Friday, November 4, 2016

Popper, Marx, and Plato

 Popper says there is agreement between him and Marx on some points:

"What is common to Marx's criticism and mine
is that both demand more realism. But there are many

Next, Popper, in a light, but lucid, personal way, reflects on Marx:

 "In arguing against Utopianism, Marx condemns
all social engineering. He denounces the hope in a rational
planning of social institutions as altogether unrealistic, since
society must grow according to the laws of history and not
according to our rational plans. All we can do, he maintains,
is to lessen the birthpangs of the historical processes. In other
words, he opposes a radical historicism to all social engineering. "

And Popper centers on the region where he cannot agree with Marx:

"But there is one element within Utopianism, characteristic, for
instance, of Plato's approach, which Marx does not oppose. It
is one of the elements which I have attacked as unrealistic.
This is its sweep, its attempt to deal with society as
a whole
; for he expects that history will bring us a revolution
which will completely re-model the whole ' social system '. "

Very rarely on that high level do they write things
you have not read before in many places. Popper continues on his own,
though also with caution:

"This sweep, this radicalism of the Platonic approach (and of
the Marxian as well) is, I believe, connected with its aestheticism,
i.e. with the desire to build a world which is not only a little
better and more rational than ours, but which is free from all its
ugliness : not a crazy quilt, an old garment badly patched, but
an entirely new coat, a really beautiful new world."

"This aestheticism is a very understandable attitude ; in fact, I believe
most of us suffer from it a little (some reasons why we do so may
emerge from the next chapter). But this aesthetic enthusiasm
becomes valuable only if it is bridled by reason, by a feeling of
responsibility, and by a humanitarian urge to help. Otherwise
it is a dangerous enthusiasm, liable to develop into a form of
neurosis or hysteria."
The Open Society And Its Enemies Vol I
by Popper, K.R.

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