Ch. 7 - Marx: The Economic Basis of Human Nature
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Author:  Chris OConnor [ Sun Feb 24, 2008 3:58 am ]
Post subject:  Ch. 7 - Marx: The Economic Basis of Human Nature

Ch. 7 - Marx: The Economic Basis of Human Nature

Please use this thread for discussing Chapter 7. :)

Author:  WildCityWoman [ Sat Mar 08, 2008 7:25 pm ]
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Marx: The Economic Basis of Human Nature

Karl Marx - born in 1818, in the German Rhineland, of a Jewish family who became Christian. He was brought up as a Protestant, but soon abandoned religion.

Although hostile to religion, Marx (with most of Western civilization) inherited an ideal of human equality from Christianity, and he shared the Englightenment hope that scientific method could diagnose and solve the problems of human society.

Author:  Dissident Heart [ Tue Mar 11, 2008 6:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Marx's Prophetic Roots

Although hostile to religion, Marx (with most of Western civilization) inherited an ideal of human equality from Christianity, and he shared the Englightenment hope that scientific method could diagnose and solve the problems of human society.

I haven't begun reading the book yet, and find so little time for much reading these days, so without having this small quote in context- I've got a few problems with what the authors are saying about Herr Marx.

Marx is much closer to the Hebrew Prophets in his condemnation of social and economic injustice than being indebted to any Christian ideal of equality. As an heir of the Enlightenment he inherited a faith in the human drive for freedom guided by a universal capacity to reason one's way toward liberation with the tools of science, logic and history. His real debt to Christianity lies in a shared eschatological hope: time and history are moving purposefully and inevitably toward a wondrous consummation of human fulfilment, emancipation and liberation. What Christians look forward to as the Kingdom of God and Parousia of Christ is what Marx transformed into the Communist Society.

Here are a few key verses from the Hebrew Prophets that place Marx in a more proper historical context:

Amos 2:6-7 "For they have perverted justice by accepting bribes and sold into slavery the poor who can't repay their debts; they trade them for a pair of shoes. They trample the poor in the dust and kick aside the meek. At their religious feasts they lounge in clothing stolen from their debtors, and in my own Temple they offer sacrifices of wine they purchased with stolen money."

Amos 5:12 "For many and great are your sins. I know them all so well. You are the enemies of everything good; you take bribes; you refuse justice to the poor."

Amos 8:4-7 " Listen, you merchants who rob the poor, trampling on the needy; you who long for the Sabbath to end and the religious holydays to be over so you can get out and start cheating again -- using your weighted scales and under-sized measures; you who make slaves of the poor, buying them for their debt of a piece of silver or a pair of shoes, or selling them your moldy wheat."

Isaiah 1 "Learn to do right! Seek justice , encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow."

Isaiah 58:1-10 "The kind of fast I want is that you stop oppressing those who work for you and treat them fairly and give them what they earn. I want you to share your food with the hungry and destitute. Clothe those who are cold, and don't hide from relatives who need your help. If you do these things, God will shed his own glorious light upon you. He will heal you. Your godliness will lead you forward, goodness will be a shield before you, and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then, when you call, the Lord will answer. 'Yes, I am here,' he will quickly reply. All you need to do is to stop oppressing the weak and stop making false accusations and spreading vicious rumors! "Feed the hungry! Help those in trouble! Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you shall be as bright as day."

Isaiah 3:14-16 "First to feel his wrath will be the elders and the princes, for they have defrauded the poor. They have filled their barns with grain extorted from the helpless peasants." . . . "How dare you grind my people in the dust like that?" the Lord Almighty will demand of them. Next he will judge the haughty women, who mince along, noses in the air, tinkling bracelets on their ankles, with wanton eyes that rove among the crowds to catch the glances of the men." "In those days the ungodly, the atheists, will not be heroes! Wealthy cheaters will not be spoken of as generous, outstanding men! Everyone will recognize an evil man when he sees him, and hypocrites will fool no one at all. Their lies about God and their cheating of the hungry will be plain for all to see. The smooth tricks of evil men will be exposed, as will all the lies they use to oppress the poor in the courts. But good men will be generous to others and will be blessed of God for all they do."

Micah 6: 8-12 " What does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? The voice of the LORD cries to the city : . . . Can I forget the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the accursed scant measure? Can I tolerate wicked scales and a bag of dishonest weights? Your wealthy are full of violence; your inhabitants speak lies, with tongues of deceit in their mouths. Your rich men are wealthy through extortion and violence; your citizens are so used to lying that their tongues can't tell the truth!

Author:  WildCityWoman [ Tue Apr 01, 2008 8:47 pm ]
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Hi DH . . . as I haven't seen you in any of the others posts on this book discussion, I'm assuming you have moved off.

If you are still watching this thread, maybe we could discuss your quotations, piece by piece.

I don't feel competent to discuss it all at once.

Author:  DWill [ Thu Apr 03, 2008 8:59 am ]
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Dissident Heart, thanks for posting those OT quotes and bringing out the prophetic Marx so well. I was a bit puzzled as well by the mention of the ideal of Christian equality. When I had thought about it, though, I guessed the author was thinking of the communistic nature of the earliest Christian community, or maybe the ideal of everyone being brothers in Christ. Whether Marx could really have been influenced by those is another matter, though.

Author:  DWill [ Thu Apr 03, 2008 9:15 pm ]
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Blundering ahead, trying to make something of the chapter on Marxism. For me, the chapter's biggest contribution to the HN discussion was Marx's belief that what humans are is largely determined by the kind of society they live in. They have less essential nature, taken as individuals, than others before Marx apparently assumed. Our society shapes us, and since there are many different types of societies (though probably fewer now than in the past), we have different types of human, but this is by socialization, not nature.

Before reading the chapter, I would have been certain that Marx got human nature badly wrong on the subject of private property. Have subsequent events proved that people have a need to own property and cannot be fulfilled under communistic schemes? I now just tend to think so, am not sure he is wrong across the board.

What is really interesting about Marxism is its religious nature, akin to Christianity in a couple of ways as the author points out. Just as this world would inevitably be replaced by the Kingdom of God at the last judgment, so imperfect forms of human economy would pass away with the revolution, ushering in the perfected communist society that would remain forever. It might be unfair that everyone thinks Marx is wrong because his revolutions didn't bring on what he promised, while the Christian Millenium never came, yet belief in Christian escatology persists.

What is it about both Marxism and Christianity that has created so many fanatics willing to kill and die for their beliefs?

Before I forget to say it, if Marx thought humans were solely economic beings, he was very wrong on that score.

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