4. The French Revolution
6. Democracy as the Sacred
|1. Industrialization||2. Socialism|
|3. Socialist Values||4. Literature|
The French Revolutions liberated the individual from the old communities, paving the way for economic freedom and the free market. The right to conduct business was no longer conditional on membership of special organizations, such as merchant guilds or artisan guilds. Along with the industrial revolution, this freedom of trade rapidly developed into economic liberalism, which we also call capitalism.
England and several other European countries were transformed from agricultural economies into industrial nations.
The vast majority of the companies' new workers must have had a past in the villages. But when they moved from the countryside to the city, the pastor and the schoolteacher did not follow, and the new life in the cities did not offer the same cultural cohesion.
Left: An English working girl.
Right: The English industrialization.
The working conditions during the Industrial Revolution were terrible.
With a large supply of labor, employers could set wages very low. People worked 14 to 16 hours a day for six days a week. The majority were unskilled workers, who received a very low wage. Skilled workers earned a little more. Women received a third or sometimes half of the salary that men received. Children got even less.
The factories were not the best places to work. Sunlight through sooty windows was the only lighting. Machines spat soot and smoke and in some factories the workers were covered in black soot when they reached end of the working day. There were many accidents.
Young English worker in one of the new factories.
Had it not been for the humiliating treatment to which they were subjected in the new factories, the workers would not have begun to dream of the just society, socialism, which was to be realized here on Earth and not after this life. And Karl Marx today would have been a utopian socialist, known only by historical experts. He would have been mentioned in the footnotes of the history books along with Thomas Moore, Charles Fourier, Robert Owen and Louis Blanc.
David Ricardo (1772-1823) was one of the leading economists of the time. His life struggle was that England should be industrialized as soon as possible, at any cost. To promote industrial exports, labor had to be cheap, and therefore food also had to be cheap. Therefore, he wanted the protectionist custom fee on grain imports from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to be abolished.
He wrote in his famous article, "The iron law of wages": "Labour, like all other things which are purchased and sold, and which may be increased or diminished in quantity, has its natural and its market price. The natural price of labour is that price which is necessary to enable the labourers, one with another, to subsist and to perpetuate their race, without either increase or diminution. (of their number)
English working boys from a coal mine.
Note Ricardo's expression "to enable the labourers, one with another, to subsist and to perpetuate their race." There is no doubt that social mobility in the contemporary English class society was totally insignificant.
Ricardo continued: "The power of the labourer to support himself, and the family which may be necessary to keep up the number of labourers, does not depend on the quantity of money which he may receive for wages, but on the quantity of food, necessaries, and conveniences become essential to him from habit, which that money will purchase. The natural price of labour, therefore, depends on the price of the food, necessaries, and conveniences required for the support of the labourer and his family. With a rise in the price of food and necessaries, the natural price of labour will rise; with the fall in their price. the natural price of labour will fall."
Now it has been questioned whether he believed that the natural price of labor represented laborer purely biological survival, or whether it should be interpreted as an extended survival concept: as for example, that we today would find it difficult to survive without a TV.
More English working boys.
With workers' necessaries and conveniences, he probably meant clothing, fuel for heating, tobacco and a bottle of gin now and then.
One of his main messages is that the price of labor will affect the number of workers. This indicates that he actually had the workers' biological survival in mind.
Another famous economist, Thomas Malthus, had concerns about Ricardos' idea of England's rapid industrialization at all costs. He believed that such a one-sided economic development of industry at the expense of agriculture would create moral problems, which turned out to be true, as the idea of socialism arose in England.
Malthus was the only economist who supported the protectionist grain tariffs. By encouraging domestic production, Malthus argued, grain tariffs would also develop agriculture and guarantee British self-sufficiency in food.
This did not happen, as much of Britain's farmland was laid out as sheep pastures - to supply the growing textile industry with wool.
Left: Upstairs and downstairs life. Illustration from 1800s.
Right: English working-class children.
But Malthus agreed with his friend Ricardo that the workers themselves were to blame for their misery. They had too many children; thereby increasing the supply of labor, and this put pressure on wages.
Only reasonably gifted workers with self-respect must have had a hard time accepting such an attitude among the elite, namely that workers and their descendants were forever doomed to live on subsistence. They could live or die on the bottom of society, and that would only worry the factory owners and the rest of the upper class to the extent that there might be a shortage of labor.
What else could they do but support ideas of socialism, anarchism, syndicalism or communism? It was in this way that socialism really entered the world.
Socialism is a social-constructivist ideology that describes an ideal society that speaks to the individual dreams of the just society. In its essence, it is revolutionary, saying that everything old must be broken down and discarded, and a new rational and postulated ethically superior society must be built completely from scratch.
Socialists may argue that capitalist society is based on a primitive Darwinist struggle for survival, the struggle of all against all. While their future society, on the other hand, is based on man's good feelings for each other, namely community, cooperation and rational planning.
English workers' meeting in the 19th century.
They believe that all that is produced is social products created by many in collaboration, and therefore everyone should have an equal right to consume the goods produced. They fundamentally believe that private ownership of land and means of production is unfair because it creates inequality, and therefore society as a whole should control all such property with a central political planning for the benefit of all its members.
However, such socialist economic systems - based on central planning - have been realized in some of the nations of the world - everywhere with very limited success.
The socialist agitator Vladimir Iljitch Lenin.
When the Russian Tsar had to abdicate in 1917 under the pressure of the First World War, a power vacuum arose, which was exploited by a determined socialist party called the Bolsheviks - led by Lenin. They managed to get the soldiers of Petrograd (Sct Petersburg) on their side, and then the rest developed to their benefit.
They deployed soldiers in strategically important positions in Petrograd, at night they forced their way into the Winter Palace, where the Provisional Government was located, and arrested all the ministers.
But in the election to the Constituent Assembly a few weeks later, the non-Bolshevik parties gained a majority. When the assembly first met in January 1918, the Bolsheviks demanded that the delegates submit to the new Soviet government, but the assembly refused. Lenin solved the problem very simply by letting soldiers dissolve the assembly.
The Russian Revolution of 1917. Photo International Socialist Review.
Twenty years later, in 1939, the Bolsheviks, led by Stalin, faced a political bankruptcy. He had had most of his own party comrades from 1917, most of the officer corps and hundreds of thousands of other Russians executed. He had reintroduced slavery for millions in labor camps in northern Russia and Siberia, and he had reintroduced the adscript bond, forbidding the peasants from leaving their villages. His popular support was probably very insignificant.
But he was saved on the brink of the abyss by his worst enemies going to war with each other, Britain and France declaring war on Germany, and then they blue-stamped Stalin by making him an equal partner in the fight against the "prince of evil". The Allies provided massive material support to the Soviet Union by means of convoys to Murmansk, which enabled Stalin and the bolcheviks not to be completely overrun in the first critical period after the German attack in 1941.
Four years later, in 1945, the Soviet Union emerged as the real victor after World War 2. The Red Army had occupied the Eastern European nations of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and East Germany and declared them people's democratic Republics. In a confidential circle, Stalin recounted: "This war is not like any previous war. Whoever occupies an area also imposes it his social system. Every one who imposes the losers his own system as far as the power of his divisions extends. And it can not be otherwise". (Bent Jensen).
Prison camp in northern Russia..
In the main, only China and Cuba became socialist without the direct action of the Red Army divisions.
Theoretical arguments have been made against the effectiveness of a socialist economy.
Ludwig von Mises argued in 1922 that since there are no market forces in socialism that can define a market price, it will not be possible to perform economic calculations. It will therefore not be possible to calculate whether one or the other economic alternative will be the most advantageous to implement. Therefore, a socialist economy can not be optimized, and therefore socialism would inevitably fail.
Karl Hayek wrote in 1944 that under socialism, economic planning would inevitably fall back on a small group of centrally located individuals who would have to make an unmanageable amount of decisions about prices and quantities that a capitalist system would alternatively make automatically. The human decision-makers will be unable to process the overwhelming amount of information and the ensuing chaos will pave the way for a dictatorship.
But it is not necessary to analyze the problem theoretically, because - as mentioned above - a full-scale experiment has been carried out, which included entire nations with millions of people in almost a third of the World for at least 50 years.
Both socialism in the Soviet Union and in the people's democratic Republics proved to be ineffective with little economic growth. In 1988, Mikhail Gorbachev presented a report to the Moscow Party Congress, which said that the Soviet economy had not grown for twenty years, with the exception of vodka sales and the higher prices paid for Soviet oil.
In other European countries, there are many political parties - even ruling political parties - who call themselves socialists. But this term merely covers a Robin Hood policy, which is to tax the "rich" and transfer the proceeds to the supposedly poor, who are the parties' core voters. These parties have no intention of changing the capitalism to which we really have no alternative.
Illustration in Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality from 1750. God gives a young man beauty, while a satyr protests wildly because he believes that it is unfair that some are more beautiful than others. Photo SWAMP.
The demand for equality was and is the fundamental driving force of socialism. Socialists are inclined to feel and think that it is unfair that some have a higher status in society than others because they are born into families and social groups that have greater power and influence and more material wealth than other groups, and thereby these lucky individuals have had a better start in their careers than other individuals.
They basically think it is unfair that some have a higher status in society than others because it represents inequality - whether the more successful ones have started from scratch. They thus never comment on for example Lars Larsen's Jysk Bedding Store or others, who have truly started their careers in very ordinary families.
Socialists feel solidarity with the poor in society and believe that under the future socialist system there will no longer be poor and oppressed in society, everyone will be equal or almost equal.
But Marx did not go much into the subject, he takes it almost for granted that everyone should be equal.
He never mentions Rousseau, but it is striking that his division of people into classes - defined by ownership or lack of ownership of the means of production - and the consequent regrettable inequality, is very reminiscent of Rousseau's cry for justice a hundred years earlier: "The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows, "Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone ifyou once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody." Knowledge of Rousseau has most likely belonged to ordinary education in Marx's time.
Rousseau's "Discourse on Inequality" must also have been commonly known at the time. It describes all the forms of inequality that exist among humans - including differences in intelligence, strength, beauty and wealth. Rousseau's goal was to determine what kinds of inequality are "natural" and which are "moral" - that is, unnatural - and thus ethically reprehensible.
Harrison Bergeron is a science fiction novel by Kurt Vonnegut from 1961. It describes that by the year 2081 all Americans by law are declared completely equal. Nobody must be smarter, more beautiful, stronger or more athletic than anyone else. The General Handicapper Office's agents enforce the Equality Act, which forces people to wear "handicaps": masks for those who are looking too handsome, headset speakers that disturb the minds of those who are too intelligent, and heavy weights for those who are too strong and athletic. Harrison Bergeron is a beautiful, intelligent, brave and athletic teenager of fourteen years; One day in April he will be removed from his home due to violation of the Equality Act. He is subsequently shot for open screen by the General Handicapper Office's leader. Photo: Relentless Magazine..
Equality has today acquired an even stronger moral superiority. Everyone must be equal - women and men, muslims and christians, teachers and students, young and old, lazy and industrious, healthy and disabled, rich and poor. Any modern political program or manifesto must necessarily contain a statement that this group or party strives for equality. The program or project will be assessed according to the degree to which it creates equality.
However, in the realized socialism of the Soviet Union and the people's democratic Republics, there was no equality. Leading members of the self-supplementing Communist Party were far more equal than others - not only in terms of power and influence but also in rewards. They got a lot more money in their hands, better medical care, better pensions, better housing, more luxurious holidays and they had the opportunity to shop in exclusive department stores, which also offered western goods. In socialist China, descendants of generals from the Long March have established themselves as a new nobility with access to manipulate enormous fortunes.
Comrade Napoleon and his closest in Orwell's novel "Animal Farm".
The capitalist system - or should we say lack of system - has evolved organically along with Western civilization, which so many today strive to destroy.
It is men's nature to yearn for women's love, and Western men yearn more than others - and it is the underlying biological cause of the West's success.
Men's psychology is characterized by an unconscious need to accomplish something or create something that can give them recognition, such as performing great feats, inventing new methods or other achievements, becoming rich or famous - and thereby earning themselves a place with the woman. Some would argue that men also rival about rank and status. But in reality it is almost the same, because - as everyone knows - high status and fame will give access to women's love.
But not all men are equally successful. Therefore, this relentless pursuit of rank and status will inevitably lead to inequality, some will achieve higher status than others. But this inequality is an absolutely necessary condition and motivation in the development of Western society.
A utopian state of perfect equality would be very damaging to the economy of society. One can imagine a socialist system with close to perfect equality. Should we say that rank and status are reset every year or every five years, and then the rivaling men must be set equal every time and start all over again. In such a society, all development will stall because the agents would feel that it is deeply unfair, all their efforts are in vain and they never get anywhere because they are running around in a hamster wheel.
Drawbridge to the Fortress Ponta da Bandeira, Lagos in Portugal. Photo Georges Jansoone Wikipedia.
But today, inequality has taken on new and larger dimensions.
Globalization has created super-rich businessmen whose power and wealth surpass anything the world has seen so far. When globalization became a reality in the late 1900s, Big Tech first came to the fore and created their amazing fortunes. They will defend their position with beaks and claws.
In the American debate, some talk about the drawbridge effect. This means that as long as the bridge is down, the American dream is possible. It can still be done to start as a newspaper boy and end up as a millionaire. But the dizzying fortunes of the globalists and the co-operation between those, who have, means that the drawbridge has been raised or will be in the very near future, and then it will no longer be possible for those, who do not have, to work their way up and get over to the other side among the rich and famous. One might think that it would have a similar effect on the economy of society as a socialist system.
- Community. Socialism places great emphasis on community. Marx repeatedly says that the proletarian workers are immensely social and want nothing more than to do everything together. In "1844 Manuscripts", Marx states that the new communist man would prefer to perform most human activities together. He writes: "The feeling and enjoyment of other people has become my own motivation."
Soviet-Russian poster encouraging workers to meet the five-year plan in only four years.
The Soviet Union was a country with a state-run economy. Every five years, the government developed plans for all companies and state run farming enterprises throughout the Soviet Union and ordered them to produce certain precisely stated quantities of products for the following five-year period. The committee responsible for making up these plans was called "Gosudarstvenny Komitet po Planirovaniyu" (State Planning Committee) popularly called "Gosplan".
Socialists imagine that the people, the community, will take over the means of production, that is, factories and companies. Which in reality will mean that all factories and companies must be subject to a central state political leadership, as is said to have been the case in the Soviet Union and the people's democratic Republics. A management that will seem immensely distant to the ordinary employees, and will not give any realistic association to community.
However, in the Soviet Union and the people's democratic Republics, it was neither the community, the proletariat nor the people who controlled the means of production, it was a self-supplementing and favored elite, who called themselves the Bolsheviks, the Unity Party or the like. The people, including the workers, had nothing to say.
- Freedom. However, in his notions of ultimate communism, Marx believed that communities should be completely free and informal, as procedural rules, production plans and deadlines, quality standards and specifications - which the individual socialist man himself has not determined - will create alienation - and thus dis-engagement. All activities must be free and spontaneous and not regulated by rigid rules that hamper individual creativity. Everyone must be able to realize themselves "as a human being". Which freedom has never been present anywhere in the Soviet Union, the People's Republics or Communist China.
Entrance to Christiania. The inhabitants of Christiania seek to unite a community with Marx's dreams of communist society without actual leadership with means of power. This means, for example, that everyone must agree before a decision can be made made, so that no one will be bound by decisions they do not agree with - a simple majority of votes is not enough. One must believe that it is the most persevering who get their will. Photo Neptuul Wikipedia.
In fact, the realization of socialism in the Soviet Union and the People's Republics, including China, can not be linked to freedom at all - on the contrary.
Stalin reintroduced slavery to millions in his labor camps in northern Russia and Siberia, and he reintroduced the adscription bond, forbidding peasants from leaving their villages. He forcibly deported millions of ethnic Poles, Norwegians, Finns, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Volga Germans, Kalmyks, Koreans and Ukrainian so-called kulaks to deserted areas of Siberia and Central Asia. He deprived all farmers of their land, which was pooled in the so-called collective farms.
In Communist China, individuals have been treated with a historically unseen arbitrariness, which is very much the opposite of what is meant by freedom. Mao sent a generation of young well-educated people out into the countryside to do simple manual labor. During the Cultural Revolution, he unleashed the Red Guards on ordinary Chinese. They had the authority to destroy, convict, punish and confiscate property under alleged crimes and laws which they themselves invented for the occasion.
Soviet deportation. Photo Platforma24.ru.
Modern socialists will claim that Stalin and Mao were historical exceptions, from whom they distance themselves, their modern socialism - they will claim - will be completely different and very humanitarian. But Stalin's and Mao's misdeeds are linked to the communist fantasy of destroying everything old and building a brand new society from scratch and creating and forming a whole new type of human, a socialist human. A new attempt to build a socialist society will unleash the same old forces again.
- Anti-imperialism. True socialists support the third world struggle against imperialist exploitation. The developed western countries buy the raw materials of the developing countries cheaply, and sell the finished goods back expensively, they say, and it is not fair.
Lenin wrote: "Imperialism is a system of society in which power is exercised by the monopoly capital. Imperialism means that a small handful of monopoly capitalists can amass enormous wealth as a result of the efforts and deprivation of the working people. Imperialism means that many peoples in other countries are dependent or oppressed by it, being plundered by the capitalist monopolies with the result, that hunger and distress prevail in these countries."
But imperialism is a very thin-legged theory. In fact, there is no causal connection between the wealth of Western countries and the poverty of developing countries. It is not the case that the wealth of the West is the cause of the poverty of developing countries or vice versa.
Chinese anti-imperialist poster: "Down with American Imperialism and Russian Revisionism". Photo Pinterest.
Let us imagine that we built a huge wall - as Trump wanted to build it against Mexico - around Africa and all the other developing nations and then let them take care of themselves. They would then truly have become real independent nations with responsibility for themselves, and no longer be any kind of colonies. So what would happen?
In the West, it would probably be a little more expensive to get a cup of coffee, tea or cocoa. Coconuts would rise in price. Diamonds would probably also become more expensive. But by and large, we would be able to continue our lives as before. The West has a good food production and there is still some industry left.
But for the developing countries, it would be a disaster. They are deeply dependent on that they can find something to export and thereby earn dollars to buy machinery, weapons and medicine for. They would sink into economic chaos and civil wars. The last elephants and rhinos would surely be shot to provide food and to sell their horns. The last native forests and jungles would be cut down to provide firewood for cooking.
- Internationalism. Just as Napoleon wanted to export Freedom, Equality and Fraternity to all of Europe, so the socialist leaders want to spread socialism to the whole world, thereby allegedly saving millions of suffering and oppressed peoples.
The call: "Proletarians of all countries, unite!" represents an important feature of socialism, namely that the socialist workers are assumed to have more in common with workers and the dispossessed in other countries and continents, than with their own countrymen, who do not belong to the working class "True community encompasses the whole world", as a socialist candidate expressed himself in an election campaign.
Comrade Lenin cleanses the world. Photo Viktor Deni Wikipedia.
The communist world will become a globalized world, Marx says in the Communist Manifesto. In the new Communist World Society, the nations will wither away and thus all mankind will be united in one great happy family populated by the new communist selfless individuals: "Instead of isolating themselves and being themselves enough as before, the different areas and nations will enter into a versatile interaction with each other, the nations will be in a versatile dependence on each other. And as it will happen with the material production, so it will happen with the spiritual. The spiritual creations of individual nations will become common property. The national one-sidedness and constraint are becoming more and more impossible, and of the many national and local literatures a world literature is emerging."
Socialists are expected to have more compassion for desperate Muslim migrants, poor children and oppressed women anywhere in the world with whom they do not know and to whom they have no personal relationship at all, than with their own countrymen. For them, international organizations such as the UN and the EU are far more important than the old-fashioned nation-states.
- Rights. Human rights, women's rights, refugees' rights, children's rights, the rights of homosexuals and transgender people and even animal rights are important elements in the policy of modern Danish socialists.
But every time someone has a right, there are others who have a duty - to fulfill or secure that right - probably some of the white men that they respect so little.
The socialist candidates and voters are not aware that it is the power of the nation-states in the form of officials, police and military that will ensure that the national laws are followed, including all the rights that they want included in these laws. Without the nation-states, all of these rights would simply be empty electoral promises and hot air.
The iron law of wages - Modern History Sourcebook David Ricardo"
Discourse on Inequality - Jean Jacques Rousseau American University of Beirut
"Stalin en Biografi" af Bent Jensen - Gyldendals Bogklubber.