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View Diary: I've Been "Poor" My Entire Life (162 comments)

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  •  Just using the bit of Marx you block quoted (2+ / 0-)
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    aufklaerer, worldlotus

    PART of history is class struggle.  Part isn't.

    For example, the struggle for rights for all sorts of people in America was only partly a class struggle. 91 years ago today, women got the right to vote. Before that they couldn't. None of the Rockefeller women could vote, nor could the wives or daughters of the lowest paid people working for the Rockefellers.  Similar for other groups.

    The role of invention is largely ignored in the quote. As is the role of disease; until relatively  recently (say 150 years or so ago) going to the doctor (which only rich people did) was more likely to make things worse.  For one tiny example of this, Benjamin Rush, around the time of the American revolution, would diagnose a disease (typhoid, I believe) by feeling people's tongues. And, of course, he did not wash his hands.

    Closer to economics, if all of history is class struggle, how do you explain the existence of rich liberals and radicals?

    Are there class struggles? Of course. Is that all of history? Nope.

    Founder Math and Statistics Geeks . Statistics for progressives

    by plf515 on Fri Aug 26, 2011 at 07:37:16 AM PDT

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    •  Thank you for a thoughtful reply. (1+ / 0-)
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      Food for thought. Will answer later in detail.

      "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." Mark Twain

      by aufklaerer on Fri Aug 26, 2011 at 11:34:49 AM PDT

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    •  After pondering your arguments for quite a while, (1+ / 0-)
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      I've come up with this:

      For Marx, the mode of production is the decisive characteristic of a given society. It predetermines the unique political and social order (the political economy), culture (or cultural affirmation, as Critical Theory would have it) religion, etc. Historical progress is only possible if and when one society becomes obsolete and replaced by a successor.  

      The ability to withstand diseases, or to enhance production by inventing new methods, materials and techniques, are, so to speak, inherent sub-features of the mode of production. While the invention of the light-bulb by (among others) Thomas Alva Edison was certainly deemed noteworthy by Marx at the time, he would have called it also inevitable, and hence, expectable (he had an enormous trust in the potential of capitalism to revolutionize production) And, indeed, the invention of the light bulb per se isn't historic, the fact that it changed the living conditions of people all over the globe is.

      What this comes down to is a rather peculiar definition of history as historical progress by K. Marx. And, while I defend the notion that all historical progress is the result of class struggle, I have to accept your rejection of Marx' quote, if only for sloppy language.

      (Sorry, have to pick up my daughter and end this here. Definitely appreciate your willingness to debate and hope to cross swords with you again. Have a good one.)

      "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." Mark Twain

      by aufklaerer on Sat Aug 27, 2011 at 05:39:00 AM PDT

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      •  It's a very odd definition (1+ / 0-)
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        and, although you can define terms as you like, if you (or Marx) adapt a definition that others don't use, you are going to confuse people.

        I could define a table as "anything that flies", but if I say "what sort of table did you use to fly to Japan?" I am going to get odd looks.

        But I'd disagree even that all historical progress is the result of class struggle. Take the light bulb: It made lots of lives better, but I think it transformed the lives of the poor and middle class more than the rich.

        Or, take vaccines for most communicable diseases; when the "pest" hit London way back when, the rich got out of town and rode it out on their country estates. So, vaccines for pest helped the poor more than the rich.

        But I am an unabashed capitalist - albeit one who recognizes that capitalism needs to be restrained.  The ultimate capitalist credo "greed is good" is true - to an extent. But only to an extent.  

        It's true that some inventions were made by people who could care less about money (e.g. Alan Turing's computer work springs to mind) but a lot of them were made in order to make money.

        But that needs to be restrained - with the sorts of laws most western countries have; I'd prefer something more Scandinavian than what we have here.

        In closing, this is great to have a discussion with a smart person who disagrees with me but isn't going for name-calling.

        Founder Math and Statistics Geeks . Statistics for progressives

        by plf515 on Sat Aug 27, 2011 at 09:00:51 AM PDT

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