File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2001/bhaskar.0106, message 55

Subject: Re: BHA: Re: Marx, Bhaskar and self-consciousness
Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2001 12:47:22 -0000

Hi Mervyn,

Thanks for this. I agree with a lot of what you (and James Daly) argue, but 
problems remain (I think) with your interpretation of Marx as possessor of 
'a fundamentally religious sensibility'. I will try to elaborate.

I don't doubt that early Marx endorsed 'the total redemption of humanity', 
including the unification of humanity and nature. But there is some evidence 
that old Marx modified this view somewhat. As I've written elsewhere: 
'Marx's usage of the concept of "natural law" denotes his break with his 
earlier utopian … view that the purpose of communism is the "complete 
unification of man and nature" in favour of the more sober materialistic 
understanding that nature can never be fully appropriated or humanised.'  
Now Marx recognises that, far from natural laws being harmonised with 
humanity, 'natural laws cannot be superseded … only the form in which the 
laws prevail in historically different circumstances' (Marx, 1976: 175).

Nor do I doubt that Marx endorsed a humanism influenced by Feuerbach and 
Aristotle.  This is especially manifest in his early writings, as I have 
pointed out. But if religious sensibility is simply synonymous with the 
belief in the total redemption of humanity (whose potential is immanent in 
the dialectic of enlightenment), following a period of self-estrangement, it 
is difficult to see how any genuinely progressive philosophy could be 
anything other than religious, particularly where it is informed by real 
history. The fact that Marx's dialectic of emancipation is influenced by the 
triadic Schillerian (and Hegelian) dialectic, which itself is influenced by 
religion, does not automatically gift young Marx fundamental religious 
sensibilities. An 'affinity' (as you later put it) with the structure of 
religious conceptualisations of the Eden/Fall/Eden dialectic is not the same 
thing as sharing an 'essentially religious response to reality.'

Mervyn, you seem to concede this point where you say:

'I don't want to say of course that there can't be a secular Schillerian 
dialectic. The transition from pre-class to class societes is after all a 
world-historical fact, and it is precisely this that is widely registered in 
myths of a Fall and of a Golden Age.'

Re: the nature of Marx's humanism. Mervyn you are right that early Max 
defined his approach as neither idealism nor materialism. But here 
'consistent naturalism or humanism' precisely means a rejection of 
mechanical materialism and idealism, not a rejection of materialism per se. 
Marx offers a materialistic anthropology anchored in a stratified conception 
of species being. However, if you wish to define 'idealism' as 'defining 
things critically … in terms of their ideal', fine, Marx is an idealist too.

Re: unconditional love and communism/eudaimonia in Marx and Bhaskar. I would 
like to make three points. First, Mervyn, I accept your interpretation of 
Bhaskar's meaning in *From East to West*. From the perspective of DCR it 
does seem inconceivable that Bhaskar would hold that human emancipation 
follows simply from self-knowledge of self-alienation. Nonetheless this does 
not prevent him from obscuring his meaning by apparently asserting the 

'Man is essentially free and essentially God… man is essentially enlightened 
not ignorant… human action is essentially spontaneous right action, which is 
carefree, joyous and loving… To realise these truths, *all* man has to do is 
to shed his illusions  and let go of the past and the heteronomous orders of 
determination which constrain … him. Such illusions, orders and constraints 
have arisen as emergent products of man's free will… To change the world, 
man *only* has to realise himself… To become free *all* we need to do is 
shed our illusions. These are the chains which bind us to the presence of 
the past. It is time to let go, to live life afresh. The hour for 
unconditional love has struck' (my *).

Note the terminology here. Self-emancipation depends *only* on shedding our 
illusions  that we are unfree. But it follows, surely, that even if the 
emergent structures of alienated labour arose originally out of our 'free 
will' (which is fairly contentious), they nonetheless have since become real 
alien objects, autonomous structural properties with powers and liabilities, 
which cannot be dissolved by 'letting them go' or by 'shedding our 
illusions' about them, however important this step might be. When 
encountering passages such as this one in FEW it is hard to believe that we 
are dealing with the self-same author who in DPF takes Marxism to task for 
failing to recognise the necessity of the past in the present (this 
supporting the Stalinist nonsense of 'socialism in one country')!

Second, it doesn't seem necessary to the possibility or feasibility of 
eudaimonia/communism that 'people pervasively love and trust each other.' It 
is sufficient to argue that our socialised nature, as this has developed 
historically via mechanisms of natural selection (in the context of 
hunter-gatherer social relations characterised by co-operative labour and 
egalitarian food-sharing), renders our essential species properties and 
powers especially compatible with Marx's ideal of the communist society. 
Communism is desirous and feasible because it overcomes the self-alienation 
of humanity in class society, putting us back in touch with our species 
sociality and communality, which can only be done on the basis of the 
abolition of property relations and commodity production. Communism is 
feasible and desirous because it offers the mass of humans a fundamental 
improvement in their material and cultural conditions of life through the 
massive redistribution of authoritative and allocative resources. This will 
allow the free-expression of those repressed (but nonetheless real) human 
desires for reciprocal altruism and distributive justice and the free 
development of each in the context of the free development of all.

These human desires, needs, aspirations, wants, interests, etc., emergent 
from our socialised biology, are not synonymous with 'unconditional love' 
for all of our fellow human beings. Love is rather a particular quality of 
these emergent properties, and one reserved for particular known others. 
Even in communism, it is difficult to imagine how the quality and intensity 
of attachment and trust associated with (for example) the parent-child 
relationship can be generalised to the whole of humanity. A desire to 'do 
good to all known others', emergent from our self-conscious capacity to 
'place ourselves in the place of the other', is hardly unconditional. Those 
whose altruism or trust is not reciprocated are likely to withdraw it. What 
holds the thing (communism/eudaimonia) together is that specific 
institutional forms guarantee the rationality of reciprocal altruism, 
solidarity, egalitarianism and genuinely socialised production from the 
point of view of individual freedom, by rendering the free development of 
each contingent on the free development of all.  This isn't the kind of bond 
that generally exists in the context of close interpersonal relations, where 
love is love precisely because it is unconditional, persisting even where it 
is not reciprocated or rewarded.

Finally, there is little evidence that Marx himself regarded pervasive love 
and trust as a condition of possibility of communism. Mervyn, I've taken a 
good look at Marx's early writings (1844-8), including his *Comments on 
James Mill*, and all I can find in support of this thesis is the aside 
you've already cited. So what is the substance of Marx's argument in his 

'I have produced for myself and not for you, just as you have produced for 
yourself and not for me. In itself, the result of my production has as 
little connection with you as the result of your production has directly 
with me. That is to say, our production is not man's production for man as a 
man, i.e. it is not social production… Hence our exchange, too, cannot be 
the mediating process by which it is confirmed that my product is [for] you, 
because it is an objectification of your own nature, your need… Exchange can 
only set in motion, only confirm, the character of the relation which each 
of us has in regard to his own product, and therefore to the product of the 
other. Each of us sees in his product only the objectification of his own 
selfish need, and therefore in the product of the other the objectification 
of a different selfish need, independent of him and alien to you.'

'On both sides, therefore, exchange is necessarily mediated by the object 
which each side produces and possesses. The ideal relationship to the 
respective objects of our production is, of course, our mutual need. But the 
real, true relationship, which actually occurs and takes effect, is only the 
mutually exclusive possession of our respective products. What gives your 
need of my article its value, worth and effect for me is solely your object, 
the equivalent of my object. Our respective products, therefore, are the 
means, the mediator, the instrument, the acknowledged power of our mutual 
needs. Your demand and the equivalent of your possession, therefore, are for 
me terms that are equal in significance and validity, and your demand only 
acquires a meaning, owing to having an effect, when it has meaning and 
effect in relation to me. As a mere human being without this instrument your 
demand is an unsatisfied aspiration on your part and an idea that does not 
exist for me. As a human being, therefore, you stand in no relationship to 
my object, because I myself have no human relationship to it. But the means 
is the true power over an object and therefore we mutually regard our 
products as the power of each of us over the other and over himself. That is 
to say, our own product has risen up against us; it seemed to be our 
property, but in fact we are its property. We ourselves are excluded from 
true property because our property excludes other men.'

This is pretty much the same argument as that contained in the 
*Manuscripts*, but minus the working class. Marx's argument is not that 
commodity production is alienating because it prevents us from loving one 
another. Rather his point is that commodity production drives a wedge 
between individual needs and species needs, because it reduces our sociality 
to individuated self-interest and transforms our human creativity into mere 
objects which are produced for the sole purpose of getting hold of the 
objects of others. Here is the passage cited by Mervyn quoted in full:

'Let us suppose that we had carried out production as human beings. Each of 
us would have in two ways affirmed himself and the other person. (1) In my 
production I would have objectified my individuality, its specific 
character, and therefore enjoyed not only an individual manifestation of my 
life during the activity, but also when looking at the object I would have 
the individual pleasure of knowing my personality to be objective, visible 
to the senses and hence a power beyond all doubt. (2) In your enjoyment or 
use of my product I would have the direct enjoyment both of being conscious 
of having satisfied a human need by my work, that is, of having objectified 
man's essential nature, and of having thus created an object corresponding 
to the need of another man's essential nature. (3) I would have been for you 
the mediator between you and the species, and therefore would become 
recognised and felt by yourself as a completion of your own essential nature 
and as a necessary part of yourself, and consequently would know myself to 
be confirmed both in your thought and your love. (4) In the individual 
expression of my life I would have directly created your expression of your 
life, and therefore in my individual activity I would have directly 
confirmed and realised my true nature, my human nature, my communal nature. 
Our products would be so many mirrors in which we saw reflected our 
essential nature. This relationship would moreover be reciprocal; what 
occurs on my side has also to occur on yours.'

Now it seems to me that 'unconditional love' is not central here to Marx's 
argument. Argument (1) is based on the idea of self-empowerment, the freeing 
of the individual producer from domination by the products of her own 
labour, of putting the producer back in charge of her objects. Argument (2) 
is congruent with Marx's account of human beings as necessarily 
co-operative, sociable, rational and self-conscious, and has no need to 
invoke the stronger claim that freedom depends on our capacity to love one 
another. Argument (3) does invoke love, but not necessarily or unambiguously 
as a condition of existence of communism. Instead it is at least plausible 
that this should be interpreted as the proposition that love will flourish 
more widely in society as a result of communism. This draws upon (2), and 
adds to this the proposition that transparently socialised production on 
behalf of the community, in place of privatised production for 
self-interested ends, allows each individual to recognise her dependence on 
the production of others as the essential condition of her own free 
flourishing. This allows the deepening of our solidarity and caring 
relations with the community. Finally (4) arguably reduces to (2) and (3).

As for the rest of Marx's work, old and new, here neither his treatment of 
alienation, nor his scattered comments on communist society, invoke the 
ideal of pervasive love as the fundamental condition of a society in which 
the 'the free development of each is a necessary condition for the free 
development of all.' This is just as well, perhaps. For, if it did, Marx's 
communism might well be the pipedream that the bourgeoisie have always 
claimed it is.



>From: Mervyn Hartwig <>
>Subject: Re: BHA: Re: Marx, Bhaskar and self-consciousness
>Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 13:43:38 +0100
>Hi Sean,
>Thanks for this stimulating contribution. I agree with much, but have
>reservations on a number of important points.
>Since you raise the issue, let me say what my motives in posting the
>quote from Marx's letter to Ruge were. I had (have) agreed to review
>James Daly's new book *Deals and Ideals: Two Concepts of Enlightenment*
>Greenwich Exchange, London 2000 for JCR(Alethia). Here is a summary of
>the argument of the book in a promo James sent to me (presumably
>authored by himself) (I think it very relevant to this thread).
>*Deals and Ideals* criticizes the belief in a unique and uniquely modern
>"Enlightenment" whose political and ecomomic deal-making concept of
>rationality can be found in Hobbes, Hume and Bentham; it argues that
>this is a return to the convention theory of the Sophists. It advocates
>the antithetical tradition of enlightenment, which is based on the
>idea(l)s of a scientific but spiritual rationality, which they rejected
>and which is now thought to belong only to "the East". The basic
>principles of this enlightenment are found in the dialectical natural
>law tradition deriving from Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and found in
>the Stoics and the Scholastics, especially  Thomas Aquinas. (The author
>is critical of their social application in ancient slavery and feudal
>serfdom). The book argues that the German Idealist criticism of the
>Anglo-French Enlightenment  was compromised by an accommodation to a
>Hobbesian concept of human nature, with its justification of private
>property in the means of production on the basis of the bourgeois
>ideology of a pre-social, a-social and anti-social abstract universal
>"Man". It argues that this defect was overcome by Marx's Aristotelian
>and Feuerbachian humanist dialectic, which is today being recovered from
>the many misunderstandings and distortions of Marx's thought, often
>traceable to (Lukacs's) "bourgeois (Cartesian) antinomies". Marx's
>concern, for instance, with the humanist need to integrate the economic
>and the political was reduced by his followers to an alienated amoral
>economic and technological base/superstructure determinism. This
>mechanistic social engineering approach is connected to empiricism,
>whereas Marx's philosophy of science was the realist one (found today in
>Roy Bhaskar) of the discovery of essences behind appearances. Deals and
>Ideals includes original, comprehensive and detailed treatments of  the
>concepts of rationality, relativism, nature, freedom, justice, and
>On this view, Marx, though an atheist (for whom however atheism would be
>superseded in communism and history proper), had a fundamentally
>religious sensibility and, as the inheritor of German Idealism, belongs
>essentially within the older rationalist and idealist tradition of
>dialectical enlightenment. In short, and stated very bluntly, the
>interpretation of Marx has been hi-jacked by the bourgeois
>enlightenment, and James wants to restore him to his rightful tradition,
>where his values can be seen to be
>"ontological values: that is what he [Marx] means when he calls them
>'naturalism and humanism', 'the total redemption of humanity' and 'the
>true resurrection of nature'. They are the realisation in nature,
>through human nature and spirit, of the absolutely good and beautiful
>(the noble, the fine, the generous); the totality of the fully natural
>and rational, the total self-realisation of nature in the community of
>all humankind, in the infinity of the shared 'I-thou' relationship which
>... Levinas calls justice and the thought of which he says is 'first
>philosophy'." [MJD, 41]
>James locates Bhaskar, including the later Bhaskar, similarly - see his
>review of FEW in the last Alethia. His argument about Marx is made at
>much greater length in his *Marx, Justice and Dialectic* Greenwich
>Exchange 1996. I think he makes a powerful case, and it might be that
>the work of Ellis on essentialism (which I haven't read) will strengthen
>To prepare myself for the review, I decided inter alia to re-read the
>young Marx together with key later Marx texts. Re-reading the passage I
>cited from the letter to Ruge I recalled that Bhaskar cites it
>approvingly somewhere, but couldn't find where - so I asked the List
>(alas, without result to date!).
>I had been struck by the similarities between the young Marx and the
>later Bhaskar and said so, but didn't spell them out. I was *not*
> >to show that early Marx (in common with late
> >Bhaskar) holds the view that human emancipation can be achieved simply
> >through self-knowledge of self-alienation,
>I don't think this is a view that either Marx held, at any rate for
>long, or Bhaskar holds. If the youthful Marx flirted with it
>momentarily, he'd certainly dropped it by 1844. While the Bhaskar of FEW
>sometimes seems to espouse it, he is very explict that TDCR presupposes
>and is a development of DCR, so that a fair interpretation seems to be
>that the details of the structural 'dialectics of action' elaborated in
>DPF must be supplied by the reader, rather than assumed to have been
>displaced (they are certainly invoked in FEW in their generality).
>I had in mind rather some of the other things you mention:
> >commitment to the concept of a society in which 'the free development of
> >each is the condition of the free development of all.'
> >'the
> >Eden/Fall/ Eudaimonia dialectic'
> >'class society and capitalism alienate our essential human communality, 
> >are historically necessary for us to achieve it in full 
>I would add (but don't claim exhaustiveness):
>* the human being is essentially (by nature) free but in demi-
>reality/class society everywhere in chains
>* Bhaskar's concept of 'demi-reality' as a distinct zone of being could
>well have its origins in Marx's 'realm of estrangement'
>* a dialectic of self-realization issuing in recovery of essential
>selves/ communal destiny
>* the notion of shedding - of ideology, ignorance and alienating and
>oppressive strutures
>* the concept of the 'rich man' of communism/eudaimonia.
>* the indispensability of pervasive love and trust in communism/
>* emphasis on being, not having
>You say re the early Marx:
> >In substance, there
> >is nothing remotely idealist about this humanism,
>James argues plausibly that Marx 'did not reject idealism in the sense
>of defining things critically, like Socrates in terms of their ideal',
>but 'only in a sense peculiar to Hegel, whose aim in philosophy was,
>Marx thought, the *exact opposite* of ... Socrates [i.e.] to *idealise
>existing* reality.' [MJD 39]
>The young Marx himself said that his 'consistent naturalism or humanism
>differs both from idealism and materialism and is at the same time their
>unifying truth'. (EPMS)
>The three-part Schillerian dialectic, which you accept Marx espoused,
>hails from the older tradition of dialectical enlightenment, which James
>plausibly argues is 'essentially a religious response to reality' (MJD,
>32), and it seems to me that Marx's version retains some fundamental
>affinities. Thus communism is the true realization of the yearnings and
>aspirations which find alienated expression in religion. It's made
>necessary and possible by the Fall into private property and capitalism:
>'Private property has made us so stupid and one-sided that an object is
>only ours when we *have* it...*all* the physical and intellectual senses
>have been replaced by the simple *estrangement* of all these senses -
>the sense of *having*. So that it might give birth to its inner wealth,
>human nature had to be reduced to this abolute poverty.'
>In FEW, Bhaskar casts what seems to me an essentially similar idea in
>more philosophical terms: humanity fell into alienation and having
>because this is a transcendentally necessary condition of possibility
>for us "to become self-consciously aware of the true nature of
>ourselves" (150) - "there could be no enlightenment without avidya and .
>. .  if we are already enlightened, no recognition or realisation of it
>without a prior forgetting (or fall)".
>What is the Bhaskarian 'true nature of ourselves'? - if you leave out
>the notion that we are emergent forms of God, it of course bears many
>simliaritities with Marx's: essentially one or united as a species
>(Marx's species-being); essentially creative; oriented to being, not
>having; enlightened, not ignorant; and, above all, free.
>I don't want to say of course that there can't be a secular Schillerian
>dialectic. The transition from pre-class to class societies is after all
>a world-historical fact, and it is precisely this that is widely
>registered in myths of a Fall and of a Golden Age. Further, I think one
>could draw on Hegel to make a powerful argument that class society was
>necessary for the achievement of a fuller self- and species-
>consciousness than could obtain in hunger-gatherer society.
>Re pervasive love and trust - I reckon it's a condition of possibility
>of a society in which 'the free development of each [is] a condition of
>the free development of all'. It's not the case that there's no explicit
>textual evidence in Marx. James is fond of quoting *Excerpts from James
>Mill's Elements of Political Economy 1844* in which unalienated labour
>is viewed as the free expression of human nature, based on love and
>mutual affirmation:
>'Let us suppose we had produced as human beings [in a fully human
>manner]. Each of us would have *doubly affirmed* himself and his
>neighbour in his production.... I would ... know myself to be confirmed
>both in your thoughts and your love. In the individual expression of my
>own life I would have brought about the immediate expression of your
>life, and so in my individual activity I would have directly *confirmed*
>and *realized* my authentic  nature, my *human, communal* nature. Our
>productions would be as many mirrors from which our nature would shine
>As James points out, this positive view of unalienated production is
>'presupposed by the longer and negative section on alienated labour in
>EPMS'. Such a view should not of course surprise on the part of one who
>had cut his philosophical teeth on Hegel:
>"The younger Hegel had been explicit that *desire*, in love, includes
>the *desire to be desired*, and loved, and that this drive incorporates
>the desire to be united with the loved one - a paramorph for the desire
>for *de-alienation*, that is, for the restoration, perhaps in a much
>more complex and differentiated totality, of the unity between the agent
>and everything essential to her nature (i.e. from the standpoint of
>totality, a part of herself)." (Bhaskar, DPF: 243)
>Also, Sean, in the following you seem to concede the case about love:
> >Our self-conscious capacity to 'put
> >ourselves in the place of our fellows is mediated by our sociality and
> >rationality, and this translates into the deep seated human desire 'to do
> >good to all known others', to treat others as we would ourselves like to 
> >treated.
>The Golden Rule *means* 'love thy neighbour as thyself'.
>Love, Mervyn
>Sean Creaven <> writes
> >Hi everyone,
> >
> >I would like to make a few comments on the recent absorbing posts on
> >irrealism and realism in Marx and Bhaskar.
> >
> >The issue of the 'epistemological break separating 'realist' mature Marx
> >from 'irrealist' immature Marx seems to be a slant on the more 
> >view which conceives this in terms of an absolute dichotomy between
> >'scientific Marx' (the structuralist) and 'ideological Marx' (the 
> >
> >Either way, I agree with Ruth. I do not think this is a particularly
> >illuminating way of addressing the question of Marxs philosophical
> >trajectory.
> >
> >Nick writes:
> >
> >'Before Marx pushed through his rounded critiqiue of political economy he
> >too was operating on the irreal terrain of Hegel and Kant... From his own
> >later perspective, Marx's early work, regardless of its critical stance 
> >its ultimate orientation towards realism, is necessarily suffused by
> >idealism and an irrealist humanism; his own early humanist
> >impulses were themselves shrouded in quasi-mystical language It was only
> >as this process of critique issued in a positive alternative to idealist
> >irrealism that Marx developed the epistemic break with irrealism.'
> >
> >Now immature Marx did indeed tend to wrap his thoughts in mystical 
> >language, though this tendency was not altogether absent from old Marx.
> >Marx's early writings (see especially the 'Paris
> >Manuscripts') were clearly influenced in terms of their rhetorical form 
> >Hegel's teleological philosophy of history. Thus Marx did famously 
> >that 'communism is the riddle of history solved', and he did refer to
> >socialism as the 'destiny' of humankind, and to dialectic as the
> >'unconscious tool of history' in bringing about socialist revolution 
> >1959: 101).
> >
> >But admitting this much does not establish that 'young Marx' was
> >fundamentally irrealist in his philosophy (from 1843 onwards). Certainly,
> >there is no real evidence (other than the occasional mystical turn of
> >phrase) that the humanism of Marx's early writings is grasped as a unity 
> >spirit or that he sees the unfolding of human consciousness as driving
> >history towards its rational telos in the secular utopia. In fact, Marx's
> >humanism is informed by a particular materialist understanding of 
> >species-being. This is human nature as an aspect of natural history, as
> >absolutely dependent on the organic and inorganic worlds (Marx, 1959: 
> >and as the bearer of distinctive causal powers  including labour,
> >sociality, rationality, language and self.
> >
> >This understanding of species-being as essentially rational, sociable and
> >co-operative was the basis of Marx's critique of alienation in the
> >'Manuscripts', from which there is no evidence of departure in his later
> >works postdating 'The German Ideology'. Here Marx argues that the
> >estrangement of species-life from social life (the essentially 
> >sociality of human nature) is manifested in the 'Robinsonades' of 
> >liberal theory, and in the social relationships of commodity production.
> >These 'alienate species-life and individual life  turning the latter as 
> >abstraction into the purpose of the former  incorporating private 
> >into the very essence of man' (Marx, 1964:  127,148).
> >
> >For Marx, then, it is the frustration of the needs and tendencies of
> >socialised humanity in class-divided societies that ensure that communism 
> >historically necessary, the 'riddle of history solved.' In substance, 
> >is nothing remotely idealist about this humanism, even if the Hegelian 
> >of the language deployed sometimes obscures this fact. Marx does not base
> >his anthropology on any transcendent principle, such as 'universal
> >unconditional love.'
> >
> >Nor is Marxs humanist philosophy essentially teleological, in the way 
> >attributed to it. Young Marx does not claim that human history inevitably 
> >necessarily terminates in communism, despite his claim that communism is 
> >goal of history. On the contrary, in the Manuscripts, Marx explicitly
> >disavows this interpretation, arguing that communism is historically
> >necessary only in the sense of being the necessary precondition for a
> >disalienated human existence:
> >
> >'Communism is  hence the "actual" phase necessary for the next stage of
> >human development in the process of human emancipation  but communism as
> >such is not the goal of human development' (Marx, 1959: 101).
> >
> >The only passage in the totality of Marx's writings where he claims
> >unambiguously that socialism is historically inevitable is to be found in
> >the Manifesto (i.e. the famous 'gravediggers' slogan). But it has always
> >seemed to me that attributing teleologism to young Marx, on the basis of 
> >slice of political rhetoric in an essentially propagandist pamphlet, is
> >stretching it a wee tad!
> >
> >I conclude from my own reading of Marx (young and old) that substantive
> >evidence linking him to irrealist humanism or idealist historical closure
> >(Hegel's closed totalities) is rather scant. Of course, this does not 
> >that young Marx was a critical realist or historical materialist or
> >accomplished critic of capitalism. He did not manage the difficult trick 
> >formulating Marxism before Marxism. But it does suggest that the young 
> > old Marx relation is better understood in terms of continuity and
> >development than in terms of a radical break. I have argued at length
> >elsewhere that Marx's naturalistic humanism (young Marx) and structural
> >sociology (mature Marx) are not incompatible elements of his philosophy 
> >social theory, but constitute a unified theoretical and analytical whole
> >that is broadly consistent with critical realism (Creaven, 2000).
> >
> >All of this, I think, sheds a little light on Mervyns contribution to the
> >debate. Mervyn argues:
> >
> >'I've been re-reading the early Marx, and it's striking that many of the
> >themes of 'From East to West' are already there.'
> >
> >Mervyn's point is that 'early Marx' and 'late Bhaskar' share a common
> >commitment to the concept of a society in which 'the free development of
> >each is the condition of the free development of all.' I think he is 
> >to argue this. He is also right to say that mature Marx never abandoned 
> >Eden/Fall/ Eudaimonia dialectic' of his youth. Again, I think he is
> >(uncontroversially) right to argue this. For Marx, in common with 
> >'class society and capitalism alienate our essential human communality, 
> >are historically necessary for us to achieve it in full 
> >So far so good.
> >
> >But this is where the unity of young Marx and Bhaskar's 'From East to 
> >terminates. Marx's anthropology does not commit him to the view that
> >communist society entails/depends on 'unconditional love' ('that people
> >pervasively love and trust each other'). Instead it is rooted in the 
> >of species-being as bearer of core properties and powers (sociality,
> >co-operation, self-consciousness, rationality). It is these properties 
> >support the craving for egalitarianism, communalism and distributive 
> >that has energised social struggles against those power structures which
> >frustrate them throughout human history. Our self-conscious capacity to 
> >ourselves in the place of our fellows is mediated by our sociality and
> >rationality, and this translates into the deep seated human desire 'to do
> >good to all known others', to treat others as we would ourselves like to 
> >treated. Further, because we are rationally self-conscious, we know that 
> >emancipation of each of us is dependent on the emancipation of all, since
> >reconstructed class societies always subordinate the many to the few.
> >
> >What evidence is there that Marx bases his concept of communism on the
> >potential inherent in humanity for unconditional love? None at all, that 
> >can see. But what of Mervyn's view that young Marx's dialectic of freedom 
> >a secularised version of the religious idea of the Fall and eventual
> >preordained reunification of humanity and God as spirit? (Mervyn, I hope
> >this a fair interpretation of your view). Of course, Marx is for human
> >emancipation, but this does not automatically gift his thought religious
> >sensibilities or affiliations, despite his borrowing of the odd concept 
> >metaphor from the religious sphere (such as notions of 'confession' and
> >'forgiveness' and 'sin'). Nor does it commit him to historical teleology 
> >the kinds characteristic of religious thought. If Mervyn's purpose in 
> >Marx's letter to Ruge is to show that early Marx (in common with late
> >Bhaskar) holds the view that human emancipation can be achieved simply
> >through self-knowledge of self-alienation, this strategy is not really
> >successful.
> >
> >Here Marx argues that the reform of consciousness depends on the rational
> >critique of mysticism in all its forms. This is an abiding theme of young
> >Marx. But its meaning is ambiguous. Is Marx arguing that simply acquiring
> >self-knowledge of alienation will liberate humanity, or is he saying that
> >acquiring self-knowledge is the key to overcoming alienation because 'all
> >else follows' once emancipatory philosophy has gripped the people. I 
> >say that the latter interpretation is more plausible. Thus in 1843 Marx
> >argued that 'the emancipation of the human being' will be accomplished by 
> >alliance whose 'head  is philosophy, its heart  the proletariat', a 
> >with radical chains' (Marx and Engels, 1975: 187).
> >
> >This position is not Marxist. It is replete with elitism and dualism. 
> >nonetheless, even young Marx did not see human freedom as simply 'reform 
> >consciousness' by means of demystifying alienation. Ideas had to be
> >materialised in practical agency to become real in their social and 
> >effects, and these ideas were themelves anchored in the material world to
> >start with. Alienation was a material not spiritual phenomenon, rooted in
> >the social relations of commodity production. The role of philosophy was 
> >to legislate for worldly struggles. Already the gap between philosophy 
> >the world is narrow:
> >
> >'We do not confront the world in a doctrinaire way with a new principle:
> >Here is the truth, kneel down before it! We develop new principles for 
> >world out of the worlds own principles. We do not say to the world: Cease
> >your struggles, they are foolish; we will give you the true slogans of
> >struggle. We merely show the world what it is really fighting for'
> >(Marx,1975, letter to Ruge, CW 3: 144).
> >
> >Regards
> >
> >Sean
> >
> >_________________________________________________________________________
> >Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at
> >
> >
> >
> >     --- from list ---
>Mervyn Hartwig
>13 Spenser Road
>Herne Hill
>London SE24 ONS
>United Kingdom
>Tel: 020 7 737 2892
>      --- from list ---

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