From Hegel to Marx: Studies in the Intellectual Development of Karl Marx /Hook
September 17th, 2018 •
This is something of a classic that I found again among my bookshelves: it is a classic yet it doesn’t really answer the riddle of the hegel/marx question.
I note a passage on marx’s strong almost malevolent antagonism to and attacks on ‘abstract ethical idealism’ and sensed (perhaps not for the first time) something closer to the tragic hero than the revolutionary economist.
If you wanted to make the case marxism was wrongheaded and shot itself in the foot step one, you could start here. Was this scientism, the dark side of shadow marx, a demonic trump to discombobulate a world historical movement…?? But we forget the first attack on ethical idealism, in a sneaky way, is in hegel who loses the noumenon, and has no real ethical system at all, strange. The problem with hegel is …well what? Schopenhauer spent decades attacking hegel in a strange bete noire mode. Neither quite understood kantian ethical idealism and its brilliant innovation. There is a case to be made that hegel was too elusive to be understood and that he ends up in the wasteland of nietzsche, in the minds of the incomprehending.
To challenge ethical idealism is par for the course, as a philosophic dialectic, but the wrathful rejection is a deadringer for the sophmoric exercise in evil that overtook the whole bolshevik experiment. Ethical issues were attacked as utopian, not scientific. It would be a schoolboy exercise in blank verse tragedy to go shakespearian here, the tragic flaw in a radical movement. And the marxist even had a dire warning from the so-called marburg school trying to rush in with a rescue package, called kantian ethical socialism. They were mostly ignored. A dialectic of materialism and idealism is simple philosophic ‘all in a day’s work’, but i would be wary of thinking one had won that debate. And even physics isn’t there any more: even if your ‘stuff’ is materialist, your ‘equations’ are idealist abstractions, maybe even platonic forms. The whole debate was not relevant to a socialist as such. Ordinary social moralities of the good, however, should never have been excised in the name of science. But ordinary religious moralities suffer their own flaws and were not adequate to socialism as a critique of capitalism. For capitalists religion is the overhead of hypocrisy, the price of doing business in an economy of religious idiots (and not a few cunning calvinists). Small wonder marx got in a huff. But the resolution was even worse.