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 Post subject: Introduction to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right
PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:43 pm 
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This text is famous for what it says about religion, but it says a lot more.

There seems to be some debate with regards to Hegel's political philosophy - some scholars took it as essentially a defense of existing conditions in early 19th century Germany, while others take it as a subtle critique of those conditions, positing that the state as described by Hegel doesn't correlate with the state which actually existed at the time.

It seems that Marx actually takes the latter point of view, at least in the Introduction. He justifies the fact that he offers a criticism of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, as opposed to offering a criticism of the real political situation in Germany, by noting that the Germany of the time was behind France and England in terms of it's historical development, whereas Hegel's philosophy was on par.

Marx wrote:
As the ancient peoples went through their pre-history in imagination, in mythology, so we Germans have gone through our post-history in thought, in philosophy. We are philosophical contemporaries of the present without being its historical contemporaries.


After lamenting the German present, Marx postulates that the only way to Germany to reach the historical level of France and England, is to surpass them and commence the proletarian revolution. It seems that at this point in time, Marx believed the German bourgeoisie was too weak to make a revolution, so any efforts to overthrow the existing state of affairs would have to be of a socialist nature.

Marx wrote:
In Germany, no form of bondage can be broken without breaking all forms of bondage. Germany, which is renowned for its thoroughness, cannot make a revolution unless it is a thorough one.


Obviously this was wrong, in hindsight. Germany has become a 'modern nation', but only after a century of war and division. It seems at least prescient that the road to modern statehood would be a difficult one for Germany.

The main point of interest in the text, I think, is what it says about the relationship between 'philosophy' (Marxist theory) and the class.

Theory can be revolutionary, only if it corresponds to a social need.

Marx wrote:
Theory is fulfilled in a people only insofar as it is the fulfilment of the needs of that people.


The proletariat is the class that provides the need, it's struggle against the bourgeoisie is, in essence, a struggle against the basis of all class society. It's struggle can only be completed by abolishing this basis.

Pre-Marxist socialists sought to abolish Capitalism through proselytising. They failed to notice the practical potential of the existing class antagonism for realising their vision.

Some existing Marxists seem to believe that theory is irrelevant. That the working class will abolish capitalism, essentially thoughtlessly.

Marx wrote:
As philosophy finds its material weapon in the proletariat, so the proletariat finds its spiritual weapon in philosophy.


My takeaway is that trying to divide 'theory', 'philosophy', 'Marxism' from 'practical need', 'the class' is artificial. It isn't a question of two completely unrelated entities coming into contact with each other. The relationship is one of recognition, Marxism recognises the practical accomplishment of it's aims in the struggles of the class, and the class recognises the theoretical reflection of it's struggle in Marxism. Of course, for this to be accomplished, Marxism must become this actual reflection - not lose a hold of itself.

Discuss.

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- Marx, Comments on James Mill -

"Citizen Weston illustrated his theory by telling you that a bowl contains a certain quantity of soup, to be eaten by a certain number of persons, an increase in the broadness of the spoons would produce no increase in the amount of soup. He must allow me to find this illustration rather spoony."
- Marx, Value, Price and profit -


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 Post subject: Re: Introduction to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Ri
PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 6:40 pm 
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I think what you're describing is something mike likes to bring up a lot about the distinction between trade union consciousness "action preceding consciousness" and a communist consciousness "consciousness preceding action." Both exist and as such both are elements with which we have to contend. As you also point out, the elimination of this distinction between communist and worker is the coming to be of the class for itself.

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 Post subject: Re: Introduction to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Ri
PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:00 pm 
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But it's an early text of Marx's; and I think he is grappling with the limits of Hegel's investigations of the "philosophy of the state"-- an investigation that takes Hegel's "spirit," "reason," as far as it can go, and then collapses so that the critical philosophy of negation becomes one of accommodation to the conditions as they exist-- hence the state as an abstract embodiment of reason, which, in the concrete, proves not the "weakness" of the state, its imperfectibility as an expression of reason, but rather the collapse of "reason" itself as the analysis of history. It's the end of historical idealism, for Marx, and he's moving on to something else-- namely the material conditions of social reproduction, the critique of political economy, and the source of revolutionary struggle.

The results are historical materialism, and the critique of political economy as the instrument, procedure, tool, for analyzing the conflict between the conditions of labor and the labor process, between value and labor-power.

This takes us a bit beyond the "proletariat finding its spiritual weapon in philosophy," but rather the displacement of philosophy by social, class, revolution--- a displacement given voice in the Theses on Feuerbach.


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 Post subject: Re: Introduction to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Ri
PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 10:13 am 
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Quote:
I think what you're describing is something mike likes to bring up a lot about the distinction between trade union consciousness "action preceding consciousness" and a communist consciousness "consciousness preceding action." Both exist and as such both are elements with which we have to contend.


Yep!

That's one aspect of Marx's earlier works that are interesting: the process of abandoning philosophy (in the form of critique) on the basis of the concrete-tangible fact of the proletariat, it's basic existence as such:

Quote:
Where, then, is the positive possibility of a German emancipation?

Answer: In the formulation of a class with radical chains, a class of civil society which is not a class of civil society, an estate which is the dissolution of all estates, a sphere which has a universal character by its universal suffering and claims no particular right because no particular wrong, but wrong generally, is perpetuated against it; which can invoke no historical, but only human, title; which does not stand in any one-sided antithesis to the consequences but in all-round antithesis to the premises of German statehood; a sphere, finally, which cannot emancipate itself without emancipating itself from all other spheres of society and thereby emancipating all other spheres of society, which, in a word, is the complete loss of man and hence can win itself only through the complete re-winning of man. This dissolution of society as a particular estate is the proletariat.


The article he wrote on the Silesian weavers' insurrection (conveniently only 6-8 months after the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right was written) reveals more of the theory and method that would take the place of philosophy:

Quote:
In order to compare the situation of the German workers with that of the English and French workers, the “Prussian” [Ruge] should have compared the first formation, the beginnings of the French and English workers’ movement with the new-born German movement. He fails to do this. Hence his entire argument amounts only to the trivial observation that, e.g., industry in Germany is less advanced than in England, or that the start of a movement looks different from it later development. He had wished to speak of the specific nature of the German workers’ movement, but does not say a single word on the subject.

He should consider the matter from the correct vantage-point. He would then realize that not a single one of the French and English insurrections has had the same theoretical and conscious character as the Silesian weavers’ rebellion.


http://ciml.250x.com/archive/events/eng ... lesia.html

Agreed that the subject of religion is more or less background noise when compared to what was significant in the Introduction. If that were all there was, it wouldn't be worth remembering--mainly because that subject is the particular realm of philosophers
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 Post subject: Re: Introduction to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Ri
PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 10:47 am 
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sartesian wrote:
But it's an early text of Marx's; and I think he is grappling with the limits of Hegel's investigations of the "philosophy of the state"


Essentially, Marx's point in the Critique itself is that, instead of a real analysis of the state, the conditions under which it exists and it's constituent elements, Hegel takes his pre-existing categories from the Logic and tries to find analogues in the existing structure of the state, which inevitably leads to accommodation. The subject matter of Hegel's political philosophy isn't politics, but Logic, and politics is just window dressing which could be replaced with anything else you care to mention.

To make this criticism involves not merely grappling, but having already moved beyond Hegel's worldview.

sartesian wrote:
The results are historical materialism, and the critique of political economy as the instrument, procedure, tool, for analyzing the conflict between the conditions of labor and the labor process, between value and labor-power.


Yes.

sartesian wrote:
This takes us a bit beyond the "proletariat finding its spiritual weapon in philosophy," but rather the displacement of philosophy by social, class, revolution


I find the idea of philosophy being displaced by revolution a little weird. I don't think Descartes would've given up mind-body dualism if he could've only witnessed a strike. If 'philosophy' is displaced by anything it's displaced by Marxist analysis.

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"The death of the poor man is the worst eventuality for the creditor. It is the death of his capital together with the interest."
- Marx, Comments on James Mill -

"Citizen Weston illustrated his theory by telling you that a bowl contains a certain quantity of soup, to be eaten by a certain number of persons, an increase in the broadness of the spoons would produce no increase in the amount of soup. He must allow me to find this illustration rather spoony."
- Marx, Value, Price and profit -


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 Post subject: Re: Introduction to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Ri
PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 3:59 pm 
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Quote:
I find the idea of philosophy being displaced by revolution a little weird. I don't think Descartes would've given up mind-body dualism if he could've only witnessed a strike. If 'philosophy' is displaced by anything it's displaced by Marxist analysis.


Right, Descartes wouldn't have given up mind-body dualism, but then again the mind-body dualism of Descartes represents and is built upon certain material conditions of the reproduction of daily life.

Philosophy displaced by Marxist analysis? Indeed, but what is Marxist analysis but the "plotting" in reality of the conflicts of capitalism that are resolved through proletarian revolution? I think you prove the point in the very conditions of your "dissent."

Sartre didn't give up existentialism although he claimed to be a Marxist, but Marx would never have accepted existentialism as an "extension" or appendix to Marxism; nor would he have acknowledge its "validity," in that the "philosophy" as such presents itself ahistorically, as somehow divorced, separate and apart from the reproduction of human beings as social beings.

Still, I'm a little weird, so philosophy being displaced by revolution appearing weird is right up Broadway for me.


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