Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Wed Dec 8 16:51:39 MST 1999

I am pulling together a quotations section for the new Marxism list
webpage, which is meant not so much for snappy one-liners like found in
Bartlett's, but rather an introduction to various Marxist thinkers through
a representative passage. This is who I am planning to include at the outset:

Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg, Gramsci, CLR James, Mariategui,
Amilcar Cabral, Castro, Guevara, Carlos Fonseca, Plekhanov, Mao, Thomas
Sankara, Maurice Bishop, Baran & Sweezy and Christopher Caudwell.

More will be added as I wend my way through my personal library, the
Columbia library and the Internet. Please let me know if you have any
suggestions, additions, etc.

In the meantime, this should give you and idea of the kind of quotations I
will be including which in this instance serves as a good guide to
understanding the issues presented in "American Beauty" and "The Fight
Club". (I strongly suggest, by the way, that Doyle Saylor take a look at
the essay "Consciousness: A Study in Bourgeois Psychology" in Caudwell's
"Further Studies in a Dying Culture". He'll find it a real eye-opener.)

Christopher Caudwell, "Further Studies in a Dying Culture":
To-day love could prepare an appalling indictment of the wrongs and
privations that bourgeois social relations have inflicted upon it. The
misery of world is economic, but that does not mean that it is cash. That
is a bourgeois error. Just because they are economic, they involve the
tenderest and most valued feelings of social man. For the satisfaction of
all rich emotional capabilities and social tenderness which bourgeois
relations have deprived him, he turns vainly to religion, hate, patriotism,
fascism, the sentimentality of films and novels, which paint in imagination
loves he cannot experience in life. Because of this he is neurotic,
unhappy, sick, liable to the mass-hatreds of war and anti-semitism, to
absurd and yet pathetic Royal Jubilee or Funeral enthusiasms to mad
impossible loyalties to Hitlers and to mad Aryan grandmothers. Because of
this life seems to him empty, stale, and unprofitable. Man delights him
not, nor woman neither.

Bourgeois social relations, by transforming in this way all tender
relations between men to relations to commodities, prepare their own doom.
The threads that bind feudal lord to liege, chief to tribe, patriarch to
household slave, father to son, because they are tender are strong. But
those that bind shareholder to wage-employee, civil servant to taxpayer,
and all men to the impersonal market, because they are merely cash and
devoid of tender relations, cannot hold. The chief’s laws are
understandable. The fiat of a man god is still a personal and affectionate
command. But the laws of supply and demand (their substitute in bourgeois
culture) are without any power save blind compulsion. To-day it is as if
love and economic relations have gathered at two opposite poles. All the
unused tenderness of man’s instincts gather at one pole and at the other
are economic relations, reduced to bare coercive rights to commodities.
This polar segregation is the source of a terrific tension, and will give
rise to a vast transformation of bourgeois society. They must, in a
revolutionary destruction and construction, return in on each other and
fuse in a new synthesis. This is communism.

Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy, "Monopoly Capital"
Asked if he liked his job, one of John Updike’s characters replied, "Hell,
it wouldn’t be a job if I liked it." All but a tiny minority of specially
lucky or privileged workers would undoubtedly agree. There is nothing
inherently interesting about most of the narrowly sub-divided tasks which
workers are obliged to perform; and with the purpose of the job at best
obscure and at worst humanly degrading, the worker can find no satisfaction
in what his efforts accomplish. As far as he is concerned, the one
justification is the paycheck. The paycheck is the key to whatever
gratifications are allowed to working people in this society: such
self-respect, status, and recognition by one’s fellows as can be achieved
depend primarily on the possession of material objects. The worker’s house,
the model of his automobile, his wife’s clothes—all assume major
significance as indexes of success or failure. And yet within the existing
social framework these objects of consumption increasingly lose their
capacity to satisfy. Forces similar to those which destroy the worker’s
identification with his work lead to the erosion of his self-identification
as a consumer. With goods being sought for their status- bearing qualities,
the drive to substitute the newer and more expensive for the older and
cheaper ceases to be related to the serviceability of the goods and becomes
a means of climbing up a rung on the social ladder.

Louis Proyect
Marxism mailing list: (http://www.panix.com/~lnp3/marxism.html)

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