Saturday, May 26, 2007

Marx is a socio-historical economist.

Malfeasancio Says: May 26th, 2007 at 3:46 am You are misreading Rawls: he was closer to left than to right, and arguing for a sort of rational egalitarianism (that’s what sane, rational AGENTS would select, given the right decision matrix), in a rather more precise manner than say Zizek (the Parallax Gap reads about like Lenin’s ad hoc bolshevik rants with a bit of Lacan added: yes the minimal difference man!). It’s a foundation for economic rights, not an apology for neo-liberalism. But whatevs. Every proposition you put forth has a moral ratio attached to it: those who uphold marxism (however obscurely) are given Good button; those who criticize, Bad (or fascist, capitalist, neo-liberal, imperialist, etc.). Or perhaps it’s just Continentalists, good; Anglo-American, bad (vulgar, yada yada). Yet Rawls arguably closer to a sort of Kantian empiricism (in ethical terms) than any postmods you can name.
The contractualists are the economic materialists, without the Hegel ghosts, and yet still holding to the “subject”, without the postmod reifications. OR they simply reject the state or contracts altogether; and that is the bad Hobbes, a few sips of cognac away from Nietzsche in the Genealogy of Morals. But Nietzsche chants are OK; Hobbes chants, schmutz (tho’ Hobbes a far more methodical thinker and scholar than about any German metaphysician, Kant included). Perhaps like, given your “historicity” you might recall politics sans Due Process, sans rights, sans even consensus: you want Hegelian politics, stripped of ANY notion of individual entitlement (or disputation) think of Stalin or the third Reich. In a VERY real sense, that was Hegelian-machiavellianism manifested.
larvalsubjects Says: May 26th, 2007 at 10:37 am You’re missing the point. Marx is not providing a “political theory” in this way or a theory of the “ideal state” such as whether the ideal state is a Platonic republic, monarchy, democracy, etc. This is what I was getting at with my remarks about normativity. Marx is a socio-historical economist. That is, Marx seeks to explain how various types of societal formations result from differing forms of production. For instance, he shows how social form of Feudalism resulted from a particular form of production. The point, then, is that comparing Rawls and Marx is comparing apples and oranges. They’re asking two entirely different types of questions. It’s not a question of “being for” Rawls’ understanding of how society should be organized versus “being for” Marx’s theory of how society should be organized.
Rather, it’s a question of whether Marx and Marxists provide a cogent analysis of how society is organized. The thesis that Rawls is an apologist for neo-liberalist thought would simply be the thesis that a normative theory of the State such as that found in Rawls can only appear under certain conditions of production. That aside, I don’t see how Rawls has ever contributed anything to any actually existing political movement, so I don’t know where you get the idea that he’s contributed so much to leftist thought.
Remarks like this really diminish whatever point it is that you’re trying to make, as they amount to name-calling. You seem to be suggesting that those who are sympathetic to Marx (or postmodernism) are so simply because they have an irrational attachment to these figures because they must have commitments to these figures to belong to certain groups in the world of academia...
larvalsubjects Says: May 26th, 2007 at 4:27 pm Of course his economic generalizations are not necessary truth. Insofar as Marx is a historical thinker, he recognizes that there are different forms that economy takes at different times in history.
I have problems with these things as well, but you’re confusing Marxism with actually existing socialism in the Soviet Union. These are not the same things. You’ll find little, if any, account of how the State should be organized in Marx. This is why I keep suggesting that you’re asking the wrong sorts of questions and do not seem familiar with Marx’s particular form of social and economic analysis. You keep raising normative and ethical questions, rather than asking questions as to why the social emerges in the particular way it does at a particular point in history.

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