What are some of Marx’s criticisms of capitalism? How might you respond to these criticisms?
One of Marx’s criticisms of capitalism was that it’s inferior to communism because it exploits wage labor in the sense that workers are only paid enough to survive, rather than being paid in accordance with the value that they create. I would respond to this by saying that in reality, a capitalistic economy is based off of voluntary contract between worker and employer. If the worker is good, and they have high value as an employee, then they will be paid according to that (with the value of their work decided between themselves and the employer). If a good worker is not being paid as they should be, then they have the option to take their services elsewhere and the employer has to make the decision between paying a worse worker the same amount, or keeping his good worker at a higher wage. This is the freedom of competition.
Another criticism of capitalism that Marx made was that the division of labor is wrong, and should be removed from the economy. My response to this is that, in all honesty, it makes no sense. I mean, would you rather have a hundred good workers who are each specialized in a certain field, or a hundred okay workers who can do a hundred different things alright? I certainly would rather have a great doctor do surgery on me than someone who is only a doctor in their down time!
1.) What are the primary differences discussed in this week’s videos between Marxism and Marxism-Leninism?
The primary difference(s) between Marxism and Marxism-Leninism discussed this week were that Marx believed communism was bound to happen; that it was inevitable by the laws of history. He believed that it possibly be accelerated or slowed, but never stopped. However, communism could not happen until after the point which capitalism had come to term; after reaching it’s peak, it would become “a fetter on the productive forces”. Marx believed that this is how and when capitalism would give way to communism. Lenin on the other hand believed that fall of capitalism alone was not going to be enough to cause the emergence of a revolutionary proletarian class. Lenin called for a “vanguard of the proletariat”; a class of professional revolutionaries. It was required that they be intellectuals, not workers; it was their duty to guide a violent uprising against capitalism, which would then lead to the proletariat’s dictatorship. Lenin believed that this dictatorship would be the first stone on the pathway to communism.
2.) Historian Richard Pipes wrote, “Soviet Russia was the first society in history to outlaw law.” What did he mean by that?
Being a judge during this period became easy for most anyone to apply for; there was not formal education required, and there were no fixed rules one would be required to study. Rather, judges were instructed to rule according to their “revolutionary conscience”. The court system in fact, according to Lenin, was “not to eliminate terror”, but to “substantiate and legitimize” it.
3.) What was the Russian government under Lenin like? What kinds of tasks did it attempt to achieve?
The Russian government under Lenin was manipulative, untrustworthy, and malevolent. Among the many atrocities he orchestrated in his time, Lenin attempted to wipe out the church as his opponent; he ordered that sacred vessels be seized, and then had them melted for weaponry cash. Even nearing his death bed, Lenin had not yet caused enough destruction. In 1922, he ordered hundreds of opposing people exiled without explanation; these people were for the most part economists, scholars, and even philosophers. Even still, neither of those things tops the time that he was the cause of the starvation of 5.2 million people.