Marxism2. Morals. Moralism

Ryan at Ryan at
Sat Apr 27 00:08:30 MDT 1996

>I have thought for a long time that it is necessary to reinject a note, not
>of some divinely-ordained morality but of a humanistic ethics, back into
>leftist politics. So many communists like to eschew all appeal to human
>decency and just embrace a simplistic and bankrupt might-makes-right ethic.
>Godena speaks for many people when he says, "Whatever advances the
>revolution is moral, whatever retards it is immoral," a view that would do
>very well for a nazi.

If humanistic ethics involve a commitment to social progress, devotion to
peaceful resolution of conflicts, compassion and fighting to liberate the
oppressed and exploited by liberating labor, I am not sure that religious
faith necessarily disqualifies a person from humanism. As leftists we have to
accept that politics operates in a core of religious populations throughout
the world, and we have to engage in the social atmosphere as it exists.
Marx's commitment to full human development shows us we need humanistic
ethics in our politics.

I agree with Carroll that moralism (and idealism) is the nasty term. Instead
of historical materialism, the U.S. view is a belief in neoclassical myths
like the Holatio Alger story. Work hard, be righteous, get rich. Economists
and pundits have never ending evidence that this is possible and that proof
we live in best of possible worlds. They point to the Third World to show and
the horrors of what will happen to us if we don't subscribe to this moralism.
Historical context become meaningless.

As I see it, phrases like the above Godena quote carry the baggage that
varies in situations and from person to person. We have probably all sent a
post and then read both flames and praise to something that wasn't even the
point trying to be made. Now I know that this kind of postmodern paradigm
probably makes Rahul cringe, but it might be important to consider in this
dialogue. There have been millions slaughtered and oppressed under moral
banners, after all. I wonder how much of the simplicity and bankruptcy is
because of an unwritten inability to question the prejudice of a individual's
final solution.


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