Saturday, October 09, 2010

More about dictatorships

Was Marx a totalitarian?


Jack Crow said...

Marx, as redacted by Engels? Yes, absolutely. The Engelism - esp. the tyranny in an ideology that is Dialectical Materialism - that Lenin developed into democratic centralism?


JRB said...

I've always found your take on Engels interesting. I don't know much about him myself.

Given the nature of their relationship, I'm skeptical that Engels would be so far from Marx as to totally transform his meanings.

But I don't anything about that subject specifically. What I've read by him seemed sound.

Jack Crow said...

As briefly as possible, JRB:

Marx leaves things open. He's ambiguous. Even in the segment entitled "Wages, Prices and Profit" - which is a fairly clear explanation of his theory of price - Marx spends the majority of the speech/text demonstrating that prior certainties are anything but.

Marx's thrust is towards the human, on the human scale - despite the vastness of the territory he surveyed. He sees this whole edifice of economic inquiry as a means of liberating persons, as persons. His argument, of course, has some of the baggage of the age, especially the Cartesian scientism.

But he's nothing like Engels, who demands certainty of the future, and finds it the most ancient, traditional and corrosive of muses - mysticism.

Which is not to suggest that their analytical tools were wildly divergent, or that they didn't collaborate or share goals.

But, Marx is comfortable with uncertainty. Like Darwin, who could tell in clear language where his inquiry failed, and where the gaps who could see in his own argument existed.

Engels, not so much. Engels turns Marx into the profit of a fixed, scientific future. The alteration is a matter of tone, and belief.

Marx analyzes. Engels - and his subsequent apostles - prophecies.



Jack Crow said...

Heh. Funny typo - substituting "profit" for "prophet." Too many layers of meaning there, eh?

JRB said...

Yes -- that was a nice touch.

Thanks for the breakdown. Very interesting.

Anonymous said...

i'd also like to give thanks
killer breakdown

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the linkage.

Great stuff Jack!