How Many of Marx's Interim Goals Have We "Accomplished?"
Today, May 1, is May Day. It is celebrated by communists in many countries.
So I thought it would be a good idea to take stock and see where we are on the road to the communist ideal. In The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels laid out 10 interim measures on the way to communism.
The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralise all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organised as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible.
Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionising the mode of production.
These measures will, of course, be different in different countries.
Nevertheless, in most advanced countries, the following will be pretty generally applicable.
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.
3. Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to work. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of all the distinction between town and country by a more equable distribution of the populace over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, &c, &c.
Where are we on these measures in the United States?
- Although we are not close to abolition of property in land, governments at various levels prevent people from using their land for many peaceful purposes, e.g., housing, often prevent owners from evicting tenants, and sometimes use eminent domain to take people’s land forcibly.
- At the federal level and in many states such as New York and California, we do have a very heavy progressive, or graduated, tax. As a result, tax rates on income from work range from 0 percent to over 50 percent.
- We still have strong rights on inheritance although the federal government does take a big chunk of inheritances that exceed $12.92 million. The tax rate for amounts above that threshold start at 18% and rise to 40%.
- We seem to have mainly dodged a bullet on this one.
- Although there is still lots of private credit, much of it is in the hands of the state and much of private credit is regulated heavily by the state.
- Much of communication and much of transportation is decentralized, but much of it is centrally regulated. Think FCC for communication and FAA, TSA, Amtrak, and government roads for transportation.
- We have avoided most of this.
- Fortunately there are no industrial armies and there is no conscription, except for juries. Indeed, people often get financially penalized with lower welfare payments and zero unemployment benefits when they do work.
- We have pretty much avoided this.
- Marx and Engels would be pretty happy about this one because there are universal government schools for which people pay zero in tuition but heavily in taxes, the size of which has nothing to do with whether one has kids in these government schools.
May 1 2023 at 12:17pm
4. We seem to have mainly dodged a bullet on this one.
Kind of. The US imposes an exist tax on wealthy emigrants and continues to levy income taxes on emigrants who earn income abroad:
Expatriation after June 3, 2004 and before June 17, 2008
The American Jobs Creation Act (AJCA) of 2004 amends IRC section 877, which provides for an alternative tax regime for certain, expatriated individuals. Amended IRC 877 creates objective criteria to impose the tax on individuals with an average income tax liability for the 5 prior years of $124,000 for tax year 2004, $127,000 for tax year 2005, $131,000 for 2006, $136,000 for 2007, or $139,000 for 2008, or a net worth of $2,000,000 on the date of expatriation. In addition, it requires individuals to certify to the IRS that they have satisfied all federal tax requirements for the 5 years prior to expatriation and requires annual information reporting for each taxable year during which an individual is subject to the rules of IRC 877.
Further, expatriated individuals will be subject to U.S. tax on their worldwide income for any of the 10 years following expatriation in which they are present in the U.S. for more than 30 days, or 60 days in the case of individuals working in the U.S. for an unrelated employer.
Finally, even if they do not meet the monetary thresholds for imposition of the IRC 877 expatriation tax, IRC 7701(n) provides that individuals will continue to be treated as U.S. citizens or long-term residents for U.S. tax purposes until they have notified both the Internal Revenue Service (via Form 8854) and the Secretary of the Department of State (for former U.S. citizens) or the Department of Homeland Security (for long-term permanent residents) of their expatriation or termination of residency.
Also, for individuals who expatriated after June 3, 2004, and before June 17, 2008, IRC 6039G requires annual information reporting for each taxable year during which such an individual is subject to the rules of IRC 877. Form 8854 is due on the date that the individual’s U.S. income tax return for the taxable year is due or would be due if such a return were required to be filed.
Form 8854, Initial and Annual Expatriation Information Statement, and its Instructions have been revised to permit individuals who expatriated after June 3, 2004, and before June 17, 2008, to meet the new notification and information reporting requirements under IRC 6039G.
Notice 2005-36, Form 8854 and Expatriation Reporting Rules
IR-2005-49 (issued 4/22/05), IRS, Treasury Release Guidance on Expatriation Reporting Requirements
Thomas L Hutcheson
May 1 2023 at 12:44pm
#10 Done, possible a bit over done in discouraging tanagers from working but the fault there maybe more college admissions officers than the state
# 2. Some progress. Marginal rates are pretty high, but there are many problems (special rates for capital income, deductions instead of partial tax credits, taxation of business income instead of imputing it to owners. Lots of room for improvement.
#3 Progress, but the re-basing of capital gains undermines the rates.
The rest very little, fortunately. And of course he totally overlooked the need for Pigou taxation.
May 1 2023 at 2:16pm
But really, how much useful work can you get out of something as small as a tanager?
May 2 2023 at 10:47am
Thomas: “He totally overlooked the need for Pigou taxation”? Not at all. It can be argued that the 10 points bring the Pigovian program to its ultimate achievement, and honestly so, without hiding its violence? Consider how most of the 10 measures if not all can be reformulated in Pigovian terms: reducing the externalities of poverty, inequality, and envy, maximizing social income, guaranteeing the security of the proletariat, and allowing Philosopher Kings from the vanguard of the proletariat to calculate marginal costs and marginal benefits–even total costs and total benefits.
Viewed from a slightly different viewpoint, the Communist Manifesto confirms with a vengeance, and without the scientific varnish (or rather, with another brand), Anthony de Jasay’s observation:
May 1 2023 at 4:21pm
4: Given things like Operation Choke Point and Trudeau’s reaction to the trucker protest, I don’t think we’re as far from this as we should be (ties in with 5 as well, really)
May 1 2023 at 5:55pm
I’m hardly sanguine. If we’ve only dodged 3 out of the 10, 4,7 and 9; it seems only a matter of time before we get a complete approximation of this dystopia.
May 1 2023 at 6:27pm
According to Marx, there will be a series of cascading events that take place before fully transitioning from capitalism to communism. Those series of events are what Marxist theory collectively defines as socialism, the intermediate phase between capitalism and communism.
The U.S. has unquestionably warmed up to, but not yet fully embraced, socialism (or what today’s adherents have rebranded social democracy). Since the pandemic, however, I would argue we’ve moved with breakneck speed towards implementing the interim measures laid out in The Socialist Manifesto, which includes a chapter outlining a 15-point plan for a democratic overthrow of American capitalism.
As a precursor to communism, I’ll wager we’re a lot further along on these measures in the U.S. than those addressed by Dr. Henderson.
dennis e miller
May 1 2023 at 8:59pm
Even though my family was middle class, I went to a private school. I did the same for my kids. So we paid our own way for our education and yet still paid heavy taxes for the schooling of others. Aside from that unfairness I might not have minded paying school taxes 60 or 70 years ago when there seemed to be a more beliefs and ideals held in common. But nowadays I find it revolting paying school taxes that support indoctrination of children with revisionist history such as critical race theory and also nonsense like transgenderism. I’d prefer they stick to classic truths.
May 1 2023 at 9:04pm
David’s extended quotation comes from pp. 26-27 of the document to which he links. Another list is to be found on pp. 49-50 of the same document. There Marx and Engels list twelve measures, including these two:
(x) Destruction of all unhealthy and jerry-built dwellings in urban districts.
(xi) Equal inheritance rights for children born in and out of wedlock.
What do readers think of these particular demands, and how far have they been realized?
May 1 2023 at 11:28pm
“Today, May 1, is May Day. It is celebrated by communists in many countries.”
(1) How many real communists are left to celebrate May Day? For example, are any of the rulers of the People’s Republic of China committed communists?
(2) May Day has long been celebrated by people other than avowed communists. International Workers’ Day is also called “May Day”, but the two are otherwise unrelated.
(3) May Day was abolished and its celebration banned by Puritan parliaments during the Interregnum, but reinstated with the restoration of Charles II in 1660. So I say Let’s celebrate May Day whether or not we recognize Charles III as the head of state of the UK!
May 2 2023 at 12:28pm
Marx and Engels in their joint preface to the 1872 edition stated: ‘No special stress is laid on the revolutionary measures proposed at the end of Section II. That passage would, in many respects, be differently worded today.’