Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mark Bittman New York Times OP-ED article on "Why Not Utopia" and Readers' Comments

March 22, 2015
New York Times Op-Ed columnist, writing in today's issue: 

"...[G]iven that one in six Americans qualifies for food stamps, it’s clear that there isn’t enough good work to go around... NONE of this is short term, but neither are the robots taking over tomorrow, and it’s safe to say that nearly all the humans on Earth 20 years from now would prefer an economic system that would guarantee a decent life, whether their 'rulers' are heartless robots or merely gazillionaires...[P]erhaps there’s time to reimagine society...It’s not as if this question hasn’t been well considered. There was Karl Marx, whose analysis was largely correct but whose reputation was soiled by the alternatives developed in his name."


 Verona, N.J. Yesterday

According to Karl Marx, the problem with capitalism is that it breeds exploitation of the workers.

According to Marx, a major flaw in capitalism is the problem of surplus labor whereby the bourgeoisie property owners profit not by selling their product at a price above the cost of materials plus labor, but rather by paying the worker less than the value of their labor. This ability of the bourgeoisie to manipulate workers allows them to devalue labor, thereby creating profit for themselves by lowering the price of labor.

Marx said “accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, mental degradation, at the opposite pole... ”

Or more simply, 350:1 CEO:worker pay ratios exist for no other reason besides psychopathic greed and exploitation

Or if you prefer a much sunnier view, read the words of scholar Garikai Chengu:

"Capitalism is like cancer. Once it enters a host country's economy, it will spread and devour labor, the environment, and any other impediment to the growth of profit. Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. The essence of capitalism is to turn nature into commodities and commodities into capital. However, the world cannot continue to get richer as the earth becomes poorer. Just as the only inevitability in life is death, the only inevitability about our capitalist way of life, is the death of our planet and our civilization."

Dystopia, indeed.

Russell Rockwell

 New York City Yesterday

Marx wrote of a post-capitalist society in the Grundrisse, a work not published until the second half of the last century. In a disarmingly simple climax to a long technical argument about how capitalism prepares the ground for the good society of which previous generations could only dream, he merely quotes an anonymous pamphlet, published in 1821, which appeared as a critique of the classical economist Ricardos’s notion of surplus produce, which is actually “surplus labor”: “Truly wealthy a nation, when the working day is 6 rather than 12 hours. Wealth is not command over surplus labor time…but rather, disposable time outside that needed in direct production, for every individual and the whole society”.

Marxist-Humanist Dialectics: Marxist section of the American Sociological Association review of The Dunayevskaya, Marcuse, Fromm Correspondence

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Book Review of Alternative to a Dead God, by Florentino T. Timbreza. Manila: De La Salle University Press. 2001.

Published in Φιλοσοφια: International Journal of Philosophy 32:1 (2003), 101-105.

What does it mean to say that Philippine society is in total crisis? In Alternative to a Dead God, the philosopher Florentino Timbreza investigates this question. The work interprets contemporary Filipino values. It analyzes how they have been shaped in part by the “critique” of traditional Christianity from the standpoint of everyday life of ordinary people. Finally, Timbreza “tests” the adequacy of philosophic concepts drawn primarily from the wide-ranging works of the Frankfurt School theoretician and socialist humanist Erich Fromm.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Herbert Marcuse's One-Dimensional Man at 50, All-Day Conference, Columbia University, Sept. 29, 2014

Includes Russell Rockwell, "Marx's Mature Critical Theory, Marcuse, and Post-Marcuse"

Marx’s mature critical theory, Marcuse, and post-Marcuse

Critical Theory, at least in the work of Herbert Marcuse, has always interpreted contemporary society by analyzing the internal relationship between the actual and the possible. This has meant determining the social resources that are present or are in development, which point the way toward freedom in a post-capitalist society. Recent works by economists, such as Race Against the Machine, and The Second Machine Age, by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAffee, point to a new stage of digital and robotic technologies, which echoes as today’s reality or near-reality much of what Herbert Marcuse sketched as a distant but determinate possibility in the “Prospects of Containment” section of One-Dimensional Man. Moishe Postone, perhaps the most important theorist among the current generation of Critical Theorists, recognized Marcuse’s theoretical achievements, which included systematic analyses of the principal categories of what Postone has termed “Marx’s mature critical theory”. Hence Marcuse repeatedly interpreted and subjected to careful analysis in the context of contemporary developments not only Capital, but works unpublished in Marx’s lifetime, i.e. Grundrisse and Critique of the Gotha Programme. Yet, Postone, in revisiting that all-important relationship of the actual and the possible, critiques Marcuse’s social theory of one-dimensionality by developing Marx’s concept of an “intrinsic contradiction”: on the one hand, direct labor as the sole source of value (the specifically capitalist form of wealth), and on the other, the logic in capitalism for replacing direct labor through automation, in today’s terms, with digital technology and robots.