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Secular Paul of Tarsus

Monday, 19 December 2016 at 20:42

Marx on Dr John Dunn. Spinoza begins Ethics with his definitions, starting with the “cause of itself” or causa sui. Definition 3 says: “By substance, I understand that which is in itself and is conceived through itself; in other words, that, the conception of which does not need the conception of another thing from which it must be formed.”

This was the basis of Spinoza’s materialist outlook, even if we have to set aside the mystical origins of substance in Spinoza’s great presupposition.

Spinoza’s philosophy reflected the world around him, in his case, the nascent financial capitalist world of 17th century Amsterdam.

Marx famously said that -

The Jew has emancipated himself in a typically Jewish fashion not only in that he has taken control of the power of money, but also in that through him, money has become a world power and the practical Jewish spirit has become the spirit of the Christian people. The Jews have emancipated themselves insofar as the Christians have become Jews. The god of the Jews has become secularised and has become the god of the earth. (Marx, The Jewish Question)
Spinoza’s philosophy was the secular correlative of the emancipated Marrano Judaism of Amsterdam.

Hegel believed that he had superseded Spinoza with his own secular correlative of Christianity.

Marx did not so much turn Hegel on his head, but rather re-imposed a materialist Spinozism in a Hegelianised form. Marx was the secular Paul of Tarsus.

© John Dunn.

Warfare to welfare

Monday, 12 December 2016 at 22:01

Welfare on Dr John Dunn. The world really is changing and nothing in the liberal economy is sacred - including welfare. The distance of time is making radical views of welfare, if not mainstream, at least discussable in thinking circles. Take this tiny excerpt from an essay in the current e-flux journal.


The origin of welfare cannot be found solely within a logic of insurance against the risks of “work” and the risks of “life” (the Foucauldian school under managerial influence), but first and foremost in the logic of war. Warfare largely anticipated and prepared welfare. Starting in the 1930s, the two became indistinguishable.

The enormous militarization of total war, which transformed internationalist workers into sixty million nationalist soldiers, was “democratically” reterritorialized by and in welfare. The conversion of the war economy into the liberal economy, the conversion of the science and technology of the instruments of death into the means of production of “goods,” and the subjective conversion of the militarized population into “workers” took place thanks to the enormous apparatus of state intervention along with the active participation of “companies” (corporate capitalism). Warfare pursued its logic by other means in welfare.

Maurizio Lazzarato and Éric Alliez, To Our Enemies.

Posted by John Dunn.

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