- Capitalism and Alternatives -

You're trying to turn Marx into a common liberal

Posted by: Barry Stoller on February 07, 19100 at 10:32:13:

In Reply to: Quick... posted by Red Deathy on February 06, 19100 at 19:50:48:

Stoller: However, according to The Communist Manifesto (International 1948, p. 30), when the proletariat comes to power, there will be an '[e]qual obligation of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.'

: Indeed, equal obligation, no one is more obliged to work than anyone else...

'No one is more obliged to work than anyone else'? You make the dictatorship of the proletariat sound like a vacation, RD.

No one is LESS obliged to work than anyone else, either! The point is that everyone is equally obliged to work. That is NOT voluntary, it's an obligation.

Same page of The Communist Manifesto: 'The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the state, i.e., of the proletariat organized as the ruling class; and to increase the total of productive forces as rapidly as possible' (ibid., emphasis added).

Does THAT sound like a vacation?

How much work will this be? You have cited Buckminster Fuller saying two hours.

I'll cite Engels instead:

There has...been a discussion...about the division of products in the future society, whether this will take place according to the amount of work done or otherwise. The question has been approached very 'materialistically,' in opposition to certain idealistic forms of phraseology about justice. But strangely enough it has never struck anyone that, after all, the method of division essentially depends on how much there is to divide, and that this must surely change with the progress of production and social organization, so that the method of division may also change.(1)

Going a bit further here, I would argue that 'how much' there is to divide will also be contingent upon how much workers want. As I see it (here), workers will decide their hours of work by deciding their material needs and wants.

: Further, The Manifesto is largely aimed at a German revolution, intended to build up Capitalism to reach socialism, so by Marx's standards, enforced Labour is just one part of Capitalist Life.

Are you trying to say that the proletariat will 'wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the state, i.e., of the proletariat organized as the ruling class' only to 'build up Capitalism to reach socialism'? Why not call it the 'Capitalist Manifesto' then?

My objection to your interpretation of Marxism, RD, is that it implies work will be literally voluntary for individuals, i.e. some people 'choose' to work, others do not. That can only perpetuate the classic stereotype that communism will support freeloaders. While Marx emphasized leisure time as a consequence of putting industry to work for people's needs, not profits, to say that the 'right to be lazy' is a Marxist principle is to exceed the literature of either Marx and Engels---again perpetuating the stereotype of freeloaders.

I think such an interpretation panders to anarchist idealists and attempts to turn Marx into a common liberal.

In the communist future, everyone will be equally obliged to work.

How much of a 'spin' does that require?



1. Engels, letter to Conrad Schmidt, 5 August 1890, Selected Correspondence, International 1934, pp. 472-3.

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