Approval and Condemnation: Must they be based on Morality?

Gordon Fitch gcf at
Mon May 14 06:45:57 PDT 2001

Carrol Cox:
> ...
> As with any misnomer in the human sciences, "Marxists Ethics" is
> not without its ideological consequences. For to accept that Marxism
> either is or contains an ethic, to admit that Marx operated from fixed
> principles (whatever content one gives them), is to put Marx on the same
> logical plane as his opponents. It is to suggest that Marx, for all his
> effort at historical explanation and despite his explicit denial,
> criticized them because he favored different principles.
> ...

It doesn't seem to me that any kind of long-term social enterprise could be carried out without some sort of "fixed principles" simply as a matter of maintaining sufficient coherence to know that what had been done before was connected to what was done after; if God were not in the grammar (and the vocabulary as well) we would have to have invented her if only in order to recognize ourselves. The insincerity of hiding her will multiply our labors.

The prohibition against fixed principles looks mighty like a fixed principle, in any case. _Panta_rhei_ -- compared to what?

> Recently on lbo I had occasion to point out that refraining from
> shitting on one's neighbor's lawn or doing one's share of the household
> tasks brought no moral credit. (This was in the context of answering a
> poster who claimed that personal consumption raised moral issues.) There
> is also no moral credit for opposing capitalism or for supporting
> communism. Marxists who make moral judgments of non-marxists, liberals,
> etc. are betraying marxism.

This looks like a moral judgement, although it might be hidden under a thin veneer of utilitarianism. If there is no moral order, why not betray Marxism?

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