News & opinion on Greater China and the even Greater Beyond: by Biff Cappuccino.

Friday, April 09, 2004

An email and notes...

Sounds good.
>maybe 15 may or so?
>i hate marxism.

Marx writes like a hustler, like a politician with verbal talent sheparding his sheep. (I've come to the conclusion that Noam Chomsky's most likely a charlatan too) I was just talking to Judd last night about the Manifesto (written in 1848). A couple of quotes follow:

"It has drowned out the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation."

In other words, "religious fervour...chivalrous enthusiasm...philistine sentimentalism" are preferable to enlightened self-interest. This is just sophistry. Intelligentsia slang-whanging.

"It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage laborers."

Physicians and lawyers are professionals. By definition, they don't work for wages, they work on a contractual basis with their incomes formulated (i.e. artificially inflated) by the guild (i.e. medical associations or the bar, both of which are owned and operated by their peers, not big business). Same goes for priests. Real poets don't work for wages. They work for free. Poets for hire aren't poets. They're PR executives. Same goes for that genre of writers who specialize in winning over awards & prize committees, as opposed to winning over readers. Men of science (as opposed to technicians) tend to be entrepreneurs who run companies and employ wage laborers. Think of Sam Morse, the ex-painter cum entrepreneur and originator of the electric telegraph who was doing this at the time Marx was writing the manifesto. Or think today to the start-up biotech firms (Genentech), aerospace firms, computer companies (Taiwan ranks fourth worldwide in US patents awarded annually, etc.) and so forth. Men of science earn income, not wages. Entirely different things... How could an economist, of all people, confuse income with wages?

It was bullshit when Marx wrote it and it remains bullshit today. 95% of the population will throw their lot in with anything from marxism to astrology if it means safety in numbers. The poor, pathetic bastards.


To the above I might add that Marx is also sort of predecessor to contemporary caricatures of bookish nerds; a sort of glorious pioneer who set the stage for later generations of ivory tower hacks. For example, he was well-known to dislike bathing and was widely reported as being dirty and odiferous. Furthermore, he was professionally incompetent in the private sector. He was also chronically insolvent and ended up being put on a stipend of sorts by Engels who supported him financially whole hog for between 20 and 30 years. Engels, who inherited wealth, more or less split his own allowance with Karl Marx, which gave Marx a newfound prosperity. Even then, the author of capitalism and the widely-acclaimed expert on money was wholly incapable of managing his own finances and living within his means. He died bequeathing his debts to his friends.

Further, Marx, true to academia, slept with his disciples. In his case, he knocked up the family maid and had Engels take the blame and claim that he sired the child. For that matter, like many academic activists, he was given to conspiracy theories. Perhaps he invented the genre. Furthermore, like many academics, he had little contact with the private sector and easily fell into writing escapist, ivory tower nonsense.

For that matter, he incurred scandals after being found guilty in his day of deliberately misquoting speeches and using inappropriate, dated statistics to back up assertions that capitalism and government was colluding to make things worse when in fact safety-standard legislation and general prosperity were improving. And again, like so many academics, Marx was inordinately proud and found it a very difficult to accept contrary opinions. His famously ferocious temper made it very difficult to keep friends. His pronounced intolerance of others flies, of course, right in the face of the popular notion that he was a friend to the downtrodden. He was, in fact, a prick to the end.

To paraphrase Mencken, professors are afflicted with theories like dogs are afflicted with fleas. Here again, what is Marx but a failed professor afflicted with theories that he had to prop up with falsified evidence to give the appearance of flight.

Given Marx's psychic resemblance to many members of the overeducated academic crowd today, it's little wonder he's so popular with so much of academia. To again paraphrase Mencken, for every problem there's a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. As an explanation for history, dialectical materialism couldn't get much simpler, neater, and more wrong. And of course, his solution to the woes of mankind consisted of the incompetent majority stealing the property of the competent minority, followed by a moving back to the countryside where we'd all take up the Amish lifestyle. And live happily ever after.

What a clown. But what a fantastic self-perpetuating circus he left behind...

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