The Democratic Party and Karl Marx
Unveiling the roots of Democrats' logic.
(/sites/default/files/uploads/2014/02/karl_marx.jpg)New York Senator Chuck Schumer thinks that it is a good thing, an affirmation of “family values” and “freedom,” that nearly 3 million people are expected to stop working in order to be able to qualify for Obamacare subsidies.
While on “Meet the Press” this past weekend, Schumer was blunt: The “bottom line,” he said, “is very simple. What [the] CBO [Congressional Budget Office] said is that many American workers would have freedom. Now that’s a good word,” Schumer continued, for it means that Americans would now have the “freedom to do things that they couldn’t [previously] do.”
That Obamacare promises to discourage people from looking for work is also a boost for “family values.” Schumer explained: “The single mom who’s raising three kids [and] has to keep a job because of healthcare, can now spend some time raising those kids. That’s a family value.”
Schumer’s fellow partisans, both in Washington and the media, are seconding his sentiments.
And make no mistakes about it: Schumer, Barack Obama, and all leftists who have been aching for national healthcare for a century truly believe, to the very marrow of their bones, that work or labor is something from which most people need liberation.
This is but another way of saying that some of the more salient concepts of the philosophy of Karl Marx, if not his entire philosophy, live on in the contemporary Democratic Party.
This is not hyperbole. That Schumer and Obama may not subscribe to Marx’s “dialectical materialism,” say, is neither here nor there. The fact is that, like Marx, leftist Democrats are convinced that “capitalism,” i.e. the private sector, “alienates” workers from their “labor.”
Marx contrasted “the human world” with “the world of things.” He writes: “The devaluation of the human world increases in direct relation with the increase in value of the world of things” (emphases original). A worker’s labor reduces the worker to “a commodity [.]”
That is, workers are related to their work “as to an alien object” (emphasis original). What this means is that the laborer “becomes a slave of the object,” the “thing” or the “commodity,” that he produces. “The life which he has given to the object sets itself against him as an alien and hostile force,” “an autonomous power” that now “exists independently” of its author.
Marx’s idea seems to be something like this: Human beings produce goods in exchange for the wages of their labor. This, though, results in the human becoming dependent upon the fruits of his labor, for his need for “subsistence” demands that he continue producing. The creature now stands over and above the creator. But it isn’t just the product of his labor to which the laborer is now enslaved: he is enslaved as well to his labor itself.
Since a person who works is related to “his own activity as something alien and not belonging to him,” his “activity” becomes “suffering (passivity),” his “strength” is rendered “powerlessness,” and his “creation” is his “emasculation [.]” In other words, “the personal physical and mental energy of the worker, his personal life,” is “an activity which is directed against himself, independent of him and not belonging to him.”
And because of the human being’s “alienation” from both his labor and that which it produces, each worker is now “alienated” from other human beings: “man becomes alienated from other men.”
Schumer, Obama, and all leftist Democrats who claim to think that Americans’ emancipation from work is some kind of historical achievement believe what they say. This is what their opponents must understand. We must also understand that this belief of Schumer’s, Obama’s, and Marx’s is inseparable from another: Private property is both cause and effect of the misery, the “alienation,” brought about by work.
Of course, no contemporary Democrat will think to say this aloud, but their actions speak loudly enough, revealing for all who will but listen that they are of one mind with Marx when the latter laments how private property, being both “the product of alienate labor” and “the means by which labor is alienated,” “has made us so stupid and partial [.]”
Doubtless, there are legions of Democrats—and, for that matter, Republicans—who will genuinely regard this analysis as over the top. They are mistaken. Both the policies for which we argue, as well as the arguments that we offer on their behalf, possess their own logic.
And the logic of leftist Democrats like Schumer and Obama is the logic of Marx.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.