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Friday, 04 May 2018

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David you are certainly due a down day...what with all the many and far flung offers of paternity you have extended to the far corners.

As for Marxism, the usual "it's never really been tried" excuse serves the theory well. Kind of like Purgatory served the Nobility well since most Nobles and High Clergy could not possibly be considered for Hell!

Where Marxism has its greatest success is on college campus as a dependable disrupter of Democratic capitalism. Marxist theory serves more aspiring assistant professors in their bids for tenure than anything else. The students are all eager and led by emotion which makes the 'promises' of Marxism so easy to sell to a new generation. All that "equality" and social justice stuff gets the kids right where they live! Therefore Marxism has never been and will never be properly judged since so many of its early believers tend to age out. The promise of jobs is more appealing to most adults than the promise of government subsidies.

"In the end, Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, 'equality'. Democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism
seeks equality in restraint and servitude." Alexis de Tocqueville

Thank you, Whiters, for providing me with a friendly nudge because 'Alexis de Tocqueville' is a name which has hovered round what passes for my consciousness for decades - but I have never actually read him! The shrewd quote you offered above reminds me to get on with it, er, but not immediately because I am more than occupied slogging my way across the (so-called!) Holy Land in pursuit of the Crusades! Then, of course, and as you rightly point out, there are all my paternity duties to be dealt with!

Kristian Niemietz's setting up economics and government as a struggle between Capitalism and Marxism is as much a dingbat fantasy as Jason Barker's idea Marx's theories still have relevance. Outside of university the discussion of 19th century philosophers is a parlour game for those with too much time on their hands. Except in a few specific areas, philosophy is the high-minded art of pulling unfalsifiable ideas from one's ass.

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David, do you have designs on Stormy Daniels?

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SoD, you might be interested in the current state of thought on the limits of scientific knowledge:

https://phys.org/news/2018-05-proof-reveals-fundamental-limits-scientific.html

Bob, given the death rate produced by Marxism, in one form or another, I would suggest that it is worthy of a few moments thought if only out of self-interest. This the opening paragraph of an essay at the London Review of Books:

In trying to think what Marx would have made of the world today, we have to begin by stressing that he was not an empiricist. He didn’t think that you could gain access to the truth by gleaning bits of data from experience, ‘data points’ as scientists call them, and then assembling a picture of reality from the fragments you’ve accumulated. Since this is what most of us think we’re doing most of the time it marks a fundamental break between Marx and what we call common sense, a notion that was greatly disliked by Marx, who saw it as the way a particular political and class order turns its construction of reality into an apparently neutral set of ideas which are then taken as givens of the natural order. Empiricism, because it takes its evidence from the existing order of things, is inherently prone to accepting as realities things that are merely evidence of underlying biases and ideological pressures. Empiricism, for Marx, will always confirm the status quo. He would have particularly disliked the modern tendency to argue from ‘facts’, as if those facts were neutral chunks of reality, free of the watermarks of history and interpretation and ideological bias and of the circumstances of their own production."

Alas, Miss Daniels fails to answer my letters!

Sorry, I forgot to add the link:

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n07/john-lanchester/marx-at-193?utm_source=LRB+themed+email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20180505+themed&utm_content=ukrw_nonsubs_archive

David,

Your excerpt restates my position. There's really no reason to pick only on poor old Karl, though. For example Freud, another 19th century philosopher, still has stubborn followers.

I'm fairly sure we see eye to eye on the worth of religious philosophers. Adam Smith based most of his work on his book 'The Theory of Moral Sentiments', so he doesn't get a complete pass either. In it he says, "... the care of the universal happiness of all rational and sensible beings, is the business of God and not of man." So he leaves the larger questions to an invisible friend. Still, his thinking was certainly more rigorous than Marx's.

Also, blaming any particular person for human nature is an obvious error. People have been killing each other in the name of just about anything you can imagine throughout history. In the 16th century the Dutch killed each other over tulip bulbs.

Evidently you're not a germaphobe like a certain bareback-riding politician claims to be.

Bob, as so often you seem to be riding two horses at the same time! Of course, on a selective basis philosophical works are worth studying whether you agree or disagree with them. If I find someone else to do my thinking for me then I am very grateful - whether they are (in my opinion) right or wrong!

Only one horse at a time, David. For several years in my 30's and 40's I was drawn to philosophy including religion, and read a fair amount. At the time there was a popular idea that philosophers had expressed important bits of science by having plucked them out of the ether somehow, and that got me started. There are some superficial similarities, but at a point it was clear that, with a few exceptions for practical things like ethics and law, philosophy is pretty much what I described above.

On the other hand, the scientific method gets results and explains a lot about the human condition. Try a book on the sociology of some area that interests you. Starting here might eventually explain the whys of the Crusades:

https://www.amazon.com/Sociology-War-Violence-Sinisa-Malesevic/dp/0521731690

Btw, TheBigHenry, wherever he's gone, was right about 'A Universe From Nothing'. Lawrence Krauss explains some of the big ideas in cosmology in a way non-specialists can understand.

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