Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A few problems with “The Communist Manifesto”

"A spectre is haunting Europe - the spectre of communism. All the Powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter ... Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as Communistic by its opponents in power? Where is the Opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of Communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries? Two things result from this fact: I. Communism is already acknowledged by all European powers to be itself a power. II. It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Spectre of Communism with a Manifesto of the party itself."

- Opening lines of "The Communist Manifesto" (1848)

I was recently told that I should write a blog post about why Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were wrong - arguing not on values as I did in another post (though there is a place for that as well), but on facts and theories, challenging their dubious factual and theoretical claims.

Karl Marx

Friedrich Engels

In discussing problems with Marxism, where does one start?

To someone who's read and understood their book "The Communist Manifesto," that might seem easy - and in some ways, it is. But in trying to debunk it, I had one big problem: where to start. Despite "The Communist Manifesto" being a tiny book (which I read through in a day), it sometimes seems when I'm reading the book like its two authors were having a competition to see who could cram more fallacies into a small amount of space. And they both won.

Marx and Engels

Discussion of Marxist fallacies is practically a genre in its own right ...

I intend this blog post to be a short one, so I will only be able to summarize this book's problems. But if you're after a more thorough treatment of its fallacies, this is practically a genre in its own right, so there are lots of works to choose from.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A great surprise in my education

One of the great surprises of my education was how much I liked psychology. This would have surprised me in my younger days, as I thought of psychology in terms of counseling and clinical psychology - things I would not have been good at. To be sure, those things are a part of psychology, but psychology was so much more than that, something I little suspected in my youth.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Why I am learning Ancient Greek

I've actually had the desire to learn Ancient Greek for a long time, but I didn't think I'd ever have the time or the opportunity to do it. I took an ethics class from NAU's philosophy department in May 2009 where we talked about the Greek philosopher Plato, and I posted on the 28th of that month that I "want[ed] to learn Ancient Greek."


But I never thought I'd actually have the opportunity to do it. I thought: "I don't think I'll ever live near someplace where they offer a class in it. Only one university in Arizona has a Classics department, and that's U of A (which is 3 ½ hours away)."

But I recently realized that with a dead language, taking a class in the subject isn't as important, since I won't be needing to speak or listen to the language. If reading it is enough, I can learn it from a book. So it recently occurred to me to get a textbook about it, and start teaching myself Ancient Greek.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Did the Founding Fathers oppose political parties? (Actually, no … )

It has often been argued that the Founding Fathers were against political parties. Some of them undoubtedly were, but others of them founded political parties. These included John Adams and Alexander Hamilton (founders of the Federalist Party), and Thomas Jefferson and James Madison (founders of the Democratic-Republican Party). They weren't always called political parties - often they would use less controversial language like "the political friends of Mr. Hamilton" or "the political friends of Mr. Jefferson" - but they were parties in every sense of the word.

George Washington

Critics of political parties make much out of George Washington's opposition to them. But it's easy to oppose political parties when your self-interest doesn't require their support, and George Washington is the only presidential candidate who was ever elected without the support of a political party. His reputation for walking away from power, along with his remarkable war record, made it so he didn't need parties. All he had to do was not say he wouldn't be president, and he would be elected. Most of the other founders, by contrast, did need their support, and actively courted it to gain political office.

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