I finished reading the communist manifesto. It was short, as I already said, and it was pretty good. Once you got used to the weird German sentence structure, Marx and Engels had good stuff to say. I think their assessment of their contemporary situation was accurate.
It seems that with the industrialization of Europe, the capitalists (aka large business owners) were in charge of everything the way feudal nobility had been. Okay. But industrialization had led to a consolidation of population, and all those workers (of the former serf class) were squished into really nasty living conditions. At least as serfs, the lower classes had a patch of land they could feel secure living on. As industrial age factory workers, they didn’t even have that.
As Marx said, nine-tenth of the population was doing the work and one tenth was owning the property. In his opinion, working towards a society where the benefits of property were shared was simply fair.
I think his assessment of the worker-boss relationship was correct for his time.
But while he felt that the 9/10ths would naturally rebel and take over the 1/10th, and that they should logically ask for shared ownership, it did not work out that way.
Everyone now says “Communism failed.” I’m not so sure that’s true. But one thing that is true, is that Marx did not look at the way wealth was distributed in America. We don’t have the same disparity of property. Sure, We have a very few very wealthy class. But we also have a high percentage of property owners.
I looked it up. 64% of Americans own their own home. And our government highly encourages the population to own property. There are all kinds of assistance and even subsidy programs. This seems to be a way of redistributing the wealth, across a broader and more fair section of society.
Also, our government has done a lot to make certain kinds of property common. City Parks, libraries, schools, all kinds of things are essentially communal property.
As I was walking on the stevens creek trail today, I was enjoying the incredible beauty of the trees and flowers. I was delighted that such a wonderful paved bike trail was accessible to everyone. When I looked up at the weeping willow tree, I remembered that I had traveled through a paved road in the middle of a similar forest in Moscow. I was told that it was the hunting grounds of the csar. That would have been the kind of park that Marx was familiar with: the kind that said KEEP OUT.
While our monetary system is undeniably capitalist, and the whole population understands and expects that, there is still a lot of practical communism at work.
Marx certainly didn’t predict that turn of events. I have a lot of respect for his hypothesis, because it seemed to be based on some very logical steps.
But it’s hard to predict the future. No two ways about it. The best guess can be wrong. It seems like you have to keep a keen eye about you. All your best theories of how the world works could be very wrong; things change all the time.
My clever boyfriend sent me this link today, talking about silly assumptions. It juxtaposes two types of people, the statists and the dynamists. That is, people who assume things are staying the same, and people who realize things are changing.
Well, it doesn’t take much to realize things are changing. It’s important to keep up.