Friday, January 21, 2011

Hmm ...

... How a Marxist might see the creed. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

"Man lives on nature," Marx concluded. No kidding. So does everything else on the planet. Nature is what is going on on the planet. This hardly seems grounds for satori. Also, Marxism is an invented thought-system. Capitalism is simply a word designating a mode of commerce that has evolved beyond barter and makes use of a medium of exchange called money. All sorts of problems are connected to the conduct of commerce, some of which have profound moral implications, not the least of which is that, as Jesus said, "the poor you have always with you." I presume that Eagleton understands that the economic system that prevailed in the former Soviet Union was state capitalism. He can hardly fail to understand that such prevails today in China. In any event, if he wants to subscribe to Marx's philosophy and remain a Catholic, more power to him. But his attempt to have Marx and Jesus seem to speak the same language is not much different from others' attempts to have science and theology seem to do the same thing.


  1. Oh now be fair, Capitalism is no less an invented thought-system than Marxism. Capitalism took hundreds of years of writers bickering, many kings beheaded, tens of millions of slaves, etc.

    Marx did sound awfully Jesus-like. More than any church figure since then. Particularly those "give away all your belongings and follow me", rich man eye of the needle, beatitudinal clothe-the-naked feed-the-hungry passages. Marx wished that we would stop caring about owning stuff more than we care about feeding the poor. He thought the way to do that was a massive revolution. One cannot serve Moloch and the Lord.

  2. Au contraire, Daniel! Please read Henri Pirenne's History of Europe (written, by the way, entirely from memory while he was interend by the Germans in WWI). In Vol.I, if memory serves, he points out how it was the wandering merchants in the early middle ages who helped found the cities, which became the what came to to be free and democratic practice. Think for a minute. People did business long before any egghead thought about economics. Also, it is very useful to read about how much time Marx himself spent playing the market at the London stock exchange. I have more to say about this in a post tomorrow. I shall look forward to what you have to say about that. People have to get out of their heads from time to time. The world of the intellect is much more confined than intellectuals seem to, well, think.

  3. Oh, it is true, of course, that one cannot serve God and Mammon. But it very dangerous ever to think that one is serving God. I practice my faith in the hope that God will forgive me my sins, which are indeed scarlet.

  4. Yes, I know the book — it struck me as fairly propagandist, foremost because Hitler was no less a product of natural historical forces then democracy, capitalism, or Marx's ideas. It seemed like the less interesting version of Auerbach's “Mimesis”. Maybe I'll revisit it.

    I would also wager — although I am very skeptical of the narrative you just proposed — that if those early merchants had been able to join the aristocracy, they would have been a bit less open to hedging aristocratic control. Democracy was a wide, unintended, very good consequence of a number of power-grabs. It was an accident. I'm happy to have it, and glad that men of conscience and ethics grabbed hold of the idea — but, it is dangerous to conflate the good that is democracy with any economic system. And early capitalism would not have survived without the thoroughly anti-democratic class system of Europe, or without slavery, which provided the necessary labor force.