Abraham Rotstein, Weekend Notes XXIII

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Weekend Notes (Overview)

The New West (2)

Text in English to type

[2] Another thing which P. wishes to do is the outline of The New West. […]

In The New West […]

P.’s idea is that a new humanism might start – like the 14th century. It s a matter of a period of history. Our task can’t be more than formulating a suggestion or proposal for The New West. It is not that we are The New West.

Paul’s idea […]

Paul thinks that Schumpeter, Fromm and P. are what should be offered to the world.

P. May have to part company with Paul, and tell him […]

Not more can be done […]

[3] P. told […]

The New West should be outlined for our own purposes, not for the publisher.

The New West people would include Boulding, Myrdal etc.

But this idea doesn’t exist yet. Some who were communists might say why should we continue on this present East-West […]

This Hungarian affair makes it doubtful that you can leave our Russian. It is a great disappointment to all who thought […]

The West’s problems are really its success in science, technology and socialism. We have to show how it deal with the problems which are great of the West. […]

It is almost like some saying […]

P. doesn’t start with the idea that the West is finished. How do we know?

Paul is determined to work out the outline of the book.

How do we present the decline of the West? How sudden and how unexpected was the decline of the West, not only political and [4] military but also spiritual and intellectual! But how do we explain the suddenness?

P. Meant in the 19th century collapse, […] But this is to explain Western civilization by a political grouping called the West and one identifies democracy with capitalism and the other national status with colonial possessions. These caused the sudden catastrophic decline in 10 years.

This not the cause. The reason is the West is unable to cope with its achievements. There is a lot to say about these points.

The New West should […]

The task of the style in The New West […]

We can’t know the future and if we did it would be the end of us. […]

It is the West which created the problem […]

[5] Myself: […]

The vast […]

We left out […]

Paul is against […]

Paul would never […]

(P.’s statement written in my note book:)

The New West

The sudden decline of the West


Part I: […]

Freedom and Technology (15)

[9] P. wrote to Beldsoe that it is going slowly and in case it gets finished P. would offer him the option because he doesn’t think that Beacon Press would take it. It is contradictory to their line. The book is near to a theological problem and it would be crazy for them to accept it. (It is fundamentally an agnostic position). But P. will wait for them to turn it down. From their point of view this is another theology as hostile to their own as anything can be. (Hegel was banned by the church)

In Owen one finds the discovery of the machine and the ethical renaissance together. This runs through the whole history of the 19th and 20th century.

On a deeper level mankind is adjusting to an industrial civilization in its basic values.

This may be true but it shouldn’t destroy the early Marx chapter and is a preparation for Shaw.

Aug. 10, 1958
The Industrial Revolution brought up the idea that it is not possible to exist without greater clarity of relationship, e.g., Owen and Shaw.

Marx is a utopian and all this disappear in history. Marx was deeply influenced by all this anarchistic thinking.

I should do the Owen chapter in a pedestrian way, not briefly but developed on e very explicit level.

While I feel (from my last letter) that this freedom and technology [10] is subjective and tenuous, P.'s point is that the answer lies that I don't look in the right direction.

If freedom is the condition of man under the second revelation then to all these problems which I raised here (including ethics and questions of what a man must be or do in order to safeguard his soul), P. would answer that this is limited by ignoring the reality of society. P.'s answer is that all these problems of ethics are susperseded and are made ineffective for the time being because in this complex industrial society this freedom does not exist. It means to ignore the reality of society. This Christian ethic which assumes freedom is, in the light of the third revelation vain and unreal.

The social effects of selflessness (Fromm) are not restricted to my being selfness. They may be extremely destructive of other people. The social effects of individual actions cannot be ignored. By ignoring the effects I exist in a world which does not exist.

My question: Why can we not ignore the things over which we have no control, these effects which we do not initiate voluntarily?

If I put up with being unreal then I resign myself to non-existence, rather than existence.

That was what was meant by a socialist originally, a hundred has so much meaning.

This all comes back to the reality of society question. Can I imagine any Shavian figure carrying on the discussion that I have? He would think that it is unreal.

[11] what ever we do these effects are there. You have not the alternative and you choose between given alternative.

The Saint is an utter realist (Shaw) and he doesn't care at all. P. doesn't think that we do either and it is only an ideology that we are egotistic.

The whole point is that almost every question that comes up ignores the reality of society and it is a question in isolation only to do with Christianity.

Shaw (6)

[12] If I read Shaw and quoted from there the plain ethical injunctions and put them together, people wouldn’t believe that this is Shaw. Shaw put these in the mouths of people he discredited. I have nothing to do but to quote from the works of Shaw, from the positive passage and the introduction.

The idea that Shaw contains a book of moral principles and morality would be one of the most startling discoveries. The reverse of this is the reality of society, and that would be the situations in which these things are said. I wouldn’t be hunting the smark.

This thought gripped P. because it has a simplicity with which all the rest can’t compare. We would be (as the Germans put it) plain as a box on the ear – (Klar [w]ie ein vachen). Our position on Shaw would be that simple.

Man has to live up to his true character and the basically moral standards of existence, although in our society it is just not so.

Take your own basic gifts as a reality and not accepting them is futile.

In the plays Shaw insists on your true individuality being real i.e., coming out. There is nothing else here. Living in an immoral society with conventional trappings is immensely funny.

The girl in Candida misses the life content because she doesn’t accept that she is in love with the Reverend and therefore regards Marchbank’s friendship as an insult.

[13] P. thought that Shaw’s artistic instruments is his postulate of man being a complete trinity of the physical, psychological and spiritual. This is shown for example in Captain Brassbound’s Conversion or The Devil’s Disciple of The Shewing Up of Blanco Posnet. In all three, some fellow insists that he is a rascal because it is a convention, but e.g., he rescues a woman because he is a sentimentalist. There is something similar in Androcles and The Lion.

Paul Medow (3)

There were long afternoons and evenings with Paul Medow in New York.

P. was working with Paul in New York. P. has no fear for his at all. He is an extraordinary powerful figure and he does not want to interfere with him, just encourage him.

Aug. 10, 1958
Paul may be mistaken

It is very risky … […]

Paul is favourable to the New West except … […]

Paul wrote that he thought a war would break out. […]

Society is evil with Paul because it is the functional aspect of human existence. […]

[15] Paul says that anything functional is evil. It is a sectarian kind of religious position which P. doesn't respect. He respects the three revelations, not two revelations.

Interdisciplinary Project (10)

At the May meeting there were present … […]

E.L. Bennett jr. … […]

P. spent a day in Princeton … […]

P. has a paper which he may … […]

P. wants to write on the polis economy as the economic aspect of Hellenic civilization. P. wanted … […]

[16] would prevent the state from groving. The empire for example could ever become a market.

It is not the polites which … […]

The other article which P. would like to write is under the Mycenean thing … […]

The first article is the explication of P.'s theory of the market to the growth of civilization, which subject P. thinks is nonsense.



Fromm points to the essence of Christianity in the form of a quotation from the Talmud. He doesn't know Christianity.

Fromm's socialism is old-fashioned socialism, that is, he is against capitalism. He is now taking up existence in an industrial society.

Ancient History

The idea that there is anything ancient about ancient history is a joke … […]

One should look into society not dominated by the economy. We know nothing of societies in which the economy is subordinate.

Politics (2)

Aug. 10, 1958.
The whole idea it was China … […]

The Chinese got frightened … […]

America changed its line … […]

One must pu the rubbish … […]


Aug. 10, 1958.
My question: I am not sure that I understand the bases or foundations of ethics. Do they center around anti-egotism which I think P. seems imply? What about … […]

Ethics are all absolutistic notions. There are no answers to my question what is ethics. […]

The Asiatic people say that our way of life is not an ethical one. […]

Ethics is a discipline conceptualizing modern values.

Paul uses ethics in a personal way to refer to actual existing values. This would therefore include positions he would regard as unethical.

(It is not the actual values themselves we are interested in but the conceptualizing of them and giving them a place. From memory).

The Capitalistic Manifesto (3)

Chesterton and Belloc were distributivist, i.e., for property to be distributed. This was anti-capitalistic and equalitarian.

Adler falls into the trap of the false … […] Adler simply believed Freedman and Hayek that this is what the market does. But this is naïve.

[20] He quotes P. for believing that primitive society is after all communally minded, and for a belief in primitive communism.

Comments on Schweitzer's Review of Trade and Market

The review points out that something is being achieved by these new means. It is useful thing from the point of view of the book to have this very good general presentation of the underlying ideas.

Personal (6)

P. goes on the 2d of July for a cystoscopy. It might involve a treatment or some decision. P. must reckon with a major interruption of his work.

P. works easily now.

P. wants me to be thoroughly ‘au fait’ with Paul.

It is a question of serving the spiritual things of our time. I can’t combine this with a good in-come. It means dedication to a higher service. In that sense writing and publication come up.

One chooses a life and must shoulder all the risks which go with it.

It is however useful to have a living and also the channels of approach, i.e. publication.

Text Informations

Date: June 30 - August 10, 1958 (Interview)
KPA: 45/19