There’s a reason Karl Marx is revered by so many academics. The reason is very simple. Marx made them respectable.
The secret lament of many academics goes something like this:
- There are lots of problems in the world
- We know – because we’ve studied them
- Because we’ve studied them, we know how to fix them
- We have the answer, yet nobody ever calls on us!
- Here! In the back row (waving hand furiously). I know the answer! Pick me!
In other words, “Were the best and the brightest. We have the answers. We should be running things!”
The genius of Karl Marx was not that he solved the world’s economic problems. He didn’t. The genius of Karl Marx was that he flipped the very old argument from, “Who should have the power?” and made it appear that the real question is, “Who should have the money?”
The great success of Marx is that he made the age-old vices of conceit and the lust for power seem legitimate; perhaps even honorable. Those who craved power over others could now cloak their lust in bland economic platitudes about the means of production and the voice of the proletariat.
The means of production – factories, jobs (and the money to pay for them) – would be owned in common by all the people. The decisions about what to produce (how to spend the money), how much to produce and who does what job would be made by those with political power (since they now controlled the assets). And these same elites would surely call on the academics for advice and implementation.
Two very different systems. Two very different inputs. And two very different results – as 90 years of communist history in various nations of the world has shown.
Capitalism distributes the means of production much differently. In a capitalist society, money and power flow to those individuals who produce results and are willing to risk their own money (and money entrusted to them by others) in the process.
Capitalism, by its very nature, produces what many people want to use and buy – and are willing and able to pay for.
Communism, by its nature, produces what a small group of people think everyone else needs – and then coerces them into buying and paying for it.
Thus capitalism produces what multitudes of people want and offers it at a price they can afford (otherwise it won’t be produced).
But communism produces what a small group of self-imagined elites think masses of people should have. And if the product or service doesn’t sell as imagined, non-buyers will be coerced (either through government laws or non-competition) until they do buy.
Today we call capitalists entrepreneurs. By virtue of their capabilities, these individuals rise to positions of power and prominence. They create products people want to buy, which results in jobs for those whose work is needed to produce the product.
Thus the legacy of Marx lives on, from generation to generation. Why? Because the human failings of ego, conceit and the lust for power over others never die.