by Max Barry

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by The Capitalist Meme of Ladinacem Andia. . 11 reads.

Essay | Marx, Weber, and Modernity

Question: Are Modernity and Progress always good?

To begin, I will address my own opinion on this topic. I would personally disagree with the assertion that modernity and progress are always good. However, I think you could define both of these things as typically good, especially when relating to social relations. To explain a bit more, here’s an example. I believe the progress of the civil rights movement was not just good, but great. I believe we still have a ways to go before we reach equality for everyone in this country, so progress there is undoubtedly good. However, modernity can and will destroy great civilizations and great countries. Take, for example, feudal Japan. A great civilization in its time, it was destroyed by western traders bringing modernity, in both morals and in warfare. This led to the rise of Imperial Japan, which as we know was a brutal fascist state by 1939 and the start of the second world war.

On the topic of Marx, I believe he would disagree with me. Marx was a firm believer in societal progress, and as such I do not think he would find the same issues with the progress that I do. The fall of feudal Japan would be not a tragedy to Marx, but a victory. While yes, Japan was infused with western values and economics, it was now also exposed to the uptick of Marxist and Communist thought. On page 193 of the Communist Manifesto, Marx speaks of the Christian wave that overcame the Pagan religions, and then of the 18th century, when rationalist ideas began to overcome the Abrahamic values that had prevailed for so long. He then speaks of how the social consciousness of “past ages”, despite their variety, still move between the same general ideas, something which cannot be overcome without the disappearance of class struggles (this statement begins on page 193 and continues to 194).

Personally, I am not a supporter of Marx. While I think his highlights of class struggles are in no way incorrect, he puts forward a solution that has proven impossible. While the uprisings in Russia were mostly Leninist, rather than Marxist, the theory remains the same. While I am sure this is not a popular opinion, I believe socialism and communism in their true, Marxist forms are both unsustainable and unachievable. They result only in totalitarianism and death for the men and women under them. Marx’s views of progress and economics are quite radical, and this is why, at least personally, I cannot get behind Marx.

On the ideas of Weber, I think we (Weber and I), agree much more. Weber was a bourgeois liberal, a capitalist. Weber’s views on progress, I believe, align far more to mine, as he recognized the damage to liberalism that the bureaucratization of society was bringing on. Personally, I like Weber far more. As an economic liberal, and a capitalist myself, I find myself looking with some bias at Weber and Marx. Thus I find it necessary to speak to the respect I have for both men. I think of Marx, as shown in this essay, far more critically than I think of Weber. This is due almost entirely to my economic theory, and I think it is important thus that I state that I agree with the assessment of Marx as an outstanding man. His ideas have changed the world, and very much for the better. Though I will continue my disagreement with Marx himself and with many of his ideals, as Communism is certainly not a viable system in any form, I must respect him for daring to stand for an opinion against the powerful majority.

Communism itself would be another good thing to address here. Communism is one of those ideologies that sound great on paper, but the long-term and, with Communism, even the short-term viability can be easily called into question. One of the best known Communist theories is the re-distribution of wealth, or in simpler terms, to take wealth from the "bourgeoisie" (the ruling Capitalist class) and distribute it equally among the "proletariat" in order to achieve economic equality. Ignoring the many glaring holes in this plan, we should simply address one. I believe in the necessity of hierarchy, socially and economically. Take, for example, a flight of stairs with three landings. One may believe that if we have, say, three people on this flight of stairs, they should all reside on the second landing, or in economic terms, the middle class. This would be economic equality. However, this is not true of our society now. We would have one man on the third landing (the "bourgeoisie"), one man on the second, and one on the first (the "proletariat"). This, of course, is not an accurate model in terms of proportion, but for the purposes of the example, there will be only three.

Now, to change these stairs by true Marxist theory, one must move one down to move one up (ie, the man from the second must be moved down to move up the man from the third). This is how economic re-distribution works, and ascends through seizing another's wealth and using it as one's own. Give a Marxist the chance to "fix" these stairs under these rules and his answer would be simple, all three would end up on the second landing. However, there is a fault in this system. With everything state-owned, these men will never make money. They are confined to this landing, this "class", for the rest of their lives. Communism has done the inevitable, and trapped them on these stairs.

However, under a Capitalist system, these rules no longer apply. One may make money without the need to seize the wealth of others. Under a true free-market capitalist system, all of these men have the chance to ascend the stairs and to reach the top, and are not confined to their "class". Herein lies the problem with Marxist theory, the idea that in a laissez-faire system, one is confined to their own class. This is false, and this is why communism cannot be successful, for it contradicts itself, and on many levels beyond the one I have laid out in this essay.

To conclude, I challenge you Marxists who have made it this far to reflect on the viability of your own plans. Think critically of your own idealogy for a change, ask yourself if you can honestly say your plans for "class struggle" and "wealth inequality" are viable in a free society, and, most importantly, ask yourself if you would wish to be confined to the stairs, on the second landing for the rest of your life, or if you would wish to ascend them, and reach the top.