Abraham Rotstein, Weekend Notes XXIV

From Karl Polanyi
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Weekend Notes (Overview)

Comments on my "Robert Owen", Draft #5

It does translate to accepted interested forms. It is the kind of approach that could be applied to a dozen figures or scenes. It is the first this set of ideas is applied to the accepted subject. The problem is already there. The life and work of Owen is not something which we invented.

My comment: I think that the chapter does not entirely fulfill the promises made at the beginning of it.

I wouldn’t lose by adding or changing anything which I feel does not fulfill the promise. There is however a book and therefore it is the book as a whole which fulfills the promises. I write for an audience which has heard about Owen. There might be an additional paragraph where it shows that he didn’t understand the economy. He hadn’t realized that a hundred years of the market was to come. The market would show its power in the future.

I would say that ultimately he did find himself a socialist and was out for a new world a changed ethics. P. doesn’t say that this is actually lacking in the draft.

Perhaps there could be an increase in the coherence of the material and P. marked a few things in the draft but none of them essential. But to bring out the fact of the importance of Robert Owen and his person I have done, and this is not easy to raise to a higher level. Perhaps there would be only adding at certain points and patches but the main task which the paper sets itself has been done.

[3] The greatness of the man, rare, noble and prophetic I have done by heaping these ecstatic characteristics of the man and keeping his concrete activities peripheric. P. thinks I have solved the artistic problem and P. thinks it’s very good and would not essentially gain by a stroke here and there.

This is a soul picture and not a portrait of his life. The English can be ashamed not to have written anything that comes near this, e.g. that he was crazy and utopian. But how many such people does English produce who are men of action?

P. marked certain places where I should check the figures and if in doubt to understate them. They must be absolutely right. Some repetitions will have to go and that is done in about 2 hours of minor editing. P. also thinks the introduction to the chapter is very good. It makes it clear that the machine and society are the two things.

That he was a deeply religious person is a trite phrase and we would have to show is meant here. He was what is understood by a mystic. This only came out later when he started a rationalist religion.

The peculiar unity of his personality made him practical, but this is characteristic of mystics. He didn’t produce mystic literature nor was it the way he related to action or the external world. He linked himself to internal sources.

It was utterly illogical how his basic doctrines related to his conclusions. There isn’t the slightest bridge there. The reader [4] wants to know what we think of his theories and logic. His theory was elliptic and there was no logic there. These are facts of recognition and help the reader but this doesn’t help what we have to say.

The chapter is amazingly brief and has pulled together so much.

P. doesn’t know where he took this picture, but Owen [n]eglected his wife completely as if she hardly existed. There was an absence of years from his wife but that is what every person with a mission must do. Jesus went further in this regard with all his family training behind him.

There is not much more to say. It is a very big piece of work.

Ilona: The draft is highly readable after page 6 and 7. Till then it is too brilliant and as brilliant spurts that start over and over again. When it starts putting the stuff it moves. The quotations are put in beautifully and it is well written overall.

Ilona disliked some superficial formulations of sentences. There is one howler with German social democracy. The end, (ziel) was dropped and didn’t hold the attention of the movement – the superiority of communist society.

Ilona thinks that one point doesn’t come out and remains mysterious, what is meant by individualism and why was Owen against religion?

Ilona cannot judge the validity of the picture, not having read any other. It cats on here however, as a beautiful description and she would go far to read it and it is extremely moving. Something like the first paragraph is actually needed but written with an avoidance of adjectives. The finest technique is bringing in the quotations. It juste heaves me along.

[5] At some points it would be nice if I pull the strings together: e.g. peaceful revolution and things to remain as they are essentially, socialism only in communal living and the advantages would be so great that the rest of society would follow the example. There is no contradiction on his assumptions.

It would be an achievement to pull together the threads which run in different directions. In the place after the Unions – while his economics were poor (he didn’t understand what could be understood) he drew the conclusions rightly and time has borne him out on currency and on Malthus. Time has also borne him out on the development of the socialist movement and on the long-term contracts – that stability of labour may be more important than exploitation. The weakness of Marxism hinged on exploitation. Owen said let the rich go, but Marx preferred to explain the whole movement on exploitation. Today the socialist movement doesn’t say to abolish exploitation. They want to abolish unemployment and the strong point is the different way of life. That is where Owen was right from the start. Owen allowed exploitation to go on although he thought it made people coarse and cruel and childish. He didn’t idealize the working class. He said to be any good it would be changed. I should show the logic of some of his proposals. His points have survived.

Freedom didn’t come in here at all. He was wary for freedom. The employers were against legislation arguing freedom. He didn’t believe in the workers doing things on their own like the Marxist idea. The workers themselves would be changed.

However including all the above things might make the chapter lose its simple outlines and might lead to confusion. P. thinks this might be done later if we wish to.

[6] P. regards the Owen chapter as worth while, good reading and an introduction to the world of thought reflected in our reading of Owen, Marx and Shaw.

Abstract ratiocinations are not interesting. The thing must live. It will therefore be a thought-stimulating book. (It amounts to the last part of The Great Transformation (?)).

My characterization is what Edmund Wilson would do. He read and thought about it and writes with a definite idea in mind.

Most of the writings in English present Owen as a puzzle. He wasn’t a puzzle at all.

Nobody moved on unemployment. He said therefore that he will reorganize society. He didn’t level classes. He accepted them.

An intelligent breaking up of the article would increase the effectiveness.

I have corrupt elements in my character. I assume a low-type reader. Edmund Wilson doesn’t do this on Michelet. I know about Owen what Wilson knows about Michelet. I do not believe that the reader is interested in the same things as I.

Owen moved from the support of the poor relief to unemployment to prevent unemployment.

He never insisted on collective production but emphasized collective consumption. He was the first to point out that communal form of consumption would cheapen life.

On the idea of the transition one might say that socialism and [7] the communist party was born out of this idea. Also Marx’ distinction between socialism and communism. Marx said that as long as man hasn’t got over the capitalist traits you can’t go on to communism. I brought in the tradition of example but I didn’t say that this is the line that the Bolsheviks took and to this day China is run on this thought. It would need only a few lines but very interesting lines.

The importance to the Communist movement is the movement by the idea. Stalin when he re-versed the kolkhoz, thought that the people would accept it by success of it. Also in Hungarian agriculture the kolkhoz hinges on example.

Owen said he wouldn’t touch the poor law but would take up the Village of Union on a non-compulsory basis. Those who joined would be indentured. This was a logic for the capitalist and for the worker. The Poor Law Unions however wouldn’t agree the Village. They would risk the right to the rates if they used this as a fund for buying land. They wouldn’t take this risk. The rates were an Elizabethan law (the first poor law in 1536 and not elaborate. The last consolidated poor law in 1563). The parishes wouldn’t give up that right. He meant make your people earners and make them more hopeful.

I didn’t mention that there sprouted out innumerable self-help organizations of workers who all wanted start Villages of Union. Artisans started subscribing and the purpose of the co-operative shops was to start Owenite communities.

The consequences came from a commercial society. The machine will change society and there-fore society must be deliberately organized so that the machine shouldn’t destroy it.

[8] Owen’s theories by some illogical twist made him a free thinker turning against the church and all constituted religion. Anything which would do that would be very essential for mental and moral development. In German there is the term “revealed religion” which is used for doctrinal religion. That is what he would reject, the revelations.

Evangelical Christianity was very much on the line that he deprecates. An important thing which I didn’t put was that he thought his discovery of society rules out Christianity because Christianity is preaching the opposite.

The Church of England says the opposite – that the church is the institute of salvation. It isn’t evangelical putting the individual in direct contact with God. It says that Christianity is institutionalist. It is really the evangelical ecstatic Protestant who doesn’t believe in the church e.g. the Quakers.

Not everyone would agree with Owen, e.g. Catholic church. It is occupied not with creating consciousness of sin, but removing it. That is the difference. In the two parts of Montreal, for example, one part is a bad Catholic and the other is a hypocrite (Protestant). They are Protestant in believing in original sin and personal sinfulness and doing nothing about it. They have a bad conscience, while with the Catholics it is not original sin but they are told to go to the confessional.

Owen’s understanding of Christianity was Welsh and local. Wesley had turned Protestantism into an intense emotional movement of evangelical character and the poor people accept the Christian answer [9] to their sinfulness. This could be seen in the mines, and that was also Han-nah Moore: half a loaf is better than none. Most Protestants would not agree with this kind of interpretation.

No one would understand how his follows from the effects of society’s reality an is it true, the complete release of the individual from all responsibility and common sense? On the other hand what he saw was the degradation of humanity around him and the church preaching that it was their own sins. It would never improve and the gentry were doing that just to keep their peace with religion. One should express in one sentence where one stands with this peculiar philosophy.

He put it in one sentence, that as long as individualization continues, Christianity I separated from mankind. No one answered that the church should turn to society for helpful leadership and reform. He didn’t suggest that the church should support social legislation.

He was deeply convinced that all these revealed religions were untrue if the are not a direct fraud.

The reality of society was the denial and rejection of individualization i.e. that there was only individuals – Hobbes and Locke and Hume and the nascent logic of self interest. Not only the churches were the problem but the atomistic concept of society became general. It existed in Hobbes in one sentence and in Smith it was the self-interest of the butcher and the baker.

Owen was moved by glimpses of a deeper insight – the machine and go together. He saw that man at the machine is doing something stronger and dangerous. He has to fall in with the machine.

[10] He only took up two points the relatedness of which he could not analyze, but it is the subject of our disquisition. He said that as long as individualization is upheld then nothing can be done, i.e. as long as the reality of society is denied. Individualization is the process of the concept of atomized society. If you assert that society consists of individuals you get the picture which supports that.

My question: How do we explain the growth of this idea with Hobbes?

The disintegration was far advanced of medieval corporate society. Also the religious wars al-most destroyed mankind. In 1540 there was Protestantism and Catholicism, also in Germany and in 1640 in Holland. Eight years from the end of the Thirsty Years War Hobbes had had enough of it and was for a dictatorship. In order to have a strong secular government to stop religious wars he started with mankind as wolves who eat one another unless prevented from doing so. Nothing could be sillier. A better picture than wolves is sheep.

Yet there was hardly a sign of the market or the market economy, but just the growth of commercial practices on a large scale, international trade and other trade.

It was these markets that Adam Smith discovered 140 years after Hobbes. They were foreign markets, trade posts. The primacy of trade over market is startlingly true in history.

One would like as much explanation as can be easily provided. This is the first draft I have which I can now complete.

[11] Myself: The paper shows in general, why the utopias which were proposed couldn’t start working at all.

Yes, this is an important subject which was never taken up quietly.

The thought that nobody should be punished had a tremendous impact on European courts. No one quite knows what the connection is. The foundation of our penal system is mysterious. (Also the idea that bad childhood is the responsibility of parents etc.)

We could improve the Owen chapter. It must be thought and written in one style. There is not much room here for more than what he did. In the first part is not clear what the reader is following.

The New West (3)

[12] The New West would be post-Russian. If one restricts the old West to 150 years (nothing essential of it having been there before 1800, only antecedents) then Soviet Russia makes up for 40 of these years. That’s quite a bit. 40 years of European history cannot be considered without Russia and the reaction of the Old West to Russia is something which formed the West and changed it to what it is now. The New West I already post-Russian.

P. is more clarity on having to use several terms, otherwise there is no equipment. There should be a structure for presentations.

The terms consist of: the political West which is the Western great consist of: the political West which is the Western great power group; Western civilization which is industrial civilization; and Western culture, the long-process which created several civilizations: antiquity, medieval civilization, the enlightenment and industrial civilization. The latter is the last important creation (the past 2 centuries).

Our problem is Western culture and wherever you start it, whether at Jewish-Christian point, or wherever else, it’s older. The New West is a turn in Western culture and consists of three subjects.

The problems are those created by industrial civilization, not by its failure but by its success – its continuing success.

Now two problem groups come up. How has the identification with the power group affected the culture? It has diminished it. Also there is now the challenge of the industrialization of Asia. It is the new challenge.

Western culture was affected negatively by the identification [13] with the power group. The world lost confidence in it and that is the prestige loss. As to Asia, the danger is the parochialism of Western culture. It is not a danger which we should get over but we should accept it as a parochial one in a world not limited by the West.

The question is then what do we do and what are our tasks with reference to the power groups and to Asian industrial civilization.

It is clear that the subject matter of what P. would call the crisis of the West stems from its enormous growth and spread. In particular in science and technology and economic organizations which is a result of the industrial revolution and its success.

What does it mean to rebel against alignement with the West? Western culture transcends the momentary strategic and diplomatic position of the West. The point of the third category is to make our experiences available. It is not to universalize Western culture (which is a contradiction in terms). We accept the parochialism i.e. that we are not the East.

It is quite clear that in such an outline one can present the vast scope of the problems for a Western culture which believes in itself.

P. only now started putting it down. P. hadn't decided where is the main emphasis.

The problem of the old West include a reform of the relations of power in the West and to the East but culture is the bigger subject. It can't be done the other way, as Paul wishes to do it. You are lost in politics and it can't be done at all.

[14] Now the question is where does Russia come in? It started just 40 years ago. Is it a matter of the past? It is a whole epoch.

The move of the Arab nations at the U.N. (Aug. 21) to settle their own affairs makes it easier to write. China and the arab would and India keep Russia out. These are three very important concentrating points in the East.

P. has started to write a suggestion of an outline to a publisher in order to have someone to address. It is easier to address a publisher than a non-existent group of thinkers.

Once you accept efficiency as an arbitror then everything else is out and you are down to a monolithic system of a deadly character. In capitalism profit allows an accounting of efficiency. Profit is made on efficiency and efficiency measures profit.

P. tried to present this as a birdseye view in two and a half pages. It has much more life and air and is not just as a conceptual dictionary. With this organon one can do a great deal: 1) take socialism into the West. 2) Make Western culture the progenitor and therefore responsible for it.

There is no question … […]

Text in English to type

If the project is a success it should be published for example, in both Calcutta and Boston and both in English.

The question which P. hasn't solved is in what sense is the New West keeping to this side of the borders and not moving over to Calcutta and taking over there. The East would not regard this as [15] hopeful. It at once lends itself …

These are the important features without which the thing is hopeless. Some kind … […]

The West created industrial civilization and science, technology …

To what then is science subordinated? Do we allow psychoanalysis? But there is a formula for all this.

The last part is what are the problems that Western civilization has raised … […]

What contribution has the general outlook of Western culture to make to the new nations of Asia?

In the outline there are two things to consider, the involvement in the political West and the problems of the Asian revolution. The first is negative and we should disentangle from it. The second should [17] make some positive contribution to the New World.

Who is speaking to whom about what, for what reason now?

Western culture is the mind which creates thought and values and created the industrial civilization. The problems can be resolved only by those who think and stand out for values. (P. uses culture to cover philosophy and the ethics. Civilization can be regarded as material and structural. One is spreading while values are discarded).

My question on the appropriateness of the terminology, e.g. civilization is often used as a general or umbrella term that subsumes the others.

“Industrial society” was invented by Spencer and he meant market society. Also the French and the Germans differ on what they call civilization. The english call this culture and the anthropologists abolish the term society and call it culture. Therefore P. uses his own terms. For thinkers, P. better define culture to subsume under it philosophy and ethics. P. takes in the mind of the people. For industrial civilization P. takes things from the outer world and says that they spread in a statistical way - a pretty superficial way of life. By “powers” are meant the foreign offices and defence ministries.

Western industrialization is spreading in Asia but Western culture is discarded. The “powers” are one day and one day bad but they speak in the name of Western culture as if they had bought it.

Principles and values come under culture, e.g. freedom of thought, belief in progress.

P. doesn't believe in the Asian position. The West should remain true to its legacy and inheritance. P. falls on this point with [18] industrial civilization. […]

There is no word for Western thought either. There is Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas. Are they the Western thought? The term should be a definition of what the mind creates in terms of thoughts and values.

When we come to the tasks, … […]

[19] Western civilization is on the march, therefore whom are you really addressing? If it is those who believe in technology and progress then these are nothing but a success. In that case America and Russia are the protagonists. All of America's ideals are the industrial civilization. […]

What should the New West be? […] Culture is an ambiguous and vague term and if there is a better one to express the continuity and dignity inherent in the Western position then it should be used.

If we are addressing the leaders of Western thinking … […]

On the market economy (which is Paul's greatest concern) there are different lines of attack. The line of the ancient Greeks was that it is fraud. The Christian church in the medieval period said that no merchant can get into heaven. The East cannot be persuaded to start on a criminal career.

Paul says that the line of Ada Smith is one from Mandeville that out of private vices, public good comes. (There is also the New Yorker cartoon calling on public duty to buy General Motor's new car with fins or there would be mass unemployment.)

[20] P. doesn't … […]

[21] Russia in the defence of science and technology […]

A civilization is in the economic, social and technical field. If the Americans made peace tomorrow perhaps the hole problem would become intensified.

Some say that the justification of what … […]

There are tinkers … […]

In World history for example, in the time of the Crusade, you would not accept the Crusades as part of a justified responsibility. P. knows of no Christian thinker who was opposed to the Crusades on lines of principle. There was also for example the French Revolution and all the thoughts accepted commitment to politics and commitment to the state as part of their own philosophy. Thus you couldn't be a man of the enlightenment and the French Revolution who contracts out of the French army and liberation from feudalism.

There is no word for Western thought either. There is Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas. Are they Western thought? […]

[22] Ilona: You had no choice to be neutral.

Dulles says that if you are a man who loves freedom you should subordinate your strategy, diplomacy, and tactical interests to the group of countries led by the U.S.

If one really wants to do anything one must have the concepts that grip the situation unmistakeably. Isn’t this a responsibility to Western culture?

We must be careful what we are talking about. Some say: we don’t fancy the industrial civilization and the East has a lot to teach us. Other say: we don’t accept American leadership. Others say: I don’t stand by the church and Western Enlightenment and Nazzini, so what is in and what is out?

The really important thing is how one counts in Russia and remains realistic. […]

The following should be accepted:

  1. It is either the Jewish-Christian background or else you decide it is of no consequence where it comes from but exists for a long time.
  2. Unless you say it’s the mother or the creator of industrial civilization you can’t distinguish it from any other civilization. [23] If it is not the parent but identical with it then what are we talking about, something one hundred and fifty years old? What kind of legacy is it and how do we disentangle it from industrial civilization? Unless it is Kant, Rousseau and Spinoza then what are you talking about? No one will identify with industrial civilization and the market economy. All regard this critically.

Jaspers assumes that there are assumptions of Western civilization that everyone shares. He turns out some 40 to 50 points, one more subtle than the other which raise dozens and dozens of problems.

P. put this idea to Bledsoe, to find 5 or 6 writers and it two years perhaps another 5 or 6 and then the thing would be out in two years. P. is keen […]

P. must … […]

Asian industrialization … […]

P. hasn't yet a single person take up the problem. P. will clarify his thoughts but not while he is raving will clear ideas slip into his pen. Otherwise it becomes cheap essaying. The G.T. sorted [24] out its problems and it was never accused of lack of clarity. P. is bound to burrow the problem down to its elements. It doesn't matter that you use words if you keep to them.

The Americans talk … […]

Asia is waiting for answers … […]

P. doesn't think …

My question: Could we draw an analogy similar to the spread of the influence of Hellenism?

P. wouldn't make this an idea because others wouldn't accept it. P. agrees that the problem could be formulated in terms of the Western state or religion and community. We are not committed not to think beyond the constitution of the U.S.A.

What themes and subjects remain? What about Max Weber? He broadened the problem. We cannot be absorbed by this or that power grouping. Some however say that always so – every center of thought was identified with a church, guild etc. But Spinoza didn’t define his position with the Dutch state nor Kant with a Prussian state [25] nor Rousseau with the ancient regime or the French nation. We can’t cut Western culture off at 1776 at the time of the industrial civilization. For the “modus vivendi” we go back to Grotius. (some say to go back to the Old Testament and the New Testament). When the market began, to move under its own steam the West thought up socialism. […]

Shaw (7)

[26] P. thinks I should at once do Shaw. I should read his important plays but there is no point in reading them all, i.e. to find perhaps, in an unimportant play three interesting lines. It would be important to write about plays that everyone knows.

The idea is in P.’s view to bring out a morality book of Shaw’s sayings. The whole paradoxy is that there was no paradoxy at all. That’s all there would be of paradox.

I should take up for my chapter on Shaw the following plays:


Shaw the moralist is what we need. Shaw is better to quote than Owen. We can do Shaw on quotes and people won’t recognize it. With Shaw it is not the reality of society but the reality of character – what you are born for. Whether you resign yourself to it is the key to living. The best formula is True To Be Good. It is all good. Meek is Lawrence of Arabia. The K.C.B. is strewn about but not indiscriminately.

[27] My question: I thought that I read somewhere that Shaw had had Owen in mind when he created the character of Undershaft in Major Barbara.

It is silly even […]

The solid pedestrian facts of life […]

Personality is fate just as society is reality. The Sergeant is a theologian, Sweetie is a whore, Aubrey is a preacher etc.

The internationalization of values is what you are […]

[28] To reject a thing passionately means there is some element that […]

Owen hadn’t the faintest interest in personal life because everything was made by society. Shaw says that’s superficial. A personality in response to the conventional doesn’t keep. Your fate […]

Shaw touches selflessness but this is loyalty to your true self. […]

Shaw has a grand method to show us this. What prevent people [29] from doing this is the cheap prizes and conventional pressures of life in our society.

These are comedies […]

How does Shaw come in? P. thinks it is the reality of society but is it more?

Industrial society is hardly touched upon […]

But the problem of life and how to make a success of it is central and society and personality … […]

All the time there is a dual criticism. […] form [30] but in some elevated abstraction […]

Shaw redraws man as an actual person and the conventional postulate is immoral or an […]

The great peculiarity of Shaw which makes his strength is that he has three levels or the sub-stance of the world, man the animal, the psychological being and the spiritual being.

[31] Because actual life lies in the tension between these spheres we are all the time exposed to the tension between the levels (conventional and moral).

Between the other three levels there is no tension. Man is equally human on all three levels […]

The Doctor’s Dilemma is one of the most marvelous dialectics. […]

Major Barbara has all […]

One of the things that occurred to P. is that the saint […]

[32] she doesn’t know what the she speaks to the King. […]

The Saints include Androcles, Joan, Candida ([…]

Blanco Posnet […]

The saints […]

The Saint and the Superman indicate two solutions. (The Superman is the Nietzsche idea.)

The peculiar thought is does life resemble […]

We must take two […]

[33] Shaw confronts us with the psychological and social conventions. Most people believe in honesty and hard work but don’t rely on it. There is honesty if you […]

Shaw has a double criticism […]

The history of our culture is like that, first there were the Jews, then the Christians, then the Greeks, Romans, etc. our words are old and […]

The job is to collect positive Shavian quotes.

Take up two figures or plays. One would be on the reality of society level and the other on the reality of character. He argues that life cannot be lived otherwise than by the acceptance of that.

[34] He deals with […]

Myself: […]

Somehow the saint’s solution is […]

That is a key – taking […]

With him the distortion is on the levels – the superficial […]

But these are […]

A community is basically ethical, and morality is the understanding of life in its essence. Jesus promised fullness of life – the abundance of life. That is why Shaw had never any quarrel with Christianity, just [35] the empty fashions pandering to evil which is what conventional Christianity is. There was no criticism in Shaw. Why should he imagine that what Christian church produces is Christianity?

Freedom and Technology (16)

[36] The whole book would be on socialist lines, but post-Russian socialism. There would be however, a complete avoidance of the first-line illusions – that’s gone. This comes near to the New West which would be post-Russian.

This book on Freedom and Technology which hinges on the condition of man today is the same as the development of the idea of the reality of society. Is there from Robert Owen to the present, and the existentialists and those breaks are the history of the modern mind. This P. puts as a disquisition on freedom. It is not easy to deny that freedom is a much used phrase. For example, there are the freedom-loving countries. What do they love? Something they don't have.

Such a disquisition is only a paradoxical thing. It is something everybody asserts, that the problem of our time is freedom. The point is they don't know what they are talking about, but thats no reason not to explain. It is not something obviously accepted whether it would be effective. But these are not requirements of something true and important in this sphere. It is enough if in the course of time it is understood that this is the kind of trouble we have.

If one wrote in a philosophical way it might be boring, but in an illustrative way about a recognized subject is different. For example, there is the world of thought of Edmund Wilson, and he presents it by writing about a number of subjects. He has no very particular theory of his own but there is something in and about Edmund Wilson that is helpful.

[37] My question: Does P. think we should have a separate chapter on existentialism?

By the time we come there it would have been dealt with and this makes it unnecessary to deal critically with it.

The idea of reality of society is the emphasis on the most ancient point of a socialist position. That is what was called being a socialist - looking on things not from the point of view of the individual but society.

For P. how does society affect everything else? He is much nearer Owen than for example, the welfare economics outlook. P. doesn't understand welfare economics. It's just a position of the unthinking. It isn't an economics. It's a view point.

University of Chicago Paper

[38] P. went back to history and used historical examples as an illustration of his method. The method is utterly meaningless and is a kind of a puzzle unless it can be understood in its background and possible use.

It seems that the paper does get through and there are excellent reactions from the top man. If this paper can be understood it would be a model for a completely new line of work in which these conceptual advances could be used for an endless array of history.

These problems of history are in terrible condition. There are only two kinds of approaches, orthodox Marxism which is restricted to half a dozen cliches, each of them out of date. It might possibly be employed if Marxism got moving again. The others are pure libertinistic. These are mostly psychological and are called cultural, picking up a pattern here and there without any hope of dealing with it on other than a conversational level. For example, there is Spengler, the Decline of the West, a work on a monumental scale which appears only once every thirty of fifty years. It can't be imitated without genius. There is however no element of a method and the chances are that it is utterly wrong. The first method, the Marxian, is poverty all over.

Otherwise there is nothing else, except perhaps Marc Bloch for the medieval period and perhaps mercantilism, but here Heckscher didn't get beyond Schmoller and in some ways was several steps behind. In antiquity nothing has happened and since ancient antiquity decides on modern antiquity this forms the foundations of our outlook. The last great work was that of Rostovtseff but he wasn't able to sum up [39] his work. He was caught up in one thing: the market. He wasn't a modernizer but thought of the market in the old way and this prevented him from harvesting, summing up. He was a genius but he went the historian's way, not the conceptual way. This is the opposite method to K.P.'s who wasn't on the primary sources or the immediate evidence or on finding new facts but on secondary sources.

If P. has the time he might write another such study for the Thrupp Paper. He wants the thing to go on record i.e. the applications to actual history of the conceptual innovations. Otherwise the others remain on the other side and the scholars do not understand.

My Thesis

My question: Would it be possible to complete my M.A. thesis on The two Meanings of “Economic” at the present time or could P. advise some other subject? Bohm-Bawerk had two meanings.

I might get in touch with Professor Dorfman and do some topic in institutional economics. Harry Pearson is working with him and has made his main subject Commons. P. thinks that my thesis might prove a more difficult subject than appeared at that time. As a ready distinction it is not as simple as it appears. Before 1871 there was no consciousness of economics being based on the scarcity concept. Before 1871 there were the classics. What one does is an imputation – to what extent the scarcity concept is involved and to what extent the substantive concept.

If the two-thirds of my essay which I have completed previously stands, then the actual work is not very big. Today I could deal with a subject that at that time I could not deal with.

The later work on the two meanings of economic (at first it was economics) worked on the economy. We raised the question of the economy’s place in society. Economics is the theory of the market.

The first 5 pages of P.’s Chicago Paper recapitulate the meaning of the economy being an instituted process. The distinction is between process and institutions. It has nothing to do with the formal and substantive meaning of economic. This is a useful study in anthropology and history. The anthropologist uses the substantive meaning but in a confused way. In sociology it is the fashion to confuse the two and that is Parsons.

[41] Our method is utterly different and the person who wrote it is terry Hopkins in Trade and Market also Harry attacked the thing in a new way and went to the two treatments of economics. One is the following the fate of rationality in human affairs and the other is the economy. Harry said that these two approaches are the main ones. Rationality is very near the scarcity concept.

Perhaps I should keep off the subject. In the field of doctrine there is scarcity and under institutions there is the substantive. But under each falls for example, the substantive theory of population, rent etc. and if I want to sort out in the doctrine what is formal and what is substantive that might prove very difficult. The question exists whether one might mix the new lines up.

My question: does P. think I could take up the subject of the “International Modus Vivendi” as a subject for a thesis?

I could see Paul about a subject with Nurkse and International Trade and how close this theme would be to him.

Dorfman has no hesistancy in taking up P.’s subjects.

Warner and Fuchs have taken up the two meanings of economic. P.’s Commentary article has been included in the Columbia Contemporary Civilization Course. In Harry’s and Terry’s papers the formal and substantive run right through. Discussion articles will be written on this subject.

Where does the scarcity principle enter? With Hobbes and Hume there was the idea that there is not enough to go around. Hume made it basic and that’s why there must be government. But the principle [42] was not in economics proper. That’s different. There we would look at all the principles, Ricardo etc., and what goes to scarcity. The subject is in a way philosophic and in a way pure method and I would get stuck. P. doesn’t think that it’s my strong side. If these terms are all the time meshed then it is very messy.

Politics (3)

P. feels that every element of self-respect has gone in the way the State Department carries on foreign policy. […]

How deep-seated the suicidal tendencies of mankind are, become obvious from the embarassment all-round at the Arab-recovery (the Arab unanimous decision of Aug. 21st at the U.N.). The misgivings, and ambiguous response which followed and the general unwillingness are like the person who doesn't want to relinquish his disease.

Thursday night, August 21st, was a great event. The Arab empire, small power though it is, will have very great neutralizing effects. The new Arab empire will have great influence and prove important neutralism is. Russian diplomacy is clever and kept in the back-ground. At a certain point there was a threat of war. This prevented the Americans from expanding to attack Iraq. That's when the warning came out. They had a summit conference and Eisenhower was there and K. was not.

The Russians try to do everything to prevent a world war from developing. That is why K. went to Peking. The situation became dangerous. One wouldn't be sure what is going to happen. Russia mobilized 24 divisions in Turkestan.

Economic Motives (2)

[44] There are no economic motives. This has been taken up by e.g. Parsons also. What makes a motive economic? There is no motive which would directly make you work and according to the situation you might do different things. You might steal or rob. Hunger is a physiological state.

It is the same idea as there are no political motives. You may be jealous or furious but you can't be political.

What we mean by economic motives or political motives is that you relate yourself to a definite institutional sphere, namely to some motivation or other and act in that sphere.

Even sex may be culturally determined, not in the physiological range and not even whether the motive sex exists as a motive. It depends on society as to whether the situation is one whether the behaviour in one society would be repeated in another.

But for economic or political motives there is no society where some of the motives that are regarded by us as economic would have a direct relevance to the economic process like ours.



My question on reciprocity and ethics.

Reciprocity in the economy is only the principle of community, Aristotle's philia. It is not Christian love and has nothing to do with it. It is the good will that holds between members of any group.

We would say that there are groups with no good will to one another e.g. blacks and whites in a town but Aristotle said that they aren't a group, a community. By good will he didn't mean anything emotional or ethical. There is no ethics in a community where the community is a fact. What I call ethics is the way they live. My idea of ethics is for an atomistic society.

I should see the Nichomachean ethics. Our modern ethics is a historical concept which exists only in a definite type of society. Jesus' idea of love is not ethics but an understanding of life. It is a different category.

Ethics is a theory of something. It is a theory of right action and right value and it is not necessarily so that there need be a theory of it at all.

Rousseau (3)

My comment: There is a new book out on Rousseau attempting to show the democratic character of his writing and disprove the totalitarian aspects.

Rousseau was the founder of both the individual and the totalitarian schools. Also the intellectual and anti-intellectual lines.

George Woodard

[46] Woodard is writing a book on American humanistic socialism on the free personality. He uses the language in a peculiar halting way almost like a woodcut writing in a gothic way. Woodard also believes he is a Marxist and that’s peculiar. It is an utterly genuine kind of thing.

Fighting Words (2)

P. has participated in a taped program with Russel Kirk, Robert McKenzie, and Needles. McKenzie is a very effective disputant. They debated disengagement, and the Kennan problem. Also whether the emancipation of enslaved societies is a reasonable aim of a foreign policy, also liberty from totalitarian regimes and private and public morality (the Adams case).

P. did not think it was very interesting program.

Text Informations

Date: August 23, 1958 (Interview)
KPA: 45/20