Re: Marx on civil liberties and justice
Tue, 19 Oct 2004 10:43:40 -0500
Mozilla Thunderbird 0.6 (Windows/20040502)
brian turner wrote:
> I note that your discussion focuses only on political freedoms. 'Dull
> economic compulsion' is for you not force?
> I think pure compulsion exists only in the third world (the
> economically marginalized, near or below subsistence, that have no
> bargaining power due to competition among themselves in conditions of
> concentration of wealth)
Well then we'll have to disagree here.
> , but to the degree it exists in the developed world it is separable
> from civil liberties. I don't regard civil liberties as more or less
> valuable depending on whether they exist along side other things. For
> example, somewhat more equal treatment of women in communist China
> under Mao is really good and admirable despite the obliteration of
> other things I regard as admirable, necessary, just and valuable.
>> If you happen to believe that the entire edifice of bourgious society
> I've never known what is "bourgeois society", except historically when
> merchant classes overthrew feudal or religious based ruling classes.
> I don't get the modern relevance.
If you've grown up in the US, then you have an intimate knowledge of
what bourgeois society is. Private property, contracts, 'free' labor,
non-political surplus extraction, etc.
> ...is constructed upon an edifice of inequality (exchange of
> non-equivalents) but wrapped in the packaging of equal exchange (the
> wage form),...
> So does it follow to you (as it does to me) that such exchanges CAN
> happen in a meaningful way under conditions of relative equality and
> equal bargaining power?
Of course. But we disagree under which conditions such exchanges could
>> You may think that 'the awesome power of bourgeois freedoms' has
>> significantly improved the position of various oppressed/subordinated
>> groups, but I happen to think that it was the struggles of those
>> groups and individuals, rather than the power of an abstraction, that
>> accounts for the gains.
> But how could they act in the first place? These norms and
> institutions gave them a certain protection.
> That many groups appropriated the discourse of bourgeois freedoms and
> rights seems unsurprising given the location of those groups.
>> And how do you deal with the most central of the core bourgeois
>> freedoms: private property? Is this most holy of bourgeois freedoms
>> consistent with your understanding of freedom?
> Yes, if under conditions of relative equality. In the real world, the
> situation is often that of those who have long used the state to
> develop wealth then preaching laissez-faire to protect these state
> augmented gains. So the issues of pure private property and voluntary
> cooperation never arises.
You're entitled to your opinion, but I think it's a bit difficult to use
Marx to support your idea that private property is consistent with human
freedom. Call me crazy.
Again, your stress is only on the extra-economic. And we will thus
continue to differ.
> Yes, much more can be done, you're absolutely right. That's why unions
> in the US fight against Taft-Hartley, so that the nominal freedom of
> association can be realized in practice. If this is a bourgeois
> freedom, why isn't the bourgeois supporting it?
> I don't like the Marxist term bourgeois freedoms. They are human
Well, that's what the bourgeois says. "You want what rights? Ha ha ha.
My private property is a human right! Get back to work." Where equal
>> Weak argument. Of course Marx didn't intend that. The appropriation
>> of Marxism by particular groups has to be grasped through an
>> understanding of the groups doing the appropriation. Bourgeois
>> freedoms have been used to justify lots of nasty shit too, should we
>> thus abandon them?
> I don't follow. I don't abandon Marxism I embrace large parts of it.
> I have been writing a paper on the origins of Mao's political thought
> off and on for a few years and in the process my view of Mao fell and
> for Marx rose considerably. I now see Marx as on the side of liberal
> socialism and even a mixed economy.
I wish you the best of luck trying to jump over the core of Marx in
order to turn him into a liberal.