History

Eric Hobsbawm's Faith-Based Marxism

|

Writing at The Wall Street Journal, Reason Contributing Editor (and former staffer) Michael C. Moynihan takes aim at British historian Eric Hobsbawm's new book How to Change the World: Reflections on Marx and Marxism. As Moynihan writes:

For anyone who has visited an American college campus in the past half-century, Mr. Hobsbawm's core argument will be familiar: The Marxism practiced by Lenin, Stalin and Mao was a clumsy misinterpretation of Marx's theories and, as such, doesn't invalidate the communist project. True, the East Bloc societies practicing what was called "actually existing socialism" (which Mr. Hobsbawm determines, ex post facto, didn't actually exist) ended in economic disaster, but experiments in "market fundamentalism also failed," he says. It is unclear to which "fundamentalist" governments he is referring, but it's important for Mr. Hobsbawm to establish a loose moral equivalence between Thatcherism and the ossified economies controlled or guided by Moscow.

One wouldn't know it from "How to Change the World," but Mr. Hobsbawm wasn't always convinced that the Soviet Union, along with its puppets and imitators, was misunderstanding the essence of Marxism. He never relinquished his membership in the Communist Party, even after Moscow's invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Indeed, he began his writing career with a co-authored pamphlet defending the indefensible Soviet invasion of Finland in 1939. "To this day," he writes in his memoirs, "I notice myself treating the memory and tradition of the USSR with an indulgence and tenderness." There was some ugliness in the socialist states occupied by Moscow, he admitted in 2002, but "leaving aside the victims of the Berlin Wall," East Germany was a pleasant place to live. Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

Read the rest here.

Advertisement

NEXT: The Real Hostages

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I notice myself treating the memory and tradition of the USSR with an indulgence and tenderness.

    Eric Hobsbawm: Psychopath, or sociopath?

    1. Re: R C Dean,

      Eric Hobsbawm: Psychopath, or sociopath?

      Maybe he’s the one posting as White Injun – you know, the guy so enthusiastic about the idea that hunters-gatherers work ‘only’ 4 hours a day to obtain their DAILY substinance… whereas I have to work 8 long, long hours a MONTH to obtain mine and my family’s substinance for a whole MONTH.

      The economics-illiterate usually travel in pairs…

      1. whereas I have to work 8 long, long hours a MONTH to obtain mine and my family’s substinance for a whole MONTH.

        Can i come and live with you Old Mex?

        You would only have to work an extra 3 hours a month to feed me, I swear.

        1. Re: Joshua Corning,

          You would only have to work an extra 3 hours a month to feed me, I swear.

          Sorry, buddy – I already have to allocate 65 hours just to feed the government….

          1. Sorry, buddy – I already have to allocate 65 hours just to feed the government….

            Hiyo!

          2. Aye, there’s the rub!

          3. Well, technically, 4 hours a day at Burger King would easily get you 1500 calories a day, a tent, and a sleeping bag, which is about what the hunter gatherer life style would get you. You could spend the 4 hours on the weekend hunting squirrels or something.

            1. In Soviet Russia, squirrels hunt YOU!

              1. Yeah, but they’re badass Siberian Squirrels.

      2. Yeah, I see people around me working 8 hours per month. Just at sharpening pencils for the boss.

    2. If he said that about the Nazis, he’d be in jail.

      1. He certainly wouldn’t be a published author whose books are reviewed by mainstream publications.

        1. or a fashion designer even!

      2. You know who said stuff about the Nazis….

      3. “I notice myself treating the memory and tradition of Nazi Germany with an indulgence and tenderness. leaving aside the victims of the holocaust Germany was a pleasant place to live.”

        Yup.

    3. These are not mutually exclusive options.

      -jcr

    4. HEY!! DEATH CAMPS ARE GROOVY!!!

    5. I’m going with definition 3 of “stupid” on Dictionary.com.

      tediously dull, especially due to lack of meaning or sense; inane; pointless: a stupid party.

    6. Other than the genocide of the First Families, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

  2. There was some ugliness in the socialist states occupied by Moscow, he admitted in 2002, but “leaving aside the victims of the Berlin Wall,” East Germany was a pleasant place to live.

    Leaving aside all those people the regime killed, none of the rest that remained alive had anything bad to say about the living conditions in East Germany!

    It would be interesting to read just what Mr. Hobsbawm thinks of the other great communist experiment called North Korea, where people discovered the nutritional value of grass… and children.

    1. This part about East Germany really pissed me off. I am not old enough nor have I been born in that part of Germany (thank god/chance/Vishnu) to have actively participated in the workers paradise that was the GDR, but still:
      Because I know people that took the streets risking their lives to take down the criminal thugs in charge of the country (and the criminal system itself) stuff like that really makes me angry. “The Lives of the Others” is an understatement of what happened in East Germany (highly recommended movie – I am not sure if there’s a good dubbed version available). Sure, if you were part of the soviet block it was probably the nicest place to live – but that’s a low goal you’re aiming for.
      Recently saw a documentation about how the mentally disabled were treated: the circumstances would have been an outrage in boogeyman imperialistic, capitalist West. If you were not of worth to the state/people you were worth nothing and just packed into warehouses for humans.

      Having said that: Even if I am probably less critical of Marx than your standard-libertarian-leaning guy I am still surprised about the headline. Marxism has always had an eschatological component to it. So no surprise there. Opium of the people indeed.

      1. Maybe we’re lucky the Marxists of the Right* have never gained political power.

        I’d imagine things could get pretty ugly fast.

        “In short; racialist science is properly not an act of aggression or a cover for oppression of one group over another, but, on the contrary, an operation in defense of private property against assaults by aggressors.” ~Murray Rothbard

        “Cops must be unleashed, and allowed to administer instant punishment…” ~Murray Rothbard

        __________
        * Marxism of the Right http://www.amconmag.com/article/2005/mar/14/00017/
        ** Murray Rothbard quotes http://holocaustcontroversies……l-and.html

        1. I am not sure why you are directing this at me. I haven’t read the works of Rothbard so I really don’t have context for those quotes nor do I advocate them – as I noted above I am just “libertarian-leaning”. I sure as hell don’t advocate any racist “scientific” policies. But would be pretty interesting to see what proponents of Rothbard have to say about the quotes. Actually I find the first one way more troublesome than the second one.

          Having said that, it’s pretty much the same as with many thinkers. I don’t think Kant’s intellectual contributions are worthless because of his racist remarks. I also don’t get people who blindly follow certain thinkers. Take the good parts, throw away the bad ones and mix it up.

          1. I don’t see how anyone who understands biology could dismiss the idea that largely separate populations of humans could have distinct traits. You’d have to dismiss it on moral-political grounds, not scientific grounds.

            It’s also a huge leap to accuse anyone who merely observes that two different populations are different of advocating that the two populations have different legal rights.

            1. I mean it’s pretty obvious that the variability of lactose-tolerance between ethnic groups is huge. But it’s also easily quantifiable. There are other examples of course.
              Intelligence is a different beast. I am hugely skeptical of the validity of intelligence tests: problems being the lack of a clear definition of the term intelligence and the question how good intelligence tests are at measuring that. Also there’s a pretty bad record of “scientific” racism that was not scientific at all. That is not an actual argument against the state-of-the-art science but it’s something one should hold in mind.

              But let’s assume that my skepticism is misdirected. I would not rule out that there might be variations in intelligence along the boundaries of ethnic groups. The variability of intelligence is certainly much broader within the groups than between them. IMHO It doesn’t justify treating people differently based on their ethnicity. I believe libertarians should aim for seeing the individual in a person instead of their ethnic property – in plain: not being racist/sexist/whateverist. This is of course my personal moral view. A libertarian is allowed to hold racist/non-racists views as long as he doesn’t want to enforce them on somebody. Still I think on a moral level it is non-racism libertarians should be aiming for.

              On your last point. I agree.

        2. And still. I am certainly more afraid of marxist-leninist rulers having control of a powerful central state than some paleolibs sitting around on their property and complainin’ how oh-so-intelligent they are compared to ’em brown people. That is because the powerful central state committing theft and atrocities is a defining feature of that believe-system not a bug.

          Does not make the racism better, mind you.

      2. My grandfather was born in Germany, and I went to visit the relatives in the “old country” (SE Bavaria) in the summer of 1989. The top story on the news for weeks was the East German tourists camping out on the lawns of the West German embassy in Prague.

        If memory serves, they were no longer able to go to Hungary, because when the Hungary/Austria border was opened a few months earlier, a bunch of East German tourists spoiled the ceremony by taking the opportunity to storm the border and go into Austria.

        1. The announcement that those camping on the lawns were allowed to leave for West Germany by the then foreign minister is pretty much one of the most iconic and well-remembered moments of post-war German history.

  3. Even though the grand dictator got what he deserved, the performance of the actors may have actually stunk.

    1. Hmmm, sic semper tyrannis?

    2. That really would be the part you would focus on, wouldn’t it, Cletus?

  4. “I notice myself treating the memory and tradition of the USSR with an indulgence and tenderness.”

    That is, “???, ???, ???, ???!”

    1. Dyrak!

      1. I think you mean, durak.

        1. Ahamil

        2. and y is u in cerilic

          1. Da zdravstvuyet velikiy sovetskii soyuz!

            Yes, I speak Russian. Tough shit.

            1. I govoreet Nadsat, droog.

              1. When Gregor saw the “Czech Engine” light on the dash of his Trabant, he knew something was amiss.

                1. In Soviet Russia… engine checks YOU!

                  Come see my show in Branson!

  5. Reason should have matched Moynihan’s compensation offers.

    1. Why? He sucks.

      1. What the hell?!?!

        Dude not even Weagel could start a shit storm on Hit and Run like Moynihan could…Ron can but I think it has more to do with the subjects he covers then anything.

        1. What Joshua said

    2. +1

      He was the best writer here, in my opinion.

    3. Maybe he’ll pull a Riggs one day.

      1. What, and do the Morning Links around lunchtime? No thanks.

  6. How much of a fucking fantasy world do you have to live in to believe the things this dipshit says?

    1. Ahem…

      The power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them….To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies ? all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.

    2. I spend as much time living in Middle Earth as I can, and I still can’t buy that bullshit.

      OT: There’s been too damn many “Jim”s posting on here, and I’m sick of the confusion it must be causing my thousands – check that: tens of thousands – of fans, so I’m changing handles.

      If Gojira gets taken by some dumbass, then I’ll switch to Humanoid from the Deep as a Roger Corman shout-out. There’s something appealing about a movie involving highly-evolved salmon who kills the mens and rapes the womyns.

      1. *FLUTTER FLUTTER FLUTTER FLUTTER FLUTTER!!*

    3. No milk for you!

    4. “How much of a fucking fantasy world do you have to live in to believe the things this dipshit says?”

      Tony?
      Hey, Tony! Call for you!

  7. East Germany was a pleasant place to live.

    WTF?

    Was he an Olympic athlete, or some other “more equal” member of the Volk?

    1. He wasn’t an Olympic athlete. They were all forcibly fed massive amounts of steroids and are now freaks, cripples or worse.

    2. East Germany was a pleasant place to live.

      WTF?

      That was Moynihan’s glib comment about Hobsbawm’s (has there every been a name harder to type?) apologist rhetoric.

      1. I think Mikey is playing fast a loose with his quotation marks there.

        1. , but “leaving aside the victims of the Berlin Wall,” East Germany was a pleasant place to live. Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

          Meh. I was just trying to figure out who Mrs. Lincoln was and what play she saw.

          /sarcasm

      2. It’s a well known fact that pleasant places to life have to build fortified walls to keep people from leaving. Cause its so pleasant.

    3. I think that many, perhaps even most people can be happy enough under shitty circumstances. Life can be a lot worse than it was in E. Germany.
      Not that that in any way excuses communism.

      1. A close friend of mine grew up in the DDR. As an English major he got to work for the East German equivalent of the Voice of America. After a while he got so he couldn’t go to work without a bottle of booze in his stomach. It was then that he realized he had to quit. He joined the underground and helped folks escape. To this day he hates that government, and no, it wasn’t a nice place to live.

  8. These people are just nuts. I suppose if you looked hard enough, you couple probably find someone who survived the holocaust who looks back on it fondly. I mean really, all of the hard work and clean living and all.

    Someone like Hobswain just lives in a fantasy world. No matter how many bodies stack up outside his door, he will find a way to excuse it or ignore it. His views have nothing to do with reality and everything to do with his delusions and mental illness.

    That someone like Hobswain exists is neither surprising or particularly disturbing. That we live in a society where someone like him could be taken seriously and given academic appointments is down right terrifying.

    1. Now, take my case. They hung me up here five years ago. Every night, they take me down for twenty minutes, then they hang me up again, which I regard as very fair, in view of what I done, and, if nothing else, it’s taught me to respect the Romans, and it’s taught me that you’ll never get anywhere in this life, unless you’re prepared to do a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay!

    2. Normally one should be appalled at such horrible moral equivalence emanating from an individual who gets paid from an institution for higher learning, but the fact is he is celebrated by a majority of academia as Moynihan points out.

      My question is which one is worse- Hobsbawm’s marxist moral equivalence or Vice President Shit-for-brains condoning China’s One Child Policy recently as a way of dealing with their economic problems? (see here: http://www.weeklystandard.com/…..90513.html )

      1. “My question is which one is worse- Hobsbawm’s marxist moral equivalence or Vice President Shit-for-brains condoning China’s One Child Policy . . .”

        Biden. As VP, he has actual power and influence, versus some little ivory-towered cocksucker.

  9. As one who holds a B.A. in Soviet Studies of all things I can tell you there is very very little about the USSR that one can treat with indulgence or tenderness …

      1. Well, I beg to differ I Khan.

        Maybe you did not have the privilege of meeting a six foot tall blond haired, blue eyed hottie on Nevsky prospect (street named after Alexander nevsky)), in front of Dom Kanigi (House of Books) who, after getting to know me intellectually, insisted upon knowing me horizontally.

        Her name was Natasha and she was a doctor. She spoke very little english. It was great as it forced me to improve my russian.

        GOD SHE WAS GORGEOUS!

        1. I think you mean, Dom knig

          1. It’s called “dom knigi”, house of the book.

            1. You mean “Books House”… Plural and not genitive though one would think so….

        2. Fair enough Libertymike. I too have a tale or two from Soviet era Moskva and Leningrad so your point is well taken. But any place where an official tour guide equips his charges with watches so we can all be synchronized and able to meet up on time (being only a scam to smuggle the watches into the country) is far from pleasant in general.

    1. Not even Natasha?

      1. Only if you make big trouble for moose and squirrel.

        1. What were Rocky and Bullwinkle’s politics, anyway? I was never clear on that.

          1. This will get you started.

            1. Ah, Cold Warriors. I suspected as much. I attribute the fall of communism to their work. Not to discount the important contributions of Dudley Do-Right.

              1. Are you serious? Do-Right was a moral Canadian bulwark against Snidely Whiplash’s heartless capitalism.

          2. Re: Pro Libertate,

            What were Rocky and Bullwinkle’s politics, anyway? I was never clear on that.

            Well, the fact that Rocky looks more like a beaver than a squirrel and Bullwinkle’s nose looks like a giant penis should give anybody a slight hint…

          3. Bullwinkle was totally a monarchist. Loved the queen. Which is strange seeing he’s from Minnesota. It caused a lot of friction between him and Rocky, who was a fascist.

            1. What’s surprising about that? Minnesota is a Canadian province, after all.

              1. Aw, gee whiz, Mr Pro Lib. Now, yer gonna get everyone here all upset.

                1. I lived there–it’s true. They even talk like Canadians.

      2. Does she seem like the type that wants tenderness or the riding crop?

      3. Not even Natasha?

        Molotov Cocktease

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMJ6Q-8jnzk

        1. This site needs more Venture Bros references.

  10. Some extra nuggets that fell from Messr. Hobsbawm’s ass:

    “Fragile as the communist systems turned out to be, only a limited, even nominal, use of armed coercion was necessary to maintain them from 1957 until 1989.”

    5 million armed troops, not including tanks, air force, and local militias is a “nominal force.”

    Michael Ignatieff: What (your view) comes down to is saying that had the radiant tomorrow actually been created, the loss of 15, 20 million people might have been justified?”

    Hobsbawm: “Yes.”

    Messr. Hobsbawm is okay with breaking a few eggs in the name of the Marxist utopia, so long as he isn’t one of the eggs.

    1. Starting with him.

    2. They meant well Coward. It goes to my theory that the first and worst sin of all mankind is the belief that he can supplant God and create paradise on earth. If paradise is the end, what means is not then justified?

      These lunatics actually believed they were creating paradise on earth. And that caused them to be able to kill without any remorse or feeling.

      1. It’s okay to have a utopian vision. What isn’t okay is thinking that it’s okay to slaughter people to achieve it. Rest assured, if you’re thinking compulsion and mass murder are okay, there’s something wrong with you and with your system. It’s a good litmus test.

        1. Putting murderers in jail is compulsion.

          1. Yes, well, moving along to the discussion at hand. . . .

          2. LOOK AT ME I AM A GADFLY!

      2. Many of the utopian atrocities in history have been purportedly based on God’s will, not supplanting him.

        1. In the ‘long telegram’, Kennan made the point that communism was a religion with the state in place of a supernatural god.

        2. People who think that they can build the city of God on earth, be it in the form of socialist utopia or a religious commune are equally in error. Yes, a lot of religious people are very confused and wrong.

          Here is a good rule of thumb; the greater good someone is claiming to want to achieve, the greater evil they are likely to do if they ever put their vision into practice.

    3. Question for utopians of all stripes: Would you want to be one of the most politically unpopular people in your perfect society?

      1. Question for utopians of all stripes: Would you want to be one of the most politically unpopular people in your perfect society?

        My utopia is imperfect by definition.

        1. You mean I still can’t score Lindsay Lohan in Paultopia?

          1. And no free energy? What sort of ‘topia’ is THAT!?
            Obama tells me it’ll be free after we pay for windmills and stuff.

          2. Well, you should still have at least twenty bucks to your name.

    4. You need to break a few eggs to make an omelette…

      Where’s the ‘effin omelette!?!?

      1. So the story goes that Brezhnev is showing his mother around his car collection, his dachas, his limousines, and then his mom says:
        “Leonid, this is all very nice. But what happens if the communists return to power?”

      2. Where’s the ‘effin omelette!?!?

        “Sorry, we only had like 5 omelets when we opened. Turns out it takes a LOT of eggs.”

  11. For anyone who has visited an American college campus in the past half-century, Mr. Hobsbawm’s core argument will be familiar: The Marxism practiced by Lenin, Stalin and Mao was a clumsy misinterpretation of Marx’s theories and, as such, doesn’t invalidate the communist project.

    I’d like to hear Marxist true believers defend their faith from Marxism as actually practiced without resorting to the “no true Scotsman” fallacy.

    1. Re: Doctor Whom,

      I’d like to hear Marxist true believers defend their faith from Marxism as actually practiced without resorting to the “no true Scotsman” fallacy.

      Well, he DID say that East Germany was a pleasant place to live in…

      … despite the fact it is not pleasant even TODAY.

    2. They can’t; that’s why you never hear it.

      How many Marxists are really left anyway? Even the stupider denizens of the left who might be tempted to adhere to it must see how, shall we say, out of fashion it is?

      1. A few years ago, I’d say they were dying off. Now I’m not so sure.

      2. I know a kid from college that’s a socialist. Of course, his argument is that ‘real’ socialism has never been tried, that because all other attempts have failed doesn’t mean that the concept is bad. It’s hard to take him seriously.

        He tried pointing to Europe as ‘socialism’ that works, and even though European social democracies are not really ‘working,’ even if they were, they’re still a far cry from collective ownership of the means of production.

        1. Lawrence O’Donnell… Bernie Sanders…

          Okay, they’re “socialists”, not out-and-out Marxists, but socialists are just the inbred red-headed step-children of Marxists, so…

        2. European countries are basically market economies with a high-ish level of wealth redistribution relative to the US. The states do not own the means of production for the most part. Large public sectors, high state spending and powerful organized labor does not equal socialism. I’m not saying there isn’t a lot of stupid state intervention in European economies, just capitalism is the basic system in place.

      3. How many Marxists are really left anyway?

        “PRESENT!”

    3. This is a great article, in that it also points out an argument that libertarians run into whenever people take us to task for some perceived failing of the US as the global icon of capitalism, and then the libertarian falls back on, “Oh well the US isn’t actually really capitalist, it’s cronyism/corporatism/etc.”.

      Libertarians can be guilty of the failing argument that TRUE pure-market capitalism has always been poorly or incorrectly implemented and therefore does not discredit the theory, which is exactly the same argument the marxist is making. We would do well to remember this and guard against being intellectually lazy enough to use it in debate.

      1. While you make a good point, Jim, the difference here is not that libertarians are making the same argument that the Marxists are (in spirit), it’s that they go on the defensive and feel like they have to defend it, when they don’t. The market isn’t supposed to be a utopia, or perfect. People will get cheated, or lose their shirts, or any of the other myriad criticisms that get leveled at it. The point is that it’s the freest, and most efficiently self-organizing, of systems for the exchange of goods.

        Something that I see all the time with people criticizing the concept of anarchy–as I’m sure you do as well–is this retarded expectation that anarchy be perfect and have no problems, whereas their preferred system can be riddled with severe problems but that’s just dandy.

        They do the same thing with market criticisms.

        1. Bleh, it’s going to take awhile to get used to using a new handle.

          Anyway, lots of good points made below. Some I think merely indicate the bias in perspective free-market people bring to the table (of course I think we’re right, but that doesn’t make biased thinking without solid facts acceptable), but some of the comments are legitmately items I had not thought of before.

          I think you hit the nail on the head, though Epi, with the, “there is no such thing as perfection”. People are going to get fucked, sometimes unfairly. But that’s always going to be the case; we’re the only ones not claiming otherwise, then blaming everyone else when things go wrong.

          It’s something I fear, to be honest. People want to believe that some pattern or plan can be imposed. We may be biologically disposed towards some moderate level of statism (less than absolute fascism/communism, but more than minarchy), which is a depressing thought.

          1. The fundamental difference would be that the fucking would not be formalized within the political system and people would not have the tool of government and political to facilitate fucking other citizens.

      2. Except in the case of “why the US isn’t Libertopia”, it is usually a case of “libertarianism doesn’t mean/endorse/condone what ABC/CBS/NBC told you.” Contrast that with the would-be Communist apologist’s attempt to slap a fig leaf over some atrocity that was heartily endorsed by Communists until it failed spectacularly:

        “No true Communist would kill their political opponents; Unless absolutely necessary.”

        “No true Communist would imprison their political opponents; Unless absolutely necessary.”

        “No true Communist would force people into the mines/factories/fields/prisons; unless absolutely necessary.”

      3. Re: Jim,

        Libertarians can be guilty of the failing argument that TRUE pure-market capitalism has always been poorly or incorrectly implemented and therefore does not discredit the theory[…]

        But the reason why some libertarians make this argument is because it is the Marxians who claim the false equivalency between Marxism and Capitalism, despite the fact that Capitalism is an economic phenomenon and not a political theory. Free markets, we have to stretch, exist in many forms DESPITE the best efforts from government, not because of it.

        The one argument that should be used to defend free markets is that WE humans make the market through our actions. The market is a HUMAN PHENOMENON. Manifestations of this phenomenon can be seen almost everywhere, be it the network of transactions derived from Craiglist ads or eBay sales, farmer’s markets and flea markets, to international trade between producers and buyers.

        1. OM

          I wouldn’t get too excited about the fact that people make voluntary exchanges all the time all over the place. The same can be said of involuntary exchanges and coercions in general. I could even try to make it seem like this is somehow profound by using all caps: WE humans make coercions through our actions. Coercion is a HUMAN PHENOMENON. Manifestations of this phenomenon can be seen almost everywhere!

          1. The Lion does not coerce the Gazelle to become a meal

          2. “I wouldn’t get too excited about the fact that people make voluntary exchanges all the time all over the place. The same can be said of involuntary exchanges and coercions in general.”

            Two parties voluntarily engage in trade. Only one of any two voluntarily engages in coercion.
            So at best, coercion can’t encompass more than half the population, and in most societies it’s far less.
            Fail.

          3. Re: MNG,

            I wouldn’t get too excited about the fact that people make voluntary exchanges all the time all over the place.

            I am sure you get very excited by bondage…

            The same can be said of involuntary exchanges and coercions in general.

            See what I said about making false equivalencies?

            WE humans make coercions through our actions. Coercion is a HUMAN PHENOMENON.

            Sure, but Marxians make the point that the free market is a political/economic system imposed from above. You totally missed the point all because of your effort to get a leg up in the discussion.

        2. Capitalism is an economic phenomenon and not a political theory

          This is essential and something I try to point out to as many people as I can. Capitalism just happens. It is not an ideology. Perhaps the best argument for markets is all of the good they do in spite of the attempts to stifle and control them. Even in North Korea, some people manage to make their lives marginally better by engaging in voluntary exchange below the government’s radar.

        3. …the fact that Capitalism is an economic phenomenon and not a political theory.

          You don’t think the concepts of private property and ownership of oneself are “political” at all?

          1. Re: sasob,

            You don’t think the concepts of private property and ownership of oneself are “political” at all?

            No, they’re universal ethical principles. You still own your body whether you live alone on the top of a mountain or in the very fucking moon.

            1. If “you live alone on the top of a mountain or in the very fucking moon,” rights – including property rights – are meaningless concepts, as is capitalism. One has rights only in the context of one’s dealings with others. Yes, they are “ethical principles,” but all political systems have as their basis, either implicitly or explicitly, some sort of ethics for dealing with others codified into law. After all – isn’t that what political systems amount to? Capitalism denotes a system of principles for economic dealings with others. And you should need no reminding that those “universal ethical principles” of which we speak haven’t always been so universal – still aren’t in many places.

              1. Re: sasob,

                If “you live alone on the top of a mountain or in the very fucking moon,” rights – including property rights – are meaningless concepts, as is capitalism.

                You STILL OWN YOUR OWN BODY, sasob! Especially if you live alone in the fucking moon, you are still owner of your own body as there’s no one else. And if you add moon Friday, he owns HIS body and you still own YOURS, as his mind controls his body and your mind controls yours.

                From that axiom you can derive as collorary that you own those things you have gathered through homesteading or trade, be it the dirt under your fingernails, your hair, your snot, all through the land you work, the house you purchased or built, the tools you obtained. You OWN them whether there are people around or not. This is the reason these are universal principles and not mere conditions.

      4. Libertarians can point to sectors of the economy where the govt is minimally involved (eg food production) and compare it to sectors where the govt is heavily involved (eg banking). Just because the economy is of a mixed nature doesn’t mean you can’t make any argument from it.

        And whatever the US economy’s failings, it’s absolutely positively nothing whatsoever like the Communist bloc’s economic failings. I don’t see anyone rioting in the streets over toilet paper.

        1. I don’t see anyone rioting in the streets over toilet paper.

          Come to my house near the end of the month some time…

          1. (Psst. Hey, Paul. Free telephone books, dude, free telephone books.)

      5. Except that often, when critics of capitalism point to specific “crimes” of laissez-faire systems, we can often point out specifically how that particular incident was the result of government regulation, crony capitalism, or market distortions from a mixed economy. Defenders of capitalism shouldn’t have to take the blame for Enron, the housing bubble, or politically-expedient manipulations of the money supply. A lot of the critiques of capitalism are “blaming the victim for the crime” scenarios.

        Whereas I don’t think there’s a credible case to made that, say, the famines caused by soviet 5-year plans was somehow caused by people who were really implementing policies inspired by the opposite of communism…

        1. But there is, and has been, no Libertopia. So yes, libertarians are often guilty of doing exactly what the Marxists do, they can try to deflect any criticism of what seemed to everyone else like a pro-market reform by saying “that wasn’t REALLY” libertarianism/free markets, etc. I’ve made this criticism round these parts for years now. It also leads to this fantastically popular tactic among libertarians and marxists where if anything goes wrong they just look for a non-market/market (depending on which is looking) factor and say “a-ha! that was what done it!” Since there will always be some such factor it becomes a non-falsifiable worldview.

          I think a much more useful kind of discussion centers on the idea of a continuum of government interference. If libertarianism is right there should be a correlation between less government and good outcomes. This is much more useful than the idea that anything less than minarchism or anarchism is hopelessly spoiled.

          1. for what its worth I think the relationship between government and good outcomes is likely curvilinear, N. Korea on one end, Somalia on another.

            1. Shorter mingey:

              MY STRAWMAN ISN’T REALLY A STRAW MAN AND IF IT IS THAN YOU GUYS ARE DOING IT TOO EVEN THOUGH YOU’LL SHOW ME IN DETAIL WHY I’M WRONG!

              Go away pissant.

            2. Um… no. Try Hong Kong 1946-1999 on one end, with North Korea on the other.

          2. MNG|8.22.11 @ 7:39PM|#
            “But there is, and has been, no Libertopia. So yes, libertarians are often guilty of doing exactly what the Marxists do,…”

            Nice.
            I presume you’ll define Libertopia? And I’ll bet you’ll define it like any lefty does.
            Let’s hear it.

          3. Re:MNG,

            But there is, and has been, no Libertopia.

            Many gullible libertarians fall for that very clumsy trap from Marxians: “But there has been no Libertopia! Why do you put us to task when showing there has been no Marxtopia?”

            This despite the fact that there is NO equivalency between Marxism and Libertarianism. There will possibly never be true freedom from disease, but there’s NO reason to believe that HEALTH is “flawed” because there’s still disease! And there’s certainly NO equivalency between total sickness and total health.

            [T]hey [libertarians] can try to deflect any criticism of what seemed to everyone else like a pro-market reform by saying “that wasn’t REALLY” libertarianism/free markets, etc.

            That’s only because Marxians point out to so-called “deregulation” that deregulated nothing or “privatization” that privatized nothing. When one points out to the real fact that a quarter of all crops in the USSR were coming from a few privately-owned farms, Marxoids are quick to point out to flawed “pro-market” policies imposed by (who else????) government.

            Pointing out the flawed government policies to impose a market where there was none is clearly an exercise in obfuscation, for markets are formed from exchange and entrepreneurship and not from above.

      6. Libertarians can be guilty of the failing argument that TRUE pure-market capitalism has always been poorly or incorrectly implemented and therefore does not discredit the theory, which is exactly the same argument the marxist is making.

        Some do that, and I think they’re both right, but really, it’s neither here nor there.

        Every time this comes up, it’s helpful to point out “why is it that when you fuck up communism a little, you get Cuba, North Korea and the USSR, but when you fuck up capitalism a little, you get the US, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, etc.?”

        1. “when you fuck up capitalism a little, you get the US, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, etc.?”

          And not so many dead people.

          1. How about the near genocide of whole races of First Families? Trail of Tears anybody? Maoris? Aborigines?

            Or do they even count as people to you invasive and occupational libertarians propertarians?

            1. Not sure what any of those things have to do with capitalism or libertarianism. In fact, libertarians principles argue against taking what others have and harming others. You are not thinking the European destruction of native societies is based on libertarian principles are you?

            2. Demographic holocausts among native peoples could have been avoided only if smallpox vaccine (or, in the case of New Zealand, a cure for tuberculosis) had been invented earlier. In New Zealand, which was settled at the height of classical liberalism but after smallpox vaccine, there are now more natives than before the Europeans arrived simply because of timing.

      7. The fact is that Marxism insists that a class war is inevitable, and this will necessarily involve the destruction of the bourgeoisie and coercion. If one accepts Trotsky as an authority on topic, the morality of Marxism necessarily involves deceit (fraud) as well.

        Contrast that with libertarianism which as a fundamental principle condemns any and all coercion and fraud.

        Libertarians correctly argue that coercion and fraud are anathema to true capitalism. Honest Marxists (like Trotsky when the occasion suited him) acknowledge that coercion and fraud are inherently necessary for true Marxism.

        1. Libertarians claim to be against coercion.

          But First Families are disestablished from land by coercion. And that land is occupied by continued coercion.

          Abstract ownership of the earth’s surface requires aggression and violence, thus it is contradictory to the Non-Aggression Principle.

          1. It sounds like you think Europeans moved into the “wrong neighborhood.”

            In any case, I thought land ownership just required fences.

          2. “Abstract ownership of the earth’s surface requires aggression and violence”

            Then why are you claiming it belongs to the so called “first families” then?

      8. Libertarians can be guilty of the failing argument that TRUE pure-market capitalism has always been poorly or incorrectly implemented and therefore does not discredit the theory, which is exactly the same argument the marxist is making.

        Libertarians can credibly make the argument because they’ve never had enough political power to establish “pure-market capitalism.”

        There have been numerous situations where Marxists held all the political power available, controlled it for decades, and ruthlessly used it to implement Marxist policies. The invariable result is that they’ve totally screwed up the economy.

    4. Actually I’d like to hear Marxists defend “pure” Marxism. One reason it’s never been practiced is that when the true believers (Lenin, Mao, Stalin) tried to implement it, people starved so fast and so acutely, and everything began to break down so dramatically, that they had to make some changes to the system, reinstituting the division of labor being one of the first changes.

      Most people think “Marxism” just means “everyone gets equal wealth.” It’s actually far stupider than that. It also means “no one has any defined job” and “each person just works at whatever he wants for as long as he wants and is equally good at everything.”

  12. Didn’t we already discuss this scummy Commie apologist within the last year or so? He makes me absolutely sick.

  13. Jesus where the hell has Moynihan been?

    I miss him.

    I don’t think Reason has posted any of his stuff from his new job.

    I hope where he works goes out of business so he will come back.

    I also hope HuffPo goes down in flames and Balko comes back.

    1. I hope Moynihan and Balko die.

      1. Evil Joshua Corning

        your name is redundant.

    2. http://www.viceland.com/

      Is it just me or does this site look like a hipster frat boy just vomited on the screen?

      Even if Moynihan would not come back Vice needs to die….although i did like those videos they did of that fat guy who went to North Korea.

      1. There’s some video that looks like violence and unrest in the middle east, and another that looks like men killing eachother with swords. Which one is the movie advertisement?

          1. The hotel hostess he plays ping pong with is totally hot.

          2. I remember that video series. It was really good.

      2. Seems to me that being fat in north korea is one of the best silent rebukes you can give to all their tourist propaganda. “Oh really? Americans are all imperialist dogs? Well, at least we’re not HUNGRY.”

        -jcr

      3. Vice needs to die

        Huh? Their NK series was great. Their Liberia videos were very good, too. What have they done to piss you off?

        1. What have they done to piss you off?

          it is pretty simple and i will admit shallow.

          I don’t like the look of their web site as i explained earlier:

          Is it just me or does this site look like a hipster frat boy just vomited on the screen?

          I would not describe my feelings as pissed off though. Can’t someone wish the death of a website without being pissed off?

  14. I’m sure he got paid well as a state apologist.

  15. Off-Topic: Now, let’s be clear; there is a reason for why the rebels have taken the Gadhafi sons into custody, right?

    1. Drink?

      1. Oh nothing, it’s just that one just got away.

        1. You couldn’t have sent these clowns after us?!

    2. To save or create prevent a massacre, no doubt.

  16. Can someone get us the Commies’ PR firm’s number?

    1. Same here.

  17. I had a Professor of Religion who liked to point out that the utopian, secular ideologies of the 20th century killed more people than all the religious wars combined.

    1. That’s because they had better technology.

      The saving grace of the religious societies is they tend to hold themselves back, thus minimizing the damage they do to themselves.

      1. Yeah, I’ve got a hard time believing that nukes wouldn’t have been used during the Thirty Years War if they’d had them.

        1. Something about retribution and the cleansing fire of God…

          1. Hey, nothing says “no, YOU are wrong!” quite like a small sun turning your city-state into a bowl of glass.

            1. hey, why can’t we just all be friends?

        2. Charles V wanted to rule, not to exterminate everyone who wasn’t going to fit into his utopia–he would have no more killed everyone in Saxony than the Spanish would have killed everyone in Peru. It’s not until the French Revolution that this idea that wholesale extermination of populations is a valid tool for creating utopia.

    2. The 20th century had greater poulation numbers than all the previous ones.

        1. I bet it’s both proportionally as well as absolutely true. As alluded to above, wars of religion tend to be about conversion and it’s rather difficult to force the heathens to worship your God if they’re all dead.

  18. Today The world lost a leading socialist
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politic…..egacy.html

    His farewell letter
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politic…..etter.html

    1. At least he had healthcare.

      … too soon?

      1. Yeah he was a Member of Parliament with health care. Like Congress critters have health care.

        1. So do southern Canadians.
          It’s in Detroit.

          1. Oh, snap!

            It’s true because it’s funny!

  19. I’m a Soviet-born Jeffersonian republican, and I fly the thirteen-star Betsy Ross. I bet Eric “Shithead” Hellspawn, or whatever the fuck his name is, thinks of people like me as ideological traitors that stray from the truth, or some such shit.

    1. God bless ya, brother!

    2. I’m a Soviet-born Jeffersonian republican,

      Ahem. The usual term is Jeffersonian democrat. The full name of Jefferson’s organization was the Democratic-Republican Party, if I’m not mistaken. But I get where you’re coming from.

      1. Anybody that isn’t a progressive knows that, but there’s a reason it’s “republican”, not “democrat”, at least for people like me.

  20. The real life examples of the atrociousness of socialism aren’t even necessary to show that Hobsbawm is wrong. Theft is theft, coercion is coercion, whether theoretical or practiced.

    1. Bingo. Yahtzee.

    2. The real life examples of the atrociousness of capitalism aren’t even necessary to show that libertarianism is wrong. Property is theft, civilization is coercion, whether theoretical or practiced.

      1. Lookee… White Indian learned to change his handle to get around being blocked. His broken through the fragile shell of his egg in order to spread his wings as a full-fledged troll.

      2. Re: White Imbecile,

        Property is theft, civilization is coercion, whether theoretical or practiced.

        You look pretty comfortable with your situation. Why not act upon your guilt and off yourself? As penance for your sins, of course.

  21. Has anyone else visited the Museum of Communism in Prague? I found it an amazing display of how shitty the system was.

    My left-leaning travel companion on the other hand felt the system just needed some tweaking.

  22. http://www.newleftreview.org/?view=682

    Behold, the stupid, a slice thereof.

  23. If only I were the Soviet Premier….

  24. If only I were the Soviet Premier….

  25. What’s the best feature of a Trabant?

    There’s a heater at the back to keep your hands warm when you’re pushing it.

  26. “leaving aside the victims ……”

    No kidding. Leaving aside the victims, death camps are not too bad. Europe during the plagues werent too bad either.

    Paul Krugman was wrong by asserting that Obama should manufacture an alien invasion to boost the economy. There is an actual space-alien invasion in progress as I write this. Their insidious plan, which they have been implementing for some time, is to fly their stealth saucers down from orbit on the dark side of the earth and steal our brains. Thats right, they have a long straw-like apparatus that extends down from their ships into our bedrooms at night and sucks out living human brains. In order to evade detection of this dastardly deed, they replace the stolen brain with whatever might be handy; rocks, cabbages, dog shit, paper weights, etc.
    Evidence of how far along they are in this strategy are the large numbers of liberals and socialists and multiculturists; the victims of these evil aliens. I fear we are doomed.

    1. Are they the feared lizard people? 🙂

      1. It’s amazing the people who come out of the woodwork here sometimes. Yeah, us libertarians are really afraid of those dreaded “multiculturalists” and their different languages and clothing and stuff.

        1. Well those are definitely things to fear, never mind female circumcision, fear of witches, religious intolerance, brutality to children etc….its their weird shoes you have to look out for, and those funky hats…..

          derp derper – another victim of the lizard people.

          1. What’s “multicultural” about pining for the days when East Germans could be shot for trying to get out of East Germany?

      2. So you know about it too!

  27. Eric Hobsbawm could admire soviet socialism because he wasn’t obliged to live in a soviet state. He spun his half-truths, evasions and lies in the freedom and comfort of a liberal, democratic and capitalist society. He took no personal risks and paid no price. He is the worst kind of ideologue and an unrepentant apologist for tyranny. He is, in short, despicable.

    1. A Hobsbawm….isnt that some sort of weight thingy used for stretching ropes?

      1. Probably a rope thingy used for stretching necks.

  28. “‘leaving aside the victims of the Berlin Wall,’ East Germany was a pleasant place to live..”

    Yes, unless you were a woman. Then you could enjoy mass rape by the Red Army.

  29. OT: The price of gold is sitting at $1903 per ounce. Where’s that goddamn Shrike at? C’mon, Shrike – come tell us about gold, dude!

    1. I am looking in my crystal ball….granted, I am a little drunk, but……
      It says Obama will not be re-elected, the economy will take off like a rocket and gold will plummet. There are going to be alot of very unhappy gold buyers when the gold bubble pops……

      Maybe I should mix another vodka/grapefruit juice and have a look at that again.

      1. It may indeed be something of a bubble, but I don’t think we’ll ever again see gold below $1000 per ounce. As for gold buyers – it all depends at what price they bought into the market.

    2. The gold price is way over the 180 day moving average. Silver did this about 6 month ago and dropped 33% in a few days. Gold speculators will see a sell point sometime soon. The price will drop like a rock.

      Don’t worry, my stainless steel boomerangs will still be available at one gold coin each or a shoe-box of $100 bills.

  30. I think it needs to be underscored or repeated: Hobsbawm isn’t considered a second-rate or little known historian. He’s considered the most prominent historian living today in Britain and probably Europe.

    He’s won a long list of awards and degrees for his work.

    Disgusting, really.

    1. Another useful tool for the far-left.

  31. Speaking of Lincoln, one of his famous quips works well here (suitably modified): Whenever I hear someone extolling the virtues of Communism, I feel a strong desire to see it applied to him personally.

  32. — The Marxism practiced by Lenin, Stalin and Mao was a clumsy misinterpretation of Marx’s theories and, as such, doesn’t invalidate the communist project. —

    Ah, the old “vulgar Marxism” defense. It’s a bit like bell-bottom jeans: it never goes definitively and permanently away. But ask for a comprehensible definition of true Marxism and you’ll be reviled until your eardrums burst. (“Running-dog lackey of the international banking conspiracy” never goes definitively and permanently away, either.)

    1. international banking conspiracy

      Postrel wrote that was “Code” for Jew.

  33. I’m not sure Marx would claim any of the manifestations of his theories that have been put into practice. Most of his contemporaries’ ideas weren’t good enough for him and they were close to him and unable to please. He’s sort of like a radical’s Jewish mother-in-law. Nothing would be good enough (he would even argue about the definition of “good”). He was, however like the modern progressives in how his movement was seen by Bukharin, who quit abandoned communism because they had one foot in the banks and one in the socialist movement.

    1. Were Marx alive today, he would be highly disappointed in Obama…

      “What takes you so long, comrade chocolate-covered fellow? Time is the wasting!”

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.