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Thread: A Thought on Dialectics

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    Default A Thought on Dialectics

    Okay, first off, I don't see dialectics as a science; it can be a religion for some and complete bullshit to others, and that's not what I'm interested in arguing. I think it can be useful as one tool, out of many, to be used for interpreting the past, but nothing more than that.

    But some people did believe it - like Karl Marx. And keep in mind that this is a thought experiment, something I just thought of and decided to see how people reacted to it:

    What if our present society, or something close was the one that Marx envisioned when he was writing the Communist Manifesto?

    I mean, he was an intelligent guy; he had to have applied his own theories to themselves. I don't think he simply assumed that every single person alive would immediately see the value of his writing and simply "convert" wholesale.

    He knew there would be resistance. And his own system leaves the possibility that it would not (and could not) simply replace the old structures entirely.

    What if Karl Marx proposed communism as the antithesis of capitalism, knowing full well that his own system of dialectics implied that the two would eventually synthesize instead of one replacing the other?

    What if Marx was secretly anticipating a mixed economy all along?

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    The synthesis is of capitalist productive forces and communist relations of production, not one or two communist enterprises in a capitalist state.
    "We stand with great emotion before the millions who gave their lives for the world communist movement, the invincible revolutionaries of the heroic proletarian history, before the uprisings of working men and women and poor farmers – the mass creators of history.

    Their example vindicates human existence."

    - from 'Statement of the Central Committee of the KKE (On the 90th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia 1917)'

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    What if Karl Marx proposed communism as the antithesis of capitalism, knowing full well that his own system of dialectics implied that the two would eventually synthesize instead of one replacing the other?
    "Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis" is not dialectics.

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    Kun Fana, you seem to be referring to historical materialism, a theory which does not need any dialectics at all for it to work.

    Which is a good job, since, as I have shown, dialectics cannot explain change -- or, alternatively, if dialectics were true, change would be impossible. Proof here:

    http://z11.invisionfree.com/Kasama_T...?showtopic=460

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...4&postcount=23

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...5&postcount=24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kun Fanâ View Post
    What if Karl Marx proposed communism as the antithesis of capitalism, knowing full well that his own system of dialectics implied that the two would eventually synthesize instead of one replacing the other?
    Capitalism-Thesis, Socialism-Antithesis, Communism-Synthesis.

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    BenHur:

    Capitalism-Thesis, Socialism-Antithesis, Communism-Synthesis.
    This would only work if one were stupid enough to think that history had a mind, and that it thought about things -- as Hegel sort of imagined.

    Except, this is not even Hegel's schema:

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...95&postcount=7

    It's Kant and Fichte's!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    This would only work if one were stupid enough to think that history had a mind, and thought about things -- as Hegel sort of imagined.
    I can see though how this looked appealing in the second half of the nineteenth century but in trying to understand Marxism as a theory I've been having great difficulty reconciling the underlying DM determinism with the need for conscious action - particularly with Lenin who seems to engage in continual double-think. Why do we need the revolutionary party if history, in working through its own contradictions, is propelling us towards a communist resolution?

    I've just had a look at Rosa's intro essay and it makes a lot of sense to me - from our vantage point why assume we can squeeze the whole of human history into a single schema particularly given the events of the last 100 years which hardly support the idea of the onward march of history.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    BenHur:



    This would only work if one were stupid enough to think that history had a mind, and thought about things --
    History is the study of social evolution. And is there a society without individuals? Individuals do have a mind, don't they?

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    BenHur:

    History is the study of social evolution. And is there a society without individuals? Individuals do have a mind, don't they?
    Indeed, but then history does not, so how can it develop in the way you suggested?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Louise Michel View Post
    I can see though how this looked appealing in the second half of the nineteenth century but in trying to understand Marxism as a theory I've been having great difficulty reconciling the underlying DM determinism with the need for conscious action - particularly with Lenin who seems to engage in continual double-think. Why do we need the revolutionary party if history, in working through its own contradictions, is propelling us towards a communist resolution?

    I've just had a look at Rosa's intro essay and it makes a lot of sense to me - from our vantage point why assume we can squeeze the whole of human history into a single schema particularly given the events of the last 100 years which hardly support the idea of the onward march of history.
    If your read Althussers For Marx, I think chapter Contradiction and Overdetermination, he goes more specifically into contradictions that will lead to social revolution. This idea of overdetermination runs along the lines that certain of societies contradictions need to be highten for a social revolution, just not one between productive forces and relations of production. Thus leading to the idea that revolution in Russia occured because of a overdertmination of contradictions.

    There is more to it, but you have to read it for yourself.

    Here is the chapter http://www.marxists.org/reference/ar...ermination.htm
    The spiritual atom bomb which the revolutionary people possess is a far more powerful and useful weapon than the physical atom bomb. - Lin Biao

    Our code of morals is our revolution. What saves our revolution, what helps our revolution, what protects our revolution is right, is very right and very honourable and very noble and very beautiful, because our revolution means justice

    - Dr. George Habash, founder of the PFLP.



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    Quote Originally Posted by benhur View Post
    History is the study of social evolution. And is there a society without individuals? Individuals do have a mind, don't they?
    I don't think she means History, as a study, is mindless.
    I think she meant something more like, "Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living." (Marx)
    "The sun shines. To hell with everything else!" - Stephen Fry

    "As the world of the spectacle extends its reign it approaches the climax of its offensive, provoking new resistances everywhere. These resistances are very little known precisely because the reigning spectacle is designed to present an omnipresent hypnotic image of unanimous submission. But they do exist and are spreading.", The Bad Days Will End.


    "(The) working class exists and struggles in all countries, and has the same enemies in all countries – the police, the army, the unions, nationalism, and the fake ‘socialism’ of the bourgeois left. It shows that the conditions for a worldwide revolution are ripening everywhere today. It shows that workers and revolutionaries are not passive spectators of inter-imperialist conflicts: they have a camp to choose, the camp of the proletarian struggle against all the factions of the bourgeoisie and all imperialisms." -ICC, Nation or Class?

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    Hiero:

    If your read Althussers For Marx, I think chapter Contradiction and Overdetermination, he goes more specifically into contradictions that will lead to social revolution. This idea of overdetermination runs along the lines that certain of societies contradictions need to be highten for a social revolution, just not one between productive forces and relations of production. Thus leading to the idea that revolution in Russia occured because of a overdertmination of contradictions.
    But, we have yet to have explained to us (by Hegel, Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Althusser..., or anyone at Revleft, for that matter -- least of all you) why these are 'contradictions' to begin with.

    And, even if we knew why they were, as I have shown, if dialectics were true (and change were the result of these 'internal contradictions') change would in fact be impossible.

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    Bilan:

    I don't think she means History, as a study, is mindless.
    I think she meant something more like, "Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living." (Marx)
    No, it's quite clear what I meant: if this idealist schema (Thesis/Anti-thesis, etc., drawn from Kan and Fichte, not Hegel) is correct, then the entire universe, and not just human history, is just an aspect of the development of mind.

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    Right.
    "The sun shines. To hell with everything else!" - Stephen Fry

    "As the world of the spectacle extends its reign it approaches the climax of its offensive, provoking new resistances everywhere. These resistances are very little known precisely because the reigning spectacle is designed to present an omnipresent hypnotic image of unanimous submission. But they do exist and are spreading.", The Bad Days Will End.


    "(The) working class exists and struggles in all countries, and has the same enemies in all countries – the police, the army, the unions, nationalism, and the fake ‘socialism’ of the bourgeois left. It shows that the conditions for a worldwide revolution are ripening everywhere today. It shows that workers and revolutionaries are not passive spectators of inter-imperialist conflicts: they have a camp to choose, the camp of the proletarian struggle against all the factions of the bourgeoisie and all imperialisms." -ICC, Nation or Class?

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    'Mixed economy'? Capitalism is capitalism is capitalism.
    And the 'Thesis, antithesis, synthesis' thing is bullshit, but that's already been gone over.

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    Zero -- we have, and many times since I have been at RevLeft, but I can safely predict it will come up again. This is one 'meme' that refuses to die.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Louise Michel View Post
    I can see though how this looked appealing in the second half of the nineteenth century but in trying to understand Marxism as a theory I've been having great difficulty reconciling the underlying DM determinism with the need for conscious action - particularly with Lenin who seems to engage in continual double-think. Why do we need the revolutionary party if history, in working through its own contradictions, is propelling us towards a communist resolution?
    The problem here is that you interpret the Marxist dialectic as deterministic when , in fact, the emphasis on the dialectical interplay between the various elements of a mode of production (and its corresponding political and ideological superstructure) is an attempt to escape the determinism of mechanical materialism. For Lenin, as for the majority of Marxists, humanity is the active agent in history but not under circumstances chosen by itself, but within the conditions bequeathed it by previous generations - and this can include the accidental in history. This is why Lenin (as well as Marx, Engels, Kautsky, Trotsky etc.) were concerned with the importance of organising the active, conscious side of history, i.e. the class struggle.

    I've just had a look at Rosa's intro essay and it makes a lot of sense to me - from our vantage point why assume we can squeeze the whole of human history into a single schema particularly given the events of the last 100 years which hardly support the idea of the onward march of history.
    Again, the point of the dialectic is to escape the notion of a linear "onward march of history". This belongs to the bourgeois ideologues of the Enlightenment. For Marxists, history is uneven in its development and subject to contradiction. Capitalism, for instance, produces material progress, stimulates an increase in scientific knowledge; but increases the alienation of humanity from its species being. It produces material abundance, undreamed of in previous epochs; but increases material inequality and leads to the immiseration of the proletariat and the starvation of those who cannot even rise to the level of the proletariat.

    As for history being made intelligible on the basis of a small number of general hypotheses, even Rosa could not deny this without renouncing her fidelity to historical materialism.
    "Events have their own logic, even when human beings do not." - Rosa Luxemburg

    "There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen." - Lenin


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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post



    But, we have yet to have explained to us (by Hegel, Marx Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Althusser..., or anyone at Revleft, for that matter -- least of all you) why these are 'contradictions' to begin with.
    Fixed.

    And, even if we knew why they were, as I have shown, if dialectics were true (and change were the result of these 'internal contradictions') change would in fact be impossible.
    So if society doesn't change due to internal factors (whether you want to follow the Marxist tradition and call these factors "contradictions", often used interchangeably with the term "conflicts", or something else), what does change it? Men from Mars? Jehova?
    "Events have their own logic, even when human beings do not." - Rosa Luxemburg

    "There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen." - Lenin


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    BTB:

    The problem here is that you interpret the Marxist dialectic as deterministic when , in fact, the emphasis on the dialectical interplay between the various elements of a mode of production (and its corresponding political and ideological superstructure) is an attempt to escape the determinism of mechanical materialism. For Lenin, as for the majority of Marxists, humanity is the active agent in history but not under circumstances chosen by itself, but within the conditions bequeathed it by previous generations - and this can include the accidental in history. This is why Lenin (as well as Marx, Engels, Kautsky, Trotsky etc.) were concerned with the importance of organising the active, conscious side of history, i.e. the class struggle.
    But, we do not need the confused jargon that dialecticians have lifted from Hegel to counter what you call 'mechanical materialism'. In fact, as I have shown, that jargon would mean that social change, indeed all change, is impossible.

    Again, the point of the dialectic is to escape the notion of a linear "onward march of history". This belongs to the bourgeois ideologues of the Enlightenment. For Marxists, history is uneven in its development and subject to contradiction. Capitalism, for instance, produces material progress, stimulates an increase in scientific knowledge; but increases the alienation of humanity from its species being. It produces material abundance, undreamed of in previous epochs; but increases material inequality and leads to the immiseration of the proletariat and the starvation of those who cannot even rise to the level of the proletariat.

    As for history being made intelligible on the basis of a small number of general hypotheses, even Rosa could not deny this without renouncing her fidelity to historical materialism.
    Perhaps so, but how does the Hermetic jargon dialecticians borrowed from Hegel help here?

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    BTB:

    Fixed.
    Where?

    So if society doesn't change due to internal factors (whether you want to follow the Marxist tradition and call these factors "contradictions", often used interchangeably with the term "conflicts", or something else), what does change it? Men from Mars? Jehova?
    Why do you assume that I deny that capitalism changes because of 'internal factors'? All I have done is raise serious doubts that the jargon dialecticians use is of any use at all here.

    In fact, I have gone further, and have shown that change would be impossible if dialetics were true.

    Anyway, external factors also affect social change.

    Unless you think that we can get along without the Sun, say.

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