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Old December 7th, 2009, 10:22 AM   #1

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Why Did Marxism Not Flourish in Industrial Europe?


Marx's writings were supposed to precipitate change in the industrial economies of Europe but Marxism never gained widespread support there as it did in more agrarian economies of Russia and so on.

Why did Marxism not succeed in the industrial economies? Even though countries like Britain had Leftist governments which implemented some Marxist policies (nationalisation of industry etc), the more extreme Marxist policies (i.e. the 'dictatorship of the proletariat') never took off.

What were the reasons for this?
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Old December 7th, 2009, 10:25 AM   #2

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Re: Why Did Marxism Not Flourish in Industrial Europe?


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Originally Posted by Veritas View Post
Marx's writings were supposed to precipitate change in the industrial economies of Europe but Marxism never gained widespread support there as it did in more agrarian economies of Russia and so on.

Why did Marxism not succeed in the industrial economies? Even though countries like Britain had Leftist governments which implemented some Marxist policies (nationalisation of industry etc), the more extreme Marxist policies (i.e. the 'dictatorship of the proletariat') never took off.

What were the reasons for this?
Marxism flourished but the movements were time and time again betrayed by their leadership, same for social-democracy, the most light-ish version of marxism.

Then there are the interesting points brought forward by Gramsci, on the intellectual hegemony of capitalism.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 03:01 PM   #3
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Re: Why Did Marxism Not Flourish in Industrial Europe?


Well, communism in general had to struggle with a lot of opposition in Europe. Considering the fact, that the life situation in Europe has never been as bad as it's been in Russia about 1900, it's not such a big surprise that communism failed at establishing in the highly developed (industrial) economies of central Europe. In the end, it's been starvation that made the people revolting in Russia.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 03:32 PM   #4

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Re: Why Did Marxism Not Flourish in Industrial Europe?


Marx was absolutely correct, both the middle classes and the peasants revolts, but only middle class revolutions succeed because they have a powerbase. So he looked to the middle classes of the day, the industrialised prolitariat of industrialised countries and abandon the lower classes as chattle to be ruled by these people.

The trouble is what Marx failed to realise is the middle classes revolt in their own interest not the peasants and all their revolutions are for is to put them at the top of the status quo, not change it.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 04:23 PM   #5
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Re: Why Did Marxism Not Flourish in Industrial Europe?


IMO marxism was a big thing even in industrial Europe after WW1. Look at short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic (peaceful takeover!), even more short-lived Slovak Soviet Republic got its share of supporters, Czechoslovak intelligentsia was very left-leaning between world wars, Germany had its marxists... This is not really my main topic, but my impression is that marxism was big by the beginning of 20th century, both in worker and liberal intelligentsia circles.

At least all the opposition and attention paid to it by everyone else demonstrates there was something to fear of.
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Old December 7th, 2009, 10:42 PM   #6

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Re: Why Did Marxism Not Flourish in Industrial Europe?


Well, Marx said that capitalism wouldn't fall until it had run its course and delivered all the historical progress it was capable of delivering. So, populations in Commonwealth countries or the US or France - who continued to see incremental progress - were and are unlikely to demand some Marxist successor to capital, until it really has run its course (not in terms of material wealth etc, but in terms of social and political advancement). Why should they?

Even today capitalism still has much left to offer, we have seen that consumer capitalism does not care about the old divisions of race or religion, and is motivated to include formerly repressed elements (women, minorities, homosexuals and so on) as both consumers and workers. Capitalism really has no use for medieval distinctions based on language, skin colours, form of worship etc - it distinguishes between people based on how and what they consume, how productive they are, what potential they have which can be developed and so on. The reactionary forces and old distinctions are still strong undercurrents in our day and age so I think capitalism still has much work to do, before it transforms social relations into purely market-based factors.

A better question would be, why was Marx adopted as a sort of mascot for reactionary forces seeking a command economy? Because there isn't anything but contempt for a state-organized economy or a revolutionary vanguard in Marx. Bakunin would have been more suited to the task - he at least believed in a "secret brotherhood" to guide the revolution (this was actually one of the key issues which split the radical socialists into communist and anarchist factions).

Leninism, Maoism etc appear to actually be forerunners to industrial capitalism, not the other way around - in that sense they are a transitional phenomena, fulfilling the same functions as protectionist mercantalism with its royally-chartered companies (East India Company etc) did in Western Europe. Few of the core elements of Marxism - the abolishment of the wage system, the political supremacy of the soviets (workplaces), etc - have ever even been adopted in Russia or China (and in fact, civil conflicts have been fought to prevent them from being adopted, eg the Kronstadt Rebellion).
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Old December 8th, 2009, 01:47 AM   #7

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Re: Why Did Marxism Not Flourish in Industrial Europe?


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Even today capitalism still has much left to offer, we have seen that consumer capitalism does not care about the old divisions of race or religion, and is motivated to include formerly repressed elements (women, minorities, homosexuals and so on) as both consumers and workers. Capitalism really has no use for medieval distinctions based on language, skin colours, form of worship etc - it distinguishes between people based on how and what they consume, how productive they are, what potential they have which can be developed and so on. The reactionary forces and old distinctions are still strong undercurrents in our day and age so I think capitalism still has much work to do, before it transforms social relations into purely market-based factors.
I disagree there though, you call our current economic condition as something better? The recurrent cycle of growth and crisis is all but a healthy structure imo. Also, capitalism does not promote equality unless it is in the interests of the system itself. The leading elites of the capitalist system eagerly divide and conquer, whether that is based on colour of skin or sexe or political background, the reactionairy force is very much inherent to the capitalist system, if all else fails you'd see just how progressive capitalism can be...
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Old December 8th, 2009, 09:51 AM   #8

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Re: Why Did Marxism Not Flourish in Industrial Europe?


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Originally Posted by Veritas View Post
Marx's writings were supposed to precipitate change in the industrial economies of Europe but Marxism never gained widespread support there as it did in more agrarian economies of Russia and so on.

Why did Marxism not succeed in the industrial economies? Even though countries like Britain had Leftist governments which implemented some Marxist policies (nationalisation of industry etc), the more extreme Marxist policies (i.e. the 'dictatorship of the proletariat') never took off.

What were the reasons for this?
I have read everything Marx has written, and Engles versions also and as I see it Marx offered no solution or any system to replace the status quo of the time. Marx was a critiquer of Classical economic theory and a champion of those who were abused by it.

In Das Kapital Marx engages in about 1,000 pages of critiquing Classical economic theory, the disparities of accumulation of wealth, surplus value (profit generation), and lack of government regualtions leading to monoplies, monopsonies, and oligarchies. He was brilliant and a man who did far more to change Classical theory into neo-classical theory than any man or woman of my experience.

But he did not offer Marx's Republic in platonic style. In his Manifesto he announced that the Proletariat was the force for change and the Bourgoisie the ones to be changed he was a naive young man at the time, even then he was reluctant to write that pamphlet. He was a crtiquer, not a creator. co called marxist forms of government are truly Leninist, Stalinist, Maoist, etc and are unique visions of societal ordering apart from Marx.

I firmly believe that had Marx lived today he would be quite impressed with Capitalism's accomplishments and the evolution of the theory surrounding it. I am quite sure he would have rejected the Soviets and all other forms of government in his name. Unfortunately Marx has been used as a Christ figure for those social innovators (and destructors) and as a result his name itself has become a pejorative to many. He is vastly misunderstood in my view.
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Old December 8th, 2009, 10:14 AM   #9
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Re: Why Did Marxism Not Flourish in Industrial Europe?


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So called marxist forms of government are truly Leninist, Stalinist, Maoist, etc
How's that possible? Marx lived before Lenin, Stalin and Mao ZeDong. So if at all, it should be the other way around. Or did I just misunderstood you?
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I am quite sure he would have rejected the Soviets and all other forms of government in his name.
Indeed, they weren't even very close to the ideals of marxism.
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Old December 8th, 2009, 11:45 AM   #10

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Re: Why Did Marxism Not Flourish in Industrial Europe?


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Originally Posted by Veritas View Post
Why did Marxism not succeed in the industrial economies? Even though countries like Britain had Leftist governments which implemented some Marxist policies (nationalisation of industry etc), the more extreme Marxist policies (i.e. the 'dictatorship of the proletariat') never took off.

What were the reasons for this?
'Marxism' in so far as that term refers to what the man actually wrote was an unstoppable success; he completely upended the accepted hierarchy of the day, laying the seeds for almost all of the advances in working rights, pay and entitlements we take for granted today. I'd say the aristocracy were flabbergasted when they read 'Capital', not merely the ideas, but the tone in which they were presented - it oozed a jaw-dropping self-assurance. All of this 'dictatorship of the proletariat' stuff is seldom found - when it is there it functions more like a bugle call to rally the troops - but what you will find is truckloads of excerpts from established political economists - people who's opinions were only ever assailable by reference to the 'standard works' and who only ever disagreed with one another on the most tangential and irrelevant of points; these learned paragons of erudition are now dragged over Marx's steaming hot coals in the most barbaric orgy of iconoclastic frenzy perhaps ever witnessed in the history of ideas, I can't think of anything even remotely comparable; on the finest points of theory these learned expositors are pulverised by relentlessly logical argumentation backed up by thousands of detailed examples gathered from the four corners of the globe - and all valorising the toiling worker; the man in the mineshaft, the negro in the field, the chimneypot urchin - all at the expense of the 'gentleman' investor; who is now witheringly dismissed as a 'bourgoise capitalist' - absolutely sensational stuff - overnight, the world has been turned upside down. This had to blow the socks off anyone who read it - the purest high voltage; the grey 'dismal science', the exclusive reserve of Oxford dons and the like, men of 'impeccable integrity' and of the 'highest moral calibre' - are here treated like common criminals, their elaborate economic philosophies unvealed as an immense scam to swindle the 'common man' - none of this 'lower orders' stuff for Marx; here is a 'learned gentleman' talking about them - in the language of an aristocratic - and telling them that the game's up, they've been screwed; as though their not aware already, sure - but to see it in print, to be able to thumb through it, commit it to memory - to rehearse it's arguments - this is the beginning of organised labour proper, and the rationalization of the workplace and whoever clocks off at a reasonable hour, has a living wage, proper benefits and entitlements and enough hours left in the week to have a life for themself, well they can first of all drop to their knees and thank the Christ, or whatever God they subscribe to, that the powers that be saw fit to bring Marx into the world.
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