Another book review.
Manifesto of the Communist Party by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
It is supposedly one of the most influential political statements in the history of political society. I seriously doubt it. I think the concept of communism has been influential. The basic principle of communism is equality. That principle has spawned a lot of politics – socialism, communism proper and syndicalism.
But the Manifesto itself isn’t all that influential, in my opinion. The ideas are just too offensive to most people. The word “equality” sounds nice, until you think about it. But when you think about it, and reach the same conclusions as Marx, you end up saying absurd things like:
In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend.”
Of course property has to go. All property, all private ownership. Private ownership of anything leads to inequality.
Abolition of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists. Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? To this crime we plead guilty.”
Yup. Those damn capitalists have kids just to show off. All children need to belong to the whole collective for true equality to be secured. And women, too. Marx proposes a “community of women”.
Interestingly enough, Marx wanted to get rid of machinery too. He felt that wage laborers working with machinery dehumanized the worker. Odd concept, indeed.
It should be noted, Marx spent a large part of his life in poverty. For the better part of his adult life, he was a freeloader, mooching off of his friend Friedrich Engels. Three of his children died for lack of basic nutrition (source: Oxford Companion to Philosophy). Surely, in modern times he would have lost custody of the children and most likely faced prosecution.
He didn’t seem to mind, though, and defended his refusal to provide for his family and dedication to study by stating:
I laugh at the so-called practical men and their wisdom. If one wants to be an ox one can easily turn one’s back on human suffering and look after one’s own skin. But I should have regarded myself as really impractical had I died without finishing my book, at least in manuscript.”
That other progenitor of collectivism, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, also had an affinity for freeloading off others:
It is too difficult to think nobly when one thinks only of earning a living.”
I’ll be writing some more on equality later. But for now imagine Karl Marx and Isaiah Berlin on a deserted island.
Marl Karx spends his time playing with himself, sleeping, working on his tan and playing in the surf.
Berlin, on the other hand, spends his time building a 3 story hut, gardening, hunting and otherwise making himself useful.
At the end of the day, equality demands that Berlin hand over his jelly doughnuts to Marl.