On Marx from Hegel-list 2.

Jukka Laari jlaari at tukki.jyu.fi
Fri Sep 15 11:54:56 MDT 1995

Second 'On Marx' posting from Hegel-list:

(From: DESPAIN at econ.sbs.utah.edu Thu Sep  7 15:05:50 1995
Subject: Reply: Marx (Duquette on))

David Duquette comments on Marx where quite good.  I would tend to agree
that Marx's "strategy" is to understand the "deep structural causes" of
unfreedom or social exploitation.  Not necessarily for a conception of the
future, but for the transformation of the present, e.g. for further human

As for "social relations in future society;" Duquette says Marx's "very
thin sketch, of communist society" is toward the abolishment of the
"contradictions" which exist in present society between property and

If this is to say that the production relations, as a concept of private
property, well need be re-established; that is the historical form is
transformed, I would agree.  If this means that private property is
abolished in a transhistorical sense, it must be mistaken.

Perhaps this is what Duquette means when he says:  "Thus, it is not the
mere abolishing of private property alone which brings emancipation but
rather the socializing and humanizing of productive activity."  It is not
the private property which need be abolished, but the production relations
as such.

Duquette reveals the Hegelian motives of Marx in his conception of
rational freedom requiring: "that the individual and society be integrated
in an organic fashion such that individuals, considered as parts or
members of the organism, pursue their interests and goals so that the good
and well being of the society as a whole is also promoted, and conversely
in promoting the goals of society the best interests of the individual are
served.  We might refer to this as a 'perfectionist' view ..." as opposed
to the "accomodationist" view.

The accomodationist view remains within the Logic of Essence (with respect
to Hegel's *Logic*); this is Marx's conception of capitalism.  Which
explains why we encounter so many Hegelian Essence categories in the
writing of Marx.  His view of communism must metaphorically encounter the
the "perfectionist view" or Logic of Concpet.  For Marx, it is a
metaphysical mistake to believe that full emanicpation can be accomplished
in the production relations of capitalism.  The wage- capital nexus
negates freedom.

Duquette raise some important questions on the (Hegelian motive) of
creating a synthesis between the individual and society (universal).  He
points out that the (orthodox) Marxian "utopia"  rests on "their belief in
the unboundedness of technical progress for grounding this emancipation."
Yes, this is the post-modern and frankfurt school critiques.  Although
"Participatory Political Economy" models have attempted to address this;
Marx's and Marxian lack of an adequate theory of State, leave this

Mandel has argued that the negation of the current production relations
implies the whithering away of domination etc.  The models of Albert and
Hanhel and Devine have much to be desired.

However, in any event it seems a mistake to believe that (Marxian)
emancipation depends on unbounded technical progress.  For it does not.
It depends on the transformation of the subject of Political Economy,
namely production relations.

In this sense, the normative criteria of Marx is more humble than Duquette
would seem to have it.  Moreover, it seems that the (Feuerbachian) notion
of species-being misleds Duquette to believe that Marx's conception of
human nature is "over-optimistic."  Marx in fact did abandon this term
following his (and Engels) *German Ideology*.  IMO Marx returns to Hegel,
rather than Feuerbach's natrualistic conception, for a notion of human

I have no problem with the term itself being "seen" in the mature Marx,
but the early Marx use of the term must be interpreted from his latter
writings, rather than on Feuerbachian terms.  The same can be said of

Marx's normative criteria rests on the concept that human beings are in
part defined by social relations with one another.  Which in turn, is in
part determined by the production relations they find themselves
inheriting, reproducing and sometimes (usually unconsciously)
transforming.  Thus, we can only understand the individual when we have
understood the production and social relations in which she has been
formed.  This sociological or relational perspective cannot be negated, as
Feuerbach does in his conception of species-being, and Striner does in his
conception of ego.

It is our Self-consciousness and Resaon whereby we can understand that
production relations are not only inherited, reproduced and transformed
historically, but can be "consciously" (rather than the normally
historically unconciously) transformed toward greater freedom. Thus,
Marxian emancipation does not depend on a telelogical historical entity,
but rather the unteleogical "freedom"  of human reason and will.

Hans Despain

     --- from list marxism at lists.village.virginia.edu ---


More information about the Marxism mailing list