Das Kapital is first published

September 14, 2018

On 14 September 1867, Marxism's founder -  Karl Marx - first published his infamous book, “Das Kapital” (or “Capital: Volume I”).

Das Kapital critiqued Western political economy, particularly capitalism. It proposed an alternate foundation of economic or traditional Marxism – a socialist, then communist, order where:

  • the state would take ownership of the means of production 'on behalf of' the workers by realising their class interests and struggle,
  • the workers would rise up and violently overthrow the nasty capitalists currently owning and exploiting those means and the workers operating them
  • the state would – again, theoretically – transfer that ownership to the workers (see further details below).

It is very concerning that Das Kapital is the most cited book in the social sciences published before 1950. Cultural Marxism is the main Marxist challenge we face in the West today. This has been so particularly since it infiltrated universities in the 1960s and trickled down through the graduating intelligentsia into schools, media, the entertainment industry, bureaucracies and workplaces.

Consequently, recent surveys of millennials in Australia and the US show that:

  • over half of them are favourable to socialism and view it positively, while
  • more than half view capitalism negatively, think it has failed and that government should exercise more control of the economy.

Western canon is being replaced by the sprouting utopian appeals from the academic seeds of socialism and Marxism in the hearts and minds of younger generations who will inherit workplaces, institutions and politics. Yet these Marxist utopias inevitably become dystopian - if not horrific - with many examples around the world.

Mark this day that Das Kapital was first published – the originating text of anti-capitalist Marxist ideology and all its offshoots – by:

Further details on Das Kapital, Marx and modern Marxism

Das Kapital was published after Marx and Engels' 1848 political pamphlet, “The Communist Manifesto”. Two subsequent volumes of Das Kapital were published after Marx’s death in 1883 by fellow German philosopher, close colleague and ideological warrior, Friedrich Engels, based on conversations with - and notes left by - Marx.

Das Kapital's main thesis was that, in a market-based capitalist society, the “proletariat” (or working class) are victims, underpaid, oppressed and exploited by the “bourgeoisie” (or capital owning class) whose interests lay in squeezing evermore production and “surplus value” out of their 'underpaid' workforce. The workers’ class interests supposedly lay in rising up and violently taking ownership of the means of production from the capitalists to prevent wages and conditions from being driven ever lower to subsistence levels.

  • For Marxists, the workers had to be convinced that the capitalists were, in effect, “farming them” and that it would only get worse until a revolution occurred to avert the trend and restore justice.

With Marxists (and other attention-seeking, power-craving or sociopath nihilists), the current order is never "just", always corrupt and in need of overthrow, torching and replacement. Marxists first need fuel for such societal revolution and then a spark to get it started.

  • Marx envisaged a revolution more bloodied than in 1790s France – which has similarly excited subsequent Marxists, generally born of discontented childhoods.
  • Yet Fabian Marxists, as do Cultural Marxists, recommend and execute a more sinister, covert, bloodless and riskless approach – the “long march through the institutions.”

The fuel for (Marxist or really any) revolution to a new order is always victimhood and envy – cultivated to be felt by a sufficiently large, under-appreciated and manipulable class.

For this, Marx (and fellow travellers to the end of World War I) targeted the working class, agitating them into evermore frenzied states with narratives of worsening oppression and exploitation. This "exploitation" could only be relieved – so the narrative goes – by the workers violently rising up and overthrowing the current order.

  • How the Marxist utopia would actually look and function on the other side of the revolution never got/needed much explanation or dissection. Once the mob is convinced of their state and plight – whipped up into a frenzied panic, or tantrum – any change can look or feel better than the status quo (ie little to lose). 
  • In fact, pure Marxism proposes  a struggle followed by a handover of power from the caretaker state to the proletariat. Orwell's Animal Farm illustrated perfectly, in reality, the capital caretakers never hand over and instead the leaders of the 'struggle' insist that the struggle continues, and they can not relinquish the capital just yet. They then replace - often via crony capitalism, as is seen in communist China today - the very elites they encouraged the proletariat to overthrow. The continual identification of new classes of victims simply reinforces the socialist or communist elites' narrative that the struggle has not ended, so state caretaker capitalism must continue. Meanwhile these socialist and communist crony capitalists' largesse and grip on power tightens...

Whilst the Marxist revolution toppled the established order in 1917 Russia, it failed – to the surprise and chagrin of adherents – to sweep west through war-torn Europe after WWI, rejected even by a demoralised Germany. Marxists diagnosed that the bulwarks standing in its way that needed to be eroded first were Western culture, Christianity and a resilient patriarchal civil society.

Enter Cultural Marxism and the Frankfurt School from the 1920s – with key early scholars, Antonio Gramsci, Georg Lukacs, Max Horkheimer and Herbert Marcuse. These bitter and triggered malcontents developed narratives, methods and devices such as Critical Theory, Repressive Tolerance and Political Correctness that targeted the key strengths and underpinnings of Western civilisation:

  • traditional family and marriage,
  • humility,
  • complementarities of the genders,
  • Christianity,
  • access to further resources,
  • economic efficacy,
  • social mores, and
  • cultural icons.

Over the last century Marxists have increasingly replaced the “working class” proletariat with the “victim group” proletariat – a coalition of minorities and identity groups kept herded, noisy, aggrieved, envious, helpless - and growing. As such, the democratic process (together with further institutional capture) can eventually turn a society Marxist, without even a real struggle or any blood spilt – like the proverbial “frog in warming water”.

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