Well, I think that we’ve learned two things from this discussion, with reference to Marx’s own words:
1. Regarding politics, Marx was a democrat;
2. Regarding philosophy, Marx was a social productionist.
It’s hard to argue with either of these, because if one argues that Marx wasn’t a democrat, one has to explain what were his politics; further, if one argues that Marx wasn’t a social productionist, one has to explain why he continuously and exclusively wrote about the ‘social’ and ‘production’ (it’s impossible to understand Marx without reference to the ‘social’ and ‘production’, as all his concepts depend on these fundamentals).
It seemed clear to many socialists (not just me), throughout the 20th century and into this, that Marx’s physics were based upon his politics and philosophy. This can only be argued against (ie, that Marx’s physics were not based upon democratic social production), by positing a ‘physics’ that is not socio-historical, has no cultural or ethical content, and can only be done by an elite of ‘clever’ people.
It’s a form of ‘physics’ that has nothing to do with democratic socialism, and if adopted, will prevent the self-emancipation of the proletariat.
On the other hand, Marx’s democratic social productionism is clearly fitted for our physics, a ‘physics for us’.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by LBird.
alanjjohntone wrote: “Karl Korsch had something of interest to say
Marxist ‘theory’ does not strive to achieve objective knowledge of reality out of an independent, theoretical interest. It is driven to acquire this knowledge by the practical necessities of struggle, and can neglect it only by running the heavy risk of failing to achieve its goal, at the price of the defeat and eclipse of the proletarian movement which it represents.”
Doesn’t ‘democracy’ form part of Marx’s ‘practical necessities of struggle’?
If so, the rest of the quote tells you where you and the SPGB are heading – ‘defeat and eclipse’.
alanjjohnstone wrote: “In my own words, if it doesn’t contribute to furthering the movement towards socialism, i don’t really give a damn…”
But ‘materialism’ doesn’t, as we’ve read here, ‘doesn’t contribute to furthering the movement towards socialism’, if that ‘socialism’ is a ‘democratic socialism’, because ‘materialism’ doesn’t regard ‘the active side’ as humanity (as Marx said), but it regards ‘matter’ as the active side, and so does not require human democracy, because ‘matter’ will bring socialism of its own accord (the mythical ‘material conditions’).
But… you do give a damn, don’t you, about ‘materialism’, because you’ve been brainwashed into thinking that the only alternative to ‘materialism’ is ‘idealism’, that is, religion and divine worship.
The third alternative, Marx’s alternative, is ‘social productionism’, which requires human conscious activity to produce its world. This is a reconciliation of both idealism and materialism (as Marx himself wrote). Since this ‘furthers the movement toward socialism’, because it puts mass human theory and practice by democratic means at the centre of building socialism, your ‘not giving a damn’ prevents you from participating actively, and leads you to wait for, not Godot, but ‘the material’.
Keep reading Korsch, alan, but from a Marxist perspective, not from a materialist one. It’s your choice, if you can begin to ‘give a damn’.
robbo203 wrote: “We should engage with you, according to you,but do you ever reciprocate by engaging with us??? For example, by answering a simple straightforward question which has been asked of you over and over again such as how in practical terms… ”
This is why you’re refusing to engage, robbo.
I’m trying to discuss Marx’s politics and philosophy, about our social production… whereas you want to ask ‘simple, straightforward questions’ which will supposedly require ‘simple, straightforward’ answers.
Whilst I’ve tried as much as I can to use analogies, examples, and references for you to explore which deal in more depth with my simplifications, we’re trying to discuss politics and philosophy, especially Marx’s, which are far beyond the ‘simple and straightforward’.
It’s like trying to discuss Marx’s ideas about the Labour Theory of Value, and its implications for Capitalist social relations, and exploitation, and classes, with someone who insists on ‘simple and straightforward’ answers to their questions based upon their individual opinion about ‘what is valuable’.
It can’t be done, robbo. Whilst the questioner wants to ask their own questions without questioning the basis of their questions, then they’ll continue to get their own answers, to their own satisfaction. Which is all fine for them, but they’ll never get to understand the socio-historical, politico-philosophical context of the Theory of Value.
Individualism contains its own answers, mate. As does Marx’s democratic social productionism.
If you’re happy with the ‘simple and straightforward’, many workers are not. I think you’re confusing ‘plain-speaking’ with ‘ignorance’.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 3 months ago by LBird.
Matthew Culbert wrote: “Scientific proofs, are not the same as philosophical ‘absolute truths’.”
No-one has ever argued that they are, Matthew.
You’re a great disappointment, as I really thought that you’d got to grips with Marx’s democratic social productionism.
The ‘absolute’ refers to ‘god’, not humans.
Still, the materialists’ straw-manning will continue, because Marx’s words are a threat to them.
Marx wrote: “The chief defect of all hitherto existing materialism – that of Feuerbach included – is that the thing, reality, sensuousness, is conceived only in the form of the object or of contemplation, but not as sensuous human activity, practice, not subjectively. Hence, in contradistinction to materialism, the active side was developed abstractly by idealism – which, of course, does not know real, sensuous activity as such.
Feuerbach wants sensuous objects, really distinct from the thought objects, but he does not conceive human activity itself as objective activity.”
I know already that you won’t read or understand Marx, BD, but at least other workers who want to read and understand Marx’s social productionism will benefit.
You’d better stick to ‘kicking stones’ as your way to contemplate ‘matter’. It’s the same individualist method as when someone is asked about ‘value’ and replies, not that ‘value’ is a social relationship, but that ‘value’ is what an individual determines, without any socio-historical explanation.
I’ll bet that the ‘materialists’ can’t even see the similarities between the concepts ‘matter’ and ‘value’, and the opposed accounts of them. On one side, the materialists’ individualist passive assimilation of knowledge (they play no part in creating the knowledge, and leave that to the ‘experts’), whilst on the other, the Marxists’ social active production of knowledge (they play an inescapable social role in creating the knowledge, and insist that democratic methods must be employed).
Well, pgb, if you’re going to argue that Marx was not a democrat (in the sense of social production), and that socialism won’t be a democratic society, then that’s a good, open, political position, to espouse and broadcast. I admire your frankness, which escapes the Trots!
But, not surprisingly, I disagree with you. I think that everything Marx wrote reflected his political experience, of his times, of its near contemporary history, especially the French Revolution. Without democratic politics, Marx’s works are meaningless.
On your views, to me they seem ‘anarchistic’, focussing more on ‘individuals’ and their ‘freedoms’, rather than on Marx’s political concerns, social production by the associated producers.
You claim: “a socialist society holds economic resources in common (no-one owns) under democratic control” – but this is contradictory, because ‘in common’ means ‘in common’, not ‘no-one’. That is, the community, the commonwealth, humanity as a whole determines the production and distribution of our collective resources. And if there’s ‘democratic control’, there’s politics – debate, disagreement, argument, voting, and decisions incumbent on all to respect.
In common with all ‘materialists’ (if I’m mischaracterising you, I apologise, but experience here has taught me something about the SPGB’s political ideology, so I’m assuming you share it), you appeal to Engels, rather than Marx, because Engels was an inheritor of a different politics to Marx. This is why Engels (not Marx) talks about ‘the administration of things’ (as if politics will disappear from humanity!). Engels is fruitful source of a ‘Marxism’ which is very different to Marx’s democratic social productionism. Anarchism, individual freedom and ‘the end of politics’ are far removed from democracy, collective social production and the ‘zoon politikon’ of Marx.
Nevertheless, thanks again for being so open. If the SPGB would be so open in its political publications about this future aversion to ‘democracy’, I think you’d attract people more in tune to your political views, and repel Marxists like me, from the start!
- This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by LBird.
L.B. Neill wrote “I…“.
I’m a democratic communist, so I always refer to ‘we’.
Anything you’ll have access to as an individual, we’ll have access to as a collective; and vice versa.
This includes: rights, responsibilities, training, ethics, practices, support, reviews, safety, health, guidelines. If I’ve missed any of your concerns, just add them to this list.
We’ll be deciding our future list by democratic methods.
Unless one believes that ‘democracy’ will necessarily involve ‘unjust individual restrictions’, which is a fear continually expressed by the bourgeoisie, then ‘democratic socialism’ is our collective answer to our political problems.
I don’t share that ideological belief, because I’m a democratic communist, and influenced by Marx’s social productionism.
November 13, 2020 at 3:41 pm #209380
- This reply was modified 1 year, 7 months ago by LBird.
L.B. Neill wrote “We can’t vote what reality is- but observe it, and then decide what to do with the findings.”
This statement must be untrue, L.B., otherwise Marx is wrong. And I go with Marx’s democratic ‘social productionism’ on this issue, because I think Marx is correct.
Firstly, ‘observe it’. To ‘observe’ is passive, not active. Marx argued for ‘conscious activity’, and condemned mere ‘passive contemplation’. So, Marx argues for ‘production’, not ‘observation’.
Secondly, to observe ‘it’ suggests ‘it’ is unchanging. But Marx argues that whatever ‘it’ is, it is a socio-historic product, which changes over place and time. That is, any ‘it’ is different between different modes of production – otherwise, ‘it’ would be exactly identical for ever, in any circumstances, as an Absolute It.
Thirdly, ‘We’. Who is this ‘we’? If this ‘we’ is the social producers, then their conscious activity within democratic socialism would have to be democratic. So, this ‘we’ can vote upon their ‘product’. The same applies to ‘decide what to do’ – this must be democratic, as otherwise an elite would ‘decide’.
Fourthly, ‘findings’. This is a rerun of ‘it’. ‘Findings’ are social products, which are actively produced, by conscious humans.
From your other comments, L.B., you seem to be already aware of some of the difficulties involved in what you’re saying, regarding ‘material’ and ‘fixed’. Keep investigating Marx’s views, because I think that he offers a way forward beyond ‘bourgeois science’ (production by an active conscious, undemocratic elite) towards a ‘revolutionary science’ (production by an active conscious democratic humanity). The ‘passivity’ of ‘observation’, BTW, is a lie. ‘Science’ means ‘active production’. The ‘dominant ruling classes’ (to use your own terms) just hide this fact. ‘Passive observation’ is an ideology.
L. B. Neill wrote: “We are social beings. We socially construct our mental/material world. We put that construct into practice. Call it social constructivism/ social constructionism.”
Yes, I agree with this, and this could also be called, to make Marx’s contribution clear, social productionism.
Since we humans are the creators of any ‘reality’ that we know, this ‘reality’ is ‘reality-for-us‘. There isn’t a ‘reality’ that we don’t know, which can simply become apparent without our active, conscious, production. Whatever is meant by this unknown reality, it is, according to Marx, a ‘nothing for us’.
L. B. Neill wrote: “…what you see is my reality… So it is matter for me…” [my bold]
Once again, L. B., you contradict yourself (perhaps another ‘logical loop’?) – to be consistent, you’d have to write “…what you see is our reality… So it is matter for us…“.
L. B. Neill wrote: “You see LBird, I agree with you- we are taught to know matter”
Yes, I think that we do, perhaps with some definitional aspects about ‘the active subject’ to be discussed, fundamentally agree.
This social agreement, I believe, can provide the basis of a ‘revolutionary science’ (Marx), a ‘science’ that is fundamentally democratic, and thus suitable for the proletariat in its building for a future democratic socialist society.
- This reply was modified 1 year, 9 months ago by LBird.
Thomas More wrote: “L.Bird, Einstein didn’t believe in external reality?”
Of course he did, and I do too, Thomas. It’s a myth expounded by ‘materialists’ that their political opponents don’t. Lenin smeared his opponents by lying, and it seems to be a key part of the materialist method – personal abuse and untrue smears, anything but engagement with critics.
The fundamental question is (and has been since Kant in the modern period (if we ignore Protagoras and Ancient Greek thinkers for the moment)) ‘Who creates this ‘external reality’?‘.
The Idealists answer ‘God‘.
The Materialists answer ‘Matter‘.
Marx, who reconciled Idealism and Materialism (which was the contemporary task of German Idealism, which he solved) into Social Productionism, answered ‘Humanity‘.
Any ‘external reality’ that we know, we create by our conscious activity, and so, we can change it. ‘External Reality’ is a social product, and changes.
Only the third ideology is suitable for democratic socialism, because both ‘god’ and ‘matter’ supposedly have the divine power of ‘creation’, and are under the control of an elite of priests or scientists.
Marx argued for ‘Entausserung’ (‘Externalisation’, or ‘Production) of our own ‘nature’. That’s why ‘production’ figures in all of his key theoretical terms, like Mode/Means/Forces of Production.
So, Thomas, who or what produces your ‘external reality’? The answer has political implications.
marcos wrote: “L Bird, you are always beating around the bushes”
Well, I thought I treated your post with respect, giving answers to all your points, including admitting that I didn’t have a clue about your earlier question.
Unfortunately, it always seems that materialists, like you, are unable to discuss civilly, or actually answer any questions about Marx, social production, or democracy.
These issues, since they don’t involve ‘matter’, are regarded as ‘beating around the bushes’.
To focus on the subject under discussion, Kautsky was an undemocratic, uneducated, elitist, like many who flocked to ‘Marxism’ in the late 19th/early 20th centuries.
What attracted them was Engels’ talk of ‘Science’ – not Marx’s democratic communism, or his philosophy of ‘social productionism’, within which humanity produces its own universe.
I’ve put this issue in a nutshell for ‘materialists’ to ponder, and hopefully answer: “Would you rather see ‘socialised science’ or ‘scientific socialism’?”.
The former is Marx’s political view – a revolutionised, democratic social activity which changes in history. The latter is Engels’ (and Kautsky’s) – a bourgeois, elitist, apolitical, ahistorical, asocial ‘method’, that allows an elite to tell the rest of us ‘what reality is’, without our active participation.
Neither Engels nor Kautsky understood this. Nor Plekhanov or Lenin. And, apparently, neither you nor the wider SPGB.
Hmmm… I think that I’ll keep ‘beating the bushes’, so that all workers can flush out the ‘materialists’ and their undemocratic ideology.
marcos wrote: “L Bird, you have not answered my question on item #194693.”
Only because I don’t know anything about any issue regarding Engels, Marx, and his The Civil War in France.
marcos wrote: “I have known for a long time that dialectic of nature is not correct, it is only possible in the realm of the mind.”
It’s better to say that any ‘dialectic in nature’ must feature an account of social production, which necessarily involves a practice directed by an active human consciousness.
marcos wrote: “Have we created the unity of Marx-Engels?”
Well, all ‘materialists’ have, because the only way that their ideology can stand up is by: 1) quotes from Engels (there is nothing in Marx, who was critical of ‘materialism’); and 2) linking Engels to Marx, as a unified being, so that Marx’s authority can be invoked. So, as for Lenin, we have ‘Marx-Engels’.
marcos wrote: “We have raised critique to both and also Marx contradicts himself on different occasion too.”
Yes, both must be criticised, and Marx requires a critical update for the 21st century, by workers who begin from ‘Democratic Social Production’. We have to correct, clarify and update Marx’s works.
marcos wrote: “Without Engels volume 2 and 3 of capital would not have been able to be published…”
It’s quite possible to argue that it’s a pity that Engels did publish Marx’s unfinished texts, which completely ignored the work Marx had done after 1867 and his first volume, on Russia and its development and potential future. Marx supported the Narodniks, not the supposed ‘Marxists’, in their political debates of the 1870s and 80s, and seemed to think it was at least theoretically possible for Russia to skip ‘capitalism’ and proceed straight to ‘socialism’. If Marx had been able to publish his own later work, it’s very probable that it would have looked nothing like Capital 2 and 3, as we have them today.
marcos wrote: “…and without Engels financial support Marx would not have been to able to finish all his works”
No, you’re right, Fred was a sound, life-long mate of Charlie. And supporter of his kids, too.
But decency doesn’t necessarily mean he had a clue about Marx’s philosophy of ‘social productionism’ and its democratic imperative. In fact, it’s soon obvious to anyone who reads Engels works, from his 1859 review of Marx, that they were talking about different things.
Unfortunately, it’s Engels’ version of ‘Marx’ that most people are taught. We have to change that, marcos.
I’ve just come across a debate which mirrors the debate that we’ve been having here, between ‘a mind-independent reality’ (materialism) and ‘reality-for-us’ (Marx’s social productionism, or ‘idealism-materialism’).
It’s in the context of a ‘Green/Red’ debate.
Jason Moore (and Fred Murphy, perhaps?) seem to share the ‘constructivist’ ideology of Marx, whereas John Bellamy Foster and Ian Angus seem to share the ‘materialist’ ideology, which is common on this site.
I’m pleased to have found this debate which reflects ours, because I think it is central for the future of both ‘Marx’ and democratic socialism.
John Oswald wrote: “You can all keep your stinking Marxist human supremacism! And your non-materialist idealist anti-scientific drivel!”
Yeah, this is always the materialists’ response to reasoned argument, historical knowledge and philosophical expertise in workers. The replacement of political argument with personal abuse is the standard reply, and the archetypal example of this was the materialist Lenin, in texts like his Materialism and Empiriocriticism. There is never any attempt to analyse the opponent’s argument or outline the materialist’s own, but simply a resort to name-calling. This was how Lenin responded to Bogdanov’s arguments, which were far closer to Marx’s, than Lenin’s were.
The epithet ‘Idealist!’ plays the same role as does ‘Satanist!’ in a church’s reply to atheistic criticism. And materialists wouldn’t know ‘anti-scientific drivel’, because they refuse to give an account of ‘science’ to measure ‘drivel’ against, because any socio-historical account of ‘science’ shows that it’s nothing to do with materialism, has its modern origins in the bourgeois defeat of revolutionary, democratic science, and that ‘science’ changes constantly. Only Marx’s social productionism can deal with these issues about ‘science’, and attempt an answer to the question posed in the thread title.
Physics and mathematics are social products, and change, and any democratic socialism will have to explain how these, and all academic disciplines, can be democratised, so that we, the associated producers, can control these changes. Otherwise, ‘reality’ will be in the hands of an elite.
John Oswald wrote: “I am a Marxist only in the political sense.”
Unfortunately, you’re not even that, John.
Politics is about power, and Marx argued for democratic power.
I think that quite probably you’ve either read Engels or heard Engels’ views from other materialists, and had them labelled ‘Marxism’.
Whatever your ideology is, and to me it seems to be a pretty standard bourgeois materialism/physicalism/realism, it’s nothing whatsoever to do with Marx’s social productionism, the belief that humanity socially produces its world, a ‘universe-for-us’, a ‘nature-for-us’, and that that production should be democratic.
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