[OPE-L:7155] Marx on solving human problems

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Sun May 12 2002 - 08:47:55 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jurriaan Bendien" <j.bendien@wolmail.nl>
To: <gerald_a_levy@msn.com>
Sent: Sunday, May 12, 2002 8:33 AM
Subject: Marx on solving human problems


 You wrote: "We can't accept Marx's maxim that mankind (sic) never sets
 itself problems that it can't solve". I don't see why not. Note that Marx
 uses a double negative. He is not trying to play the optimist  He is saying
 that problems and solutions develop hand in hand, but that social-material
 conditions need to mature before they can be correctly grasped in thought.

 The pertinent point is that he says "cannot solve" and not "will not
 solve". Historical development presents humanity with certain problems of
 their own making, which in principle are solvable once they are recognised
 for what they truly are (perhaps with a time-lag, given the normal
 conservatism of social consciousness). It is at least possible for humanity
 to recognise them for what they truly are, because they are a consequence
 of human action, not an act of God or the World Spirit (thus, also, the
 problems of capitalism are human problems, not acts of God). But this in
 itself carries no guarantee that in practice they will be solved, because
 more is necessary for that.

 After all, one can recognise a problem for what it is, recognise that an
 appropriate solution is available which could be implemented, and yet not
 implement the solution. This is why, for example, people talk about the
 concept of "political will". They say, "this problem could have been solved
 long ago, but the political will was not there to solve it".
The problem was known, the solution was known, but the problem wasn't

 So I think I will stick with Marx and the materialist conception of history
 on this one - that is, the Marxian concept that problems and solutions do
 go hand in hand in human (sub-)consciousness, while admitting that this
 does not cancel out the need for making conscious choices, assigning
 priorities, plotting an appropriate strategy and asserting the will.

 If this argument is wrong, it might be because (1) capitalism creates
 conditions which destroy the ability to make conscious choices, to assign
 priorities and assert the will, a sort of barbaric devolution of the human
 mind. But this is by no means proved, and I would say rather than the
 opposite is the case. The capitalist experience has not made human beings
 less conscious, but more conscious. Or (2) the possibility of e.g. natural
 disasters which are not the consequence of human actions - but even here we
 have the possibility of estimating their probability of occurrence, so that
 we can do something about it (this is not really what Marx had in mind).



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