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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

'Karl Marx' by Peter Singer

When I used to live in Crouch End, north of London, I had a friend who was a fervent Marxist.
Once in a while, she took me to Highgate cemetery where Karl Marx was buried.
It's very close to where I was.

I used to enjoy engaging in a conversation with her. I knew a few things about Marxism, very basic philosophical development from capitalism to communism, but, not much.
She tried to teach me a lot about it, especially critique of capitalism, like, labour theory of value. That used to put me into a sleep.
The only thing that interested me at the time was Marx's criticism of religion. I thought it's great.

Also, I found the materialist conception of history is too simplistic.
Human nature, especially nasty one, can't easily be altered by the economic or material circumstances alone.

The society Marx rather naively envisaged, communism, is for me, no different from idealistic Utopia. It's unattainable in reality.
And state controlled economic system, which was meant to arise by abolishing inhumane capitalism, therefore bring happiness to us all, was nothing but complete failure.

And worst of all, it inevitably involves "dictatorship of proletariat", does it not?
Given how humans behave when they're in the saddle, this is a frightening thought.
Obviously, Marx would have been horrified to see what Stalin did in his name, but, it has to be said that its theory contains an element of suppression of personal freedom in exchange for the greater good.

That alone negates the validity of its otherwise fascinating thought experiments.

This book is very short, but, here, Peter Singer did a great job to explain some basic ideas of Marxism in plain and lucid words.
This is the only book I actually can say that I got some ideas of what the author was really saying about Marxism.

"Workers of all lands unite.
The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it"

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