I enjoy watching Professor Bettany Hughes. She normally covers the ancient world, but in this case she did three episodes in the 19th Century. The common element? All three were German speakers, Karl Marx, Freidrich Nietzsche, and Sigmund Freud.
The first episode was Karl Marx. Marx learned his agitating from his father, who idolized Napoleon. The main thing Marx seemed to learn was being an agitator, when he went to University, where, this being Prussia, he got himself into a duel. Marx was well off, but not part of the Prussian Juncker Aristocracy. He was going to get in trouble in Prussia sooner or later. He eventually fled to Paris, with his family, where he got in trouble, then to Brussels, where he had to sign papers saying he wouldn’t agitate, though he didn’t keep to it, then eventually to England, with his new lifelong friend who he met in Paris Freidrich Engels. Engels was from a family owning mills in Manchester. I enjoyed the description of Engels in the Wikipedia article. A radical, who liked his fox hunting and parties. I wondered if Theresa May could be friends with him. Today, you would call him a “Champagne Socialist,” or “Limousine Liberal.”
Watching this, as a Political Science major, I learned several things:
Both Marx and Engels were professional agitators. It made me think back to my days at City College of New York, with the Marxist agitators. I never paid attention to the connection before. This is how Marxist nations had cadres. The system was dependent on having professional agitators. I realized Marx was really a bum, who could write, mainly supported by Engels, who combined his care for the poor with still wanting the life of the rich. I wonder what would’ve happened to him, if he was in Russia for the Boleshevik victory. Think Dr. Zhivago, when he returns to the family home from World War I. There would have been a party in the house, but not the type Engels enjoyed. Fox hunting would’ve been out.
I read something recently, it might have been BBC Future, and it spoke about Das Kapital, which I had to read in college. What Marx got right was it depended on who controlled the means of production. Engels in his factory controlled the means of production.
Yes, in my life would I like to be paid more. Having said that, I also know at a certain point as a worker, I will price myself out of a job. If Engels was generous with his workers, how far could he go, without going out of business? Also, he should be able to enjoy ownership, after all, he provided the means and put his all into it. What Marxism seems to be saying is “Congratulations, to your enterpreneurship, now hand it over to the people,” the people being whoever the leadership designates. The article stated that in some ways your “Marxist” states were capitalism run by bureaucrats. Probably your remaining Marxist university professors would say the same thing.
Social class took hold for Marx in the University of Bonn, him against the Prussian Junkers. So class was everything. The lower classes could be uppity to their betters. When the Prussian authorities shut down Marx’s newspaper, it was like the movie Robin Hood, when the Sheriff of Nottingham says, “You’ve come to Nottingham Castle once too often.”
When Marx gets to Paris, Prof. Hughes discusses the ideas, of property being theft, workers cooperatives, etc. Marx is a journalist, but also a professional agitator. Religion as the opiate of the masses? I just finished binge watching House of Cards. The Kevin Spacey character Frank Underwood, knows how to give tidbits to the masses. Speaking with the older ladies in my apartment complex, I realized all I would have to do as a sleazy politician would be protect Social Security & Medicaid, have cookouts and scare people to death by running Fox all the time.
Some of the kids at work, I might have a different campaign. In other words, payoffs.
When she speaks to Professor Angie Hobbs, Professor Hobbs, talks about how Marx saw, the arts, law etc. as weapons of the powerful. Why later Marxist states worked to control the arts. Marx praises the “bourgeoisie for creating the advances, but then they are supposed to hand it over. Again, yeah sure, I say in a sarcastic Brooklyn voice. To keep your power, you have to provide certain members of the proletariat, with just a touch more power. Police officers, your army, Ceaucescu in Romania at the end used miners to put down protests, gave them a little more food and better apartments. I liked the part of Marx moving to the suburbs, bourgeois lifestyle, including dance lessons for the girls. Can’t forget the niceties for the party theoreticians, lol!
The opening of the British Museum Reading Room provided statistics for Marx to use.
When Professor Hughes states Das Kapital didn’t have the impact Marx had hoped for, I remember reading Das Kapital. It’s dense, then again, it was translated from German. Also, the workers he was aiming for, would have had a hard time with it. Why you needed the agitators to speak to crowds. As Prof. Hughes stated, Stalin would have sent Marx to the gulag. My Dad always said, Marxism was like a religious cult in some ways. Certain people had the word of Marx, and we are going to teach it to you poor benighted workers.
I grew up knowing people from the Eastern Bloc. I didn’t need help in disliking the Communist world. You were always going to have a small corps of activists with the word from above, foisting it on the rest of us. There’s no way it can not become dogmatic. Marxist professors can keep saying the Communist states weren’t really Communist, but there is no way for their theoretical Messianic Marxism to come to pass.
Especially not in the digital age. I don’t see how. People who develop digital businesses have power the Manchester mill owner couldn’t even begin to imagine.
Say for the sake of argument someone leads a group of people and forces Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos from running their companies. (Seattle would never be the same). Who among the mob will have the skills to run those companies? Do you have the “Red vs. Expert,” where the skilled person running the company will constantly have an unskilled Party hack making the decisions? A Communist takeover in that case can only be violent. The leaders would have their personal issues, that affect people now.
By declaring God dead, everyone could have their own morals, and the freedom comes with a price. I hated reading Nietzsche in school. I can see why the Nazis cherry picked his ideas.
I can see why he turned from religion after his pastor father died. Nietzsche meeting Wagner. Now there is a combination. Wagner leading toward the Greek God Dionysus. Loss of control, German philosophy describing individualism, the suffering going to having a good time in a collective experience, like a rock concert. Good description, but with Wagner’s Anti-Semitism you can see where extreme German nationalism and Nazism came from. Nietzsche stormed out of the theater when watching The Ring, hating the elite attending the performance. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. A profound statement professor and something we all have to learn, so we can move on. We need to scars to grow as people. Something I learned on my own.
Thank you, Professor Hughes, for the explanation of Uber Mensch. It is not how the Nazis took it to mean, but the idea of one’s own goals. More like having a coach push you to reach your goals, not a master race. Or better yet, the Master Race has nothing to do with skin color or ethnicity. Maybe scientists will find there is a genetic element, but it is not determined by artificial things.
Professor Gemes and Christianity. Nietzsche felt Christianity catered to the weak, and didn’t like the idea of compassion. Another place I can see Nazism growing out of this. Again, Nietzsche would have been appalled by the Nazis, but he still felt Christianity held humanity back. As with Marx, another case, where the ideology can be made dogmatic for other reasons.
Nietzsche’s sister Elizabeth published the works Nietzsche did not want published and she became a Nazi supporter in her old age. “Evil loves nothing better than a void,” Professor Hughes said and Germany had the void making the Nazis possible. Even if Nietzsche had been appalled by the Nazis, it happened that way. Now the overload I feel Nietzsche predicted is happening. That is for my next essay, Diary of a Grumpy Old Man.
I’m dedicating this part to my glamourous psychologist friend Dr. Rita Pettiford. Professor Hughes starts out, with how it set up using modern advertising to appeal to people, people speaking about their inner demons. I will get back to whether he is a charlatan or not later.
His childhood? A bright young man, seems a bit arrogant. I learned about Breuer, who used “talking therapy” to get people to say whatever came into their minds. I like the troubleshooting trying to uncover traumas holding people back. Breuer stated he cured a woman being afraid to drink water to seeing a dog, drinking out of a master’s class. Well OK.
Why did Freud see sex as the basic issue? Seems to be no connection how that started. They would have had no idea of brain chemistry, or DNA and how it effective people. His first talk about neurosis, went back to sex. Monty Python routines come to mind, but on a serious side, much of it makes almost all men become perverts,
At least he was willing to do analysis of his own dreams. He sees himself as a pioneer, and others would follow. Learned more about the Freudian slip, with the Austrian politician. To him the past never went away and had something to push.
Where did he get the theories of penis envy in women and castration fears in men. He seemed to be leading to, everyone would become neurotic, and without the talking cure for everyone, it will never be solved. It makes it sound like all men fear being diminished and all women really want to be men. Prof. Hughes said even with the clinical attitude, Freud’s colleague Fleiss was right and Freud was reading his own thoughts into the sessions. A bit like an astrologer or fortune teller.
I can’t comment on the shell shock itself, as I can’t even imagine what these men and women go through. Freud seemed to get it right about the psychology behind shell shock.
The Death Drive: Freud suggesting this that people wanted to undo the bonds of life. It goes against the idea of self survival.
Id: Unconscious Death Drive Sex.
Super Ego: Internal Conscience ideals and moral guardian in conflict with the Id.
Ego: The way to manage, not cure the other two.
To Freud you are never really cured.
I have a hesitation about psychology & the world of shrinks. My Chemist father taught me science would explain it sooner or later. (We are getting there through chemistry, brain analysis and DNA). My real hesitation, (which will be explained in a book I plan to write later), is that as a young child, I was diagnosed with autism and the therapist recommended to my parents institutionalizing me. My father said no. Again, going back to Marx and politics how individuals can make a big difference on many people. Therefore, I admit, I have a bias against Freud. I try to be open minded but you can understand my feelings.
I still just can’t figure out how he can make the connections.
Again Professor Hughes, thank you.