Event Title

Marx, Mill, And Dead Dogma: A Ruthless Revisiting Of Existing Criticism

Location

SU 217

Start Date

19-4-2019 12:20 PM

Department

Nontraditional Degree Programs

Session

Session 8

Description

Karl Marx’s essay “For A Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing” and John Stuart Mill’s chapter “On the Liberty of Thought and Discussion” from On Liberty both explore the search for truth in the face of the suppression of ideas and speech. While the two wrote at about the same time and came to similar conclusions about the problematic nature of dogma and the importance of a free and open discourse, significant differences exist between their theories. As contemporary criticism and journalism begin to dig deep into the individuals and motives behind modern suppression of speech and the press, such as the efforts described by Ronan Farrow in his article for The New Yorker “Israeli Operatives Who Aided Harvey Weinstein Collected Information on Former Obama Administration Officials,” it is natural to reach for past wisdom in an attempt to salvage an increasingly dysfunctional discourse. While we look to the past, however, we must also be aware of the many ways in which the world has changed. Author Malcolm Harris’s Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials paints a picture of American society today that gives context to Farrow’s reporting. This paper will compare and contrast the approaches to dogma and debate as outlined by Marx’s “For A Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing” and “The German Ideology,” and Marx’s explanation of the circulation of money from “Capital, Volume One” with Mill’s “On the Liberty of Thought and Discussion” to demonstrate that Marx better anticipated the significant potential for the events described by Farrow to occur, and that Mill’s criticism is not ruthless enough to address these issues adequately today, given the changes outlined by Harris. This paper will explore what such a return to Marx might mean for our understanding of free speech. By utilizing Harris’s work to anchor a material reality familiar to the average college student or recent graduate, this paper will shine a light on the realities of the world in which our contemporary socio-political discourse exists and contrast that reality with the theoretical and idealized conditions required to realize Mill’s vision of a free and open discourse. In a country and larger world at the mercy of a dysfunctional, polarized public discourse characterized by mistrust, misinformation, corporatism, and unequal access, this paper raises crucial and timely questions worth considering if we wish to preserve free speech for future generations.

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Sophia Mihic is the faculty sponsor for this project.

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Apr 19th, 12:20 PM

Marx, Mill, And Dead Dogma: A Ruthless Revisiting Of Existing Criticism

SU 217

Karl Marx’s essay “For A Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing” and John Stuart Mill’s chapter “On the Liberty of Thought and Discussion” from On Liberty both explore the search for truth in the face of the suppression of ideas and speech. While the two wrote at about the same time and came to similar conclusions about the problematic nature of dogma and the importance of a free and open discourse, significant differences exist between their theories. As contemporary criticism and journalism begin to dig deep into the individuals and motives behind modern suppression of speech and the press, such as the efforts described by Ronan Farrow in his article for The New Yorker “Israeli Operatives Who Aided Harvey Weinstein Collected Information on Former Obama Administration Officials,” it is natural to reach for past wisdom in an attempt to salvage an increasingly dysfunctional discourse. While we look to the past, however, we must also be aware of the many ways in which the world has changed. Author Malcolm Harris’s Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials paints a picture of American society today that gives context to Farrow’s reporting. This paper will compare and contrast the approaches to dogma and debate as outlined by Marx’s “For A Ruthless Criticism of Everything Existing” and “The German Ideology,” and Marx’s explanation of the circulation of money from “Capital, Volume One” with Mill’s “On the Liberty of Thought and Discussion” to demonstrate that Marx better anticipated the significant potential for the events described by Farrow to occur, and that Mill’s criticism is not ruthless enough to address these issues adequately today, given the changes outlined by Harris. This paper will explore what such a return to Marx might mean for our understanding of free speech. By utilizing Harris’s work to anchor a material reality familiar to the average college student or recent graduate, this paper will shine a light on the realities of the world in which our contemporary socio-political discourse exists and contrast that reality with the theoretical and idealized conditions required to realize Mill’s vision of a free and open discourse. In a country and larger world at the mercy of a dysfunctional, polarized public discourse characterized by mistrust, misinformation, corporatism, and unequal access, this paper raises crucial and timely questions worth considering if we wish to preserve free speech for future generations.