A Timeless Manifesto

October 11, 2010

A recent read of The World is Flat, by Thomas L. Friedman made me return to Marx and his Materialist Conception of History . This is truly a philosophy as it extends past its original historical, social, and cultural context.  Its kairos extends to contemporaneity globalization.

As long as there is as struggle between classes and the obsession with competition (Modern Times, anyone?), the materialist history can be accepted as presented by Marx.  As that divide between classes continues to grow, so does the timeless of the work. See the Gus Hall Action Club post explaining the role of the proletariat.

Marx explains, “The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.”  His use of the word “modern” shows his kairos in his rhetorical situation.  However, because it can be extended to present “modern” times it becomes a work of philosophy.  He continues, “The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country…All old-established national industries have been destroyed… They are dislodged by new industries…In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants…”  This is particularly true when assessing the state of industry and production in the contemporary United States.

His work uses a subtle pathos to appeal to the feeling of complete desperation, “The proletarian is without property; his relation to his wife and children has no longer anything in common with the bourgeois family relations; modern industry labour, modern subjection to capital, the same in England as in France, in America as in Germany, has stripped him of every trace of national character.”  As long as the sense of isolation and the divide between those with wealth (and cultural capital) and the proletariat exist, it will function beyond its original rhetorical situation.

The use of pathos is effective for maintaining the kairos today.  “In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.”  This pathos (exploitation, shameless, brutal) is directly related to the techne of the message, which suggests that something will be done-that is something to change the situation.  Even the use of second person, that would normally attach a work to its rhetorical situation, continues to persuade with pathos. “You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property… In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend.”  This intention, combined with pathos allows the message of Marx to exist outside of its rhetorical situation and as a result is considered philosophy.  A philosophy that is very relevant to the “flattening of the world.”

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4 Responses to “A Timeless Manifesto”

  1. Billie Cowley Says:

    Shelly,

    Very philosophical, and I enjoyed how you made connections to our earlier pioneers. Again, it seems like other professions are already “flattening”. In business, some corporations hold global meetings everyday. We definitely need to model globalization in our classrooms so students can see the opportunties available to them.

    Billie

  2. Leigh Zeitz Says:

    Shelly,
    I liked how you made connections to the sociological side of the “Flat World”, but I don’t fully understand your allusions. It appears to me that your contention is that a flattened world will bring about “naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.” Why is this necessarily true?

    The whole concept of the Flattened world is the development of equity between nations. Naturally there will be a bourgeoisie lording over the proletariat, that is the unfortunate landscape of capitalism. But the flattening of the world means that the upper class is not composed of whole nations. It allows the capitalistic model to be developed in more countries. Is this bad? Doesn’t it “level the playing field” for more people around the world?

    Z


    • Dr. Z,
      Friedman often refers to standard of living while explaining how this outsourcing is made possible. He also discusses the dark and not-so-dark side of capitalism fueled by competition. I posit that if the standard of living rises in the countries where these data-driven, mechanized jobs have gone that soon the proletariat may rise. What happens when these countries begin outsourcing, and they begin outsourcing? If all countries standards of living then rise, will capitalism even have a place?
      Thanks for your stirring insight.
      Shelly

  3. Jarod Mozer Says:

    Shelly,

    Modeling globalization for students is impotant. This allows them to see the process first hand and participate in it later in life. Really a unique, insightful post. Keep up the good blogging!

    Jarod


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