Thursday, 26 August 2010

Marx and Rights

"In responding to Bauer, Marx makes one of the most enduring arguments from his early writings, by means of introducing a distinction between political emancipation — essentially the grant of liberal rights and liberties — and human emancipation. Marx's reply to Bauer is that political emancipation is perfectly compatible with the continued existence of religion, as the contemporary example of the United States demonstrates. However, pushing matters deeper, in an argument reinvented by innumerable critics of liberalism, Marx argues that not only is political emancipation insufficient to bring about human emancipation, it is in some sense also a barrier. Liberal rights and ideas of justice are premised on the idea that each of us needs protection from other human beings. Therefore liberal rights are rights of separation, designed to protect us from such perceived threats. Freedom on such a view, is freedom from interference. What this view overlooks is the possibility — for Marx, the fact — that real freedom is to be found positively in our relations with other people. It is to be found in human community, not in isolation. So insisting on a regime of rights encourages us to view each other in ways which undermine the possibility of the real freedom we may find in human emancipation. Now we should be clear that Marx does not oppose political emancipation, for he sees that liberalism is a great improvement on the systems of prejudice and discrimination which existed in the Germany of his day. Nevertheless, such politically emancipated liberalism must be transcended on the route to genuine human emancipation. Unfortunately, Marx never tells us what human emancipation is, although it is clear that it is closely related to the idea of non-alienated labour, which we will explore below ........"
I think he was definitely onto something there.


socrates said...

Max Weber wrote how some good Protestant values fueled early American capitalism. People were frugal, tried to be moral, work hard, etc.. He said this initial intent was eventually lost thus leading to us ending up in an iron cage.

The legitimation crisis of today is simple. Those who are willing and able to work are up against the fact that there are more people than available jobs.

The solution to the problem is also simple, to basically shift the economy from one centered on war and spying to one that is based on social justice. Unfortunately those in power are selfish pigs. Regular people also tend to be very selfish and only care about their own interests. Some would care more, but since they are trapped in their everyday grind, they feel there isn't much they can do.

socrates said...

There are also the problems of inequality with earnings compounded by inflation, unemployment, underemployment, health bills, regressive tax structures, housing and educational disparities (not all schools are created equal), etc.. Capitalism is a scam, period.