What a treat to have finally read the great Communist Manifesto…I thought it would have been a little longer though. In fact, I thought a lot of things about this little opus magnum that turned out to be quite wrong. Most outstanding was lack of spirited writing or stirring conclusions; I was quite unmoved by the whole affair, but then I’m also warm and well fed. Marx and Engels’ manifesto was more rant then philosophy, but they do have some interesting points. Namely, that expansion for expansion sake is wrong, and that private property is at the root of societies problems. It is wrong to trash this ideology and call it dead wrong, it’s not; Marx and Engels are right about how absolutely important economies are at the individual level, and how interconnected economies are. Yet the two are completely wrong about how economies are run, and by whom, and how they are ordered.
Now, this is still old-world Europe, and it was still pretty much the same framework of class-ism, but with a laisser-faire capitalist bent. If one had been born in the lower class, there were simply too few routes to self-betterment. There was no community college to learn a new skill, no scholarships or grants and no effective system of self-betterment. To move 100 miles from where you were born was a more expensive and difficult undertaking then it is for someone to move half way across the globe today. In short, the bourgeoisie was not necessarily keeping down the masses, more they were being kept down by a lack of opportunities and extremely inflexible labor markets. Was it right for the bourgeoisie to exploit these market inefficiencies? Well in hindsight, no. In 1850? Well maybe. In hindsight, the bourgeoisie should have recognized that a repressed, malnourished and uneducated society benefits no one, in spite of the few cents a day savings in labor costs. However, the rising communists should also have seen the major, and I mean major, pitfalls of collectivism, self-sufficiency and public property on efficiency. Plus they all had a healthy does of over reaction.
So I had always taken Communism to be a completely rational idea, I might have even called it a good idea that just could not work along side human nature. However, today I think it is an absolutely awful idea, it does not work with human nature, and it does not work period. The whole system rests on the notion that one treats 100 million people like they are immediate family, most people struggle to treat their immediate family like family. Furthermore, it cannot work because the system will inevitably collapse under its own inefficiencies, huge, massive and blatant inefficiencies that one would be punished for trying to correct. It is an impossible task to divine what products are being under produced and what are being overproduced without the market using a price system. Collectivism will always encourage people to abuse goods and service because there is immediate consequence for abusing public property, the costs are so evenly dispersed that the entire relationship is lost on a sole individual.
Expansion for expansion sake? Well, yeah. All improvements, even the ones that involve elimination, require the expansion of something somewhere; a new technique or body of knowledge, least of all a new product or technology. Marx evokes an evil entity that only wants to consume and expand, how he fails to see any benefit is beyond me.