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Marx

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Sat, 24 Oct 2015 08:02:46 -0300

Just read Peter Singer's "Karl Marx - A Very Short Introduction"

Here's what I remember:

 * Everything starts with Hegel who invented a pile of hippy crap with two
   important features:

   1 - There's this thing, a kind of global consciousness, that is evolving
       towards a final, perfect state.

   2 - This process evolves via a process of opposites, in conflict, becoming
       resolved.

 * For Hegel, the global conscious doohickey was religious - a God in some
   sense (but also a collective consciousness).  This was flipped on its head
   by Feuerbach, who argued that it was human, and that religion was one of
   the things holding it back (in conflict with it).

 * Marx took that and went further, arguing that capitalism was the problem
   holding people back.  But he still inherited the two main features:

   1 - History is evolving towards a perfect state.

   2 - Opposites are resolved through conflict, becoming something new

   and a revolution of the proletariat, generating some new Utopia, arises
   nicely from this.  The Utopia (communism) was never specified in any great
   detail.

 * This was then buttressed with an economic analysis that confused money with
   actual work done.  So instead of currencies, you have "man days".  Which
   gets into a mess because you need to somehow separate that from actual man
   days so that you can have profits (otherwise everyone is, by defintion,
   producing a man day of work).  Hence "surplus value".

In short, he seemed to be a nice guy, who could see that people were (are)
alienated from their work and exploited by their employees.  Unfortunately, he
tied that to a mystical view of history and a clumsy economic theory.

His great value is in proving a moral critique of capitalism.  His largest
practical effect came from associating that critique with a revoutionary
solution.

Andrew

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