Sunday, April 28, 2013

Philosopher Stephen Hicks on creeping Marxism in America

Original Marxist doctrine held that the inevitable spread of communism would be the result of violent revolution on the part of workers directed at their capitalist overlords.  In fact, as Philosophy Professor Stephen Hicks notes in this article, Marx explicitly rejected working for communism through democratic processes:
Here’s Marx in an 1848 newspaper article: “there is only one way in which the murderous death agonies of the old society and the bloody birth throes of the new society can be shortened, simplified and concentrated, and that way is revolutionary terror.”
However, it appears by at least 1872, Marx had altered that view and had come to believe that communism could indeed make inroads into advanced capitalist societies -- such as America -- gradually and via non-violent, democratic mechanisms.  Here's Hicks again in a different, related post:
Marx came to believe that in such advanced countries workers’ advancement could come about by gradualist methods: “Bit by bit, step by step, at municipal, county, state, and the federal levels of government, socialism can be instituted by democratic process.”[2]
So, was Marx right? Answering that brings us to the crux of this OLS post and features a third, superb post by Hicks.  Marx, in his seminal call-to-arms The Communist Manifesto, identified 10 conditions, or goals rather, that constitute a communist state.  In his post, Hicks compares current conditions in the US with this "checklist" and concludes that the Marxian programme is at least 50% complete in the USA.  Here are the first two points on the checklist:
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes. 
[Partial check: property taxes, zoning laws, the federal government alone owns 30% of all land in the USA. .6 points.]
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
[Check. 1 point.]
All the posts I link to here are terrific, but you absolutely must read Hicks's checklist post.