An updated addendum to the list of my unpopular opinions four years out.

You can see the original 2016 post here.

Opinions about Marxism that are probably unpopular that I have developed since 2016:

Marx and Engels are closer to each other than many who want to excuse some of the later developments of Marxism want them to appear to be, but they are NOT the same. There are differences in focus, in terminology, in scope, and in answers between Engels and Marx.

While Marx talked about history as the movement of aggregates, the focus on collectives have confused matters. Collectives are imaginary subjects that manifest as an abstraction of aggregates. There are things that are good for a collective that are bad for each of the individual members and thus ultimately doom the collective effort. Separating out aggregate and collective descriptions is thus important.

Political determinism is generally the refuge of those who want to refute economism, rightly, but really have nothing on offer but their own ideological critique, which is generally ad hoc, and based on success in a short run without looking at long run failure.

Most of the Marxists who move to base-building or localism–from DSAers to communizers to social unionists–are right about the problems of national organizing limits in both its inherent nationalism and the problems of corruption due to money at scale, but thinking that making one down stream from national finance and real estate influence removes the problem doesn’t hold. In fact, it causes your ability to offer any counter power to it to be bogged down by the fact that donors are now even more hidden and can pull funding easily.

Romanticization of unions and anti-union leftism are both generally from people who have never belonged to a union that wasn’t basically a freelancer guild.

The northeastern industrial unions were legitimately mobbed up as the industrial sector declined. This is logical. They would never have the lobbying power of the professional unions or the capital interests and with little access to the state, force and capital flows, it makes perfect sense. Quasi-lumpenization makes sense then.

Marxism has a shit theory of money as an expression of a commodity and, in lieu of that historical fact changing, often spins its wheels.

If the economy can run on fumes for decades with the appearance of profits and the final terminal crisis happened at the end of Fordism in 1960s/70s, whereas in the prior long cycle, the terminal crisis was offset by Fordism and Keynesianism into the 1930s, perhaps you don’t actually have final terminal crises.

A lot of Marxists confuse historiography with history so they can sound smart while saying very little. This includes many famous academics.

A lot of Marxist activity prolongs the very things it is trying to critique. Neoliberal cynical politicking? Let’s get the DSA on that.

Opinions about Education that I have developed since 2016:

Most progressive education reforms that make it easier to get a credential devalue the credential and move the skills needed up the ladder, so that people need more private education or more out-of-their-own-pocket education for more basic things.

Knowledge is only power when others don’t have it.

Literacy has been declining since 2015. Some of that is schools finally meeting hard limits of years of bad reforms, some of it is technological effects of executive function.

We have less bullying in school now, probably as an effect of low-level constant cyberbullying subjecting more people to bullying and thus making it a less attractive means of showing power.

Public school has a marginal effect on general literacy once basic reading and writing is established.

PISA scores are not optimal, but they aren’t meaningless.

The teaching staff was more diversified 50 years ago than now. Two reasons are simple: relative pay compared to other fields has gone down and social clout related to teaching declined. If one is a person of color or an immigrant, appealing to their need for diversity to teach is gaslighting. One does not struggle to be first person in their family to be educated to go get a job that just does a little better than average for the debt load one must take on for it.

There has been as massive resource drain because of the expansion of administration in primary and secondary schools–particularly at the school board level. There is a reason why education costs per taxpayer have gone up over 100% over two decades; 91% of all school spending is on staffing, and yet teacher pay has stagnated or declined. Someone is soaking up the resources and it is not students or even instructors.

Most parents do not understand the structure of education enough to attack the right people when calling for reforms because it is hidden from them.


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