Marxism Inc. Part Two



THE REAL CONFLICT in societies is tops-down monopolies versus upstart insurgencies pushing new ideas or better ways of doing things. If you will, Big Business versus small. Communism in practice is another style of monopoly– a particularly pernicious one, ultimately run by status quo control freaks. The idea for them is always to grab power. Once it’s achieved, it’s difficult (once thought impossible) to get them out.

(The difference was exemplified in the Soviet Union in the conflict between Mikhail Sholokhov, a system apparatchik, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who brought his ideas and writings from below– from the gulag!– intending to change the system Sholokhov defended and from which he was its conforming product.)

One can see why closet totalitarians, and conformist writers, as well as global capitalists, are attracted to Communist ideology.

In this Olivia Goldhill article at Quartz magazine we see typical establishment-intellectual infatuation with Marxism. Goldhill can barely restrain her gushing. For her, Karl Marx predicted “exactly” how capitalism would turn out.

Well, Marx did, in unpublished journal entries in a notebook, speculate about automation eliminating jobs. Certainly not a unique thought throughout the first stages of the industrial revolution. (We have the example of the chess-playing automaton known as “The Turk,” created way back in 1770!)

It’s those notebook entries themselves which should concern Ms. Goldhill and other Marxist acolytes. Seems more to be evidence of dawning concerns in Marx’s mind that his labor value theory might be a crock. If there’s no “living” labor, where’s the oppression? From where comes the value?

Olivia Goldhill discusses the seeming “contradiction” within capitalism when it eliminates human labor– but the contradiction is within Marx’s ideas. There appears to be contradiction only because the labor value theory is wrong.

(There are other reasons for capitalism appearing to be in continual crisis– chiefly that it’s like a living organism, one continually self-adjusting, always remaking itself.)

Actual value comes not from labor– from exertion whether human or machine based– but from ideas behind the labor. Value comes from the creators– which can be shown throughout the history of capitalism. How much value did the mind of Thomas Edison add to economies throughout the world? Henry Ford? Steven Jobs?

From where came the value in a Vincent van Gogh painting? From his paintbrush??!


Do we calculate the value in how much time he spent at the canvas? In how much energy he expended upon the brush??

For the artist– the writer included– Marx’s theory is ludicrous.

Karl Marx can be applauded within his historical context. For being the first to create an all-encompassing examination of economies during the capitalist era– an era we continue to live in. But it was a primitive examination. Classify Marx with a D.W. Griffith, who pioneered the art of the film– yet who has to be put within context, not treated as a gospel writer relevant to how things operate now.

-Karl Wenclas


Marxism Incorporated



First of Two Parts

MUCH CELEBRATION has taken place in recent days of the May 5th, 2018 200th birthday of Communism advocate and theorist Karl Marx. Typical of the press this occasion has received is this article by Olivia Goldhill at Quartz magazine.

WHO owns Quartz?

Laurene Powell Jobs, one of the richest capitalists on the planet. In July 2017 her curiously-named Emerson Collective bought The Atlantic and its digital properties, one of which is Quartz. Ms. Jobs apparently doesn’t see Marxism as any kind of threat to her well-sheltered wealth, or to herself. (Quartz in fact recently published another Goldhill-penned tome joking about Marx’s co-optation by capitalists.)

In 2018 the espousal of Marxism comes chiefly from plutocrats– and from hugely-rich centers of power and influence like Harvard. I previously examined here Marxist intellectual journals The Baffler and Current Affairs, the former owned by a billionaire; the latter founded by Harvard student Nathan J. Robinson, son of an international corporate trainer. Olivia Goldhill, coincidentally, is herself a Harvard grad.

So what’s actually happening?

WHAT MIGHT BE HAPPENING is that Monopoly Capitalism seeks to set the current hierarchy rigidly in place. This would explain much, as I’ll discuss in a future post.

WHAT MIGHT BE HAPPENING is a Shigalovian strategy, as outlined in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel The Possessed. A Ten Percent class of enlightened socialist overlords (Harvard grads?) managing the rest of the human herd for the good of all.

WHAT MIGHT BE HAPPENING is that Laurene Powell Jobs and Company see Marxism as a way to channel dissent, directing it toward ideas and programs amenable to the maintenance of Global Capitalism.

Or: Marxism today is a scam.

NEXT: The Goldhill Essay Itself.

-Karl Wenclas

The Wise Men

American Masters: Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself

Who steered the direction of American literature after World War II?

Editors like George Plimpton, Robie Macauley, Reed Whittemore, Robert Silvers, and William Phillips. Men on a mission who, as much as they professed no artistic ideology, very much pushed an artistic ideology. They’d been formed by various factors, whether by privilege, or the war, or by disillusion with Communism. By 1950 all were Wilsonians out to save the world by making it “Safe for Democracy”– their own special internationalist version of democracy.

Literature was their tool– they fully believed in the importance of the art. Paris Review (like Encounter magazine in the UK) was founded as a cultural ambassador for Anglo-American liberal ideals– presenting an intellectual alternative to the twin totalitarianisms of fascism and Communism. Liberal Cold Warriors, these editors disdained– or had rejected– the populism of the American past. John Steinbeck and his kind were out. Henry James as the ideal cosmopolitan author was in.

For our cultural aristocrats, literature, to be safe, must never engage too strongly in ideas. As an editor at New York Review of Books told me in a note in the late 1990’s, characters must never serve as mouthpieces for ideas. George Plimpton told me essentially the same thing on the one occasion I met him, at a literary debate held at CBGB’s in 2001. To these people, burdened– as they saw it– with the task of preserving literature, a broad view of the world was considered dangerous. An Ayn Rand or Frank Norris wrote beyond their well-regulated lines.

Focus moved instead to the delicate sensibilities of the bourgeois self. American literature became gnostic: insular and solipsistic. Cleansed, nuanced, refined; denuded of its loud voice but also much of its energy. For prose: John Updike. For poetry: John Ashbery.  Aesthetics was not the only weapon. No longer could a writer appear off the street like Thomas Wolfe or Jack London and be taken seriously. Writing programs and markers of breeding ensured all who entered the Halls of Approval were thoroughly screened.

Did these men and their journals have influence? Tremendous influence. They understood the concept of leverage; that a publication with a readership of 10,000 could determine who did or did not receive a large book contract– chiefly because that small readership was powerful and elite.

The change in aesthetic direction made the wise men– as well as their sources of money– very happy. Literature came under the control not of the unpredictable American people, but of themselves. The Elect.

American Masters: Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton as Himself

The thing to know about these men and their journals is that the faces they showed the world were misleading. George Plimpton was a smiling bon-vivant but also much more than that. The notion that he didn’t know the source of Paris Review‘s original funding is an absurdity.

Likewise, New York Review of Books, founded by Robert Silvers and Barbara Epstein, postured for a long while as a radical Leftist publication– yet it was started with Random House money during a New York newspaper strike as a way for the giant book companies to advertise their new releases. It’s always been an extension of New York-based Big Corporate Publishing. Sophisticated PR for them, one might say.

In the New York literary world, nothing is ever as it seems.