Sunday, May 27, 2007

Marx is certainly no psychoanalyst or metaphysician

Malfeasancio Says: May 26th, 2007 at 7:24 pm NO, the psychologizing of Marx, and the de-economizing (de-materializing?) of Marxism are characteristic of trolls; even ones with tenure. The division of labor issue, for one, WAS a problem for Marx, as was commodification, exchange, money/value/price, property, finance, speculation, etc.; thus he does address issues similar to those discussed by Smith and Ricardo; it is the postmods who are misreading and mis-appropriating the text, aestheticizing it, giving it some bizarre Freudian-lacanian gloss. I think Marx is wrong on many things, and his remaining Hegelianisms a real problem: but he does make some definite assertions about economics (and exploitation, really) which are capable of being shown– empirically –false, or contingent. And perhaps true in some situations. He does not doubt that his analysis applies to real, objective conditions.
Marx may not have been a “populist” leftist (the P-word!), but he’s certainly no psychoanalyst or metaphysician—and I think the psychoanalytical tendency is itself a type of anti-materialist viewpoint.
AS far as “moralizing,” I do not think one should assume an attempt to justify an objective entitlement is prima facie mistaken, or really moral. You might not care for the ethical discussions of a Hobbes, Locke or Kant, at least not until the Cheka smashes in your door and arrests you on trumped up charges: at that point you would probably wish that the KBG men knew something about the categorical imperative, if not the US Constitution…
You and Comrade Pepperell sound like you already are in place in some grand bureaucratic hall, making plans for the Peoples, regardless of what they actually want or need (and I think that is postmod’s raison d’etre—justifying a type of secular monarchy. Marx provides his own Leviathan (a rather more sinister one than even Hobbes offered))
Malfeasancio Says: May 26th, 2007 at 8:49 pm Really I think what bothers you is someone who does not sign-off on the shadow ideology of marxist revolution. Economic reform is possible, but many academics don’t appear to desire it. They don’t want to discuss distribution, or the division of labor, or economic entitlement, or say housing, property, agriculture: that is considered plebian or populist, who knows what. The postmods are the anti-materialists, it seems. Chomsky has said some similar things.
Orthodox marxism was empirical, data-based, sociological: Marx recognized some obligation to offer true accounts (or at least plausible accounts) about existing and historical socio-economic conditions. In a sense he ducks the normative issue, but it is still there. So instead of justice, or entitlement, rights, etc, there is exploitation, inefficiency, distribution problems. It is the ideology–when Marx or Engels stray too far from evidence—that is problematic and speculative.
However distasteful economic materialism and empirical research may be to some “leftist” aesthetes, authentic progressives must acknowledge the absurdities of specific business practices, whether petro-business, or agriculture, technology, corporate excess, etc., it seems to me. I’ve yet to see any of the “leftists” in this little circle even mention the commodity market, finance, or oil racket, IT barons, etc.: that’s now considered “green” or populist, or neo-liberal or who knows what.

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