The Boxer

I am just a poor boy
Though my story’s seldom told
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocketful of mumbles
Such are promises
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest

Karl Marx was right about a lot of things.  No, really – social classes work pretty much the way he says they do, culture pretty much is the “superstructure” built on its era’s economic “base,” etc.  His Capital Letter stuff — History, Dialectic, etc. — is horse hockey, as all non-religious Capital Letter Stuff is, but that’s not why Marxism is wrong.  Marxism is wrong because it’s a category error.

Marxism isn’t an economic doctrine, and was never intended to be.  That probably sounds funny to anyone who knows Marx wrote a long book On Capital, not to mention all that stuff about “the workers” and “the means of production.”  And, of course, everywhere anyone has actually attempted to implement Marxism, they start with the command economy.  But it’s still wrong.  A ten minute trawl through Marx’s writings reveals that it’s really all about the Capital Letter Stuff.  Marxism is a religion; that stuff about “the dictatorship of the proletariat” and “the state withering away” is soteriology.

Marxism is sold — pun fully intended — as an economic system, and that’s how it hooks you.  Marxism needs Boxer the Cart Horse to be fully invested in the system, and it wins him over with superficially plausible arguments about “fairness” and “justice” — Mr. Jones exploits the animals horribly, and that’s why life on Animal Farm is so tough.  Because Boxer is so fixated on the utopia just around the corner, when all horses have shoes and the hens get to keep their eggs, he never stops to question why life is so much worse now than it was under Farmer Jones.

Animal Farm was written in 1945, though — that is, back when England and the rest of the “developed world” still had economies dependent on producing stuff.  Our Boxers, by contrast, are the muddleheaded “intellectuals” who still keep pimping this stuff as if it were an economic doctrine when, again, a ten-minute examination of how our pigs really live would show them it’s all nonsense.  Has the lot of the American worker improved since 2008, would you say?  Does Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders know?  Has it ever occurred to either of them to ask this question, or even that such a question could be asked?  Are all of these rhetorical?

The point of Marxism isn’t to save the feet of the cart horses — that could be accomplished in six months, even under so inept a system as communism.  It’s to save the souls of the Marxists.  Whether the peasants actually get enough to eat or not; whether the lot of the worker is materially better or worse; none of that matters a bit.  They’re buying salvation with Boxer’s sweat, just like they were back in the 1940s.  And they’d do well to remember that there’s no “college” on Animal Farm, no university, no internet on which to Voxsplain things for 75 large per year.  And then they should think on what happened to the intellectuals back in Stalin’s day (the “young pigs” of the novel).

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