Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Marxism- Universal or Contigent?

The People's Media have an article about whether Marx's theory is universal or contigent.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

This Week in Marx Links- Why does Marx still matter?

The Economist has an article "explaining" the continuing relevance and importance of Communism, years after the Soviet collapse.

Political Theory Daily linked to an article from the International Socialist Review on why Marx still matters.

First Thing offers another potrait of the Main Currents of Kolakowski.

Friday, November 10, 2006

More on Marx and his alleged Anti-Semitism

I was asked by a reader "what other arguments do people have that Karl Marx was anti-Semitic?"

When I Google 'Marx' and 'anti-Semitism' the first page I get is James B. Wisker's slanderous post on the 'book' A World Without Jews.

Ostensibly written by Marx, the book was compiled by Dagobert Runes who edited together a series of remarks by Marx from different sources. Runes furthered his deception by giving the book its fictitious title.

Much of the focus of Marx's alleged anit-Semitism is concentrated on Marx's essay On the Jewish Question. The essay in question is in fact a defense of Jewish Political Rights, not proof of Marx's bias towards Jews.
But general ignorance of the style, content and true target of the essay allow for an easy effort by duplicitious scholars to repackage the powerful defense of Jewish rights as a ruthlessly anti-Semitic piece of propaganda.
Hal Draper concludes, "few discussions of the essay explain clearly its political purpose and content in connection with the Jewish emancipation question, or even accurately present the views of its target, Bauer." [1]

The second page Google directs us to ;however, is a powerful champion of Marx's essay as a defense of Jewish rights. The article by Robert Fine appears in the journal Engage. Engage is a resource which "challenges contemporary Anti-Semitism."

In the article Mr. Fine comes out swinging against any pretension that Marx was an Anti-Semite.

"Let us explode the myth that Karl Marx was in some sense anti-Semitic in his critique of capitalism."

Robert Fine's case is echoed by my statement that much of the misunderstanding of Marx stems from what he calls the "deafness to the uses of the ironic style in Marx’s writings."

Mr. Fine explains that behind Marx's article regarding the 'Jewish Question' was a plan "to develop a radical critique of all existing conditions which distinguished itself from other forms of radicalism by its complete and explicit rejection of any anti-Semitic coloration."

Taking advantage of the ignorance and general hostility towards Communists, opponents of Marx advanced numerous fabrications against his essay On the Jewish Question.

For a fuller understanding of the background of the Western anti-Semitism entailed here see Hal Draper's account in Marx and the Economic-Jew Stereotype.

The first of the many fabrications against the essay implies that it is in fact an attack on Jewish People, when the actual "target" was another member of the "Young Hegelians" Bruno Bauer.

In contrast to Bruno Bauer's stereotypical portrayal of Jews in 'How can Jews obtain Civil Rights until Germans themselves obtain Civil Rights?' Marx advocated giving full citizenship to Jews.

While Bauer relied on historical and pejorative stereotypes of the Jew as "hucksters" and "moneymen " to deny Jews full rights, Marx demolished such claims by advancing the notion that in the age of Capitalism ‘money has become a world power and the practical spirit of the Jews has become the practical spirit of the Christian peoples.’

In other words, there was no difference between the typical and idealized merchants of capital and the condescending stereotype of the Jew that Bruno offered.

Furthermore; in the most offending of passages of On the Jewish Question, Marx is actually engaged in a viciously ironic attack of the stereotypes he uses. Marx is accepting those prejudices only to criticize them on their own terms.

Marx suggests that even if Bauer "blames the Jew for the ‘Judaism’ of civil society, that is, for the fact that self-interest and money are the principles of civil society," the same could equally be said of Christians and Germans.

Therefore, Marx insists, we can not simply deny Jews political citizenship and give them citizenship only if they converted, because political emancipation for the Jews requires the "the emancipation of the state from all religion – i.e. the abolition of all religious qualifications for participation in public life – even if the overwhelming majority of Jews remain strictly Jewish."

If Marx was an anti-Semite, his anti-Semitism was a strange one, since it involved advocating political emancipation for Jews and full civil rights for the Jewish people.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Marx and Anti-Semitism.

A lively debate about whether or not Karl Marx was an Anti-Semite has begun over at the weblog Debate, Relate, & Pontificate. I have been asked to share my views by the moderator of that website.

I would like to start with what I find to be the most striking error in the post. The claim that Karl Marx actually wrote a book called A World Without Jews.

Sam writes "it was a product of finding a 1959 edition of Marx's book, A World Without Jews in which the dialogue between Marx and Bruno Bauer is found without edit due to the original German publication being from the historically antisemitic State Publishing House in Moscow."

According to Hal Draper "the reader is not told that the title is Rune's invention; [and] there are other distortions in the text." The publishing house that "put together" the book did so with the intention to smear Marx and was not simply the discovery of an uncensored conversation between Bauer and Marx.

Therefore; I would suggest that Sam's contention that Dagobert D. Runes "in his introduction...offers a mostly fair... analysis of the anthology of Marx's antisemitism" to be untenable.

A second line of reasoning emanating from Sam's argument can only be described by me as baffling.

"I was unaware of his [Marx's]deeply anti-Semitic ideology that speculatively must have contributed to the thought manifest in Hitler's Mein Kampf."

I believe it is the philosopher Heidegger that is most commonly associated and impugned by the scourge of Nazism. My good friend over at Auntie Vulgar disposes of a speculative line of reasoning linking Marx to Hitler in a comment to Sam's post and it deserves full citation.

"Finally, Samrocha's specious and factually unsupported linkage of Marx's five quotes to 'Mein Kampf' needs to be addressed. While those works quoted from are readily available today, they were actually rather obscure newspaper pieces and/or unpublished or out of print works of the 'young Marx' until relatively recent.

These works did not resurface until rediscovered by the Russian Soviet intellectuals some time later (and then repressed by Stalin due to an emancipatory philosophy that did not sit well with the totalitarian state socialist model). It is doubtful the Nazi ideologues would have had ready access to the material, and moreover, National Socialism (a variant of Fascism) was virulently opposed to anything remotely 'Marxist'.

The fact that German National Socialism banned anything remotely Marxist (in addition to sending their Marxists of the time fleeing into exile lest they wind up in concentration camps) should be enough to refute Samrocha's causal link."

Sam Rocha offers us a third and equally discordant argument when he asserts that "the most tragic in this discovery is that the man who seemed to have such a passion for dignity and fair treatment of all humanity was a bigoted anti-Semite."

I find it difficult to settle the obvious antinomy that Samrocha suggest that Marx could have had a desire for the fair treatment of all, but was an Anti-Semite to boot.

Part of the problem is found in the Space and Time that was Europe in the 19th Century for sure. And part of it has to do with looking back on Marx in quotes from letters in his personal life.

It is well known that Marx had a temper and a tendency to lash out in colorful prose and hysterical fits. And Samrocha is correct in pointing out that to our modern ears there appears to be a disturbing and racist tone to some of Marx's words.

Some of this tone can be attributed to the mocking and sarcastic tone Marx took with his enemies and intellectual combatants. He took a literal and quite visceral pleasure in mocking and confusing his enemies.

It would be tedious and beyond the scope of this post to present definitive exploration of each of the quotations that Samrocha offers in his blog entry.

I hope that perhaps someone will attempt it. But I think an Anti-Semite spirit is clearly not found in any major work of Marx's. Nor could I find a reason to accuse Marx of holding a racist spirit.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Blog of the Week!

Congratulations to Auntie Vulgar, The Karl Marx Blog of the Week.™

Fantastic blog by a student studying Social Theory his blog focuses on critical Theory "to be clear, by 'critical-theory' I generally mean the various Marxist schools."

Included are tags for Reading Capital, though unlike my aborted attempts to read Grundrisse, as grad student his is quite serious.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Gang of Four and Pop Music as Marxist Critical Theory

Here's something you don't see too often:

A post-punk rock band that talks about Marxist Social Theory and Critical Theory. They even have a song called Why Theory?

Best thing about it is how they sound. They a music first band that just happens to discuss things that readers of this blog will love.

Go here for a list of sample audio clips. Here is the Wiki on the name Gang of 4.

"On their second album Solid Gold, the postpunk rock group Gang of Four openly assert their intention to approach pop music as critical theory with a song titled, appropriately enough, "Why Theory?"

In answer to their own query of why critical theory should have a place in rock music, the band sings "Each day seems like a natural fact / And what we think changes how we act." The critical theory that Gang of Four present in their music is a Marxist one centered on the premise that before revolt can take place, one must first penetrate through the consciousness that is determined by capitalistic ideology in order to understand why a revolution is necessary.

Gang of Four locate their Marxist theory in the Althusserian notion of expressing resistance through the contradictions inherent in the Ideological State Apparatuses (ISA) of the corporate-controlled rock music industry, and the way in which Gang of Four express their theory of Marxist thought is by inducing in the listener an alternative consciousness achieved through contradictions and disorientations that serve to mirror the very sense of disorientation and contradiction that capitalistic consciousness creates."

Thanks to Political Theory Daily for the link.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Interview with Paul LeBlanc

From Monthly Review:

Paul LeBlanc is what I have called an "organic intellectual," a scholar and activist who has risen directly out of the working class. Paul is the author of many books, including A Short History of the U.S. Working Class (Humanity Books, 1999) and Black Liberation and the American Dream (Humanity Books 2003), and is an internationally known and respected historian of the life and works of Rosa Luxemburg.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Noneconomic Objections to Capitalism.

Ludwig von Mises recognizes five objections to Capitalism. This post is excerpted from Part IV of his The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality.

I will post more on this soon, but I wanted to get the word out first.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The difficulty in finding Marx.

A blogger asks "Why is it that, as Economics students in the American academia, we are only trained with the (conservative) Smith and (liberal) Keynesian variety, with Smith getting the upper hand, and not even exposed to the equally valid theory of economic forces by Karl Marx?"

He then points out the sad state Marxist thought in typical American universities "Sadly enough, this extends even to graduate school. Marx is not even considered by the majority of Philosophy departments in the U.S. as a philosopher. One can hardly find a Philosophy course devoted to Marx, his influence, and/or his followers."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Das Capital as Literature.

The poet of dialectics

Marx's masterpeice is deconstructed as literture, rather than scientific prose. Nice article that is an "edited extract from Marx's Das Kapital: A Biography, part of a series, Books that Shook the World, published this month by Atlantic and to be serialised in Review in coming weeks."

From the review...

"Karl Marx's Das Kapital is a ground-breaking work of economic analysis. But, argues Francis Wheen, it is also an unfinished literary masterpiece which, with its multi-layered structure, can be read as a Gothic novel, a Victorian melodrama, a Greek tragedy or a Swiftian satire."

Source: A&L Daily

Thursday, July 06, 2006

What Do We Mean By Anti-Capitalism?

The first of a three part series by Wayne Price answering the question of what we mean by anti-capitalist.

"Many activists call themselves “anti-capitalist.” But this is a negative; what should we be for? Since anti-capitalists wish to find an alternative to the current system, it is necessary to examine the nature of societies which claim to have once replaced capitalism, namely the former Soviet Union and similar nations. "

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Marx and Human Nature.

ELIZABETH TERZAKIS writes in the International Socialist Review about Marx's conception of human nature.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Tony Blair asks : Marx: does he still matter?

"In a letter to former Labour leader Michael Foot, written in 1982 and published yesterday, Tony Blair reveals that reading Karl Marx 'irreversibly altered' his outlook. He even agreed with Tony Benn that Labour's right-wing was politically bankrupt. "

He then goes on to claim that Marxism tries to answer "all the questions" for you.

Nine commentators - including Mr Benn - whether Marxism still has anything to offer today."


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Marx as the sunny optimist of Modernism,

Open Democracy's article suggests Francis Fukuyama "is caught between the triumphalism of Kant, Hegel, and Marx, and the despair of Nietzsche, Heidegger and Kojève."

Marx is viewed as a "sunny rationalist" who embraces modern man's quest to end superstition and replace the "shameful" past of tribalism with a "universal Empire of Reason."

In contrast to Marx, Alexander Kojève "imagined that a cold and arid rationality would take over the globe and that as a result, everything wild, irrational and unpredictable would disappear from it."

Alexander Kojève was heavily influenced by Hegel and Marx.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Blog of the Week


"The terms racism and sexism are well defined and accepted as discriminatory beliefs. Industrialization and the development of social classes has naturally led to another system that must be placed in the same category as racism and sexism: classism. What is classism? Simply, classism is the separation of people due to social class which includes, economic circumstances, education, and standard of living. Classism is the fact that Paris Hilton will spend ten thousand dollars on her dog but will not give one thousand dollars to aid a young man or woman in attending college. Classism is a banker purchasing a new Mercedes-Benz and driving his car off of the show floor and past a mother wondering how shell make enough money to pay her rent and feed her children"

Monday, March 27, 2006

Thursday, March 09, 2006

More on Marx, Justice and the Wood-Tucker thesis!

Dr Proles Social Sciences this site has an interseting take on the Wood-Tucker Thesis. More soon!

Marx and Justice
Jonathan Wolff: Department of Philosophy, UCL


Sunday, February 26, 2006

"Khrushchev's Secret Speech -- Full Annotated Text"

"Khrushchev's Secret Speech -- Full Annotated Text":

"Allow me first of all to remind you how severely the classics of Marxism-Leninism denounced every manifestation of the cult of the individual. In a letter to the German political worker Wilhelm Bloss, [Karl] Marx stated: 'From my antipathy to any cult of the individual, I never made public during the existence of the [1st] International the numerous addresses from various countries which recognized my merits and which annoyed me. I did not even reply to them, except sometimes to rebuke their authors. [Fredrich] Engels and I first joined the secret society of Communists on the condition that everything making for superstitious worship of authority would be deleted from its statute. [Ferdinand] Lassalle subsequently did quite the opposite.'

Sometime later Engels wrote: 'Both Marx and I have always been against any public manifestation with regard to individuals, with the exception of cases when it had an important purpose. We most strongly opposed such manifestations which during our lifetime concerned us personally.' "

Friday, February 24, 2006

Eurozine - Articles

Eurozine - Articles: "Karl Marx himself saw capitalism in a positive light; in its very progress he saw its demise. A demise precipitated by the anarchistic heart of the network society? "

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Don't Stop thinking about tomorrow

Don't Stop thinking about tomorrow:

"What first made me doubt the classic economic definition of a company was when I observed the truly successful companies. Companies such as IBM, Siemens, and Toyota don't define themselves as a bundle of assets that produce goods and services to be sold at the highest price for the lowest cost.

They define themselves as a community of people; therefore, the company is people and not just a set of assets, abilities and skills or hands and minds. These companies basically consist of individuals who share values that are in harmony with the values of the community."

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Strange Death of Marxism: The European Left in the New Millennium

Crisis Magazine: "Paul Gottfried, a Yale Ph.D. and professor of humanities at Elizabethtown College, has given us a brief yet deeply learned overview of the modern European Left. The Strange Death of Marxism is the third in an important if underappreciated Gottfried trilogy that began with After Liberalism and Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt: Toward a Secular Theocracy"

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Karl Marx blog of the week!™

franco_pelayo My Sanctuary

Contains a nice summary of Karl Marx and his work that seems to borrow heavily from David McLellan's, Karl Marx: His Life and Thought.

But the font is in fancy black and blue.

Congrats on being the Karl Marx Blog Of the Week!™

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

TCS Daily - The Surprise of History

TCS Daily - The Surprise of History: "It is widely assumed that the concept of the End of History is derived from the nineteenth century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Francis Fukuyama in his best-selling book entitled, The End of History and the Last Man, has done much to popularize this idea, so that in the minds of many intellectuals Hegel and the End of History thesis are one and the same. But Fukuyama is not the only contemporary thinker who has ascribed this thesis to Hegel. The fabulously erudite English author Paul Johnson has also argued that Hegel held this thesis, though for Johnson this was proof positive that Hegel was an intellectual charlatan, while for Fukuyama Hegel's thesis of the End of History was proof positive of his prophetic genius. "

I think even Dr. Marx would be ok with a Hegelian interlude now and then!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Kark Marx and America

Peter N. Kirstein Blog Archive Kark Marx and America An excerpt:

"If one were sympathetic to Marxism and believed in the majesty of his writings, would that constitute anti-Americanism or a radical perspective? Should that trigger, to be a little sardonic, a National Security Agency warrantless wiretap to insure non-involvement in planned operations against the U. S.?"

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Debate, Relate, & Pontificate

Debate, Relate, & Pontificate a great new blog!

A place that hopes to do the things stated in the title over a plethora of issues, topics, non-issues, and non-topics.
"I hope that the simplistic and naive streotypes of Marxism do not influence you to a negative pretext. I am NOT a Marxist or Neo-Marxist (no that it would be so evil), and what I am reflecting on is from a social theory perspective, not one of political activism (although thats not a bad thing)."

Not a bad thing at all!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Globalised revolution

Globalised revolution14Jan06Socialist Worker: "The worldwide spread of neo-liberalism means any future revolution must be international, argues political theorist Adam K Webb"

I seem to recall reading that somewhere...