domingo, 6 de enero de 2008

On Marx discourse: two readings...

Marx in his earlier writings (see Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844) sees the coming of a postcapitalist socialist society as a result of the consciousness of the alienation imposed by the capitalist society to the proletariat class. This alienation is based on the lack of ‘humanist sense’, seen by Marx, as the lack of control over the means of production. One may argue that the control over the means of production elevated to the universal category of a ‘humanist sense’ is an essentialist view; therefore, critics on essentialism of the human condition may deconstruct the critic of capitalist economy based on alienation. In fact, from a materialistic point of view, alienation may be seen as a critic coming from a past system of values developed in earlier stages of society in contrast with a new socio-economic order. Nevertheless, the essentialist posture has one more ace under the hand: every change made by human will, is understood, and sometimes even originated by an essentialist conception of man. Therefore, human will as a historical tool is tied, in practice, by essentialist postures. Criticism on Marxist alienation based on criticism over essentialism would lead to the confrontation of the historical power of human will, as formulated by humanist philosophy, against the historical extension of structural social evolution.

The humanist and therefore idealistic philosophical nature of alienation as a critic of capitalism was probably the reason why Marx abandoned this point of view for a more structural critic of capitalism (see Capital) replacing it by the intensification of class struggle as a result of the growing ‘exploitation of the proletariat’. It is worth noting that, while the first argument, based on alienation, is more attractive to well remunerated workers, which in modern capitalistic societies comes to be a large piece of the population. The latter argument, exploitation, is attractive to the lower class workers in conditions of exploitation, characteristic of earlier capitalistic societies. Therefore, alienation is an attractive motive and argument in ‘developed countries’ where large pieces of the population has specialised and well remunerated labour, while ‘exploitation’ is the case for developing countries where labour conditions get closer to the earlier stages of capitalism.