Thursday, December 07, 2006
Check the Dogma at the Door
"All I know is that I am not a Marxist."
“I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.”
Today’s daily reminder of the black hole in our educations where Marx oughta be comes with the release of the new report by the U.N.’s World Institute for Development—Economics Research (WIDER). Measuring components of household wealth often overlooked by similar studies, this research finds, among other things, that the top 2% of the world’s rich own more than half of the world’s wealth, that the United States has a fourth of these people and that the U.S. has twice as much income inequality as most other nations. In fact, despite the U.S.’s great wealth, many Americans have so much debt that they are among the poorest people in the world.
I’m afraid the ultimate price of the Cold War is that we look at statistics like that and shake our heads, but we don’t think we can do anything about it. Marx spent his life trying to convince the world that an economically just society was not only doable but a moral necessity. Hardly the dreamy idealist or zealous extremist all sorts of people picture when they hear the name, Karl Marx was more like some ancient Greek who applied basic intellectual rigor to examining the fundamental nature of the system around him. Like Plato, he dreamed of ideals, sure, but like an Aristotle, he rolled up his sleeves and insisted on working toward these ideals with a thorough examination of the material world. And like Socrates, he didn’t shut up until the breath left his body, working on showing his math in three volumes of his study of capitalism.
Sadly, we live in a society where all of this work has been labeled un-American. Money makes the world go around, and to seriously contemplate an alternative is to be a flake at best, a traitor at worst. It’s tragic. Because while most Americans are waking up to the fact that the best way to run U.S. foreign policy (or, more particularly, a war) is NOT to ignore reality and contradictory opinion, we still do so with our own unexamined assumptions as capitalists. Ignoring half of the past century’s old worldwide debate is not a good way to step into the future, and in the long run, I’m positive the ghost of Christmas Yet to Come has nothing good to show us as long as we continue down this path.
So, I started writing about what I’ve learned from Marx six years ago, and I want to get it out among those I know and love so we can talk, not about capitalist or Marxist dogma but about these unexamined assumptions and how to revisit them. I can’t see any hope as long as our society remains in denial. Over the next few days, I’ll be pouring back over the Marx portions of Monsters, Marx and Music for the dozen or so fundamental reasons I think this. Expect my next marathon of posts to come from this place.
Meanwhile, read the WIDER article--
And spend some time with Kristie (see below). You won’t regret it.