Abraham Rotstein, Weekend Notes XXI

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Weekend Notes (Overview)

The New West

Text in English to type

[2] […] Secondly there is the position in regard to the world economy. Another lesson for the West is that nationalism is really a protection against industrialization from outside (according to the position of the Great Transformation). But industrialization cannot be regarded as an ultimate solution and here nations come in with their own interpretation of life … […]

[3] We have learned a double lesson on capitalism and socialism that comes of industrialization an is a final outlook. We need a restoration of the modus vivendi. Also there are the questions of how to master our stop signs gone unreliable, and how to stop conformity and the question of freedom.


P. thinks that the first point is clarification, and Paul’s larger plans are premature, but Paul is a tremendous activist …

[5] We don’t join the Marxists camp who have their own tone of voice, methods, armies, schools etc. But while the Russians are as good as we in the West in physics and chemistry and don’t have economics or sociology or whatever they do have here is useless. […]

[6] [7]

"Freedom and Technology" (13)

[…] [8] Fromm in his “Psychology and Religion” has an introduction to the humanist position. […]

The whole point about Jasper’s book in that thing historically are getting filled in. In anthropology there are no more patches on the map and one can begin to generalize about human beings. There are no people who have not been investigated. The same is [9] true of the time scale.


What the technological civilization caused us to loose is the idea that we can contract out. We have to choose. It is no good to say that I won’t make up my mind. There is nothing else but to choose. Without on the one hand some freedom, and on the other some limitation of freedom, no existence is possible in general. We can’t exist without those limitations. Before a technological civilization, that was normal, but now there is a new balance. It is like the girls who want to get rid of all of their weight. But they can’t get rid of all of it, they need some.


Comments on "Not by Organization Alone, Draft #3

[10] [11] [12]

Robert Owen (7)

[13] In Owen, the transition of part of one society to another hinged on the triumph of example. Owen was the originator of the idea and today the world situation hinges on this thought.

There was also Marx' critique of the Gotha Program. It is peculiar how little educated people know of the program of Erfurt and don't know that the Russian assertions of what the socialist programs is, is quiet well based on it.

What kind of a socialist thinker was he? We are stressing the incredible originality of the man extending almost anything.

Owen says that the worker's labour loses its value because the machine puts him out of his jobs.

Jaspers indicates that Hegel seems to have said that the worker has to work more because the machine depresses the value of the commodity and his work is worth much less.

Marx (4)

[14] The Hegel-Marx chapter should be more about socialist humanism than P. planned. It is a reformed humanism based on the Early Marx. With the article in the New Reasoner, the Early Marx is more clearly focused and Hegel must be made the introduction to that. Borkenau (recent edition of selections of Marx in German) is on the same line and with him everything hinges on human labour getting objectified (reified).

Something must come under Owen which is technology and on a higher level it follows in Hegel and Marx.

P. had a discussion with a very hysterical and blue-stockinged lady. She was fiercely anti-fascist and anti-communist lady and said she was a humanist. Was this a pacifist? Or a sentimentalist? What did it all mean? It was irrational, incoherent. Almost everything she adduced was a Marxist argument. Coming from Eastern Europe it was the only was the language was used.

Shaw (4)

[15] Shaw makes fun of everyone and everybody. Edmund Wilson starts his essay with an annoyed appraisal of Shaw’s dialectic (c.f. The Eight Essays)

If we take the plays, Man and Superman, Mrs Warren’s Profession, Widower’s Houses, the figures don’t see the reality of society and trip over it. For example, the trade unionists in The Applecart, or In the Rocks. Among these realities, he deals with character in the same way. A person who doesn’t realize where the strength of his own character lies is comic, e.g. Too True To Be Good (Bacillus and Meek etc.)

There must be something in Shaw’s understanding of things which allows him to be successful. Wilson says it’s sheer impudence. But if that is all, it can’t go on for 90 years without being found out. In any case, Shaw is one of the most advanced thinkers. It is the same thing in Androcles and The Lion.

I should read Shaw in chronological order, about 30 plays.


[16] The book “Vom Ursprung und Ziel der Geschichte” was written in 1954-55. It sums up history in the light of our present knowledge. There is a universal growth of religion between the 8th and 2nd century B.C. India and China are linked up with the Hebrew-Greek move but not Egypt and Mesopotamia. “Via veritas et vita”.

The writer who has put P.'s point with the greatest force up to new is Jaspers. He says that if man's ten thousand years are delimited it really consists of to breaths. The first is all of history up to the 18th century and the second begins then and it will take three thousand years for the breath to released.

It was the conclusion that P. had come to, but he didn't have the courage to put it in two breaths and the second period he says is not the “axen-period” but that may come in two thousand years. But that time here may be a fulfillment. Now only one thing is growing, science, technology and everything else is crumpling away, e.g. friendship, decency etc.

Trade and Market (4)

Comments on my letter of the morality of Everyday Life


Interdisciplinary Project (8)

The Economy

(Following Bohannan's letter on the state and the economy). It was the discovery of the economy by the physiocrats that supplanted the state by society. The two are contrasted in Hegelianism. Marx meant …


[20] and Greece. These are the aristocratic but every group of assembly or commoners stands under equality, (political not social).



N. was anti-German and wrote essays in the 1870’s. He rebuilt the language and was a great journalist. He is like Carlyle who in his “Sartor Resartus” sounds as if he translated the English into German and then gave it out as English.

The Great Transformation (7)

It is a pity that the G.T. wasn’t developed and rewritten. P. had to leave the country in 1943 and the book was never revised. Important whole chapters are compressed to where P. doesn’t understand himself.

Commentary Article

P. is amazed to what extent the first page of the Commentary article forecast his views ten years later. The technological civilization and the accusation against science is the heart of P.'s position.

Text Informations

Date: March 29, 1958 (Interview)
KPA: 45/17