Monday, April 13, 2015

Isabel Paterson on Marx and Marxism

Misuse of language is the means by which the Marxist cult of Communism has done the most serious injury to intelligence. There is a natural obstacle to progress in abstract thought which has often delayed rational inquiry; an erroneous concept or theory may be expressed in terms which embody the error, so that thinking is blocked until the misleading words are discarded from the given context. The ancient classification of earth, air, fire, and water as "elements" was such an error, which had to be abandoned before the elements could be distinguished and denominated as such. The theory of elements was a correct and penetrating guess; but the phenomena assigned were wrong. On the other hand, the notion of the four "humors" of the body was an erroneous theory, which seriously hindered the science of medicine. Likewise the Cartesian theory of "vortices," and the assumption of the existence of a kind of essence of fire or heat, called "phlogiston," were verbal obstacles to extension of knowledge of physics. These are unfortunate fixations of language which the keenest intellects may establish on the borders of the unknown. As they cannot be refuted until something further really is known, while they tend to pre- vent the advance, they are a more serious handicap than statements which are simply and demonstrably false; yet they occur in the nature of things, and are not immune to reason in the long run.

But the Marxist terminology reduces verbal expression to literal nonsense on the basis of fact and usage; this is not obvious gibberish, nor the humorous nonsense which will sometimes elucidate an intrinsic difficulty of expression or indicate a gap in knowledge, but arrangements of words according to the rules of grammar, in which each word taken separately has a customary meaning, but which in the given sequence, the sentence, mean nothing at all. For example, let it be said that: "An isosceles triangle is green." The several words are in common use, and as parts of speech they are placed in proper order; but the whole statement is absurd. That is bad enough, but it would be rather worse if one spoke of the "roundness of a triangle." The phrase "dictatorship of the proletariat" is like the "roundness of a triangle," a contradiction in terms. It has no meaning. The theory of "dialectical materialism" is a misuse of terms of the same type as the statement that an isosceles triangle is green. It posits an inevitable succession of a thesis producing its opposite or antithesis and the fissiparous abstraction reuniting into a synthesis. As nothing in nature does go through any such transmogrification, endless and senseless debate may be carried on by which social relations are said to exhibit in various phases a thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, each credited with "producing" its "opposite" and merging again into something else, like the Squidgicum Squee that swallers itself. Fools might argue solemnly that an isosceles triangle is not green but blue, or that a green isosceles triangle will produce a blue circle and the two will then synthesize into a purple cow or rhomboid; still these statements are empty. This is specifically the language of fools; for the deficiency which is indicated by the word fool is the incapacity to under- stand categories and the relation of things and qualities.

Marx was a fool with a large vocabulary of long words. Yet he did have an unacknowledged need to adopt the nonsensical "dialectic" of Hegel. A parasitical pedant, shiftless and dishonest, he wanted to put in a claim on "society" solely as a consumer. He embraced Communism because no other theory can be stretched even on paper into promising "to each according to his needs." Only a presumed "common stock" into which all production is expropriated can be imagined as available for the non-producer to grab what he wants from it, although this is pure imagination, the dream of the incompetent and vicious or of the child mind unschooled in production. On the other hand, Marx was confronted by the historic fact that in Communism as a general order production never rises above a bare subsistence level. How was he then to even imagine abundant production into Communism? He could only assume that the "means of production" brought to a high standard with private property and free individual enterprise, which is capitalism, could be expropriated and kept going by a successor regime of Communism. True, no such thing had ever happened; the nearest approach to Communism as the social norm was always very primitive; but if he first imagined "dialectical materialism," and then arbitrarily called capitalism the thesis; and then designated the unpropertied as the proletarian antithesis, he might further assert that the two would "merge" by conflict and produce a "synthesis" which would have to be Communism if he said so. Since it had never happened, he could say that it was inevitably going to happen. He could also, quite as easily, while he was about it, call the capitalist society of contract the class system although it positively was not.

Marx's theory of class war is utter nonsense by its own definition; it has no reference to either class or war, if it relates to "capital" and "labor." It is physically impossible for "labor" and "capital" to engage in war on each other. Capital is property; labor is men. All that can occur is sporadic rioting and possibly destruction of property, for the very weapons of war in an industrial society can be produced and maintained only by "capital" and "labor" in combination.

~ from Isabel Paterson's book The God of The Machine

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