Marx and Lenin’s views contrasted

May 2021 Forums General discussion Marx and Lenin’s views contrasted

Viewing 15 posts - 31 through 45 (of 139 total)
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  • #209715
    LBird
    Participant

    alan, more good stuff from Casey!

    …for there are only two alternatives, one is to retire from discussion and become a social hermit, the other is to be a fool who opens his lips only to be held up to ridicule by the rising army of proletarian logicians.” (p. 185).

    So much for ‘academic experts’ in logic!

    I’m all for the ‘proletarian logicians’ having power over ‘logic’.

    But, as a ‘materialist’, alan, which of Casey’s options shall you choose? 😛

    #209716
    LBird
    Participant

    Some bad news, alan.

    I’ve continued to skim through Casey’s book, looking for some passages which can allow me to make a judgement about his ‘materialism’ (ie. whether it is simple ‘materialism’ of the 18th century variety, or whether it’s Marx’s ‘idealism-materialism’, ie. ‘social productionism’). I’m busy with other work, so my estimation of Casey must be rushed.

    On page 132, Casey argues for a bog-standard ‘correspondence theory of truth’, where the test of ‘truth’ is ‘objective reality’. This is bourgeois ideology, which allows an elite to judge ‘reality’, outside of workers’ democracy.

    This is a disappointment, because, as Marx argued, we socially produce any ‘objects’ that we know. Thus, the nature of ‘truth’ relates to our socio-historical production. ‘Truth’ is always a ‘Truth-For-Us’.

    I might be wrong about Casey, alan, because I’ve only had a brief scan of this book. Perhaps elsewhere in this book, or in another publication, he might clarify his views in a way which I can agree with.

    But my initial conclusion is: Casey is just another ‘materialist’, rather than a Marx-inspired ‘social productionist’. Only ‘social production’ fits with democracy, because only then can ‘truth’ be elected.

    If you find anything by Casey that you think is worth me reading, please let me know. I might have misjudged him.

    #209720

    After all, this forum is your favourite toy,  and it is the only forum which will let you attack the same organization who is running the forum. I invite you to join the forums run by the Leninists,  they will kick you out immediately

    #209730
    Matthew Culbert
    Keymaster

    I’m all for the ‘proletarian logicians’ having power over ‘logic’.

    There will not be any proletarians in the classless society.

    #209731

    There will not be any proletarians in the classless society.

    We have told him that several times and he wants to be our teacher, even more, Engels said/implied that too, and it is also logical that a society without the value of exchange and labour commodity the salaried slavery is not going to exist. The thing is not to digest Marx like a menu, the thing is to understand his body of ideas and its evolution.

    #209732
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.”

    Regardless of any criticisms of our current lack of success, to change the world remains our aim, LBird. We organised and we conduct activity for that precise goal.

    You may think your own philosophical interpretation is spot on 100% but where is there any attempt to go beyond interpretation and actually engage in an effort to change the world?

    For all its weaknesses you ascribe to the SPGB, its strength is in the social democracy it proclaims and practices…as it purposefully does not aspire to any political leadership over our fellow-workers. Whatever errors it may have in its ideas, they cannot be imposed against the will of the working class. That is real socialist democracy. We leave it to our fellow-workers to determine for themselves who holds the better world-view of society, who presents the best strategy for building a new social system.

    And as materialists who accept that circumstances and conditions mixed with ideas and ideals means there is no fixed non-transmutable determinist outlook, and that how we view our surroundings and our relationship with it, evolves constantly,  we persist in our advocacy for our own particular principles that one day eventually, fellow-workers will recognise the wisdom of , most very probably independent of ourselves, perhaps even without acknowledging it as the ideology of Marxism or socialism either, perhaps. They will emancipate themselves in the ways as they see fit.

    However, your own political position entirely disappears with yourself. There has been no contribution whatsoever to influencing working class understanding. There has been not one thing that indicates that you are trying to change the world by actively engaging in it .

    Isn’t that the definition of a political dilettante?

    Sorry to be so harsh.

     

    #209735
    LBird
    Participant

    But, alan, you’re still refusing to say who is to change the world.

    The SPGB, being ‘materialist’, argues that an elite will change the world.

    You’re trying to have it both ways, and thus being inconsistent. You claim:

    For all its weaknesses you ascribe to the SPGB, its strength is in the social democracy it proclaims and practices…as it purposefully does not aspire to any political leadership over our fellow-workers. Whatever errors it may have in its ideas, they cannot be imposed against the will of the working class. That is real socialist democracy. We leave it to our fellow-workers to determine for themselves who holds the better world-view of society, who presents the best strategy for building a new social system.” [my bold]

    So, how can you argue that, for example, physicists will control physics, if ‘fellow-workers’ and ‘the working class’ are the ones ‘to determine for themselves’?

    This is the insight Marx had – ‘materialists’ will always claim that the ‘material’ has a power outside of ‘the will of working class’, ‘social democracy’, ‘real socialist democracy’ and ‘the new social system’, because the ‘material’ is outside of humanity. And then, the ‘materialists’ (as an elite, outside of democratic controls) themselves determine the ‘material’. They won’t allow a vote on the ‘material’.

    If ‘physics’ (for example) isn’t under the democratic control of your fellow-workers, whose control is it under?

    ‘Materialism’ preserves a world outside of workers’ self-determination, and so defends a world of an elite.

    alanjjohnstone wrote: “However, your own political position entirely disappears with yourself. There has been no contribution whatsoever to influencing working class understanding. There has been not one thing that indicates that you are trying to change the world by actively engaging in it .

    Isn’t that the definition of a political dilettante?

    Sorry to be so harsh.”

    You’re not being ‘harsh’ on me alone, alan. You’re being harsh on Marx, and all the other thinkers since, who’ve argued for workers’ democracy, workers’ self-determination. It’s a common position outside of the ‘materialist’ camp. It has influenced working class activists for generations. I’m trying constantly ‘to change the world by actively engaging with it’ – for example, with this post. I’m hoping that you and other readers will embrace workers’ democracy in science, and reject the bourgeois ideology of ‘materialism’.

    So, for all your criticism, alan, it’s me, rather than you and the SPGB, who’s arguing for ‘real socialist democracy’. It seems that I can’t change that by reasoned argument.

    So, once again, alan, who is to control ‘nature’ within your version of ‘democratic socialism’? Is it democrats (the entirety of humanity by voting) or an elite? It’s a simple political question, alan, never yet answered by you or anyone else in the SPGB. Lenin was clear on his answer – but he was a ‘materialist’.

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 3 weeks ago by LBird.
    • This reply was modified 5 months, 3 weeks ago by LBird.
    #209739
    robbo203
    Participant

    The SPGB, being ‘materialist’, argues that an elite will change the world.

    If ‘physics’ (for example) isn’t under the democratic control of your fellow-workers, whose control is it under?

    So, once again, alan, who is to control ‘nature’ within your version of ‘democratic socialism’? It is democrats (the entirety of humanity by voting) or an elite? It’s a simple political question, alan, never yet answered by you or anyone else in the SPGB.

     

    LBird

     

    I thought we had agreed a long time ago that when it comes to scientific theories that there is obviously going to be specialists in the various scientific fields.  It is absurd to imagine 8 billion people becoming trained physicists or virologists or molecular biologists or whatever and able to express an informed opinion on some obscure theory  in their field.

    Who would you prefer to perform an operation on your brain?  A random person off the street or a trained neurosurgeon?  Or are we all going to become trained neurosurgeons in socialism?

     

    No doubt there will be a significantly greater involvement and interest in science by the lay public in science but there is inevitably going to be a gap in knowledge by comparison with the specialists in their field

     

    Your position is essentially untenable.  Unless you are arguing that there will be no need for specialists – meaning there will be no need for people to undertake 7 years of study to qualify as a doctor  or neurosurgeon – the only other option available to you is to assert that we should all become specialists.    Which is logistically impossible.   Even a trained neurosurgeon counts as a layperson when it comes to some other scientific discipline which might equally take many years to get the hang off

     

    Democracy is about practical decisions or policies that affect us all.   This is what the SPGB means by “democratic control”.   That requires that the means of production be brought under common ownership by everyone something that can be done if and when the great majority want it and organise to bring it about.

     

    It is in this respect that the SPGB is opposed to elitism or vanguardism.   But as far as democratic control of scientific theories is concerned there is simply no point in this nor is it remotely feasible.    How are you going to organise a global plebiscite on the countless thousands of scientific theories that are churned out each year by scientists,  What purpose would it serve anyway? There is always going to be dissenting views among scientists themselves

     

    I genuinely  dont understand why you persist with this futile and rather pointless line of argument,    You are missing the whole point about what democratic decision-making is or should be about .    It is about decisions that affect us in a practical sense not abstract scientific theories

     

     

     

     

    #209740
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    LBird i thought i was quite clear on who will not only make the revolution but will also define it and as equally important, on how the revolution will be carried out.

    You quoted exactly where i answered, if you weren’t being so pedantic and nit-picking about the words i use, you’d realise that.

    But i was specific ” fellow-workers … will emancipate themselves in the ways as they see fit.” (my emphasis)

    I not only subordinated the role of the SPGB but i also subordinated the role of intellectual elitism such as the likes of any on the Left to the actual actions of the working class. Workers will correct for any mistakes they made, but no doubt after paying a heavy price of  their errors.

    So, once again, alan, who is to control ‘nature’ within your version of ‘democratic socialism’? 

    I have no idea what ‘nature’ is as it is something of an ephemeral essence, constantly changing into something else, continually evolving. We live with what is around us, we try to adapt our environment but we never control nature.

    Engels was right, “nature takes its revenge on us… we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside nature—but that we, with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst…”

    But if you mean who controls the “laws of physics” as a form of truth. I have said before, socialism is the science of generalisations. We need not always concern ourselves with the many specifics in an endeavour for proof. Although some will demand empirical evidence, we can only qualify such results as being true under certain conditions and situations. Didn’t Marx claim the same get-out clause when he was describing societies? Just as accepted wisdom says water boils at 100C but only at sea-level and not up a 10,000 ft mountain

    Once again, even without knowing everything about everything, the SPGB acts politically upon what we believe we already know about society and its relationships. You may challenge that claim of knowledge but we do expect you to be able to justify and back up your argument.

    But as i said, you claim knowledge but do nothing.

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

     

    #209741
    LBird
    Participant

    robbo, we’ve discussed this many times, and I know that you’re trying to have an honest discussion, rather than just abusing me.

    Given what we’ve discussed previously, I think that the issue of ‘education’ within a socialist society could provide you with a way to understand my (and Marx’s) political arguments, regarding ‘science’.

    If you applied your reasoning in your post to ‘education’, you’d end up defending the current bourgeois education system, with its lack of democracy, rule by ‘teachers’, an assumption of ‘mass ignorance and uninterest’ in most academic subjects, etc.

    Plus, ‘practicality’ always seems to play a large part in your justifications, but I’m a believer in Marx’s need for revolution, which assumes much more than ‘practical’ solutions will be needed.

    There is a need to ‘revolutionise’ our world, which will include (not the strawman, once again, of ‘no need for specialists’) the political control of all specialisms by generalists (to use previous SPGB terminology), which is democracy.

    If you don’t agree with the political control of, to use your example, ‘neurosurgery’ by humanity, rather than by ‘neurosurgeons’, then we have a political disagreement about democracy versus elitism.

    #209742
    LBird
    Participant

    alanjjohnstone wrote: “…we never control nature“.

    That’s not what Marx argued, alan.

    alanjjohnstone wrote: “Engels was right…“.

    No, Engels was wrong. Marx and Engels had differing views about ‘nature’.

    For Marx, ‘nature’ was a social product, which humans actively produce, and so can change it.

    #209743
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    “Man lives on nature–means that nature is his body, with which he must remain in continuous interchange if he is not to die. That man’s physical and spiritual life is linked to nature means simply that nature is linked to itself, for man is a part of nature.”

    To say you control nature places you outside of nature, not a part of it.

    But i suppose you could interpret control as

    “…man, through his own actions, mediates, regulates, and controls the metabolism between himself and nature. He confronts the materials of nature as a force of nature.”

    Yet once again, integrated within nature, in other words, as i said “We live with what is around us” (my emphasis)

    I fail to find where Marx suggests mankind has mastery i.e. control over nature, other than interacting as part of nature and it doesn’t always lead to domination over nature as in the sense of controlling nature, it means as i suggested adaptation.

    Isn’t separating men and women from nature, dualist and not what most Marxists are – monists.

     

     

    #209752
    LBird
    Participant

    alan, the ‘monism’ of Marx is ‘conscious activity’, or ‘social production’, or ‘Labour’.

    It’s nothing to do with choosing between ‘mind’ or ‘matter’, to give one priority.

    As I’ve said before, this ‘battle between mind and matter’ is an erroneous product of Engels’ views.

    Marx ended the dualism of Descartes, not by choosing one, but by reconciling them, following the German Idealism of his forebears, in activity.

    Marx’s great advance was to determine that this ‘activity’ was an attribute of humanity (not god, not individuals, not an elite).

    #209759
    Young Master Smeet
    Participant

    I think this quote (from Engels’ Figaro interview) is relevent:

    “Why, we have no final goal. We are evolutionaries, we have no intention of dictating definitive laws to mankind. Prejudices instead of detailed organisation of the society of the future? You will find no trace of that amongst us. We shall be satisfied when we have placed the means of production in the hands of the community, and we fully realise that this is quite impossible with the present monarchist and federalist government.”

    #209769
    LBird
    Participant

    YMS, quoting Engels: “We shall be satisfied when we have placed the means of production in the hands of the community…

    Does ‘physics’ count as ‘means of production’, YMS, or was Engels only talking about ‘factories’, and intending to keep the universities in the hands of an elite?

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