Idiocy of the Day: NY Times Opinion "Happy Birthday, Karl Marx. You Were Right!"

I generally strive to stay away from clickbait idiocy. Apologies offered, but I could not resist this one.

The lunatic of the day award goes to Jason Barker, associate professor of philosophy at Kyung Hee University in South Korea.

Forgive me for spreading such idiocy, but then again, it's quite possible the New York Times actually believes this author.

Here's an interesting clip: "Even liberal economists such as Nouriel Roubini agree that Marx’s conviction that capitalism has an inbuilt tendency to destroy itself remains as prescient as ever."

I will have to let Roubini defend himself if that's true.

Simple Questions

  • If capitalism is so bad, why has it outlasted everything else?
  • What is the success rate of Cuba? Venezuela?
  • What is the economic progress of France vs the US?
  • How did Russia do under repetitive 10-year plans until it embraced some capitalistic ideas?
  • How did China do under repetitive 5-year plans until it embraced some capitalistic ideas?

Amazing Irony

The fact of the matter is we do not have enough capitalism.

The irony in the discussion is that problems attributed to capitalism are problems that should be attributed to deviations from capitalism.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (55)
No. 1-50
Tony_CA
Tony_CA

He was right. We don't have anything remotely close to capitalism

pgp
pgp

Capitalism is the best of a lot of bad choices and only because it resonates better with the flaws that make us human. The real root of the problem is that no government can stay uncorrupted long enough to make any system last forever.

JoeP
JoeP

Correction. Soviet Union had only 5-year plans, never 10-year.

Tony_CA
Tony_CA

Capitalism is on its' last legs.

JoeP
JoeP

Dream on.

Tony_CA
Tony_CA

I'm not the one who is dream. Follow the bond market.

Onni4me
Onni4me

Capitalism is based on private ownership and that's why it works. It allows people to dream and in best scenarios to fulfill their dreams. They had a word in USSR something pronounced 'tu(k)htaa' meaning that nobody cared since everything was owned "together". The productivity fell and shortages became the norm. People actually had money but nothing they could buy with it. Socialism is a dream for some, nightmare to those living in it.

FelixMish
FelixMish

When I read the Communist Manifesto many years ago, the clearest thought I had was, "This guy lost his girl to a rich guy."

But the linked article makes it clear that modern Marxists "read" Marx as they would tea leaves or the faithful "read" the bible, or the rest of us read horoscopes: Anything you want to "read" - it's there.

That all said, who owns a public corporation?

Clearly not the stockholders. They lease it hoping for a payback. Anyway, the stockholders tend to be funds, which, themselves are "owned" by funds, and it's funds all the way down to people who have no clue what corporations they "own".

Governments are a good candidate for being most like owners. They sure take a cut. And they call a lot of shots.

But, I vote for employees. They pretty much run things. If things go south, they get the shaft. And if things go good, they come out smelling like a rose. Which all seems a good match to "owner".

If the employees "own" most companies, then, well, "Hello Karl, you fantastic futurist." And extreme conservative, if you read Marx closely. He just didn't like all those changes capitalism promised to make to the existing order. In today's lingo, he was a privileged, entitled Luddite.

Sechel
Sechel

not sure what we have in the u.s. is capitalism but some hybrid. still remember milton friedman's free to choose series where he said if you want to see capitalism travel to hong kong

killben
killben

Real capitalism will not have TARP, bailout, acronym money, PPT, interest rate setting, QE, central banks etc. Are we there?

Rdog17
Rdog17

Nail... Head... Simple and to the point Mish. Where Capitalism fails is when Liberal policies get in the way. Good work!

Snow_Dog
Snow_Dog

“By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet's impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine's.“
~ Paul Krugman

Finally, The NY Times may just have lived that one down

cecilhenry
cecilhenry

Envy and the wish to control others never dies. This is how it manifests.

The 'Progressive' dreams of the world he could create if only the lives and property of his fellows were at his disposal.

Snow_Dog
Snow_Dog

Bonafide, hands-off, price discovered, laissez faire style capitalism? It doesn’t exist, at least not here and now in 2018.

Insider connected, price brokered, regulatory captured, cui bono crony capitalism? Available everywhere, (ahem). ...at the right price.

Not sure what was around in Karl Marx’ time, but it was a far more agrarian world.

whirlaway
whirlaway

Marxism was not an alternative to capitalism. It was merely a critique on what all can go wrong with capitalism if it is allowed to run unchecked. So Marx was indeed right. Just look at the wreckage!

MissionAccomplished
MissionAccomplished

Capitalism is a people ranchers derogatory slur for freedom.

Like 'bourgeois' use of the term outside the context of a joke indicates a mindfuck sufferer.

Stuki
Stuki

Hierarchical authority “systems” of self centered optimizing individuals, are inherently self-destructive. That which is currently passed off as “capitalism” is just one example of that. The reason it hasn’t self destructed as quickly as the alternatives which claim to adhere closer to Marx’ teachings, is because it has been less globally hierarchical.

The less hierarchical, the less self destructive. And hence the most resilient. Trivially so, since lack of top down control is what enable individual actors to make corrections when orders from up high don’t jive with the reality they observe.

For those aiming for less of a tendency towards systemic self destruction, all it takes is less central control. Fewer mechanisms by which some can assert authority over others. Greater individual flexibility to respond to reality the way each individual feel is correct, with less ability of some to coerce others. More flexibility and less top down enforced interdependence between every node and every branch of the network that is society. At the limit case of no “system” in any way whatsoever, “the system” self-destructing doesn’t even make sense anymore. Problem solved.

8dots
8dots

Many white house journalist are 3rd or 4th generation descendant of communists and anarchist in this country. One of the most important tool of the trade of their grandparents was the night line comedians, pounding the gov with impunity. This weekend two things happened : 1) Trump don't ga ga ga. 2) comedians are disgraced, do not belong to the class of people who have permmission

xil
xil

Agent Smith: I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species, and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment; but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply, until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer on this planet, you are a plague, and we...are the cure.

Perry Farrell: My friend says we're like the dinosaurs
Only we are doing ourselves in
Much faster than they
Ever did
We'll make great pets!

DanExMachina
DanExMachina

What Marx, Liberals and Conservatives seem to miss is that the moderator to Capitalism isn't Communism or Socialism: it's sales taxes. Any machine will fail without a feedback mechanism that is integrated to the controls. The control (decision point) in Capitalism is at the point of sale. If the overhead costs of government and environmental damage were visible at the point of sale, then capitalism would be a 'free' market, where skills are rewarded cleanly without burden, and consumption is moderated according to cost vs. desire. Socialism is the basis of capitalism: people want to cooperate for profit and improvement. It's in our tribal/herd nature to socialize. Communism is just isolationist cooperation (like a church). Trade (cooperative usefulness) is great until all of the schools teach only fanatical competicism and love of money, rather than skills and cooperation (think sport teams as isolationist cooperation and 'business' as fanatical love of money). Ludditism was about fighting the effects of fanatical technology profiteering. The destruction of machinery came only after the factory investors refused to share profits with the workers and towns they displaced. It wasn't a fear of machines. Liberals try using humanism tools in capitalism machinery. They need to embrace the tools that slow the exodus of resources from the working class to the capital class, not exploit the working class even faster and then try to get some pittance of the money to be given back. Purchasing isn't the only way to meet needs. Both Capitalists and Liberals forget that we have hands and brains to make stuff for ourselves, not to make stuff for other people and hope to get paid appropriately (Invisible Hand). Having that opportunity (access to land/basic raw resources) was what created the American belief in independence. Now that basic living is owned by capital, the intrinsic value (and support) of human bodies for war fodder has to be provided by capital as well. We can no longer count on wilderness farmers to provide infantry without paying basic income. We call it "farm subsidies" or "welfare" or "tax credits", but the effect is that some amount of money comes out of GDP in order to feed bodies into the GDP. Let's just eliminate the complexities and shift all overhead to sales taxes and provide a Basic Minimum Income (enough to grow their own food) to every citizen, without qualification. If money makes people stupid and lazy, maybe money wasn't the best way to run things, and besides, how will they ever find out? They haven't figured out that cheap food (corn and sugar) does the same thing (feeds cannon fodder and keeps them unaware that they are cannon fodder and obesity incubators for medical profit).

whirlaway
whirlaway

"If capitalism is so bad, why has it outlasted everything else?"

Mish in 1818: "If slavery is so bad, why has it outlasted everything else?"
Mish in 1918: "If colonialism is so bad, why has it outlasted everything else?"

whirlaway
whirlaway

"What is the economic progress of France vs the US?"

The French have better healthcare, better public transport and the people enjoy better work-life balance. Your argument is based on the so-called economic progress indicators (cooked-up GDP numbers, goosed up stock markets and asset bubbles etc.) that mean nothing to the guy who dies of a treatable condition because of lack of healthcare, has to spent oodles on owning/renting a car and has to work his tail off at 2 or 3 or 4 jobs at a time.

Carl_R
Carl_R

The primary reason capitalism is the best, most efficient system is that it provides a strong motivation for each person to do their best. If each person does their best, the overall economy operates at maximum efficiency. One reason that socialistic economies struggle is that people are motivated to not care about doing their best. Now that countries like the US have added Socialistic features to the economy, the economy no longer is as efficient, and we no longer see rising incomes and standards of living, but that's to be expected.
A secondary reason capitalism works best is that multiple people invest in alternative technologies, and ultimately the best, most efficient one wins. The socialistic alternative is for a government planner to select the "winning" technology. That may, or may not end up with the most efficient alternative. Again, the US has moved away from a free market, reducing the efficiency of the economy. Technologies such as ethanol get "selected" by the government to be promoted, and may not be efficient at all.
The biggest problem of capitalism seems to be how it works in conjunction with the political system. Large businesses have money for lobbying, and they get rules/laws enacted that protect the large businesses, and decrease competition, thereby decreasing the efficiency of the economy. Of course, in a socialistic system, the government and large business is the same.

Dsgn
Dsgn

Three suggestions:
Capitalism, The Unknown Ideal, 1971, Ayn Rand; about two dozen pages.
For the younger, Video Generation, a Marx bio by Molyneux: https://www.fdrpodcasts.com/#/2584/the-truth-about-karl-marx Sorry, audio only, from 2014. The Hypocrite King.
Finally, lets look at ALL ideologies - Dem, Rep, Commie, Nazi, etc - as camouflage: a cover-up for really EVIL people to get away with crimes they would be terrified of doing personally without an excuse. And then they expect to be applauded for it and go down in history?

whirlaway
whirlaway

"The biggest problem of capitalism seems to be how it works in conjunction with the political system. Large businesses have money for lobbying, and they get rules/laws enacted..."

That is why it is said that the cure for the ills of capitalism is democracy. That leads to Main Street capitalism. As opposed to Wall Street capitalism which is what we have in the US.

Europe has a flavor of capitalism that is more like that.

RonJ
RonJ

"That is why it is said that the cure for the ills of capitalism is democracy." Leftists may say that. But propaganda is as propaganda does. Democracy hasn't worked out so well in Venezuela.

bradw2k
bradw2k

Capitalism would be: no guns in anyone's back (for non-criminals). The Marxists, the Progressives, etc, all share in common that they want a gun in everyone's back. This wish is their axiom, and no matter how it plays out in Venezuela or France or the US doesn't matter. Results are an afterthought. The feeling that people deserve to be controlled is not to be questioned. The much maligned Tea Party meme that "they hate freedom" is exactly right.

RonJ
RonJ

"Marxism was not an alternative to capitalism. It was merely a critique on what all can go wrong with capitalism if it is allowed to run unchecked. So Marx was indeed right. Just look at the wreckage!"

RonJ
RonJ

I see the wreckage of Venezuela. Cronyism in the U.S., is not capitalism. Marx was not right.

Working Brain Cell
Working Brain Cell

A lot of unsubstantiated nonsense and name calling "oh, Mish must have been in favor of slavery". What system better encapsulated what slavery was than Marxism? Name one country where Marx is worshipped that isn't an intolerant mess.

SMF
SMF

Venezuela has not had democracy for a while. In the next presidential election, the rigged supreme court basically banned all opposition parties from running.

Carl_R
Carl_R

I disagree. Large corporations love democracies, and democracies love large corporations. The two work and in hand to restrict competition, and to enforce common standards. A classic example is the proposed $15 minimum wage. That will kill off small businesses, and concentrate business in the hands of large corporations. A company like McDonald''s can roll out ordering kiosks and robotic cooks, and be better off from the change as they gain market share, while mom and pop restaurants are unable to remain competitive.

Webej
Webej

The term capitalism was coined by Marx, so you're honoring him by using the word! Marx was actually a fan of capitalism as the highest form of social-economic organization to date -- he just thought that it would progress to the next stage by the dynamic of its inner oppositions, a development he considered to be true of all historic social and cultural systems (dialectical ... Hegel). He may well have been the first economic theorist to base his ideas on empirical study instead of on ahistorical dogmas. People should read some Marx as a scholar, before forming opinions on his "ideology".

startrek59
startrek59

Dear Mish, Connecting Marx with Communist Russia and China is like connecting capitalism with the US. Your prejudice shows. Cuba has done extremely well in comparison with similar countries. About time the US stop harassing Cuba.

USP1
USP1

Why do I keep reading this nonsense that Cuba is doing well. Maybe you should come down here to Miami and talk to all the Cuban refugees that risked their lives coming to the USA in an improvised raft to get a better life! Or maybe you should talk to families of those that died trying to get here! Maybe you should hear the stories of people getting executed by the Castro regime, from those that were there. I keep hearing about that great health care system they have down in Cuba, talk to a Cuban and he will tell you it sucks, besides a couple of hospitals in the tourist areas which are nice and are stocked (and not for the islanders) with medicine for the tourists, the rest of it is in shambles and there is no medicine... This leftist rewriting of history is sickening...

USP1
USP1

And as always the issue is not with the system it is with the ones that run it. When China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela etc... failed miserably, the system was not blame. Nope it was always the fault of the ones running the system...

SMF
SMF

Please, really? If the US was so terrible we wouldn't have so many people trying to get in. I was born and raised in Ecuador, so tell me again what you are attempting to say.

Rayner-Hilles
Rayner-Hilles

You know I find myself agreeing with most of what Marx said, and I'm not afraid to say that... primitive accumulation: yes, alienation theory: yes, crisis of capital: yes etc. ...I even like his aesthetic respect for the manly dignity he ascribed to the work of the proletariat against the hysteria and self involvement of the bourgeois toffs that I'm descended from and embedded in.

But look. For goodness sake, Marx was clearly a sinister, evil individual, with a "kill 'em all" attitude to the complex society around him. You only have to compare Karl Marx with the likes of John Ruskin and Henry George, leave alone Smith and Mill, in order to see, by stark contrast, the stubborn unreasonableness of his "Final Solution." Maybe he had a corrupt, overzealous sense of justice ("equity"); maybe he was just a bored academic philosopher who wanted to see the world change drastically around him for kicks.

Still, if you can't, or rather, don't want to see any of that in Marx, because of your invested biases, then I damn you sir! You have the blood of 500 odd million people who died last century for this murderous ideology on your hands, and I'd say George Orwell got your kind exactly right. Nothing more than festering envy for for rich you so shallowly admire in secret.

Ahmnodt Heare
Ahmnodt Heare

Socialism needs capitalism to survive. Capitalism does not need socialism.

Webej
Webej

Whoaa. Most of those people died before I was born. I'm looking at Marx as a scholar, not as an idealogue or historical figure. But you are turning him into a demi-god, who wielded more power and agency than a whole century full of kings and elected governments. Do you think that every person with ill-intent and a bad personality is immediately the effective cause of armies of murderers after their demise? You are being ridiculous.

Tony_CA
Tony_CA

Capitalism never ever really existed. We been living in soft socialism since the 1930s

klausmkl
klausmkl

Very good article.

Rayner-Hilles
Rayner-Hilles

@Webej "Do you think that every person with ill-intent and a bad personality is immediately the effective cause of armies of murderers after their demise?"

That's an interesting question.

Rayner-Hilles
Rayner-Hilles

Certainly would be ridiculous to cast cosmic levels of blame onto just any daemon that might haunt the underworld of politics: Hitler was just a mad dog; an unhinged romantic fool that the sinister masses of politically-turbulent 1930's Germany empowered and channeled their malevolence through.

Rayner-Hilles
Rayner-Hilles

But Marx? Yes, I think Marx is a truly biblical influence.
The vain and brooding intelligence of Marx is as the Paradise Lost Satan of Milton.
His hopeless, earthly, nihilistic worldview is tragic in the way of Judas Iscariot; his shadowed obsession with money, false concern for the poor and resentment of occupying conquest or imperialism, lead him to betray that which is most precious, heavenly and pure from reality.
His willingness to consciously pervert man's innate sense of justice by the subtlest forms of deceit and idols of Truth, just to bring about a violent rebellion in the manner of the catastrophic French revolution, for reasons God only knows why, casts him as the eschatological Antichrist himself.

Marx was a demigod in my estimation. The ingeniousness of his analysis, the seductiveness of his aesthetic and the insidious relentlessness of his politics has acted as the darkest, most potent force for evil in this world, from the moment he died and descended to hell, to this very day.

It takes a special kind of person and society to survive Marx: an honest, truth conscious, compassionate and righteous spirit, and a mind that's just as wise as this damned serpent in question.

Rayner-Hilles
Rayner-Hilles

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12 KJV

Rayner-Hilles
Rayner-Hilles

Addendum re. "Most of those people died before I was born."
There are people starving to death in Venezuela, North Korea, much of Africa, and many more nations besides this very moment because of Marx; there is not a nation on earth Marx hasn't touched.
And as sin and corruption have gradually infected our own civilisation to the core, many legions of the damned now stand before our own gates once again, to take from us everything we have. That's why Mish felt compelled to post this piece.

WildBull
WildBull

Thank you, Rayner Hilles.