Marx, and the myth of his ‘Materialism’

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

Viewing 15 posts - 271 through 285 (of 306 total)
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  • #116037
    robbo203
    Participant
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    Quote:
    when I'm warning workers about the SPGB's secret intent to deny workers' democratic control of production.

    I think this secret conspiracy of the SPGB to thwart workers' democratic control of production cannot be shown to exist from the historic record to its behaviour now. ..

    Alan I dont know why you continue to humour the guy.Its clear as daylight that the only one here who harbours a secret intent to deny "democratic workers control of production" is LBird himself and his contempt for democractic debate  shows in his point blank refusal to answer any of the practical questions that disturb his dogmatic worldview as well as his patronising attritude to all who criticise himLBird's conception of a future society which he laughably calls "democratic communism"  is a totally centralised one which can only result in one outcome – the ruthless concentration of all power in the hands of a technocratic elite, a vanguard.Behind the democratic facade, LBird is a Leninist through and through in his mode of thinking.

    #116038
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Robbo, i think it isn't helpful to counter name-calling with name-calling.LBird isn't a Leninist and i don't think he is a centralisation control-freak either.When he explained his ideas on materialism and ideal-materialism they were valid for all i know but when he was asked how ideas were to be democratically controlled and asked just how that control of scientific ideas be accomplished then he dug himself into a hole and instead of stopping digging, he dug deeper.By accusing the Party of Leninism then it is incumbered upon LBird to show me its signs which i keep insisting must have appeared by now after a 100 years of gestationFor me personally as i said, this philosophical exchange is beyond my ken, and in science there is much else that is and i named quantum physics. I don't want a vote on its "truth"..i want to democratically abstain and leave it to someone else who cares about it…to each to their own, as i said, in another post. This applies to many things in  life and by extension what i believe will happen in socialism in rgards to its running and administration…People wont demand to micro-manage anything and everything and especially not from a remotely from a distance. The fewer votes the better for all society. Your ECA gives clues to how we will automatically self-regulate and self-correct by just what we do and go about in society. I'm not saying we will not have a participatory democracy but its application can't be so easily described in pre-socialist capitalist conditions.Even the decision-making in one factory will evolve itself into something unlike today's cooperatives. Community assembly meetings might have all the hallmarks of Murray Bookchins New England town hall meetings but we also be building on the Indian panchayat  systems and Latin American indigenous systems of village councils that the Zapatistas in Chiapas flowered from…This "Leninist" doesn't want to shoe-horn every diverse community around the world into the one model of democratic practice. Every industry has its variety too. Road, rail, sea and air have all created rules and laws over the courses of generations that have been integrated into worldwide accepted custom and usage…i see no reason why it shouldn't continue, the existing framework requires little change for democratic control of transport…or are there people who insist that non-qualified should exercise control of air traffic control…but, on the otherhand i think they might well have a say on which side of the road we should all drive on…No, LBIrd isn't a Leninist but he fails to understand totally why the SPGB relegates so much of the actual mechanisms of how socialism works to the future and to the people living in socialism….a sign that we are innocent of his charge of being an elite…Even if we were a democratically elected elite we abdicate our responsibilities of rule.I want to know how this can be if we do not support workers democratic control of production and i'll keep on asking…but i had the passing thought in an earlier post….i expect too much from a person who despite his long presence on the discussion thread has only a passing acquaintance with the SPGB as a non-member….now if he actually joined…what a difference it would nmake to the debates… 

    #116039
    LBird
    Participant
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    I referred to the fact that historians could verify and document how the elite dominated the SPD and the Bolsheviks. They could refer to Party rules, Party resolutions, and describe the relationships these parties  had with workers organisations such as trade unions and workers councils and, later,  historians could detail the actions both took in their respective civil wars to impose their will by the force of the State. Can you demonstrate any conference decision or party rule that gives an elite control over the SPGB?Can you show any actual policy or action of the SPGB which undermines the independence of the workers in their organisations?

    I thought that I had answered this question, alan.I can only go by what I read on here. I have already said that I'm not a member, have never been a member, nor have any knowledge of SPGB actions having been elected to control even a parish council, for me to examine.Unless you are going to take a legalistic approach (that because 'materialism' hasn't been openly declared in a policy document, that it doesn't exist or have any purchase in the party), then I think that it's enough to read what party members and party supporters say here when asked about the party's overall viewpoint (perhaps we could call these unwritten, undeclared, even hidden, 'Party rules, resolutions, policies, decisions').I could be more persuaded that this 'hidden agenda' doesn't exist, if there was clearly open debate and disagreement amongst members, which would be evidence that there is no hidden agenda. But… there is no dissent whatsoever against the open statements by members that they will not have workers' democracy in the means of production, and that their (undeclared policy in) philosophy is materialism.If I could quote just one example of a member saying 'I agree with Marx and not Engels', I would revise my views. But, the open, and also passive, support for materialism is 100%!Surely any observer who reads these threads, unsure initially of whether the SPGB looks to materialism, would be convinced by now that it does indeed: all of the members who contribute say so, and those who don't contribute, don't deny it.

    ajj wrote:
    Where in these policies is the intent to deny workers democratic control?  On the contrary, it is emphasising the independence of workers to determine their own democracy…

    But this is simply not true, going by the contributions of members on this and other threads. When asked directly, 'will workers democratically control the production of scientific knowledge (including maths and physics) for the purposes of the direct producers?', they most emphatically deny it. They openly say that only a elite has the ability to make decisions, only an elite has the right to decide the purpose of science.

    ajj wrote:
    I think this secret conspiracy of the SPGB to thwart workers' democratic control of production cannot be shown to exist from the historic record to its behaviour now. And i keep asking for you to offer actual examples as evidence and you fail to do so.

    'Materialism' is 'this secret conspiracy', which has affected all organisations, since the Second International and Kautsky, which look to Engels' materialism. The SPGB, founded in 1904, supped from the same philosophical sources as Lenin, and with the same results: belief that there is something called 'matter' which, outside of any relationship to human consciousness, has to be taken account of. This has its roots in bourgeois science, the history of which I've pointed to a few times.No matter how much evidence I supply, for a materialist, like you, there is no evidence. You won't even admit openly to the board that you are a materialist, but simply pretend to be 'ignorant' of philosophy, and yet hold forth about the political implications of a philosophy which you claim to know nothing. The political implications of materialism are anti-democratic, and if you knew nothing, you would at least have an open mind, and would weigh the written evidence on this thread. FFS, they keep writing it!

    ajj wrote:
    Not once has anyone ever said the importance of ideas people hold is not the prime one. Ideas are very much part of the material conditions that will help build socialism…

    No, no, no, alan!'Ideas' are not 'material' (ie. being, or 'matter'); they are 'ideas' (ie. consciousness).They are part of (to use terminology contemporaneous with Marx) the 'ideal-material conditions'.By 'material', Marx did not mean 'matter'; that was Engels' viewpoint, ignorantly influenced by the powerful bourgeois ideology and its apparent successes of his time. Marx meant 'social production', and social production contains 'ideas'.To argue that 'theory and practice' is something to do with timeless, asocial 'matter' is nonsense. Marx was interested in socio-historical production of our world, which, because we produce it, we can change.Whilst you keep (apparently ignorantly, from your own testimony) using the phrase 'material conditions' (and thinking this is something to do with 'matter' telling us 'what it is'), then you'll unavoidably take the side of an elite who claim to 'know matter', and won't allow a vote on 'what matter is'.Notwithstanding SPGB policies, to you, if matter speaks in the future, you'll be forced to ditch the 'policy of democracy' and turn to the 'experts'. After all, that's precisely what all your party comrades openly argue here, with no dissent, so me predicting what you and your party are likely to do in the future, is not me reading a chrystal ball. You say it.You all look to materialism, either openly like some, or 'ignorantly', like you. 'Matter' is your 'active side', not 'social consciousness'.

    #116040
    LBird
    Participant
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    When he explained his ideas on materialism and ideal-materialism they were valid for all i know but when he was asked how ideas were to be democratically controlled and asked just how that control of scientific ideas be accomplished then he dug himself into a hole and instead of stopping digging, he dug deeper.

    This is completely untrue, alan.I've addressed the issue time and again, but robbo refuses to accept my answer, and so keeps asking the same questions, as if by doing so, and knowing I won't bother to keep saying the same thing, he hopes to gain credibility for his allegation that I can't answer.And what happens? You take his allegations at face value! What a surprise!

    ajj wrote:
    For me personally as i said, this philosophical exchange is beyond my ken…

    But robbo's unfounded allegations are not 'beyond your ken', alan. You've just said so.So, why are my arguments 'beyond your ken', but robbo's are 'within your ken'?

    ajj wrote:
    No, LBIrd isn't a Leninist but he fails to understand totally why the SPGB relegates so much of the actual mechanisms of how socialism works to the future and to the people living in socialism….a sign that we are innocent of his charge of being an elite…Even if we were a democratically elected elite we abdicate our responsibilities of rule.

    No, alan, I don't 'fail to understand'. You 'fail to understand' – you keep saying so.The posters here say that they won't 'abdicate their responsibilities of rule'. They see workers' democracy as a danger to 'objective' science. They think that an elite will determine 'Truth'. You fail to understand this, even though they plainly say so.

    #116041
    LBird
    Participant
    ajj wrote:
    …he fails to understand totally why the SPGB relegates so much of the actual mechanisms of how socialism works to the future and to the people living in socialism…

    So, why is the very same argument, that I've made before, not valid?

    Quote:
    …alan fails to understand totally why LBird relegates so much of the actual mechanisms of how democratic science works to the future and to the people living in socialism…

    What's good for the SPGB goose is good for the LBird gander!Get robbo to give a detailed plan of socialism, and I'll take the same plan, and add 'democratic science' every time he mentions 'democratic production'. Widgets and knowledge are of the same order: products produced by society.Unless, he doesn't actually mention 'democratic control of the means of production'…

    #116042
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    Our posts crossed in the internet ether, LBird. As you see, i did start to provide a caveat for my insistence that you provide me with actual examples by the fact you are not a member and suffer from an understandable ignorance of the SPGBOf course you are right to take this argument further back to before Lenin, who for all his reputation merely adjusted the orthodoxy of the Second International to Tsarist conditions. We in the SPGB did spring forth from the same waters as the SDF and HM Hyndman, bourgeois intellectuals that we repudiated and lo and behold developed our own interpretations of democracy that we implemented in our D of P and our party rules. Having bitter first-hand experience of an elite in control, the SPGB designed the Party so the same failing could not be repeated, and if it was, it would self-destruct the SPGB as a revolutionary socialist organisation. I did try one time to study philosophy but it did make my head sore. But who i tried to read was Dietzgen…"the workers philosopher" as i think Marx called him on one of his better days when discussing people and Pannekoek's summaries of him. 

    Quote:
    “Mind is as real as the tangible table…Mind is material and things are mental. Mind and material are real only in their interrelations”

    As he did in actual politics, blurring the differences between socialists and anarchists , his philosophy tried to join together ideas and matter and end a false dichotomy dissolve things into one big giant melting monism pot…So …perhaps i can offer an alternative to your challenge here 

    Quote:
    If I could quote just one example of a member saying 'I agree with Marx and not Engels', I would revise my views.

    "I agree with Dietzgen…and by extension, Pannekoek…rather  than either Marx or Engels" 

    #116043
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster
    Quote:
    Get robbo to give a detailed plan of socialism

    Well the nearest a socialist model to my knowledge he has posted has been thishttps://libcom.org/files/CommonVoice3.pdfSo feel free to critique the "democratic control" it proclaims …i am sure he would be interested in where you find it in error or where his socialist ideas are badly expressed.  Fire away your broadside. LBird…you have the first shot…then Robbo can return fire…

    #116044
    LBird
    Participant
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    I did try one time to study philosophy but it did make my head sore. But who i tried to read was Dietzgen…"the workers philosopher" as i think Marx called him on one of his better days when discussing people and Pannekoek's summaries of him. 

    Quote:
    “Mind is as real as the tangible table…Mind is material and things are mental. Mind and material are real only in their interrelations”

    As he did in actual politics, blurring the differences between socialists and anarchists , his philosophy tried to join together ideas and matter and end a false dichotomy dissolve things into one big giant melting monism pot…So …perhaps i can offer an alternative to your challenge here 

    Quote:
    If I could quote just one example of a member saying 'I agree with Marx and not Engels', I would revise my views.

    "I agree with Dietzgen…and by extension, Pannekoek…rather  than either Marx or Engels" 

    You should ask me for help, alan. To me, that's the whole point of being a Communist – to help other workers to develop, by shortening the time it takes for them to achieve one's own depth of knowledge, which took so long, so that we all get up to the same speed as fast as possible.On Dietzgen: he's spot on about looking to 'interrelations', rather than mind and matter as 'separate' things.But… his big failure is to look to 'induction': this, in simple terms, means 'practice and theory'.This is a contradiction: 'induction' implies starting from 'matter' (outside of 'mind'), rather than mind and matter in their socio-historical 'interrelations'.So, he ends the 'false dichotomy', on the one hand, and then introduces a 'false dichotomy', on the other.Read Dietgen further, in the light of my comments, and ask me further questions, if necessary (on a new thread, I think).

    #116045
    LBird
    Participant
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    Quote:
    Get robbo to give a detailed plan of socialism

    Well the nearest a socialist model to my knowledge he has posted has been thishttps://libcom.org/files/CommonVoice3.pdfSo feel free to critique the "democratic control" it proclaims …i am sure he would be interested in where you find it in error or where his socialist ideas are badly expressed.  Fire away your broadside. LBird…you have the first shot…then Robbo can return fire…

    I think that you miss my point, alan.We can't offer detailed plans of democratic production – my point was, anything that robbo argues about 'widgets' can be argued about 'knowledge'.That is, academia is much the same as a factory or office.All must produce for the purposes of the producers: purposes, of course, in a society which claims to be democratic, as I presume socialist society will, can only be 'democratic purposes'.The real debate, here, is not 'the future', but why some argue 'now' that 'knowledge' is an elite product, and so can't be voted upon.

    #116046
    LBird wrote:
    The real debate, here, is not 'the future', but why some argue 'now' that 'knowledge' is an elite product, and so can't be voted upon.

    No one is arguing that.  Just as you cannot vote a car into existence, you cannot vote scientific knowledge into existence.  Just as not everyone in society will be making cars, not everyone will be making knowledge.  Just as the free association of producers means no-one is compelled to work, and from each according to their abilitries means we will be doing different work, etc.

    #116047
    LBird
    Participant
    YMS wrote:
    Just as you cannot vote a car into existence, you cannot vote scientific knowledge into existence.

    What an odd statement to make – of course we can.You heard it first here, workers!The SPGB intend to deny you the right to decide whether to vote cars for individuals into existence, or to vote an integrated free transport system into existence!Or, a bit of both, Or, neither.

    #116048

    You can vote till your blue in the face, but someone has to actually make the car.  All the vote tells us is what the community wants.  Condorcets jury theorem aside, that's all voting does, is inform us what is in the minds of the members of the community.Furtehr, you cannot vote to instruct scientists to prove that gravity is made of cheese, just as you cannot vote for car workers to mkake one that goes at the speed of light.

    #116049
    LBird
    Participant
    YMS wrote:
    You can vote till your blue in the face, but someone has to actually make the car.

    Here we see, once again, YMS's continuing tactice to prevent any advance in our discussions. I can only presume that, with it being employed so often, that it is a deliberate obfuscating tactic.We'll state 'the bleedin' obvious', once again, after so many times, just for those unwary workers who are reading, and are confused by YMS's ideological materialism.Marx argues that our method is 'theory and practice': that we determine, by prior ideas, what our purposes and aims are, then put those ideas into practice, by changing inorganic nature into organic nature. We can only know if our social process of production has been a success, when we decide it has been a success.So, we decide, for example, that we want 'an integrated free transport system' alone, and not 'individual cars' (it could be otherwise, of course, but this assumption will suffice for this example).So, our 'purpose' (free transport for all, within the environmental constraints of our planet) is made plain in our plan, an 'idea', freely chosen by democracy.We then put our plan into action, by democratically producing our product, 'an integrated free transport system'. This is our object, created by our labour upon inorganic nature.When constructed, though, we might think that it now doesn't realise our purposes, and decide to change the plan, and retry. Only we can decide ourselves, by a democratic vote, whether the IFTS suits our purposes.Thus, we, and we alone, will have voted into existence our IFTS, our object, our creation.We can now see that YMS, having had all this explained many times, and pretending not to remember, tries to pretend that workers' democracy is a form of idealism, and that democratic production is 'things out of nowhere'.Be wary, any workers reading, the materialists constantly do this, because they cannot answer the question 'If not workers, who?', when asked about production.They pretend that any Democratic Communist that espouses Marx's democratic method of 'theory and practice' is an 'Idealist', which for them plays the role of 'The Bogey Man'. They got this dichotomy from Engels, and I've given the pamphlet and page number many times.NB. YMS will now plead ignorance, and deny everything that has been said, time and again, on these threads, about democratic production.

    #116050

    Lbird seems unable to understand analogy.  The immediate point is the vote doesn't make the car (and, indeed, a car can be made without a vote), just as a vote cannot decide that gravity is made of cheese.As you yourself note, all a vote can do is decide whether the produced goods meets our purposes, i.e. reveals our minds to us.  the only question a vote anwers, is what do we think?  But, we cannot define success alone by the vote, we could vote that the car building project jhas worked, but if the reality is that the cars keep breking down, then it is a failure, whichever way you cut it.

    #116051
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    LBird wrote:
     So, we decide, for example, that we want 'an integrated free transport system' alone, and not 'individual cars' (it could be otherwise, of course, but this assumption will suffice for this example).So, our 'purpose' (free transport for all, within the environmental constraints of our planet) is made plain in our plan, an 'idea', freely chosen by democracy.We then put our plan into action, by democratically producing our product, 'an integrated free transport system'. This is our object, created by our labour upon inorganic nature.When constructed, though, we might think that it now doesn't realise our purposes, and decide to change the plan, and retry. Only we can decide ourselves, by a democratic vote, whether the IFTS suits our purposes.Thus, we, and we alone, will have voted into existence our IFTS, our object, our creation..

    So this is what you mean by democratic control of science? This is democratic control of the means of production. We materialists have advocated this since at least 1904. Where have you been? 

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