Saturday, May 02, 2015

This Is Not Marx Whatsoever!

Socialist Party member Richard Layton continues his “crusade” against misrepresentation of Marxism, that began with his reply “No Marx”

This Is Not Marx Whatsoever!
by Richard Layton 

I see my old friends, Edward Martin and Mateo Pimentel, are still flogging their dead horse of a Holy Roman-Leninist Empire in their latest DV article, “The Future of Solidarity.” 

My previous DV article, “No Marx Again,” criticised them for pushing the notion of a ‘Leninist Socialist State’; where workers who supposedly ‘owned the means of production’ could ‘go on strike’ presumably against themselves for better pay and conditions! 

In their latest article, they now admit that their future ‘Marxist’ society would also incorporate both State and Government. This is strange! Doesn’t a ‘Government’ imply the existence of those being ‘governed’? And, according to rumour, didn’t Marx and Engels say something about the State ‘withering away’ and the Government being replaced by an ‘Administration of Things’?

This is because Socialism/Communism would be a true classless society where institutions such as the State would be utterly superfluous as that body exists only to regulate and enforce the rule of an elite class over a lower class.

Politics, if it’s about anything at all, should be about debate but it’s clear that Messrs Martin and Pimentel, can’t or won’t respond to criticism of their ideas.

This is compatible with my indictment of their projected ‘Socialist’ society as being a Leninist sham where criticism and opposition is not tolerated by the ruling party—in this case the U.S.A. Socialist Party—a misnomer if ever there was one!

Martin and Pimentel may like to attempt to add an air of authority to their work from their respective ivory towers by philosophising ad nauseam on their specious theories; but the fact is that their ideas are wholly without merit and are thus of little use to working people.

Take for example their quotation from St. Ambrose, ‘You are not making a gift to the poor man from your possessions but you returning what is his”. O.K., so he knows the source of all wealth–fine and dandy but the Catholic Church has spent 2000 years spinning similar platitudes about the poor to the poor–and to the wealthy but with very little effect.

And as for St. Ambrose himself, one source states that, “He has been accused of fostering persecution of Arians, Jews and Pagans”. In one case, he urged Christians to burn down a Jewish synagogue and then defied the Roman Emperor who ordered that restitution be made. Clearly the Jewish poor were of no concern to him—some Saint!

The British author, Paul Johnson, characterised Ambrose as, “an establishment figure and member of the ruling order: the prototype of the medieval prince-bishop”.

The Encyclopedia Britannica describes him as a “Janus-like figure”. Janus, of course, was the Roman god with two faces looking backwards and forwards but whose name has become synonymous with, literally, being ‘two-faced’.

St Ambrose came from minor aristocratic family of little standing which compelled him to gain the support of the poor as part of his power base. Thus he made the right noises to the poor to gain public support for his political and ecclesiastical career; rather like modern politicians who want to further their own careers and gain votes.

His apologists will tell you that he lived a very parsimonious life—but then again so did Lenin! Most leaders enjoy both power and the luxury that goes with it. Some, however, are so obsessed with power that it alone is the aphrodisiac. The ascetic is often the most obsessive of all and so it seems to have been the case with Ambrose. The only thing that Ambrose and Marx really had in common was that they both came from Trier in Germany.

Returning to the Catholic Church itself, Felicity Arbuthnot in her recent DV article, “Ziad Aziz: ‘Time is not on Our Side’” gives a good account of the two-faced nature of the Church. How it on one hand it preaches for the souls of the poor whilst on the other, firmly remaining part of the Establishment. 

Indeed it could be said that without the poor the Catholic Church could not survive. It’s no coincidence that its greatest appeal lies in those parts of the world suffering greatest poverty. Without the thoughtless acquiescence of the uninformed masses the Church would cease to exist.

Witness the situation in Ireland where its cover-up of child abuse has at long last brought the Irish people to their senses. They’re quitting in masses. The Catholic Church needs the poor like drug dealers need junkies.

The Church is the owner of fantastic wealth—visitors to the Vatican simply can’t ignore the excess of bling inside its walls—bling that American rappers would die for! Clearly all this luxury is intended to overawe the public and to make it appear that the whole shebang has other-worldly substance and authority—a trick used by the powerful over the centuries.

Martin and Pimentel also seem to be completely overawed by their own buzz-word ‘Solidarity’ by which they presumably mean unity; harmony; consensus; agreement; etc.

Yet in their own article there is a passage that concedes that the Catholic Church as an institution, “has been resistant to unionisation of their schools and hospitals”. It has further, whilst preaching tolerance and respect for human rights, “become a tower of intolerance insisting on protecting its own interests at the expense of others”.

And then to crown it all, “Although the (Catholic) Church promotes the rhetoric of solidarity and the principles of democracy… the Church remains authoritarian”. No wonder their Catholic Solidarity and Leninist State-Capitalism make such fine bed-fellows!

So what is it exactly that Messrs Martin and Pimentel are actually advocating? Unfortunately it seems to be the usual cobbled up mish-mash beloved of many Leftists that Capitalism can be made to work in the interests of those who have no capital—i.e. the working class.

It’s clear that they have no valid concept of what Marx and Engels were actually striving for—but then again they are, unfortunately, not alone. The fact that they can’t visualise a future Socialist society without the features of Capitalism, such as the State and Government, Money-Wages, Workers and Employers, Unions and Religion demonstrates the paucity of their thinking.

Take for example the Solidarity ‘egalitarian strategy’ in which we are told, “income and wealth is to be divided so that each person will have a right to an equal share, subject to limitations through abilities…” [emphasis added] My Oxford English Dictionary defines income as money. So what does, “subject to limitations through abilities” mean?

Marx said, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” which is a quite different animal to that being proposed by Martin and Pimentel. They seem to be saying that each person’s share will be equal–plus or minus how much their job makes them ‘worth’. In other words, professors and scientists will be ‘more equal’ than ordinary workers. Shades of Animal Farm! The reason why their society requires money-wages is to ration access to wealth—exactly as per Capitalism.

Marx envisaged a society of free access where everybody contributed to their best ability and then took what they needed according to personal circumstances. Thus a single person would take his share and a mother of five children would take her and her children’s share.

At Woolwich, in London, England, there is a free ferry that crosses the River Thames that has been running for well over a century. Pedestrians as well as motor vehicles both large and small use it to travel to both sides of the river. People don’t drive off the ferry and then turn round and drive back on for another ‘free’ ride. People just accept it. They use it “according to their needs”.

Messrs Martin and Pimentel boast that the development of their ideas has been supported by the, “inclusion of Marxist analysis” yet it’s self-evident that when it comes to Marxist economic and political thought that they simply haven’t got a clue.

Not only that but for academics to promote religion as the saviour of the working-class is risible. Science is founded on evidence and there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that the inhabitants of our world, an insignificant speck amongst billions of galaxies in the cosmos, have the undivided attention of its alleged creator.

We’re told by some believers that this elusive and exclusive deity simply wants us to worship him—but that smacks of human pride and arrogance—as befits an entity whose existence is entirely a product of the human mind. The gap between the average person and the average ant would be an infinitesimal fraction to that between a god and humankind—yet who amongst us has the slightest interest of being worshipped by an ant? Who could be bothered at playing such an asinine game?

Aside from such nonsense, there is, however, plenty of evidence to show how religion and gods are human constructs that arose as a form of explanation for the natural and social phenomena that were not understood. And how with the advent of private property and an elite controlling most of the same, a religious elite found itself nicely placed to walk hand in glove with their political and economic cronies to maintain this convenient state of affairs.

So my advice to all readers of Dissident Voice is that of Marx himself: “Doubt everything”! Don’t believe me or Messrs Martin and Pimentel. Read Marx for yourself and then weed out all the bullshit that appears in his name!