. It is expansionist. Those 2 words describe one of the major differences between Leninism and Marxism. You can have Marx's idea and Engels' truths without totalitarianism but Lenin and Stalin were obsessed with the idea of spreading their revolution and their communist system to the entire world. When the Sandinistas took control of Nicaragua for example in early 1980, maybe late 1979, one of those 2 years. They were really Marxist-Leninist and if they allow them free reign politically, if they hadn't been hampered to a great extent by the efforts of Ronald Reagan and his administration, there seems little doubt in my mind that the Sandinistas would have hooked up with Castro and all of Central America would easily have become Marxist-Leninist.
Now neo-Marxism is I think right now is more relevant than either of the first 2 theories. Marx wrote some sociological manuscripts in 1843, 1844. They were never published until around 1930. And then they were published in Germany. All of a sudden people began to pay attention to a significantly portrait of Marx in this early manuscripts. they were written at least 5 years before the communist manifesto was written, 1849, I think I'm right here, if not it'll be 1848. But 5 years before the communist manifesto was written, Marx was writing little essays that I do not think counted for anything, but he never really took seriously and yet all of a sudden in the early 1930s people begin to say that these writings represented the true Karl Marx. There's a reason for what happened here. People were tired of the ruthlessness and the totalitarianism of people like Joseph Stalin. And all of a sudden they found in these 1843, 1844 manuscripts a non totalitarianism Marx or so they thought. A Marx who seemed to be a Humanist in a peculiar sense of the word humanist. He was a humanitarian let us say. He was a kind of person who wouldn't put a gun up against the back of some person's head and blow his brains out, or so people thought. So a lot of Communists who were liberals in the 19th century sense of that word, began to point out to Communists like Joseph Stalin that maybe the historical Marx was against totalitarianism, was against dictatorship and guess what? All of those people disappeared. They disappeared off the face of the earth. They just were here one day and they weren't here the next day. But this led to a growing interest in these 1843- 1844 manuscripts until certain people began their own kind of radicalism and in fact said that these writings of Marx were more important than the writings that Marx wrote in the 1850s, 1860s, 1870s. Now that's an incredible claim. Now what I do in one of my chapters is I argue against that theory. I say this is the height of absurdity. Here are manuscripts that Marx never even bothered to published. And now all of sudden we are supposed to believe that these writings that he never bothered to publish during his entire lifetime is suddenly key, crucial, central, pivotal writing of Karl Marx? That's sheer nonsense.
Now, the leader of this new neo-Marxist theory was a man named Herbert Marcuse. He was a secular Jewish thinker who fled Nazi Germany. He was a member of what is called the Frankfurt School. And I give you some history of this in my book about the Religious Left. I tell a little bit about the Frankfurt School and Herbert Marcuse. One of Marcuse’s claim was that the true Marxism of the 1843-1844 manuscripts was a message about alienation. You know what the word 'alienate' means. It means to separate people, to divide people, to build a wall between people. We become alienated from others when for one reason or another we don't speak to them, we can't understand them, etcetera. For Marcuse, capitalism produces 4 basic kinds of alienation. First of all, capitalism causes alienation between a worker and the things he produces. What capitalism does is alienate the worker from all of the results of technology. So that even though the worker begins to think that his life has never been better, that his life has never been more comfortable, he never has more pleasure in life because he has got this 15 inch color television set. And he has got indoor toilets, and he has got indoor running water, and he has got boysenberry favored cereal. And he has got quarter pounders, and all of these other stuffs. The worker began to think, "Hey, capitalism isn't so bad. Look at how comfortable things are". But this is a delusion here. We are really setting a struggle between the worker, he is comfortable he is happier than he has ever been he thinks, nonetheless he is becoming a slave to the products he produces. He has got to have a new SUV every 5 years. He's got to have5 cell phones. Every member of his family, even his kindergarten kid got to have a cell phone. I'm not kidding. And these are the workers. Now, Marcuse said this is bad because these workers are so fooled and deceived we can no longer count on the workers to produce the revolution. They are slaves to technology. So Marcuse would have to go after them.
Now the second kind of alienation is alienation between the worker and his job. Just look around you. How many people hate their jobs? Here we are just coming out of a recession and look at all of these people, who no matter what their work, whether they are airline stewards, they hate their job. If they are airline pilots, they hate their job. If they are airline mechanics, they hate their job. That’s capitalism. Capitalism leads us to hate our jobs. To which my reply is, show me anybody in the world who really loves his job. Considers the plight of a garbage collector in Beverly Hills and a garbage collector in Moscow. Now if I have my choice, I'd rather collect garbage in Beverly Hills and maybe I'll have to look into that. I hear the benefits are pretty good. But notice the simplistic character of this. People hate their jobs all over the world. If you want to know why people aren't slaves to technology in Russia look at what the Russian economy produces. You wouldn't be a slave to that stuff either. You should drive a Russian automobile someday.
Thirdly, capitalism causes alienation between workers. Look at road rage. Look at how disgruntled employees would go into a postal facility and start shooting up the place and killing people. Look at the crazy people that live in any society. Alienation between workers. Human beings hate each other. Human beings hate their jobs. Human beings hate the product of technology and you want to know what else? Human beings become alienated from themselves. Look at the people who hate themselves. Here is Marcuse's thought. If we want to, this is a major revision of Marx here, if we want as good a society as we can get, what we have to do is get rid of private property, get rid of capitalism , and we'll put an end to internal tension and stress. We'll get rid of interpersonal stress, we'll get rid of the hatred people have for their jobs and all we have to do is get rid of capitalism. That was Marcuse. Now, some of you know the answer to this question. Which well-known thinker is an advocate of neo-Marxism? Tony Campolo is a neo Marxist. Now I prove that in the book Why the Left is not Right. Let's face it, Tony Campolo is a handsome devil. Is he not? He gives baldness a good name. And somehow he and I look a lot alike. I cannot explain why. Some people think we were separated at birth. And he got Italian parents and I got German parents. I don't know. But we look a lot alike. Often when I'm in airports, they think I'm Tony Campolo and they ask me for his autograph and I always give it to them. And what I write is 'Everything in this book is wrong, Love, Tony'. So I autograph his books. Now, here is what bothers me about Tony Campolo's neo Marxism. He hasn't been especially candid about this. He wrote a book called 'We have met the Enemy'. And they are partly right. He has a hundred pages in that book about Marx and frankly it looks to me as if he thinks Marx is totally right, or at least the Marcusean version of Marx. When I read what Tony Campolo thinks about Marcuse and he seldom mentions Marcuse by name, but its Marcusean Marxism. It's neo Marxism. This is what it is. He gets it from Marcuse and it shouldn't surprise us because most sociology students were indoctrinated in Marcuse's ideas when my buddy Tony was getting his Sociology degree. He doesn't understand Marcuse. He doesn't know the history well enough. What really troubles me about Dr Campolo is the fact that even though he gives Marx credit for these 4 kinds of alienation he fails to mention a fifth kind of alienation. And he shouldn't forget it. Tony Campolo never talks about alienation from God. What's wrong here is it is this alienation from God that is the real cause of the other kinds of alienation that neo Marxist talks so much about. Read Romans chapter 5 if you want to know more about alienation from God. Well, we are going to say more about Tony later on. But I think what the recognition of Tony Campolo's links to neo Marxism tell us is this is not just abstract thinking, it is not just day dreaming here. This is a collection of ideas that has dug its roots deeply into what is called Evangelical Christendom. And it has helped to confuse the thinking of a lot of Americans who think that a lot of this stuff comes from the Bible when it doesn't come from the Bible at all. And the stuff that does come from the Bible is not mentioned, is overlooked, is passed over. And what we get is simply second hand Marcusean radicalism.
Chameleon Marxism which is the theories of Antonio Gramsci has superseded those of Marcuse.