The Worst Man In Modern History

Authored by Alasdair Macleod via GoldMoney.com,

It seems extraordinary that in defiance of all factual history and philosophical knowledge anyone should celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Karl Marx. More than anyone, through wrong-headed ideas, he bears responsibility, indirectly admittedly, for the deaths of an estimated one hundred million people in the last century, and the severe suppression though economic and social servitude of fully one third of the world’s population. And if you also include those who have suffered under the yoke of Marxist-inspired modern socialism, the philosophy that says the state is more important than the individual, you could argue nearly the whole world is influenced by Marxian philosophy today.

That might seem an extreme statement, but you only have to ask almost anyone anywhere, which do they consider is more important, the individual or the state, to see if this supposition is correct. The only explanation for the continued adoration of the man is that with such universal influence, there are bound to be legions of supporters remaining, ignorant of and blind to the reality. However, during his lifetime – he died in 1883 – he was hardly known. It wasn’t until the Russian revolution thirty-four years later that Marx began to be taken seriously.

How did Marx achieve this powerful posthumous position? It was not through his economics, though they are often quoted and form the core principles of his Communist Manifesto, but through his philosophy, old ideas from forgotten men such as Hegel (1770-1831), which he rehashed into a socialist philosophy that is still accepted by many today, despite the accumulated evidence against it. The difference with Hegel is Hegel strove to establish that historical evolution would lead to increasing individual freedom, while Marx strove to prove the individual played no role in historical evolution.

Hegel argued that all reality is capable of being expressed in rational categories and can be reduced to a synthetic unity by dialectic reasoning within a system of absolute idealism. In plain English, he concluded we all take our cue from our social and cultural surroundings and circumstances, and that they in turn are set by historical events. This became the basis for Marx’s extreme philosophy of class structure, which, in common with Hegel, denied any role to the independence of human thought.

His philosophical stance was comprehensively set out in his book, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, published in 1859. The fundamental principle behind Marxism is stated early in the preface, where he defines his deduction from the Hegelian dialectic: “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness.” In other words, social organisation takes precedence over the individual, and it therefore follows that the individual is subordinate to the social organisation.

It follows from this logic, Marx argued, that the classes that formed on the back of material interests forces members of those classes to think and act in their narrow class interests and not independently in their personal interest, there being no such thing. For Marx, ideologies evolved on class lines, where the interests of the minority, the bourgeoisie, dominated. And as the bourgeoisie profits from the labour of the proletariat, it is in their interest to keep the proletariat suppressed. The accumulation of wealth in the hands of the bourgeoisie was entirely due to the exploitation of the proletariat.

Marx’s world was a black and white one of haves and have-nots, the exploiters and the exploited. As Emmanuel Kant (1724-1804) had said, “If one man has more than necessary, another man has less”. The only way this apparent wrong could be righted would be through the collapse of the capitalist system, which led to these imbalances in the first place. The final solution was a classless society of the proletariat, handing them the means of production administered on their behalf by a revolutionary government.

If proof was needed, it came for Marx in the increasingly disruptive economic slumps over the course of his lifetime. Slumps hit the proletariat hardest, leading to unemployment and starvation. Initially, Marx was convinced that with the slumps getting progressively worse, a communist revolution would eventually be triggered, and the socialists (i.e. Marx himself) would take command from capitalist governments on behalf of the proletariat. Unfortunately for Marx, this never happened, and he increasingly turned in favour of a violent revolution to hasten the ultimate solution, reflecting his growing impatience and desperation.

Above all, Marx despised, even hated other socialists with an irrationality that can only have been fuelled by fear of competition. This hatred remains with us today, with communists loathing all forms of national socialism. Marx’s line of reasoning also freed him from criticism, because dissenters were always labelled bourgeoise, and were therefore dismissed as arguing on class lines. They were unmasked as bourgeoise, whatever their dissenting view, and therefore not qualified to comment on matters that affected the wider proletariat. The only answer was for the bourgeoisie to join the proletariat or to be made to do so, then their interests would be forcibly aligned.

We cannot gloss over the inconsistencies here, where on the one hand the bourgeoisie can only pursue a rigid class interest, yet its members are capable of the independent interest required to migrate to another class. And we must also mention that Marx himself, along with his supporter Engels, was a member of his so-called bourgeoisie, so according to his own strict doctrine, was unable or unqualified to align himself to the proletarian interest.

Marxian dogma was riddled with such inconsistences. Partly, this was due to the state of human knowledge at that time, and which formed the basis of any dialectical debate. Darwin contemporaneously proposed his evolutionary theory, pronouncing that humans evolved from the apes, and therefore were merely a higher form of animal, not a species apart favoured by God. This played neatly into Marxian philosophy.

It was also before the development of psychology by Sigmund Freud and Josef Breuer. It was believed that all human brains were the same, just as we have other internal organs with specific functions within the corpus. The concept, that humans differed in their intelligence, their acuity, was unknown. Even mental illness was believed to be a disorder emanating from the body. To Marx the philosopher, drawing on Hegel’s dialectical approach, it could have seemed logical that we are all the same, and that the obvious social differences are down to our upbringing in one or the other class.

He never defined class, which is too slippery a concept to pin down. Instead, he separated humanity into the exploited majority, the proletariat, and the minority that controls the proletariat, the bourgeoisie. He expected the proletariat to eventually rebel, forcing the bourgeoisie into the lower class, to be ruled over by a socialist administration. He believed that this would happen, because under capitalism, the impoverishment of the workers was inevitable, leading to a workers’ revolution. Yet, at the same time, he believed in the iron law of wages, most associated with David Ricardo. According to this law, wages were set by the availability of labour and the payments required to subsist. Higher wages than this basic level would lead to an increase in the availability of labour over time, while lower wages would reduce the labour pool. In this way, the cost of labour was expected to rebalance at a subsistence level. Labour was regarded as a simple commodity, whose supply was regulated by its demand. However, Marx’s belief in the iron law of wages is at odds with his supposition that the proletariat would be gradually impoverished. You cannot subscribe to both.

Subsequent improvements in economic knowledge have disproved both theories anyway. Marx’s approach was to arrogantly assume workers are unthinking work-slaves, which they are not. They are individuals with individual aspirations, and as Freud and Breuer showed later, they have brains separate from the corpus, with individual mental abilities that govern the corpus. Marx even despised the trade unions of the day, arguing that striking for higher wages was colluding with members of the bourgeoisie by negotiating with them, when instead they should be seeking their destruction. His thinking had evolved from the proposition that the destruction of the bourgeoise class would occur naturally in time, to encouraging a violent class revolution to bring it about. Workers going on strike compromised both alternatives.

Marx also cooked up a theory of dialectical materialism, a concept based on Hegelian dialectics and the materialist philosophy of Ludwig von Feuerbach (1804-72), whereby the material productive forces were meant to propel society through the class struggle towards socialism. Materialism, in this sense, is the doctrine that all changes are brought about by material entities, processes and events, and that all human ideas, choices and value-judgements can be reduced to material causes, which one day will be explained by the natural sciences.

Marx, the man, and Engels, his financial backer, came from the bourgeoisie, and had nothing in common with the proletariat. Their motivation was fundamentally dishonest. After expecting the destruction of the bourgeoisie through an evolution out of capitalism, they actively sought a violent revolution, and there can be little doubt that they impatiently expected to emerge as the leaders of the new order. They despised other socialists, who were seen as rivals. Far more famous in Marx’s time was Ferdinand Lassalle (1824-64), who shared the basic Hegelian philosophy, but helped Bismarck defeat the liberals in Prussia. To Marx, this cooperation with a government was anathema, just as national socialism was to Marxists in the next century.

To Marx, world communism could only have one leader and other socialists must be denounced. As von Mises wryly put it, the worst thing for a socialist is to be ruled by a socialist who is not your friend.

Marx and Engels despised both nationalism and national socialism, because they sought a global revolution so there was no place for national characteristics or cooperation with governments. It was, in effect, their bid for world domination, cooked up in the reading room of the British Library. A decade after the Communist manifesto was published, Marx stopped advocating peaceful revolution, in favour of civil war in all countries to destroy the bourgeoise class. Marx and Engels sought to provoke and benefit from it. The plotting with Engels increasingly took that direction and Engels studied military science in preparation for his role as commander-in-chief.

Despite Marx’s theories and subsequent plotting with Engels, Marxism was exposed by events, even from the outset, as a failure. In the years following the publication of the Communist Manifesto until his death in 1883, despite the boom and bust cycles following the middle of that century, the lot of the proletariat improved immeasurably. Something was going horribly wrong with Marxist predictions, and the chief architect had passed away into obscurity. He had, however, set the template for Lenin, who took up the Marxist banner with the Russian revolution thirty-four years later.

We now know what happened, though much of it was kept from us until the Berlin Wall was dismantled. Just as Marx strove for a global communist revolution, destroying nation states as well as the bourgeoisie, Lenin had the same Marxian objective. It persisted into the post-war era, with the annexation of Eastern Europe, and persistent attempts to undermine Western Europe. Soviet spies were everywhere. Not only did we have the Cambridge five, and left-wing economics professors promoting socialism in the top universities, but even Harry Dexter-White, a very senior US Treasury official who founded the IMF and the World Bank, was a Soviet spy.

Marx was a dead-beat plotter, who should have simply sunk into obscurity. But like Keynes in the following century, he made his half-truths sound eminently plausible. His training as a philosopher imparted a respectability to his theories. Even at his graveside, Engels eulogised him thus:

“Just as Darwin discovered the law of development or organic nature, so Marx discovered the law of development of human history: the simple fact, hitherto concealed by an overgrowth of ideology, that mankind must first of all eat, drink, have shelter and clothing, before it can pursue politics, science, art, religion, etc….”

How can you not respect, even adulate a man expressed in these terms? You cannot say that a philosopher, who discovered the law of development of human history, who recognised that man needs food, water, shelter and clothing is wrong, or bad. This is in strict contrast with the title of this short essay, that Marx was the worst man in modern history. If it hadn’t been for developments long after his death, this epitaph would not be worth challenging. There have been far worse perpetrators of human misery in their lifetimes, with a roll call that goes back to the beginning of recorded history.

No, the reason Marx was a thoroughly bad man, even evil, was he plotted not just the domination of one country, but the whole world by advocating the destructive forces of civil violence. He was a poor parody of a Bond villain. And as is the case with all socialists, he wanted total domination. You could take the view that he was a latter-day Don Quixote, delusional and mad, and that Engels was a sort of financial Sancho Panza without the wit. This would be incorrect. Marx was a failure as a philosopher, and instead of rethinking and recanting, he moved from a position of preparing himself for a leading role in what he saw as inevitable, to advocating violent social destruction.

It was Marx’s wrong-headed philosophy that led to the deaths of a hundred million souls, perpetrated by those he inspired, as well as the enslavement of most of the population of the Eurasian land-mass. And if we are to identify his catastrophic error in the simplest terms, it was the brief sentence in the preface to his A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, referred to above. If instead he had correctly concluded that,

“It is the consciousness of men that determines their existence, and not their social existence”

the world would be a far better place today, with ordinary people free to have delivered economic progress to their fellow men and women without bearing the burden of Marx’s failed philosophies.

He is my nomination for the worst man in the modern history of humanity, and we should remember this and only this on the bicentenary of his birth.
 

US Public Support For Iran Deal Reaches All-Time High

Since the implementation of the Iran Deal, especially Conservative Americans have been in strong opposition to the lifting of sanctions against the Middle Eastern state.

It had been one of Trump’s electoral pledges to either renegotiate or abandon the heavily criticized agreement between Iran, the members of the UN Security Council and Germany.

As Iran rejected any renegotiations, the president soon favored to nix the agreement and reimpose sanctions, and this week President Trump officially withdrew from the Iran agreement. As Statista’s Patrick Wagner notes, through the so-called snapback mechanism, a whole battery of sanctions will immediately come into effect again.

However, as this graphic shows, President Trump does not have a lot of public support for his decision…

Infographic: U.S. Public Support for Iran Deal at All-Time High | Statista

You will find more infographics at Statista

Since its implementation, citizens increasingly favored the agreement, reaching an all-time high before Donald Trump abandoned it.

Is this just more #RESISTance? We wonder just how many of those survey respondents know anything about the actual deal? And what suddenly accounts for the surge in support in the last few weeks?

Army Major Warns Don’t Poke The Dragon, War With China Would Be An Unnecessary Disaster

Authored by Major Danny Sjursen via AntiWar.com,

The Non-Options: 4 Wars the Military Prepares for But Shouldn’t Fight: Volume II

There’s nothing military men like more than obsessively training for wars they will never have to fight. The trick is not to stumble into a conflict that no one will win.

Let’s everyone take a breath. Yes, China presents a potential threat to American interests in the economic, cyber, and naval realms. The U.S. must maintain a credible defensive and expeditionary posture and be prepared for a worst case scenario. What we don’t need is to blunder into a regional, or, worse still, all-out war with the Chinese dragon. Not now, probably not ever.

And yet, in Washington today, and within the Trump administration in particular, alarmism seems the name of the game. This is risky, and, ultimately, dangerous. In his 2018 National Defense Strategy, Secretary of Defense Mattis, a known hawk, refers to Russia and China as “revisionist powers,” and announces that the US military must now pivot to “great power” competition. Look, I’m all for extricating our overstretched armed forces from the Middle East and de-escalating the never-ending, counterproductive “war on terror.” What doesn’t make sense, is the reflexive assumption that (maybe) dialing down one war, must translate into ramping up for other, more perilous, wars with nuclear-armed powerhouses like Russia or China.

The usual laundry list of Chinese threats is well-known: China is (how dare they!) building a sizable blue-water navy and (gasp!) patrolling around sandy islands in the South China Sea. They conduct cyber-attacks (so do we) and steal intellectual property. They are planning a new “Silk Road” to integrate much of Eurasia into a China-centric trade and transportation system. No doubt, some of those items may be cause for measured concern, but none of the listed “infractions” warrants war!

Bottom line: China, like Russia, possesses neither the capacity nor intent for global domination or the subjugation of the United States. Period.

Let’s start with the capacity problem. China has a growing military. That is to be expected of one of the world’s top-two economies and a nation with more than 1 billion people. Don’t act so surprised. Still, China spends only one thirdas much as the US on defense. It has one leaky, outdated former Russian aircraft carrier and is building a few more. The US has about a dozen and our local Asian partners (India, Japan, Australia, and South Korea) – count another nine between them.

China has 14 foreign powers – some hostile – on its land borders. One of those is Russia, with whom the Chinese have a long history of border disputes. The last thing the US should want to do is drive those two unnatural allies into each other’s arms with overly bellicose rhetoric and military posturing. Another Chinese neighbor is India, which is strengthening its own military and also has 1+ billion citizens (and a much higher birthrate than China).

Then there’s the intent issue. China is not after global domination and no longer possesses a true internationalist communist ideology. It wants regionalsuperiority and a measure of global respect to make up for its perceived (and actual) embarrassment by European and American imperialists in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It wants a powerful trade block across Eurasia and a measure of control of its own “lake” – the South China Sea. Is that so unreasonable? The US has outright supremacy in its bordering seas, such as the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Pacific. The US military has even sponsored coups and conducted outright invasions of nearby islands that didn’t sufficiently march to Washington’s tune.

Switch places with Chinese leader Xi Jinping for a moment. How would Trump(or Obama) respond, if the Chinese insisted they had a right to supremacy in the Caribbean? My guess: outright war.

Finally, there are the reasons not to fight, the reasons why a war would be catastrophic for both sides. China is huge, both in landmass and population(of 1.3 billion!). We’ve all heard the (accurate) trope warning against starting a land war in Asia. There’s good reason for that. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is huge and is capable of bogging the relatively small, all-volunteer US military in a nightmarish quagmire.

Nor could the US count on an easy projection of its naval and airpower into, say, the Taiwan Strait. China (and other competitors) have invested heavily in A2AD (Anti-Access, Area-Denial) systems that could thwart such attempts, inflict heavy casualties, or, at the least, maintain standoff. This would force the US military to preemptively escalate with attacks on Chinese homeland defenses. There is very little opportunity, therefore, to wage a limited war. Any fight with China will force the US”all-in” as a matter of course.

Furthermore, China’s booming and growing economy is both its strength and a sort of financial doomsday device. The US, European, and Chinese economies are by now inextricably linked. Hot war means trade war; and that would likely result in a cataclysmic global financial collapse. The US military is the most well-funded and equipped force on earth. Still, the backbone and foundation of that military rests with the power of the US economy. A new crash and potential depression would permanently damage our economy (along with China’s, no doubt).

Most importantly, China maintains an arsenal of at least 250 nuclear warheads. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to America’s 6000+ weapons, but more than enough to deter any serious invasion. Here’s the trick: never to fight a nuclear power, so long as it can be avoided. Anything else is insanity – ever heard of Nuclear Winter? Yea, it’s a real thing! The lesson: tread lightly, be cautious, and avoid unnecessary brinksmanship. That’s called statesmanship, something the US seems to have forgotten about these last 17 years.

Truth is, most of this threat inflation is really about cooking the books to justify gross overspending and a profits bonanza for the military-industrial complex. That’s a concern in itself, because a $700+ billion military budget is unsustainable, requiring either tough cuts to domestic programs, increased taxes, a ballooning national debt – or all of the above.

The real danger, though, is military brinksmanship. And the inescapable fog of war. It’s not impossible to imagine a dispute in the distant South China Sea (7000 miles from California) resulting in combat and casualties between the US and China. This could quickly escalate out of control. And remember, we both have loads of nuclear weapons!

It’s time to realistically weigh US interests, display some humility and craft a sober strategy for the Pacific. The sea coast of China cannot forever remain an “American lake.” We would never accept a foreign power in the Caribbean and can’t expect China – with over a billion citizens and a growing economy – to cede their local waters to a distant American Navy in perpetuity.

The US must appeal to local Asian partners based on our (ostensible) shared values of open trade and open society – a challenge to the more authoritarian Chinese value system. After all, soft power goes a long way, especially when all-out war is a non-option! That, of course, will require more consistency from the US We’ll have to walk the walk on our values and quit backing our “partners’” military campaigns – Saudis in Yemen, Israel in Gaza, etc. – when they often add up to veritable war crimes.

Remember, we owe the Chinese a lot of money. That gives them leverage, but it also gives us leverage. They want to be paid back and Beijing knows it needs the American market for its goods. Besides, our economies are actually highly intertwined. XI doesn’t want a major war with the US He is playing the long game, a chess match as compared to our bumbling checkers!

If there is a war in the Pacific with nuclear-armed China it will most likely not be of XI’s doing. Only American hubris can lead to what would inevitably be a disastrous war.

Given our recent track record – an Icarus-syndrome par excellence – that seems frighteningly likely.

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Read The Non-Options: 4 Wars the Military Prepares for But Shouldn’t Fight, Volume I

Danny Sjursen is a US Army officer and regular contributor to Antiwar.com. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet.