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Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (1880) by Friedrich Engels

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jondwhite
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Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (1880) by Friedrich Engels

I think Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (1880) by Friedrich Engels would be a good text to discuss as it is often used by critics, particularly Bolsheviks to try and put the SPGB out of the Marxist tradition.

ALB
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Agree that this would be a good book to go through (except nothing in this section has worked) as it is the founding text of "Marxism" but I can't see how the Bolsheviks could use it against us. I would have thought it was more the other way round. But what were you referring to?

LBird
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ALB wrote:

Agree that this would be a good book to go through (except nothing in this section has worked) as it is the founding text of "Marxism" but I can't see how the Bolsheviks could use it against us. I would have thought it was more the other way round. But what were you referring to?

[my bold]

It would be interesting to discuss this book, but this would also include its so-called status as  'the founding text of "Marxism"'. I presume that ALB put 'Marxism' in quotes precisely because of this issue, of which he is aware.

Many have argued (and, after a fair amount of reading and discussion, I agree with them) that it is actually at least 'a' 'founding text of Engelsism", which has been masqueraded as 'Marxism' since the Second International.

In this sense, since I think that the 'Bolsheviks', because of Lenin, were 'Engelsist', and not 'Marxist', it wouldn't surprise me that Bolsheviks, past and present, could use it as a source to argue against the SPGB (no matter that I think that the SPGB itself is confused on this issue; because in terms of political strategy the SPGB seems to me to be closer to Marx's ideas than Engels').


jondwhite
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ALB wrote:

Agree that this would be a good book to go through (except nothing in this section has worked) as it is the founding text of "Marxism" but I can't see how the Bolsheviks could use it against us. I would have thought it was more the other way round. But what were you referring to?

I could be wrong on this being used as a Bolshevik criticism, as googling for it comes up with nothing.

LBird
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jondwhite wrote:
I think Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (1880) by Friedrich Engels would be a good text to discuss...

Shall we get started?

Right, no need for any comrades, who haven't already done so, to read the book just yet.

First issue: the title. Why did Engels think it sufficient to name only two 'types' of socialism?

Was this just a reflection of his existing ideological belief that philosophy could be divided into two, idealism and materialism, and he thought that these two categories were reflected in all human thought, including socialist thinking?

To me, it's clear that for Engels' 'Utopian' was synonymous with 'Idealist' and his 'Scientific' was identified with 'Materialist'.

So, the very title of this book reflects an outdated view of philosophy (and thus potential 'socialisms' for us).

I don't think that it's too farfetched to think that Marx's Theses on Feuerbach blended the 'Utopian' with the 'Scientific', and that Engels either wasn't aware of the subtleties of the Theses, or by the 1870s had forgotten them. Given my wider reading on this particular issue, I think the former is correct: Engels' never understood the Theses.

Anyway, we'd have been far better off confronted now with a text entitled:

Socialism: Utopian, Scientific and Utopio-Scientific.

And we'd have been concerned with the third, Marx's unity, not the second, Engels' positivism.

I recommend that those comrades who now propose to read the actual text, bear these criticisms in mind whilst doing so.


ALB
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Let's start from the correct premise. It wasn't Engels who chose the title but Paul Lafargue, as Engels explained in the Preface to the 1892 English edition::

Quote:
At the request of my friend, Paul Lafargue, now representative of Lille in the French Chamber of Deputies, I arranged three chapters of this book as a pamphlet, which he translated and published in 1880, under the title: Socialisme utopique et Socialisme scientifique.
The book Engels refers to is Anti-Dühring or, to give it the title Engels gave it, Herr Eugen Dühring's Revolution in Science. I'm not sure what a post-modernist deconstruction of this title would reveal. smiley

LBird
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ALB wrote:

Let's start from the correct premise. It wasn't Engels who chose the title but Paul Lafargue, as Engels explained in the Preface to the 1892 English edition::

Quote:
At the request of my friend, Paul Lafargue, now representative of Lille in the French Chamber of Deputies, I arranged three chapters of this book as a pamphlet, which he translated and published in 1880, under the title: Socialisme utopique et Socialisme scientifique.

Well, we have to presume that Fred didn't object to his friend's suggestion for the title.

Or, your quote from Fred above, would perhaps have read:

Fred Engels, would have wrote:
At the request of my friend, Paul Lafargue, now representative of Lille in the French Chamber of Deputies, I arranged three chapters of this book as a pamphlet, which he translated and published in 1880, under the title: Socialisme utopique et Socialisme scientifique. Of course, I went ballistic at Lafargue's title, and shouted at him, 'Haven't you learnt anything from Charlie at all?'

But, he didn't.sad

Still, we're here, now, 122 years later, since that preface was written, and we've learnt a thing or two about Marx's real intentions, haven't we?

After all, socialism's not a religion, where we just read the texts uncritically, and marvel at the intelligence of the founders of our sect, who gave us a 'Truth' that cannot be questioned by us mere mortals. We must constantly re-assess our heritage and our current position, mustn't we?

My position on this is that the title is a return to pre-Theses thinking, and that if Marx did exclaim 'I'm not a Marxist!' after reading works by French 'socialists', perhaps like Lafargue, it shows that we heretics are following in Charlie's footsteps, not Fred and Paul's.

Or, indeed, Vlad and Joe's.crying


DJP
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I don't have any enthusiasm for reading group. But it may be worth reading this article that I reproduced on my website quite a few years ago now...

http://theoryandpractice.org.uk/library/legend-marx-or-%E2%80%9Cengels-f...

LBird
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DJP wrote:

I don't have any enthusiasm for reading group. But it may be worth reading this article that I reproduced on my website quite a few years ago now...

http://theoryandpractice.org.uk/library/legend-marx-or-%E2%80%9Cengels-f...

Thanks for the link, DJP.

And that was 1970, 44 years ago...crying


DJP
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Rubel was actually a subscriber to the Socialist Standard. His obitury is in the June 1996 edition...

http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/1990s/1996/no-1102...

LBird
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DJP wrote:

Rubel was actually a subscriber to the Socialist Standard. His obitury is in the June 1996 edition...

http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/1990s/1996/no-1102...

Thanks again for that link, DJP.

Socialist Standard wrote:
...had been amongst those Social Democrats who sought to supplement Marx’s critique of capitalism with an ethical element based on Kant’s “categorical imperative”: socialism was something the workers ought to establish for moral reasons rather than something they were inevitably going to establish for economic reasons. It was a controversial position but Rubel embraced it and expressed it in his own writings.
[my bold]

How anyone can separate out 'morality' from 'political economy' beats me.

The fact that this was argued about, and that it was felt 'necessary' to import Kant (when Kant was already one of the 'idealists' that Marx praised in his Theses on Feuerbach) shows that the rot had already set in.

The reason that there is no need 'to supplement Marx's critique of capitalism' with Kant, is that morality already is part of Marx, which is clear to anyone who reads Capital.

The fact that anyone believed otherwise is due to the 'materialists' who returned to pre-Theses 'materialism', encouraged by Engels.

I suppose this prompts the thought that, whoever wrote the Socialist Standard obituary, was still under this benightedness, and couldn't account for why the late 19th century saw a reaction against this 'materialism', which 'materialists' just can't fathom, and have to damn it as 'seeking Kant'.

They might as well write 'the bogeyman Kant', considering the role that 'idealists' play in the 'black-and-white', 'good-versus-evil' childlike imagination of the 'materialists'.

Anyone who thinks that 'it is written in the stars' (or 'matter') that "workers' socialism is inevitable" really are the 'idealists'. As has been pointed out many times: 'materialism is a form of idealism', and Marx transcended the ancient categories with his reconciliation of  humans and their world with 'theory and practice'. How 'theory can't be moral' is a mystery to me.

Of course, for the 'materialists' there is always 'amoral matter', which deals with the problem of those pesky 'moral humans'.


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