Marx, and the myth of his ‘Materialism’

July 2024 Forums General discussion Marx, and the myth of his ‘Materialism’

Viewing 15 posts - 226 through 240 (of 306 total)
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  • #115992
    LBird
    Participant

    pgb, I've already done several threads about the inconsistencies in both Engels and Marx.So, you have to choose whether you want a philosophy that allows workers to make changes and create their own world, or one that interprets 'matter' without democracy, and leaves workers passive.

    #115993
    Brian
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    Brian wrote:
    …we make the rocks talk…

    Yes, the 'active side' is us, not 'matter'.

    Brian wrote:
    But what intigues me is that you purposely avoid accepting the dictum of, 'I am therefore I think' in fear I suspect of consciously admitting that without matter thinking is a non-entity.

    I don't know where you've got this from, Brian.Besides the obvious bourgeois phrasing of your dictum (surely socialists should be saying 'we', rather than 'I'?), I keep stressing Marx's 'theory and practice' (idealism-materialism).I suspect the Engelsist ideology that you hold, but seem to be unaware of, which tells you that there are only two alternatives, materialism and idealism, leads you to always see only a dichotomy, and since Marx stresses 'theory and practice' (which requires both ideas (consciousness) and inorganic nature), you have to ignore this and categorise any talk of 'ideas' as idealism.The unity of 'being and consciousness' is the basis of Marx's philosophy. And 'consciousness' is the 'active side', not Engels' notion of 'matter'.

    Wow if indeed it is the case you accept the dictum, 'I am therefore I think' how does this square with your other dictum and insistence for 'theory and practice'?  It seems like Lenin you want the penny and the bun by insisting that the manufacture of ideas (bound up in the various theories) precedes the practice?Like I point out below its the 'practical observations' resulting from the chemical soup  – the interaction – of the various components of matter which generates the formulation of ideas and theory."It seems to me you are forgetting that it takes the trigger(s) of human matter interacting with the properties of organic and non-organic matter to produce human consciousness,which is just a chemical soup of energy transforming our senses into practical observations from which we can produce a theory and a social product."I agree that ideas are a set of notions, whereas idealism is a set of beliefs. There is however, undoubtedly an amalgam between materialism and ideas but not between materialism and idealism. Which brings me to the point that you insist on calling your theory  a combination of idealism and materialism, or materialism and idealism.No wonder your theory is confusing to say the least!

    #115994
    Young Master Smeet wrote:
    LBird wrote:
    A relationship between consciousness and 'inorganic nature'.

    Is this 'inorganic nature' uniform, or differentiated? 

    See, folks, what we have here is the nub of the matter.  Lbird cannot accept any differentiation in 'inorganic nature/the material substrate', since to do so would be to accept that external matter can determine, at least negatively, the things we can say about it.However, the other side of the problem is that Lbird specifically states that knowledge, and organic nature, somes from "A relationship between consciousness and 'inorganic nature'."  My emphasis.  Now, a relatiuonship presupposes two things and the things must be separate, though they may have properties in common.  But, in order to change either one of the parties, or to create a third item, there must be differences between the two things. Now, if the material substrate/inorganic nature does not bring any features to this party, and the infinite variability of labour accounts for all the characteristics of our objects, then it becomes redundant to talk of a relatiuonship between "consciousness and 'inorganic nature'."A maths example suffices:(ax1)+(bx1)=cx1Since 1 does not change throughout the formula, it is ineffect identical to a+b=c.It thus becomes false to state that knowledge and the organic world comes from a relationship between "consciousness and 'inorganic nature'", since consciousness alone produces the differences in objects and determines their character.So, LBird is on a cleft stick.  Either knowledge does not arise from relationship between "consciousness and 'inorganic nature'" or inorganic nature is differentiated, and it plays a role in detmining valid truth claims about the world.

    #115995
    LBird
    Participant

    Oh well, it looks like 19th century materialism has won the vote.A triumph for the SPGB?Well, it'll be safe from workers demanding the democratic control of the means of production.'Matter' has the final say.I must say, though, that I'm disappointed that not one member or supporter has defended democracy.Well, that's not entirely true – the SPGB has no problem with workers controlling widget production, but won't have the important stuff 'interfered with' by workers.That's for the 'materialist' elite to determine, although they'll pretend to workers that 'matter' is speaking to the elite, alone.Congrats!

    #115996

    Once again, Lbird, when asked to substantiate his theories walks away with the ball.  Any lurkers out there will recall that I've consistently called for democracy in science, complete freedom of investigation and practice in science, the free and conscious  association of producers.Lets recall, this has happened before, when Lbird was challenged over how we could know the results of the votes of truth (since ther result of the vote is a truth claim about the world, only a vote can determine what the result of the vote was, if ojnly we could know the result of that vote).  Lbird walked away then, waited, and came back a short while later.Now, LBird is being asked is the material; substrate differentiated.  Again, he cannot answer, if he says no, he's saying, in effect, matter doesn't exist.  If he says yes, then, necessarilly, it must at least delimit the truth claims we can make about it.All Lbird has left is argument by assertion, and the fact that, like Fox Mulder, he wants to believe.

    #115997
    #115998
    robbo203
    Participant
    Vin wrote:
    robbo203 wrote:
     No reasoned argument makes a dent in LBird's own  belief in the equivalent of the tooth fairy.  This is crystal clear  from his studious evasion of any questions relating to the practicalities of voting on "Scientific Truth" in his Leninist utopia – a totalitarian centralised society.

    I too would like him to answer this question.But then there are a few questions he avoids answering.

     Indeed Vin and its damned annoying too.  It is totally against the democratic ethos he claims to espouse.  When he is not sneering at or patronising members of this forum he snubs them whenever they ask questions that unsettle his dogmatic worldview,  dismissing them as anti democrats.   .  Which is ironic becuase if anyone is the embodiment of the elitist vanguardist here it is LBird. At bottom he is a Leninist  pretending to be a democrat

    #115999
    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Beats me me why we take him serious. He talks bollocks.

    #116000
    Brian
    Participant
    Vin wrote:
    Beats me me why we take him serious. He talks bollocks.

    Such arguments have to be taken seriously by socialists, otherwise we would be failing to expose them for what they are – utter nonsense. Not entirely bollocks, for he is correct when it comes to the class ideology of scientific theories.  But by lumping them all together under capitalist ideology, and then stipulating that truth can be established by the global vote he got lost under the weight of his own confusion and lack of understanding the limits of democracy.  And like DaveB and YMS said, he failed to make the differentation (I called it distinctions way back).I said on the old thread of Science and communism that it seemed he was advocating a whole new scientific methodology which would be established by the non-scientific community.  With all societies being composed of specialists and generalists such a theory would have not found universal acceptance and like Robbo said repeatably – totally impractical.

    #116001
    Bijou Drains
    Participant

    I think L Bird is confusing the concept of thought and the concept of consciousness. Thought is only one aspect of consciousness, it also includes feeling, perception, etc. He appears to further compound this by assuming that all thought takes the form of language, which clearly it doesn't. If you consider a baby before it develops language, it still has thought, however it doesn't have language with which to think, this is known as pre verbal thinking. This leads us to the conclusion that human consciousness is far more complex than L Bird appears to consider.   It also follows that the development of consciousness, what we could consider to be cognitive development, is more complex and complicated than L Bird's bizarre reductionist theory that consciousness can be divided into Bourgeoisie consciousness and Proletarian consciousness. That is not to say that aspects of consciousness have their roots in social class and the relationship between workers and the means of production, however that is not the only aspect of cognitive development. Environmental facts may have an impact on cognitive development, for example a child may suffer from Feotal Alcohol Syndrome, which may impact massively on their cognitive development. There are many theories of cognitive development, for example according to Piaget's theory of cognitive development, intelligence is the basic way in which we manage interactions between the ourselves and our environment. This is achieved through the actions of the developing person on their world. At any moment in development, the way the outside world presents is in terms of our individual understandings of the individual objects and people we encounter. If our understandings are not completely accurate we need to alter our understandings. In this theoretical approach the development of intelligence is a continuous process of assimilation and accommodations that lead to increasing expansion of the understandings of the world with increased coordination between them, increasing internalisation of understandings. These mental operations are gradually coordinated with each other, generating structures of understandings. These structures of mental operations are applied on representations of objects rather than on the objects themselves. Language, mental images, and numerical notation are examples of representations standing for objects and thus they become the object of mental operations. It has been argued that we develop schema, models of the world and areas of the world that fit represent our experience of a particular area of our existence. As my personal schema of supermarkets has elements of geographical layout, how to park, how to get in and out as quickly as possible as well as the associated feelings of dread and loathing which accompany my experience of going to the supermarket. Similarly one of the biggest factors in cognitive development is the attachment that develops between the growing child and their main carer. Attachment has been shown to have impact on vocabulary, cognitive development, brain development, memory, physical growth, etc. etc. Developments of John Bowlby's original theories of attachment have been developed to explain the cognitive, social and other differences between children with different attachment patterns (Van Ijzendoorm and Sagi) have led to the competency hypothesis.  Similarly Lev Vygotsky put forward the idea that there is an explicit link between language and both inner and external speech and the development of mental concepts and cognitive awareness, as our internal speech (intra psychic conversation) is the basis of most of our mental activity and given that language is developed socially it follows that thought has developed socially and can be only understood socially. (interestingly Vygotsky was accused of idealistic aberration in the 1930s Stalinist USSR and his work was suppressed until the 1990s) However the social aspect is much more complex that social class, for instance it may include family composition, culture, etc.etc. How we understand and relate to the "material" world is far more complex and nuanced than L Bird's rather infantile ramblings.

    #116002
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Sorry for this but I still have this nagging thought in my head that I don’t seem able to budge. Probably it is a naïve superficial question because LBird hasn’t answered it directly even though I have posed it a few time now and the other contributors have not deemed it relevant enough to follow up themselves so they too seem to think it irrelevant but I’m not so embarrassed by my lack of knowledge that I will let the question drop.According LBird’s position in regards to the SPGB and its members, it possesses a philosophy that can be traced back to Engels’ interpretation of materialism which is anti-democratic and if adopted will lead to an elitist control over the development of knowledge and subsequently the workers loses control over production as happened when Leninist sharing this Engelsian materialism took power. I hope that very brief summary gets to the bottom of what LBird has been saying over an extremely lengthy exchange. Ideas held by the SPGB are anti-democratic at its core.This is what puzzles me…We have held these philosophical views for over a century and if this materialist philosophy is all LBird says it is, then surely there must be some manifestation that can be pointed to in the Party’s organization and its principles. The prevalence of intellectuals and their influence can certainly be demonstrated in the Bolshevik Party before and after the revolution, it can be shown to have existed in the German SPD opinions and most definitely in the Social Democratic Federation that the SPGB broke away from. It is also very visible in existing Laft wing groups such as the SWP which LBird recognized and resigned from. So why do we not witness a similar indication in the actual politics of the SPGB or in within the organization. The seeds of this, surely must have grown after a hundred years of gestation but in a previous post I listed the SPGB attitudes regards its relationship with fellow workers and their self-organization and the structure of its own party organization that as far as I can detect is the antithesis of an elitist party in the making of.My mind keeps returning to this absence of evidence. It would be proof of LBird’s argument if it could be demonstrated. If we are beholden to a false consciousness in regards to our general philosophical outlook as LBird maintains, the result of which the Party acts against “workers' democracy, in questions of production, including knowledge” and as he says “You, robbo, and the rest, wish to interpret 'The World' for workers, without their participation, and so you don't need the active democratic participation of the proletariat as /they create /their 'world-for-themselves'  then why, oh why,  when we currently possess an academic “elite” with lots of letters after names (and before, when higher education was harder to enter, some very erudite autodidacts) they do not dominate the Party and they do not endeavor to steer and control fellow workers but actually made such possibility nearly impossible by imposing a political position that is very much pro-democracy and one that fosters the principle of self-emancipation and self-liberation, relegating the Party itself to a mere tool or instrument rather than a vanguardist Party whose purpose is to imbue consciousness into the working class from above via an intellectual elite. Why has the SPGB disavowed itself from the practices of an elitist political party. Surely it is not part of a sophisticated elaborate game-plan of the elite that LBird says we are.That is my quandary. If you are correct, LBird, then why is this anti worker democracy not visible. Are you saying we are ideologically blind to it, and if you are saying that, then it should be apparent to you, yourself so please present the actual appearance of the anti-workerism in what the Party says and does. If possess a diseased philosophy, then what are the symptoms of it that we are showing? Once you have done that then we can settle down to the treatment and the cure. It seems at times that you are simply repeating that our materialism is “bad karma” and are incapable of showing its actual concrete effect upon the SPGB…And if you are not able to offer examples of the negative influences on our political action …then how important is this dispute?…Angels dancing on a pin comes to mind.But as I said at the start…I might be missing something vital simply because I don’t share your or the others considerable reading on this subject (perhaps the elite has taken over and you are part of it, LBird !!). Maybe the answer is that you must hold social power over the workers first before it becomes a problem but I can see this dualism of before and after in the ideas of the Socialist Party. We spend all our time saying no blueprints…people who make socialism will determine how it works, not us in advance. I’m just trying to figure out just how it effects the Party and its positions…And I’m struggling to see how its materialism is as bad a threat as you say because there are no signs of it, that I can see. So help me a bit on my problem. Where is this Leninist anti-democracy elitism exhibiting itself in the SPGB? Saying something doesn’t make it so, does it? We have several critiques of the SPGB from members and ex-members and innumerable ones from non-members but yours is indeed unique. You condemn us but make no effort to support your theory other than say so and therefore in the words of Capt. Jean Luc Picard…make it so… Or as folk from the state of Missouri say ”Show Me”

    #116003
    LBird
    Participant
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    That is my quandary. If you are correct, LBird, then why is this anti worker democracy not visible. Are you saying we are ideologically blind to it, and if you are saying that, then it should be apparent to you, yourself so please present the actual appearance of the anti-workerism in what the Party says and does. If possess a diseased philosophy, then what are the symptoms of it that we are showing? Once you have done that then we can settle down to the treatment and the cure.

    [my bold]Any worker reading this thread alone (never mind lots of others) can read what SPGB members and supporters have written.One can find plenty of statements of 'anti worker democracy', so it is entirely visible, to those who would see.Of course, 'materialists' are 'ideologically blind to it': the thread is full of 'the anti-workerism in what the Party says' (I can only go by what is said, I'm not a member and never have been, so only current or ex-members can tell me if there is a tendency within that argues for and organises around 'democratic science', though I suspect not).As to 'what are the symtoms of it that you are showing?'Look at YMS's ideological inability to understand what I'm writing – he can only understand it from the perspective (which he hides) of Engels' 'materialism'.I write time and time again that 'inorganic nature' has to be transformed by socio-historical theory and practice into 'organic nature'. Again, and again, and again…So, is there 'differentiation' in 'organic nature'? Of course there is – socio-historical differentiation, that's why we have modes of production.But, YMS can't understand this reply, because it is meaningless to his ideology, which is concerned with 'inorganic nature', or, as Engels termed it 'matter'. YMS wants to discuss 'matter', not Marx's socio-historical production of 'organic nature'.This category of 'matter' is supposedly outside of consciousness, that is, not in any relation to a consciousness, and is a concern of materialists.Marx was concerned with a social product, not an ahistorical, asocial 'matter'.

    ajj wrote:
    I’m struggling to see how its materialism is as bad a threat as you say because there are no signs of it, that I can see. So help me a bit on my problem. Where is this Leninist anti-democracy elitism exhibiting itself in the SPGB?

    Well, since you still pretend to be 'ignorant' of science, philosophy, epistemology, etc., AND YET I'VE GONE TO GREAT LENGTHS TO EXPOSE THE MATERIALISM THAT YOU HOLD, and so I can only now presume that you don't want to expose your own materialism, and will continue to 'play dumb' in these discussions.Of course, the very moment you acknowledge your own ideological viewpoint (of Engels' materialism), all this will fall into place, the scales will fall off your eyes, and you will end your 'struggle to see'.alan, simply read the thread again, and note just who argues for workers' democracy in all production, and who wants an elite to control the production of ideas. The problem is, if you continue to espouse materialism, you'll only 'see' SPGB members wanting to 'know matter', an entirely reasonable aim, for bourgeois science. But it's nothing to do with Marx's socio-historical production. Marx isn't interested in 'matter, out there', but a 'product, by us'. We can change our product, but can only interpret 'matter'.The rest have used up my patience, and I've only wrote this post for you because of your previous comradely efforts, but I think I'm close to calling it a day, even with you.

    #116004
    LBird wrote:
    But, YMS can't understand this reply, because it is meaningless to his ideology, which is concerned with 'inorganic nature', or, as Engels termed it 'matter'. YMS wants to discuss 'matter', not Marx's socio-historical production of 'organic nature'.This category of 'matter' is supposedly outside of consciousness, that is, not in any relation to a consciousness, and is a concern of materialists.Marx was concerned with a social product, not an ahistorical, asocial 'matter'.

    But how does inorganic nature relate to organic?  The socio-historic production is important, and there has to be something about the different productive epochs that regularises them across different societies (to take the blunt approach, the 'stages theory of history) much as convergent evolution requires similar ecological niches.Anyway, some might wonder why I've spent a lot of time on this.  Frankly, it's because I think, pace LBird, his theory lends itself very strongly towards vanguardist elite rule.A proponderant minority, with suffice armed force could install a mobilised dictatorship, force peopleto vote, and 'move heaven and Earth to enact the will of Chairman LBird'.  Plenty of dictators have tried this 'ther is no real world but what I say' schtick.  Divorced from a reality principle, any ruling gang is free to declare that bread is their body and wine is their blood, and there is no life without Chairman LBird.  The point is that we can all look to the world, look to the data, confirm our theories.

    #116005
    LBird
    Participant
    YMS wrote:
    The point is that we can all look to the world, look to the data, confirm our theories.

    Not implement our theories.Passively 'look to the world, to data, to matter', you workers! Don't change your world!The elitist materialists will surreptitiously provide the 'theories to be implemented' and pretend that they aren't.Beware, workers. The elite 'know matter'.

    #116006
    LBird wrote:
    Not implement our theories.Passively 'look to the world, to data, to matter', you workers! Don't change your world!The elitist materialists will surreptitiously provide the 'theories to be implemented' and pretend that they aren't.Beware, workers. The elite 'know matter'.

    You can find matter for yourself, you don't need the elite.  You can't change it, unless you know it first, ignorance never helped anyone.  Much better than living the vision of the great leader.

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