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Friday, November 03, 2023

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>>The end is a socialist order; the means is the imposition of socialism and the eradication of capitalism by means of the coercive power of the state… But then his Marxism contradicts his anarchism.<<

Excellent analysis, Bill. You’ve highlighted what seems to be a fundamental contradiction in Wolff’s position. I wonder if there is also a contradiction between his Marxism and his Kantian commitment. Consider the humanity formulation of Kant’s CI:

“Act in such a way as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of anyone else, always as an end and never merely as a means.” (See p. 29 of Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysic of Morals here: https://www.earlymoderntexts.com/assets/pdfs/kant1785.pdf )

Arguably, in practice, the use of the state's coercive power to impose socialism and eradicate capitalism would involve treating some person(s) as a mere means to those ends. And yet such treatment violates the humanity formulation of the CI. Hence, assuming Wolff endorses the CI, he faces the contradiction of both supporting the use of persons as mere means and objecting to the use of persons as mere means.

I hadn't thought of that, Elliot. But I think you are right.

By the way, T. Jefferson's "That government governs best that governs least" seems to imply anarchism in that the gov't that governs least does not govern at all.

TJ could shoot back: but then it's not a government if governs not at all.

TJ's rejoinder sounds right. "Non-governing governing body" sounds like a contradiction in terms.

But his "That government governs best that governs least" does seem to imply minimal state libertarianism, or something like it. Though I suppose an advocate of bigger gov. could fire back that "least government" must include, say, some welfare programs, redistributive taxation, etc.

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