Monday, August 06, 2012

Andy Merrifield: Young Karl Marx's Romantic Dream

Young Marx’s romantic dream, for all its problems, was for a socialism that provided a “new enrichment of human nature.” The “rich human being,” he insisted, is “the human being in need of a totality of human life-activities -- the man in whom his own realization exists as an inner necessity, as need." But it isn't material wealth that Marx thought men and women really need. Human beings actually need a "greater wealth": the need of other human beings. By Marx's reckoning, people became poorer the more their need for money becomes ever greater, ever more desperate. In short, our "neediness grows as the power of money increases." And modern capitalist society has one "true need," a "new potency" and "alien power" -- to which everybody is inexorably enslaved. Thus, to make it along the bourgeois road, to obtain gratification, Marx already knew we have to sell everything, including ourselves, prostrating our desires and needs and dreams, to the dizzy power of money. He writes, "The extent of the power of money is the extent to my power. Money's properties are my properties and essential powers -- the properties and powers of its possessor. ... I am ugly, but I can buy for myself the most beautiful of women. Therefore I am not ugly. ... I, in my character as an individual. am lame, but money furnishes me with twenty-four feet. Therefore I am not lame. I am bad, dishonest, unscrupulous, stupid; but money is honored, and therefore so is its possessor ... money is the real mind of all things and how can its possessor be stupid?" (Merrifield, 2002: 15-16. He is citing Karl Marx from the The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844)

No comments: