Saturday, July 11, 2009

Arendt In a Nutshell

Marx is wrong! (What Marx said.)

For example:
World alienation, and not self-alienation, as Marx thought, has been the hallmark of the modern age. Expropriation, the deprivation of certain groups of their place in the world and their naked exposure to the exigencies of life, created both the original accumulation of wealth and the possibility of transforming this wealth into capital through labor. (The Human Condition, 254-5)
I know from her letters to Jaspers that Arendt found Marx extremely frustrating ("a pain in the neck" are her words). Maybe it was the anxiety of influence...


I guess Hanna Pitkin said much the same:
Although its [Arendt's criticism of Marx] overall thrust may well be valid and is surely defensible, its detailed formulations are almost always mistaken, sometimes blatantly so. Arendt’s account of Marx, moreover, leaves out about half of that admittedly inconsistent thinker, and what is missing from her Marx remarkably resembles Arendt’s own ideas in The Human Condition, particularly about the social.
(The Attack of the Blob: Hannah Arendt’s Concept of the Social (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1998), p. 115.)


Mariana Soffer said...

I understand what you say about mark being a failure (proved in theory an reality).
but I read:

I also say things to the effect that we "disregard" the use-value of commodities in exchange, or "ignore" thereby the particular usefulness of labor. These formulations suggest, if not full consciousness, at least a sort of intentional structure to the practical abstraction.
Which is not a statment directed to fulfill his objectives. So what was he failing at here?if you do not mind sharing.

Tom Frome said...

also if you don't mind sharing (a HUGE question expecting a laughably brief answer): how aristotelian is marx? according to you, and according to the scholars at large?

Will Roberts said...

Apologies for my ridiculously slow reply--as you may have noticed, things have been a bit sleepy around here this past month or so...

Mariana, I'm afraid I'm not following you. I was attempting to criticize my own failings, not Marx's. I think it is both experientialy incorrect and politically and theoretically obfuscating to maintain that exchange-value arises because people in the marketplace consciously abstract from the particular function of the use-values being exchanged. That may also be a criticism of Marx's presentation in Capital--I haven't thought that through thoroughly--but tha is not what I'm interested in doing.

Ethan (or, should I say, Tom), for right now I'm just going to acknowledge your question, answer it with a "very" (for my part) and a "substantially, if inconsistently" (on behalf of the scholarly community). I'll try to put up something more interesting and informative than that inthe near future.