I think I should start keeping track of how many times I say “I’m not a Marxist.” Or even a Marxian. (Which is a word I can’t look at without thinking of Marvin.)
Because it’s really weird how hard I have to try to keep orienting my own theoretical perspective on economic issues in order to acknowledge that — although capitalism sometimes does bad things to people— we still expect ourselves to take it for granted, as an incontrovertible fact of our lives.
Democracy is the same way: it can do bad things to the minority, but we don’t want to admit it; we want to reassure ourselves that it’s great for everybody. Even the small groups of people who are ill-served by it. We seldom talk about it, but when we do we refer to it as the tyranny of the majority. In a true freewheeling radical democracy that incorporates the rules of capitalist competition, everyone looks out for their own interests, and the group with the lowest numbers loses. If enough conservatives are worried that queer Americans represent a threat to their ways of life, then conservatives vote to deprive those queer Americans of various rights: such is the tyranny of the majority. (Conservative rhetorics often invoke metaphors of the holocaust — as Terry Gross was stunned by on NPR the other night — or the civil rights movement — as John Lovas has recently pointed out — in order to represent the privileged as victims. Does your heart not bleed for the wealthy?)
What I’m trying to say is that it seems to me that the name for any critique of capitalism has become “Marxism”, and that such a label has been used quite well by those that benefit from capitalism as a smear term for the perspective of any who might speak against them. I wish there were more than one term for a critique of the injuries (and their concomitant framework) associated with capitalism.
There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio.