Tuesday, September 3, 2013

No Longer Marx's Labor Day

In answer to the NJ Star-Ledger's Labor Day editorial, in which they stated that "Labor, in all its forms and permutations, is and will always be the backbone of both our economy and society," I left these comments: 

Labor Day was conceived in Marxism. Marx championed the labor theory of value; the idea that physical labor is the source of all economic value. Marx dismissed the mind. Consequently, he disdained those who lived primarily by the mind—in particular, the businessman.

Marx got it wrong.  It is intellectual, not physical, labor that is the true "backbone of both our economy and society." This is not to denigrate those whom we typically think of as workers (I am a retired worker). In an important sense, all workers are intellectual laborers, because every job requires the attainment of a certain lever of knowledge and mental skills, especially today. 

But we need to be honest. Physical labor—"workers"—has been around for millennium. Through all of the centuries of grinding poverty, misery, and short, brutal life spans, workers' lives stagnated. What changed with America, the nation of the Enlightenment? The rise of the businessman to economic prominence under the freedom of capitalism that American principles of individual rights unleashed. 
It is the businessman who bridged the link between the theoretical knowledge of the scientist and the needs of human survival, providing the vision, commercializing the inventions, creating the jobs, setting the productive purpose, and providing the productivity tools that power the American worker. The American businessman is the unsung hero behind our incredible prosperity. 

Karl Marx was a fool. It's time we shed Labor Day of Marx. It's time we recast Labor Day to honor all laborers, physical and intellectual. 
The businessman is exactly that—the premier kind of worker—the intellectual laborer. 

No comments: