Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Introducing Marxism: A Graphic Guide Notes

Introducing Marxism: A Graphic Guide by Rupert Woodfin (Author), Oscar Zarate (Illustrator)

Private property must be abolished via revolution.

Wanted a progressive tax system and free education.

“Religion is the opium of the masses”

[Like Rousseau, people are naturally not selfish/good, but with the introduction of classes & capitalism it then cause people to exploit each other] – Thus profit and the need for it is bad
Hegel felt that the apogee of the Absolute was the state (this lead to fascism via veneration of the state). The dialectic and continual progress led to the idea of communism with the inevitability of progress (and no object truth -my note).

Dialetical materialism (Hegel the Absolute is Ideal that leads to material; Marks the absolute is material that leads to ideas).

The thesis (capitalism) will give way to the new antithesis (socialism). The synthesis will leave out all the bad parts of capitalism while retaining the good (ie new technology)

Believed that capital will concentrate on the capitalists/bourgeoise and due to increasing technology would have less need for workers. Workers would then unite and overthrow the capitalists. Leading to an eschatological classless society. Lenin though that the proletariat would be a class themselves and start he “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Marx thought this uprising against a class structure, would cause the worker class to abandon “classes” once they overthrow the bourgeoise. This will then be the realization of socialism. “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

Bourgeoise take advantage/exploit the workers. The only variable costs is the laborers’ hours, thus they are forced to work longer for less.

Marx is very wary of technology’s ability to displace workers

3 “laws” that would end capitalism (tried make communism a scientific endeavor): Law of capitalist accumulation, law of the concentration of capital, and law of increasing misery.

Alienation keeps us from the product of our hands, which now belong to the capitalists for profit. Work becomes drudgery. It makes us unhappy. In current times, we are still looking for the “alienation” that makes us unhappy.

Felt capitalism made people objects.

Trotsky thought the urban proletariats and peasants would not unite. He also felt an international uprising was needed to sustain the revolution.

Saw the nation-state as a bourgeoise creation. Revolution had to be international ie Marx is a globalist.

Lenin saw imperialism as the last stage of capitalism. Through global domination the new proletariat would be the “toiling masses “

Antonio Gramsci modified Marx by emphasizing the role of human agency and choice while maintaining the idea of class struggle. He noted that ideas could bring about revolution. He noted hegemony is seen as “common sense” and “natural.” These ideas are also necessary, besides economic force and power, to control the people. And who implements these cultural norms? Those in power! How? Via instiutions such as the educational system and mass media. Disadvantaged must not completely unite, just work together, and keep their distinctions. All groups can make their own special contribution to the struggle and form a popular collective will. Gramsci noted that the revolution would need to take time to change culture, as those in power still had the control of force (ie 1960’s French revolution). He made everyday culture political.

Gramsci and the Frankfurt school denied Marx’s economic determinism. They were interested in Freudian concepts, mass media, the culture industry, and the sociology of “mass society.”
Althusser’s concept of ideological state apparatus. The dominant ideology sucks in the individual (“interpellates”).

Marxists today still insist on the evolutionary movement and change based on a doctrine of material relations and social action.

Fukuyama thought a liber capitalist society was the “end of history” in the way that it was the end game of Hegel’s dialectic ie the Absolute realized.

Antagonisms can arise through not only class, but gender ethnicity, age, etc. Thus there can be struggles everywhere, there can be strange alliances, and unity is very difficult.

Postmodernism sees you not as an individual but a collection of narratives.

Laclau and Mouffe are radical b/c they politicize the whole of life. Power relations are everywhere.
Marx’s system was not falsifiable (Popper) and didn’t anticipate a middle class that became owners via stocks and bank investments.

A contradiction in Marxism was its need for someone / some class to control the centralization. There were Lenin’s promises that the government was only provisional, but that is not what happened… Staling notes this contradiction “reflects the Marxist dialectic…”

At the end of the 19th century, contrary to Marx’s prediction, wages went up and people were enjoying a higher standard of living.

Third world countries, not industrial ones, adopted Marxism

Monday, March 26, 2018

Prof. Stephen B. Smith Philosophy of Politics Notes (Yale)

Basic issue: Freedom of the human mind to determine what is best for ourselves vs the State
Who should teach the citizens?
Socrates “The unexamined life is not worth living”
Socrates in the Apology - Moral integrity vs the law
Socrates in the Crito takes the City’s argument and argues against himself. He notes the disobedience to the law is detrimental to the society.

The Republic is about the will of the majority vs the reason of the philosophers

Rulers those who make the rights vs the ruled

Plato wanted eliminate the differences between the sexes and wanted them to study together. AdvoxTed education of women and emancipation from the household. He didn’t see why there would Be differences job performance between men and women but...

“The first of these waves is, you remember, the restrictions on private property, even the abolition of private property. The second, the abolition of the family, and the third wave being the establishment of the philosopher kings”

“that. Furthermore, their marriages and their procreations will be, he tells us, for the sake of the city. There is nothing like romantic love among the members of the guardian class. Sexual relations will be intended purely for the sake of reproduction and unwanted fetuses will be aborted. The only exception to this prohibition is for members of the guardian class who are beyond the age of reproduction, he tells us, and they, he says, can have sex if they're still able, with anyone they like. A kind of version of recreational sex as a reward for a lifetime of self-control. Child-bearing may be inevitable for women but the rearing of the child will be the responsibility of the community or at least a class of guardians and common daycare centers. A sort of variation of Hillary Clinton's book that "it takes a village to raise a child," comes right out of Plato apparently. No child should know their biological parents and no parent should know their child. The purpose of this scheme being to eliminate senses of mine and me, to promote a kind of common sense of esprit de corps among the members of the[…]”

Excerpt From
Philosophers and Kings:  Plato, Republic, V
Steven B. Smith
This material may be protected by copyright.

“regime, his regime typology is, to say, his division of power, his division of regimes and to the rule of the one, the few and the many is based not only on how powers are distributed in a purely factual way, he also distinguishes between regimes that are well ordered, well governed, and those that are corrupt. What does he mean in terms of this distinction? Aristotle's distinction seems to be not only empirical, again, based on the factual distribution of powers. It seems to have a--what we might call today a normative component to it, it makes a distinction or a judgment between the well-ordered and the deviant regimes, the corrupt regimes. On the one side, he tells us, the well ordered regimes are monarchy, aristocracy and what he calls polity, rule of the one, the few, and the many, and on the corrupt side he calls, he describes them as tyranny, oligarchy and democracy also ruled by the one, the few, and the many”

Excerpt From
The Mixed Regime and the Rule of Law:  Aristotle, Politics, IV
Steven B. Smith
This material may be protected by copyright.

“He writes, "The nations in cold locations, particularly in Europe, are filled with spiritedness." There is that platonic word again, thumos, are filled with thumos, "but lacking in discursive thought," lacking in the deliberative element in other words. Hence, they remain free because they're thumotic, but they lack political governance. "Those in Asia, on the other hand," he writes, thinking probably here of Persia, places like Egypt and Persia, "have souls endowed with discursive thought but lack spiritedness, lack thumos, hence they remain ruled and enslaved.”

Excerpt From
The Mixed Regime and the Rule of Law:  Aristotle, Politics, IV
Steven B. Smith
This material may be protected by copyright.

Aristotle saw he importance of geography and social classes in politics. “He writes, "The nations in cold locations, particularly in Europe, are filled with spiritedness." There is that platonic word again, thumos, are filled with thumos, "but lacking in discursive thought," lacking in the deliberative element in other words. Hence, they remain free because they're thumotic, but they lack political governance. "Those in Asia, on the other hand," he writes, thinking probably here of Persia, places like Egypt and Persia, "have souls endowed with discursive thought but lack spiritedness, lack thumos, hence they remain ruled and enslaved.”

Excerpt From
The Mixed Regime and the Rule of Law:  Aristotle, Politics, IV
Steven B. Smith
This material may be protected by copyright.

Natural rights are mutable?

We are political animals because of our ability to speak (not an ontological quality)

Seems to indicate the tradition and Laws determine justice - subjective 

Aristotle focuses on phronesis- practical reason

Believes in division ignorance power by class not for personal liberty but for the good of the city

Aristotle – Man is a political animal

Politics is about conflict (partisan and between others). Not about economic conflict a la Marx, but about who rules. The rulers vs the ruled. Rich over poor, etc.

The regime is about the distribution of power between cities and famously between the one, few, and many

Kindness, mutual affection, loyalty, and trust (philiaI) hold citizenry together.

Is talking about  a post-Holy Roman Empire secular society

Armed prophets have changed societies. The old princes are rulers from inheritance; the new princes are ones who seize it.

Looks at politics from a extraordinary / extreme circumstances - just surviving?

Virtue is a key theme and by it means something akin to manliness. 

His ethics is about pagan worldliness vs Christian innoncence. He says Christianity makes the world weak his word is “effeminate”

Men must use force to take over. 

If you don’t want to get your hands dirty in politics get out of the day. Jean Paul Sartre’s problem of dirty hands

The new prince must know how to use cruelty

“The new prince, as we've seen, must know how to use religion but needs to learn how not to be used by religion, must not become a dupe of the religious. He must know how to use religious passions and sentiments but not be used by them.
Politics must become a purely worldly affair. It should not be limited or constrained by any transcendent standards or moral laws that do not derive from politics itself, whether a law of God or some kind of transcendent moral order or code. Machiavelli's warning, we might say today, to the religious right, or his critique of the religious right, cannot make politics conform to transcendent moral law. But not only did Machiavelli bring a new worldliness to politics, he also introduced a new kind of populism, you might say. Plato and Aristotle imagined aristocratic republics that would invest power in an aristocracy of education and virtue. Machiavelli deliberately seeks to enlist the power of the people against aristocracies of education and virtue. He is a kind of proto-democrat almost who sought to re-create, not through accident and chance, but through planning and design a new kind of republic in the modern world”

Excerpt From
New Modes and Orders:  Machiavelli, The Prince (chaps. 13-26)
Steven B. Smith
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Man can conquer fortuna 50% if the time

Man’s natural state / nature is conflict and war

War of all against all bella omnum contra omnes 

Brought forward the idea of individuality even Tocqueville in the 19th century thought it a novel idea

Anti-Aristotle who thought man had a telos (final cause)

Materialistic and skeptical in his epistemology 

Wanted to know what are the grounds for authority  

Fear and pride are man’s basic emotions 

Believes there can be a god and revelation, but that revelation cannot be verified 

Hobbessian citizen looks out for self and is risk adverse. Does not understand doing things for honor. Does not understand rushing into save the day risking life and limb. Bourgeois morality? There is a tension for who will be the fireman in this Hobbessian society. 

Modern language of politics individual rights over duty, the sovereign working for the lowly. 

Really came up with the idea of the individual.  

States also are “individuals” who can be in conflict as there are no higher authorities to adjudicate between them. 
Believed in an absolute sovereign monarch (not very popular)


Natural Law - right to self preservation. Melded Cicero's natural rights with Christianity's imago dei/Creation of God

Coined - Life liberty and estate (property) 

Had a positive view (?) of the state of nature. Debated whether our natural laws have a theological origin

He says we are naturally prone to own property as opposed to Plato and Aristotle. We are a "property owning" animal

Our labor is important 

Big proponent / originator  of property rights - We are born with property - Our bodies!

Consumerism softens people. 

He is the godfather of Adam Smith and of capitalism

Consent of the governed (implicit or explicit)

Division of power. Legislative > executive.

Executive branch does need the prerogative to overrule laws in times of need

Stated that the people have a right to revolution (can appeal to the heavens) if rulers become corrupt (a la the American revolution and King George).

Thought experiment what is man like in his natural state? He is good it is only society that corrupts him

Authority is given by the people (and so they can revolt against it? A la French Revolution?)

Man is a sensitive animal - big influence on Romanticism 

Social contract 

General will. We much total give ourselves over to the general will. 

We are most free when we obey the laws of the general will (republican idea if freedom vs Lockean liberal view of freedom)

Man is born free but is everywhere in chains. 

The state is bad as it imposes things in individuals. 

Believed in a civil religion (very anti-Christian). 


Wary of popular sovereignty and the tyranny of the majority as well as democratic despotism. Aristotle also warned of democratic tyranny 

Believes that religion was necessary for society

Three important things in American democracy the township/local government , religion. 

“Secondly, Tocqueville takes it to be a terrible mistake to try to eliminate religion or to secularize society all together. This is, in fact, probably a more controversial, a very controversial claim. It was his belief, and again, perhaps here he's influenced by Rousseau in the chapter on civil religion at the end of the Social Contract that free societies rest on public morality and that morality cannot be effective without religion. It may be true that individuals can derive moral guidance from reason alone, but societies can't. The danger of attempting to eliminate religion from public life is that the need or desire to believe will therefore be transferred to other and far more dangerous outlooks. "Despotism," he says, "can do without faith, but freedom cannot." A very arresting sentence. "Despotism can do without faith, but freedom cannot." "Religion is more necessary in a republic and in a democratic country than any other," he says.”

Excerpt From
Democratic Statecraft:  Tocqueville, Democracy in America
Steven B. Smith
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Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Atheist / Secular Reformation

As the, 500th anniversary of the Reformation has just passed, we realize the impact when different ideologies clash. The Reformation is unique, as it was a theological revolution with the 5 solas (sola fide, soila scriptura, sola gratia, solus Christus, and soli deo gloria) being the battle cry of the Reformers against the Roman Catholic church. This ideological battle within Christendom forever changed the face of the Earth.

Today, there is  another battle, but this time, instead of reformation of Christianity, it is revolution happening in Atheism / Secularism. The Enlightenment and subsequent modernity that has allowed atheism to flourish is now being attacked, by the postmodern atheists, and just as battle ideas within Christianity affected everything from daily life to the highest positions of power, we see the same thing happening before our very eyes. The postmodernists are now "attacking" their modern atheist fellows and the world is feeling the fall out. From elections all around the world, universities, and even the job place, no one is safe from this ideological battle. The idea that (autonomous human) reason was possible without God, for the postmodern is untenable, who instead have given into subjectivism/relativism, deconstructionism, constructivism, and critical theory. These ideas run counter to secular modernist beliefs of objectivism, biological esssentialism, and evolution.

I just wanted to write this brief note to jot this idea down for anyone else to think about.

Epilogue: Currently in Europe, with the influx of refugees from Islamic third world countries, we have an unprecedented clash between premodern vs modern vs postmodern societies. Please read Douglas Murray's The Strange Death of Europe.