Print

Print


When they wrote the Manifesto, Marx & Engels were not yet “Marxists.” That
is why they made the mistake of referring to history as a record of _class_
conflict. In fact, as Marx later demonstrated¸Class (an abstraction¸a
relation and a process) exists _only_ in capitalism. _Caste_ (or _Estates_)
is the proper designation for what is called class in non-capitalist
societies. Thus you don’t have to label Eliot (or anyone else) a Communist
on the basis of their view of the modern world resembling that in the
quotation I posted.

Eliost clearly abhorred the disappearance of distinctios in the “modern
world”: Consider that as a beginning for analysis of the opening paragraph
of East Coker. We start with archaic language mng a period whenthere was
still an English Peasantry (a caste or Estate rather than a class). And the
house agent’s clerk is “one of the low,” because he exists in a world in
which only the abstractions of “high” and “low” exist. _Murdfer in the
Cathedral_ pays homage to a world of visible distinctions and relations, a
world of _estates_. _The Cocktail Party_ may be seen as an effort to
reconcile himself to a world of abstract individuals. (Abstract in that they
exist separately and in abstraction from any of a large number of slots into
which they can fit themselves or be fitted. The stability, the solidity of
relationships, the clear demarcation between the sacred and the profane
which characterized pre-modern societies has disappeared.

Eliot of course would (and did) advocate quite different ways (from M&E) of
responding to the world projected in the passage I quoted, but he almost
certainly would have agreed with it AS A DESCRIPTION. That is nearly
explicit in his varius comments on “divided sensibility,” etc. TWL is also
explicitly a reaction to world in which all fixed relations disappeared, in
which all that was solid (distinct; meaningful) had dissolved.

CR in his rush into the pseudo- scholarship of Wikipedia did not pause to
read the words in front of him. Read the words, forgetting the politics of
the writers, and you may be surprised at their harmony with Eliot’s
characteristic stance.

Incidentally, it is a wel established principle of hermeneutics that a word
or passage has to be grasped first in and of itself  and only then fitted
into a context that will modify that meaning. To start with the context is
to refuse to read, since what you read should help determine _what_ context
is relevant, since every sentence has an infinity of contexts in which it
can be fitted. 

Carrol

From: T. S. Eliot Discussion forum. [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf
Of Nancy Gish
Sent: Friday, November 26, 2010 10:39 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Attitudes / Prejudice

If anyone is interested, there are several discussions in articles in
Chinitz's A Companion to T. S. Eliot that address Eliot's opposition to
communism.
 
I don't think Carrol was at all suggesting that Eliot liked it--maybe the
ironic parallel with Eliot's own sweeping away of aesthetic assumptions.
But Carrol would have to explain himself.
 
I think anyone on the list could easily find the quotation now that we can
google nearly anything that well known.  I wasn't implying that there was or
should be any secret.  But why not post Marx--with or without identifying
it?   Anything that well known is of course accessible to all.  
 
My interest, really, is that the list engage, as here, with ideas from
members rather than  dropped-in quotations, Carrol's included.  But he did
raise the question of a parallel.
Nancy
>>> Tom Colket 11/26/10 11:03 AM >>>
Regarding the post by CR, Nancy wrote

N> As Carrol said, it's famous.  It's easy to find.  Is there a reason for
this?

Is there a reason Carrol posted a quote from Karl Marx without identifying
its source? ("Here is a famous brief account of change in the modern
relations and thought."). 

I don't know CR's reason for identifying the quote, but I think the List
should know what it's dealing with.  I'm glad CR identified the passage for
those who did not recognize it.

Anyway, back to Eliot. . .

Given that Eliot declared himself to be a "classicist in literature,
royalist in politics, and Anglo-Catholic in religion," I don't think that he
thought too much of communism. 

However, as a classicist in literature and Anglo-Catholic in religion, Eliot
believed in certain eternal truths that spring both from a human nature that
is unchanging throughout time and eternal truths that are dictated by God. 
Given that, I think Eliot was suspicious that "things that were changing"
were often changing for the worse (e.g., his Marie Lloyd essay bemoaning the
closing of music halls). In that respect, he may agree with the section of
the Marx quote that Carrol cites regarding "All that is solid melts into
air, all which is holy is profaned".

 --Tom --