In the Communist Manifesto Karl Marx asserts, “Of all the classes that stand face to face with the bourgeoisie today, the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class. The other classes decay and finally disappear in the face of Modern Industry; the proletariat is its special and essential product. The lower middle class, the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the peasant, all these fight against the bourgeoisie, to save from extinction their existence as fractions of the middle class. They are therefore not revolutionary, but conservative. Nay more, they are reactionary, for they try to roll back the wheel of history.”
Let me begin by saying that this critique is not so much of Ron Paul himself, as it is of the philosophy of right libertarianism that he, and a rising number of Americans, hold to. I respect the Libertarian view on foreign policy abroad and civil liberties at home. I’ve also observed a higher degree of honesty and candor from those few politicians who hold to the right libertarian philosophy. But in terms of economics I strongly disagree with the Right Libertarian position. Karl Marx words’ quoted above strike me as a fairly accurate description of the economic platform of the Libertarian Party in America. Let me explain.
Libertarians are known for openly and vehemently critiquing and opposing what it calls “crony capitalism” or what I would call the natural evolution of free market capitalism. They rightly expose the injustices, inequalities, and monopolies that exist in the crony capitalist market and its’ over all set up. In this sense they share a common gripe and critique with the proletariat, as well as offering valuable insight. But the point of departure between Marxism and Right Libertarianism is how to correct the contradictions of Modern Capitalism. Libertarians glorify the days of, “the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the peasant” and seek to “roll back the wheel of history” in order to return to those days. However, one critique I have pointed out over and over to a libertarian friend of mine, is that it was this very system of “the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the peasant”- of free market capitalism, that has evolved into the modern system of “crony” capitalism. The Libertarian may be quick to give the reasons why this is, and what can be done to bring capitalism back to the good old days, but they cannot deny that this is the reality of the situation.
Free Market Capitalism has spawned Crony Capitalism, and this is simply the natural evolution of history. Instead of seeking to roll back the wheel of history to return to a “utopia of small business owners” we need to continue moving forward. We need not spurn the wheel of progress and the increased and ever-more-efficient power of production. We simply need to move the means of production out of private hands into the hands of the people. We have a production power beyond the wildest dreams of the American Founding Fathers, but we must cease producing for the few at the expense of the many. This will take revolution. Libertarianism is a reaction to crony capitalism, a reaction to the natural evolution of its’ own beloved small-business free market system. If we were to roll back the wheel of history and progress and go back to that small-business, free market capitalist system so beloved by Libertarianism it would simply evolve again into what it is today. But, luckily, we need not go back since we are able to go forward.
The idealistic, good-hearted, small business owners who today lament corporate capitalism, (because it infringes upon their livelihood and continued existence) would themselves become the new generation of corporate capitalists given the opportuntiy. Long before he was the steel magnate Andrew Carnegie was a small peanuts business man. But he rose in those ranks of business, accumulated capital, and grew into one of the famous monopolists of the turn of the century. This is simply the nature of capitalism. It must always grow, always accumulate, always expand, and always exploit in order to function.
So, the people have a choice to make. We can choose reaction or revolution. We can apply our energies to go back to the very system that has given rise to the current one, or we can go forward and put the power of production in the right hands- the hands of the people. Only in the hands of the community can the power of production be harnessed to create a just, fair, and equaitable system of labor, production, and consumption. Private Property and the private ownership of resources, the means of production, and our labor is the root of the problem facing the people. Its up to the toiling masses to reject this exploitative system by forming themselves into a class and to cease participation in it- that is, a great general strike.
A true general strike would paralyze the capitalist sytem of production and distribution as which point workers could take control of their shops and begin the task of public production and distribution for the good of all, for the meeting of the needs of the many, instead of satisfying the greed of a few. I choose the path of revolution and encourage all of my right libertarian brothers and sisters who are tired of “crony capitalism” to consider doing the same.