“The question of Free Trade or Protection moves entirely within the bounds of the present system of capitalist production, and has, therefore, no direct interest for us socialists who want to do away with that system.And Marx and Engels were middle class, bourgeois intellectuals who wanted the working class to suffer viciously just to get their imagined revolution: for Marx and Marxists, human beings and the working class are just means to an end in the most brutal, callous way, not ends in themselves.
Indirectly, however, it interests us inasmuch as we must desire as the present system of production to develop and expand as freely and as quickly as possible: because along with it will develop also those economic phenomena which are its necessary consequences, and which must destroy the whole system: misery of the great mass of the people, in consequence of overproduction. This overproduction engendering either periodical gluts and revulsions, accompanied by panic, or else a chronic stagnation of trade; division of society into a small class of large capitalist, and a large one of practically hereditary wage-slaves, proletarians, who, while their numbers increase constantly, are at the same time constantly being superseded by new labor-saving machinery; in short, society brought to a deadlock, out of which there is no escaping but by a complete remodeling of the economic structure which forms it basis.
From this point of view, 40 years ago Marx pronounced, in principle, in favor of Free Trade as the more progressive plan, and therefore the plan which would soonest bring capitalist society to that deadlock.”
Friedrich Engels, “On the Question of Free Trade,” Preface
Or to put it another way, if even Liberalism or Social Democracy can – to some extent – sometimes treat people as a means to an end, at least this has been strongly historically tempered by the concern for reasonable individual rights and the understanding that collectivism has limits.
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