September 3, 2007

Stupid Pundit Noises

Certain words and phrases tip off listeners to abject stupidity. "I think I'll buy another vowel" is one of them, as is "What this world is missing is a comic-book, er, graphic biography of Ronald Reagan." One phrase that tops them all has to be "Marxism has never really been tried," the mind-boggling assertion written by James Carroll and printed by the Boston Globe for its Labor Day opinion section (via Harry Forbes):

The 19th-century dream of a workers' vanguard leading to a better world was both betrayed and realized, and in each case, labor was undercut. The betrayal occurred when tyrants, in advancing the cause of "the people," actually advanced themselves. The "dictatorship of the proletariat" turned out to be mere dictatorship. Yet the discrediting of the vision of Karl Marx by the 20th-century communisms that claimed him does not vitiate the original vision. Echoing what Mahatma Gandhi once said of Christianity, Marxism has yet to be really tried.

The realization of the workers' dream occurred, across the same decades of the 20th century, when regulated capitalism made its adjustments, and a vast population of working people was able to lay solid claim to the middle class. But affluence had an inherently co-opting effect, as was powerfully displayed during the American civil rights movement, when the labor virtue of solidarity was trumped by racism, and union members mostly found themselves on the wrong side of history. The curious phenomenon of "Reagan Democrats" saw workers recruited into a reactionary political movement that undercuts their own interests.

James Carroll really could use an editor, and apparently the Boston Globe has none to spare. Essentially, what Carroll argues here is that Marxism succeeded in capitalism -- and then failed as workers achieved ever-higher standards of living. The point, for people like Carroll, isn't improving living standards, but in a nihilistic overthrow of society in which the workers organize to ensure an equality of result rather than equal opportunity.

Well, that's exactly what happened in the Soviet Union, China, and other nations that either willingly adopted Marxism or had it thrust upon them. The proletariat overthrew the monied interests and confiscated everything in the name of the people. They achieved what Marx had argued would be the beginning of mankind's march to Utopia, and for decades, the cognoscenti of the Left tossed adulation towards these countries as the embodiment of Marxism and the future of Man.

What happened? Marxism utterly failed. It failed to account for a very human impulse of economic motivation, which is to say, people wanted to see the fruits of their own labor. Once everyone was more or less guaranteed to get the same as everyone else, the main motivation for productivity disappeared -- on the farms, in the factories, and in the service industries. Marxism became a shortage-management system, and a bad one at that.

Carroll would like to elide that particular part of history, as Walter Duranty managed to win a Pulitzer doing seventy years ago. However, millions of people starved in some of the most bountiful land on Earth as Five Year Plans failed to produce enough food to feed the proletariat. In both the Soviet Union and China, the death tolls of famines reached in the tens of millions, while in the free world, such famines never occurred. Where people owned property and had profit motive to produce, the same period generated an agricultural revolution that virtually eliminated starvation in a generation.

Marxism didn't just cripple economic life, either. Its strict power structure kept the people from challenging the leaders of their societies. It produced Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot, men who barely flinched at the massive famine deaths, especially while ordering the deaths of thousands more for political purposes. Marxism in its practiced form turned out to be one of the most evil philosophies ever designed, and only the tenacity of the free West kept it from encircling all nations in its oppressive and deadly grip.

The rest of James Carroll's screed fares almost as poorly. In one telling point, he laments the shift of industry to the information economy, and mourns the death of economic nationalization to "globalization". What happened to "Workers of the world, unite?" Didn't Marxism anticipate globalization -- even demand it? He correctly notes that the keyboard has replaced the factory as a center of innovation, and in the same breath calls that a development that "destroys freedom".

I'd love to take a hit of whatever Carroll's smoking today.

One could expect this kind of incoherent diatribe on the front web page of International ANSWER, a well-known Stalinist apologist group. Boston readers might expect more from their largest newspaper. Or, perhaps not.


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Comments (38)

Posted by NRA Life Member | September 3, 2007 11:29 AM

Until we do something about the way history is taught, we are doomed to hear idiocy of this type in every generation. It is a human tradition that people forget historical facts and make the same stupid mistakes over and over again. James Caroll, Walter Duranty, Frank Foer and TNR, and a zillion other intellectual lightwieghts, liars and other low life scum give the First Amendment a bad name.

Posted by Fred | September 3, 2007 11:35 AM

According to Marx, communism is the inevitable outgrowth of capitalism. So why do we have to "try." anything? And, if it’s never been actually tried, then Marx is wrong by definition.

Posted by mrlynn | September 3, 2007 11:41 AM

"Boston readers might expect more from their largest newspaper. Or, perhaps not."

Ed, "perhaps not" is the answer. Carroll is simply the most egregious of all the left-wing columnists at the Globe (Ellen Goodman, Robert Kuttner, Derrick Jackson, et al.). The editorial page echoes the views of these leftists, and the reportage, such as it is, embodies the same viewpoint.

Thankfully, Jeff Jacoby, the Globe's token conservative, publishes a column three times a week.

They have told me they don't receive very many letters from conservatives, which tells you something about their (declining) readership. They have published a few of mine, but reject many more on grounds that they can't publish too many from one person.

The Globe is owned by the New York Times, but if anything follows a more radical left agenda than even that pathetic rag.

Their baseball writers are pretty good, though.

/Mr Lynn

Posted by RBMN | September 3, 2007 11:54 AM

True communism--the abandonment of personal property and all the incentives it provides--is as natural to a human being as vegetarianism is to a tiger. It's never worked, and it can't work. For the hardworking, it's the equivalent of slavery. Tigers are hard-wired to eat meat and humans are hard-wired to provide for themselves (and their families) first. The humans that didn't, didn't make it this far.

Posted by Carol Herman | September 3, 2007 12:14 PM

You know, I would differ with that.

Because "pure communism" was tried. In Israel. Right after the refugees from Europe; post the concentration camps, began flooding in.

To make their communities grow; I think you've heard of the Kibbutzim. And, a "lighter version" ... called the Moshav. (Arik Sharon's father lived on a Moshav.)

Arik Sharon's parents came from Russia. So there ya go. You can see how the "dream" developed; away from stalin and his despotic rule.

Today? It's hard to keep people on the "collectives." Though some are there. And, some do thrive. It's just not for everybody.

Going back to Arik Sharon's personal history; his father, who was a trained agronomist; a farmer with a college degree; could not get his "collective schmoes" to agree to planting avacados. They weren't familiar with that.

Arik Sharon's farm live involved planting (and eating) sweet potatoes. But his dad put in the first avacado trees in Israel. Where they thrived.

I could point, too, to Abraham Lincoln. (As well as Thomas Jefferson.) Two boys who did not get along with their dads. And, in both cases because the "boys" hated farm labor; and preferred thinking with their heads.

Abraham Lincoln was self-taught. But extremely motivated. Who, when he left home at 23 never even looked back.

Again, it's there to see. America has experimented with everything. And, everything that has had its days in the sun; still gives way to other things, that come along.

Today? Railroad barons. Steel barons. Tabacoo barons. Are a thing in our past. When the 19th Century blew in technology; we were weaker than Europe. But we grew strong. And, a lot of this has to do with businessmen, not politicians, angling the laws of the land. Where they fished out profits.

For the working man? It was harder.

But if you go and look at the automotive industry; what you see is that Lyndon Baines Johnson brought MacNamarra into his government. (What we really know is that MacNamarra was a fool.) But LBJ called him "the best and the brightest."

So, over in Detroit, between the managers who couldn't find their behinds with two hands and a flashlight; coupled to the unions. KILLED THEIR OWN BEST BUSINESSES.

Sometimes, when you look at tradgedies, you can laugh.

The union thugs (who stand there as an arm of socialism) went out of their ways to rip off the profits the company was making. Their excuses? It was coming in "hand over fist."

In today's world? The group with the profits, where they don't know what to do with them, are the Soddies. You got that right!

Our lessons, now, have very little to do with "communism." More to do with limosine liberal elites; who climbed to the "top" of the affirmative action heap. Perhaps, they live above the stink? So they don't know what's gonna happen "next."

Well, neither do we.

But when my mom was 80, she graduated from college. She was forced to study Marx. And, I still have her "A" paper. (What was the professor gonna do? She did the work.) And, what she wrote is that Marx failed, because communism works best when 12 people get together and "share." Jesus and his Disciples, were her model. There, real sharing, and real love for each other can take place. You want me to explain Judas? Why? What if there was a reworking of the details by later generations? This, too, happens when knowledge is not forthcoming. But kept by priests who keep secrets.

In a similar vein, when double-booking-accounting was invented in Italy, you'd get killed if you explained it to anyone outside of your guild.

We do know, however, that good information eventually comes out. Can't keep good things buried. And, the failures? Well, they, too, eventually show up.

As to the slogan, "you haven't tried it, yet," sounds to me more like what drug pushers say, than anything else.

On the positive side, the Internet is here to help you. So, you can fish for the truth, as much as you like. It's as easy as Tom Sawyer, "missing school," to go fishing. And, you bet, Mark Twain's better than Karl Marx, by miles and miles and miles.

Perhaps, the first lessons when you go to teach others, is to make sure you can present the comedy.

Posted by naftali | September 3, 2007 12:17 PM


Let me just underscore your point. A society doesn't try, plan, vote for communism, as vaguely described by Marx is approximately only ten pages of the 1000 or so pages of Das Capital. It, communism, just happens. And it is described in such vague and idyllic terms that a good editor might have argued to just cut out any reference at all. I remember reading of Marx's famous quote near the end of his life: "I am not a Marxist."

Yet another journalist not wanting to do their homework.

Posted by brooklyn - hnav | September 3, 2007 12:23 PM

Well said Captain.

Amazing, how the liberals sort of live in a world that ignores reality.

One of the amusing aspects of the Communists, is their ironic hatred of 'monopolies' in the private sector, while trying to build the ultimate MONOPOLY in Government.

How can some who claim to be so brilliant, fail to understand their agenda gives power to the few, reduces freedoms, cements economic classes, slows growth, destroys opportunity, grows unemployment, crushes incentive, lowers the quality of life, creates dependency, etc., etc...

Socialist-Communist Waste will always increase the cost of living, while removing needed capital from the public to cope with the higher costs.

It is a disaster, and we see the growing rejection of this oppressive waste around the world, including Canada, Germany, Sweden, Ireland...

(even France seems to want to lean the other way, by evidence of their last election)

But the Democrat Party and their loyal supporters do not want to grasp the truth, that the most healthy society is built upon the free market - capitalist model we have in the US.

In every state and city they control, Democrats grow the size of Government to concerning levels, raising taxation beyond the publics ability to cope, causing great problems.

The recalled Gov. Gray Davis should have been a wake up call, with efforts to triple the gasoline tax in California.

In NJ, the Democrat Machine continues to raise the tax burden and spending, while the population is leaving in massive numbers.

When Bill Clinton ran for President in 1992, his handlers carefully deceived everyone as they proclaimed the 'end to big government', but as soon as the Clintons entered office, the Clinton Administration gave the USA one of the biggest tax increases we have had.

After inheriting sound economic growth, the Clintons left the White House with the American Economy in a recession.

We must not let these foolish liberal partisans ruin the American Dream.

The USA provides the most humanitarian aid, historic freedoms, opportunities, and leadership throughout the world, because of it's healthy economic system, and it must be protected.

Posted by RBMN | September 3, 2007 12:37 PM

Re: Carol Herman September 3, 2007 12:14 PM

Are you sure that the "Kibbutzim" weren't just small benevolent monarchies, in practice, and not a true communism either? Certainly not a national communism.

Posted by John Lynch | September 3, 2007 12:45 PM

The problem is that Marxism in the form Caroll advocates CANNOT be tried. It's not possible, because it's supposed to have happened inevitably a long time ago. Since Marx was wrong about that we'll never know.

The real world presents us with real choices, not choices between reality and Nirvana. Of course we'd choose a paradise if it was available. It's not, and Marxism did not and will not provide it.

We should look at real- world Marxism rather than Nirvana Marxism when we choose what to do. The record is pretty one sided here in reality in regards to Communism.

Posted by naftali | September 3, 2007 12:51 PM

John Lynch,

Just curious, but do you think Lenin or Stalin would be just a little peeved that Marx seems to get all the credit for their own brutality? You know the way celebrity egos work.

Posted by Del Dolemonte | September 3, 2007 12:54 PM

Carroll is a former priest (just like Bill Moyers) who has long written stuff like this. The Newsbusters blog has followed Carroll closesly, and found this gem last Christmas:

Posted by Steve Skubinna | September 3, 2007 12:56 PM

So people claiming to be Communists murdered at least 100 million in the 20th century, and we now ought to let the "real" communists have a shot?

Not even. Whenever anyone "tries" it, people die in droves. Only a scoundrel would regret that the attempts were not pure enough and yearn for the day it's "really" put into practice.

Posted by unclesmrgol | September 3, 2007 1:16 PM

Carol claims that the kibbutz is an example of Marxism done right.

I submit that the kibbutzim enjoyed (and still enjoy) their standard of living based on the exertions of Palestinian laborers.

Note, in the cited article, where the land acquired by Kibbutz Mezer came from, along with the implication of the method of acquisition.

So, I would say that the kibbutz experiment turned out just like experiments using Marxism as a base have everywhere. It's just that, in this case, some of the lesser animals are Arabs.

Posted by daytrader | September 3, 2007 2:40 PM

"Marxism has never really been tried,"

Yeah sure right

That ranks up right there with the Clintons weren't corrupt.

Hey history editor get me a re right!

Gag me with a spoon on this drivel.

Just shows the KGB still has their hooks into the media even today to try to spread a message that fogs the mirror.

Posted by naftali | September 3, 2007 2:57 PM


So you actually believe in Marx's Theory of Value? Do you drive a horseless carriage, too? Or, for you, is that even too newfangled?

Posted by lexhamfox | September 3, 2007 2:59 PM

Marxism per Karl Marx has never been applied. He said so himself after the term was in common use. Marx's biggest error was in thinking that the monopoly was end point of capitalism's evolution but liberal democracies were able to avoid the stagnation of the monopoly through legislation to foster competition (anti-trust laws etc). Marxist-Leninism inherited the worst aspect of untended capitalism with state monopolies and the rest is history.

Posted by Carol Herman | September 3, 2007 3:10 PM

First off, RBNM, the Kibbutzim in Israel pre-date WW2.

What was gathering, as many Jews began leaving Europe around the 1880's; and not all heading into America. There were Jews in British Palestine who developed "collectives." NOT MONARCHIES!

In a collective, labors are shared. So that you had a communal lunch room. Housing for couples. And, group arrangements for all of the kids, born. Who were brought up together.

Some of the adults worked in the kitchen. Others, helped in the nurseries. But women were free to choose. And, as an example, Golda Meir, who was very political; and was building her career; tried living on a Kibbutz. The one area where her husband, Morris, held sway. And, though she loved it. She was forced to leave it. Morris didn't like it at all.

But it's an individual's choice.

When you, personally, can't afford all of the equipment, for instance; you join a group. Doctors graduating from medical schools, these days, are different enterprenuer, than the "family doc" of old days.

In Israel, for some the Kibbutz not only "worked," according to Ben Gurion, who lived on one; Tel Aviv, to him was Nineveh. And, he had a lot to do with the original choices that made up Israel's ruling elite. More "labor" and less "religion." With big divisions between the groups. And, the whole.

Anyway, not all "communism" is what blossomed in russia. Today, lots of european nations are beset with this socialist beast. On top of which you have incoming immigrants who don't assimylate.

I'm going to guess we haven't heard the last of "enslaving people." That's exactly what all these "communal" arrangements do. Because you can't separate out your own hard work, from what the collective treats as "theirs." And, none of it is your own.

Anyway, even in Israel, where the "collective" has deep roots, it's no longer representational of anything much, except a small minority. And, ya know what else? No new ones have been built.

On the other hand, using the "horse and buggy" analysis, others have added. To describe "obsolescences," you stll have the needs, now, more than ever for super-duper highways.

When the first horseless carriages showed up, they were only for rich folks. Who had to travel over rock strewn lanes. Highways came later. And, red lights came later. And, traffic tickets, which communities use in lieu of taxes, also came down the pike, later.

As a matter of fact, communists don't pay taxes. There's nothing left to collect.

But if you want, you can check russia out for this one: No one trusts his neighbor. The secret police did its job; leaving people who don't trust each other.

Which ain't good for long term survival, in my opinion.

Posted by naftali | September 3, 2007 4:09 PM


I'll go you one further. Marxism per Karl Marx has never been defined, even by Marx. You are also being far to generous to Lenin, who, with Stalin, were two brutal men looking for a reason to steal and be brutal.

Posted by lexhamfox | September 3, 2007 4:29 PM

Marx was not brutal. Lenin, Stalin, and Mao were brutal. What did Marx steal? Marx did not define Marxism. He was much more interested in defining Capitalism.

Posted by Mr. Michael | September 3, 2007 5:04 PM

Just out of honest curiosity... Cap'n, you said:

"In both the Soviet Union and China, the death tolls of famines reached in the tens of millions, while in the free world, such famines never occurred."

Keep in mind that I honestly do not know the answer to this question... but during the Mid-West's dustbowl years and during the 'Great Depression'... how many people starved or died of malnutrition? Certainly nothing on the scale of the deaths under the criminal mismanagement of the Soviet Union or China. But was there not a famine? I've never heard about one, but I never hear about the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1916, either... and it killed nearly 100 million people.

Anybody have any facts?

Posted by Drew | September 3, 2007 5:06 PM

The Soviet Union's "Worker Paradise" is famously described in an apochryphal quote of a Soviet laborer: We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us.

Plus, let us not forget that the original Plymouth Colony was organized along communal/communistic lines, and they starved almost to the death. Prosperity was only gained when personal property and indiviual effort/reward was allowed.

Posted by unclesmrgol | September 3, 2007 5:06 PM


I'm not sure where you are coming from. I'm certainly not a Marxist -- far from it. I believe in maximising the output of society rather than diminishing it. That way, society overall is richer, not poorer.

My point is that any form of Marxism depends on an underclass of hard workers forced to contribute more to the society at large than they gain back in benefits. Sounds like a form of slavery to me.

"From each according to his means, to each according to his needs" breeds a bunch of needy unmeaningful people.

That said, I drive a 2005 Mazda 3 hatch. A really nice car which I earned by my own effort. I highly recommend it.

Posted by Mr. Michael | September 3, 2007 5:07 PM

Sorry, Spanish Flu pandemic was 1918... my bad.

Posted by burt | September 3, 2007 5:28 PM

Marxism has been tried several times at a local level over the centuries right here in what is now the USA. The first time was probably in what is now Virginia four centuries ago. As might be expected, it didn't work. The colony starved and disappeared. Most of the later groups also failed but were embedded in a larger functioning economy. In these cases people left the group and found employment or welfare elsewhere.

Posted by naftali | September 3, 2007 5:32 PM


I think you've got your capitalism and Marxism confused.

The notion that (fill in the blank) depends on an underclass of hard workers etc. is Marx's labor theory of value. He filled in the blank with 'capitalism'. And he equated the wage system to slavery.

But this theory is a little, how shall we say, out of date, obsolete, patently false--you pick the word. To apply this rule to the success of failure of a kibbutz is like continuing to hold on to the theory of phlogiston to explain the workings of the universe.

Glad you have a nice ride.

Posted by exDemo | September 3, 2007 5:43 PM

The only communal societies that ever worked even for a short time, were voluntary. And imbued with religious fervor of one sort or another.

Kibbutzim, Monastic monkish orders and sister hoods were and are communal. And they do work for a tiny proportion of the population.
A Benedictine monk toiling in a medieval field has lots in common with a mid 20th century Kibbutzim or a Buddhist monk in his monastery.

Any other communal activity based on collectivism ends up in a tyranny. You can't tell the difference in the State Police except for the armbands. They can be the twisted cross of the Gestapo; or Hammer and Sickle of the KGB and Stasi. Who they are, and what they do, are the same.

Posted by Ray | September 3, 2007 7:21 PM

Marxism , or any other form of centralized planning and control type social systems, only works for a small population in a fixed, changeless environment (like a monastery). It can not, by it's very nature, adapt to major environmental changes as it relies on a single, centralized planning and control system, a single deliberative body. No single deliberative body, no matter how large, can adapt quickly and effectively to a constantly changing environment. That's why, for example, so many people die of starvation in these types of social systems. The system itself is not designed to adapt and change (it is all based on pre-planning, remember?), so it can not respond to any change in external forces, like rainfall patterns or any other major environmental change. It takes far to long to plan and implement measures to adapt to the changes and by the time the system can respond to the effects of that change, the environment has drastically changed again and all the previous effort has been wasted.

One of the reasons our systems of government (and economics) works as well as it does is because we have an almost unlimited amount of deliberative bodies available to us in the form of multiple governments (federal, state, and local), businesses, communities, and individuals. Taken together, our seemingly chaotic system can adapt very quickly to just about any environmental changes, whether that environment is physical, spiritual, or social. This is what is required in a constantly changing environment like you find on planet earth.

I wonder why this reality is so hard for seemingly intelligent people to understand and accept? Why do they keep trying to convince themselves (and others) that the only reason other forms of social systems, like Marxism, failed is because it wasn't "true." It wasn't "True" Marxism in Russia!, they say, but even "true" Marxism can not work in the real world, as history has already proven, so why even try to defend it? That doesn't make any sense to me.

Posted by Cybrludite | September 3, 2007 8:32 PM

As I've been saying for a while, "Marxism is the opiate of the intellectuals."

Posted by unclesmrgol | September 3, 2007 8:42 PM


But Marx's system doesn't stand being reduced to practice, does it? And the villains in such failures don't seem to be whom Marx posited, are they? That's the point in Animal Farm -- that no matter how noble the endeavor, someone will find a way of taking advantage.

Now, under capitalism, I have the advantage of being able to sell my excess production for whatever fetishes I care to purchase. If I don't like the wage my boss is paying me, I am free to leave and work elsewhere; if I have guessed correctly as to my worth, I get the new job, and if not, I am unemployed.

The system only becomes unfair if all the bosses collaborate to underpay me. Such potential unfairness is at the core of both the capitalist and marxist systems; however, under the democratic capitalist system, the fact that the bosses do not control the government means that such unfairness can be mitigated; in a true marxist system, both positions (boss and government) reside in the government, and the unfairness cannot be mitigated once it begins.

Consider Pol Pot. He had the ultimate idea -- let everyone produce for themselves the necessary items of greatest use value. Those who do not are practicing wage slavery against the working class. What to do? He did exactly what one would expect under a true marxist system -- he eliminated all classes which possessed exchange valued artifacts. Tell me how his marxist system can be distinguished from a feudal one...

Now, I think you dislike my attack upon the kibbutz system, and your comment about phogistons is a rather traditional and somewhat uninspired red herring attack. With regard to the kibbutz movement, the history is plain. I deliberately chose an article detailing affairs in a modern kibbutz which refute your allegation that such thinking is an artifact of ancient history; there are plenty more such articles dealing with labor issues going back over 70 years. The labor pool used by the average kibbutz has not changed since the early 1930's, when the kibbutzim realized they did not have the person-power to produce what they needed to stay in business by themselves. What started as a movement to self-sufficiency has become something else. What better way to deal with the issue than to hire the same people whose land you have dispossessed to work that same land? The land is held in community, but what community? It's a tribute to the affected Arabs associated with Mezen that they are able to bear this with equanimity, and to even empathize with the loss the kibbutz has suffered at the hands of outside terrorists.

The point I've made about the kibbutzim also applies to us. Why is there a Fair Trade movement (for example, in the coffee industry)? We are, however, somewhat insulated from some of the effects of our position by the middlemen capitalism requires for correct function; the kibbutzim are not insulated, since they are the direct bosses. Hence, we have an excuse, albeit a weak one, but do they?

If you think I'm wrong, prove me wrong with appropriate data -- don't throw phlogistons at me.

Posted by hupamcc | September 3, 2007 9:30 PM

Carroll's opinions and views are as superficial and as shallow as are his research skills. In 1910, G.K.Chesterton wrote: "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried." Or was Carroll implying that Gandhi was a plagiarist?

Posted by naftali | September 3, 2007 10:47 PM


You understand that the post right above yours was the perfect ending to this comments section, right?

I still don't think you understand my point. I was simply saying that your critique of the kibbutz movement was a Marxist critique. You can say all day that you are a capitalist, but when it came to the critique of kibbutzim, you turned Marxist pretty darn quickly.

Here's your refutation: the Arabs didn't have to come to work. Now, I've been through this with another person who feels the Israelis are horrible oppressors--and I'd rather not go through all the history again. I knew plenty of people who went to Israel as teenagers to work on a kibbutz. But the land itself is the proof. Before the state of Israel, when was the last time in all of human history that those few square miles could EXPORT produce?

The red herrings are being tossed around by you. The crux of your postings are about "oppressive" Israel and not as is every other comment in this section about Marxism and it's history. Yes, others have mentioned kibbutzim, but in the context of monastic monks, which is appropriate.

And I also believe that you misread Animal Farm. The point is that animals' revolution led by the pigs was not noble at all--the pigs were corrupt from the beginning. They deceived the other animals. And they did it by using the same rhetorical tricks that James Carroll used, that most of the media use, and certainly that the PLO used and continue to use.

The way to combat these rhetorical tricks is to strip away what is false, leaving what is true. In this way, I believe I've made my point. You used and outdated and provably false Marxist critique of the kibbutzim as a facade, since you claim to be a capitalist. What then is left? What is the heart of your argument? We can thank the phlogiston metaphor for the clarity that revealed your actual point.

Posted by Shaprshooter | September 3, 2007 11:57 PM

Communism arrives when people learn, as Bastiat pointed out, that they can live at the expense of others.

IOW, when your take is based on needs, rather than ability, then everyone has endless needs and virtually zero ability.

Posted by unclesmrgol | September 4, 2007 12:14 AM


The kibbutz is supposedly a marxist ideal. All property held in common, all production benefits the common good. So, if you want to consider the kibbutzim to be the pigs, I won't stop you, although some of them will be mighty offended to be considered bacon.

I don't consider the Israelis to be terrible oppressors, just like I don't consider the Romans who originally drove their very distant ancestors out to be terrible oppressors.

But I do consider the Palistinian claim to the land to be more valid than a group that says, after two millenia, that the land you are on actually belonged to our [great]+ grandparents. Fifty years on, that claim is still being made, but now by a different group.

I think the article I quoted speaks volumes about the relationship of Kibbutz Mezen and the neighboring Arab village of Maizan. It's a picture of accomodation, but the roots of that accomodation indicate that one side was forced to accomodate more than the other. You are right; the Arabs can refuse to work, but if they cannot work for the kibbutz, they no longer have enough land to fend for themselves. The kibbutz, like the evil bosses I reference above, have stacked the deck. The workers are not about to rebel -- their homes are at stake.

I had a feeling about what was bothering you was not marxist thought or Animal House, but something more basic -- any criticism of the methods used in the founding of the State of Israel are not to be borne. Do I have that right?

I too have had this argument before with others. I doubt you convinced them, just as you have not and will not convince me. I've read Moshe Dayan's autobiography, which offers in great detail a sympathetic history of Israel. Several times in his book he makes the point that benGurion ordered the destruction of peaceful Arab villages in order to secure an integral piece of land for Israel. It's almost as if Dayan was doing the Pontius Pilate thing -- washing his hands of what he personally thought was a disgusting chapter in the founding of the State of Israel.

Of course, you are free to believe that all those dirty Arabs attacked Israel, and Israel had to respond. But that doesn't explain, for example, the village of 'Imwas, which had no fighters yet was determined to be a potential problem because of its position overlooking a strategic road. During the 1967 war, it was emptied of all of its villagers (without violence, I might add), and its mosque and Catholic Church, its schools and administrative buildings, and all its residences razed to the ground. The villagers were force-marched to the Ramallah refuge camp. The entire operation was photographed by an Israeli soldier who lived in the area and who was sympathetic to the plight of the villagers. What sits on the site of 'Imwas today? Answer: Canada Park.

So, you can claim all you want that the Palestinians were treated properly and that all the ill-will they have toward Israel is undeserved by Isreal, but history shows otherwise. The founding of Israel was accompanied by acts fully equal to those surrounding the settlement of North America. The only thing different is that the Israelis are still fighting their Indians.

The Palestinians are of the same blood as the Israelis they fight. Both claim the same land. If the two-millenia yearning for the Jews to Return is any sign, this fight is going to be a long one. Maybe the Israelis ought to let the Palestinians open a few casinos...

Posted by Minta Marie Morze | September 4, 2007 12:20 AM

I wrote a criticism post on my blog earlier this year about an article I remembered reading in 1991. I was upset to find it in a magazine that I usually enjoyed reading for the science and the math: “Essay: Marx Wasn’t All Wrong” by Nathan Rosenberg, Scientific American, December 1991, page 158. It started out: "Perhaps we should hesitate before consigning Marx to the dustbin of history. Recent events in the Soviet Union are being interpreted as evidence of the final breakdown of Marxism, but one might question such a reading. . . ."

They keep trying, don't they.

Posted by naftali | September 4, 2007 1:25 AM


Fine, the kibbutz movement was founded to be microsocialism, and fell to the same human foibles that all human endeavors fall to. I am amazed anything gets done in the world given the way that humans behave. I consider Wal-Mart a small miracle. Now if you want to play rhetorical games, fine. I said that in Animal Farm the revolution was NOT a noble endeavor. Eventually the farm failed and was sold to a human. The Kibbutzim were indeed a noble endeavor--like I said, when was the last time in human history this small area of land EXPORTED produce around the world? The Israeli agricultural project is an amazing success. The terrain is not much different than the West Bank and Gaza. I don't see such development in those territories. Israel did give the Gazans the extraordinary Israeli greenhouses, but the Gazans promptly destroyed those.

Of course you have a right to criticize, as I could do myself. However, if I do criticize I'm going to use honest arguments instead of red herrings, straw men, and rhetorical sleight of hand.

We could talk for days about war, what happens in war, and the resulting effects on the land. What happened in Israel is no different than any other event in history--with the Israelis bringing a few exceptions to the rule of history. You can say the Palestinians have more claim to the land based on your own criteria, but the Israelis would have been more than happy to share their knowledge with them and turn the West Bank and Gaza into agricultural giants and resort towns. Instead the Palestinians turned to the UN, with predictable results.

I'm also happy to hear that you have already determined I will not convince you. You are showing your true feelings. And before the thought is even finished in your mind, yes you can convince me, with fair arguments not based on rhetorical tricks, which is what this thread was originally about.

I don't know about you, but when I read about a war my expectations change a little regarding what people will do. So if Ben Gurion ordered something that heaven, not you, judge to be the wrong thing, it is between Ben Gurion and some other plane of life, not between Ben Gurion and you. The fact the Dayan felt it was wrong shows exactly what the media and the Palestinians wish, to be not true. That is, they canNOT paint us all with the same brush. That's another rhetorical trick.

Now, are you truly telling me that in 1967 the Arabs didn't have plans for an all out assault on Israel, just because of the village of Imwas? And are you telling me that in all out war your expectations and judgment of human events are no different than in peacetime? If you believe that then no power on earth can convince you otherwise, your mind will not open for any reason. Which brings me to a question. On the possibility that your mind isn't completely closed, just what will open your mind, to genuinely consider the possibility that Israel does indeed have and should have a country right where it is now?

Actually, I never claimed that the Israelis treated the Palestinians pristinely. All I claimed was that the arguments you put forth were specious at best. Most of the details of the war, I don't know. Because it was war. My father won a silver star in WWII. He hasn't offered to tell how it was won, and I've never heard him tell a war story. That doesn't mean that even if he told me of atrocities committed by the US then I should support the Nazis. It means that war is war. As far as I can tell the war between Israel and its Arab neighbors never ended.

This means that those with an open mind should be suspending judgment, since you can't know all of the facts, no matter how long a book you read documenting some of them to the best of the writer's ability. The writer will never be good enough to be accurate. And in this day and age, it is surprising if the author or reporter gets it 70% correct.

I hope you hold Israel to the same standard you hold the British and French to during WWI, the Allied Powers during WWII, the North and the South during the Civil War, the French during Napolean's acquisition of Europe, and the American's during the War of Independence.

But right now, it doesn't sound like it.

Posted by runawayyyy | September 4, 2007 10:41 AM

The actual history of communism is the only relevant marker here. One can claim all day that "it hasn't really been tried", but considering how many tyrants have claimed Marx's mantle, the claim is specious at best.

Communism has murdered more communists than all other forms of govt or economy combined. They did all this in the name of "human justice".

Communism has driven every country it has taken over into abject poverty, even when the country in question was poor to begin with. They did all this in the name of "human dignity". There are no exceptions to this. One may cite China as an exception, but only the govt of China is communist, their economy is decidedly capitalist.

At the time of the fall of the USSR, two-thirds of the hospitals OUTSIDE of Moscow didn't even have running water. So much for socialized healthcare.

Every communist state that has ever existed enslaved their population. You cannot remove all incentive to produce and still expect people to produce, unless you point guns at them. This was all done in the name of "human freedom".

I'm paraphrasing David Horowitz in this post. I highly recommend further reading from this former communist, as his insights and reasons for turning his back on his old love are compelling.

Posted by fouse, gary c | September 4, 2007 11:03 PM

[Deleted - off topic and too long. Please read the comments/privacy policy. -- EM]

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