Marxism Explained in 2 Minutes, with Deirdre McCloskey

Release Date
February 6, 2017



“Marx was the greatest social scientist of the 19th century…” says Professor  Deirdre McCloskey. “But he got everything wrong.”

    1. Bernie Is Not A Socialist and America Is Not Capitalist (blog article): Marxism isn’t the only political ideology that we frequently misuse. Learn why we’ve been mislabeling Bernie Sanders and America. 
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    3. Why Government Fails and Why Ideas Matter (policy report): In this article from Cato, Professor Donald Boudreaux argues that ideas in themselves matter.


Dave Rubin: The word Marxist, I think people have no idea what they’re talking about. Socialism, they don’t know what they’re talking about.
Deirdre McClosky: No no, they don’t.
Dave Rubin: Most of these words, most of these words most people don’t know what they’re talking about, but Marxist I find to be the one that people really just have no concept on what they’re talking about. First, can you just define what a Marxist is? Then just tell me a little bit about your journey?
Deirdre McClosky: Marx’s was … Now here’s when I get my right wing friends just, they go nuts. I say, Marx was the greatest social scientist in the 19th century, without compare. All my friends at the Hoover Institution go, “Ah,” and then I say, “But he got everything wrong,” and then my friends in the left go, “Ah” Which is why I haven’t got any friends.
Dave Rubin: The life of a classical liberal. It ain’t easy.
Deirdre McClosky: It ain’t easy.
Dave Rubin: Well you’re pissing off people on both sides.
Deirdre McClosky: Pissing off people on both sides. Now, the basic idea of Marxism of course is that history has a particular pattern, and that ideas come from that pattern, from that material pattern that the class struggle is central. “The history of all hitherto existing societies,” To quote The Communist Manifesto is the history of class struggle. If you believe that and you believe that ideas are just epiphenomenal, that they just come from your class position, which is what Marxist are supposed to think. Then you’ll be a follower of Marx.
Oddly, about 1890 to about 1980, nice symmetry there, most intellectuals in the West were some kind of Marxist. Even the conservatives were. Even the conservatives believed that material interests were what determined ideas. Where as my claim and the claim of a growing number of historians and especially historians is a no-no. Ideas themselves have an influence, an independent influence. The idea that all men and women are created equal is a terrifically powerful idea. It’s that egalitarianism of 18th century liberalism that I’m trying to reinvigorate.