Thursday, May 06, 2010

A rather good essay on Karl Marx

From Daily Kos, of all places, The author rightly detects the miserable nature of Marx. Basically, he hated everyone

Born 192 years ago today in Trier, Germany, Karl Marx "grew up a brilliant and spoiled child" (Sowell, 165) then spent his college years driving his father to exasperation, poisoning his mind with Hegel, and writing of the day when he would obtain enough political power to "wander godlike and victorious...I will feel equal to the creator". (Sowell, 166) So even from his youth it’s safe to say the boy had issues. A man who knew him later in life commented "a most dangerous personal ambition has eaten away all the good in him" (Sowell, 183) so the wisdom of age slipped right through him, his monomania left every potential lesson unheeded and unlearned.

Like many born before and since, Karl Marx looked at humanity in our flawed state and decided God had done a rather shoddy job with us, His favorite creation. Granted, whether browsing a bookstore’s history section, watching prime time television, or reading a "letters to the editor" it’s hard to come to any conclusion but that in creating man God certainly came up short. The difference between Marx and most, though, was the former displayed the lunatic’s worth of hubris necessary to believe that he could improve on God’s design. A bad education will do that to someone.

Despite providing the intellectual framework for much of the modern world, during his lifetime he was little known outside the small circle of Europe’s oddball professional revolutionaries and his most influential work, The Communist Manifesto, was not even his best seller. (That distinction belongs to The Civil War in France, published in 1871.) Marx was the proto-type of the modern American "activist", those who Florence King nailed as "thin-skinned pseudo-intellectuals who make their living second-guessing people completely different from themselves". For an example of the type, pick a Congressman, any Congressman.

As his prose meandered and had only a passing acquaintance with logic, coupled with a fondness for giving words (such as "value") a different meaning from their common usage (and the fact that most of his followers (like those of any great thinker) rarely bothered to actually read what he’d written) his intellectual children ran off in so many directions that Marx once declared himself "not a Marxist". (Sowell, 189) The passage of time has not remedied this trait.

For example, one can cherry pick his quotes and make him out to have been either a Thomas Jefferson or...well, a Karl Marx. He wrote in Critique of the Gotha Programme "government and church should rather be equally excluded from any influence on the school" (Sowell, 45) and no true progressive can disagree with him there, but he also insisted that political control over education is fine as long as the communists get "to alter the character of that intervention". (Smelser, 63)

One of the chuckles earned from a study of Marx’s work comes from reading his self-righteous denunciations of the Filthy Lucre, yet all the while it’s hard to dismiss his belief that true freedom is freedom from want; so for all his salvos against crass materialism he himself was, at base, as pure a materialist as history can provide. Combining the tone of an angry prophet with the fact that the underlying pillar of his economic philosophy (the insistence that all value is derived from labor) was debunked by the marginal revolution of the late 1870s, in the end reading Karl Marx brings to mind The Great Gatsby’s Tom Buchanan who "flushed with his own gibberish, saw himself standing alone on the last barrier of civilization". Sometimes you almost feel sorry for the man. Almost.

Marx’s hatred of capitalism was not because such a system fails to raise the standard of living of the working masses – he always conceded the point that it did – but the fact that some earned more than others, those others reduced to the drudgery of factory work and thus "alienated", making them somehow lesser men. To him, the tragedy of a free market was that it "thwarted human desires for more humane, just, and loving relationships". (Sowell, 123) He’d take the Cambodian killing fields over a shopping mall, every time.

But it was in his most famous political treatise, The Communist Manifesto, where he gave voice to the ultimate fear of every socialist – spontaneous change. That is the monster in the closet for every planner and much the reason for all the bloodshed they inflict to pursue their dream. Marx shuddered, "the bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production...and with them the whole relation of society." (Marx & Engels, 83)

From this primal fear springs the planners’ desire to make the world stand still, then to only move in goosestep to the genius plan they’ve outlined in their heads. The end game of all their attempts is on display cruising the decayed streets of Havana, where the Cuban masses have been reduced to driving cast-off American cars from the 1950s, everyone imprisoned in a sad time warp.



No financial privacy if Democrats get their way

The Dodd financial reform bill does more than just “reform” financial institutions and Wall Street. When taking a closer look, all Americans are affected by this bill in a very personal way.

In Section 1071 of the bill, banks will now be required to keep and forward a log on all depository accounts, including checking, savings and credit union share accounts to the federal government, as previously reported by Americans for Limited Government (ALG).

Why does the government want to receive such diligent records of every citizen’s transactions?
According to the bill, it is so the government can make sure the financial institutions are meeting the credit needs of those in the community.

“It is difficult to trust our government as its regulations and laws caused the financial meltdown in the first place,” says Bill Wilson, President of ALG. “The very people writing and endorsing this bill had their hands in this mess from the beginning. The government does not need to know that a father gave his son a $25 check for his birthday. This will do nothing to prevent another financial disaster from happening.”

Taking to the streets, ALG received similar reactions to Big Brother keeping tabs on every person’s banking transactions. The most common response is people felt this type of government oversight is a complete breach of their privacy. Also, most don’t completely trust the government to keep all this new information private and secure.

Not only does this bill give the government more control over banking institutions, but also more control over American’s individual bank accounts.

“This should be of great concern to everyone who has a bank account,” says Wilson. “It is well beyond the realm of the government to control the individual pocketbooks of Americans.”



Top brass tell soldiers to risk their lives even more than they do already

NATO commanders are weighing a new way to reduce civilian casualties in Afghanistan: recognizing soldiers for "courageous restraint" if they avoid using force that could endanger innocent lives.

The concept comes as the coalition continues to struggle with the problem of civilian casualties despite repeated warnings from the top NATO commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, that the war effort hinges on the ability to protect the population and win support away from the Taliban.

Those who back the idea hope it will provide soldiers with another incentive to think twice before calling in an airstrike or firing at an approaching vehicle if civilians could be at risk.

Most military awards in the past have been given for things like soldiers taking out a machine gun nest or saving their buddies in a firefight, said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Hall, the senior NATO enlisted man in Afghanistan. "We are now considering how we look at awards differently," he said.

British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, the NATO commander of troops in southern Afghanistan, proposed the idea of awarding soldiers for "courageous restraint" during a visit by Hall to Kandahar Airfield in mid April. McChrystal is now reviewing the proposal to determine how it could be implemented, Hall said.



Hedge Funds Donate Big to Democrats; Get Exemption from Bank Bill

The top 10 highest-paid hedge fund managers in 2009 have dished out campaign contributions almost only to Democrats.

Over their lifetimes, those managers have given almost $33 million in campaign contributions to Democrats, according to research by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and that is based on data maintained by the nonpartisan CQMoneyline.

The same managers gave roughly $600,000 to Republicans, according to the research. The contributions went 98 percent to Democrats and two percent to Republicans.

The money went to Democratic campaign committees, individual lawmaker’s election bids and other political action committees.

The data looks at the 10 highest-paid hedge fund managers in 2009, as identified by AR: Absolute Return+Alpha magazine. The New York Times published a story in March identifying the hedge fund managers, including John Paulson and George Soros.

As the Senate prepares to debate possibly hundreds of amendments to a Wall Street overhaul bill, labor unions and others have criticized the bill for not having tough restrictions on hedge funds.

“It’s very disconcerting to see this legislation moving forward that gives them a complete pass,” said Heather Slavkin, of AFL-CIO. Cry me a river, Ms. Slavkin. By now you should know that ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune.’ Guess Labor doesn’t like that there is a new band in town.



Time for some oil spill perspective

As for the environmental damage caused by Deepwater Horizon, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar deserves commendation for reminding everybody over the weekend that off-shore drilling is remarkably safe considering its scope and importance to the nation. There are presently more than 4,000 active rigs employing an estimated 80,000 people on the U.S. outer continental shelf, with the large majority of those operating in the Gulf of Mexico. Salazar said Sunday on Fox News that more than 30,000 oil and natural gas wells have been drilled in the Gulf, and one-third of the oil and natural gas consumed by the United States is produced there.

This means off-shore drilling is now and will remain for the foreseeable future a critically important national resource. The interior secretary also noted that the industry "has been conducted in a very safe manner. Blowouts occur but the safety mechanisms have been in place. Why this failed here is something we are investigating." Amazingly, there have been only 41 deaths and 302 injuries in off-shore platform accidents since 2001, according to federal data. Bureau of Labor Statistics data compiled by the Daily Beast reveals that off-shore oil rig jobs aren't among the 10 most dangerous jobs, while fishing, sanitation work, and farming are.

From an environmental perspective, off-shore oil drilling is far safer than Mother Nature. As the Wall Street Journal noted yesterday, oil that seeps naturally from the ocean floor puts 47 million gallons of crude into U.S. waters annually.

Thus far, Deepwater Horizon has leaked about three million gallons. That sounds like a lot of oil, and it is. But the Exxon Valdez leaked 11 million gallons into Alaska's Prince William Sound. Even those figures are dwarfed, according to the Economist, by the amount of oil spilled in man-made disasters elsewhere around the world. Saddam Hussein's destruction of Kuwaiti oil facilities during the Gulf War dumped more than 500 million barrels of crude into the Arabian Gulf. The 1979 blowout of Mexico's Ixtoc 1 well resulted in 3.3 million barrels being dumped into the Gulf of Mexico. In short, Deepwater Horizon is an environmental crisis, but not the apocalypse that alarmists claim.




Keynesian spending has zilch effect on recovery: "Stubbornness is a bad trait in politics and policy, one that will be punished at the polls this November. The Obama administration continues to argue that its massive federal-spending campaign is essential to economic recovery. Yet the latest GDP report from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that the 3.2 percent first-quarter economic growth rate got no help from government spending. In fact, combined federal, state, and local spending actually fell 1.8 percent. What’s more, over the last three quarters of a mild V-shaped recovery, with an average quarterly rebound of 3.7 percent, government spending actually exerted a small net drag (-0.03%) on growth.”

Newsweek pays the price for writing for Leftists only: "The Washington Post Company says it will try to sell Newsweek, adding the second-largest US news weekly magazine to the growing list of high-profile publishing properties that have been sold or closed recently as the industry grapples with the rise of the internet. With few exceptions, newspapers and magazines have yet to reverse their long slide in subscribers and advertising revenue that has accelerated over the last year after the global financial crisis sparked a deep economic recession. For 2009, the company reported an operating loss from its magazine division of $US29.3 million ($32.3m), compared with a loss of $US16m in 2008. [Murdoch is doing fine though -- with his more even-handed approach]

The abstentionist elephant in the [British] room: "There is feverish speculation about how many people will vote for each party in Thursday’s UK election. But it seems nobody wants to ask the other big question: how many will bother voting for anybody? Whatever the voter turnout finally turns out to be, the virtual silence on the problem of abstentionism beforehand is another sign of the yawning gap between the new political class and the electorate.”

Forgotten facts of American labor history: " Just about everything that people think they know about labor unions and wage rates is wrong. The standard tale that practically every student hears over the course of his education is that before the emergence of labor unions, American workers were terribly exploited and their wages were consistently falling. The improvement in labor's condition was due entirely or at least in large part to labor unionism and favorable federal legislation. In the absence of these, it is widely assumed, people would still be working 80-hour weeks and children would still be working in mines. This oft-heard tale is, however, almost entirely false, and those parts of it that are true (the low standard of living that people enjoyed in the nineteenth century, for example) are true for reasons other than those alleged by pro-union historians, who see in them only confirmation of their prejudices against the market economy."

Huge power grab underway in Washington: "The Democrat-controlled Congress and the White House are pulling out all the stops to offset the oncoming tidal wave that is threatening to throw them out of power this November. With their polls sagging badly, the liberal Democrats rammed through a Puerto Rican statehood resolution yesterday which many consider the first step towards making Puerto Rico the 51st state — a move that would give liberal progressives in the Congress six more Representatives and two new Senators.”

Race for Murtha's old seat: "Tim Burns is the next Scott Brown, poised to ride and fuel the national anti-Democratic wave to victory. Or so Republicans hope. Burns is vying in the May 18 special election in Pennsylvania's 12th Congressional District to fill out the term of old Democratic powerhouse John Murtha, who died in February. The race in that southwestern Pennsylvania district is in many ways similar to the special Senate election in Massachusetts in which Brown scored a major upset over the bumbling Democratic attorney general, Martha Coakley. Like Brown, Burns is hoping to succeed a long-term Democrat; Murtha held the seat for 36 years."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


No comments: