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As I understand it, Karl Marx was anticaptitalism, but is that such a bad thing? I have not read the Communist Manifesto. I have read a brief summary of his ideas which translated to finding meaning and enjoyment in our work and displaying an appreciation for leisure rather than disdain--or "a lack of contribution to the advancement of society." In it's purest form, wouldn't it be best if people were able to devote themselves to the occupation of expression through their passion, rather then feeling a need to measure up to societies standards? I know that capitalism provides wealth and opportunity, but I think even today we can see the downfall of capitalism that Marx explains -- the one in which men will use the talents of other men to produce great fortunes for themselves, and only pay the man that produces the item a minimum wage.

I have read Ayn Rands' Atlas Shrugged, and from looking at many other forums about the subject, realize I should tread lightly. Given that, I do believe the work has many important reasons for the existence of capitalism. I also believe that capitalist society is the essence of competition and breeds production from it's citizens. But would a Marxist world be any less productive? I am really just curious and trying to gain a little more insight from someone that knows more about this than I do. Thanks!

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    As alanf says, unless you read at least some of his works, you will not understand at all about his works. Here is the site where you can get freely some of his works. marxists.org/archive/marx/works/sw/progress-publishers/… My personal and short enough for beginners among them is perhaps Socialism: Utopian and Scientific by Engels or a bit long but quite concentrated Critique of the Gotha Programme, Marx. Take Ullah's as the nicest if you don't have enough energy to read. He nicely summarized to your question. – Kentaro May 23 '15 at 0:23
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Marx was a theorist of Capitalism which he considered the dominant form of economic activity on this era; to be distinguished from earlier ones - such as the mercantile city states and feudalism; or much earlier systems of barter say; as Rosa Luxembourg explained he was focused on formulating the economic laws of motion of Capitalism; and this needs to be distinguished from his work as a critic of capitalism which in a way many people were in mitigating the brutalities of a new system of economic production that hadn't been domesticated yet: the latter part of the first volume of Das Kapital displays his dismay to the 'bare life' (vita laborans or vita zoe) that some working men were reduced to - this part of the book is a kind of study in what today might be called social anthropology.

As Marx was after a scientific explanation of economics he couldn't allow his personal sympathies distort his thinking on the subject; the force of gravity operates no matter how I may feel about plane crashes.

Communism in one way of thinking is the economic order that comes after Capitalism; in another way of thinking its a specific political programme to force this change; and in another it describes regimes that were named as such as a bloc against the West during the long Cold War.

  • Yikes, completely second with yours. He was not a communist ( in a sense that is not the commonly held communists. ) I would like to repeat his main focus was the motion of the capital and its pursuit, and their inevitable consequence....... – Kentaro Aug 15 '15 at 13:51
  • @tomono: I thought this was what I was saying?! – Mozibur Ullah Aug 15 '15 at 14:57
  • Did I read yours with mistake? Then excuse me. I tried to mean, in overall, I agree with your answer. – Kentaro Aug 15 '15 at 21:25
  • @tomono: I probably read yours with mistake too, in that case :). – Mozibur Ullah Aug 16 '15 at 12:20
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Regarding your question,

As I understand it, Karl Marx was anticaptitalism, but is that such a bad thing?

To me, No ( Here I mean, Capitalism is not a bad thing accoring to Marx himself, or well say, more correctly saying, to me personally, Marx is a hyper-capitalist ( When you read his works ( though I know it is heavy ) with due attention, you will notice it. )

Possibly and personally what most of all the people seem to be misunderstanding is they are thinking K.Marx is some kind of Lenin-like "Communist" ( To me Lenism is nothing but a coup and only what he made is a forced cumulated labor camps as well as the surfacial equality as well as in the name of spreading Communism fighting with the U.S = The Wes with its vast military power ( which finally led to the collapse of the Soviet Union )) When you read Marx, he nowherer defines crystal clearly what kind of state or whatever some "Communism" is. For example, when you read his phrase such like this

In communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic. ( German Ideology )

Soooooo, if we take his quote literally, we can go hunting in the morning, go fishing in the afternoon, have a dinner and after that we debate, and what exactly is it? Who makes the bows or rifles for hunting while they are playing in the state of Communism??????

I already made a question about Marx here. According to Marx, Communism-thinng will be created naturally only after the the Capitalistic mode of the production reaches hight enough ( kindly pardon me to find the corresponding English phrase since it takes time ( I read his works in my language )) and and after conquering the Reification and its culmination social-alienation, where the products human beings made will move by their power accordin to their own principles like something completely unrelated with those who made them. ( For example, kindly consider, if you were a computer programmer. Well, you can see in today's world, your product, for instance, softwares are everyday bought and sold indepentendly of your intention or will etc in the market as if they are no yours anymore. )

And what is the adverb naurally and the Capitalistic mode of the production reaches hight enough I said above exactly? How high does Capitalism need to reach so that the Commusim the state of the affair will come naturally??? I don't have any idea at all about this.

I know that capitalism provides wealth and opportunity, but I think even today we can see the downfall of capitalism that Marx explains -- the one in which men will use the talents of other men to produce great fortunes for themselves, and only pay the man that produces the item a minimum wage.

I would not like to use the word "downfall", for the reason according to Marx's analysis there is only "donwfall" and "good times" and "stagnant time" = circulation of the Capitalistic state. Personally what Marx wanted to explaine is the crazy movement of the Capital under the Capitalistic mode of the production, not downfall only. ( but not limited to, kindly be reminded. ) And according to him, it will be accelerated as the Capitalistic mode of the production advances further and further as time passes.

So what we have to do according to what Marx proposes, are abolishing totally the Reification and Social alienation, as well as division of labor, as well as the management of the distribution of our own products at the same time we are producing them. which is, well, too much over the capacity of human beings us.

I think what he mostly citicized was the devision of labor since it leads to the work of you just as a pure part of a certain machine. One contended abou this issue at the first link, that an artist could be free to some extent from such a division of labor. Le us consider, then who made the painting tools forr the artist? Is he planning to bring his paintings abroad himself in order to sell? Or instead would he use freight ??? I would like to say, like this. If he can do everything from making tools to shipment and collecting the money all entirely, then I would say, Yes, he is not dependent on any division of labor literally.

But would a Marxist world be any less productive?

I would like to say No, if one relates his works wih communsim thing. But I would say Yes if one uses his works as the analyzation tools into today's production mode.

  • what do you mean "hyper capitalist"? he is agitating for an overthrow of it, which includes all philosophy and liberal morality. no?? – user6917 Aug 18 '15 at 14:43
  • i do agree that the division of labour concept is absolutely crucial, tho less so that artists don't depend on it to work with their materials. one way i've started thinking of a society without it, is the nonduality of need and ability; that everyone needs to work "according to their ability" that everyone has the ability "according to their need". – user6917 Aug 18 '15 at 14:47
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As I understand it, Karl Marx was anticaptitalism, but is that such a bad thing? I have not read the Communist Manifesto.

You provide no specific citations to Marx. You also say you haven't read the communist manifesto, which is quite short and say you have only read a summary written by somebody else. I am sceptical that what you say accurately represents Marx's ideas, and nothing I say should be construed as a reply to Marx, but rather to the ideas you attribute to him. In general you should not attribute ideas to authors you haven't read.

I have read a brief summary of his ideas which translated to finding meaning and enjoyment in our work and displaying an appreciation for leisure rather than disdain--or "a lack of contribution to the advancement of society." In it's purest form, wouldn't it be best if people were able to devote themselves to the occupation of expression through their passion, rather then feeling a need to measure up to societies standards?

You seem to think the options are

(1) Follow whatever whim happens to strike you right now.

(2) Do what society says you should do.

There is another option. Think carefully about what will benefit you and then do it. You say you have read Ayn Rand, but I don't think you could have read her very carefully if you left out that option. You might want to read one of her specifically philosophical books, e.g. - "The Virtue of Selfishness".

I know that capitalism provides wealth and opportunity, but I think even today we can see the downfall of capitalism that Marx explains -- the one in which men will use the talents of other men to produce great fortunes for themselves, and only pay the man that produces the item a minimum wage.

The minimum wage worker is productive largely because somebody else provides him with facilities that enable him to be productive. The people who provide those facilities typically have a lot of very difficult decisions to make. The people who pay the decision maker presumably think that if they don't pay that sort of money, then they won't attract people willing to make that kind of decision who have any realistic prospect of success.

If the minimum wage worker wants more money, then he should negotiate for it. Other people can't be expected to read his mind. Nor should they be expected to pay more to somebody when they are not convinced that it is a good idea.

I have read Ayn Rands' Atlas Shrugged, and from looking at many other forums about the subject, realize I should tread lightly. Given that, I do believe the work has many important reasons for the existence of capitalism. I also believe that capitalist society is the essence of competition and breeds production from it's citizens. But would a Marxist world be any less productive? I am really just curious and trying to gain a little more insight from someone that knows more about this than I do. Thanks!

Free markets are necessary for production. If a person successfully bids for a piece of property, that means he has convinced people to give him the means to make that purchase and has convinced the seller to give him the property in exchange for the money. He has no means to get the money or the property but argument. If somebody else has a better use for the property they can bid it away from him. And if he tries and fails to make money with the property, he may lose it. Making a profit is a signal that people prefer what he is making to the other goods they could obtain with the same money. Without that signal he has no way to know whether he is providing good that people prefer to their other options. The alternative to this system is to squander and destroy resources, see

http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/mises-socialism-an-economic-and-sociological-analysis

The current economic system in every modern economy is a mix of free market and interventionist and socialist policies. You can find lots of discussions of specific policies and problems at places like the Cato Institute. Taking this or that country as a pure example of socialism or capitalism is extremely misleading, except in some very extreme cases, such as North Korea.

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a long question, which seems to be tied together by

would a Marxist world be any less productive?

the idea is that it would be more productive. indeed, one way of reading marxism's claim as a science, especially his later work, is that it is a theory of how to make society more productive.

capitalism, he claims, was progressive for a time; but in the era of social revolution which all marxists think we live in already, there are more progressive and advanced ways to organise society (i.e. communism).

so one answer to your question is historical materialism: the marxist thesis that society develops thru progressively more productive modes; and that capitalism is just one highly flawed step forward.


more generally, the claim that people wouldn't work and produce without coercive capital like relations, may seem pretty sensible.

but the key here for marxists is that capitalism ideologically and materially disguises human nature, which wants to find expression in work. that we can no more look at society now and say that people wouldn't create much in communism, than we can rightfully say that without a monarch no-one would make any political decisions.

for this reason, because marxism is critical of what we take for granted, i think it can legitimately be called philosophy.

sorry for the lack of references, my claim is just based on talking with different marxists on-line for ten years - and a handful of books.

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You seem to be asking a few separate questions in your post, but if I understand the essence of your confusion correctly, you are asking why Marxism "equates to communism", as opposed to just being a milder and more mixed critique of capitalism.

Firstly, if you would like to understand this more, you should read The Communist Manifesto and read some secondary analysis of Marxism. For a clear and cogent introduction to Marxism, you can do little better than Sowell (1985) Marxism: Philosophy and Economics. Notwithstanding this little reading list, I will do my best to answer the thrust of your question.


Marx based his analysis on a theory of history that has been called "historical materialism", whereby the structure of production in a particular society is the determinant of human social relations. Marx argued that a particular structure of production gives rise to the class relations in society, and tensions in these structures eventually cause them to become unstable and collapse, which then leads to the next stage of development of production.

In addition to this general theory of historical forces, Marx had a specific theory for how history would play out. In schematic terms his theory was:

Primitive Communism ==> Slavery ==> Feudalism ==> Capitalism ==> Socialism ==> Advanced Communism

At the time Marx wrote, the capitalist mode of production had overthrown feudalism. Marx argued that capitalism had its own internal tensions that would lead to its destruction in favour of a socialist system. In particular, he argued that it would lead to rising misery for the working class (gradually lower wages, worse conditions, etc.), which would cause them to revolt and establish a socialist dictatorship (the "dictatorship of the proletariat") that would appropriate the means-of-production. Engels argued that life under the dictatorship of the proletariat would gradually lead to the internalisation of socialist relations in the social habits of men, which would in turn render state-enforcement unnecessary, which would lead to a "withering away" of the state, resulting in a communist society. As to whether Marxism is correct about this, well, you can judge that for yourself. Contrasting Rand with Marx (and reading Sowell's book on Marxism) is an excellent way to hear some arguments on either side of the issue.

As to your mention of some of Marx's specific criticisms of capitalism, it is certainly true that Marx had views on "alienation" of people from their work, and appreciation for leisure, etc. But these are secondary to his theory of history and the structure of production; they constituted some of the reasons that he had a negative view of capitalism. (He thought that capitalism was a necessary stage of history, but that its time had passed.)

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  • To answer your title question: "Why does Marxism equate to Communism?" Marxism is only one form of communism. Saint-Simon for example proposed a form of communism which Marx criticized as too idealistic, and maintained that his communism was more scientific. Moreover Marx was explicitly atheist (That's why atheism was the state doctrine of the Soviet Union). Several thinkers who consider themselves communists but are also theists wouldn't be considered Marxists.
    There's also Anarchists: who are essentially communists, but want to abolish the state all together, as opposed to Marx who thought of the state as the embodiment of the workers.
  • "But would a Marxist world be any less productive?" You hit the nail on the head with that question. Critics of communism point to the lack of productivity of state controlled industries compared to privately owned corporations as the main proof of communism's failure. The Soviet Union was notorious for the lack of quality consumer products (During the 80s, things like jeans and walkamans, available to most people in the West, were considered luxury items in communist countries). Capitalists said that this was proof that only the incentive provided by personal financial gain and the competitiveness inherent to a capitalist work environment would drive people to the level of productivity seen in Western Europe and North America. People who weren't worried about being fired or loosing their health insurance supposedly would simply lack the drive and motivation to do their best at their chosen occupation.

I disagree with this opinion. If not all out communism, some socialist policies have been successful to some extent in Scandinavia. And then there's Japan, which is officially capitalist, but which is defacto communist. Lifetime employment and livelihood is guaranteed by most employers, and the overall lifestyle and income level is much more egalitarian in Japan than it is in the West. In effect the role played by the state in an ideal communist society is played by large corporations in Japan. Workers are not driven in any way by fear of loosing their jobs or their houses. And yet Japan has been one of the most economically successful countries in the second half of the 20th century, with one of the most productive and creative workforces around. As to why that is the case? I have no idea.

  • I googled “norway marxist” and the the fourth hit was the article “Is Socialist Norway A Shining Example Marx Was Right?”. Personally I think no, but that point of view is worth considering (Norway has mostly been ruled, after WWII, by its Labour party, which is an observer party member of Socialist International). Well of old they thought in absolutes, and didn't understand exponential technology development. We can. ;-) – Cheers and hth. - Alf May 20 '15 at 23:31
  • Re Japan, I think it's very much worth reflecting on the cultural difference that caused looting in the US after Katrina, but instead caused a community effort to help fix things after Fukushima in Japan. – Cheers and hth. - Alf May 20 '15 at 23:35
  • Why is Japan "defacto Communist"? That seems outright wrong. People die from overworking there, people are highly specialized and unhappy in their work environment, and people depend so much on their jobs that they kill themselves when they get fired, which they do. There was no revolution, society is highly hierarchical, patriarchal and fascist. I don't know what your ideal is, but to me, that's not communism. How is that Communism?! Take that to chat, maybe? – iphigenie May 21 '15 at 7:32
  • Well... we have no natural resources like the U.S or Australia or Russia. Period. What will remain then? – Kentaro May 21 '15 at 8:53
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    @iphigenie having lived in Japan for 6 years, I can say that stories of how unhappy the Japanese are are greatly exaggerated. Their suicide rate is statistically no more significant then that of Northern Europe for example. Having experienced both the Japanese and the American workplace, I can tell you that American style capitalism encourages a form of sociopathic everyone-for-himself and screw the rest behavior which is sickening and causes as much unhappiness and depression as any other society I've lived in. – Alexander S King May 21 '15 at 15:17

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