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Polylogism and Marxist Theory of Social Phenomena

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David B Posted: Tue, Aug 14 2012 4:22 PM

@Fool on the Hill

I'm hoping to catch you before you leave, as you indicated you would be doing in another thread.  Specifically, I'm curious about what a Maxist response would be to a specific criticism of Marxist thought that it requires that polylogism is a fact of human existence in order to sustain itself.

This article is an excerpt from Omnipotent Government by Ludwig von Mises.  The undeniable fact referenced in the quote is the universal logical structure of human intelligence: that all men recognize as fundamental to any reasoning or argumentation the basic logical structure of A and 'A.  Meaning more explicitly, not that every man uses that particular form, or even has an idea of logic as a science, but instead that even the least intelligent of humans uses the words yes and no, that they recognize that the words they use have a meaning, and that the word therefore applies to some phenomena in reality while simultaneously not  applying to other phenomena in reality. That this is the logical structure of the human mind, and that it is omnipresent in man as man.

Yet, in the course of the 19th century this undeniable fact has been contested. Marx and the Marxians, foremost among them the "proletarian philosopher" Dietzgen, taught that thought is determined by the thinker's class position. What thinking produces is not truth but "ideologies." This word means, in the context of Marxian philosophy, a disguise of the selfish interest of the social class to which the thinking individual is attached. It is therefore useless to discuss anything with people of another social class. Ideologies do not need to be refuted by discursive reasoning; they must be unmasked by denouncing the class position, the social background, of their authors. Thus Marxians do not discuss the merits of physical theories; they merely uncover the "bourgeois" origin of the physicists.

In other words, Mises criticism of the polylogical argument above, is that the ideologies themselves, by rational interpretation, may or may not be true in and of themselves, but the truth of their content is inherent to their applicability to reality itself, apart form which man is observing reality.  That a point of view is just that a point of view, but that the truth of the content in that ideology or point of view is not validated or invalidated by the position socially or otherwise of the viewer, but by the underlying reality itself.  The mistake made is to imagine an ideology is constrained to one group of people while simultaneously being untrue for another group of people, that this polylogism is caused by the infection of some hypothetical and unidentifiable class mind.  

I'm also curious more generically if there is actual documented argumentation from Marx himself that puts for an explicit Polylogical epistemology, or if this is in fact a later construction that was developed by his proponents in the face of the criticism of Mises, Bohm-Bawerk and Hayek.

My understanding is that you, Fool on the Hill, embrace as fundamental the use of logic.  Even more so, you seem to agree that despite our differences in station or position or upbringing that an engaged dialogue can move us into agreement about the world, else we would not have these discussions.  In other words,  that while the categories and understanding of the world may in fact be different between you and I, we are 1) viewing the same world, and 2) using the same tools, logic and theory(as theory), in interpreting this same world.  If this is so, any differences between us then are ones of categories and specific theorems, NOT a fundamental incompatibility at the metaphysical or epistemological level.  More importantly convergence would be possible by explaining and examining the concepts themselves  and retaining the true components while simultaneously discarding the categories (as definitions and analytically derived theorems) which are in fact flawed.

Perhaps, as I'm sensing, rather than falling back on the ideological argument in order to escape responding to the logical science of praxeology and it's analytic a priori laws of the market, you seem to be leaning directly on logic itself.  If this is true, then I applaud you.  For on that basis and on that basis alone would you be able to convince others of whatever truth lies within any Marxist theory of social reality.

In the end, I guess what I'm ultimately asking is, how can any argument end with, you just can't see the truth because you are a capitalist?

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Neodoxy replied on Tue, Aug 14 2012 5:22 PM

David,

As to this question:

"I'm also curious more generically if there is actual documented argumentation from Marx himself that puts for an explicit Polylogical epistemology, or if this is in fact a later construction that was developed by his proponents in the face of the criticism of Mises, Bohm-Bawerk and Hayek."

I have increasingly come to believe that the answer is no. The fact is that I have NEVER heard a marxist putting forth this line of argumentation, nor have I seen any evidence that Marx did either. The section on the matter in Human Action is entirely without  relevent citation as such. While one could make the argument that polylogism would have to exist in order for Marx's collectivistic ideas of human society to actually come about, he never directly says it as far as I can tell.

Indeed I honestly have no evidence that this isn't a strawman argument, for while some Marxists certainly seem to pin all behavior on class allegiance, the biggest problem is that they don't seem to justify it at all, rather than justifying it through polylogism. Theoretically, however, some of these class laws could be entirely praxeologically valid under certain situations.

At any rate, there are tons of Marxists intellectuals who were running around pre-1950's, so maybe it was used by some of them and has since been abandoned. With the extent that Mises dealt with extremely obscure philosophies I sometimes wonder if he didn't get upset over private debates and feel the need to take great lengths to refute them because of the trouble they posed him personally.

A google search of the term "polylogism" turns up practically nothing outside of Austrian discussion, here's the wikipedia article on the subject which pretty much says that Mises created the term.

At last those coming came and they never looked back With blinding stars in their eyes but all they saw was black...
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It's probable that Mises coined the term. From what I've read on Dietzgen you can easily see how Mises would make the connection, as Dietzgen own beliefs logically implied polylogism. Therefore, I'd advise going directly to that source and reading it (and possibly David Gordon's Requiem for Marx too), since he was influential in the development of dialectical materialism and was a monist. Marx needn't have explicitly committed himself to this position to have believed in it or for his thought system to have relied upon it.

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David B replied on Tue, Aug 14 2012 6:26 PM

Jon Irenicus:

It's probable that Mises coined the term. From what I've read on Dietzgen you can easily see how Mises would make the connection, as Dietzgen own beliefs logically implied polylogism. Therefore, I'd advise going directly to that source and reading it, since he was influential in the development of dialectical materialism and was a monist. Marx needn't have explicitly committed himself to this position to have believed in it or for his thought system to have relied upon it.

This is what I suspected.  Basically to rephrase, marxist social theory logically requires polylogism (never mind which of the many logics the argument resides in).  This is the response that was proffered by Dietzgen in an attempt to refute the previous criticisms that were in fact logically sound, under classically defined logic.  Since then thisresponse has been hardened into the class war rhetoric of modern left leaning (labor, socialist) parties and regurgitated ad nauseum as a response criticism of entitlement policies.

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I'll be replying to this thread later, just thought I'd let you know that I am aware of it.

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
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RobinHood replied on Tue, Aug 14 2012 10:26 PM

George Novack:

Do you remember that when someone first questioned the permanence of capitalism or urged the necessity of socialism, you were inclined to doubt these new revolutionary ideas? Why? Because your minds were still enslaved by the ruling ideas of our epoch which, as Marx declared, are the ideas of the ruling class. The ruling ideas of the ruling class in logical science today are the ideas of formal logic lowered to the level of common sense. All the opponents and critics of dialectics stand upon the ground of formal logic, whether or not they are fully aware of their position or will honestly admit it.

Indeed, the ideas of formal logic constitute the most tenacious of all theoretical prejudices in our society. Even after individuals have cast off their faith in capitalism and have become revolutionary socialists, they cannot entirely rid their minds of the habits of formal thinking which they absorbed in bourgeois life and which they continue to receive from their environment. The keenest of dialecticians can relapse at times into formalism, if they are not extremely careful and conscious in their thinking.

Just as Marxism denies the eternal reality of capitalism, so does it deny eternal validity to the forms of thought most characteristic of such class societies as capitalism. Human thought has changed and developed along with human society and to the same degree. The laws of thought are no more eternal than the laws of society. Just as capitalism is only one link in the chain of historical forms of social organisation of production, so formal logic is simply one link in the chain of historical forms of intellectual production. Just as the forces of socialism are fighting to replace the obsolete capitalist form of social production with a more developed system, so the advocates of materialist dialectics, the logic of scientific socialism, are struggling against the outworn formal logic. The theoretical struggle and the practical political struggle are integral parts of one and the same revolutionary process.

Nutjob of the first water, and high up there in the ranks of Marxists. Polylogist.

Source: http://www.reocities.com/CapitolHill/Congress/1602/textosmarxistas/trottext/logic/logic1.htm

 

 

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RobinHood replied on Tue, Aug 14 2012 11:09 PM

That there is formal (bourgeois) logic and marxist logic is a commonplace among Marxists.

Here: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Russia-News-Politics-354/bourgeois-science.htm

Marxist approach of both science and society, with a unique logic, differs in vital respects from the logic used, for instance, by physicists and philosophers that don’t use marxist method...

Marxist logic is called dialectics. The marxists claim it is superior to formal logic. Formal logic is based on axioms, which are self-evident simple statements from which more complex statements, or truths, can be derived. The fundamental feature of formal logic is the law of non-contradiction, which says that two opposite statements cannot be true at the same time. But the application of formal logic often throws up contradictions. The response in such instances is to modify the system to avoid the contradiction...Karl Marx showed that calculus, with its concept of infinitesimal distances, takes into account the contradictory nature of motion where a body appears to be stationary as well as moving at a particular instant.

[As an aside, many will love Marx's resolution of the problems of calculus, because their thinking is as fuzzy as his own].

Here: http://www.marxists.org/glossary/terms/e/x.htm

The Law of the Excluded Middle is that “if a given proposition is not true then its denial must be true”. See also The Law of (Non-)Contradiction which says that “if a given proposition is true then its denial cannot be true”. Whereas formal logic places an absolute ban on Contradiction, Intuitionism is a branch of Logic which holds that the Law of Excluded Middle is not valid. For dialecitcs, this law has only relative truth; due to the inherently mobile and interconnected nature of all concepts, it is frequently the case that neither a proposition nor its denial may be accepted as absolutely true.">Excluded Middle, Law of The Law of the Excluded Middle is that “if a given proposition is not true then its denial must be true”. See also The Law of (Non-)Contradiction which says that “if a given proposition is true then its denial cannot be true”. Whereas formal logic places an absolute ban on Contradiction, Intuitionism is a branch of Logic which holds that the Law of Excluded Middle is not valid. For dialecitcs, this law has only relative truth; due to the inherently mobile and interconnected nature of all concepts, it is frequently the case that neither a proposition nor its denial may be accepted as absolutely true.

Here: http://www.massline.org/Glossary/L.htm

Logic is usually defined to be the rules of valid inference or the rules and nature of reasoning. However, if you look at the dominant areas of discussion in books of logic, you will find that they usually only discuss the rules and nature of reasoning insofar as these are related to deduction. Actually deductive logic (or “formal logic”) is only one small part of what should “logically” be called logic. Other important areas of logic in the broad sense that usually receive scant attention include analogic logic (the logic of making analogies), and most important of all, dialectical logic.

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David B replied on Wed, Aug 15 2012 1:43 AM

RobinHood:

George Novack:

Do you remember that when someone first questioned the permanence of capitalism or urged the necessity of socialism, you were inclined to doubt these new revolutionary ideas? Why? Because your minds were still enslaved by the ruling ideas of our epoch which, as Marx declared, are the ideas of the ruling class. The ruling ideas of the ruling class in logical science today are the ideas of formal logic lowered to the level of common sense. All the opponents and critics of dialectics stand upon the ground of formal logic, whether or not they are fully aware of their position or will honestly admit it.

Indeed, the ideas of formal logic constitute the most tenacious of all theoretical prejudices in our society. Even after individuals have cast off their faith in capitalism and have become revolutionary socialists, they cannot entirely rid their minds of the habits of formal thinking which they absorbed in bourgeois life and which they continue to receive from their environment. The keenest of dialecticians can relapse at times into formalism, if they are not extremely careful and conscious in their thinking.

Just as Marxism denies the eternal reality of capitalism, so does it deny eternal validity to the forms of thought most characteristic of such class societies as capitalism. Human thought has changed and developed along with human society and to the same degree. The laws of thought are no more eternal than the laws of society. Just as capitalism is only one link in the chain of historical forms of social organisation of production, so formal logic is simply one link in the chain of historical forms of intellectual production. Just as the forces of socialism are fighting to replace the obsolete capitalist form of social production with a more developed system, so the advocates of materialist dialectics, the logic of scientific socialism, are struggling against the outworn formal logic. The theoretical struggle and the practical political struggle are integral parts of one and the same revolutionary process.

Nutjob of the first water, and high up there in the ranks of Marxists. Polylogist.

Source: http://www.reocities.com/CapitolHill/Congress/1602/textosmarxistas/trottext/logic/logic1.htm

My first thought when I'm reading this is that it reminds me of reading Dianetics as a teenager.  At first I'm thinking wow, smart stuff, and then bit by bit I start thinking to myself, wait a minute somethings wrong here.  Reminds me of the type of reasoning one might hear from a charismatic cult leader...

Ugh, my favorite teachers, instructors, and even clergy in my youth were the ones who encouraged me to read and learn,  to use and develop my own mental faculties, my natural curiosity and intelligence.  When I read these statements, they are disturbing.

"the ideas of formal logic constitute the most tenacious of all theoretical prejudices", that one sticks in my craw.  It really disturbs me.  A and 'A, the essential logical concept, is built into words.  A word represents a thing (or set of things) in reality, and by creating a set, simultaneously defines a set of things that ARE NOT part of the set of things the word appies to.  

"Do you remember that when someone first questioned the permanence of capitalism or urged the necessity of socialism, you were inclined to doubt these new revolutionary ideas? Why? Because your minds were still enslaved by the ruling ideas of our epoch which, as Marx declared, are the ideas of the ruling class." 

That's a standard technique that helps to reinforce group cohesion around an idea, and to implicitly deflect self-doubt and reflection on any lingering confusions or edge conditions. 

However, that doesn't mean that I'm not doing the same thing. See a link here to Reinforcement Theory, note however, that someone marist will jump in on this statement and tell me I'm on to something, instead of replying to the comment above about negation implicit in language itself.

Early in my own intellectual journey, I read a lot of Taoist and Zen Buddhist literature.  One of my habits, probably from my parents was to try to understand the ideas and point of view of the person I was listening to.  And so, coming from a Judeo-Christian religious upbringing I used this idea from my parents, in reading the literature I found from those traditions.  To me the more interesting thing wasn't in listening to claims about the divergence and discontinuity between different religious traditions, but in looking for the similarities and convergence instead.  This habit of interpreting the other person in the most favorable light is, I believe, essential to communicating and understanding. Marxism (via polylogism) starts by destroying the possibilty that one might build bridge different viewpoints.  

I've had this inherent faith in the process of learning; that reason is a quality tool for understanding the world.  Perhaps this is why I lean towards thinkers and intellectuals who approach their particular topic with a tone or an approach that honors this.  After all, if I don't have logic and reason, how can I even know which of the many competing charlatans to trust?  Why Marx?  Cause what he says is true?  But logic and reason are the tools by which I judge the information I'm given, and I'm not allowed to use logic to validate his system...

So when marxist/socialist doctrinaires resort to arguments like the quotes above, it's a HUGE red flag for me.  A healthy intellectual skepticism is, I believe, an essential component of wisdom.  But outright rejection of the process of reasoning?  Mises, in his various works on the Philosophical underpinnings of Praxeology, restored my faith in the tools at my disposal.  Not by convincing me that they are infallible, but by convincing me that through rigorous use of logic, and careful application of reason, I could in fact form and use knowledge that is useful and accurate and does in fact apply to the world.

One of my favorite pastimes is to take some topic of Praxeology and run it backward and forward, invert it, remove it, etc.  and think through the implications for reality and my own understanding of what it would mean to me as a knowledge using, acting man.  I think it's a useful practice.

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It's worth noting that Mises didn't think Marxians alone used polylogism, and that many racialist thinkers also did (i.e. that the logical structure of the mind of different races itself differs, meaning there's non-aryan logics etc.) So it is very likely that he is using it as a catch-all term to capture a variety of ideologies that ascribe different logics to different groups of individuals.

The analytical Marxists of course are a different kettle of fish, which David Gordon discusses in the book I mentioned.

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David B replied on Wed, Aug 15 2012 3:25 PM

Jon Irenicus:

It's worth noting that Mises didn't think Marxians alone used polylogism, and that many racialist thinkers also did (i.e. that the logical structure of the mind of different races itself differs, meaning there's non-aryan logics etc.) So it is very likely that he is using it as a catch-all term to capture a variety of ideologies that ascribe different logics to different groups of individuals.

The analytical Marxists of course are a different kettle of fish, which David Gordon discusses in the book I mentioned.

I agree wholeheartedly.  I have noticed this in many of his writings.

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First off, I agree with Neodoxy, the point strikes me as a strawman. I was really turned off by that section of Human Action and probably would have stopped reading the book right there had I not been motivated to understand why the book has been so influential. I'm not sure why Mises put that section in the book, especially at the beginning. And in that article, Mises cites Ricardo as an example of someone whose ideas are rejected because he is bourgeois. Does Mises not realize that Ricardo was one of Marx's chief influences? And Freud? Has he not heard of Freudo-Marxism?

Second, I read through the first Novack lecture in the book RobinHood referenced, and I think there are some pretty good points there. It actually provides a good explanation as to why neoclassical economic models are so static (general equilibrium, anyone?). If you read the lecture, you'll notice that he is not saying that different people have a different logical structure to their minds. In fact, he seems to say that everyone has the same logical structure but that they do not realize it: "Everybody thinks, but not everyone knows what kind of laws regulate his thinking activity." Formal logic is the way that the bourgeoisie tries to justify itself. He's actually making a pretty similar accusation that Mises's is making. Mises is saying that Marxists don't actually think according to polylogism but justify their beliefs by appealing to the false concept of polylogism. Novack is saying that the bourgeoisie don't actually think according to formal logic alone but justify their beliefs by appealing to the insufficient concept of formal logic.

And he is not at all saying that people can't come to an agreement because of different forms of logic. Dialectics itself is the process of resolving conflicts and contradictions. While it might suit Nazism to assert that Jews can't ever come to a correct understanding of logic, it would be absurd for a Marxist to make this claim about the bourgeoisie when Marx and Engels themselves came from bourgeois backgrounds. Now of course it is quite possible that some Marxists (probably Stalinists) have made this claim, but I don't see how it can be derived from Marx's ideas--from what I've read of his works, anyway.

David, you mentioned in another thread that praxeology was currently insufficient because it doesn't include a theory of conflict. This is precisely what dialectics provides. A conflict is a contradiction. Formal logic can't explain how we can be ignorant of things, how we can be in disagreement with each other, or how we can change our minds. In the traditional view, we are left with this unbridgeable gap between "logic" and "empiricism."

"the ideas of formal logic constitute the most tenacious of all theoretical prejudices", that one sticks in my craw.  It really disturbs me.  A and 'A, the essential logical concept, is built into words.  A word represents a thing (or set of things) in reality, and by creating a set, simultaneously defines a set of things that ARE NOT part of the set of things the word appies to.

What about Russell's paradox?

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
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RobinHood replied on Wed, Aug 15 2012 11:33 PM

FOTH, 

What about Russell's Paradox?

Russell's Paradox has nothing to do with dialectical materialism. It neither proves or disproves the law of the excluded middle, or any axiom of formal logic. It also does not contradict Dave's statement.

Russell's paradox does one thing only. It shows that if one is setting up set theory, and one allows any sentence at all to define a set, then one runs into contradictions in ones theory. Thus, any set up of set theory must place limitations on sentences allowed to define sets. [Various limitations have been found sufficient]. All this is a very technical result, that has nothing to do with attacking formal logic.

All the other paradoxes in the wikipedia article are variations of this theme.

Note that the wikipedia article you linked to makes no mention of the law of the excluded middle, or formal logic. That's because Russell's paradox has nothing to do with those subjects.

In fact, when mathematicians sit around seriously discussing any mathematical subject, including Russell's paradox itself, there are implicit rules that guide the conversation. One rule is that all statements must be consistent with formal logic. Russell's paradox itself was stated under the limitations of this rule. One cannot ever escape formal logic and be considered a serious person, at least not in the world of logic and math. Formal logic is king of the universe as we know it, and no one can depose it, according to mathematicians and logicians.

 

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David B replied on Thu, Aug 16 2012 12:33 PM

 

Fool on the Hill:
First off, I agree with Neodoxy, the point strikes me as a strawman.
I don't think so and here's why, some quotes from Das Kapital : 
Das Kapital:
It is therefore impossible for capital to be produced by circulation, and it is equally impossible for it to originate apart from circulation. It must have its origin both in circulation and yet not in circulation.
We have, therefore, got a double result.
The conversion of money into capital has to be explained on the basis of the laws that regulate the exchange of commodities, in such a way that the starting-point is the exchange of equivalents. [24] Our friend, Moneybags, who as yet is only an embryo capitalist, must buy his commodities at their value, must sell them at their value, and yet at the end of the process must withdraw more value from circulation than he threw into it at starting. His development into a full-grown capitalist must take place, both within the sphere of circulation and without it. These are the conditions of the problem. Hic Rhodus, hic salta!25]
...
On leaving this sphere of simple circulation or of exchange of commodities, which furnishes the “Free-trader Vulgaris” with his views and ideas, and with the standard by which he judges a society based on capital and wages, we think we can perceive a change in the physiognomy of our dramatis personae. He, who before was the money-owner, now strides in front as capitalist; the possessor of labour-power follows as his labourer. The one with an air of importance, smirking, intent on business; the other, timid and holding back, like one who is bringing his own hide to market and has nothing to expect but — a hiding.
...
Nor does it matter if simple reproduction is replaced by reproduction on an extended scale, by accumulation. In the former case the capitalist squanders the whole surplus-value in dissipation, in the latter he demonstrates his bourgeois virtue by consuming only a portion of it and converting the rest into money.
[I]t was extremely important for bourgeois economy to promulgate the doctrine that accumulation of capital is the first duty of every citizen, and to preach without ceasing, that a man cannot accumulate, if he eats up all his revenue, instead of spending a good part of it in the acquisition of additional productive labourers, who bring in more than they cost.
...
For the rest, it is a matter of course, that Political Economy, acting in the interests of the capitalist class, has not failed to exploit the doctrine of Adam. Smith, viz., that the whole of that part of the surplus-product which is converted into capital, is consumed by the working class.
Ok, I can keep going, and I found places in which Marx accepted a specific argument of Ricardo, and places where he specifically critiqued Ricardo and using some pretty harsh language: 
Das Kapital:
There can be no greater error than that which Ricardo and all subsequent economists repeat after A. Smith…
It will be remembered that the rate of surplus-value depends, in the first place, on the degree of exploitation of labour-power. Political Economy values this fact so highly, that it occasionally identifies the acceleration of accumulation due to increased productiveness of labour, with its acceleration due to increased exploitation of the labourer. [35]
Footnote 35:
Ricardo says: ‘In different stages of society the accumulation of capital or of the means of employing’ (i.e., exploiting) ‘labour is more or less rapid, and must in all cases depend on the productive powers of labour. The productive powers of labour are generally greatest where there is an abundance of fertile land.’ If, in the first sentence, the productive powers of labour mean the smallness of that aliquot part of any produce that goes to those whose manual labour produced it, the sentence is nearly identical, because the remaining aliquot part is the fund whence capital can, if the owner pleases, be accumulated. But then this does not generally happen, where there is most fertile land.” (“Observations on Certain Verbal Disputes, &c.” pp. 74, 75.)
Marx rightly saw certain real and painfulinequalities in the distribution of wealth and power in industrial society.  He specifically accused classical economists intentionally and willfully creating the field of Political Economy as an apology for the exploitation of the poor by the rich, but he couched it in very specific terms (capitalist and laborer).  He then constructed an alternative theory using the same method. He created a work of Political Economy as an apology for the outrage and indignant revolt of the laborer against the capitalist.  What he did not do is construct a work of theoretical science.  I'll go into this with more detail later.
Fool on the Hill:
It actually provides a good explanation as to why neoclassical economic models are so static (general equilibrium, anyone?)
Mises referenced equilibrium as a theoretical component of a static imaginary logical model, which is  not a real thing, but only a useful device to understand how changes in one aspect of a dynamic system affect the actual dynamic system.  He confined it to the evenly rotating economy.
Mises in Human Action:
The imaginary construction of an evenly rotating system is a limiting notion. In its frame there is in fact no longer any action. Automatic reaction is substituted for the conscious striving of thinking man after the removal of uneasiness. We can employ this problematic [p. 250] imaginary construction only if we never forget what purposes it is designed to serve. We want first of all to analyze the tendency, prevailing in every action, toward the establishment of an evenly rotating economy; in doing so, we must always take into account that this tendency can never attain its goal in a universe not perfectly rigid and immutable, that is, in a universe which is living and not dead. Secondly, we need to comprehend in what respects the conditions of a living world in which there is action differ from those of a rigid world.
You bring up Freudo-Marxism…
Wikipedia:
Freudo-Marxism seeks to use the tools of psychoanalysis to diagnose the ills of society. Just as Freudianism views an individual's ego and super-ego as shaped by his unconscious id, Marxism views a society's culture and institutions as shaped by its underlying economic system. Thus a society's economic system and its relations of production function as its unconscious id; a society's culture functions as its ego; and a society's legal system, police and military function as its super-ego. From this point, Freudo-Marxism aims to reveal the illness of a society's underlying economic system by analyzing its cultural products.
This supports the point that I've been making.  Theory and Technology.  Theory is the rules by which the Technology is explained and analyzed. The design and use of a technological solution is purposeful.  Theory is value free, technology has value in the ends to which it's applied.  Praxeology is theory; Capitalism, Socialism, Marxism, any political/economic-ism, is technology.  The right analysis tool is a theoretical science of human action.  Human action is the fundamental category (think atoms, subatomic particles, physical forces of physics as equivalents).  So, society's culture and institutions do in fact shape the economic system… Whups, I did that backwards, sorry.  And the social institutions also influence the knowledge, language, and culture.  But the question for you is capitalism theory or technique?  Therefore, enter Hawking :
Stephen Hawking:
Any sound scientific theory, whether of time or of any other concept, should in my opinion be based on the most workable philosophy of science: the positivist approach put forward by Karl Popper and others. According to this way of thinking, a scientific theory is a mathematical model that describes and codifies the observations we make. A good theory will describe a large range of phenomena on the basis of a few simple postulates and will make definite predictions that can be tested… If one takes the positivist position, as I do, one cannot say what time actually is. All one can do is describe what has been found to be a very good mathematical model for time and say what predictions it makes.
Well, wherefore a science of man as man?  What explains the social interactions of man in all of its forms?  Where would one start?  If "a scientific theory is a mathematical model that describes and codifies the observations we make", then what are the essential observations about man, that would form a starting point from which to construct a theoretical science of social man?  Also, when he says mathematical does he actually mean arithmetic?  Or does he mean sound logical principles?  Do we look at the thing out there that we identify as man?  Or do we look inside AND outside?  Do we take clues from our language?  Mises, for whatever reason, focused in on action, and the necessary conclusions of man acting AS the pursuit of ends by means.  That's the fundamental abstraction, an "observation we make", that forms the basis for a "mathematical model".  Mathematics traditionally embraces quantification.  However, it is not necessary to quantify, in order to engage in logical analysis. Popper would make the point that there may be other more accurate theories that explain equally well the same phenomena.  You would claim Marxism is one, I'm skeptical.  We cannot prove the theory we can only falsify it.  Well, falsify it!  The "verification method" for Praxeology should therefore be empirical, i.e. based on observable conditions and phenomena.  Where do we make this observations.  Does internal reflection on the nature of purpose and intention within yourself constitute observation?  If so, then reflect internally on the applicability of Praxeology's theorems.  But wait you don't think formal logic is enough. 
Fool on the Hill:
David, you mentioned in another thread that praxeology was currently insufficient because it doesn't include a theory of conflict. This is precisely what dialectics provides. A conflict is a contradiction. Formal logic can't explain how we can be ignorant of things, how we can be in disagreement with each other, or how we can change our minds. In the traditional view, we are left with this unbridgeable gap between "logic" and "empiricism.""
First of all, I meant incomplete, in that it hasn't analyzed and expanded the categories implied in action.  I believe there are relevant logical implications to scarcity, that generate praxeological categories from a category of conflict.  But let's look briefly at dialectics.
Wikipedia:
Another way to understand dialectics is to view it as a method of thinking to overcome formal dualism and monistic reductionism.[58] For example, formal dualism regards the opposites as mutually exclusive entities, whilst monism finds each to be an epiphenomenon of the other. Dialectical thinking rejects both views. The dialectical method requires focus on both at the same time. It looks for a transcendence of the opposites entailing a leap of the imagination to a higher level, which (1) provides justification for rejecting both alternatives as false and/or (2) helps elucidate a real but previously veiled integral relationship between apparent opposites that have been kept apart and regarded as distinct.
I don't know how to respond to a critique of "formal logic".  You keep using words that assume it.   How can formal logic have anything to say about ignorance?  Formal logic isn't knowledge.  Formal logic is how we construct knowledge.  Theorems about formal logic are necessarily recursive.  They use the only tool we have for forming knowledge, to describe the only tool we have for forming knowledge. Every time we make a word, we construct a set and by definition the complement.  Russels… anyway, of course it's possible to construct logical paradoxes.  That's a neat feature of language.  Formal logic is how we form knowledge that explains ignorance, formal logic is how we form knowledge that explains disagreements, and formal logic is how we interpret and construct arguments such that we may (or may not) change our minds.
 
But the conflict to which I refer isn't this dissonance of knowledge to which you refer.  Knowledge can be flawed in two ways: 1) bad theory and 2) incomplete data.  Bad theory leads to faulty reasoning about the data one has.  Bad data can lead to mistaken predictions in spite of good theory.  Now, we will all have bad data, or as I prefer, incomplete data.  This is not conflict.  Even if man two men have the same theoretical understandings, the real world precludes them from having the same data.  It's literally impossible. But let's construct yet another imaginary world in which you and I have both identical theoretical understandings of the world, and have in fact the same raw information and understanding of the state of the world.  Even so, is it possible that we may still have different goals, ends, desires?  I don't think we can know the last point, but in the real world, we know empirically that all 3 are different when comparing two men, theory, understanding of the state of the world, and desires.  Notice also, that the same man at any two points in time will also be different in these same ways (well at least in the last two, but I suspect also in the first case).
 
Let me finally make a point about dialectical thinking as described above…  Take the following passage from Das Kapital: 
 
Das Kapital:
He and the owner of money meet in the market, and deal with each other as on the basis of equal rights, with this difference alone, that one is buyer, the other seller; both, therefore, equal in the eyes of the law."
One is the buyer the other the seller…  Well let's employ a little "dialectical thinking and reject both views, and focus on both at the same time".  Let us "look for transcendence of the opposites entailing a leap of the imagination to a higher level."
 
Let's see if we can convert each position into it's opposite and find a transcendent view.  Buyer -> gives -> money  Seller -> gives -> commodity.  Seller -> receives -> money, Buyer -> receives -> commodity.  See the mirrored relations?  See that they are commutative?
 
Let's introduce want in the mind of each…  What can we know about their desire as a raw unanalyzed thing?  In both cases I can reduce the statement to a more abstract form.  So, I'll use A for actor, and D for desire and R for thing received and G for thing given.  A -> D1 -> R  A -> D2 -> G.  The only thing we can know for sure is that D1 > D2.  We can't quantify the value and we can't know why.  But the fact that he gives up one product for another necessarily means that D1 > D2.  It is not for understanding to argue that this is true, one must look for other information in order to understand why a man engages in a transaction that you don't value the same way.
 
Now, in every exchange of goods and money, or goods and goods or goods and labor or labor and money, i.e in EVERY exchange.  It will fit the form of A -> D1 -> R and A -> D2 -> G and because of the exchange we know for a fact that D1 > D2.  That is a true statement for each actor in every exchange.  That my friend is a dialectic "transcendence", wherein the role of buyer and seller are transcended into a more general form.
 
If you think there is value in this idea of dialectical criticism, then apply it uniformly.
 
I had not read any significant quantity of Marx's writings directly before now.  Now I have.  I'll stand by my own interpretation, and I'll quote chapter and verse and juxtapose it with the value-free statements from Mises, Hayek, Hoppe, Rothbard, etc. any day of the week.  Let me know and I'll start.
The problem again with Marx is that he imputed intentionality to the flaws in others, and was blind to his own.  Or he embraced it and threw logic out the door.  The question is not whether or not a theory takes a point of view, the question of value in theory is in whether or not it accurately predicts the effects of changes to the system analyzed.  Marxism does not.
 
If analysis is the tool, then use it to it's proper end.  Truth is a means to the end of understanding.  The understanding is valued, as a tool for achieving the things that a man decides make him happy(ier).  Discard theories that are not true and therefore cannot give you valid and useful comprehension of the world you are in.   You are using the system to bring about the Good, but that's the purpose of a technology, not a purpose of theory.  And yes if we recursively look at the use of theory, theory has value and therefore Truth is the goal, and I can't make you pursue truth, if what you actually want is something else... oops we're back in the acting man's praxeological and epistimological box... The Human Mind.
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Neodoxy replied on Fri, Aug 17 2012 6:37 PM

FOTH,

I actually think that RH did a good job of providing links that seemed to further justify the claim of polylogism. The link he posted did directly criticize the idea that logic was an eternal entity and that in the future the dialectic would actually directly replace it as the system of thought. I'm also becoming increasingly convinced that it's required for Marx's system. I would also disagree that praxeology is either incapable of or can not be rather easily adapted in order to describe the nature of conflicts and that praxeology itself destroys the theory of conflict which Marxism describes.

At last those coming came and they never looked back With blinding stars in their eyes but all they saw was black...
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Marx rightly saw certain real and painfulinequalities in the distribution of wealth and power in industrial society.  He specifically accused classical economists intentionally and willfully creating the field of Political Economy as an apology for the exploitation of the poor by the rich, but he couched it in very specific terms (capitalist and laborer).  He then constructed an alternative theory using the same method. He created a work of Political Economy as an apology for the outrage and indignant revolt of the laborer against the capitalist.  What he did not do is construct a work of theoretical science.  I'll go into this with more detail later.

I think there is a difference here though. When Marx sides with the laborer, he is not trying to defend what the worker does, not trying to preserve the legitimacy of the proletarian way of life for all eternity. Rather, Marx sides with the proletarians because he believes they are the revolutionary class--the class that will bring about the abolition of class. This is a result of Marx's theory of dialectics and conflict. The class conflict is a contradiction in need of a resolution.

Mises referenced equilibrium as a theoretical component of a static imaginary logical model, which is  not a real thing, but only a useful device to understand how changes in one aspect of a dynamic system affect the actual dynamic system.  He confined it to the evenly rotating economy.
Yes, Marx also uses equilibriums in his models. I still don't think Mises properly accounts for time, as my thread explains.
Does internal reflection on the nature of purpose and intention within yourself constitute observation?  If so, then reflect internally on the applicability of Praxeology's theorems.  But wait you don't think formal logic is enough.
The thing is, Mises misunderstands praxeology. I've been showing this in my thread. The concepts of exchange, profit, and time preference can't be formulated as some sort of universal quality inherent in human action. Adam Knott has even recently admitted that the economic concept of marginal utility cannot be derived from praxeology. I feel that Marx's theory is a much more consistent application of the logical truths of praxeology. As I've argued in my thread--and no one has contested this specific point--human action is about the choice between mutually exclusive future states. In other words, human action is about the resolution of contradiction. Dialectics is often formulated as thesis/antithesis -> synthesis. Before choosing, one is faced with a thesis and an antithesis. Once actually chosen, the thesis becomes the synthesis. But in addition to having the unique character of the thesis, it also contains the antithesis (or negation) due to the fact that it negated the antithesis. The antithesis tells us an important thing about the synthesis in explaining why it came about. This is important to price theory, for example. What one needs to give up in an exchange is a determination in whether the exchange actually occurs. So reflecting internally on praxeology leads me to a dialectical understanding. I don't know how praxeology can be formulated in pure formal logic (a simple syllogism, for example).
I don't know how to respond to a critique of "formal logic".  You keep using words that assume it.
That's because I do assume it.
How can formal logic have anything to say about ignorance?  Formal logic isn't knowledge.  Formal logic is how we construct knowledge.  Theorems about formal logic are necessarily recursive.  They use the only tool we have for forming knowledge, to describe the only tool we have for forming knowledge.
I think it is only a part of how we construct knowledge. Before we start to apply formal logic, we have to start with something. To fully understand the process of knowledge construction, we need to know where this something came from, how it developed.
Well let's employ a little "dialectical thinking and reject both views, and focus on both at the same time".  Let us "look for transcendence of the opposites entailing a leap of the imagination to a higher level." ... If you think there is value in this idea of dialectical criticism, then apply it uniformly.

Very good! Do you think Marx would disagree with your conclusion? I don't.

The problem again with Marx is that he imputed intentionality to the flaws in others, and was blind to his own.  Or he embraced it and threw logic out the door.  The question is not whether or not a theory takes a point of view, the question of value in theory is in whether or not it accurately predicts the effects of changes to the system analyzed.  Marxism does not.
Of course the correctness of the theory is the most important point. When Marx employs an ideological critique of "bourgeois" economic theories, he is not trying to dismiss them, but to explain why they came about. He shows why they are wrong separately through an analysis of their internal logic. I think Marx's theories do accurately predict the economy. Steve Keen is a good example of this. Keen has been named by several sources as the economist who most accurately predicted the great recession, and he has cited Marx as an important contributor to the theory that allowed him to make this prediction.
"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
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Neodoxy: I actually think that RH did a good job of providing links that seemed to further justify the claim of polylogism. The link he posted did directly criticize the idea that logic was an eternal entity and that in the future the dialectic would actually directly replace it as the system of thought. I'm also becoming increasingly convinced that it's required for Marx's system. I would also disagree that praxeology is either incapable of or can not be rather easily adapted in order to describe the nature of conflicts and that praxeology itself destroys the theory of conflict which Marxism describes.

Mises says this in the quote David gave at the beginning: "It is therefore useless to discuss anything with people of another social class. Ideologies do not need to be refuted by discursive reasoning; they must be unmasked by denouncing the class position, the social background, of their authors. Thus Marxians do not discuss the merits of physical theories; they merely uncover the "bourgeois" origin of the physicists."

Could you point me to a spot that you think asserts this position in the Novack lecture, or even better, in Marx's own work?

And I don't think praxeology is incapable of describing conflict (I don't think I said that) because I think praxeology is actually dialectical. How do you think praxeology destroy's Marx's theory of conflict?

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
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Neodoxy replied on Sun, Aug 19 2012 6:57 PM

I think that part of the lecture was what RH quoted himself:

"Just as Marxism denies the eternal reality of capitalism, so does it deny eternal validity to the forms of thought most characteristic of such class societies as capitalism. Human thought has changed and developed along with human society and to the same degree. The laws of thought are no more eternal than the laws of society. Just as capitalism is only one link in the chain of historical forms of social organisation of production, so formal logic is simply one link in the chain of historical forms of intellectual production. Just as the forces of socialism are fighting to replace the obsolete capitalist form of social production with a more developed system, so the advocates of materialist dialectics, the logic of scientific socialism, are struggling against the outworn formal logic. The theoretical struggle and the practical political struggle are integral parts of one and the same revolutionary process."

Now as far as I see polylogism as being at all necessary to Marx's system, it has to be in order to ensure a harmonious rise of the proletariat. So long as Marx's economic system is indeed correct and that the proletariat is destined for absolute poverty, then this need not be needed for the instigation of the revolution itself. If Marx's economics were indeed true then it would be almost a law that the proletariat would revolt. From here on out what would have to happen is that the proletariat itself would have to act as a coherent class, else the entire thing splits apart. I think that this was one of the best non-economic criticism of Marxism which Schumpeter had. In capitalism, socialism, and democracy. The proletarian revolution need not end in socialism. It would also seem that in a materialistic world, that the entire psychology of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie would be different.

Anyway, I think that praxeology destroys Marx's ideas on conflict surrounding the capitalist system because it exposes that his description of economics itself is untenable. As soon as the proletariat are no longer destined to poverty, a proposition that almost disappears as soon as we affirm the fact that increases in the capital supply will increase, not decrease the productivity of labor, real wages, and job creation. As soon as this is confirmed, then the idea of a proletarian revolution being an inevitable law is blown out of the water.

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I think that part of the lecture was what RH quoted himself:

Nowhere in that quote does he say (or imply) that the ideologies don't need to be refuted by discursive reasoning or that it's useless to discuss things with another social class.

Anyway, I think that praxeology destroys Marx's ideas on conflict surrounding the capitalist system because it exposes that his description of economics itself is untenable. As soon as the proletariat are no longer destined to poverty, a proposition that almost disappears as soon as we affirm the fact that increases in the capital supply will increase, not decrease the productivity of labor, real wages, and job creation.

As far as I've read, Marx doesn't say that the proletariat is destined for poverty in the sense that I think you mean. And he in fact does say that an increase in the capital supply will increase the productivity of labor. As far as real wages, it depends on how you define the term. I think Marx might say that the proletariat in a free market would continually receive a smaller percentage of the total social product (i.e. their wages would have less "value"). But I'm pretty sure that he didn't say that the quantity of use-values that the proletariat receives would decrease. As far as job creation, Marx said that it would increase and decrease in cycles. This is perfectly consistent with the historical record. 

As soon as this is confirmed, then the idea of a proletarian revolution being an inevitable law is blown out of the water.

I haven't yet read the portion of Marx's work that describes the proletarian revolution as an inevitable law, so I'm not sure how much I can comment on that. Even if it's not inevitable, I don't see how that affects the rest of his work.

BTW, Nietzsche, who I believe you had as your former avatar, also said some similar things on logic and is perhaps even closer to the Misesian characterization of polylogism. He also often included an interpretation of his opponent's psychology in his critique of their views. Nietzsche:

Origin of the logical.-- How did logic come into existence in man's head? Certainly out of illogic, whose realm originally must have been immense. Innumerable beings who made inferences in a way different from ours perished; for all that, their ways might have been truer. Those, for example, who did not know how to find often enough what is "equal" as regards both nourishment and hostile animals--those, in other words, who subsumed things too slowly and cautiously--were favored with a lesser probability of survival than those who guessed immediately upon encountering similar instances that they must be equal. The dominant tendency, however, to treat as equal what is merely similar--an illogical tendency, for nothing is really equal--is what first created any basis for logic.

In order that the concept of substance could originate--which is indispensible for logic although in the strictest sense nothing real corresponds to it--it was likewise necessary that for a long time one did not see or perceive the changes in things. The beings that did not see so precisely had an advantage over those who saw everything "in flux." At bottom, every high degree of caution in making inferences and every skeptical tendency constitute a great danger for life. No living beings would have survived if the opposite tendency--to affirm rather than suspend judgement, to err and make up things rather than wait, to assent rather than negate, to pass judgement rather than be just-- had not been bred to the point where it became extraordinarily strong.

***

Henceforth, my dear philosophers, let us be on guard against the dangerous old conceptual fiction that posited a "pure, will-less, painless, timeless knowing subject"; let us guard against the snares of such contradictory concepts as "pure reason," absolute spirituality," "knowledge in itself": these always demand that we should think of an eye that is completely unthinkable, an eye turned in no particular direction, in which the active and interpreting forces, through which alone seeing becomes seeing something, are supposed to be lacking; these always demand of the eye an absurdity and a nonsense. There is only a perspective seeing, only a perspective "knowing"; and the more affects we allow to speak about one thing, the more eyes, different eyes, we can use to observe one thing, the more complete will our "concept" of this thing, our "objectivity," be. But to eliminate the will altogether, to suspend each and every affect, supposing we were capable of this -- what would that mean but to castrate the intellect?

***

We are unable to affirm and to deny one and the same thing: this is a subjective empirical law, not the expression of any "necessity" but only of an inability.

If, according to Aristotle, the law of contradiction is the most certain of all principles, if it is the ultimate and most basic, upon which every demonstrative proof rests, if the principle of every axiom lies in it; then one should consider all the more rigorously what presuppositions already lie at the bottom of it. Either it asserts something about. actuality, about being, as if one already knew this from another source; that is, as if opposite attributes could not be ascribed to it. Or the proposition means: opposite attributes should not be ascribed to it. In that case, logic would be an imperative, not to know the true, but to posit and arrange a world that shall be called true by us.

In short, the question remains open: are the axioms of logic adequate to reality or are they a means and measure for us to create reality, the concept "reality," for ourselves.?--To affirm the former one would, as already said, have to have a previous knowledge of being--which is certainly not the case. The proposition therefore contains no criterion of truth, but an imperative concerning that which should count as true.

[...]

The conceptual ban on contradiction proceeds from the belief that we are able to form concepts, that the concept not only designates the essence of a thing but comprehends it--In fact, logic (like geometry and arithmetic) applies only to fictitious entities that we have created. Logic is the attempt to comprehend the actual world by means of a scheme of being posited by ourselves; more correctly, to make it formulatable and calculable for us.

***

Logic is merely slavery within the fetters of language.

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
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David B replied on Mon, Aug 20 2012 11:56 AM

FOTH : When Marx sides with the laborer, he is not trying to defend what the worker does, not trying to preserve the legitimacy of the proletarian way of life for all eternity. Rather, Marx sides with the proletarians because he believes they are the revolutionary class--the class that will bring about the abolition of class. This is a result of Marx's theory of dialectics and conflict. The class conflict is a contradiction in need of a resolution.

Then we need to go back and look at the conflict concept in Marx's theories.  I've been looking at it extensively from a praxeological basis.  I've been thinking that there might be some way to express some of praxeology in more formal way (mathematical logic).  By this I don't mean quantitative, but raw logic conclusions using definitions, if/then, set theory and perhaps some qualitative evaluations (less than/greater than), without attaching quantities.

I've been thinking for example that a primary construct at the core of the action concept is a value function.  A value function would be a simple evaluation that produces one result from a set of results.  The only thing we know about the result is that if we independently compared the result to any other member of the set, we would conclude that the "value" of the result was higher than the "value" of any other member of the original set.  We don't have a magnitude associated with the result, only a logical deduction that if there were a quantitative value produced, it would be greater than a quantitative value produced by any other result in the set.  It's like a mathematical MAX function on a set of variables, that returns a variable to you, you don't know the value contained in the variable, but you do know that it's value is higher than the others in the set.

But you made a different claim other than that his theory of conflict and dialectics produces this result.  You made the claim that class dynamics is the proper way to analyze the system.

For example, when you say that the proletariat is the class which will abolish class, I question whether or not the contention is true, because it depends on two arguments.

First, one must make the case that a class is an actual thing.  Meaning that the working class or the owner class are specifically generated by reality and are in fact distinct from each other.  For it to be a real binding classification one must demonstrate how the behaviors that constitute the class arise from the class and not from the members of the class, and then demonstrate how if one was not affiliated with the class the same behaviors would not arise, AND then demonstrate that the behaviors by which you distinguish class affliation aren't actually derived from a common underlying feature of the man in the first place.

To this argument I would respond, that praxeology explains all of the behaviors of both "classes", and in fact that it demonstrates that man regardless of his alleged class, exhibits class behaviors not based on class affiliation, but based on the real scarcity issues which he encounters.  

The Second argument that is required to be valid for class theory to be true is that the wiping away of class distinction is in fact possible.  By my first response, I argue that it doesn't exist in the first place.  However, even if it is true, my argument would be that scarcity and more specifically non-uniformity of reality predict that men will find himself in unequal states in reality.   There is no means by which to alleviate this circumstance of man.  However, economics is, and has always been, the response of man to these inequalities.  It's the social behaviors by which man converts the natural resources provided by reality into means by which he can attain ends.

You argue production in a classless society will be more fair.  I'm arguing that it is a classless society and it is constantly becoming more fair.  Property and law are the mechanisms that make it so, not by making every man equal in position and consequence, but by removing inequality in the interpretation and application of law.  Marx seems to argue that this is not possible, and that it's for the workers to swing the bias by force (conflict) to their side.  Meaning create for themselves an equally imbalanced reality whereby the property flows into the hands of the workers.

If instead you argue that property itself is the issue, I'll demonstrate that property is a necessary outcome of action.  And that property laws (rules that define the boundaries of legitimate use of matter) always exist in every society, and will under this hypothetical classless society.  If laws about the use of matter exist, they will either produce the same capitalist social interaction we see today, or produce some stratified hierarchical structure of unequal access to property (before the law, not in distribution), OR society will degenerate to subsistence level hunter/gatherer lifestyle.

There has been a transition through time, it's been an evolution of law.  It's been generated by the seeking of each man to attain his own ends.  Scarcity has forced man into conflict with his fellow man for resources.  And norms/laws have been the means by which man has sought to resolve the conflict that must occure.  There is no conflictless society.  Because there is scarcity, there is conflict.  Law has been steadily evolving through the ages to the place it's man needs most, which is equality before the law.  So that there are no subsets of men, before the law.  Meaning no aristocratic preferred position, where the rules for this class of people apply differently than to this other class of people.

That's the class distinction, and it's in the law.  If all men are even before the law, the distribution problem will still happen, conflict will still happen.  But each man will be able to rise or fall according to his own efforts and the fortunate position (or unfortunate position) that he finds himself in at each point in time.

Man will never truly be perfectly equal before the law in practice.  However, that is the goal.  That is the only standard of fairness which can possibly lead to less conflict.

 

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David: First, one must make the case that a class is an actual thing.  Meaning that the working class or the owner class are specifically generated by reality and are in fact distinct from each other.  For it to be a real binding classification one must demonstrate how the behaviors that constitute the class arise from the class and not from the members of the class, and then demonstrate how if one was not affiliated with the class the same behaviors would not arise, AND then demonstrate that the behaviors by which you distinguish class affliation aren't actually derived from a common underlying feature of the man in the first place.

I think Adam Smith gave a good concise formulation of class conflict: What are the common wages of labour, depends everywhere upon the contract usually made between those two parties [workers and capitalists], whose interests are by no means the same. The workmen desire to get as much, the masters to give as little as possible. The former are disposed to combine in order to raise, the latter in order to lower the wages of labour.

I think even Austrians would agree that workers should try to bargain for the highest wage possible and that capitalists should seek the highest profits possible. As Mises's calculation argument implies, the quantifiable monetary calculus is what defines the relationship between capitalist and laborer. Economic calculation only makes sense if we assume that people are trying to maximize their money. Thus, the relationship between capitalist and laborer is a competitive one, one where each's goals is mutually exclusive, a zero sum game. Every increase in wages for the worker signifies a loss of profits for the capitalist. This is clearly class conflict. The fact that this behavior wouldn't occur without class should be evident because this behavior is what constitutes the classes.

The Second argument that is required to be valid for class theory to be true is that the wiping away of class distinction is in fact possible.  By my first response, I argue that it doesn't exist in the first place.  However, even if it is true, my argument would be that scarcity and more specifically non-uniformity of reality predict that men will find himself in unequal states in reality.   There is no means by which to alleviate this circumstance of man.  However, economics is, and has always been, the response of man to these inequalities.  It's the social behaviors by which man converts the natural resources provided by reality into means by which he can attain ends.

I don't think class conflict is a good solution to the problem of scarcity. There's nothing in the concept of scarcity that suggests that competition and conflict would be a good solution. I think the prisoner's dilemma shows that when we approach our relations with others as a zero sum game, we all lose.

You argue production in a classless society will be more fair.  I'm arguing that it is a classless society and it is constantly becoming more fair.  Property and law are the mechanisms that make it so, not by making every man equal in position and consequence, but by removing inequality in the interpretation and application of law.  Marx seems to argue that this is not possible, and that it's for the workers to swing the bias by force (conflict) to their side.  Meaning create for themselves an equally imbalanced reality whereby the property flows into the hands of the workers.

I don't see how law can eliminate class. Who is imposing these laws? What if some people disagree with them? Wouldn't they constitute a different class? And if no one disagreed with the laws, then why would they be necessary in the first place?

If instead you argue that property itself is the issue, I'll demonstrate that property is a necessary outcome of action.  And that property laws (rules that define the boundaries of legitimate use of matter) always exist in every society, and will under this hypothetical classless society.  If laws about the use of matter exist, they will either produce the same capitalist social interaction we see today, or produce some stratified hierarchical structure of unequal access to property (before the law, not in distribution), OR society will degenerate to subsistence level hunter/gatherer lifestyle.

Well, as David Graeber and others have argued, a lot of the social interactions in today's capitalist society actually could already be described as "communist." Workers within a company, for example, don't perform monetary calculation with each other in order to complete tasks. The internet and open source community contains many successful examples of non-market production. Wikipedia, Firefox, and Linux rival the equivalents produced by capital.

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
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Neodoxy replied on Sun, Aug 26 2012 2:53 PM

"Nowhere in that quote does he say (or imply) that the ideologies don't need to be refuted by discursive reasoning or that it's useless to discuss things with another social class."

If their very patterns of thought are worn out and will be washed away with the next great age of man, exactly how do you expect to reason with those who employ logic?

"As far as I've read, Marx doesn't say that the proletariat is destined for poverty in the sense that I think you mean. And he in fact does say that an increase in the capital supply will increase the productivity of labor. As far as real wages, it depends on how you define the term. I think Marx might say that the proletariat in a free market would continually receive a smaller percentage of the total social product (i.e. their wages would have less "value"). But I'm pretty sure that he didn't say that the quantity of use-values that the proletariat receives would decrease. As far as job creation, Marx said that it would increase and decrease in cycles. This is perfectly consistent with the historical record."

1. This is perfectly opposed to everything that I have read about Marx. On an anecdotal personal level, even an ex-Marxist with a degree in economics who I used to live with (no joke) told me once when we were discussing the matter that Marx believed that the working class would be increasingly impoverished. When I asked him if this was in any way similar to the Malthusian idea of the Iron Law of Wages he actually stated that the proletariat might even be brought below the subsistence wage rate.

2. f the proletariat sees increasing or even steady wages above the point of subsistence how could anyone ever claim that it was a law that the proletariat would rise?

"Even if it's not inevitable, I don't see how that affects the rest of his work."

Well first it would destroy a lot of the work made by Marxists which stands firmly behind the idea of the inevitability of revolution. Secondly it would harm a lot of Marx's own credibility to even understand the repercussions of his work, and thirdly it would imply that many of Marx's "laws" about historical evolution were indeed false and that they would merely be a way that things could happen, a likely as anything else that was logically consistent.

I love Nietzsche's work, even if I find a lot of his writing rather fleeting, cryptic, and unjustified. As for the quotes that you posted up there I think that they have quite a few good points to them, and are as insightful as Nietzsche always is, but with this said they do not refute logic as such, merely its shortcomings in understanding our world.

 

At last those coming came and they never looked back With blinding stars in their eyes but all they saw was black...
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Neodoxy replied on Sun, Aug 26 2012 3:09 PM

"I think even Austrians would agree that workers should try to bargain for the highest wage possible and that capitalists should seek the highest profits possible. As Mises's calculation argument implies, the quantifiable monetary calculus is what defines the relationship between capitalist and laborer. Economic calculation only makes sense if we assume that people are trying to maximize their money. Thus, the relationship between capitalist and laborer is a competitive one, one where each's goals is mutually exclusive, a zero sum game. Every increase in wages for the worker signifies a loss of profits for the capitalist. This is clearly class conflict. The fact that this behavior wouldn't occur without class should be evident because this behavior is what constitutes the classes."

By this definition class conflict is unavoidable, but furthermore there are problems which are wrong with this.

1. Mises nor any Austrian ever assumed "Marximization of profits" as such, nor is it necessary for the calculation argument

2. On the same line of thinking people act based upon more than just material concerns, the laborers aren't just interested in maximizing their profit, there are other considerations.

3. There is some degree of harmony between worker and capitalist in that both have an incentive to ensure the survival of the company, although of course the larger the company the less this affects each laborer.

4. The nature of "conflict" here is an odd one, and of course we have to ask ourselves, what exactly does it really matter?

5. How is this a zero sum game? You know the effect that proper bargaining has upon production.

"I don't think class conflict is a good solution to the problem of scarcity. There's nothing in the concept of scarcity that suggests that competition and conflict would be a good solution. I think the prisoner's dilemma shows that when we approach our relations with others as a zero sum game, we all lose."

Of course there are, well the way that you are defining them. Both of these things, as you are defining them ensure that the consumer's are satisfied in the most thorough way possible and that, by and large and for the most part, all things are valued as the consumer's demand them.

"Workers within a company, for example, don't perform monetary calculation with each other in order to complete tasks. The internet and open source community contains many successful examples of non-market production. Wikipedia, Firefox, and Linux rival the equivalents produced by capital."

1. One of the apparent paradoxes of calculation is that it comes out of non-calculation. Workers are allowed to work in a non-calulated manner specifically because their actions have already been calculated for, that is the completion of their product.

2. All forms of "free" interaction like the development of software already exist within the system of calculation insofar as they use anything which costs money. They still have their effect upon the market, they just show the willingness of people to forego profit and work for free. No one ever claimed that things like non-profits were contradictions to the market process or were "communist" because they still function within the framework of the market. A market society without profit is indeed imaginable, although very unlikely. It would just have to exist within a world where people were still willing to work in the absence of profit.

At last those coming came and they never looked back With blinding stars in their eyes but all they saw was black...
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David B replied on Sun, Aug 26 2012 4:12 PM

 

David: First, one must make the case that a class is an actual thing.  <snip>
 
FOTH : I think Adam Smith gave a good concise formulation of class conflict: What are the common wages of labour, depends everywhere upon the contract usually made between those two parties [workers and capitalists], whose interests are by no means the same. The workmen desire to get as much, the masters to give as little as possible. The former are disposed to combine in order to raise, the latter in order to lower the wages of labour.
 
Both "classes" are in fact engaging in the same behavior, getting more and giving up less.  They are not different behaviors.  The exchange of labor for money is an exchange.  Both parties are getting something they value more for something they value less.  This is not the distinction between the "classes".  If this was true, then every exchange of labor for any good or service would make a person a worker, and any exchange of money for labor of any type would make him a capitalist.  There's not enough in that definition to clearly delineate a line that divides mankind into classes.
 
FOTH : I think even Austrians would agree that workers should try to bargain for the highest wage possible and that capitalists should seek the highest profits possible. As Mises's calculation argument implies, the quantifiable monetary calculus is what defines the relationship between capitalist and laborer. Economic calculation only makes sense if we assume that people are trying to maximize their money. Thus, the relationship between capitalist and laborer is a competitive one, one where each's goals is mutually exclusive, a zero sum game. Every increase in wages for the worker signifies a loss of profits for the capitalist. This is clearly class conflict. The fact that this behavior wouldn't occur without class should be evident because this behavior is what constitutes the classes.
 
Austrian Economics never argues about what should happen.  They explain what does happen.  What Austrian Economics explains is that in the market economy wages will rise, and profits will fall.  Any large profit, is a reward to the producer that enables him to invest in new productive efforts.  The large profit is also a signal to other market actors that there's money to be made producing the same (or similar) goods and services.  This drives the prices of hte products down, and drives his labor costs up, as the new producers enter the market and compete for workers.  
If the relationship is competitive and not cooperative, then every exchange is in fact competitive and not cooperative.  This can only be true if as you've stated elsewhere exchange is viewed as a zero-sum game.  More on that later, due to your use of the phrase in this response.
 
FOTH : I don't think class conflict is a good solution to the problem of scarcity. There's nothing in the concept of scarcity that suggests that competition and conflict would be a good solution. I think the prisoner's dilemma shows that when we approach our relations with others as a zero sum game, we all lose.
 
You misunderstand, scarcity produces conflict.   The socially peaceful response to the conflict generated by scarcity is to seek social means to reduce the costs incurred by actively fighting, and thus reap better rewards in aggregate to the members of the social group.   Please note that you have described exchange as a zero-sum game.  "When we approach our relations with others as a zero-sum game, we all lose."  Then I think you ought to take this admonition to heart.  If one views exchange in this way any explanations of the economic and political life of man forces him into conflict, and as you say we all lose.  If on the other hand you view exchange (a peaceful interaction) as a win-win, then one can in fact imagine that in free and fair exchange the state of man in reality is continually raised.  Doesn't history bear out that explanation of what happens in reality?  Please find a way to make the argument that the advances in science, economics, production aren't directly responsible for the rise in man's condition from his hunter-gatherer initial conditions, to the point where the average poor person in a first world country is obese and has a cell phone.
 
FOTH : I don't see how law can eliminate class. Who is imposing these laws? What if some people disagree with them? Wouldn't they constitute a different class? And if no one disagreed with the laws, then why would they be necessary in the first place?
 
You misunderstand me, you are asserting different conditions that men find themselves in, whether as a result of circumstances out of their control (birth, different raw capabilities), or circumstances that they choose (whether to save or to consume the fruits of their labor), are the source of the classes, and that these classes cause conflict.   I'm saying you completely misunderstand the nature of man, action, scarcity, and social interaction.
 
Scarcity forces man to choose which of many possible avenues of production and consumption to take, which actions to engage in and when.  Scarcity forces men to resolve between themselves which ends to put a scarce means to.  Property (and the laws/norms that enforce and define it) are a social construct that provides certainty, such that man is able to focus not on simply fighting with his fellow man for food and shelter, but instead allows him to cooperatively engage in much more circuitous productive efforts.  The energy and time spent in fighting his fellows can instead be spent in producing goods and services that improve thier lives and raise that social group above simple subsistence in a harsh deadly world.
 
David : If instead you argue that property itself is the issue, I'll demonstrate that property is a necessary outcome of action.  And that property laws (rules that define the boundaries of legitimate use of matter) always exist in every society, and will under this hypothetical classless society.  If laws about the use of matter exist, they will either produce the same capitalist social interaction we see today, or produce some stratified hierarchical structure of unequal access to property (before the law, not in distribution), OR society will degenerate to subsistence level hunter/gatherer lifestyle.
 
FOTH : Well, as David Graeber and others have argued, a lot of the social interactions in today's capitalist society actually could already be described as "communist." Workers within a company, for example, don't perform monetary calculation with each other in order to complete tasks. The internet and open source community contains many successful examples of non-market production. Wikipedia, Firefox, and Linux rival the equivalents produced by capital.
 
That doesn't mean economic exchange isn't a viable means to engage in social cooperation.  It simply means that in some places and at some times, it's not efficient or worth it to the actors involved.  That there can be sufficiently valued returns to bring action into existence without it being the exchange of money..  Awesome, that explains my wife not charging me for certain favors I get from her.
 
I'm very familiar with open source software, I'm a software developer, and have played in a few communities.  I understand the economics of it very well.  It's not communistic, in the sense you imagine.  Read this paper http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/cathedral-bazaar/
 
If you look closely at these communities there's are multiple specific tradeoffs for participation.  The primary one is in the value returned to the participant.  Most open source software is developed by people who get value from the use of the software directly.  Or as my company does, people hired to participate, due to the value the ocompany can get from solutions built using such software.  The community is a direct backlash against misappropriation of design (as opposed to instance of design) as a commodity.
 
Copyright and Patent laws create false scarcity where it does not exist.  New ideas are scarce, existing ideas are not.  Copying an idea is cheap.  Copying software, data, any digital information is cheap.  Open Source software is a specific backlash against the devastation of the software market by corporate copyrights and patents.  As developers we value the content we generate, and when we go to solve problems that we constantly encounter over again, not being able to use a solution we've created in the past, when there is no real scarcity issue is obviously ludicrous.  
 
The mistake of interpretation of these projects is in thinking that what happens to produce those products isn't a production effort that involves investments of capital.  The labor spent is capital.  Human action tells us that the people who worked on the software got value from the work.  Look at Red Hat, they generate and sell products based on Linux.  They are able (so far to make a profit) they invest a fair amount of their profits in continuing to work on the core Linux kernel.  They generate a lot of software content that they contribute back into the open source community.  The gain also the effort of lots of other developers they aren't paying directly.
 
I'm sure you understand that the please for donations on Wikipedia, demonstrate the harsh realities of any productive effort.  Wikipedia is not a counter-example.  Millions of people around the world run private websites at a loss because it serves another end to them.  Wikipedia is no less that, however, it's become part of the internet ecosystem, currently it relies on the donations of those who are willing to donate to the site to keep it up.  That's a version of payment for service.
 
I'm also very familiar with the history of Firefox from it's origins in Netscape, and the transition to the Mozilla project, and the eventual rise of the Lightweight Firefox which ended up essentially killing the heavyweight Mozilla browser suite.  It was a competitive response to the takeover by Microsoft.
 
I'd continue to look at the internet and profit models in that domain.  They are constrained by the facts of that specific continuum, but the behaviors of people are still consistent with the underlying principles of human action.  In particular notice that scarcity is not quite the same in the internet domain.  The scarce resources are 1)Processing power, 2) Memory, 3) Bandwidth, 4) Unique specific content.  
But once content is generated, it's simply a matter of creating interest, at that point the content can command the other 3 scarce resources and get itself replicated (in a viral fashion) anywhere in the world.

 

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David B replied on Sun, Aug 26 2012 4:20 PM

@FOTH, glad we get to continue.  I enjoy the discussion.  Some supporting a marxist socialist ideology can be quite nasty, instead of just trying to communicate and discuss the ideas themselves.

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