Why being a Marxist and becoming wealthy are complementary

Right; today we travelled to London, settled in our friend’s apartment and went to Selfridge’s. We, as a family, love watching the TV programme and decided to go and see the original shop on Oxford Street. We were not disappointed – the doors were the ones we saw on TV, the shop is great (would you believe I’ve never been to it before) and there were nice clothes we got for rapidly growing up boy. Bottom line is, though, that I am shattered – I really don’t like shopping and crowds and today my quotas of both were exceeded by far.

This is why, tonight I’ll tell you about a conversation I had with a colleague and a friend in Sweden. Most of you already know this about me:

  • I work and write with different people; most of them are critical, leftist intellectuals (most intellectuals are critical and leftist);
  • I am a self-proclaimed Marxist although in one of my recent articles had to tune down the ‘proclamation’ and stick with building on the theory.

I will in fact go even further and say that I have clear socialist leanings – after all, my father was an old style, idealistic communist and I was raised to believe in opportunities for all. When John and I were working out how much money we need to have in five years’ time so that I wouldn’t need to be employed if I don’t want to someone asked whether we want £120K per year so that we could bathe in milk and eat caviar. It is not about that at all! But three years ago I learned (existentially) that I can’t do much for anybody else if I can’t pay my own mortgage. Wealth and responsibility afford so many opportunities for doing good. Look at the Giving Pledge!

But I am digressing again J. When I was in Sweden three weeks ago, my colleague and I were discussing possibilities for raising some research money and starting a research programme. Naturally, I am very much interested in outlining an exciting research agenda but I also started setting out the resource issues some of which were about recruiting, retaining and incentivising researchers and academics. At one point, my colleague looked at me and said:

‘For a Marxist, you are very versed with and interested in money.’

This made me think. Now, in a nutshell, Marx argued that capitalism is ‘wrong’ because labour and capital are separated. Workers have labour and they have to sell it continuously thus selling parts of themselves; capitalists have capital or the means of production. They buy labour at a price that will allow it to reproduce (eat, rest and physically reproduce) but not much more. However, labour is the part in the equation that generates value, not the capital; this value is expropriated by the capitalists – a process known as ‘exploitation’. How can one remedy this?

By bringing together labour and capital, of course!

And I had it; this is my response to my colleague’s passing comment:

‘Yes, but being Marxist and being interested in becoming wealthy are not contradictory. As a Marxist, I know that the problem is in the separation of labour and capital. Since I have labour I am doing all possible to accumulate some capital, bring them together and avoid any further exploitation.’

So you see, being a Marxist and becoming wealthy are rather complementary. This only works for individuals though; Europe got in a mess lasting most of the twentieth century because totalitarian regimes committed variety of offenses hiding under the mantle of Marx’s theory.

5 thoughts on “Why being a Marxist and becoming wealthy are complementary”

    • @101 Centavos: Yep, a Marxist and a know one. However, the issue of private property is thorny. Were I to play Marx, I would say that private property should be eliminated but not as Lenin did through ‘expropriating the means of production’ – or stealing the factories and the rest. Bringing together labour and capital is possible only through techmological progress – this way we can reach a state where our societies are so wealthy that property stops being meaningful. If there is more than enough for everyone having more is meaningless (or so Marx thought). This is the foundation of communist in the style of Marx – ‘from everybody according to their ability and to everybody according to their needs’. PF bloggers cannot argue with the second part of the sentence :).

      Regretfully, Marx forgot a thing or two like ‘the expansion of needs’ and ‘the inherent need to be different’ – basis of inequality.

      We should have a drink and talk about all this…

  1. I’m confused and I’m reading as much as possible to learn so please bear with me. Capitalism…worker makes something for someone else, the worker gets paid for their efforts. Buyer does something with the item and also gets paid for their efforts. Kinda like a middle man reseller. If we had to buy what we need from each producer, that would be insane. Hence a grocery store…people sell their food to grocery and I have one stop shopping. If the store becomes wealthy, that is because they did something toget that money. Better shopping experience, better food etc. if the producer of food is not making a living wage then they need to sell somewhere else or find something to produce that does. Ok. So that’s my HIGh level view of capitalism. Someone or two or three buy something from someone else and capitalize on that product. They use their own skills in distribution (I own truck so hey, I can ship to other states) that’s a value added to the product. Otherwise the product stays local or the producer has to ship his own product everywhere himself. Do’able, but distribution capability is a HUGE reason we sell our products to that next person. Singers make contracts with music label because label has what it takes Togo to the next level. The producer has a need(?) and sells their product to reseller who also has a need (?) and does something with product. BOTH are capitalizing on a) who they know which dictates who they can offer product to, b) what skills they have to add value to the product so both end up paid. If one makes more and becomes a billionaire, then they have something special (think KFC recipe) that others don’t so why shouldn’t they capitalize on that? Now my question…

    How does Marxism claim to fix this issue? I don’t see an issue but clearly you do so I need help knowing what the problem is. I’ve read so much and it just says words and has no direct comparisons. We are all busy so I need summary direct answers. If I have no skills, I can’t sew, I can’t farm, etc, then I need to find someone who needs me. If that means it is a farm who needs farm hands, does Marxism have issue with farm hand being hired as labor? If so, how do you propose our world surviving without someone else who has the IQ and better skills to PROVIDE an opportunity (owns farm) to provide that farm hand with a job? What does Marxism say for that unskilled person on how to make a living? My questions are not meant to be divisive or controversial, I’m seriously confused. Because what I read in this article really doesn’t explain and it appears to be just a light version of capitalism. If that’s the point, then it will never work. We have socio and psychopaths (non violent) who are amazing entrepreneurs and provide those jobs to people. You will NEVER convince them to think about others and be empathetic because they can’t. They medically can’t. Do we remove all of them? That’s insane. You can’t have utopia when we have people who can’t be empathetic. Thank you.


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