- Capitalism and Alternatives -

class is an arbitrary construct

Posted by: David ( USA ) on November 03, 1999 at 13:07:15:

In Reply to: Materialist Dialectics for Beginners posted by Barry Stoller on November 01, 1999 at 10:27:02:

: : To begin with, I will dissect the two phrases into their meanings and roles: The freedom to do something (build a house, cook some food) is being at liberty, either by sanction or default, to perform an action. The freedom from something (being killed, bonked on the head with a copy of Das Kapital) is being exempt or liberated from an action or the consequence of an action.

: : Were we living in a vacuum, I would agree that these two statements could be contradictory in some instances.

: We certainly do not live in a vacuum. We (all) live in an era, a specific mode of production---and each mode of production creates specific social relations. These relations are class relations. Individuals live in classes. There is more than one class.

Aha, the spectre of classism has haunted this board before! I disagree, class is an arbitrary construct, it is simply a way to group together similar components. In this case, these components are humans, and class is the nomenclature of our set of groups in which we lump them accordingly.
Obviously defining groups of people in terms of class has its benefits, such as comparing socio-economic status and the like. You cannot, however, just dismiss something as "bourgeois morals."
It's a double edged sword, now I have to get rid of my "proletariat logic" maneuver.

: : My position is that "freedom to" and "freedom from" are compatible if those freedoms are based on the concept of individual rights...

: : ...celebrated American author and philosopher (thunderclap, drumroll), Ayn Rand.

: : [Who states]'Rights' are a moral concept...

: Rights, like morals, are not ahistorical.

: Rights, like morals, do not exist outside epochs. Rights, like morals, do not exist outside specific modes of production (and their corresponding social relations). And rights, like morals, do not exist outside class interests.

Yes, however, rights and morals are not subjected to modes of production, class, or epochs.
One example I can think of pertaining to class interests would relate to a farmer in the 4th century B.C. who keeps having his crops ransacked by nasty barbarians. Obviously the fact that this sort of behaviour is undersirable in a civilized community, we condemn it morally and institute a set of rights for people, one being the right to not be coerced.

: They are created by epochs, by modes of production, and by class interests of the dominating class.

Yes and No. Certainly when innovations were being made the right to protect ones own intellectual property became necessary. I do not, however, agree that every epoch, new mode of production method or dominant class comes about all the old sense of rights are immediately scrapped.

: When Ayn Rand states that 'rights are a moral concept,' I agree.

: As I put in my essay:


: [T]he left has relinquished its superior moral ground, the simple confidence to proclaim one set of values as being more valid than another. 'That's a value judgement' has become a pejorative statement. It has been a long time since any credible figure of the left has asserted, as Lenin did, that 'There is no such thing as abstract truth. Truth is always concrete.' Yet the ability to assert a value simply and strongly, I believe, is exactly what this new era of monopoly imperialism demands!

: Where I disagree with Rand is on the meretricious claim that there is only ONE STANDARD of rights and morals.

Yes, and that standard is life. The standard applies to every class. A proletariat cannot survive if he is robbed every day (Geeze, I am putting my head in lion's mouth now. The ominous sounds of oppressed prols can be heard in the distance)just as a rich man cannot survive like that either. The standard applies to all classes.
Modes of production may change it, like I pointed out with intellectual property, but the basis remains the same. Life.

: A little Hegel would do you no harm.

Well, right now, my first order of business is to look up the word "pejorative."
: __________

: I appreciate the thoughtful post.

Still trying to reach your level. Footnotes are still a long way away :)

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