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A Communist Manifesto

Can Karl Marx still show us some ways forward 168 years after the book came out?


One can wonder about the joke with yet another release of The Communist Manifesto by young Marx & Engels from 1848 (Central Committee, translated by Leif Høghaug, 2016). The text also came in Norwegian translation in 2000 and has been published in several versions before that. So, without preface or afterword, here, far from the oppressed workers of the third world – what is the motivation?

Let me first mention the Communist Manifesto's plan of action from London 168 years ago: With a revolution, one would expropriate the basic property and let the state get the basic rate. Strong progressive taxation was to be introduced and the right of inheritance abolished. In addition, property was to be taken from all emigrants and "rebels". Money credit was to be centralized through a national bank with unrestricted monopoly. In addition, the manifesto wanted all production and transport to be subject to a centralized joint plan, with the introduction of corpses duties for everyone – one would start industrial "armies".

Karl MarxThis would lead to the coming of the classless society – free life with some fishing, some philosophical discussion and a state that took care of the administrative – subject to the proletariat as the new hegemony. First, the solid class struggle was to be carried out with violence and bloodshed – "all existing social systems were governed by force". The bourgeoisie and large-scale industry would probably not have given up their privileges without further ado.

Was that possible? No. The heavenly utopia of the manifesto was simply too high. And it all could have ended up with a horror regime down here on earth, provoked by "freedom" but subject to discipline and control.

Property. Nevertheless. Marx & Engels foresaw how "big industry" took power over most things, like today's multinational corporations – a raw capitalism. At the same time, in the manifesto, he suggests how parts of the bourgeoisie or the middle class are being pushed down into the ranks of the proletarian oppressed by the exploitation of big capitalists. Large parts of the world are still in a situation where workers are just barely there survives to the next day on the pay they get for an exhausting job – a brutal exploitation and oppression every civilization should have left behind.

Another point is the criticism of property: The book emphasizes that Communism's focus is on "the question of property, no matter what form". Also in this summer's book From Marx to recent capital criticism by Dag Østerberg (see Ny Tid august) is the division into the property owners / the propertyless throughout.

But this distinction is problematic and full of gray zones. For example, the majority of the Norwegian people benefit from Norwegian capital, the country's oil wealth and the people's kroner. Thousands of oil billions – due to a few strokes on diplomats Evensen and Treholt's time. A strong currency and welfare benefits. Of course it is Norway assets only due to «Norwegians»? Should one not also pay an international property or wealth tax, let the tithe (the church's old percentage) go to the global community, about 700 billion kroner? Capitalist or proletarian? Here a healthy internationalism à la Marx & Engels would be in place, as the manifesto ends: “The workers have no fatherland. […] Proletarians of all lands, unite! "

But what does it mean that "the Communists can summarize their theory in one phrase: the revocation of private property"? Well. For who would dare to work hard, save money, or pay off debt, if one could not expect one's home, business, money or tools to remain one's own for a certain period of time? We don't live here on earth for long, but do we?

In this summer's books, I also miss a better elaboration of "class levels" – for example, the individuals who take risks. Both Marx & Engels and Dag Østerberg avoid discussing this, namely that a growing team of entrepreneurs and the self-employed in our time do not risk enjoying any particular profit or added value from their business. People, companies and organizations actually go in the red and zero as well. Where is the discussion about those who take risk or at their own risk borrow money or use earned funds for something you want to create or run? Losses and gains can in the long run also go to zero, or profits are used up as equity in the next project. With tens of thousands of small companies in Norway, for example, many have been partly overlooked as their own employers without necessarily benefiting anyone other than themselves. There are also plenty of those in the West with huge salaries who take with them the "added value" of organizations without being capitalists in the first place. Wage proletariat?

The misconception of the century is that Marxism is a state ideology.

Competition. Then Marx & Engels' points are probably included competition importance apt for parts of our world. Not only internally between wage laborers, or in the well-established bourgeoisie's competition with each other, but also preferably where the big industry in the long run outperforms everyone who is less. On a huge consumer globe with falling profit rates and crises that must constantly create new markets, parts of capitalism are dying with all the new "church diggers" Marx has mentioned. A rat race where margins are steadily decreasing in the battle for customers. Consumers are increasing their purchasing power with ever cheaper goods, while deficit companies are on their way to the cemetery. Now, there are some brake pads on the road, as nepotism abounds, and mafia-like cartel activities occur. In addition, the state is joining forces, the henchmen of capital, and introducing subsidies, national customs walls, or, for the sake of the proletarians, keeping away poor refugees – in order to maintain geographical class differences.

My next point is that this is about so much states: After all, Marx was writing two big books after capital, one about the state and one about the world community - something he could not do. In fact, Marx was much behind the theory of anarchism – and its harsh criticism of large capital, the military and the state – its "freedom and socialism". As Maximilien Rubel wrote in Marx, theorist of anarchism (1973), there was no "communist" as Marx conceived the term at that time. Marx's thought communism was a new practice to be created. Both in his Hegel script (1843) and in the question of the Jews (1844), both state and capital are condemned as devilish social institutions. The fact that Marx failed to write the subsequent books has, according to Rubel, led to the century's misconception that Marxism is a state ideology.

Free life with some fishing, some philosophical discussion and a state that took care of the administrative.

The statement in the manifesto: "[…] the free development of the individual is the condition for the free development of all" is a typical anarchist statement. And – as Ruben points out from Marx's critique of Napoleon Bonaparte – the following statements place Marx among the most radical anarchists: "The existence of a state is inseparable from the existence of slavery." And: "The centralized state machinery with its complicated military, bureaucracy, clerics and legislative bodies… any minor individual interest created by social group relations was separated from society itself… in the form of state interest, administered by state priests who precisely determined the hierarchical functions." (The Civil War in France, 1871)

So: Can you really call Marx a defender of state communism? Something to think about, where one often refers to the state as a solution to political or economic issues.

Anarchism. Is it not precisely with today's anarchism that a number of wishes for change can take shape – but only on a smaller scale? Or do you have to wait your life for the revolution? Let me bring up Richard JF Day's book Gramsci is Dead – Anarchist Currents in the Newest Social Movements (2005). The point is not to fall into the trap of replacing a hegemony with a new hegemony (Gramsci) – the proletariat's new "classless" state.

The socialist idea of ​​"from everyone according to ability, to everyone according to need" (Louis Blanc, 1839) is also problematic – this is about the human psyche. Unfortunately, the needs usually increase faster than the effort of using the capabilities. And demands for rights often overshadow the willingness to follow the duty – also in Norway. It is not just the "capitalists" fault that the Labor Party's old alternative of solidarity does not have the same power today.

For have people in the West and several places – often referred to as the "silent majority" – really a will or desire for great societal upheaval? Of course, this is different in many places on the globe, where revolution is needed and something I support, as the Arab Spring, for example, has shown us. If the yield is large enough, it will burst for people. Moreover, as Marx has pointed out, the state apparatus may be the right apparatus for freeing more people. So far. He may also be right that the property should not be of such importance, as we now see many in the civil society organize themselves into a sharing economy, where access to use (housing, car, bicycle et cetera) is more important than owning .

This is not unlike today's anarchism, often called eco-, feminist-, pragmatic-, neo- or post-anarchism. Sometimes compared to a form of autonomous Marxism – something the philosopher Giorgio Agamben is known for, after all, he wrote the book The Coming Community (1990). The focus of post anarchism is not like communism, the abolition of private property, but free friendship groups, in English «affinty groups». People who gather in interest, desire, ability and with common goals (or enemies) – both temporarily and long term. As Day writes, even before the rise of the state apparatus, people have long organized and cooperated. one mustn't not having a hierarchically over-organized state or a traveling big-political diplomacy to organize for most people.

Today's anarchists do not advocate the old socialism or revolution of the Communist manifesto. Anarchism has moved past Kropotkin (revolution), to Landauer (voluntarism / individualism) and more recent post-structuralist political thinkers (Foucault, Deleuze). one mustn't Do not fight directly against the state, the military and the capital. You can also go around and form your own, partly autonomous, collective and interest groups. As a consumer, you can also exercise power, and send some exploiters to the cemetery.

Keywords from Days book are: Zapatists, Chipas autonomy, Occupied factories, NGOs like No One Is Illegal, Earth First, Reclaim the Streets, LGBT groups, Temporary Autonomous Zones, Participatory Economy, Asambleistas in Argentina, London squatters, Solidarity Across Borders – and our homely refuge Kristiania in Copenhagen.

The point is probably any time Don't fall in love with power. Affinity groups nowadays find their way more easily through network technology to others with whom they share values ​​- unlike capital and state which often divide and create animosity, create fear and competition, dominate and exploit. Today is their new form of power control society, based on security and "terrorist threat". One can also, as Day writes in the book, marvel that not enough is enough, that someone must oppress others – but also that people willingly oppress themselves: For both Marx & Engels 'broad popular revolution and the anarchists' alternatives, there is enough support because people most or the silent majority prefer a state-established security – and preferably a supervised order.

Truls Lie
Truls Liehttp: /
Editor-in-chief in MODERN TIMES. See previous articles by Lie i Le Monde diplomatique (2003–2013) and Morgenbladet (1993-2003) See also part video work by Lie here.

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