HOW KARL MARX GOT IT WRONG
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Well, Marx did, in unpublished journal entries in a notebook, speculate about automation eliminating jobs.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.