what I mean by Marxoid

George Reisman’s whole article today is excellent, but I especially appreciate what he has to say about Marx’s influence on the popular understanding of … well, everything:

The Laissez-Faire Myth and the Marxism of the Media

The myth that laissez faire exists in the present-day United States and is responsible for our current economic crisis is promulgated by people who know practically nothing whatever of sound, rational economic theory or the actual nature of laissez-faire capitalism. They espouse it despite, or rather because of, their education at the leading colleges and universities of the country. When it comes to matters of economics, their education has steeped them entirely in the thoroughly wrong and pernicious doctrines of Marx and Keynes. In claiming to see the existence of laissez faire in the midst of such massive government interference as to constitute the very opposite of laissez faire, they are attempting to rewrite reality in order to make it conform with their Marxist preconceptions and view of the world.

They absorb the doctrines of Marx more in history, philosophy, sociology, and literature classes than in economics classes. The economics classes, while usually not Marxist themselves, offer only highly insufficient rebuttal of the Marxist doctrines and devote almost all of their time to espousing Keynesianism and other, less-well-known anticapitalistic doctrines, such as the doctrine of pure and perfect competition.

Very few of the professors and their students have read so much as a single page of the writings of Ludwig von Mises, who is the preeminent theorist of capitalism and knowledge of whose writings is essential to its understanding. Almost all of them are thus essentially ignorant of sound economics.

When I refer to the educational system and the media as Marxist, I do not intend to imply that its members favor any kind of forcible overthrow of the United States government or are necessarily even advocates of socialism. What I mean is that they are Marxists insofar as they accept Marx’s views concerning the nature and operation of laissez-faire capitalism.

They accept the Marxian doctrine that in the absence of government intervention, the self-interest, the profit motive — the “unbridled greed” — of businessmen and capitalists would serve to drive wage rates to minimum subsistence while it extended the hours of work to the maximum humanly endurable, imposed horrifying working conditions, and drove small children to work in factories and mines. They point to the miserably low standard of living and terrible conditions of wage earners in the early years of capitalism, especially in Great Britain, and believe that that proves their case. They go on to argue that only government intervention in the form of pro-union and minimum-wage legislation, maximum-hours laws, the legal prohibition of child labor, and government mandates concerning working conditions, served to improve the wage earner’s lot. They believe that repeal of this legislation would bring about a return to the miserable economic conditions of the early 19th century.

They view the profits and interest of businessmen and capitalists as unearned, undeserved gains, wrung from wage earners — the alleged true producers — by the equivalent of physical force, and hence regard the wage earners as being in the position of virtual slaves (“wage slaves”) and the capitalist “exploiters” as being in the position of virtual slave owners. Closely connected with this, they regard taxing the businessmen and capitalists and using the proceeds for the benefit of wage earners, in such forms as social security, socialized medicine, public education, and public housing, as a policy that serves merely to return to the wage earners some portion of the loot allegedly stolen from them in the process of “exploitation.”

In full agreement with Marx and his doctrine that under laissez-faire capitalism the capitalists expropriate all of the wage earner’s production above what is necessary for minimum subsistence, they assume that the government’s intervention harms no one but the immoral businessmen and capitalists, never the wage earners. Thus not only the taxes to pay for social programs but also the higher wages imposed by pro-union and minimum-wage legislation are assumed simply to come out of profits, with no negative effect whatever on wage earners, such as unemployment. Likewise for the effect of government-imposed shorter hours, improved working conditions, and the abolition of child labor, the resulting higher costs are assumed simply to come out of the capitalists’ “surplus value,” never out of the standard of living of wage earners themselves.

This is the mindset of the whole of the Left and in particular of the members of the educational system and media. It is a view of the profit motive and the pursuit of material self-interest as inherently lethal if not forcibly countered and rigidly controlled by government intervention. As stated, it is a view that sees the role of businessmen and capitalists as comparable to that of slave owners, despite the fact that businessmen and capitalists do not and cannot employ guns, whips, or chains to find and keep their workers but only the offer of better wages and conditions than those workers can find elsewhere.

Not surprisingly, the educational system and media share the view of Marx that laissez-faire capitalism is an “anarchy of production,” in which the businessmen and capitalists run about like chickens without heads. In their view, rationality, order, and planning emanate from the government, not from the participants in the market.

Reisman’s entire article is here: “The Myth that Laissez Faire Is Responsible for Our Financial Crisis”


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