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Robert Waldmann Has an Interpretation of Karl Marx that Is New to Me...

7/18/09 11:19 AM

Grasping Reality with Both Hands The Semi-Daily Journal of Economist Brad DeLong: A Fair, Balanced, Reality-Based, and More than Two-Handed Look at the World J. Bradford DeLong, Department of Economics, U.C. Berkeley #3880, Berkeley, CA 94720-3880; 925 708 0467; delong@econ.berkeley.edu.

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Robert Waldmann Has an Interpretation of Karl Marx that Is New to Me... I would not have thought it was possible. Robert Waldmann has an interpretation of Karl Marx's "Critique of the Gotha Program" that I had never seen before. http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2009/07/robert-waldmann-has-an-interpretation-of-karl-marx-that-is-new-to-me.html

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Robert Waldmann Has an Interpretation of Karl Marx that Is New to Me...

7/18/09 11:19 AM

Robert argues that the correct interpretation of Marx's phrase "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need," in context, is this Shorter Critique of the Gotha Program: We socialists cannot now--and probably never will--inscribe on our banners the wackawacka primitive Christian slogan "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need." And the Lasalleans are really stupid for thinking that we can and should... I agree with Robert at least to the extent of: Shorter Critique of the Gotha Program: We socialists cannot now inscribe on our banners the slogan "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need." And the Lasalleans are really stupid for thinking that we can and should... But Robert goes further, to a place where I do not think I can follow. The question is whether Marx is serious or sneering when he writes: Critique of the Gotha Program: In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly--only then then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!... He might be dead serious and really looking forward someday to the attainment of such a "higher phase of communist society"--but someday, and not now. Or he might (as Robert thinks) merely be making a nasty little inside joke: sneering that the "higher phase of communist society" in which the Lasallean program would be attainable is nothing but the millennium of Christian fellowship, as described in "Acts of the Apostles"--which is where the phrases: Acts 11:29: "Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea..." ("τῶν δὲ μαθητῶν καθὼς εὐπορεῖτό τις ὥρισαν ἕκαστος αὐτῶν εἰς διακονίαν πέμψαι τοῖς κατοικοῦσιν ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ ἀδελφοῖς...") and: Acts 4:35: "And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need..." ("καὶ ἐτίθουν παρὰ τοὺς πόδας τῶν ἀποστόλων· διεδίδετο δὲ ἑκάστῳ καθότι ἄν τις χρείαν εἶχεν...") come from. I tend to read Marx as a Christian heretic--as writing in an eschatological mode in which the time when "labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly" is exactly as real and near http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2009/07/robert-waldmann-has-an-interpretation-of-karl-marx-that-is-new-to-me.html

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Robert Waldmann Has an Interpretation of Karl Marx that Is New to Me...

7/18/09 11:19 AM

development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly" is exactly as real and near to him as the expectation of Paul of Tarsus that someday soon: "we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord..." (1 Thess. 4:17). Robert disagrees, and hears a sneer whenever Marx says "come the Millennium" that I cannot... Robert: The Critique of the Golgotha Program: Marx famously declared "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." This is... the grossest distortion of a quote by removal of context.... The words are (a translation from German) of two prepositional phrases from a sentence from The Critique of the Gotha program (the absence of a verb is a hint that maybe some relevant context may have been removed).... A more accurate but still partial quotation (of a translation) is not... inscribe on our banner "from each according to his ability to each according to his needs"... [T]here ought to be an absolute rule that while many words can be decently elided... "not" is not one of them.... The full (translation of) the quote is, IIRC: It is not until work ceases to be a burden on life and becomes it's chief joy and purpose that we can inscribe on our banner "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need"... Marx believed... "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" to the same extent that he was an anarchist... that is, rather less than not at all.... I think that Marx considered it a good proposal to eliminate the state and give to each according to his need to exactly the same extent that Arthur Laffer aims to increase the amount of money the federal government has to spend.... Over at the First International, Marx had a problem called Bakunin... [who] promised people no capitalists, no private property, and no state. Marx claimed that you could get everything Bakunin was promising from Marx, because in the long long long run the state would wither away.... Later Marx had this problem that his few German followers (the Eisenachers) decided to join with the Social Democrats who had the inexcusable fault of... [following] Lassalle not Karl Marx. Hence the Gotha program and its only lasting fruit "The Critique of the Gotha Program."... [T]he proposal [was] that all workers be paid the same equal wage. Marx said that was nonsense.... Only when (not if -- when) people just work out of public spirit and joy in labor can we even think about demanding perfect equality.... I don't believe Marx's promises about the withering away of the state and the joy of work (comparing our work efforts one can at least understand how Karl and I have very different views about work). I therefore interpret "The Critique of the Gotha Program as implying, in practice: from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs, starting on the first of never... OK, so what about those Apostles?... Marx is deliberately conflating [the Gotha Program] with a much much more egalitarian and extreme program as a rhetorical trick.... [T]he man was trying to insult the united Social Democrats and Eisenachers by conflating them with a bunch of lunatic extremists -- the Christians.... he phrases which can be translated (from Greek not German) as "from each according to his ability" and "to each according to his need" and fairly quoted without distortion due to removal of context come neither from "The Critique of the Gotha Program" nor from "The Gotha Program"... but from... "The Acts of the Apostles" which, quite frankly, makes "The Communist Manifesto" look like the McCain platform (with all due respect for McCain, Marx and the Apostles). The Bible, New King James Version Acts 4:35: ...they distributed to each as anyone had need...

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2009/07/robert-waldmann-has-an-interpretation-of-karl-marx-that-is-new-to-me.html

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Robert Waldmann Has an Interpretation of Karl Marx that Is New to Me...

7/18/09 11:19 AM

Acts 11:29: ...the apostles, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.... [H]istory is a prankster and karma is a bitch. Driven by envy and ambition, Marx decided to claim that when it came to wages Ferdinand Lasalle was an impractical impossiblist extremist just like Simon Peter. As a result, many people have decided that Karl Marx was an impractical impossiblist extremist egalitarian just like Simon Peter. This is crazy... rated 4.33 by you and 2 others [? ] You loved this post (

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Mikhail Bakunin (@Quazen) The Master and the Rock (@Relijournal) 2 more recommended posts Âť Brad DeLong on July 18, 2009 at 08:38 AM in History, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy | Permalink TrackBack TrackBack URL for this entry: http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00e551f08003883401157214e7dd970b Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Robert Waldmann Has an Interpretation of Karl Marx that Is New to Me...:

Comments You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post. Well, karma is a bitch. And we do all get misinterpreted, and meanings become blurred. I think that in the future when people try to make sense out of the mishmosh that is the Internets, it's going to get even more interesting than trying now to interpret the meanings of writers and thinkers of the past.... Posted by: donna | July 18, 2009 at 09:34 AM

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Robert Waldmann Has an Interpretation of Karl Marx that Is New to Me...

Paul Krugman Mark Thoma Cowen and Tabarrok Chinn and Hamilton Brad Setser

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7/18/09 11:19 AM

Philosophers: Hilzoy and Friends Crooked Timber of Humanity Mark Kleiman and Friends Eric Rauchway and Friends John Holbo and Friends

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Robert Waldmann Has an Interpretation of Karl Marx that Is New to Me...  

Robert Waldmann Has an Interpretation of Karl Marx that Is New to Me... Become A Teacher Today Teachers are in Demand, Become One! Find Scho...

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