Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Quotes of the Day - February 15, 2012

I have a bit more free time now that I've been accepted to college, which means I finally have time to start working on my never-ending reading list.  At the risk of turning this into a book-blog, I've decided to record some of my favorite quotes and my thoughts about the books I read.

At the moment, I'm in the middle of reading To the Finland Station by Edmund Wilson.
"Marxism gave a meaning to modernity. It said that, wittingly or not, the individual performs a role in a drama that has a shape and a goal, a trajectory, and that modernity will turn out to be just one act in that drama" (Foreword, xv).  
Essentially, Wilson puts for the point that attachment to private property prevented the Revolution from realizing its full emancipatory potential.
"After Thermidor, he rallied around him those elements of the Revolution who were trying to insist on its original aims. In his paper, The Tribune of the People, he denounced the new constitution of 1795, which had abolished universal suffrage and imposed a high property qualification. He demanded not merely political but also economic equality. He declared that he would prefer civil war itself to 'this horrible concord which strangles the hungry.' But the men who had expropriated the nobles and the Church remained loyal to the principle of property itself. The Tribune of the People was stopped, and Babeuf and his associates were sent to prison" (pg. 73).
"The cause of revolutions is the bending beyond what they can bear of the human springs of society" (pg. 76).
"The 'truly human' is that which is to be realized when we shall have arrived at the society without classes. In the meantime, those elements of society which alone can bring about such a future - the disenfranchised proletariat and the revolutionary bourgeois thinkers - in proportion as they feel group solidarity among themselves, must cease to feel human solidarity with their antagonists. Their antagonists - who have 'left between man and man no other bond but crude self-interest and callous "cash-payment'" - have irreparably destroyed that solidarity" (pg. 159).
The above quote is hard for me to get behind. It makes sense; it's the logical conclusion of the analysis of the exploitive relation between capital and labor. Yet, I have a problem renouncing my basic human solidarity with the exploiters - do they necessarily surrender their humanity because of their crude and callous self-interest? Or, does a strand of universal solidarity prevail in spite of the existence of exploitation? Perhaps I'm too attached to the sort of liberal universalism that sometimes gets in the way of revolutions.

No comments:

Post a Comment