The Revenge of the Petty Bourgeoisie Intelligentsia
An irreverent, mildly satirical look at ending the clash between capitalism, communism, socialism and radical repressive fundamentalist religious theocracies; done in the style of the French philosophies, this essay will give you most of the intellectual tools you need, the author hopes, to finally put communism, socialism and repressive religious fundamentalist theocracies where they belong; in the dustbin of history. In this endeavor the author employs relentless logic, evolution, passion, common sense and an offbeat sense of humor to complete the task. Bon appetite, enjoy this intellectual banquet.
In 1776 Adam Smith wrote “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nation.” This work laid the foundation for capitalism. In 1848 Karl Marx and his lifelong friend, collaborator and intellectual lackey Freidrich (Freddie) Engels wrote “The Manifesto of the Communist Party” and later “Das Kapital;” works which were intended to bury capitalism in the dustbin of history. So, what happened? It would be enlightening to first look at mercantilism, the economic system capitalism was intended to replace, before that question can be adequately addressed. As you will see, mercantilism is not as dead as most people think it is, nor is this look back as abstract as one might think.
In the 1700’s, mercantilism was the dominant economic system in the world. Some of the features of mercantilism pertinent to this essay include; economic power used to increase the states military and political power; its use of colonies for economic exploitation; the encouragement of manufacturing industries. Most pertinent of all was the view that economics was the major component of national power, and as such, the state should have tight control over all aspects of its economy. The legacy of mercantilism was one of low worker productivity, with labor unrest and riots. It was also very inefficient in its use of capital and raw materials. Anyway, for the vast majority of the people mercantilism was a repressive, inefficient economic system.
So Mr. Smith wrote his treatise, the wealthy factory owners and the upper class loved it and rather quickly, mercantilism began evolving into capitalism. In Mr. Smith’s treatise, he basically said that government should butt out of the business of business. If left to its own devices, a free market, guided by an “invisible hand,” would produce the most good for the most people. Whether capitalism has done as Mr. Smith envisioned is still being debated, but no doubt about it, capitalism is better than mercantilism was for the majority of the people. The middle class started to thrive.
Early capitalism had many positive aspects and some flaws. It allowed for the growth of a large middle class. It was pretty efficient in its use of capital and resources most of the time. It allowed for evolutionary change in the way businesses operate. But in its early days workers were still exploited by the upper class bourgeois and by the wealthy classes above them. Life was hard for the working and unemployed poor who made up the majority of the population in Europe and to a lesser extent, America. It was in this context that Karl and Freddie first wrote the “Manifesto of the Communist Party.” Now, here were a couple of middle class guys who Lenin himself called part of the bourgeoisie intelligentsia, attacking their own class. Karl and Freddie wanted to end the exploitation of the “wage slaves” as they called the working and non- working poor. Their vehicle for this change was violent revolution and the replacement of “evil” capitalism with “good” communism.
What is communism? Is it Marxism? Leninism? Maoism? Some other-ism? In this petty bourgeoisie intellectual essay I will use some of Karl and Freddie’s own work to flesh out a basic view. According to Karl and Freddie, communism is a state in which there is no private ownership of property. All property is in state control. The bourgeois, the middle class, are eliminated and the workers, the proletarians, have control through the communist party. The state controls all capital and allocation of resources. The means of production are used to further the goals of the state. Economic power is used to increase the states military and political power. The state has tight control over all aspects of its economy. Well, well, it looks like d'j' vu mercantilism, all over again. That’s what happens when you don’t have a clue to the next step. Anyway, Karl and Freddie used the works of Friedrich Hegel and others to justify their “scientific” system of communism.
From Hegel they took the theory of the dialect, thesis, anti thesis and synthesis. Hegel said that history is a record of what he called the world spirit, seeking to know its true nature, whatever that means. A more common view of Hegel is that the philosophical system he called the dialectic had these components. The thesis, or the first idea or concept, is challenged by the antithesis or competing idea or concept. From this conflict arises the synthesis or a higher level of truth, idea, concept, or new thesis. This is repeated over and over again in history. At least that’s what my Encarta said.
Karl and Freddie said that Hegel had the right idea but that the dialectic was standing on its head. They were putting it on its feet with their view of the dialectic. In their view, the dialectic was the struggle between the classes. This was called dialectical/materialism and they used it to explain the struggle between thesis-capitalism, anti thesis-proletarians and synthesis- the communist state. In reality, every communist state has just replaced one ruling class with another, the communist party. In addition, one man, Lenin, Stalin, Mao etc, dominates the communist party. Though the communist state is atheist in theory, in reality it resembles a theocracy with Marx in the roles of God/Jesus/Moses and Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao etc as the prophets. No Theocratic/Marxist state can survive without using violence against its opponents or evolve in any significant way without loosing its very reasons for being. These types of states are centered on the premise that they have the only answers to everything that’s important, and these answers are good forever. But you know, important things keep changing, don’t they? Besides change, nothing is forever is it?
Lets have a little fun here. Lets take the dialectic and use it against communism. Thesis- still capitalism, anti thesis- what’s left of communism, synthesis- a new improved Evolutionary Democratic Capitalism. (Referred to as E.D.C. in the rest of this essay.) Think of it not as Mr. dialectic on his head or feet, but in a kicked back relaxed easy chair. Change will happen. If we are lucky it will be positive evolutionary change that addresses the problems this world faces, not violent revolutionary change that takes you backward instead of forward.
You know, in the end, communism has had one great benefit for mankind. It has exposed the weaknesses of capitalism and allowed man to fix them as much as is possible. No political or economic system is perfect or answers all of mankind’s needs. But we have to keep trying for perfection, don’t we? It’s in our nature, isn’t it? There is nothing wrong with striving for perfection even if we can never attain it; at least striving for perfection keeps us headed in the right direction.
So the “great leap forward,” as Mao liked to call communist development, was in reality “back to the future.” Communism in reality most resembles mercantilism, with a small elite group holding power, economic control in the hands of the state and run for the goals of the state. The USSR followed the mercantilism pattern by conquering Eastern Europe and turning those states into “colonies” for its own economic and political benefit. The middle class was eliminated and you had two classes, the small, elite, wealthy communists and the rest of the people, the poor, struggling proletarians. Some “great leap forward” this system has turned out to be.
In the end, communism has a fatal flaw that is at the heart of the system it espouses. That flaw is the idea that the ownership of private property must be eliminated. This is the biggest, most critical error of Marxism; the idea that private property is the root of all economic evil or that it is unnatural in nature.' Private property, in a sense, is everywhere in nature. Most animals defend their territory, i.e. their “property” from encroachment by other animals. This territory is their “capital” that provides them with the means of survival. So it is for man, for we are a part of the natural order no matter how superior we may think we are. U.S., European and Asian history has shown the wisdom of allowing for the ownership of private property. This has allowed for the growth of the middle class in capitalist nations. Outlawing private property isn’t the only factor, but it is one of the major reasons for the decline and eventual fall of communism.
It may be somewhat amusing to use the analogy of Darwinism here in this discourse on the two systems. The true believers of the Marxist, Leninist, and Maoist systems like to think that their “religion” is the scientifically superior Darwinian replacement for capitalism. In Charles Darwin’s work “The Origin of the Species” he discusses evolution, successful mutation and the ability to reproduce as some of the keys to survival of any organism. So how is communism doing in these areas? There is little if any evolution in the communist systems. Capitalism has evolved and continues to evolve as an economic system. At first communism was a robust competitor for capitalism but over time, as it murdered millions of bourgeois intellectuals, it ran out of gas intellectually. (Could there be a connection here?) As for reproduction, it’s not reproducing at all anymore, and, in fact, is dying a somewhat slow death. E.D.C. as you’ll see, is the one system that really meets the criteria for “survival of the fittest” in this competition between the systems.
So to paraphrase Lenin “what is to be done?” How about “proletarians of the communist world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains.” But how is this to be done, through violent revolution in communist countries? Ah, no. It’s time to get serious here and slip into the first person to explain why evolutionary change is needed, not violent revolutionary change. Violent revolution is a last, desperate action, when all else has failed. As a veteran (USMC) of Viet Nam, I have seen first hand the destruction, death and despair that violent revolution brings. War leaves horrible images in your mind that never go away. The Viet Nam war was after all, a very old revolution, first against the Chinese, then against the French and lastly against the Americans. War brings to my mind the quote of Thomas Hobbes, paraphrased here, that life during violent revolution is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. No, evolutionary change is the safest and best way these days to bring about change. When I first wrote about this subject some twenty-three years ago, it was obvious to anyone with a little common sense and a strong intellect that communism would not last. It has fallen in Russia and the eastern European countries that had been conquered by communism. The transition is rocky and has many problems. Later, we will explore a solution to these problems, but for now lets examine violent revolution.
Violent revolution brings out the dark side of mankind all too often. It’s very hard to get the guns out of the hands of the thugs and murderers that violent revolution so often breeds. During the French Revolution of the late 1700’s the Reign of Terror in 1793-1794 was so brutal that the revolutionaries had to invent the guillotine to keep up with the mass murders they were committing in the name of the revolution.
During the 1900-1970 era, revolution gave us Lenin and then Hitler and Stalin. It’s hard to say who was worse between those last two. They both rode revolutionary movements to power and then slaughtered their “enemies” by the millions in the name of racial or Marxist ideology. In China there was Mao, perhaps the biggest mass murder of all time; in the name of Marxist revolution, of course. In Cambodia there was the revolutionary mystery man Pol Pot who murdered perhaps one quarter of his own people, mainly the bourgeoisie intelligentsia. Viva communist revolution!
The American Revolution is one of the few exceptions to this rule. We were lucky. The elements, which made the American Revolution work, were the founding father’s devotion to democracy, the separation of powers, capitalism and the rule of righteous laws amongst other ideals. History shows us that without real democracy as the goal, revolution always develops into some form of totalitarian state. Cuba is a good example of this. Democracy is one of the keys to developing a large prosperous middle class. The existence of a large middle class creates political stability. Irrecoverably, democracy and capitalism are the most powerful national and international force this world has ever seen.
Capitalism and democracy have created a large, politically powerful middle class in the “Free World.” It is this middle class that holds out hope for the rest of the world. Can E.D.C. evolve into a system where there are just the upper and middle classes and no poor? Into, dare we say it, Utopia? Well, uh, no. Not only will that not happen, it should not happen. Poverty, like wealth, should be earned by individual effort or lack thereof. In other words, there are lazy, dishonest people in this and every generation worldwide. They should earn by their behavior their position of poverty (I know this idea isn’t PC, but I’m no fan of PC anyway.). The best we will ever do is to eliminate poverty for those who are willing to try improving, not destroying, their life. Utopia, like human perfection, is sadly beyond our grasp at this time in our development as a species.
It is also very important that the ability to legally earn great wealth not be infringed upon. E.D.C. needs to be very friendly to the entrepreneur; they bring the future to the marketplace and deserve to be very well compensated for their efforts. This is why even the best form of socialism is inferior to E.D.C.; the tax rates and bureaucratic structure tend to smother entrepreneurial spirit.
No communist, socialist or theocratic state has ever eliminated crime or poverty, nor have they been able to destroy the wealthy class. They just change who’s a criminal, add to the poor class and take over the wealthy class for themselves. We need to stop trying to do what can’t be done and do what we can to improve the world and thus grow the middle class, and the world’s marketplace will grow. That’s good for everyone. Speaking of the marketplace, I wonder how old it is. My guess is it goes back to the first time two cave men traded for goods, instead of killing each other for the items they needed, and has evolved into what we have today. Man, that’s pretty old, isn’t it?
So should the rich support the idea of a large middle class? Is this in their best interest? Yes'' and yes. If you have the upper class, a large middle class and a very small population of poor, you have a large worldwide marketplace. Let’s face it, the rich and middle class can buy lots of stuff, you know houses, TV’s, computers, food, cars etc. and the poor can’t, that’s reality. That’s also why E.D.C. may be the first evolutionary-revolutionary movement that the wealthy can whole-heartedly support. E.D.C. is in their best interest financially, as well as socially. Neat trick, isn’t it?
If you can stabilize the world’s population, no easy task, and raise the level of education, you can grow the middle class and that will grow the marketplace. This is good business and almost everybody will benefit from this development. Remember, there isn’t one solution that fits all situations. Nations vary in their people, educational levels and natural resources. That is why E.D.C. is designed to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of the people who adopt it for their use. As for the form of democratic government to be used, I like the U.S. model, but in reality any true form of democracy will do. Take your pick, they all work, some better then others. Remember, you need real economic and political power, nothing less.
In the west we are continually improving living standards and the middle class is growing larger. Baring a prolonged economic crises, capitalism is working reasonably well in the developed world. That’s not to say that things can’t be improved upon; things can and should always be improved upon. Also, the market place will be subject to ups and downs, that’s in the nature of the capitalist system. Though marketplace performance in the past has resembled a roller coaster ride, these days it’s more like a ride in the gentle rolling hills of the English countryside. It’s getting better with age. Remember, E.D.C. isn’t so much a destination; it’s an evolutionary journey. Mankind has started to reach the level of education needed to achieve E.D.C. Now all we need to do if focus on the direction. Work together to get what you need. Up next: the basic economic plan.
How do you grow a large middle class in say Russia, Eastern Europe, Cuba, China, Viet Nam, and Korea? An updated version of the old company town only owned by the workers using ESAP (employee stock ownership plans) style stock ownership of the means of production and housing is a feasible step on the road to E.D.C. for them. Once you have paid off the cost of business and housing, the cost of living and doing business will drop. At that point there are many options to stimulate the expansion of employment. One can for example, follow the lead of some European institutions, and cut the workweek to open up more jobs both directly in industry and in the leisure and travel industries. Additionally, one can also form smaller groups into economic cooperatives that pool their resources to buy land or businesses and secure their own economic security. This fosters a strong, healthy marketplace, which helps us all.' Be creative, this isn’t rocket science, its just political and economic theory. Pretty simple stuff really. To be truly successful, remember this is a long-term solution; it will take years to go from communism, socialism and repressive theocratic states to E.D.C. Work together. There will be problems along the way: work through them. The transition to E.D.C. has to be the real thing. If one doesn’t have access to real economic and political power one will always be a “wage slave” to the ruling class, whatever they call themselves. The key is a large, healthy middle class, which requires not only the legal right to own property, but also the financial ability to pay for it. Property ownership, outside of the big house on the estate, is no longer necessary to be wealthy, yet it is necessary for a healthy middle class. To have a healthy middle class necessitates the ability to own your own home, farm, ranch or plot of land. It will take a lot of teamwork to achieve these goals, and it won’t be easy. Great gain is never easy. The economic foundation of E.D.C. is logical, and easy to understand. Stay focused and work together, to achieve your goals.
So how do people trapped in a communist system in China, or Viet Nam overcome that system without resorting to violent revolution? They can use some of the tools that were so successful in the communist revolutions: Three man cells, pamphlets, graffiti on public walls etc. Computers and the Internet are very useful tools. This essay has enumerated some basic intellectual tools and a solid economic foundation; the rest is up to the people. Use your imagination and build on it. Remember, Any change to E.D.C. must come from within, democratic ideals cannot be imposed from the outside. In China, the Maoist power clique is dying off. Let them die. They have nuclear, biological and chemical weapons; don’t provoke them into using them. Don’t expect men who have murdered millions of their own people to admit the error of their ways and embrace a better economic and political system. It is impossible for these men to admit they committed mass murder for nothing. It’s best to let these dinosaurs die off, and set the stage for their replacement. Have patience, they will die off and your time will come, be ready for it.
In Viet Nam, I would recommend the above as well as studying the possibility of perhaps staging a bloodless coup. A bloodless coup will be possible when you have developed enough internal strength to overthrow them from the inside. Who knows, those in power in Viet Nam may see the handwriting on the wall and change to E.D.C. on their own. In any event, don’t use violent revolution, bombs etc.; it isn’t necessary given the age of the leadership of the communist parties in both countries. Instead use logical reasoning and the superiority of E.D.C. to persuade the young esp. the young of those in power, of the logical inevitability of change to a market based system of E.D.C. Adapt E.D.C. to your needs, it’s evolutionary-revolution after all. Wear out the communist cliques intellectually. The logic behind E.D.C. is intellectually relentless, use it’s power.
It’s amusing to look at communism, the “evolutionary” system that really never wants to change how it is structured and operated by its rulers. That’s not evolutionary; in fact it resembles religion again. In this comparison, Marxism is the “bible” of communism, and like all true believers, communists think they have the final word on how things are to be, forever. That’s not very evolutionary is it? Evolution, after all, by definition is always changing.'
Boy, this essay sure has gotten serious hasn’t it? That famous philosopher, my Mom, says that you should never talk about politics or economics in polite company and I always try to do what Mom says. Let’s lighten it up here for a minute, get away from politics and economics and talk about something more…. I don’t know, lighthearted, less controversial, like say, uh, religion.
Now religion is a wonderful storehouse of history, morality and other stuff, but most religions have one major flaw. That flaw is their need for larger and larger numbers of believers. In the religion biz, strength is measured in the number of followers a religion attracts: More people, more power, and more money. Thomas Malthus may have gotten the math wrong as to the timing of the population explosion, but it’s clear he was on the right track as to the problems that overpopulation would cause. By opposing effective forms of birth control for centuries, these Dark Age religions help set the stage for more and more people populating this planet. Most of those people will be (surprise!!) poor people. What a Faustian bargain this is for these religions; they get more potential members and the earth gets more problems with poverty and overpopulation. As man overpopulates the earth, destroying the eco-system and the resources needed for our survival, these religions shamelessly claim the moral high ground. It is dismaying to see some religious leaders point their finger at capitalism as the source of all the poverty, ecological damage to the earth and other problems that man faces, while ignoring their own role in these problems. ' If God exists, then he gave us the ability to develop an awareness of this problem of overpopulation, and the ability to control it. If we are to survive and evolve as a species, we need to get a handle on the overpopulation problem. If we don’t, then mankind will fulfill Malthus’s prediction and go from evolution to extinction.' Mankind needs to move out of the military conflict stage of development and into positive evolutionary economic and social development. This essay is one way to do that.
There is one other small problem that some religions pose for mankind. It is sometimes dangerous to have a belief in an omnipotent being who is not on the planet, and whom no one with credibility has ever seen. It’s easy to get some people of marginal intellect to follow the lead of those who “speak” for God, even if that leader directs them straight to hell. See Jim Jones and the people’s temple, David Koresh at Waco, or any number of violent racist, religious fundamentalist movements who murder in the name of God. Like it or not, God isn’t here to confirm or deny the righteousness of their actions. Religious warfare is as old as the history of mankind. This is also why theocratic states are dangerous, the ultimate authority, God, isn’t there to speak for himself. In His absence, the rulers of these states can say and do the worst things, in the name of “God”. Well by now I’ve pissed off the repressive religious fundamentalists, time to stop wandering around in the Dark Ages and get back to the evolutionary aspect of this essay.'
Speaking of evolution, mankind is the only species that now possesses the ability to change its evolutionary course directly through genetic manipulation. We are also on the doorstep of creating another intelligent race using AI (Artificial Intelligence) and robotics. Things are changing at a faster and faster pace for our species and we need to sweep into the dustbin of history this clash of economic and political system, get our collective shit together, and focus on the technological changes to come. Those changes will keep coming. Technology will make future wars more and more deadly. I can’t remember a weapon used in war and found effective, that wasn’t used in a future war. This is the dark side of technology, and because of it, we must avoid future major wars. If we don’t, we will be the first species to take many other innocent species of life with us into oblivion. We need to work together. Mankind doesn’t have the luxury of the kind of time we had to absorb the last big technological leap we made as a species, the second industrial revolution of the late 1800s early 1900s. Technology is advancing at a faster and faster pace. Man must learn to absorb that change at a faster pace or our own technological advances will blow right by us and destroy us. We have to stop fighting over who has the best economic/political/moral system and learn to get along with each other. Then mankind can focus on the future, instead of fighting about the past. It’s sadly amusing to watch the protesters at the WTO-IMF meetings protesting technology, NAFTA, etc. Those guys are running around in circles, looking like Yahoo-Luddites. Try E.D.C. It will at least give you a coherent direction to head in. Technology isn’t the problem, misuse of it is. Be constructive, not destructive.'
Sometimes the view afforded an average man allows for a different perspective on where we are and where we need to go. In the end the social, political and economic life of mankind is a puzzle composed of people, animals, places, materials and ideas. Someday, someone will put the pieces of this puzzle together in the right order. Life will be good then for most of mankind. In the mean time, there’s E.D.C. It’s not the final answer to our economic/political/moral challenge. It takes us a step or two down the road as a species, and it takes us in the direction we need to go.
Of course there are many other factors to be considered when perusing subjects of this magnitude. For now, I’ll just have to be content with the fact that I’ve destroyed what’s left of the intellectual basis for communism, socialism and those oppressive religious theocratic states in the Middle East, and given you E.D.C. as a replacement. Well, just another day’s work for a member of the petty bourgeoisie intelligentsia. I need to get back to work so I can help pay the mortgage and the other bills. I’m a middle class guy, after all, and college is one of my very expensive little bourgeois luxuries.
But seriously, this essay is dedicated to those who still suffer under communism, repressive fundamentalist theocracies and especially to the Vietnamese; I am only sorry didn’t have a positive impact when I was there. I’ve learned much since then, some of which is seen here. Put it to good use. There’s enough here to start with. When comparing this essay with Karl and Freddie’s manifesto, my meaning is self-evident. E.D.C. is a system that can be used by any group anywhere to bring about positive change in their nation. Of course this will really annoy those in power, but who cares what they think anyway. It’s good to go for Cuba, Iran, Iraq, or where ever a repressive regime is begging to be overthrown. Read the instructions, put in the necessary modifications for each unique situation and start the E.D.C. evolution-revolution in your country.
There is another unique aspect to this essay, it is web interactive by design. There are many other concepts and ideas that must be considered when exploring the evolutionary-revolutionary aspects of this essay. Do you have ideas that would fit in with the goals of this essay? E-mail them to the address below. All ideas that are contributed and used in the further development of this essay will be credited to the person or persons who submit them. This author believes individuality and group effort, are not mutually exclusive to each other. In fact, given the magnitude of the task at hand, both the individualist and the cooperative group are necessary for success in the formative stage of this essay. In the age of the PC, the Internet and E-mail, this is the right method and medium for this message.'
If one is curious about who I am, ignore the curiosity and focus on the message. Who I am, as 7 of 9 would say, is irrelevant. The message, not the person who developed it, is what is relevant in this essay. In the age of the Internet, ideas and essays such as this have an opportunity to reach a much wider audience than in the past. Though freedom of speech and the press are cornerstones of our bill of rights, the reality is that one only has freedom of speech if they own part of the media. Thanks to the Internet, one doesn’t need to be a “celebrity talking head” or “anointed media expert” with access to the mass media to get their message out.' Now, getting it read is still a challenge, but at least you no longer have to fit your ideas into a category that a publisher or editor is comfortable with. This essay is not liberal, not conservative, and not radical, not like any category currently accepted in the media. At the same time it is, in part, all three of the above, and more. It is relentlessly logical in its support of E.D.C.
There will be some who read this essay and grasp the relentless logic, common sense, passion and offbeat sense humor behind what I have said here; this essay is for them. There will be others who can’t grasp the logic, or complain that this essay doesn’t use an MLA format or is written in a humorous style they don’t approve of. Sorry, I can’t help you there. I can recommend looking into what the French philosophers were up to when they went outside of the “intellectual academic establishment” to get their ideas out to the general public. Maybe then you’ll understand the point of this essay
If I’ve intellectually amused, enlightened or, (heaven forbid,) annoyed you, then I've done my job. Now you have a role to play in this essay. Pass it on, or post it on a web site, as is of course. It’s an easy job, the intellectual rewards are very satisfying, and as for the pay, well the pay sucks, believe me, I know. But one doesn’t do this kind of work for the money anyway.
Well there you have it, E.D.C.: the first evolutionary-revolutionary E-mail middle class capitalist manifesto of the new millennium. The manifesto designed to start cleaning up that annoying intellectual residue of communism and socialism as well as the pseudo- moralistic crud from those repressive religious fundamentalist theocracies. THE END. Almost.