Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Robert Paul Wolff — A Word Of Explanation

Robert Paul Wolff reflects on Marx as moralist.

The Philosopher's Stone
Robert Paul Wolff

I agree that Marx was not a moralist in the Western tradition, but was doing something different in his own understanding. This does not imply that it was not concerned with values or morality. He simple adopted a different approach, more in tune with the scientific orientation of the 19th century.

Marx was not an economist in the contemporary sense in that economics was not yet a recognized discipline. It was the province of social and political thinkers, some of whom either realized the importance of material conditions, or else were attempting to influence policy, which required addressing what Adam Smith had simply called “commerce.” 

Marx was familiar with the classical economists as well as the social and political controversies of his day. His work is often in response to particulars of this debate.

Capitalism was replacing feudalism as the dominant socio-economic and political factor. So was liberalism. The bourgeoisie wanted freedom from government intrusion to conduct their affairs. 

Ultimately, the bourgeoisie wanted to be the government. This was realized for the first time through the American Revolution, and it was expressed in Chief Justice John Jay's view that those who own the country should govern it. 

Bourgeois liberalism viewed citizenship in terms of property ownership. Where this could not be enforced de jure, it would be imposed de facto through the influence of social status, political power, and economic wealth.

Liberalism taken as the confluence of social, political and economic liberalism is a trifecta that results in contradictions. As a dialectician Marx was not bothered by this, since contradiction is the driving force of transformation in the historical dialectic. The challenge is to view those contradictions as paradoxes that get resolved in the rising wave of history that is rising wave, unseen by most, behind the cresting wave of the present historical “moment.”

For Marx, the liberalism of the day was bourgeois liberalism. Under the present system that dominates "the free world," it still is.

Bourgeois liberalism is based on prioritizing the right of ownership and transfer of private property above other rights.

John Locke provided such rights with a philosophical foundation in natural law.

In Marx's terminology, Locke considered the forces and relations of production as based on natural law, similar to the laws of nature of Newtonian physics.

Marx rejected Locke’s views based on natural law as assumption-based rather than empirically founded. Locke’s narrative attempt at recreating prehistory is imaginative.

Marx held that bourgeois liberalism is institutionally based rather than being natural, and that human institutions are the product of the forces and relations of production prevailing at any moment of history. History is a dynamic process and the forces and relations of production shift over time. This result in shifts in the sociological superstructure. 

Rather than being grounded in so-called natural law, the forces and relations of production are not static but dynamic and change over the course of time, resulting in a corresponding change in consciousness and its products — culture and institutions.

However, Marx implicitly agreed with Locke and most other prominent innovative thinkers of the age that naturalistic explanation was to be preferred. Moral and value-laden accounts are to be avoided. But he did not view Locke or the classical economists as sufficiently naturalistic. They were mouthpieces of their bourgeois background, which they failed to realize and universalized their own thoughts and experience illegitimately from the logical and scientific perspective.

Aspiring to be scientists after the model of Newton, they sought to be objective in their analysis, if only for the reason that the times demand rational justification. Aiming at naturalism is different from achieving it. Locke's explanation of property based on individual use (improvement) of the commons and Smith's barter economy are historical narratives rather than scientific evidence.

Marx sought to do better in grounding his analysis in evidence.

But even though Marx was co-founder or at least harbinger of sociology, he was not only social scientist. He was also a humanist. However, his idea of human nature was dynamic rather than static, existential rather than essential.

Like Hegel, Marx viewed history as the unfolding of potential — human being revealing itself to itself in history rather than as a given working out its destiny (salvation) individually. Self discovery is social. But for Marx it is also materially based, hence, potentially the subject of scientific inquiry.

And like many others in his day Marx believed in "progress." He admitted that capitalism as moment of history was an advance over feudalism. But both were historical moments that, like other historical moments. would be transcended as the underlying forces and relations of production exhausted their potential relative to conditions and fresh forces and relations of production would take their place.

Marx was also trained as a philosopher. He wrote is dissertation on ancient Greek thought – materialistic atomism in particular, which was in keeping with the physics of his day. He would also have been familiar with the overarching social and political questions with which the ancients were concerned, namely, what it means to live a good life in a good society.

Marx also knew Hegel's views on this well. He put himself in the Hegelian tradition, albeit by "standing Hegel on his head." But the same can be said of Hegel in relation to the previous dominant force in German thought, Emmanuel Kant, in taking Occam’s razor (the law of parsimony) to Kant’s “thing-in-itself.”

Marx doesn't appear out of nowhere but was working in a historical context of which he was acutely aware. These were exciting times and the young Marx was similar to the young intellectuals of the Sixties and Seventies who regarded themselves as participants in a countercultural revolution.

For Marx, change comes about not so much through ideas as through changing material conditions that influence ideas: "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness." (Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy)

I am not a student of Marx, but It seems clear from Marx's work I have read that he was dismissive of the notion that capitalism and bourgeois liberalism would or could lead to living a good life in a good society. The goal of the bourgeoisie is living "the good life" based on property accumulation and resultant enjoyments.

Marx sought to demonstrate that bourgeois accumulation occurs through not through merit, as claimed, but rather through extraction of economic rent.

The classical economists agreed that economic rent is economic gain in excess of productive contribution. This was clear in the case of the feudal land lords. Marx strove to show that it was true of the lords of capital, too.

Being based on interest and profit as economic rents, capitalism is an iteration of feudalism, which was based on interest and land rent.

Rent as gain without work is inherently exploitive in that it is based on receiving the benefit of unpaid labor.

The goal of bourgeois liberalism is to become a rentier. This is the incentive of the accumulation of wealth from rents, profit being a type of rent along with land rent and financial.

Hence, bourgeois liberalism rests on contradiction, since exploitation is illiberal. Paid work is slavery, which deprives others of their freedom.

In contemporary terms, Marx comes across as a liberal humanist in the sense advocating for free persons determining themselves in a free society. This requires both negative and positive freedom in Berlin's sense.

Rent extraction, the term economists use for "exploitation," limits positive freedom.

If there is “an end of history” this what it would look like from the liberal humanist POV — no rent = no economic exploitation. Not abstract freedom of freedom from constraint, but real freedom to choice with the means to do so. See, for example, Erich Fromm, Marx's Concept of Man, The nature of man, p 23ff.

(Actually the knowledge revolution and the digital age makes this a realizable promise in ways that we cannot conceive, let alone Marx. The challenge is distributional.)

Moreover, Marx was writing following both the American and French Revolutions. He was under no illusions about the American Revolution, when the US Constitution had enshrined slavery as an institution and the US was engaged in fighting a bloody civil war over it.

And, of course, everyone in that time was acutely aware that the French revolution had resulted in disaster rather than liberty. It was clear that just overthrowing the old order and declaring "freedom" was insufficient to achieve lasting real freedom for all.

Marx's insight was that social and political life is based on the prevailing forces and relations of production as actual conditions that can be studied objectively. Just having a revolution is therefore insufficient. The economic underpinning must be changed and the time must be ripe for it.

Marx sought to pursue his project as naturalistically as he could manage, without letting subjectivity slip through in. He was hampered in this somewhat since he was a pioneer in what would come to be developed as economics, sociology, and political science.

On the other hand, Marx had an attitude that drove him to write. It was a magnificent obsession for him, not only to discover truth but also because it was important to him as a humanist.

Criticizing Marx as an ideologue who was a “moralogue” pushing a set of values misses the mark, regardless of what one thinks of those values. He was either right or wrong on objective grounds in his assumptions, analysis, and claims, and either his arguments were sound, or not. Marx’s work should be evaluated based on what he set out to do — provide a naturalistic account.


Bob said...

Is there a difference between bourgeois liberalism and classical liberalism?

Tom Hickey said...

In Marx's view classical liberalism is inherently bourgeois, so Jefferson as a slave owner could write, "All men are created equal," and not see the disconnect.

Jonathan Larson said...

Marx, the goto guy for some of history's most brutal mass-murderers a moralist? Oh please.

The trouble with Marx is that he was trying to describe the economies that were emerging from the industrial revolution, yet because he was technologically illiterate, he could not grasp what was happening and so renamed industrialism, Capitalism. And because he could not understand the world of inventors and builders, he substituted experimentation for reading in a library.

Actually, it is quite miraculous he got as much right as he did.

Tom Hickey said...

In hindsight, Marx's genius lay in the questions he posed himself rather than the answers he was working on given what he had to work with. Conventional economics refuses to ask those questions, and they are deal with only in sociology and poli sci.

Marx is important in the history of Western thought more because of his influence than his greatness as a thinker. But we are still talking about Marx, while Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant and Hegel — the heavyweights — are largely forgotten or only of historical interest today.

Even though Marx was not an economist but rather a philosopher and social activist, he counts historically as one of the great economists. Nor does his influence stop there (even though conventional economics marginalizes him), but extends to contemporary sociology and poli sci.

Can Marx be blamed for Lenin, Stalin, Mao, etc.? Indirectly at best.

He did advocate for the necessity of revolution. But he was wrong about that. War was a much more potent force, and the European governments that he was opposing in his day were taken down by WWI rather than revolution, decades after the revolutions of 1848 failed to do so. Marx never expected revolution in either Russia or China based on his analysis, or the course they took.

However, the capitalistic order is still very much dominant. Whether it is the "end of history," only time will tell.

But if it isn't, then there is the question of the fate of the bourgeoisie. Will there be only a fairly egalitarian propertied class? Or will the bourgeoisie just become obsolete and die off, with faint remnants remaining as evidence of a bygone era, like the European aristocrats? Or will this transition involve the liquidation of the bourgeoisie that stand in the way of change, as Marx thought?

Stay tuned.

Jonathan Larson said...

What sort of Capitalism are you talking about? There is Finance Capitalism (the Predators) and Industrial Capitalism (the Producers). It's the difference between pirates and inventors.

Because Marx refused to understand this distinction, he could only appeal to those who believe that violence is the basis of the social order. The absolute peak of Marxist thought came during the Great Leap Forward when Mao ordered up backyard steel mills and then executed anyone who pointed out that this was an utterly insane idea.

It is MOST unfortunate that con man still has intellectual influence. I have discovered that the folks who can be convinced by Marx's crackpot ideas are usually the same techno-cretins who have trouble assembling their IKEA purchases. And since the biggest problem facing humanity is the need to convert to an infrastructure than no longer relies on fire, it is probably not the best idea to listen to folks who are confused by any tool more sophisticated than a fork.

Matt Franko said...

If it was not already obvious I would have to take Jonathan's side here.....

Bob said...

Charles Dickens failed to make a distinction between the various flavors of capitalism. But I guess he had better, more productive things to do than quibble over definitions.

Simsalablunder said...

"he could only appeal to those who believe that violence is the basis of the social order."

That implies that Nordic countries Social Democrats believed that violence is the basis of the social order. I very much doubt that.

Tom Hickey said...

What sort of Capitalism are you talking about? There is Finance Capitalism (the Predators) and Industrial Capitalism (the Producers). It's the difference between pirates and inventors.

Because Marx refused to understand this distinction, he could only appeal to those who believe that violence is the basis of the social order.

As Michael Hudson has pointed out, the situation was different in Marx's day. The finance capitalists did not have the power they have today and according to Hudson, Marx would not have conceived in his wildest dreams the reversal that taken place.

Marx could also not have anticipated the technological advance that has taken place and the success rise of trade unions, albeit after a bitter fight with industrial capitalists.

Marx and Engels were writing in day in which the economy was controlled by the industrialists that owned the factories that replaced the fields under feudalism and the manor system in the agricultural age. Reading the economic history of the time, it is pretty simple to see why Marx was talking about exploitation and workers suppression in the rise of the industrial age. See, for instance, Engels, Condition of the Working Class in England (1945).

Simsalablunder said...

In Sweden huge industrial capitalists quickly became huge finance capitalists. No problem what so ever to take that step. This romantic idea that industrial capitalists are some kind of other type with different better moral than finance capitalists is just baloney. Some understood what was happening, others didn't. Those who did are now also finance capitalists.

Tom Hickey said...

Same in US. The large industrial firms like GE and GM created financial subsidiaries that eventually became chief profit centers.

Bob said...

Industrial capitalism is alive and well in sweatshops around the world.

Jonathan Larson said...

Okay. I'll try to make it easier to understand. Building something from nothing takes a very different sort of person than someone who pillages an existing company. Moreover, the general public understands the difference as well. For example, when John D. Rockefeller died, less than 10 people showed up for his funeral. When Henry Ford died, 50,000 people stood in a pouring rain just to walk by his bier. When Steve Jobs died, spontaneous shrines sprung up in dozens of places around the globe. I am willing to bet that will not happen for Paul Singer or Michael Milken. Elon Musk is treated as a god. Etc.

People who do not understand the difference between builders and thieves are as confused as anyone who cannot distinguish between up and down.

As for the Nordic Social Democrats, allow me to point out that the great genius Branting made about 1000 speeches in his life drawing a distinction between his version of socialism and the hardcore version of Communism / Bolshevism.

And yes, it is true that industrial companies can fall into the hands of the Predators. This is always a sign of decline. Examples include GE, GM, and Boeing. I weep for all three.

Jonathan Larson said...

Charles Dickens?

I had NO idea he was a political economist. He wasn't even much of a story-teller.

BTW, here in the USA midwest, the distinction between business and industry was co clear, it showed up in the formation of the various state land-grant institutions. And this distinction lies at the heart of Veblenian / Institutional economics. Veblen called his Predators the Leisure Class and those who organized the community's necessary work, the Industrial Class.

Sorry, but when it comes to political economy, Veblen stands head and shoulders above a rank amateur like Dickens.

Tom Hickey said...

Charles Dickens was prominent social critic as well as a novelist. His work was instrumental in the rise of social liberalism in Britain as a reaction to economic liberalism. Dickens put expository works like Engels', Condition of the Working Class in England, in narrative form, making it widely accessible. Dickens' family and he himself actually experienced the conditions about which he wrote. He was not just making stuff up.

Dickens reached far more people at the time than Marx and Engels. The novels of Dickens that were widely circulated and changed the collective mindset. In the US Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin played a similarly influential role in emancipation.

Abraham Lincoln was also sympathetic.


Tom Hickey said...


It is not needed nor fitting here that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions, but there is one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers or what we call slaves. And further, it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer is fixed in that condition for life.

Now there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed, nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless.

Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation. A few men own capital, and that few avoid labor themselves, and with their capital hire or buy another few to labor for them. A large majority belong to neither class–neither work for others nor have others working for them. In most of the Southern States a majority of the whole people of all colors are neither slaves nor masters, while in the Northern a large majority are neither hirers nor hired. Men, with their families–wives, sons, and daughters–work for themselves on their farms, in their houses, and in their shops, taking the whole product to themselves, and asking no favors of capital on the one hand nor of hired laborers or slaves on the other. It is not forgotten that a considerable number of persons mingle their own labor with capital; that is, they labor with their own hands and also buy or hire others to labor for them; but this is only a mixed and not a distinct class. No principle stated is disturbed by the existence of this mixed class.

Again, as has already been said, there is not of necessity any such thing as the free hired laborer being fixed to that condition for life. Many independent men everywhere in these States a few years back in their lives were hired laborers. The prudent, penniless beginner in the world labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself, then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This is the just and generous and prosperous system which opens the way to all, gives hope to all, and consequent energy and progress and improvement of condition to all. No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty; none less inclined to take or touch aught which they have not honestly earned. Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess, and which if surrendered will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them till all of liberty shall be lost.

Abraham Lincoln, First Annual Message, December 3, 1861

Tom Hickey said...

@ Jonathan

Not to take anything away from Veblen or diminish him.

I don't see it as Marx or (exclusive disjunction) Veblen, or Keynes or Friedman, or Plato or Aristotle, or Bohr or Einstein, Jesus or Buddha, etc. A liberal education is about learning from the past and acquiring the art of adapting it to the present in order to create a better future.

Even negative teaching and teachers are important in learning. Germans have finally come to realize that teaching Mein Kampf is wiser than trying to ban it.

Bob said...

Dickens wrote about what he observed, as did Marx. You don't have to be a Marxist to realize that their focus is on the relationship to the means of production. It doesn't matter one iota whether the owner is an industrialist or a financier. According to the theory of surplus value, the ownership class are thieves.

The Dickens of today might live in Bangladesh, or wherever manufacturing has decided to locate. We can observe a repeat of struggles that took place in the developed countries decades, if not a century before. The other side of manufacturing is based on high productivity, meaning that it employs fewer people to produce the same or greater amount of goods.

I prefer businesses that produce goods and services to those that rent-seek, so what? I wouldn't idolize a jackass like Steve Jobs anymore than I would Donald Trump.

Tom Hickey said...

Saint Steve.

Business Insider
An 'Overarching Conspiracy' Against Silicon Valley Employees Could Expose How Steve Jobs Did Business
Dave Smith

Simsalablunder said...

"As for the Nordic Social Democrats, allow me to point out that the great genius Branting made about 1000 speeches in his life drawing a distinction between his version of socialism and the hardcore version of Communism / Bolshevism."

Which doesn't mean that Hjalmar Branting wasn't interested in Marx. He was as so many other Social Democrats have been through out the years. Many still read Marx and which contradicts that "he could only appeal to those who believe that violence is the basis of the social order."

Jonathan Larson said...

Lincoln. Ah yes, the man who got his economic ideas from Carey—another great genius that the Marxists would so like for us to forget.

Doesn't it ever make you wonder how USA could have industrial dominance with the highest wage standards (until 1973) without virtually anyone professing an interest in Marx? Could it be perhaps that the American system of economics was actually both different and superior to the various manifestations of Brit economics—including Marx?

Jonathan Larson said...

"It doesn't matter one iota whether the owner is an industrialist or a financier."

OBVIOUSLY, you have never built anything difficult. For if you had, you would have discovered that it matters a very great deal if you are working for a builder or a thief.

Tom Hickey said...

No one is saying that capitalism is not highly efficient and very effective. Marx agreed.

It's the consequences and "collateral damage" that are the issue.

The defenders of economic liberalism argue that any other alternative will result in less growth and lower efficiency, and rising tide lifts all boats. Just look at per capita GDP. Moreover, democracy must be bridled or the rabble will take control and kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

Opponents of economic liberalism argue that the nest is being fouled, and human beings are being used as means instead of being treated as ends. People and the environment are more important than growth and efficiency. Per capita GDP is misleading. Many people's boats get swamped and they drown, and the water gets polluted, poisoning everybody.

Tom Hickey said...

Doesn't it ever make you wonder how USA could have industrial dominance with the highest wage standards (until 1973) without virtually anyone professing an interest in Marx?

No wonder at all. The Europeans that emigrated to America stole the land and its abundant resources from the indigenous population domestically. The other Europeans were left with stealing from other people abroad, which was much less efficient and more costly. The Europeans emigres and their descendants in America got a free ride in comparison.

The myth that American got so rich because they were super-creative is nonsense. They had practically unlimited resources to draw on. Now that those resources are employed, the party is over, and America is becoming like Europe, where land is no longer freely available.

Jonathan Larson said...

Branting obviously knew about Marx. And I have no problem believing that there are modern Nordic Social Democrats who still read their Marx religiously.

But maybe you can explain why the Social Dems and Socialists of Europe have morphed into these neoliberal swine. Could it be that their reliance on Marx to explain the world allows them forget the economic problems and concentrate on political correctness? I have noticed these folks are bleeding political support to the point where they are dying. Perhaps they should stop reading Marx and start reading some better economic thinkers.

Jonathan Larson said...

Ah yes—all those resources made USA rich. It had NOTHING to do with hard work or inventiveness. Here in Minnesota, we had vast concentrations of high-grade iron ore. They lay untouched for thousands of years until folks from tribes like mine decided to dig this ore up and criss-cross the continent with railroad tracks.

Yes, it would have been impossible to build the railroads without good iron ore. On the other hand, it is highly likely that the Chippewa would not have touched it even until now.

Tom Hickey said...

Ah yes—all those resources made USA rich. It had NOTHING to do with hard work or inventiveness. Here in Minnesota, we had vast concentrations of high-grade iron ore. They lay untouched for thousands of years until folks from tribes like mine decided to dig this ore up and criss-cross the continent with railroad tracks.

Yes, it would have been impossible to build the railroads without good iron ore. On the other hand, it is highly likely that the Chippewa would not have touched it even until now.

That pretty well sums up ayn Rand's speech at West Point.

Libertarian superstar Ayn Rand defended Native American genocide: “Racism didn’t exist in this country until the liberals brought it up”: New transcript of Rand at West Point in '74 enthusiastically defends extermination of Native Americans
Ben Norton

Tom Hickey said...

Some other facts of history.

In the 19th century the US was involved largely in skirmishes, other than the Civil War, whereas Europe was racked with wars and revolutions much of the time. There just were not many resources left in Europe and the European countries not only fought with each other on their own lands but also contested the sea and control of colonies. The US made hay during this period domestically and rose to a position comparable to European countries in about 100 years. That would not have been possible without the favorable conditions of being an "island" continent with vast resources and virtually no opposition to expansion. The US further solidified its position through the Louisiana Purchase and the purchase of Alaska ("Seward's Folly").

The second thing to keep in mind is that the Nazi expansion under Hitler to the East was specifically for "Lebensraum." The plan was to exterminate the Slavs and descendants of the Mongols as the Americans had done with the native peoples, and replace them with "good Aryan stock." Hitler's generals also knew the importance of controlling the Eurasian landmass in order to prevent more invasion from the steppes such as had occurred in the past.

Marx understood the close connection of social, political and economic forces and the key important of the type of forces and relations of production involved. Most economists have either missed this or dismissed it. But a historical thinker like Marx, who was raised intellectually in the Hegelian tradition that dominated German thought in his youth, was acutely aware of it. Of course, Marx wasn't omniscient but he did try to be scientific rather than speculative.

But it would be wrong to view this as the difference between Hegel and Marx. Hegel was keen on combining theory and history, and exploring how thought is dynamic. Marx added the observation that material conditions are foundational. That also had the advantage of providing the theoretical analysis with a naturalistic ground.

This historical saga is continuing and it is impossible to grasp what is going on in the world without understanding this dynamic.

Ignacio said...

Tom is the old discussion: Do ends justify means? For some reason some people believes the answer to this is yes. Ayn Rand glorified a psychopath...

Simsalablunder said...

"Branting obviously knew about Marx. And I have no problem believing that there are modern Nordic Social Democrats who still read their Marx religiously."

Not only new about him, Branting read him. No they don't read Marx religiously, that's
you making stuff which you then believe in. Totally different thing.

Those Social Democrats who became the neo-liberal driving force within Social Democratic parties never were particularly interested in Marx to begin with, and when the new trend came along -free market hallelujah - heavily supported by Riksbanken and their fake Nobel price, they quickly dropped whatever Marx they've read (if any) in favour of Chicago school of thought.

So to blame reading Marx for them becoming neo-liberal swine doesn't hold water one bit.

And of course my first objection in this thread still stands. That is, your assertion that Marx only could appeal to those who believe that violence is the basis of the social order, is plain and simply is wrong.

Tom Hickey said...

Let me summarize the way I see it.

1. Marx asked some questions that are still relevant.

2. Many argue that Marx gave wrong answers to those questions.

3. For the sake of argument I will grant that, without agreeing with it completely.

4. Many then argue that since the answers were wrong, the questions are irrelevant and we should just forget about them.

5. That is illogical and I do not agree with it. Marx posed many important questions that are still relevant to the world in which we life, and not just in economics, but also philosophy, methodology,, sociology, and poli sci.

6. Marx attempted to provide a naturalistic integrated account of these issues. Some of his insights and arguments may still be relevant, if only to learn where they were deficient.

7. That account is still unfinished.

8. Ignoring the input of Marx in approaching such an account is as myopic as ignoring others that attempted it, if only to learn where they went astray.

9. By default, Marx's account is still the dominant one globally, other than the prevailing neoliberal account, which is becoming discredited.

10. An integrated scientifically based account is sorely needed that takes into account all relevant input regardless of the source. Rejecting Marx's work in toto out of hand is dogmatic, ideological, illogical and unscientific. Marx is not the only one receiving such treatment. In economics, this is the case with "heterodoxy" as anything that disagrees with dogmatic assumption of equilibrium and optimization, as well as use of methodological individualism, microfoundations, and mathematical formalization.

Septeus7 said...

Quote: "Germans have finally come to realize that teaching Mein Kampf is wiser than trying to ban it."

Really? A extremely limited print run with hundred of (((approved))) PC commentary cause simply letting letting the work stand on it's own given the current and express implementation of the Coudenhove-Kalergi Plan to ethically genocide native European (see would be asking too much?

Hilter did nothing wrong.

Churchill was warmongering monster and the United States had no business with Europe and the entire war was based on a corporate press lies that make the lies about Iraq war seem downright honest.

If they wanted to be fair in the teaching of history they would have museums for the 12 million German victims of the massive Soviets rapes, American firebombings, and Eisenhower's death camps for the surrendered Germans.

It is take the black pill. The "good guys" only win because the victors write the history and paint themselves as such but the reality is the only people who win at the "sin of war" are those with the least morality. In war, the most evil always wins.

America always wins because American morality is nothing but amoral post-hoc pragmatic justifications and the personfication of the Kali-yuga itself.

Awake up. There is no "progress" and Marxism is still bourgeois cause the Whig view of history is inherently bourgeois. Only reaction is bourgeois so ride the fcking Tiger.

Jonathan Larson said...

Let's see if I understand. Marx is the default wise man of economic theory and now that neoliberalism is falling apart, we will have to return to thinking like the wise man because there is no alternative.

I have been reading books on economic theory for over 40 years. I find the subject utterly fascinating. And I can assure you, there are MANY alternatives to Marx and neoliberalism. Many have been tried in the real world with some brilliant outcomes. In fact, if measured by results, neither Marx nor neoliberalism would score in the top 25 of any honest ranking of economic performance.

So what is the cute reason why the Marxist governments never figured out how to manage a toilet paper supply? Or, how do you get real actual Germans to build a car as shitty as a Wartburg or a Trabant? Or?

As for those enlightened, nonviolent Marxists in Scandinavia... Yes I have met several so I know they exist. They didn't know squat about monetary theory, and they certainly didn't know anything about the role of continuous improvement in industry, but they did know their Marx. One would even start quoting Marx in German so he could prove he had a serious interest in the subject. But compared to the millions who perished in the Marxist experiments because of the very violent nature of their beliefs, those enlightened Nordics barely exist at all. I may be an ignorant American, but I DO know how to count.

Tom Hickey said...

Let's see if I understand. Marx is the default wise man of economic theory and now that neoliberalism is falling apart, we will have to return to thinking like the wise man because there is no alternative.

Not a matter of "economic theory" which is just a load of BS anyway. It's about ideological POVs that motivate millions of people and result in alliances going to war.

The largest group of people in the world are Marxist. The left is powerless against neoliberalism. The battle is being fought between neoliberalism as the world order and some form of Marxism.

The non-Marxist non-neoliberal cohorts in Europe, including Scandinavia are history. Scandinavia is posed to join NATO, which not as much a military bloc as an ideological one dominated by neoliberalism, with tremendous military power to bring to bear where hybrid warfare is not working well enough.

Unless there is alternative to challenge neoliberalism we can all welcome our new corporate transnational masters, who are the same as the old national oligarchs.

The overarching POV now is that there is no alternative (TINA) to neoliberalism. Anything less than neoliberalism is "the road to serfdom." Resistance is futile. So STFU and enjoy your debt serfdom to the degree you can.

The one thing that the Marxists did master was military technology and now the neoliberal transnational oligarchs and their cronies sea minions have to face is Russia as the inheritor of USSR military capability and a rising China, which together present the only viable alternative to neoliberal globalization.

Marx did not write on "economic theory." He wrote social and political philosophy grounded in historical materialism, which views economic conditions are more foundational than social and political, which are built on economic infrastructure.

He developed a critique of economic liberalism, how it lead to mass exploitation, and how to counter it.

There has been a lot of noise from the left over the years but no analysis and plan comparable to Marx that had the success that Marx's influence has had and is still having.

There is no doubt among strategists that this part of the 21st century will be dominated by the tussle of the US and China for dominance, since the dominant power requires other powers to be subordinate and submissive to it, just as capital require that it be the dominant factor and labor subordinate and submissive to it.

The outcome in not going to be decided by "economic theory," whatever that is. These are different worldviews clashing.

The so-called left is going to be left looking at events unfold that it has no participation in unless it gets an act together and it has none to speak of now. The options on the left are either somewhat watered down neoliberalism or somewhat watered down Marxism. But really speaking there is no left because those on the left can't agree on anything but criticism of the status quo. There is no uniting vision and no plan.

I am not routing for either neoliberalism or Marxism with Chinese characteristics, and I see no viable alternatives on the horizon, nor even a coming together of people who are not routing for either of these. So like the rest, I will likely be a spectator.

The support that Sanders is receiving is encouraging but there is no vision and no plan there. Sanders is not thinking out of the box and is just proposing tweaks. That is not going to do it.

I am convinced there is a solution but it involves expanding the level of collective consciousness, and that is a daunting task in that it is disruptive the present order.