In the Marxist world this makes no sense. First, his predictions for the future never took into account the possibility of technological innovation beyond his own era. Manufacturing would always be massive and labor-intensive, and the only way to make life more equitable was for the workers to own the means of production. Second, it never occurred to him that something valueless can be made valuable through innovation and invention.
This is why societies driven by Marxist principles only produce an abundance of turnips and, perhaps, size 52 shoes for the left foot — because value is value and what people want doesn’t matter.
But famines and the abject poverty of Marxian paradises notwithstanding, the damage is yet deeper.
His world was a closed economy of limited value. If raw materials + labor = value, then there is a finite amount of both and therefore a finite amount of value in the world and all we can do is slice it into ever thinner slices.
This led Marx and his followers to believe that old prophet of doom, Malthus, and therefore view humans as a net drain on society. No matter how much they labored, after all, there was an upper limit to how productive they could be and besides they’d all have to use the same, dwindling, raw materials. It also led them to believe anyone who had more than the bare necessities had “stolen” the wealth from others. Also, since value was viewed as raw materials + labor, his theory now leaves all those who work in non-material products, like software, or books, or music, or movies (now that they’re divorced of the physical object) feeling like thieves who don’t do anything and yet get compensation.
Of course this is nonsense, but Marxist precepts are so imbued in society they’ve become the unexamined basis of many people’s thought. So, this explains the left’s twin obsessions with ridding the Earth of surplus humans (and in its ultimate iteration of all humans save for a chosen few living in harmony or something, aka Homus Avataricus) and the guilt of intellectuals over getting goods they didn’t “produce.”
But no one can live with guilt forever. Or at least no one – except for a few monks — can live in guilt and holy poverty for very long. So our university indoctrinated/educated intellectuals eventually turn it around.
It goes like this — if all excess wealth is theft, then of course we should all have only the bare minimum. But in this corrupt modern society, with so many people, there’s always going to be theft. So, if someone is going to steal, why shouldn’t I? At least I feel guilty about it. And I’m a good person and — insert proof of “goodness” here — donate to progressive causes or eat organic food or volunteer at the homeless shelter or drive a Prius or…
People who perform acts of Marxian “atonement” feel like they have a license to steal. Everyone is doing it. And besides, they deserve it. And furthermore, ALL wealth is theft.
This attitude has corrupted both our government and our business to the point where capitalism works only by fits and starts and in the spaces between. People who believe they are in a world of thieves try to steal before they’re stolen from, to backstab before they’re stabbed in the back. And the government tries to oversee the theft in the serene belief its job is to distribute to those who have less and, of course, favor themselves and their friends, who look out for the “little people.”
Respect for private property erodes. Wealth is seen as evil and humans as drains on the system. Our finances lurch from crisis to bubble to crisis under the aegis of crony capitalism. Movies and books demonize business people and extol “selfless” bureaucrats.
Forget Ragnarok and the great battle between good and evil after the fall of the world tree. The battle is now and we’re in it.
I believe wealth can be created. I believe this is best facilitated by removing the Marxians from any power over the economy. I believe each human brings within himself the possibility of making an invention which can give us infinite wealth.
Who is with me?