Archive for December 6th, 2012

Why Information Was Produced

When it comes to Karl Marx, most people have read some of the Communist Manifesto. Marx’s main work, Das Kapital, was completed after his death.

Kapital is very hard for a non-Marxist economist to read. It took me a long time to understand why.

Marxism is not economics.

Economic writings argue a point of view. Even Maynard Keynes compares and contrasts his theory to that of “classical economists,” a group of strawmen who actually did not exist. Almost everyone today takes it for granted that other economists in the 1930s actually said what Keynes described as a “classical economic position,” though not a single one existed in the real world.

Marx is an entirely different kettle of fish. He doesn’t even PRETEND to argue, even with mythical opponents. There is no comparing and contrasting in his writings with any other theory, be it economic or political. So for a young guy who is used to reading different theories, Marx is alien territory. There is nothing to grasp onto.

What I was not told before I embarked on reading Capital was that it is not a theory, it is a Statement of Faith. When he declares that a good is worth the amount of “objective labor time” in it, he ridicules the idea that a good is worth more in one place than another.

But that’s all he does, he ridicules it. He personally insults anyone who says that water in the middle of a desert is worth more than diamonds extracted at the cost of much labor time from inside the earth.

He never ARGUES at all. He say other ideas are ridiculous.

This is not an economic point of view. This is, to repeat, a pure statement of Faith.

The Gospels do not cite archeological evidence.

They state the Only True Faith. It takes an economist quite a while to realize that “Marxist Economics” has nothing to do with economics and to read it accordingly.

The Communist Manifesto is shorter. It begins with what sounds like an argument. It states flatly that all human history consists of class struggle. In 1848 this was easy to accept. In 1848, and for that matter in 1948 it was accepted that only the human animal held territory, it was accepted that all animals outside of man had perfect equality within the herd and the “pecking order” was confined entirely to the artificial human-made environment of the chicken yard.

Rousseau had said that animals were perfect and innocent, as were his “noble savages.” Only civilization made men evil by destroying their “natural state.” This was the assumption Marx started from. It was the assumption all of those who did not believe in Original Sin started from.

And the latter group was no saner, because they too believed animals were perfect..Photobucket

Marx applied the then popular Hegelian dialectic to this assumption. But the assumptions of Rousseau were universal outside of the Bible believers. The Rousseau assumptions about The Noble Savage were so universal then that nobody even noticed it in Marx.

Social scientists knew nothing about real animal behavior. No true animal behavior studies were ALLOWED because of what I keep, uselessly probably, pointing out, the question of “Where does this information come from?”

No animal behavior studies which contradicted the entire basis of social science for two centuries would be financed.

No animal behavior study that contradicted the whole weight of social science opinion in academe would be published even if it WERE financed.

The cover was blown on Rousseau and the whole basis of social science theory by a remarkable series of accidents. An animal behaviorist, Eugene Marais, in South Africa spent his life studying actual animal behavior. But he was an Afrikaner of French Huguenot extraction, and he was so upset with the loss of the Boer War that he refused, for the rest of his life, to write in English. This allowed his seminal work to be plagiarized by a Nobel Laureate, Maurice Maeterlinck.

His writings were read by an Oxford professor, J. S. Weiner, who as a child knew Marais to be a charming neighbor in Sunnyside, South Africa, and that professor became very popular lecturing on Marais’ findings, complete with animal sounds and other entertainment. Robert Ardrey, a hugely well paid screen writer who had taken his degree in anthropology, met the professor in Rome and wrote up the real findings in a block buster called African Genesis and later in The Territorial Imperative.

OUTSIDE academia, his heresy paid off in book sales.

That’s the only reason that Meerkat study and many, many others like them took place.