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Marx’s flaw.

April 14, 2011


In his article, “Why Socialism Failed”, Mark Perry says it best that socialism failed because it does not account for simple human nature (Perry, 1995). Simple human nature had always told us survival of the fittest. Someone always has to have more, have better, and come out on top. People want to have something to work for, like an incentive. From Marx’s view of socialism we are exposed to equality and common property, without him accounting for lack of incentives, human nature, and free will.

Perry’s article talks about  the tradgedy of commons, a 16th century British idea of communal land for growing crops and for grazing animals. The idea is that no one person has ownership of this land and that together everyone will work together to care for it. However, this plan failed horribly because there were not incentives for hardwork. If you worked harder, you would never gain more land or food. It later turned out that the land became worthless because the villagers felt that if everyone owned it, it was just the same as if no one owned it (Perry, 1995). This is a key reason why private property is dominant over public property. This land was disrespected and misused because the villagers let simple human nature take over. Since there was nothing to gain or call their own they just gave up on the idea. Private property (land) is much better cared for because people see a sense of pride, respect, and conservation.  If you were planting your field you would take time to make sure the soil was good, and that the seeds were planted correctly. On the other hand, if you were planting a public field with the towns seeds you could be more careless and possibly not work to your full potential. Why would one do this? Well because it is simple human nature. The private field would bring a harvest that was all yours, while the public field supplies food for everyone with just a little for you.

To me, Marx saw socialism as in a perfect fantasy land. He saw it as a place where everyone cooperates and abides with the structure at hand. Marx saw socialism as pure. He did not factor in human error or choice. His ideas might have worked much better in countries where the people choose socialism, but most of the time it is not a choice. In Cuba and Eastern Europe, socialism was forced upon the people instead of them choosing it with free will. Since the people became oppressed they took it upon themselves to act out and fight back.In these countries socialism failed while human nature won. Marx’s biggest flaw was that he forgot to incorporate the fact of free will and human nature into his plan.

“No government power can be abused long. Mankind

will not bear it. There is a remedy in human nature

against tyranny, that will keep us safe under every

form of government.”


Perry, M.J., (1995, June). Why Socialism Failed. Retrieved from:

  1. April 14, 2011 2:06 AM

    I agree with the idea that Marx may have miscalculated the degree of influence that rash human behavior may have on an economy, but what specifically do you mean by human nature? Do you mean the competitive human nature? Because Marx seems to factor human nature but say that this merely leads to a false “fetishism” over commodities. His ideals are quite utopic, but they also focus on the ability of people to work together to support one another, which is possible in society. I also am confused about the assertion of the idea that community-owned land is like owning no land at all. While it may also belong to others, one can undoubtedly benefit from community land. Marxism was exposed of being flawed, but I don’t see it as enough to chalk this flaw up to “human nature”. The lack of incentives surely played a large part, but where there no incentives? or just less than in a market economy? The failure of communist countries was for multiple economic reasons, and it’s tough to say that Perry provides substantial evidence to fully refute Marx’s ideology. I agree with your main points surely, but doubt that they are enough to refute Marx’s fundamental beliefs.

  2. Anna Gwiazdowski permalink
    April 14, 2011 12:02 PM

    I agree with your take on Marx and his failure to account for human error. People inherently want to better themselves and their livelihoods, yet if they live in a place where the benefits are equal, then why would one want to work hard? To expand on this idea, Marx idea of pure socialism sounds great in theory, but it will never occur. Even in countries that considered themselves “communist,” the leaders lived in better conditions than the common peoples. That isn’t communism or pure socialism; that’s more of a dictatorship or oligarchy. By nature, humans want to do well in life, and normally that involves being better than others. Look at the way college admissions are set up. Regardless of whether this is true or not, students want to do better than their peers so that they can get into the best college of their choice. That means the highest GPA, most well rounded, etc, etc. The job market also reflects this; the more qualifications you have, the more likely you are to get the job than the next person. Socialism will never be at its purest form because human society is inherently competitive and if their is no competition, then why try at all?

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