Monday, 11 November 2019

"There were a lot of 'dead ends' in Marx's theory that led him and his followers badly astray over the 170 years since he wrote The Communist Manifesto..."

"There were a lot of 'dead ends' in Marx's theory that led him and his followers badly astray over the 170 years since he wrote The Communist Manifesto. These are of two kinds -- errors of commission and errors of omission
"The errors of commission include the following false beliefs which badly hampered the Marxists' understanding of how the economy worked and thus would prevent their attempts to fix its perceived problems:
1. the myth of alienation caused by the division of labour
2. the labour theory of value
3. the theory of surplus-value
4. the belief that competition would drive profits down, leading to increasing concentration and monopolisation for businesses to survive
5. the belief that competition would drive wages down to unsustainable mere-subsistence levels (the immiseration of the workers)
6. the belief that socialism would bring rational planning and economic abundance once the inefficiencies and exploitation of the capitalist system had been removed. 
"The errors of omission were the neglect key aspects of the competitive free-market system which Socialists & Marxists did not understand or rejected and which led them ultimately to misunderstand how capitalism worked. I would argue that ideas about most (but perhaps not all) of these aspects were in circulation at the time Marx wrote and that he would have come across them in the course of his deep reading of political economy, but which he rejected for various reasons. These errors of omission include:
1. the role consumers played in driving production (thus we should talk about 'consumerism' and the rule of consumers, rather than 'capitalism' (rule by capital or capitalists)
2. the importance of profits in directing producers to the most urgent needs of consumers
3. the dynamic role of entrepreneurs in making production and distribution of goods and services possible
4. the point that both parties to a voluntary exchange benefited
5. the point that services, not just the production of goods by means of physical labour, also created wealth
6. the ignoring of several other key issues, such as the role of incentives, the problem of scarcity, the problem of risk, and the importance of ideas (especially in the Misesian notion of the role ideas play in forming what we think our 'material interests' are)." 
~ David Hart, from his 2018, essay, '‘Marx and Some “Sharp Objects”and “Dead Ends' -- part of a cross-party discussion on 'Marx and the Morality of Capitalism' [hat tip Don Boudreaux]

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