Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Further on Marx

It was interesting writing something in my last post about what I see as the obvious limitations and failure of Marx's program from the standpoint of the theoretical historical paradigm it was intended to address. One thing I left out was a small yet very important philosophical distinction made by Marx through association with the philosophies of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Ludwig Feuerbach. 

Marx continued Hegel’s explicit attack on a priori knowledge. The idea that there were first principles in thinking or principles that didn’t correspond to phenomenology was implicitly rejected by Hegel and marked the beginning of the shift into Marx’s analysis of history occurring in stages based on material causes, including types of ownership, wealth and class struggle.

Interestingly, this most important issue, wealth, was left out of Marx’s writing, because wealth was, to the economists of the time, only considered as an entirety, that measured the results of all of mans activities within a nation. It didn’t matter what individuals accrued, since their wealth was part of what their nation owned anyway. Marx was interested in building a large movement, the International, which needed to attract wealthy individuals as members and donors.

Today we have the internationalist view of wealth, where it doesn’t matter where an individual of a nation invests his wealth; he can send it to other countries, as long as he has earned it. This corresponds directly to a continuing wider distribution of the planet's resources, which more and more include wealth, life styles, and education. 

Yet capitalism is as firmly in place as it ever was, with international programs already aimed at restricting consumption, health and population. Countries like Peru get money from the United Nations for not providing electricity directly through grids to their native peoples, for example, while people die in countries like Ethiopia where governments are currently being paid off for not using pesticides. 

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