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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5319/classical-liberal-roots-of-the-marxist-doctrine-of-classes/

Classical Liberal Roots of the Marxist Doctrine of Classes

July 14, 2006 by

Few ideas are as closely associated with Marxism as the concepts of class and class conflict. Marxism is so closely identified with these ideas that an important fact is often lost sight of: not only was the notion of class conflict a commonplace for decades before Marx began to write, but a quite different theory of class conflict had been worked out which itself played a role in the genealogy of Marx’s ideas.



Paul Marks July 14, 2006 at 5:09 pm

Very good.

Ancalagon July 14, 2006 at 8:11 pm

Doubt I’ll get an answer here, but does anyone know what the status on Professor Raico’s oft-delayed treatise on classical liberalism is? He alludes to it in his seminar on the history of liberty but I’ve seen no recent mention of it in libertarian circles.

In an effort to make this relevant, I highly suggest this article and/or the lecture given by Professor Raico on the same topic, available in the media section. Incredibly informative intellectual ammunition. And the prose is a delight as well.

Dain July 14, 2006 at 9:54 pm

I saw Dr. Raico interviewed by Brian Doherty of Reason magazine last year at Mises University. It was an honor. I too would like to see this treatise you speak of Ancalagon.

Doherty is working on a book about the history of radical American libertarianism.

Curt Howland July 14, 2006 at 9:57 pm

Since my book budget isn’t what it once was, I’m looking forward to “The Revolution Of 1912″.

That should be a page turner.

Daniel M. Ryan July 15, 2006 at 9:15 am

While reading Prof. Raico’s article, I couldn’t get the hunch out of my head that young Karl was sent to Paris by his father to read the Censeur Européen, and the works by its circle of authors, in order to make a “good liberal” out of him – with Marx arriving in time to see that group while in the stages of its members being bought off by the government of Louis-Philippe.

There’s an ironic facet of this, which has rated too little comment. Marx himself, if you don’t count his irresponsibilities concerning debt, got through life largely through subsisting on voluntary charity, as did Engels. This meant that his own system, during its formative stages, was not subject to the common-sense critique which temporarily demolished the Industriel school, that he was just creating a squawk so as to get his own boys on the government payroll. Since many people size up the writing through the life of the writer, this facet might very well have had more influence on the spread of Marxism than is generally realized.

Just imagine how this point, if deployed skillfully in debate, would confound a “bourgeois”:

“The great Marx lived at heart according to your way, and yet he concluded that all private property should be abolished for the good of humanity. Your heroes concluded that private property is progressive, and yet they have, almost to a man, snapped up ‘reactionary’, ‘parasitic’ government jobs as quickly as they’ve been offered them….”

Thankfully, the intellectual progress of humanity has not ‘advanced’ to the point where the doctrine of polylogism – a rhetorical stratagem used to fend off the point that all defenses of socialism of this sort rely upon argumentae ad hominae – has prevailed. The mind still speaks.

Daniel M. Ryan July 15, 2006 at 10:06 am

A postscriptual note. The only political position that is proof against the “hypocrisy” allegation happens to be high Toryism. High Tories assert that the Statesman is the highest rank in society, and that any theory of politics which denies it is advocated by mooches, wannabees or rejects. The joke on the socialists is that, through the use of impugnment instead of refutation, they wind up becoming the cannon fodder for that kind of Tory, who is quite amenable to adding Bismarckian socialism to the Program of State.

Peter July 15, 2006 at 10:01 pm

FWIW: argumenta ad homines

Tim July 16, 2006 at 1:53 am

Professor Raico’s exposition is informative but unfortunately leaves out any references to the Scottish Enlightenment scholar John Millar whose 1771 book “The Origin of the Distinction of Ranks:
or, An Inquiry into the Circumstances
which give rise to Influence and Authority,
In the Different Members of Society”
would seem to be an earlier claimant to both French classical liberal and Marxist class analysis. Millar’s contributions are outlined extensively by Oxford’s George Watson’s brilliant little gem, the “Lost Literature of Socialism”. I understand Raico and other Mises Circle scholars emphasise French to Anglophone or Scot pioneers of classical liberalism, however Millar is a thinker on class matters who is often overlooked.

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