Gnostic Marxist

May 2021 Forums Socialist Standard Feedback Gnostic Marxist

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  • #213833
    Wez
    Participant

    One of the problems with this article is its lack of defining what constitutes an ‘individual’. Rather than seeing the working class as consisting of millions of individuals wouldn’t it be more productive to see the individual as being created by his class? His/her values and beliefs are defined by the class into which they are born which is, in turn, partly controlled by the ruling ideology of the ruling class. The paradigm shift that will change this can only be created by the forces of contradiction within capitalism which will be fought out via ideas. Consciousness is created by material conditions and the class struggle that this creates. These are social and political forces that define the individual and not the other way around as this article implies. The concept that some magical ‘praxis’ will replace the struggle of ideas (philosophy) is an old leftist anti intellectual slogan well beyond its sell by date.

    #213932
    LBird
    Participant

    Wez wrote: “Consciousness is created by material conditions…

    Not according to Marx, Wez. Humans socially produce their ‘nature’.
    Otherwise, ‘material conditions’ will determine ‘socialism’, rather than humanity.

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by LBird.
    #213934
    LBird
    Participant

    Or, “material conditions” equal “some magical ‘praxis’ “, as you put “the concept” so well.
    The ‘magical praxis’, which is outside of democratic control, of course, is the praxis of an elite (‘conscious’, of course, outside of ‘material conditions’ – because otherwise their elite ‘magic’ would also be subject to ‘material conditions’, as Marx pointed out).

    #213941
    Wez
    Participant

    I suppose people come to an understanding and acceptance of the case for socialism in different ways. For me it was through comparing ideas about the world, how it functions and what can be done to change it. Such ideas had to exhibit a corresponding truth which helped explain my experience of life. Presumably others achieve consciousness without an exclusively intellectual approach although surely this always has to be an element at whatever level. This is why I demur from Marx’s apparent belief that the praxis of ‘scientific socialism’ replaced philosophy as the way forward. The ‘idea’ that socialism represents the end of philosophy seems to me to be as nonsensical as Fukuyama’s belief that capitalism represented the end of history. By the by LBird I believe Marx thought that philosophy enabled and/or created an elite in the past and that science was more democratic – hasn’t really turned out like that has it?

    #213942
    Wez
    Participant

    ‘Not according to Marx, Wez. Humans socially produce their ‘nature’.
    Otherwise, ‘material conditions’ will determine ‘socialism’, rather than humanity.’

    LBird – perhaps it would be more correct to say that material conditions have created consciousness that will enable (through the socialist revolution) people to impose their consciousness on material conditions for the first time in history.

    #213954
    LBird
    Participant

    Wez wrote “…Marx’s apparent belief…I believe Marx thought…“.

    My best advice, Wez, is to read what Marx actually wrote.
    I’ve often tried to stimulate discussions here, based upon what Marx wrote, and his democratic politics, but these debates usually descend into name-calling, by people who clearly haven’t read Marx, but just assume what he must have said – or, rely on (parts of) Engels instead.

    For example, Marx never argued for ‘the praxis of Scientific Socialism’ for either ‘replacing philosophy’ or anything else, especially not for building a socialist society. Marx never thought that ‘philosophy’ (in itself) ‘created an elite’. Marx never thought that ‘science’ (in itself) was ‘democratic’. For Marx, all human production was socio-historic, so any ‘philosophy’ or ‘science’ would have to be specified by class and period, to determine for who and when it was ‘elite’ or ‘democratic’.

    Wez wrote “LBird – perhaps it would be more correct to say that material conditions have created consciousness…

    No, Wez, Marx never argued that ‘material conditions create consciousness’. If you think that ‘more correct’ than Marx’s argument that humanity creates its own consciousness, and thus can change it, then I disagree with you.

    Waiting for ‘material conditions’ to do anything whatsoever is total alien to Marx’s activist philosophy. Marx regarded ‘materialism’ as passivity, and an ideology which took ‘change’ out of the hands of humanity. Indeed, he argued that ‘materialism’ placed this power to ‘change’ into the hands of an elite. As we all know, Marx was proved correct, by the career of Lenin. Lenin was a materialist because it was anti-democratic, and placed power into the hands of a ‘conscious’ elite. His ‘party’, of course.

    #213955
    Wez
    Participant

    Marx was rather unclear about this issue – I suppose one of the reasons being that he never completed his major work hence my uncertainty. It doesn’t really matter because if he thought either what you interpret his meaning to be about science or my interpretation I believe both to be mistaken. Of course we’ve been here before and you have been asked to produce quotes or passages supporting your interpretation from Marx’s text and you have always failed to do so. So please do so if you can as although I may disagree with Marx on some points I always respect his opinion.

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by Wez.
    #213958
    ALB
    Keymaster

    A new book on Marx’s materialism has just been published. Sounds interesting. Ridiculous price.

    https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783030529499

    #213967
    LBird
    Participant

    Wez wrote: “Marx was rather unclear … hence my uncertainty.”

    I think everyone who reads Marx shares your uncertainty! That’s the reason workers in the 21st century must discuss and determine just what Marx meant.

    Wez wrote: “…if he thought either what you interpret his meaning to be about science or my interpretation I believe both to be mistaken.

    Of course, this is the reason to discuss Marx, to clarify whether he was mistaken or not.

    Wez wrote: “Of course we’ve been here before and you have been asked to produce quotes or passages supporting your interpretation from Marx’s text and you have always failed to do so.”

    This is another myth, Wez. I’ve been quoting Marx, here, for years, but they were always constantly ignored. Try looking at any of the older discussions. On the contrary, it’s the materialists who fail to quote Marx, and just use insults, just as Lenin did in Materialism and Empiriocriticism. It seems to be part of their ‘method’ – ignore Marx, quote Engels, insult political opponents.

    #213968
    LBird
    Participant

    ALB wrote “A new book on Marx’s materialism has just been published. Sounds interesting. Ridiculous price.

    https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783030529499″

    It should be noted the the book subtitle begins “New Materialism..” [my italics]

    The discussion of the meaning of this ‘New’ is precisely what I’ve been trying to get the SPGB to discuss for about five years now.

    Marx’s ‘New Materialism’ is not simply ‘Materialism’, although that’s exactly what ‘materialists’ assume.

    I’ve often argued, and most late 20th century/ 21st century scholarship seems to back me up, that this ‘New Materialism’ was ‘Idealism-Materialism’. Marx believed that he had reconciled the two, in a new ‘Social Productionism’, which required both subject and object. This ‘reconciliation’ had been a key aim of the Post-Kantian German Idealists, the context from which Marx emerged.

    Engels, at least at the end of his life, seems to have returned to outdated 18th century ‘Materialism’, ie. ‘Old Materialism’, and so undid Marx’s achievement. That’s why ‘materialists’ quote Engels, and not Marx.

    #213977
    Wez
    Participant

    ‘This is another myth, Wez. I’ve been quoting Marx, here, for years, but they were always constantly ignored.’
    LBird – One last time then, give me a quote, sentence or paragraph from Marx’s work that supports your interpretation.

    #213978
    LBird
    Participant

    Wez wrote: “LBird – One last time then, give me a quote, sentence or paragraph from Marx’s work that supports your interpretation.”

    Perhaps you are a bit forgetful, Wez, or never bothered to read it, the several times that I’ve already quoted it here.

    So for the umpteenth time:

    1. Marx wrote: “Here we see how consistent naturalism or humanism is distinct from both idealism and materialism, and constitutes at the same time the unifying truth of both” (Collected Works, Volume 3, p. 336).

    2. The entirety of the Theses on Feuerbach, which cover the same ground regarding the partial inputs of both idealism and materialism into his works:
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/theses/theses.htm

    3. There are also passages in The Holy Family covering this area: Chapter VI d ‘Critical battle against French Materialism’.

    4. Marx’s publication the Deutsch–Französische Jahrbücher eponymously embodied his views of the unity of German Idealism and French Materialism (ie. ‘Deutsch–Französische’).

    So, one last time, Wez, can anyone from the SPGB engage with what Marx wrote?

    #213984
    Wez
    Participant

    LBird – When I have a moment I’ll try and figure out what Marx meant by ‘naturalism’ and ‘humanism’ and if these terms mean something different from their common usage today. If it turns out that this implies that we can or should vote on the veracity of scientific truth then, as I say, I believe he was mistaken.

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by Wez.
    #213986
    LBird
    Participant

    Wez wrote: “If it turns out that this implies that we can or should vote on the veracity of scientific truth then, as I say, I believe he was mistaken.”

    No problem, Wez.

    What is a problem, is that this is a difficult political and philosophical issue, going back to Ancient Greece. If you’re prepared to only ‘have a moment’, I think that you’ll struggle to make sense of the issue.

    That’s why, since I’m a comrade to anyone who wants to understand Marx’s views about our world, I’m trying to shorten, simplify and modernise these political and philosophical issues, for all 21st century workers.

    The key pol. & phil. problem is: “Who are the social producers, and how should they produce?”

    In my opinion, Marx’s answers were: ‘humanity by democracy’.

    Of course, there are many other possible answers (an elite by oligarchy, an individual by solipsism, a party by dictatorship, etc.), but I think that Marx’s is the best one for humanity in the 21st century.

    I’m very wary of those politicians, like Lenin, who argue that an elite has a consciousness that the masses don’t/can’t have. Those who support bourgeois science share Lenin’s views. They won’t have democratic control of physics (for example), and pretend that the discipline is too difficult for the masses to understand.

    I’m inclined to argue that they make it difficult, purposely, and the solution lies in a democratic socialist education system, which has a reason to explain to all.

    Still, if you can’t envision a world where all production is democratically controlled, then that’s fair enough, but I think that that separates you from Marx and his arguments for democratic production.

    Again, it’s best to be clear where ‘democratic socialism’ will lead, rather than pretend that it’s about ‘individual freedom’ (which is a (powerful) bourgeois myth). We’re all in it together on this planet – or, we will be, when democracy reigns.

    #214010
    LBird
    Participant

    Wez, if you, or anyone else, is minded to read what Marx actually wrote (as opposed to what materialists claim), but can’t afford the Collected Works, Volume 3, then his texts can also be found in:

    Karl Marx: Early Writings (1992) Penguin Classics

    Fromm, E. Marx’s Concept of Man (2004) Continuum

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