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View Diary: On the 'Vindication' of Marx *updated (208 comments)

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  •  Truth is, I don't care about 19th C philosophers (10+ / 0-)

    all that much, but I tipped you because you threw a lot of light on the topic, and you worked hard to write something clear. Nice job, I think I understand things better than before reading. Thanks.


    Actual Democrats is the surest, quickest. route to More Democrats

    by Jim P on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 11:03:59 PM PDT

    •  Given that we still live in a world (60+ / 0-)

      largely dictated by an amalgam of ideas patched together over 3,000 years, give or take, I think we all need to pay more attention to the evolution of those ideas.  The less we know about our history, the less insight we have when we try to see our way forward.

    •  Jesus was a philosopher (4+ / 0-)

      But it took a while for "Christianity"to catch on.

    •  We don't have the luxury of not caring (15+ / 0-)

      about 19th century thinkers, since many of our ideas come from them and their 18th century forebearers. E.g. Spencer and Social Darwinism as justification for laissez-faire and 19th century classical liberalism in general (e.g. Mill) as one of the sources of modern libertarianism, especially as interpreted (or some might say misinterpreted) by the right, Hegel, Engels and Marx of course, etc.

      As much as we have political founders, we also have ideological founders. In fact our actual founders were extremely influenced by 18th century thinkers like Hume, Burke, Montesquieu, etc., who were in turn influenced by 17th century thinkers and especially activists such as those responsible for the Glorious Revolution. Basically, the issues we're debating today go way back.

      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

      by kovie on Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 11:29:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thoughts follow emotions, emotions follow (4+ / 0-)

        character, character flows from what's valued.

        For instance Libertarianism has a very wordy and multi-faceted intellectual expression, which is based on "I want to do what I want always, no interference," which is based on a selfish character, which is based on valuing only oneself and not others.

        If you know the values held in the first place, you can reasonably and accurately anticipate the philosophy. If the "Me only" person is concerned to appear decent, they'll make up Libertarianism. If not, they'll make up Dog-eat-Dog Conservatism.

        There may be Capitalism advocated as a theory, and it may be expressed logically in a million pages, with charts and graphs. But when you blow all the smoke away you're left with: "Go forth and Plunder if you wish to be prosperous. Plunder the foreigner; plunder the earth; plunder your neighbors." Unalloyed greed is the core value.

        All you really need to deal with that is: I'm going to make you stop plundering me! Don't need a rationale or an explanation, really. Don't even need to name the response anything.

        I understand that there's history, I know my history pretty well, having been a voracious student for 57 years.

        Part of that history is knowing that one of the avenues to rise from lower-caste status and poverty in the 19thC was to be an intellectual. And to be accepted into the intellectual community you had to subscribe and present according to the fads of the day: a materialism scientism, chiefly.

        Hence, phrenology and a hundred other "notions expressed as science and reason." Not the least of which where philosophical outpourings. The result was, imo, a lot of "blah blah about tra tra" as the 19thC saying goes.

        Again, my take is idiosyncratic, largely formed by the experience, in my youth, of having waded through a very dense and long Being and Nothingness followed by, basically a 30 page pamphlet, on the fundamentals of Buddhism. Realized if I had read the pamphlet first I could have saved myself reading the book, and actually walked away with more understanding and practical insight, as well as what the book offered! Though being taken seriously by my contemporaries as a philosopher would have been more difficult.


        Actual Democrats is the surest, quickest. route to More Democrats

        by Jim P on Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 01:08:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It may well be true (6+ / 0-)

          that many if not most people who claim to subscribe to and believe in a given "ism", be it capitalism, libertarianism, conservatism, liberalism, etc., are really doing so out of self-interest, with the "ism" just a way to justify their preferred approach to life. But I don't think this is true of a lot of people, and in any case, we argue ideologies on their merits or lacks thereof, not on the motivation this or that person has for subscribing to that ideology and whether it's sincere or not, which we have no way of knowing for sure in any case.

          E.g. is Obama a neoliberal, or is he someone who merely appears to believe in it because it's currently the dominant ideology among power and money elite? Is he a progressive, or is he someone who merely poses as one to win over his base? And on and on. We can never really know, so might as well stick to arguing the ideology itself instead of whether it's sincerely held or not.

          Which, I think, requires some understanding of its origins and evolution. And all contemporary ideologies have 19th and often 18th and even earlier origins. It may seem pedantic and pointless, but it's unavoidable. This is even more so with constitutional debates, which absolutely require a familiarity with 18th and 19th century legal thinking and precedent. Plus, knowing an ideology's origins helps one argue for or against it compellingly, as one gets to know all the usual arguments and how they started and evolved.

          As for the conformist nature of 19th century intellectualism, two comments. One, this happens today as much as it did then. And two, there were plenty of notable exceptions back then, e.g. Hegel, Marx, Darwin, Faraday, Maxwell, etc. We clearly have "court" historians and intellectuals today (if one is willing to broadly define what an intellectual is) who reinforce the establishment take on things. E.g. Niall Ferguson, Jon Meacham, Charles Murray, etc.

          Know thyself --> know thy past.

          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

          by kovie on Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 01:57:03 PM PDT

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          •  All valid and true. (7+ / 0-)

            Just saying it takes me about a minute, usually, to get a person's motivations. I'll never know if Obama is a committed Neoliberal, or just takes on the hue of the day, but I can tell he wants to enhance the Corporations and Banks. Knew it after I saw his first campaign speech. I don't think getting motivations is really that difficult, if you have a clear feel for your own.

            That said, I've encountered ... well, no, I can't think of anyone with an ideological bent who's been converted to another through argumentation. Goes back to core values, which sets motivations. The intellectual expressions always depends on the person's predilections.

            I have seen people's values overturned by experience or self-examination, but not by argument.

            I enjoy disputation as much as the next person, especially having the awesome record of being right which I have, (which I'm sure I share with almost everyone), but apart from the pleasure of it, I think the value is minimal. Not completely worthless but seldom productive. Bring a rich guy into a slum, that's more likely to work, imo.

            Thanks for taking time to write your quite sound views. Much appreciated.


            Actual Democrats is the surest, quickest. route to More Democrats

            by Jim P on Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 02:14:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I agree that most people are pretty easy reads (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Jim P, ozsea1, Words In Action

              and their ideology, as it were, is mostly facile and cover. Still, however and for whatever reason they really came to "adopt" a given ideology, the ideology itself has roots, and without that ideology, they'd have a much harder time justifying their leanings. To know something about that ideology and its origins and evolution is to have a leg up on them and be able to take apart the reasons they give to support their alleged ideology to get to the real root of their reason for allegedly believing in it. It may not win them over, but it will reveal them to be frauds and perhaps make it that much less easy for them to pretend to be what they pretend to be. This isn't exactly a way to make friends and influence people, but our side has taken such hits over the decades that I think it's necessary to go out on the attack and draw some ideological blood and make THEM go on the defensive for a change.

              Basically, you show them that they don't know what they're talking about and in any case don't really believe in what they claim to believe in (e.g. historically libertarians are for liberty, period, with no exceptions on issues you want the state to interfere in peoples' lives on, conservatism is about small government but not about no government and believes in social welfare), and are just self-interested frauds with a thin veneer of easily dispatchable ideological BS for cover. Strip them thusly, and the real fight begins, over values, not ideas.

              We're at war, with ideas, bastardizations of ideas, and the people who hide behind and use them to hurt and exploit others, and we need to know where those ideas came from to do battle with them. We have to be smarter than them, so that when some fake conservative asshat like George Will or fake libertarian racist like Ron Paul or that loudmouth who can't stop yapping about FreeDumb! at the next table over opens their mouth, we're ready to stuff their dishonest words back in their mouths and shut them up for a change.

              History is war by other means.

              :-)

              "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

              by kovie on Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 03:02:14 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, good points. I think of Trickle Down, (4+ / 0-)

                Privatization, and Deregulation in the context you indicate, and, indeed, we'd be much better off if Dems had been hammering at the evidence ("30 years to make failure") back when we all had hope for change in January 2009. Geez, people were bleeding from the evidence, all over the country.

                It is not only worthwhile, but necessary, to attack false things. Somewhere I wrote my political categories boil down to Informed Adults of Good Intent; the Go-Along-to-Get-Along; and Psychopathic Pricks. (This is much more to the point than, say, Marx, imo.)

                It's the middle group which matters, the largest group, and that's where quality-of-Democracy is decided. And these people have to hear things in the language they are used to.

                So you are absolutely correct.

                There's a vital need to demonstrate false ideologies, false prescriptions and paths, as such.


                Actual Democrats is the surest, quickest. route to More Democrats

                by Jim P on Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 03:14:41 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Knock down lies and myths, promote what works (4+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Words In Action, gc10, Jim P, Barton Funk

                  and is right. That's basically it. Knowing where all these ideas comes from does make that easier, though. I like your division, and agree that it's the middle group that matters most, because it's the largest and most persuadable. We may be able to tarnish the psychopaths but we'll never win them over. We can, though, reveal them for what they are to the middle group, and gradually get this group over to our side--which for the most part is their side, too, in terms of self-interest, since most people will never be truly rich.

                  Modern conservatism is crazy and evil and neoliberalism is not that far behind. The only sustainable and fair way forward is populist progressivism. Being able to explain why is essential, and knowing the history of these ideologies is very crucial in being able to do that well. Now hit the books! :-)

                  "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                  by kovie on Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 04:50:26 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You've spoken quite well on the value of (4+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    kovie, Jim P, melo, Barton Funk

                    intellectual history, kovie, and I've enjoyed this thread between you and Jim P as much as this diary and Mizzner's before it.

                    I have one question, though, which popped up in reading this last comment in an excellent thread between you and Jim P, concerning this observation:

                    I like your division, and agree that it's the middle group that matters most, because it's the largest and most persuadable.
                    There was a time I may have quite easily agreed with this. These days, however, the constant seemingly interminable conflicts we have with our own party centrists, moderates, apologists, however one attempts to refer to them, leads me question the degree to which they are persuadable.

                    It seems more and more that our "partners" to the immediate right exhibit the empathy in the woody cells of  the Party platform only when issue comes round to setting fire directly upon them. The entire discussion of economics, whether its wages, job "benefits," work-related social services, working conditions,  the markets, (un-/)employment, corporate and individual taxation, globalization -- you name it, really, has become almost indistinguishable from those I have folks in the Other half of the One Party under plutocracy in this country. And I find it very distressing, of course, because our more "moderate" counterparts seem, to date, essential to caging the Other half; always, in our attempts to do so, it is the moderates who prevent us.

                    (As I understand it, our kossack apologists spend most of their time in other blog dens kvetching about us, a few popping over from time to time to hurl the odd molotov cocktail...)

                    So, if you're interested, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on persuading the middle?

                    Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

                    by Words In Action on Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 05:23:29 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I meant regular people in the middle (4+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Jim P, Words In Action, melo, Barton Funk

                      not pundits, politicians, reporters and "professional centrists". I.e. our friends, relatives, neighbors, colleagues, etc., who are not too far right or left, or all that political. E.g. people who might lean right and respect David Brooks, or lean left and respect Krugman, but whose beliefs don't run too deep and are thus "gettable". I used to be one of these people. I've always leaned left, but there was a time when I thought that people like Brooks and Friedman had something worthwhile and interesting to say.

                      Then the 2000 election, 9/11 & Iraq happened, and I woke up. Did a bunch of reading, mostly contemporary political books, some history, a little economics, started reading and posting on blogs and watching Olbermann and later Maddow, etc. My "education" is still very, very far from complete, but I know a lot more about this stuff than I used to, and it's made me a smarter, more informed and better citizen, I think.

                      We need to get everyone else on board, by exposing them to these things. The right has been great at persuasion, twisting ideology to suit its ends. Why not us? We're smarter and don't have to lie.

                      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                      by kovie on Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 05:39:58 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Interesting. (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Jim P, Barton Funk

                        I had a similar history, triggered by the same events. Previously I had been a corporate executive for 15 years. Though I was always the most ardent "representative of the people" in the boardroom, I was never insufferable enough to be significantly jeopardized by it, if you know what I mean.

                        The Ken Starr, Arkansas Project hunting of Clinton was hard to watch, but the 2000 election was unbearable. I was completely radicalized. I could not fathom was there was not massive public outrage and rioting in the streets, because I knew the civic import of the SCOTUS decision as well as the social and economic impact a Bush/Cheney administration would have. And everything from thereon out only reinforced the alienation and foreboding it gave me.

                        I find it difficult to reach and see little evidence of others being able to reach Democrats that have been far less touched by these events. At least until they are directly affected; then there's a decent chance they'll reconsider.

                        I have noticed, for example, some incredibly staunch Obama supporters jump ship over Social Security...

                        Outside of those directly, existentially affected and altered, it seems there's a basic empathic appreciation that is missing, and it seems unbridgeable.

                        Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

                        by Words In Action on Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 06:13:28 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  Btw (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Words In Action

                      Do they really have their own blogs where they obsess, whine and bitch over us? Am I famous there--or should I say infamous? Who else is? Fascinating!

                      "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                      by kovie on Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 05:43:39 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  So I hear and I saw one briefly and read (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        kovie

                        a thread. As intriguing as it was, I couldn't see any good in spending more time there, much as certain conversations here... I'm too easily distracted and even more easily agitated to go looking for trouble not on my to do list. :)

                        If you look at ek hornbeck's diary from Saturday night, And I Quote, which involves a tangle with MB on SS with "combatants," you'll see a glimpse. And there was a link to one of the outside sites in the comments, I believe one of Pluto's.

                        And a day or two earlier I caught MB referring to these guys and he provided a link as well.

                        Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

                        by Words In Action on Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 06:22:06 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I'm honestly not that interested (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Words In Action

                          Just slightly curious. These blog wars are Hegelian. What emerges is better, but something has to be destroyed or dismissed in the process.

                          Where are the Deaniacs? Do they have reunions?

                          "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

                          by kovie on Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 09:01:04 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                •  "It's the middle group which matters, the (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Jim P, melo, Barton Funk

                  largest group, and that's where quality-of-Democracy is decided."

                  Yes. Well said. I think that's perhaps the most common comment I make, in various ways, every single day. That and the import of it. And it never seems to stop bearing repeating, unfortunately. One particular set variations that recent conversation triggers most frequently runs along the lines of: "we could overwhelm the Republicans if there wasn't such a high pile of Democrats in the way." And this is usually said in the larger context of killing the neoliberal beast of supply-side economics, which was so close to death in early 2009, before its cousin, Third Way, stepped in to nurse it back to life.

                  I've enjoyed this thread as much as the diary, which I enjoyed very much. And I still liked Mizner's, too.

                  Frankly, I'd rather take down Exxon or Goldman Sachs, the way we're taking down RushBeckistan, than elect another "better" Democrat who's going to wind up singing for the bankster choir.

                  by Words In Action on Sat Apr 13, 2013 at 05:04:43 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

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