Why Decry the Wealth Gap?

JKSCHW at aol.com JKSCHW at aol.com
Tue Jan 25 19:54:16 PST 2000

In a message dated 00-01-25 16:14:31 EST, Charles write's:

<< equality can only be achieved through inequality. This is the same idea as "from each according to ability , TO EACH ACCORDING TO NEED" , which is direct quote from "Critique of the Gotha Programme". There is a relativity of equality. Marx often has these little loopty loops.

Whether equality can only be achieved through inequality or not, I don't see what this has to do with Marx, no never expresses any interest in achieving equality. The passage you cite is an example. Marx is quite clear that needs are not equal, so under the higher phase of communism each gets what he, unequally, needs.

This not a "loopity loop" in an underlying commitment to equality. Marx is not an egalitarian. He is, if anything, an anti-egalitarian. He thinks that equality--fairness too-are the _worst_ kind of bourgeois ideology. "Die alte dreck," he calls it in Critique of the Gotha Programme, "the old shit."

There is also a revealing letter to Engels commenting about the apparent use of notions like fairness and equality in the Inaugural Address to the First International. He says to Engels, of course we had to put in that garbage in view of the low level of class consciousness now prevailing in the workers' movement. In 1848, we could talk more openly, he says, and we will again. See Marx to Engels, Nov. 4, 1864. He did, too, in the Critique of the Gotha Programme (1875), and that's why the Social Democratic Party suppressed the CGP for almost 20 years.

> What do you make of the principle of equality before the law, as old as Hammarabi's code ?


Well _I_ am in favor ot it, although I don't think it is as old as Hammurabi--I think it is a hard won victory of the bourgeois revolution. But in politics I am a bourgeois liberal small-d-democrat. What _Marx_ would think of the principle is another thing entirely.


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