18 March 2011

Stupid Marxist Claims

Tyler Cowen posts some excerpts from Terry Eagleton’s latest book, which I can’t wait to get my hands on:

Building up an economy from very low levels is a backbreaking, dispiriting task.  It is unlikely that men and women will freely submit to the hardships it involves.

This claim is especially asinine, because living in a low-level economy is itself a backbreaking, dispiriting existence. And history indicates that men and women have already submitted to the hardships such a transition requires (hello Industrial Revolution).
There is a paradoxical sense in which Stalinism, rather than discrediting Marx’s work, bears witness to its validity.

No, there’s not.  Either Stalinism was inherently Marxist, demonstrating Marxism’s invalidity, or Stalinism wasn’t inherently Marxist, which is not evidence of the validity of Marxism.  Simply put, Stalinism is either neutral or negative towards Stalinism.  It is not positive.

But the so-called socialist system had its achievements, too.  China and the Soviet Union dragged their citizens out of economic backwardness into the modern industrial world, at however horrific a human cost; and the cost was so steep partly because of the hostility of the capitalist West.

This could be true in the most basic sense, but generally this claim is false since neither China nor the Soviet Union attained even a semblance of industrial modernity until they switched to a capitalist/corporatist system.  And as for the former allowance, it is cruel to argue that marginal steps towards modernity are worth those sorts of human costs.
Revolution is generally thought to be the opposite of democracy, as the work of sinister underground minorities out to subvert the will of the majority.  In fact, as a process by which men and women assume power over their own existence through popular councils and assemblies, it is a great deal more democratic than anything on offer at the moment.

Actually, this is mostly true, for democracy is nothing more than a somewhat docile form of mob rule.  Revolution would be its violent counterpart.  Furthermore, the state enforces democracy through the threat of violence, so really, the only difference between revolution and democracy is of degree, not kind.

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