Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Gyppo's critique of Marxism, aka 'Shut Up and Shave, You Sad Git'

I have long had considerable contempt for that self-important buffoon Karl Marx and his ignorant, piss-witted musings about things he clearly didn't understand; but until now have failed to engage in a dialectic with his unwashed, Socialist Worker-hawking minions. Partly this is because they steal the best pitches for lucky-heather selling in Britain's high streets and thus are the mortal enemies of all those with Romani blood, but partly it's because they simply have no idea.

Let me therefore lay out my intellectual objections to Marxism for them:
1) Marx was a continental philosopher. Now continental philosophers may have their uses - "draught excluder" and "ashtray" spring instantly to mind; but they are, to a man, self-important, incomprehensible geeks living in a bubble of their own tangled syntax and incapable of coming up with anything useful or relevant. Visit some cafes along the left bank of the Seine and you will see what I mean.

2) Marx was incapable of shaving properly. Have you seen pictures of the man's beard? I refuse to believe that either he or Engels were acceptably hygienic. There must have been stuff living in there.

3) Marx thought that you could understand the world from a corner of the British Museum Library. He made a number of crashingly wrong assumptions which Marxists twist themselves into knots trying to claim validity for.

Let me give you two examples:
Firstly, Marx claimed that primitive societies had no concept of property. While this may have been based on some of the "travellers' tales" produced by early and unscientific explorers, it turns out not to stand up to the glare of anthropological fieldwork. There is no society, however materially primitive, which has no concept of personal property. While one can almost forgive Marx this false assumption - after all, scientific anthropology had yet to get fully into its stride when he was writing - you can't excuse later generations of Marxists. I mentioned this lack of fieldwork recently to a socialist worker type in front of Reading Station and he replied petulantly "Marx did get out into the real world - he convened the first Communist Internationale!" So there you have it - for these whining losers, real life means holding a meeting with other saddoes. Now you see why I see Esperanto and Communism as two sides of the same autistic coin.

And secondly, he claimed that under capitalism wages would follow a downward spiral unless workers controlled the means of production. And did he do any research to find out whether the trend of wages under capitalism was up or down? Of course not "I am a European philosopher, zerefore I do not dirty mein hands viz facts!"

My academic field, when I had one, was ethnomusicology. This is culturally and psychologically a hipper and more laid-back twin of anthropology, and we as a breed tend towards an anthropologist's world-view. This means that our key challenge is "Nice idea; but have you done the fieldwork?" Philosophers never have. That's why they talk shite.

Tip for other academics and non-academics - if you see a rumble starting in the senior common room, side with the anthropologists. The philosophers may have silver tongues and cunning arguments, but we have a large collection of tribal weaponry and witch-doctors' curses.

Any Marxists wishing to critique the above may do so in person at my house, while I fiddle impatiently with my Dayak beheading sword.


No Good Boyo said...

Well said, young chal. In Marx's defence, I would say that he shaved off the beard - or rather had it shaved off by a barber - not long before he died, and he told Vera Zasulich that any attempt to establish Communism in Russia would be a disaster.

I think he left the fieldwork to Engels. "Dunno, Karl. Shall I go and ask some more factory girls?"

Socialist Workers measure their lives in meeting, rather like another useless section of humanity - managers. It is hardly surprising that so many Blairite suits started out in Communist grouplets.

Ethnomusicology is clearly the best discipline in the world. Find exotic ladies, and ask them to sing you their songs. Excellent.

scarlet-blue said...

There is no society, however materially primitive, which has no concept of personal property.

True - even dogs scent lamp-posts.

The philosophers may have silver tongues and cunning arguments, but we have a large collection of tribal weaponry and witch-doctors' curses.

I'm sorry Gyppo but philosophers wear better clothes - you know, beat-nik chic and all that. And they get to sit in French cafes in Paris, smoke french fags and drink proper coffee....how can you argue against that....plus they get to do everything in fashionable black 'n white as well.....

Gyppo Byard said...

Boyo - as so often, I concur with every word...

Scarlet - there's nothing to stop us swapping our khaki shorts and pith helmets for beatnik chic at times. Believe it or not, there were times when I sat with my coterie in the SOAS bar in black polo-neck sweater, black leather jacket, black beret and shades*. I also had a goatee, and used the word 'structuralism'.

What a total prat I must have looked.

*And trousers, since you ask. Black Levis.

scarlet-blue said...

Come on then....upload the pic....I bet you looked cute...

Gadjo Dilo said...

Interesting - I didn't know that Marx (and therefore his loyal disciples) believed that perfect share-and-share-alike societies already existed and so communism was just a matter of "scaling up" from one of these.

When in Paris I eschewed both the beatnik and all-black looks in favour of a Harris tweed jacket and a pipe. I suspect I looked even more of prat. Though possibly I reminded the locals of Gertrude Stein.

Gyppo Byard said...

Gadjo - I see you had clearly mastered the art of what Stephen Potter termed in "One-Upmanship" as "being the other in the other".

Example - moving seamlessly between, say, a small market town in Wiltshire and cafe society on Paris's Left Bank, one would adopt the black beret, polo-neck and leather jacket, accesorised with a disque bleu and the latest Bernard-Henri Levi rib-tickler in Wiltshire; while moving around Paris with military bearing, mustard-coloured corduroys, tweed jacket, pipe, walking-stick and a Black Labrador at the heel.

When teaching British Studies in Indonesia I was known to appear on campus in three-piece linen suit, highly-polished shoes, bow tie, panama hat and briar pipe.

When teaching gamelan in England, I regularly wear batik shirts. All clothing is a form of theatrical costume.

Were I ever to react to hell freezing over by attending a communist meeting, I would wear a top-hat and gold watch-chain.

Gadjo Dilo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gadjo Dilo said...

Nice thought, Gyppo, but I really hadn't mastered anything much at that age! You sound very elegant though in your "British Studies" outfit in Indonesia. Despite having had a huniversity heducation I've had precious exposure to the theories of communism during my life - my main source of information is Alexei Sayle. Though when I was in the Balalaika Dance Group we were sometimes invited to perform at meetings of the Anglo-Soviet Friendship Society (I think it was called) - now, here's my theory, just keep people dancing and they'll be less trouble in the world!

scarlet-blue said...

I went to a comprehensive, so the only theories I've been exposed to were those of communism.
But it was a comprehensive and I was reading my Jackie mag the whole time.

Mrs Pouncer said...

Marx! What I hate most about him is that he could've been a stoner in a nice Withnaily way, but instead he fucked it up by being such a git. Poor Engels! All those handouts (rent for the Dean St flat, beer money, special ointment for Marx's boils, even paid for 2 of the Marx infants to be buried FFS) and never a word of thanks. One night they got thrown out of a pub on the Tottenham Court Road, and Engels took the rap for that, too.
He was content to live in squalor, he often had to stay in because all his clothes had been pawned, and he knocked up the housemaid. Tosser.

Gyppo Byard said...

Gadjo - You play balalaika? Sound! I've always thought of it as a kind of slavic ukulele designed by someone who couldn't cope with curves.

Scarlet - I too am a product of the comprehensive system, and therefore saw the appeal of class war. Not for any detailed ideological reasons, but simply because we hated toffs.

Mrs Pouncer - I sense a certain tension in you today, though I concur utterly with the focus of your anger. Let us calm ourselves with a Marxist joke?

Engels: Gosh - thirsty work writing this manifesto. Shall we stop and have a cup of tea, Karl?
Marx: Only herbal tea for me please, Fred.
Engels: Why?
Marx: Because all proper tea is theft*.

[This is actually a misquote from Proudhon, but who cares?]

Gadjo Dilo said...

'fraid not, Gyppo, I was one of the dancers, and not even one of the soloists. Shit, I seem to be leaving out important words again: "precious LITTLE exposure to the theories of communism"...