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Monday, January 17, 2011


Marx became involved in the founding and editing of a new journal [the RHEINSICHE ZEITUNG], got himself bounced out of Prussia by the police for his troubles, and by 1844 was living in Paris [there is a lot of history here that I am sliding over, since it would be tedious to recount it. Check Wikipedia or Siegel's biography if you want to know the details]. He was by this time connected with Engels, an association that would last until his death in 1883. It was in Paris that the two of them wrote both THE HOLY FAMILY and THE GERMAN IDEOLOGY, in which, among other things, they settled scores with the Bauers, Feuerbach, and other German thinkers very close to them in political and philosophical orientation. But for our purposes, the most important of Marx's many writings from the period was a curious document that did not see the light of day until eighty years later -- the working or study notes usually labeled THE ECONOMIC-PHILOSOPHIC MANUSCRIPTS OF 1844 but also sometimes referred to as the Paris Manuscripts. These notes were in the form of a lengthy document in which Marx worked out ideas that he was puzzling over having to do with the economic organization of society. What he did was to draw vertical lines dividing each page into three columns, which were headed Land, Labor, and Capital, the three fundamental categories of the Classical Political Economy of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and their lesser fellow economists. The column that has, quite deservedly, drawn most of the attention is the one labeled "Labor." The long series of paragraphs that Marx inscribed in this column have come to be referred to as "Alienated Labor," and they constitute the fullest and most carefully thought out discussion of this topic that Marx ever wrote.

I have a good deal to say about Marx's theory of alienated labor, but before I begin, I want to take just a moment to explain why this document became so politically important in the 20th century, more than a hundred years after it was written. Briefly [and, inevitably, tendentiously], Lenin and Stalin and the Russian revolutionaries hijacked Marx's theories and used them as the justification for a brutal and dictatorial State Capitalism that they instituted in the Soviet Union. The sheer geopolitical success of the Soviet regime, both before and during the Second World War, all but stifled the objection that this was not at all what Marx had had in mind when he talked about socialism or communism. Marx's writings were elevated to the status of Revealed Truths, and were taught in Russian schools in roughly the way that the Koran is now taught in Madrassas. So rigid and doctrinaire was the slavish adherence to the supposed doctrines of Marx that when the young Wassily Leontief approached the state economic planners with his newly conceived mathematical system of Linear Programming, which he thought [correctly] would be of use to them in planning the Soviet economy, he was told that Stalin himself had decreed that since Marx only used addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and the taking of averages, the Soviet Union's economy was to be planned using nothing more. Leontief emigrated to the United States and spent the rest of his career teaching at Harvard, eventually winning the Nobel Prize. One of the delicious intellectual ironies of this subject is that Leontief's mathematical methods became the means by which scores of modern economists demonstrated the fundamental mathematical coherence of the theories that Marx set forth in CAPITAL [I have already written about this on my blog, and will not repeat myself].

During the Second World War, the Yugoslav partisans, led by Marshal Tito, succeeded in driving the Germans out of their lands without the help of the Red Army, with the result that in the post-war period, the newly formed Yugoslavia, while part of the Soviet bloc, was able to maintain a quasi-independence. A number of Yugoslav philosophers and political theorists were eager to find some way of embracing Marx's theories without toeing the Stalinist line. Casting about for writings by Marx on which they could erect an independent, humanist Marxism, they came upon the Paris Manuscripts, which had first been published in Russia in the 20s, but had then been all but ignored by the Stalinist theoreticians. In the writings of the Young Marx, they heard a voice that called to them and inspired them. To justify their concentration on these juvenalia, they developed the theory of a "break' between the young Marx and the mature Marx.

I will argue a bit later on that there is in fact no such break as they claimed to discover. There is, actually, a break or fundamental reversal in Marx's thinking, and it is important enough so that I shall spend some time talking about it. But it does not have to do with alienated labor.

Well, let us at last turn to the teaching of the essay on alienated labor, and see what we can learn from it. I shall begin, perhaps surprisingly, by talking about the Romantic conception of artistic creativity. The painters, sculptors, poets, and composers of the medieval and classical period were thought of as artisans, skilled craftsmen who worked for patrons or for entire communities, decorating castles or churches and memorializing military victories and the marriages of princes. But a different conception of artistic creativity emerged in the early nineteenth century period that we now call the Romantic era. Artists began to be thought of -- and to think of themselves -- as lonely creators, inspired by their muses to tear works of great art bleeding from their breasts [think Beethoven rather than Bach.] Thus understood, the act of artistic creation has the following structure: First, the artist is inspired to form an idea in his or her mind, an idea of a sculpture, a painting, a poem, a sonata, an idea of beauty. Then, by exercising great skill with chisel and mallet, with canvas and brush, or with pen, the artist makes the idea real, externalizes it, embodies it in some medium, thereby producing the work of art.

This self-externalization [or selbstentausserung -- it always sounds better in German] may be achieved with great effort, leaving the artist exhausted, spent, drenched in sweat. Or it may be accomplished with blinding speed and seemingly little or no effort at all. But in either case, the completion of the act is, for the artist, a moment of triumph and fulfillment. The Idea has truly been made Flesh. The labor is a fulfilling labor, the fatigue a good fatigue. There it stands, on the page, or on the canvas, or on the podium -- what had begun as an idea in the artist's mind is realized, made real, before him or her. And the work of art is now available to all of us to see, to hear, to read, to experience and enjoy. Even those of us incapable of the act of creation can derive great enjoyment from the work, and even inspiration.

But this act of creation has a dark side, a negative dimension, for what originally completely and indisputably belonged to the artist alone, as an idea in mind, now takes on a life of its own. The artist ages, but the work of art does not [think THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY]. At the moment of creation, the object, the embodied idea, belongs to the artist, but it may -- indeed, it most probably will -- be sold, to someone whose intentions and appreciation may be antithetical to those of the artist. There is no way that the artist can control how the public experiences the work of art, what the experts choose to say about it, what uses it may be put to, for the greater glory of a God whom the artist does not worship, a State to which the artist owes no allegiance, or a collector for whose vulgar tastes the artist has only contempt. Eventually, the artist may have to ask permission or pay an entry fee to view the work that he or she has created. Is it any wonder that Emily Dickenson resisted publishing her immortal poems?

What began as an act of fulfilling and satisfying self-externalization runs the risk of becoming an act of self-alienation [selbstentfremdung]. The term "alienation" has a double meaning on which, as we shall see, Marx plays endlessly. To make alien, to alienate, means to make an other, an enemy, something that stands over against oneself [gegen-stand]. But to alienate also means to sell, to transfer title from one owner to another. In this sense, the word is routinely used in the law. By alienating the work of art, by selling it, the artist becomes alienated from it. The work of art becomes not simply other than him or herself, but perhaps even inimical, hurtful, an enemy.

[May I be permitted a brief moment of narcissistic self-absorption? When I am writing -- indeed, as I have been writing these paragraphs this morning --I feel fully alive. My stubby fingers fly over the keys, hitting wrong letters now and again but charged nevertheless with an energy that I feel at no other time in my life. The words come as fast as I can get them onto the screen, and I know, with utter certainty, that what I am saying is right. I never revise, and I never show what I have written to another person before externalizing it, publishing it, either in print or in cyberspace. Once I have published a book, I am finished with it. I move on, perhaps I write another book. But what I have published now exists independently of me, and I cannot control how it is construed, or the uses to which it is put, by persons I have never even met. Now, I know all too well that these subjective feelings of mine do not correspond to any objective greatness. When I see AMADEUS, after all, it is Salieri and not Mozart with whom I identify. But I can at least imagine what it would be like to be Marx writing CAPITAL, or Hume writing the TREATISE. Oh well.]

Marx, with what I consider a stroke of sheer genius, takes the Romantic conception of artistic creativity and generalizes it to all of us, arguing that all human beings are capable of, indeed must engage in, an act with the same fundamental structure -- the act of production. [I am here conflating ideas taken from both the ECONOMIC-PHILOSOPHIC MANUSCRIPTS OF 1844 and THE GERMAN IDEOLOGY, which were, after all, written at roughly the same time. It would take too long and be too tedious to sort this all out textually.] Human beings, unlike animals, live by purposefully transforming nature in accordance with ideas in their minds, so as to make it into goods that can satisfy their needs. [Marx did not know about tool use in animals, but that really does not matter here.] They too first form an idea in mind -- of a stone shaped to be a tool, of a field of grain, of a stick bent to form a bow -- and then externalize it, embodying the idea in an object that can serve our needs, helping us to gain food, clothing, shelter, and other humanly satisfying goods. But unlike the act of artistic creation, the act of production is collective, social. We struggle with nature together, not alone. This act of collective self-externalization, of production, is labor.

Marx here sets himself against a long tradition in Western thought, going all the way back to the Book of Genesis, that sees labor as an evil, a painful necessity, a curse laid upon us by God for our disobedience. Recall the words of GENESIS, Chapter 3, verses 16-19:

"Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire [shall be] to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

"And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life;

"Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

"In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return."

So it is that man must labor painfully for his bread, as a curse for his disobedience. And so it is that woman's bearing of children is called labor, for it too is painful, and a curse laid upon her for her disobedience.

Well, enough for today. I shall continue with this after I have prepared my lecture for Wednesday.


Haydon said...

Readers of this blog might also be interested in the recent interview in "The Guardian" with the great historian Eric Hobsbawm who has just published a collection of essays on Marx and history:

Chris said...

Thank you Haydon, I've been counting down the days until that book was published!

Murfmensch said...

I would refer anyone interested to Hannah Arendt's writings on "Labor, Work, and Action". This conceptual distinction is very helpful when thinking politically.

English Jerk said...

It might also be worth noting that the notion of labor as Selbstentäusserung comes directly out of Hegel's discussion of labor in section B.IV.A of the Phenomenology of Spirit (see the last two paragraphs of that section). Hegel doesn't use that word, but the account he gives in those two paragraphs parallels Wolff's account here very closely.

john c. halasz said...

"Before A"- that's oh so Hegelian! It's the "master=slave" dialectic section, which follows just after the introduction in the "Self-consciousness" chapter. It's worth noting, given how it's been torn out of context in subsequent interpretations and made out to the the key to the whole thing, that the direct function of the "master-slave" is to explain the genesis of self-consciousness, which is the subject pole of the subject-object dialectic being worked out through the whole work. (The object pole is natural consciousness, which is the topic of the first chapter, which is largely a rehearsal of a Kantian-Fichtean critique of empiricism.)

English Jerk said...


I gather that it’s me you’re snarking at, but I don’t quite see your point. Are you saying that the passage I cited is not actually relevant to Marx’s account of alienated labor as Wolff has presented it so far? If so, I’d be happy to enumerate the similarities. Are you denying that Hegel was Marx’s source for many of these ideas? If so, what are your reasons?

Needless to say, it’s quite true that the master/servant section has been “torn out of context in subsequent interpretations and made out to [be] the key to the whole thing.” But since I’m not seeking to explain “the whole thing” nor decontextualizing the section to which I referred, I hardly see how this applies to me. You’d have grounds for complaint if I started quoting Bataille at you or something, but I’d be the last person to do so.

Also, your summary of what the “master-slave” section is doing is not correct. It is not an “explanation of the genesis of self-consciousness” unless by “the ‘master-slave’” you mean to refer to the entirety of section B. The origin of “self-consciousness” is the limitations of the understanding, and its first form is desire. The master/servant relation comes later, and later still self-consciousness fully emerges in passing through the “unhappy consciousness.”

And, as I’m sure you know, it’s a massive oversimplification to call self-consciousness “the subjective pole” of anything. It would be better to describe it as a name for the subject-object relation itself (albeit, an asymmetrical form of that relation, whose opposite, early in section B, is “life,” not “natural consciousness”).

Finally, I assume you’re being hyperbolic when you claim that the “Consciousness” section “is largely a rehearsal of a Kantian-Fichtean critique of empiricism,” because that’s a manifestly implausible position unless you ignore all the details of Hegel’s account (since the details do not in any way resemble either the Critique of Pure Reason or the Wisseschaftslehre).

Since most of the best work on Hegel in the last few decades has come out of the English-speaking world, I’m disappointed to encounter philosophers who are so dismissive of Hegel (and not, bizarrely, of Nietzsche). Thankfully, the attitude is no longer universal.

john c. halasz said...

That wasn't a snark at your expense, E.J. It was just "naming" more explicitly what you had indicated. And for the record, I too think that one can't quite grasp where Marx is coming from and the quasi-systematic complexion of much of his thought without bringing out his fundamental relation and debts to Hegel. Indeed, Marx' critique of Hegel is rather murky, (and much of it occurs in overly lengthy, tediously elaborated polemics with Left Hegelians, rather through a direct and "properly" philosophical exposition of his exact points of difference with the "master"). Such that splitting Marx off from Hegel is a dicey business. Marx' appeal to "materialism" in claiming that he had turned Hegel upside down and set him on his feet is a less decisive break than he makes it out to be,-(and is an unfortunate source of much later confusions of Marx' thought with reductionist, mechanistic forms of materialism),- underplaying how much of Marx' thinking is already prepared for in Hegel. The difference between "absolute idealism" and "dialectical materialism" is often more one in emphasis and proportion than in kind. Marx' claim, for example, that consciousness doesn't determine social being, but social being determines consciousness is not really any different that what Hegel would have said. (Similarly, when Gadamer says that "consciousness is always more being than consciousness", is speaking primarily from Heidegger, but could just as well be speaking for either Hegel or Marx). And Marx was readily able to hatch a critique of political economy out of Hegel's thought because Hegel has already extensively studied political economy and encoded it into his philosophy, which, yes, is one of the background considerations determining the "master-slave", among other locations in his philosophy, (though it's unclear how much Marx knew or could have known of Hegel's study of political economy).

john c. halasz said...

(Cintinuation) As for your comments on the PhG, "subject" and "object" there are highly generalized terms and interact and mutually condition each other,- (such that neither is "prior" to the other, though that a more technical matter of how Hegel subtly evades the whole traditional metaphysical notion of "grounds"),- and thus are highly variable, shifting in contents and levels. (That the sort of thing that runs afoul with Analytic demands for precision and "clarity"). But the object pole is indeed natural consciousness as imprinted by its experience and practical activity in the world, and the subject pole is rational-reflective philosophical self-consciousness, which draws out the thought-structures implicitly determining the experiences of natural consciousness. So the 1st "Consciousness" chapter is an initial elaboration of the "object" and the 2nd "Self-consciousness" chapter is an initial elaboration of the "subject", each considered separately, (which according to Hegel, can not ultimately be done). And, yes, the 1st chapter is largely a critique of empiricism, proceeding concisely and rapidly from the "here and now" to regularity as empirical lawfulness, ending on a dilemma: either the empiricist concept of experience is too primitive to ever amount to anything we might call "knowledge", or the sort of experience that it lays claim to as knowledge is far more riddled with categorial/conceptual elements necessary to its synthesis than empiricism and its conception of experience can at all account for. (Hegel, of course, is not opposed to experience per se; it's one of his key terms. The whole PhG is about the Erinnerung of Erfahrung, the recollection of experience. But the German word contains the root fahren, to travel, hence the internalization of a journey). The other problem with empiricism is its entirely passive-receptive account of experience, which ignores the active-synthetic contribution of the mind. Hence the result of those criticisms is to shift the focus to the subject pole, reflective self-consciousness, which begins in the intro with a consideration of desire, (as distinct from animal appetite), and first mentions the notion of Geist as "an I that is a we and vice versa". (There is an echo of Aristotle here too, for whom philosophy begins with thaumazein and the *desire* to know). The key insight is that self-consciousness can exist only through the mediation of other such (self-)consciousnesses and thus human desire is a desire for recognition. From there the primal scene master-slave dialectic beginning with the struggle unto death ensues. There's a lot implicitly going on here, which will be brought out in further, later elaborations. For one thing, desire as recognition, as opposed to animal appetite, is a condition for the existence of a persisting, shared world of permanent objects, (a simple, but often neglected point). And the master-slave is also implicitly a critique of social contract theories of "natural rights". But most importantly, it is a critique of the Fichtean absolute (i.e. transcendental) ego, in that the source of synthesis is attributed to Geist, a supra-personal, collective "entity". So I think that, indeed, amounts to "an explanation of the genesis of self-consciousness", by situating it in the context of Geist, which exceeds it. My only initial point was to issue a note of caution, as to recognizing the one-sidedness of the account and not over-elaborating it, as if "objectification" were simply a matter of externalizing self-consciousness.

john c. halasz said...

(Cont.) The PhG is supposed to culminate in "absolute knowledge", in which the subject and object are said to have achieved "identity". But that's only "possible" because subject and object are both (modes of) consciousness to begin with. (The way to pull a rabbit out of a hat is to stuff the rabbit into the hat in the first place). When natural consciousness has attained the level of philosophical self-consciousness, and philosophical self-consciousness has fully reflectively accounted for the thought-structures determining natural consciousness in its interactions with the world, then "the absolute" is said to be attained, QED. Once one grasps that basic premise of Hegel's "absolute idealism", then a good deal of sense can be made out of him. But, of course, no one nowadays would quite want to grant him that premise of the "identity" of subject and object. It's partly shrewd and partly sophistical.

However: "And, as I’m sure you know, it’s a massive oversimplification to call self-consciousness “the subjective pole” of anything. It would be better to describe it as a name for the subject-object relation itself..." That's not itself quite "correct", but rather too Fichtean of a reading. The objective conditions for the emergence of a configuration of self-consciousness are just as determinative as its subjective reflective elaborations. One needs to grasp the recollective import of the account, as a matter of rational reconstruction. Geist, to be sure, is supposed to be amenable to self-conscious reflection and thereby oddly seems to bear the attributes of self-consciousness itself, despite its supra-personal and collective status. But it emerges historically from (the understanding of) an objective world, as an ordering of the world in terms of objective rational truth as a whole, as reconciled with the self-consciousness of rational freedom, which is the main "justificatory" burden of Hegel's account.

john c. halasz said...

O.K. Having wasted some precious byte-space in defending myself in gratuitous explanations, I want to get to what I was originally going to say in response to Prof. Wolff's post.

The notion of alienation only makes sense on the basis of a prior premise: namely, that the world is (or can be construed as) a human "objectification". At some point, it makes little difference to the basic POV whether it is supposed to be an objectification of "mind" or of the organization of social labor qua practical activity. (Since, on the one hand, there is nothing to say that "mind" necessarily fails to register practical activity and material experience, -since where else would it be registered,- whereas, on the other hand, workers don't just use their hands and not their brains). IOW it's only because the world is a human objectification that it can become "alienated". Which, in turn, leads on to the further notion of the "fetishism" or reification of that alienated world, whereby it takes on an opaque and "hard" objectivity, as an inexorable relation amongst inhuman things, that imposes itself upon and dominates the very human relations and activities that generate that world and its objectivity. I mention this because it involves a certain skewedness in Marx' thought, that makes it hard to grasp from traditions of purely empiricist thought. But the premise is not entirely crazy. Indeed, much of the world is generated, both in its material (trans-)formations and its intelligibilities by human activities and the structures of the societies that organize and "embody" them. But it's a POV that is based on the subject-object conceptual means of the traditional philosophy of consciousness, which involves not just a certain excess of humanism, (since the world is not an entirely human place), but a host of dubious assumptions, (about collective "consciousness" and societies as "collective subjects" and the relation between thought and action, etc.). Nowadays, one wouldn't exactly want to uphold those assumptions whole-hog, but rather they need to be picked apart and reformulated. (Habermas' account of language and communicative interaction, whatever its short-comings or faults, was precisely an attempt to do so).

It need only be added that Marx' tendency to make large assumptions about collective social life and its "universality" owes a good deal to Hegel and his much maligned conception of "Geist".

john c. halasz said...

2) I wouldn't explain Marx' conception of labor as self-realization based on the over-blown Romantic conception the artist as unique genius/creator. Hegel already donated considerable asperity to such unbridled subjectivism. Rather a better precedent would be Schiller's pre-Romantic, Kant-inspired "Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man", which Marx undoubtedly knew and prolly was drawing upon. There, works of art don't just serve as a means to personal cultivation, but also to the formation of political and moral community. It's that idea of Bildung as a collective self-formation that is the key for Marx. Because, unlikely as it may seem, he would come to construe the process of class struggle and revolutionary praxis as one of the collective Bildung of the working class. I.e. that the working class would develop its capacities not just materially, but culturally, as well, through the process of revolutionary organization, such that, by the time the transformation to socialism became immanent in the "final" crisis, a counter-hegemonic institutional order would already be emergently in place. The educator must be educated, yes, but the "educated" must also become educators!

john c. halasz said...

3) It's pretty clear that the account of unalienated labor which becomes alienated in early Marx is based on the model of craft production. A few points about the former: a) craft production involves "whole" products, that is, the parts are assembled into a whole, as an end-in-view, which is a quasi-teleological process, a clearly purposive activity. b) The uses of the products of such craft labor are directly in view in the community. The "moment" of production and the "moment" of use are clearly in view and related. c) As a result of a and b, such labor/production confers on the worker a certain social status or standing, such that he is directly contributing to generating and sustaining the life of the community. Thus such craft labor/production confers an ethical/relational significance to both the activity and its products.

It's important to recognize that this is a conceptual model rather than an account of empirical instances, since Marx is not promulgating reactionary nostalgia, (which is one mis-interpretation of Vol.1, as involving an account of petty commodity production rather than a level of conceptual exposition). But it's also relevant to considering what exactly gets alienated in "alienated labor". Part of that concerns the increasing fragmentation of the labor process, the loss of its "wholeness" and quasi-teleological relevance. The plaint in the later Marx is that industrial capitalism promulgates an inversion of ends over means and the endless accumulation of means for its own sake, regardless of any consideration of ends. The other part is the declining social status, the loss of ethical relevance, for laborers themselves, despite the potential increase in material means, (and the distribution of consumption incomes, which is required anyway, in contradictory fashion, to sustain effective demand). The result is that both human and natural ends (and their collective, social mediation) become increasingly lost to view, in an utterly alienated and reified "ethical world" (Sittlichkeit), as both human beings, no longer "ends-in-themselves", and natural resources are reduced to means for the re-production of "functional" imperatives at the behest of the need to maintain the "value" of capital.

But the quasi-paradoxical prospect is that at the "end", as as a result of such an historical process of "alienation", such "wholeness" and the ethical world it entails could be "restored", in utterly different conditions and on utterly different terms than had obtained previously or henceforth.

john c. halasz said...

4) The other part of the model of pre-alienated labor, as it were, is that Marx conceives such labor as a process of transformation. As a matter of changing inputs from one state of matter into another, that's plain enough, even when one includes the ideas involved. But what Marx putatively wants to draw out of the model involves also a transformation of the social relations surrounding the conditions of labor. The basic idea is that, even as labor involves the transformation of material conditions and states, so, too, indirectly, the exercize of the laborer's capacities,- ( as a representative of the human instance),- involves a transformation of self. But any such self is bound up with the conditions and social relations of labor. And what Marx is putatively seeking is not just a transformation of labor/objectification, but a transformation of those surrounding social relations- (and thus of their corresponding "world"). However, he lacks the conceptual means in his model for articulating such a concern. Hence he conflates, (or fails to differentiate),- labor, as a mode of instrumental/technical action, from "praxis", as action upon action, directed, non-instrumentally, toward social systems or structures of action. The critique of ideology is meant to appeal to the transformation of the actual motives of structurally embedded agents, under certain conditions, when actually confronted. But such an appeal, however "theoretically" well prepared, involves a rhetorical and practical component, that the model of labor doesn't, of itself, account for. In short, the very basis of his model/critique is, self-stultifyingly, short-circuited.

Jura said...

Just and exegetical quip: all the major the figures in the Praxis school, such as Gajo Petrovic, explicitly rejected and criticised the idea of the break between the young Marx and the mature Marx. They merely insisted that all of Marx's later works have to be interpreted in the light of (a particular reading of) the 1844 Manuscripts.

Also, it seems somewhat misleading to describe Yugoslavia of the period as "quasi-independent" from the Soviet Union. After Tito's break with Stalin in 1948, Yugoslavia was expelled from the Cominform, and was never a member of the Warsaw Pact. Even after the nominal thaw following Khrushchev's 1955 apology for the explusion, Yugoslavia's relations with the USSR were often tense (cf. Tito's support of Dubńćek). Which is just to say that after 1948, any Stalinist elements of the official Yugoslav ideology were self-inflicted.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Point well taken. Your memory of those events is better than mine.

Jura said...

I just happen to be from that part of the world - and I certainly wouldn't take forgetfulness about it against anyone. Yugoslavia was hardly the centre of the universe back then, and is sadly becoming not much more than a historical curiosity these days.

I'm also glad to see the Praxis philosophers mentioned at all, especially since so little of their work is readily available in any major language (as far as I know, the German editions are all long out of print, and many were never translated into English). I personally have many philosophical disagreements with them, but retain a particular fondness nonetheless, since many of the members of the circle (alas, not all) were models of political and personal integrity during the awfulness of the nineties.

For the record, I enjoy your blog enormously, and this series in particular is a wonderful idea.

Magpie said...

After this post, I can only applaud.

Prof. you have mastered the trade of teaching and making it a vivid, enjoyable experience. Many thanks for your efforts.

Magpie said...

Oh, by the way, a snippet that you might find interesting/amusing:

"However, during the early 1950s, I-O analysis came under intense criticism, as politicians and economists in the United States noted that the Soviet Union used I-O tables as a tool for economic planning. In this hostile political climate, the U.S. government acted to restrict funding for the production of I-O tables. By 1954, the U.S. I-O program came to a complete halt. Ironically, while U.S. critics espoused the communist dangers of the I-O tables, the People's Republic of China also abandoned the use of I-O tables, claiming that this type of analysis was a tool of the capitalist West". (from Concepts and Methods of the US Input-Output Accounts - BEA - 2006, p. 16)