Two Manifestos, Two Revolutions Communist (Karl Marx), Capitalist (Ron Paul)

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From
each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.
~ Karl Marx, 1875

Our
basic freedoms are disappearing.
~ Ron Paul, 2008

In 1958, as
a young American associate professor of economics on a grant-supported
research mission on communism (or total state socialism), I flew
into the Soviet Union during the Cold War. At the Moscow airport
I was unceremoniously met and presumably properly brainwashed with
a gratis English-translation copy of “Manifesto of the Communist
Party” by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels (benefactor Engels later
said he was but a figurehead in actual coauthorship), published
in German in 1848.

I have that
very 120-page work (Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow,
1955) as I copy and italicize some telling excerpts. Rereading the
copy, I am struck again by its odd cant and odder rationale — having
had such earlier reactions as: Is This Really a True Pro Forma Manifesto?
Or, Is It But an Illusory Tract of Political Pamphleteering?

My reply: Tract.
Yet the Communist Manifesto made a big splash in socialist
countries like the Soviet Union, Red China, and North Vietnam (against
which we warred and quit after 58,000 casualties) and in socialist
parties and circles across the world. The Manifesto betrays much
political spinning — e.g., a paradigm of a Benign Savior State,
hardly the grotesque dictatorship that I saw firsthand (in the vein
of Nobelist Solzhenitsyn) apart from noting similar communist states
such as East Germany and throughout Eastern Europe.

The daring
Communist Manifesto starts with a bang that never lets up, a bang
which, incidentally, is echoed in much of the heated campaign dialogue
in the Obama-McCain election race. For hear Marx on how the bourgeoisie
in his day dominates and exploits the supposedly downtrodden proletariat,
and presumably still does today, per the Manifesto’s opening lines
and beyond ….

A spectre
is haunting Europe — the spectre of Communism. All the powers
of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this
spectre: Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals
and German police-spies …. It is high time that Communists should
openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their
aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the spectre
of Communism with a Manifesto of the party itself ….

So the Manifesto
rewrites world history, saying it boils down to an endless class
struggle (a central communist idea) ….

The history
of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master
and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant
opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden,
now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary
reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of contending
classes ….

Our epoch,
the epoch of the bourgeoisie, possesses, however, this distinctive
feature: It has simplified the class antagonisms. Society as a
whole is more and more splitting up into two great hostile camps,
into two great classes directly facing each other: Bourgeoisie
and Proletariat ….

The bourgeoisie,
wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal,
patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder
the mostly feudal ties that has bound man to his “natural superiors,”
and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than
naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment.” It has drowned
the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous
enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of
egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange
value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms,
has set up that single, unconscionable freedom — Free Trade. In
one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political
illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal
exploitation.

Brutal exploitation
is bad enough but Marx compounds mistruth in reading history both
correctly and incorrectly. Correctly, by conceding that giant leaps
in productivity and technology were indeed wrought by the bourgeois
system. Incorrectly, by charging the bourgeoisie with theft of the
capitalist order from its true owners, not the saving-investing
risk-taking entrepreneurs and capitalists but — careful, comes a
Marxist whopper — from the proletariat itself, per the underlined
words in the next two excerpts ….

The bourgeoisie,
during the rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more
massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding
generations put together. Subjection of Nature’s forces to man,
machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture,
steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole
continents for cultivation, canalisation of rivers, whole populations
conjured out of the ground — what earlier century had even
a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap
of social labour? ….

But does
wage labour create any property for the labourer? Not a bit. It
creates capital, i.e., that kind of capital which exploits wage
labour, and which cannot increase except upon condition of
begetting a new supply of wage labour for fresh exploitation ….

Exploitation?
Granted, early factories were no picnics and hours were long. But
Marx and the Communists miss the fact that their so-called proletariat
is a prime beneficiary of capital formation which tends to cause
productivity gain and ensuing wage improvement as entrepreneurs
bid up the real wages of available labor — and so cause national
living standards to rise. Marx tagged this vital process “capitalism,”
and the tag caught on. But to the Communists the process was still
too slow and too sinning via bourgeois theft. So the Communists
declare war on the West ….

The Communists
disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that
their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all
existing social conditions. Let the ruling classes tremble at
a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose
but their chains. They have a world to win.

WORKING
MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!

The Communist
Revolution or total socialism did come to pass in the 20th century,
notably in the Soviet Union, Red China, and North Vietnam (a land
we hit and quit in a long devastating war, costing some 58,000 U.S.
casualties). Predictably, all three nations were grotesque dictatorships,
devoid of liberty.

Now in 2008
comes another manifesto, another revolution, but one that is the
very antithesis of communism, a fervent case for a return to peace
and prosperity, per a new book entitled The
Revolution: A Manifesto
(Grand Central Publishing, 184 pages,
$21), an American salvation spellbinder by Ron Paul, a true GOP
originalist, an obstetrician turned political visionary with 4,000
deliveries to his credit, an ex-presidential candidate who raised
some $35 million dollars and sparked a big swing of mostly young
supporters in putting forth his amazing cause of Constitutionalism
and freedom. As he dedicates his book ….

“To my supporters:
I have never been more humbled and honored than by your selfless
devotion to freedom and the Constitution. The American Revolutionaries
did the impossible. So can we.”

So meet Ron
Paul, a ten-term Republican representative from Texas, a solid advocate
of individual liberty, of a live-and-let-live foreign policy, of
the US no longer serving as the “the policeman of the world” with
troops in 130 countries, of returning to sound money via returning
to the gold standard, of returning to our limited-republic roots
by returning to our original Constitution and Bill of Rights. Judge
Andrew Napolitano calls Congressman Paul “the Thomas Jefferson of
our day.” Critics call him “Dr. No.”

Well, why not
say No to a near-Orwellian world in early Century 21, as US government
at all levels loom larger, as inflation and rising taxes serve to
smother production and employment, a phenomenon called “stagflation”
as business stagnation links to rising prices, with the makings
of a perfect storm of far deeper economic disarray as the presidential
campaign with debates casts not light but confusing clouding as
partisan charges and counter-charges befuddle national and individual
thinking. Yet clearer and wider individual thinking is at hand,
as this welcome Ron Paul book points the way to a moral and economic
recrudescence in America and abroad.

Dr. Paul makes
his case for a US peace and prosperity comeback by marshaling facts
and figures. He castigates the growing use and abuse of presidential
executive orders which circumvent Congress and render President
Bush No. 43 a government unto himself.

Too, Ron Paul
vaunts the Austrian School of Economics and Ludwig von Mises who
propounded a theory on communism unworkability for its denial or
nonavailability of “economic calculation,” as spelled out in a Mises
article in a European professional journal in 1920 and expanded
into a book, Socialism
in 1922, with an English translation published by the Yale University
Press in 1951. Mises held that without widespread daily market price
fluctuations relevant supply and demand signals were blurred, that
communist production bureaucrats were flying blind, that mistakes
were inevitable sans sound economic calculation. Indeed, the giant
U.S.S.R. & Co. imploded in 1989—1991. Mises was right again

Dr. Paul sees
our Constitution designed to restrain government, not the people.
But power-corrupting government is ever lured to undermine or overturn
restraints to gain power and influence. Volatile power, pernicious
influence. Hailing George Washington as the Father of our Country,
Ron Paul recalls his pertinent idea: “Government is not reason;
it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous master and a fearful servant.”

Dr. Paul also
purposely pairs himself with the great 19th century legislator and
philosopher, Frederic Bastiat, renowned opponent of “legal plunder.”
Bastiat marked three ways that citizens could deal with plunder:

  1. The few
    plunder the many.
  2. Everybody
    plunders everybody else.
  3. Nobody
    plunders anybody.

Dr. Paul says
we Westerners pretty much follow option No. Two using such devices
as import tariffs and non-flat income taxes so to live at our neighbor’s
expense. Thus Bastiat defined the modern state as “the great fiction
through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody
else.”

Bravo, Congressman
Ron Paul. You are a unique moral leader in stormy times. You point
up the seamy side of the modern welfare state, prod us on the urgency
to stop squandering resources on useless wars, stop rotting the
value of our currency, stop the immorality of resorting to a corrupt
legislator-voter system of interventionism so as to lure us into
stealing from each other via much misunderstood government.

Ron Paul’s
brave and yet, I trust, realistic last line in the book says it
all:

“Let the revolution
begin.”

August
5, 2008

William
Peterson [send him mail],
a longtime contributor to the Wall Street Journal, won the
2005 Schlarbaum Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Study of Liberty
given by the Ludwig von Mises Institute of Auburn, Alabama.

William
H. Peterson Archives

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