Chickens Came Home to Roost in Dallas

Published at 08:07 on 8 July 2016

It really should not come as a big surprise that something like this would eventually happen in a society as racist, militarist, and armed as the USA. It was inevitable.

The question now is: will it work? It’s an unpleasant fact that sometimes violent tactics work when non-violent ones don’t. The system values some lives more than others, so the loss of some more-valued lives might end up prompting the sort of action that the loss of less-valued ones failed to do.

Or it might just as easily provoke some sort of backlash. Most likely, it will do bits of both, much as the “propaganda of the deed” era circa 1900 did. History is a messy process that doesn’t precisely correspond to anyone’s pet theories or values.

Why Marx Was Wrong

Published at 08:06 on 7 July 2016

It’s something most people, even Marx’s biggest ideological enemies, don’t get: ideological flexibility (and the lack thereof).

Marx theorized that the proletariat, who had everything to lose under capitalism, would therefore be motivated to be the most open to alternatives such as socialism and communism. Conversely, those who gained the most from laissez-faire capitalism would be motivated to be its most rigid and staunch defenders, and prevent any reform from being possible.

Intrinsically unstable, capitalism would proceed to tear itself apart as the swings of the business cycle inevitably got more and more dramatic and the great masses of the proletariat became increasingly immiserated. When Marxian socialism would finally be tried, it would almost immediately outperform capitalism; even though central planning might have its inefficiencies, those would prove far less destructive than capitalism’s wild swings. Socialism would prosper while the capitalist world crumbled and ended up in history’s dustbin.

But it didn’t work out that way. Huge chunks of the proletariat clung to traditional social structures and refused to even entertain the idea that something different might be to their benefit. At the same time, the bourgeoisie proved to be something less than totally rejecting of the idea of making changes to the laissez-faire formula. Some were worried about the consequences of unrest (which was building, despite falling short of revolution) harming them. Some thought they could profit from regulation by influencing it. Many thought both.

In short, the proletariat was not so ideologically flexible and the bourgeoisie so ideologically rigid. Both sides had (and basically still have) an intermediate (and approximately equal) level of flexibility.

It’s something that this story brought to my mind this morning.