[lbo-talk] Lionizing Wealthy Americans, Rather Than Taxing

Wojtek S wsoko52 at gmail.com
Thu Dec 8 09:55:07 PST 2011

Charles: :technically appeals to morality or ethics are appeals to someone to be self-less. A moral appeal says to someone " do something for someone else in need". Marxism appeals to the self-interest, not selflessness, of the working class. It urges the working class to act in its class _self_ interest. So it is not a moral appeal "

[WS:] This is, perhaps, THE juncture where I part with Marxism, or at

least a version that uses the classical economic version of self-interest. This is a very limiting, uni-dimensional conception of self-interest, sort of like IQ test, it does not reflect the rich complexity of human life. It is an abstraction concocted by philosophers, and as my old philosophy professor used to say, there are many things in the world that philosophers do not even dream they exist. It would be a very sad world, indeed, if human intellectual capacity was limited to what some second rate philosophers define as g and propose to measure with a series of paper and pencil tests. Likewise, it would be a very sad world if human self-interests were limited to certain types of material possessions and measured by their market prices.

Self-interests are far from being self-evident. And self-evidence is a nearly sure sign of falsehood anyway, as Michael Smith (whose polemical skills impressed me) has it in his byline. Self-interest is socially constructed, as sociologists would say, which means that it is mediated and shaped by the intricate nexus of social norms, expectations, interactions and institutions as well as by how human cognition is structured. From that point of view, not only moral and ethical appeals but also rhetorical devices and metaphors are of paramount importance not per se, but because they shape the social construction of self-interests.


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