Episode 45: Argumentation and Exploitation – Interview with Ben Burgis (Part 1)

Brendan and Andrew interview Ben Burgis, a philosophy instructor and popular leftist podcast host––about rational argument and logic, and about his theory of capitalist exploitation and its relation to Marx’s. In Part 1 of the interview, they begin by discussing Ben’s 2019 book, Give Them an Argument: Logic for the Left. Ben explains what the book is about and why he wrote it. He and the co-hosts then discuss the negative attitude toward rational argument that is prevalent in the “online left” subculture, as well as why they consider it important to defend reason, argument, and logic. The discussion then turns to Ben’s essay, “Marx’s Theory of Exploitation”––the co-hosts “give him an argument” and he responds. At issue is whether Ben’s theory of exploitation was Marx’s theory as well. In particular, did Marx agree that workers are the only people who have a right to the products they produce? (In Part 2, which will air in the near future, the exploitation debate turns to G. A. Cohen’s attempt to prove, by means of a “plain argument,” that workers are exploited––Andrew thinks the argument is just plain bad, while Ben endorses it––and to evaluations of the “plain argument” and Marx’s theory in its original form.)

In the discussion of property rights, the participants refer to Marx’s Capital (vol. 1, chap. 24) and
part 1 of his Critique of the Gotha Program.

The episode’s current-event segment focuses on a recent article (and a slightly revised version being promoted by Monthly Review) in which Vincente Navarro tries to rescue the discredited claim that Trumpism is a working-class revolt against neoliberalism and suggests that Trumpism remains a threat because Democrats refuse to embrace economic populism.

Radio Free Humanity is a podcast covering news, politics and philosophy from a Marxist-Humanist perspective. It is co-hosted by Brendan Cooney and Andrew Kliman. We intend to release new episodes every two weeks. Radio Free Humanity is sponsored by MHI, but the views expressed by the co-hosts and guests of Radio Free Humanity are their own. They do not necessarily reflect the views and positions of MHI.

We welcome and encourage listeners’ comments, posted on this episode’s page.

Please visit MHI’s online print publication, With Sober Senses, for further news, commentary, and analysis.

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June 11, 2021

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