Re: Marx on civil liberties and justice

From "brian turner" <>
Date Fri, 22 Oct 2004 04:56:23 +0000

>From: Alex Day <>
>Subject: Re: Marx on civil liberties and justice
>Date: Wed, 20 Oct 2004 12:18:45 -0700 (PDT)
>--- brian turner <> wrote:
> > I do acknowledge the influence of economic
> > inequality on politics.  I'm
> > simply arguing for a heirarchy of preferences, and
> > the advancement of civil
> > liberties is something to cheer and not be dismissed
> > as worthless or
> > meaningless.  Right-liberals say good enough, stop
> > there.  I say no.
>I don't think anyone is saying that they are worthless
>in this discussion, just as in China no one argues
>that as far as I know.
> > "Formal equality" means equality before the law,
> > right? I'm speaking of
> > economic egalitarianism.  Relatively equal
> > distribution of capital.  I don't
> > regard equality before law as sufficient to make
> > exchanges fully and
> > authentically voluntary as right-liberals do.
> >
>Again, I'd say you are partaking in some of the
>liberal myths put forth in China.  How is it possible
>to have a "relatively equal distribution of capital"?
>Capitalism is founded upon the separation of people
>from their means of subsistance so that all they have
>to sell is their labour power.  Without this
>separation (in which two classes are constructed)
>there can be no capitalism.  This process is called
>primitive accumulation or the accumulation of
>dispossession (see David Harvey on the last term).  If
>there is a "relatively equal distribution of capital"
>there is no capitalism, for there are no dispossessed
>workers that have to sell their labour power; thus,
>there is no productive process to invest in and
>extract surplus value from.  So what is this social
>system you are talking about that has a "relatively
>equal distribution of capital"?
>More to the point, perhaps: if you are talking about
>economic egalitarianism (which I didn't notice you
>were) then the bourgeois freedoms you discussed
>earlier (the most foundational of which is the
>"freedom" to control one's private property--i.e. that
>largely accumulated through the primitive accumulation
>process) are in cintradiction to this egalitarianism.
>How do you have a system of rights based in private
>property and the ability to maintain a separation
>between those who own and those who are dispossessed
>on the one hand, work in concert with a system of
>economic egalitarianism?
>Alex (earlier):
> > >'the awesome
> > >power of bourgeois freedoms' comes to stand outside
> > >and before struggle--classical idealism; freedoms
> > are
> > >a-historical universals and are "human freedoms",
> > >unrelated to power-relationships or pre-power; such
> > >"human freedoms" must be established first, before
> > >social equality is possible.
> >
>Brian:> Well what alternative is there?
>Alternatives to idealism and universalism????   Well,
>I would say that we need to understand these
>"freedoms" as rooted in particular, historical social
>relations.  They can't simply be extracted from that
>history to become universals.  And when they are they
>are acting as the worst ideology--as they are being
>used in the Mideast today by the US.  The point isn't
>that these "freedoms" are morally "bad" or "good", but
>that they are historical and can't be separated so
>easily as you contended earlier.
>Yeah, Mao or Tito
> > can redistribute the land
> > and create equality and economic justice without
> > giving freedom, so it can
> > happen.  But is that really the best way?  Look how
> > easily Deng and Jiang
> > took the tools of Mao's autocratic state and
> > destroyed the economic social
> > justice.  And now what are they left with?  Once the
> > land reform is totally
> > reversed, India will look better (and in someways
> > already does).
>Seems like you are saying There Is No Alternative.  I
>don't believe that.  Certainly we need to be critical
>of past attempts to surpass the separation that
>produced capitalism, but that doesn't mean we have to
>give in to it either.
>   alex
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