Questions addressed to a Marxist college professor

David W. Harvey is a professor at The City University of New York. He is an avowed Marxist. The Wikipedia biography of Dr. Harvey states that in 1961 he was awarded a Ph. D. degree by Cambridge University. His field of teaching is anthropology and geography. According to the Wikipedia biography of Dr. Harvey “. . . he positioned himself centrally in the newly emerging field of radical and Marxist geography.”

Following the financial crisis of 2008 Dr. Harvey presented a talk about “The Crises of Capitalism” from a Marxist perspective. A video of this talk is available on YouTube at http://www.thersa.org/events/video/archive/david-harvey-the-crises-of-capitalism

After viewing the video I sent the following communication to Dr. Harvey via email:

Dear Professor Harvey:

At the suggestion of an acquaintance I watched you speak in a video on YouTube, about “The Crises of Capitalism.”

This was my first ever hearing of a talk by a Marxist college professor. I was impressed, but not in the usual sense of the word.

I am about two years older than you. We have lived through the same era and we both know about life as it has been experienced by ordinary people in the collectivist dictatorships of the 20th century.

I am interested in Marxism, not as an enthusiast, but rather as a pathologist would be interested in sickness and disease.

I was impressed by your ability to touch quickly and lightly on a number of subjects in a 24-minute address, all the while avoiding mention of the means of bringing about the ends you advocate: halting the accumulation of capital and seizing control of capital already accumulated, for the supposed benefit of the collective.

These ends could be achieved only by political means implemented in the way Mao Zedong put it so candidly in 1927: “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

Have you not read The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (1999)? As you may know the book chronicles in detail the murder of 100 million people in the name of the ideology of communism. It is a cooperative work of several French writers, some of whom are fallen away Marxists. The authors say that communism in practice was a tragedy of planetary dimensions.

This book points out that one of the basic tenets of Marxism, the class struggle, led to class genocide, the mass murder of people considered class enemies. You know all this, don’t you?

The idea of what is called capitalism has a negative image in the minds of many people. However, what passes for capitalism today is badly flawed, not by the inherent characteristics of individual ownership of property and free enterprise, but rather by the crony capitalism of businesses that seek protection from competition and favors from the political state.

I have provided quite a different view of capitalism and socialism in chapter 16 of a book that I am publishing serially on the internet. The title of the chapter is “The Paradox of Capitalism and The Paradox of Socialism.” The link to this chapter is http://www.capitalismtheliberalrevolution.com/chapter/the-paradox-of-capitalism-and-the-paradox-of-socialism/

Sincerely,

Frederic G. Marks

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9 Responses to Questions addressed to a Marxist college professor

  1. Jean Mollenhauer says:

    So clear. So respectful of the recipient of the letter.
    I feel like a broken record but I am so admiring of your knowledge and also your ability to communicate it. Please let me know if the professor answers you.
    Jean

  2. dc.sunsets says:

    Might not his 2008 talk be better titled, “Yet Another Crisis of Collectivism?”

    Perhaps I’m too simpleminded, but to me all this is simple: It’s statism (the dominant religion of Mankind for at least 150 years) vs “the people” as persons, where statists believe that coercively-organized societies of men can rise above the weaknesses of the individuals who administer the state monopoly. Instead of noticing that states (and all coercive systems of organization which are unavoidably based on plunder) elevate the worst among us and that the power they wield corrupts everyone it touches, they believe in one or another mystic dogmas that hold some view that acolytes and deacons of the faith will be purified and made uber-men.

    On the other hand, we’re all guilty of embracing the small and expecting it to scale up. The communists somehow think that the state can fade away and leave in its wake all men behaving as if they are in happy marriage to each other (i.e., all society would work as we see a good marriage work), while “market order” people like me believe all of Mankind could scale up to where the whole world would work as an orderly marketplace.

    At least we “market order” people can explain the mechanisms of how that might work. The collectivists haven’t got a clue.

    • fgmarks says:

      You are right about statism elevating to power the worst among us. Hayek made that point superbly in his book The Road to Serfdom.

      • dc.sunsets says:

        Yes, and who can forget H.L. Mencken’s pithy insight that, “[d]emocracy, too, is a religion; it’s the worship of jackals by jackasses.”

        I struggle to find a term for statism as a religion. “Secular religion” is an oxymoron, yet the worship of power (which is what statism appears to be, to me) lacks even the beneficial teachings of things like “love they neighbor as thyself.”

        There is no reason-based support for institutionalizing a monopoly on ultimate decision-making (enforced, by definition, via violence or the threat thereof) except “we’ve always done it this way,” yet here we are.

        Trying to explain this to most people, who lack the grasp of abtractions necessary for understanding, is like discussing “being wet” with a fish.

        • fgmarks says:

          Andrew Galambos said that everybody who challenges the idea of voluntary, proprietary government would say, when all other justifications for the state fail, “somebody has to make the rules.” Hans Herman Hoppe suggested that people with that idea be addressed with the following riddle: “Assume a group of people, aware of the possibility of conflicts between them. Someone proposes as a solution to this human problem, that he (or someone) be made the ultimate arbiter in any such case of conflict, including those conflicts in which he is involved. Is this a deal you would accept? I am confident that he will be considered either a joker or mentally unstable. Yet this precisely what all statists propose.” Quoted from Hoppe’s book The Great Fiction (2012), page 8.

          • dc.sunsets says:

            Hoppe is very good on those points.

            I frequently ask people if they can imagine what would occur if a single firm, say Exxon/Mobil, were given an absolute monopoly on the exploration, extraction, transport, refining, and retailing of petroleum products. I ask, what do you think would happen to the quantity available, the price, and the quality of gasoline, heating oil, diesel, etc.?

            Anyone with a firing neuron knows that quantity and quality would fall, while price would in all likelihood rise. Then I ask why one would wish to have something as important as “national defense” handled this way? Or crime suppression? Or a court system? Or the education of youngsters? I ask them, if food production is so crucial, why not have the (political) government run every aspect of it?

            Invariably, they get a glassy look in their eyes and then change the subject. My guess is that not more than 1 in 10,000 people are able to confront this question, and that includes people whose IQ is >140. I figure that most of them literally lack the mental processes for entertaining abstractions (Piaget’s “formal processes”). I might as well discuss physics in Mandarin.

            I recall reading that certain stimuli do not excite the optic nerves of a frog. If a stimulus is not food or danger, the frog simply doesn’t see it, no matter how prominently it appears before the frog’s nose.

            I think a lot of obvious truths in life occupy the same place for most people. This is why I consider it Utopian, in the dictionary sense, to expect a fully free society (or even mostly free society) to emerge. I doubt the human race, as currently constructed, is capable of moving in that direction.

          • fgmarks says:

            Capitalism: The Liberal Revolution (CTLR) is dedicated to the proposition that humanity can build a stable and durable society in which everyone has full (100%) control of his property, including the property in life itself, in the ideas that Galambos called “primary” property, and in the secondary tangible and intangible property that is derived from primary property.

            It is not a free society that is utopian; rather it is utopian to believe that a stable and durable society can exist on a foundation of coercion. That has never been done because a social order built on coercion will destroy itself—always, with no exceptions. Galambos taught that freedom is a product that can be built, like any other product. Humanity is already in the process of building freedom. CTLR explores how that freedom-building process is developing in Chapter 1, entitled “Replacements for the Political State” and in Chapter 2, entitled “Frequently Asked Questions—Imagine a World without the State.”

            For freedom to be a desirable product it is not necessary for everybody to know how it has been built, just as it is unnecessary to the enjoyment of television and computers for everybody to understand the science and technology upon which television and computers are based.

  3. Illuminati says:

    Statism is the worlds problem. It stems from the Catholic Church and carried out by the Jesuits. They are actually whats behind the joke word “illuminati”. History proves this over and over from Constantinople to Rome to present day. Statists are religious to the core and have been completely indoctrinated by the Jesuits of Rome. They have literally no ability to critically think or question whats happening. They merely wrap themselves up in a corporations flag and yell racism until they get what they want. Malignant narcissistic sociopaths control the world, but are you really surprised in a sin fallen world with the greatest deceiver as their leader?

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