12 Matching Annotations
  1. Jun 2020
  2. Jan 2020
    1. no difference

      The nature of the wants that commodities satisfy makes no difference. This is perhaps somewhat surprising to readers, given the extent to which everyday critiques of capitalist society often center around the role that consumerism plays and the subjective effects that this produces, namely, the way that consumer society creates all sorts of desires (as well as the obverse--many will defend capitalism on the grounds that it is able to satisfy our inordinate appetite for novelty by producing an enormous proliferation of desirable commodities). Yet, for Marx, the nature of these desires "makes no difference."

      It is worth pointing out that the critique of the appetites that consumer society spawns is by no means new (a rather early moment in the history of consumer society). We find it already on display in Book II of Plato's Republic. In looking to shift the terrain of the analysis of justice from the individualistic, social contractualist theory of justice elaborated by Glaucon, Socrates founds a 'city' based on the idea that no one is self-sufficient, that human beings have much need of one another, and that the various crafts--farming, weaving cloth, etc.--fare best when each person specializes in that craft to which they are most suited by nature. After sketching out a kind of idyllic, pastoral community based on the principle of working together to satisfy our natural appetites, Socrates aristocratic companion Glaucon objects, describing this city as a 'city fit for pigs'. At this point, Socrates conjures what he calls the 'luxurious city', at which point a whole host of social ills are unleashed in order to satisfy Glaucon's desire for the luxuries to which he is accustomed. Currency and trade are introduced, along with a more complex division of labor (and wage labor!), and quite quickly, war. On the basis of the principle of 'one person, one craft', Socrates argues that making war is itself a craft that requires specialization (and thus a professional army).

      For Plato, this represents the beginning of class society, as the profession military becomes a class distinct from the class of producers and merchants.

      Plato thus anticipates a version of a view that becomes one of the key theses of the Marxist theory of the state, namely, the idea that the state exists only in societies that have become "entangled in an insoluble contradiction within itself" and which are "cleft into irreconcilable antagonisms which it is powerless to dispel," (Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State). The state emerges as "a power apparently standing above society...whose purpose is to moderate the conflict and keep it within the bounds of 'order'" Engels writes, "this power arising out of society, but placing itself above it, and increasingly separating itself from it, is the state." Lenin cites this passage in the first pages of State and Revolution in order to critique the 'bourgeois' view that the state exists in order to reconcile class interests. In Lenin's reading of Marx, the state exists as "an organ of classs domination, an organ of oppression of one class by another," a view articulated in The Communist Manifesto, (cf. V.I. Lenin, State and Revolution in V.I.Lenin: Collected Works, Vol. 25, pp. 385-497).

      Marx cites this same passage from Republic in a long footnote to his discussion of the Division of Labor and Manufacture on pp. 487-488, which also happens to be the sole place in Capital where Marx cites Plato.

      The fact that Marx here expresses indifference to the particular appetites that commodities satisfy is thus intriguing and ambiguous. Given that this question both clearly animates Plato's discussion of the origin of class society in Republic and, additionally serves as an alternative to the social contractarian view of justice that descends from Glaucon through Hobbes and the 18th century 'Robinsonades', this seemingly technical point also touches upon questions concerning Marx's engagement with both classical and modern political theory.

      If for Plato, the unruly appetites represent the seed of which class-divided society is the fruit, Marx's dismissal of the question of the nature of the appetites that are satisfied by commodities points to exchange-value and the social forms that it unleashes as being key dimensions of the particular form that class-antagonism takes in capitalist society.

  3. Oct 2019
    1. "The Fifteenth Amendment stated that people could not be denied the right to vote based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” This construction allowed states to continue to decide the qualifications of voters as long as those qualifications were ostensibly race-neutral. Thus, while states could not deny African American men the right to vote on the basis of race, they could deny it to women on the basis of sex or to people who could not prove they were literate." Before the 15th amendment women and colored men and women were not allowed to vote but the 15th amendment allowed these privileges and prevented discrimination amongst the rights of someone based on their race and gender and states cannot deny these rights to the people because it is a constitutional law.

  4. Aug 2019
  5. Sep 2018
    1. People who take pills to block out from memory the painful or hateful aspects of a new experience will not learn how to deal with suffering or sorrow. A drug that induces fearlessness does not produce courage.

      He does a really good job pointing out some of the dangers of effortlessly overcoming fear at the cost of learning courage and struggle at the cost of learning discipline but he doesn't really touch on how in time we might recognize the side effect these biomedical technologies bring and human nature might push back against it. Kind of like with genetically modified foods now all people want is organic food.

  6. Jan 2018
    1. It made me wonder if advocacy movements over time lose vision and purpose.

      I do not agree that women have lost vision for the struggles that come with womanhood.

  7. Apr 2017
    1. limiting the types of questions that could be asked,

      I have been dealing with this issue all semester. I am really struggling to determine which questions are appropriate and which can be answered using SNA techniques. Perhaps this is due to the type of data I am working with, but I am still working on developing sound research questions.

  8. Mar 2015
  9. Feb 2014
    1. One cannot call the history of intellectual property a purely proletarian struggle. While ancient Roman laws afforded a form of copyright protection to authors, n14 the rise of Anglo-Saxon copyright was a saga of publishing interests attempting to protect a concentrated market and a central government attempting to apply a subtle form of censorship to the new technology of the printing press.

      One cannot call the history of intellectual property a purely proletarian struggle.

  10. Sep 2013
    1. struggle is what all life essentially consists of,and the evolution of civilization may therefore be simply described as the struggle for life of the humanspecies.