Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading. Currently can only be used by a single user (myself), but I plan to extend it to support multiple users eventually.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

20

Essentially Marx tells us that while Feuerbach has noted the symptoms of a deeper malaise, he has done nothing to understand that malaise itself. The invention of religion was not simply an unfortunate mistake, but a response to the miseries of life on earth. Removing the opium leaves us only with undisguised pain. We still need to understand and remove the defects in the world, the ‘secular base’. Marx himself, in his hastily scribbled ‘Theses on Feuerbach’, puts the point I have just explained thus:

Feuerbach starts out from the fact of religious self-alienation, of the duplication of the world into a religious world and a secular one. His work consists in resolving the religious world into its secular basis. But that the secular basis detaches itself from itself and establishes itself as an independent realm in the clouds can only be explained by the cleavages and selfcontradictions within this secular basis. The latter must, therefore, in itself be both understood in its contradiction and revolutionized in practice. (M. 172)

We will never rid ourselves of religion, and religious alienation, until we first understand, and then remove, the condi- tion on earth that gave rise to it. Once the cause is removed, and the disease is cured, the symptom religion will wither of its own accord. This is a vital point. Religion is not to be suppressed or abolished as such. Under the right conditions it disappears on its own. The cause, the disease, Marx argues, is alienation of a different sort, primarily alienated labour.

—p.20 Early Writings (13) by Jonathan Wolff 9 months, 1 week ago

Essentially Marx tells us that while Feuerbach has noted the symptoms of a deeper malaise, he has done nothing to understand that malaise itself. The invention of religion was not simply an unfortunate mistake, but a response to the miseries of life on earth. Removing the opium leaves us only with undisguised pain. We still need to understand and remove the defects in the world, the ‘secular base’. Marx himself, in his hastily scribbled ‘Theses on Feuerbach’, puts the point I have just explained thus:

Feuerbach starts out from the fact of religious self-alienation, of the duplication of the world into a religious world and a secular one. His work consists in resolving the religious world into its secular basis. But that the secular basis detaches itself from itself and establishes itself as an independent realm in the clouds can only be explained by the cleavages and selfcontradictions within this secular basis. The latter must, therefore, in itself be both understood in its contradiction and revolutionized in practice. (M. 172)

We will never rid ourselves of religion, and religious alienation, until we first understand, and then remove, the condi- tion on earth that gave rise to it. Once the cause is removed, and the disease is cured, the symptom religion will wither of its own accord. This is a vital point. Religion is not to be suppressed or abolished as such. Under the right conditions it disappears on its own. The cause, the disease, Marx argues, is alienation of a different sort, primarily alienated labour.

—p.20 Early Writings (13) by Jonathan Wolff 9 months, 1 week ago
27

In sum, Marx has identified and criticized two dominant philosophical traditions. Materialism, from Hobbes to Feuerbach, is flawed because of its unreflective, ahistoric character, failing to understand the role human beings play in creating the world they perceive. But it is to be praised for understanding man’s continuity with the natural world. Idealism, in its final, Hegelian, form, understands the importance of historical development, but restricts this to the development of thought.

—p.27 Early Writings (13) by Jonathan Wolff 9 months, 1 week ago

In sum, Marx has identified and criticized two dominant philosophical traditions. Materialism, from Hobbes to Feuerbach, is flawed because of its unreflective, ahistoric character, failing to understand the role human beings play in creating the world they perceive. But it is to be praised for understanding man’s continuity with the natural world. Idealism, in its final, Hegelian, form, understands the importance of historical development, but restricts this to the development of thought.

—p.27 Early Writings (13) by Jonathan Wolff 9 months, 1 week ago
33

The lesson is that the capitalist economy renders some forms of behaviour rational and others irrational. So you had better do what the market mandates or you will be in trouble. Consequently we find ourselves dominated by the market. But what is the market? Simply the accumulated effects of innumerable human decisions about production and consumption. It is, then, our own product. From which it follows that, once more, we have come to be dominated by our own product. And even though it is our own product it is not under our control. Who, for example, wants the stock market to crash? But this happens, from time to time, as an unintended consequence of our own individual actions, each one of which may have seemed perfectly rational in its own terms. The market is like a monster we have accidentally created, but which now comes to rule our lives. As Marx puts it, we experience the ‘complete domination of dead matter over men’ (Colletti 319).

citation: Karl Marx: Early Writings by Lucio Colletti

—p.33 Early Writings (13) by Jonathan Wolff 9 months, 1 week ago

The lesson is that the capitalist economy renders some forms of behaviour rational and others irrational. So you had better do what the market mandates or you will be in trouble. Consequently we find ourselves dominated by the market. But what is the market? Simply the accumulated effects of innumerable human decisions about production and consumption. It is, then, our own product. From which it follows that, once more, we have come to be dominated by our own product. And even though it is our own product it is not under our control. Who, for example, wants the stock market to crash? But this happens, from time to time, as an unintended consequence of our own individual actions, each one of which may have seemed perfectly rational in its own terms. The market is like a monster we have accidentally created, but which now comes to rule our lives. As Marx puts it, we experience the ‘complete domination of dead matter over men’ (Colletti 319).

citation: Karl Marx: Early Writings by Lucio Colletti

—p.33 Early Writings (13) by Jonathan Wolff 9 months, 1 week ago
42

What, then, is human emancipation? Infuriatingly, Marx is nothing like as explicit about this as one would like. But one thing is for sure; political emancipation is not enough. We can see this by reflecting on the point that however pure and equal in its treatment of people the law may be, discrimination can nevertheless remain deep rooted in everyday life. To take an example from today, for more than thirty years it has been illegal in the UK to pay a woman less for doing the same job as a man. Yet statistics show that women are paid less than men in virtually every sphere of employment. As Marx puts it, ‘the state can liberate itself from a limitation without man himself being truly free of it’ (M. 51). This seems to hold for every liberal law. No law can encompass all possibilities. Without breaking the letter of the law people will find ways of employing people of their own social class, religion or race, or indulging their other prejudices.

—p.42 Early Writings (13) by Jonathan Wolff 9 months, 1 week ago

What, then, is human emancipation? Infuriatingly, Marx is nothing like as explicit about this as one would like. But one thing is for sure; political emancipation is not enough. We can see this by reflecting on the point that however pure and equal in its treatment of people the law may be, discrimination can nevertheless remain deep rooted in everyday life. To take an example from today, for more than thirty years it has been illegal in the UK to pay a woman less for doing the same job as a man. Yet statistics show that women are paid less than men in virtually every sphere of employment. As Marx puts it, ‘the state can liberate itself from a limitation without man himself being truly free of it’ (M. 51). This seems to hold for every liberal law. No law can encompass all possibilities. Without breaking the letter of the law people will find ways of employing people of their own social class, religion or race, or indulging their other prejudices.

—p.42 Early Writings (13) by Jonathan Wolff 9 months, 1 week ago
51

[...] in the course of their individual struggles both sides will develop ‘class consciousness’; i.e. each person will become conscious of themselves as a member of a particular class. This now takes us to a new level, for at this point the class will be capable of acting as a class, rather than as a group of individuals who simply happen to have something in common. In this sense, for Marx, classes are real agents, which distinguishes them from the market researcher’s constructions. They are much more than a handy form of classification. They are the means by which world-historical change is effected. Indeed the antagonism between the classes provides a mechanism for replacing capitalism with something more humane: communism. Only in communism can we transcend class differences. Communism will be, so it is claimed by Marx, a classless society. [...]

this was probably the right way to tackle the question about agency in the seminar on Tues, I just realised lol

—p.51 Class, History, and Capital (48) by Jonathan Wolff 9 months, 1 week ago

[...] in the course of their individual struggles both sides will develop ‘class consciousness’; i.e. each person will become conscious of themselves as a member of a particular class. This now takes us to a new level, for at this point the class will be capable of acting as a class, rather than as a group of individuals who simply happen to have something in common. In this sense, for Marx, classes are real agents, which distinguishes them from the market researcher’s constructions. They are much more than a handy form of classification. They are the means by which world-historical change is effected. Indeed the antagonism between the classes provides a mechanism for replacing capitalism with something more humane: communism. Only in communism can we transcend class differences. Communism will be, so it is claimed by Marx, a classless society. [...]

this was probably the right way to tackle the question about agency in the seminar on Tues, I just realised lol

—p.51 Class, History, and Capital (48) by Jonathan Wolff 9 months, 1 week ago
54

Marx’s idea is that economic structures rise and fall as they further or impede human productive power. For a time— perhaps a very long time—an economic structure will aid the development of productive power, stimulating technological advances. Yet, Marx believes, this will typically last only so long. Eventually any economic structure (except, apparently, communism) starts to impede further growth. In Marx’s terminology, it ‘fetters’ further development of productive power. Technology just cannot grow within the existing economic structure. At this point the economic structure is said to ‘contradict’ the productive forces. But this contradiction cannot continue indefinitely. There will come a time when the economic structure cannot hold out any longer, for it cannot hold up progress—the development of the productive forces—for ever. The ruling class will begin to lose its grip, and, at this point, Marx says, the economic structure will be ‘burst asunder’ leading to a period of social revolution. Just as one form of society is replaced by another, one ruling class falls away and another becomes dominant. This is how capitalism is said to have replaced feudalism, and will be how capitalism falls to communism.

economic structure = relations of production

gotta say, I'm not appreciating the sass in the "except, apparently, communism"

—p.54 Class, History, and Capital (48) by Jonathan Wolff 9 months, 1 week ago

Marx’s idea is that economic structures rise and fall as they further or impede human productive power. For a time— perhaps a very long time—an economic structure will aid the development of productive power, stimulating technological advances. Yet, Marx believes, this will typically last only so long. Eventually any economic structure (except, apparently, communism) starts to impede further growth. In Marx’s terminology, it ‘fetters’ further development of productive power. Technology just cannot grow within the existing economic structure. At this point the economic structure is said to ‘contradict’ the productive forces. But this contradiction cannot continue indefinitely. There will come a time when the economic structure cannot hold out any longer, for it cannot hold up progress—the development of the productive forces—for ever. The ruling class will begin to lose its grip, and, at this point, Marx says, the economic structure will be ‘burst asunder’ leading to a period of social revolution. Just as one form of society is replaced by another, one ruling class falls away and another becomes dominant. This is how capitalism is said to have replaced feudalism, and will be how capitalism falls to communism.

economic structure = relations of production

gotta say, I'm not appreciating the sass in the "except, apparently, communism"

—p.54 Class, History, and Capital (48) by Jonathan Wolff 9 months, 1 week ago
59

Yet the sensible Marxist position is to say that real-life politics is determined by many factors, including class struggle, in which from time to time the workers—and even the intellectuals—will win out. But in the long-term the bourgeoisie will win the great majority of the important political and legal battles, at least for as long as they are economically dominant.

could be coupled with Polanyi's double movement arg?

—p.59 Class, History, and Capital (48) by Jonathan Wolff 9 months, 1 week ago

Yet the sensible Marxist position is to say that real-life politics is determined by many factors, including class struggle, in which from time to time the workers—and even the intellectuals—will win out. But in the long-term the bourgeoisie will win the great majority of the important political and legal battles, at least for as long as they are economically dominant.

could be coupled with Polanyi's double movement arg?

—p.59 Class, History, and Capital (48) by Jonathan Wolff 9 months, 1 week ago
62

[...] Adam Smith had been so impressed with the miracle of the division of labour that he opens The Wealth of Nations with an unlikely peon to a pin factory. [...]

I'm sorry but this is hilarious, he definitely means paean here

—p.62 Class, History, and Capital (48) by Jonathan Wolff 9 months, 1 week ago

[...] Adam Smith had been so impressed with the miracle of the division of labour that he opens The Wealth of Nations with an unlikely peon to a pin factory. [...]

I'm sorry but this is hilarious, he definitely means paean here

—p.62 Class, History, and Capital (48) by Jonathan Wolff 9 months, 1 week ago
73

Surplus labour creates surplus value, and on Marx’s analysis, surplus value is the source of all profit. It is this that makes the difference between the money advanced and the money received. The process of ‘extracting’ surplus value is called ‘exploitation’. Finally we have arrived at the point of Marx’s great discovery. Under capitalism all profit is ultimately the result of the exploitation of the workers. For, by this account, there is simply nowhere else for profit to come from.

Now you may think, either this represents the workers as very stupid, or there must be something wrong with Marx’s analysis. For if workers posses this incredibly valuable thing— labour power—why don’t they keep it to themselves, or, at least sell it for a decent price?

The reason why they don’t keep it to themselves and thus harness its full earning potential, says Marx, is that they can’t. According to Marx one of the conditions of capitalism’s existence is that there must be a class of workers who are free in an ironic ‘double sense’. First, they must be free from feudal ties, which would otherwise prevent them from entering any sort of market transaction. Second, they must be ‘free’ from independent access to the means of production. In other words they must both be able to work for capitalists and need to. They acquiesce in their own exploitation only because they have no alternative. They cannot work for themselves as they have nothing to work on or with, no land or other resources. Thus they must hire out their labour power to the highest bidder.

—p.73 Class, History, and Capital (48) by Jonathan Wolff 9 months, 1 week ago

Surplus labour creates surplus value, and on Marx’s analysis, surplus value is the source of all profit. It is this that makes the difference between the money advanced and the money received. The process of ‘extracting’ surplus value is called ‘exploitation’. Finally we have arrived at the point of Marx’s great discovery. Under capitalism all profit is ultimately the result of the exploitation of the workers. For, by this account, there is simply nowhere else for profit to come from.

Now you may think, either this represents the workers as very stupid, or there must be something wrong with Marx’s analysis. For if workers posses this incredibly valuable thing— labour power—why don’t they keep it to themselves, or, at least sell it for a decent price?

The reason why they don’t keep it to themselves and thus harness its full earning potential, says Marx, is that they can’t. According to Marx one of the conditions of capitalism’s existence is that there must be a class of workers who are free in an ironic ‘double sense’. First, they must be free from feudal ties, which would otherwise prevent them from entering any sort of market transaction. Second, they must be ‘free’ from independent access to the means of production. In other words they must both be able to work for capitalists and need to. They acquiesce in their own exploitation only because they have no alternative. They cannot work for themselves as they have nothing to work on or with, no land or other resources. Thus they must hire out their labour power to the highest bidder.

—p.73 Class, History, and Capital (48) by Jonathan Wolff 9 months, 1 week ago
77

The account of the ‘employment cycle’ is worth thinking about. Marx’s theory is that the Industrial Reserve Army of the Unemployed is essential to the functioning of capitalism. It acts as a ‘dead-weight’ to the aspirations of those in employment. Their wages will always be held down for as long as others want their jobs. In ‘boom’ times, the Industrial Reserve Army becomes depleted, and wages can rise above their values. But the good times cannot last, and mechanisms exist, as we have seen, to bring wages back down.

This analysis is enormously significant. First, it involves the claim that capitalism, as part of its natural functioning, involves an employment cycle. There is no tendency to equilibrium, either in the short term or long term. Rather the economy has to be understood in dynamic terms, as going through regular cycles. Consequently the politician’s Holy Grail of permanent full employment is a mirage. As we have seen, on Marx’s analysis anything close to full employment will be a short-term phenomenon. Defences against rising wages see to that.

does Kalecki's thing just build on this then? I thought Kalecki came up it on his own but maybe he just builds on Marx

he later says: "capitalism needs unemployment in order to be profitable [...] permanent full employment [...] would not be capitalism"

—p.77 Class, History, and Capital (48) by Jonathan Wolff 9 months, 1 week ago

The account of the ‘employment cycle’ is worth thinking about. Marx’s theory is that the Industrial Reserve Army of the Unemployed is essential to the functioning of capitalism. It acts as a ‘dead-weight’ to the aspirations of those in employment. Their wages will always be held down for as long as others want their jobs. In ‘boom’ times, the Industrial Reserve Army becomes depleted, and wages can rise above their values. But the good times cannot last, and mechanisms exist, as we have seen, to bring wages back down.

This analysis is enormously significant. First, it involves the claim that capitalism, as part of its natural functioning, involves an employment cycle. There is no tendency to equilibrium, either in the short term or long term. Rather the economy has to be understood in dynamic terms, as going through regular cycles. Consequently the politician’s Holy Grail of permanent full employment is a mirage. As we have seen, on Marx’s analysis anything close to full employment will be a short-term phenomenon. Defences against rising wages see to that.

does Kalecki's thing just build on this then? I thought Kalecki came up it on his own but maybe he just builds on Marx

he later says: "capitalism needs unemployment in order to be profitable [...] permanent full employment [...] would not be capitalism"

—p.77 Class, History, and Capital (48) by Jonathan Wolff 9 months, 1 week ago