Marx, and the myth of his ‘Materialism’

July 2022 Forums General discussion Marx, and the myth of his ‘Materialism’

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  • #115782
    LBird
    Participant
    Dave B wrote:
    So what you are saying is if you consciously plan and implement something you are not a materialist; you are an idealist-materialist. 

    If we choose to put it that way, then 'yes'. If we are to combat Engels' misunderstanding of Marx, the misunderstanding of Marx that leads to Leninism, the non-Marx term 'materialist history', then we are compelled to link 'materialism' with 'idealism'.We could choose another term entirely, which doesn't employ either 'materialism' or 'idealism' (Marx suggested 'humanism' or 'naturalism'), but while the anti-democratic term 'materialism' is current, we have to correct it, for interested workers.We must insist on 'theory and practice', which is, as Kline's article suggests when discussing 'economic/material' in Marx, as much about ideas as about the physical.

    Dave B wrote:
    Feuerbach the first self described anti idealist and materialist wouldn’t like that much I suspect. 

    But Marx wasn't a 'Feuerbachian', so that a consideration of Feuerbach's likes and dislikes needn't worry Democratic Communists.

    Dave B wrote:
    And thus conscious human beings (a tautology for most of us perhaps) can’t be materialists as they are mutually exclusive; unless they have no idea what they are doing or why they are doing it. 

    No, they are not 'mutually exclusive': consciousness and being, subject and object, mind and matter, etc., are inescapably interlinked.This is where most physicists are still going astray. No matter what Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Bohm, etc. say when philosophising about this relationship, most day-to-day research ignores this, and continues to just 'do science'. They even ignore Godel's works, and continue to believe that 'nature' is 'mathematical', a habit they picked up from Gallileo. This is the 'common sense' belief even today about 'physics' (for 'common sense', read 'ruling class idea').The bourgeoisie removed 'consciousness' from 'being' (supposedly) in its search for 'Truth'. This is clear from the setting up of the Royal Society in London in the 1660's, and other so-called 'scientific societies' across Europe.Of course, the political effect of this 'separation of being from consciousness' was the separation of property from society, and so the end of any idea of democratic control of production, that is, Communism.We can only control our productive world (material/economic, which is ideal-material, subject-object, etc.) when we realise that we control maths and physics, because humans produce knowledge, and we acknowledge that 'truth' has a history, and different socities, having different purposes (which Marx mentions in Capital), produce socio-historical truth. Thus, we can change our ideal-material world, because we are its creator. We create our own object, for our purposes.Finally, whilst the proletariat is bamboozled by 'materialism' (or physicalism, to use a modern term), it must remain passive, because, as Marx pointed out in the 1840s, the 'active side' of idealism is required to change our world.Any belief that 'science' discovers 'True Knowledge', which, once found, is 'True Forever', an eternal, unchangeable 'Fact', leaves us in the hands of 'a special elite', who have the consciousness required, and who pretend that this consciousness is not available to the 'masses', and so denies democratic control of the means of production.That is, of course, Leninism, and has nothing to do with Marx's project about workers consciously liberating themselves.

    #115783
    Young Master Smeet
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    For humans, they have to think first, what to eat. They produce their food, even by hunting and gathering, for the social band.The RM-ers would have us believe that the active pies thrust themselves into our passive mouths… after they've consulted with the active rocks first, of course…Marx was an Idealist-Materialist.

    A|Znd thinking is a material process of chemicals and electrons in a brain.  And, of course, since thinking occurs in language which comes from without the individual, it is cultural material processes that do the thinking.  The whole world is an ongoing process and movement of which we are only part, but the world exists before we do.  Maybe cultural materialism is the term you're looking for…

    #115784
    LBird
    Participant
    Young Master Smeet wrote:
    A|Znd thinking is a material process of chemicals and electrons in a brain.  And, of course, since thinking occurs in language which comes from without the individual [ie. it's social], it is cultural material processes that do the thinking.  The whole world is an ongoing process and movement of which we are only part, but the world exists before we do.  Maybe cultural materialism is the term you're looking for…

    [my bolds/insert]Given what you've said here, YMS, I'm not sure why 'idealism-materialism' is so repugnant to you.The only reason to retain 'materialism', and yet to reject 'idealism', is unthinking deference to Engels' mischaracterisation of Marx's views.It's a recipe for continued misunderstanding on the part of socialists, continued mystification amongst workers seeking new ideas opposed to capitalism, as to how an 'idea' is made of 'matter' (it isn't, and they won't be taken in for another century), and continued domination of workers by an elite with a supposed 'special consciousness' to which the workers cannot aspire, which prevents the democratic control of the means of production.Although, you and some other posters have made clear enough on many threads, that you will not countenance workers' democracy (in either production, knowledge, science, physics, maths…).Just what 'socialism' consists of, for you elitists, I'm not sure.

    #115785
    Dave B
    Participant

    To be candid L Bird I am really not interested in your ‘bamboozling product of human knowledge’ and I am not going to buy or vote for it. And intend to exit. As a matter of historical or information on;  But Marx wasn't a 'Feuerbachian', so that a consideration of Feuerbach's likes and dislikes needn't worry Democratic Communists  Well up to the end of 1844 he was a 'Feuerbachian' and took is humanism as well from him. They actually abandoned the humanist part of their Feuerbachian position after Stirner’s attack on it in Ego and his Own published in late 1844. Apologising for it in German Ideology as their ‘erstwhile philosophical conscience’. Ludwig’s, and thus Karl’s and Fred’s humanist position, in 1844 was that we had social instincts that were communistic and co-operative and that primitive [or essence of] Christianity was an expression of the social instinct framed in religious or supernatural terms. Which was the only possible or most likely way it could have been expressed in an oppressive non communist society of that epoch? [Although Feuerbach didn’t appear to use this material 2 of the 5 or so anti christian documents on  Christianity from before 200Ad were in no doubt that the Christians were communists. True doctrines by celsus and Lucian of Samosata’s passing of Peregrinus.] By 1845 Karl and Fred had completely abandoned and hostilely criticised that position and that remains the orthodox and vulgar Marxist position to this day. And demoted it to an aggregate of social relations etc. Even though after the publication of Darwin’s second book and a bit of time to let it sink in; they realised that they and Feuerbach had been basically correct in 1844 all along and had allowed themselves to be bamboozled by a very clever ‘anarchist’. Thus; Karl MarxEconomic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 Feuerbach is the only one who has a serious, critical attitude to the Hegelian dialectic and who has made genuine discoveries in this field. He is in fact the true conqueror of the old philosophy. The extent of his achievement, and the unpretentious simplicity with which he, Feuerbach, gives it to the world, stand in striking contrast to the opposite attitude [of the others]. Feuerbach’s great achievement is: (1) The proof that philosophy is nothing else but religion rendered into thought and expounded by thought, i.e., another form and manner of existence of the estrangement of the essence of man; hence equally to be condemned; (2) The establishment of true materialism and of real science, by making the social relationship of “man to man” the basic principle of the theory;  Here we see how consistent {…Feuerbach’s…}naturalism or humanism is distinct from both idealism and materialism, and constitutes at the same time the unifying truth of both. We see also how only naturalism is capable of comprehending the action of world history. https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/hegel.htm  To keep it very and too brief Darwins argument is sort of wrapped around; ….The following proposition seems to me in a high degree probable—namely, that any animal whatever, endowed with well-marked social instincts,5 would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as soon as…. So he speculates about the likelihood or inevitability of social instincts and then ponders about how the would express themselves or what distorted form they might take in modern human society or whatever ie moral sense or conscience Feuerbach just sort of did it the other and harder way around by observing the empirical evidence ie  ‘moral sense or conscience’ and deducing a social instinct. http://darwin-online.org.uk/converted/published/1871_Descent_F937/1871_Descent_F937.1.html

    #115786
    LBird
    Participant
    Dave B wrote:
    To be candid L Bird I am really not interested in your ‘bamboozling product of human knowledge’ and I am not going to buy or vote for it.And intend to exit.

    Fine by me, Dave.You haven't mentioned, though, how workers can democratically control their means of production, if they don't have new and critical ideas, to change the existing 'material' world.They can only do this through theory and practice.I've given the quote from Marx in Capital, earlier on the thread. Only humans have purpose, not matter.Whilst workers follow the Engelsian myth of 'Marx's Materialism', they remain disarmed, and at the beck and call of those who do provide their own purpose, from above the workers. A Leninist purpose.

    #115787
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    LBird wrote:
     Only humans have purpose, not matter.

    Humans are matter 

    #115788
    LBird
    Participant
    Vin wrote:
    LBird wrote:
     Only humans have purpose, not matter.

    Humans are matter 

    At least you've got half of the way towards Marx's thinking, Vin.

    #115789
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    LBird wrote:
    Vin wrote:
    LBird wrote:
     Only humans have purpose, not matter.

    Humans are matter 

    At least you've got half of the way towards Marx's thinking, Vin.

    Just pointing out one of many of your contradictions. 

    #115790
    LBird
    Participant
    Vin wrote:
    LBird wrote:
    Vin wrote:
    LBird wrote:
     Only humans have purpose, not matter.

    Humans are matter 

    At least you've got half of the way towards Marx's thinking, Vin.

    Just pointing out one of many of your contradictions. 

    If it's a contradiction, Vin, it's Marx's contradiction, not mine.Lots of things are 'matter', Vin, just as Marx listed in the quote that I gave from Capital, earlier, but they do not do 'theory and practice', that is, idealism-materialism.

    #115791
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    LBird wrote:
    Lots of things are 'matter', Vin, just as Marx listed in the quote that I gave from Capital, earlier, but they do not do 'theory and practice', that is, idealism-materialism.

    Matter does theory and practiceHumans (matter) do theory and practice

    #115792
    LBird
    Participant
    Vin wrote:
    LBird wrote:
    Lots of things are 'matter', Vin, just as Marx listed in the quote that I gave from Capital, earlier, but they do not do 'theory and practice', that is, idealism-materialism.

    Matter does theory and practiceHumans (matter) do theory and practice

    But humans are not just 'matter': they are 'consciousness', too. Rocks, which are also 'matter', do not do theory and practice.Marx got his 'active side' from the supposed 'divine conscious creativity' of the idealists, but realised that it's humans that are creative, and that they, not 'god', create their world by social production, by theory and practice.As Marx says, this 'social creativity' (which changes our world and us, and so is historical) is what separates us from the bees, or Dave's 'leafcutter ants', which merely repeat their actions.It's Engels who went looking for 'creative matter', which is just another term for a divine creator which is not humanity.Engels' materialism is of no use for workers looking for a critical and creative response to the 'what exists' of capitalism. If 'matter' determines, 'what exists' determines, capitalism determines… and never us class conscious workers.With materialism, we can't change our world, which was Marx's abiding concern.

    #115793
    Young Master Smeet
    Participant

    The problem for Lbird is this classic principle of Marxism: humans make history, but not in conditions of their own choosing. (I'm paraphrasing slightly, if memory serves).  What Lbird advocates, is that humans can choose their own conditions.Now, to return to hunter gatherers and food, she is right that humans have to think before they act, and that thinking is an integral and essential patr pof acting, but her position is in fact an entirely idealist one, in as much as she separates the object from the thought.  Hunter gatherers cannot conceive of foods they have never encountered (or, at least, are not extrapolations or analogues of existing foods – nor can we neither, but we do have a wider range to imagine from).  Nor can they conceive of production lines, tractors, etc.  The thought of the food is inextricably linked to the object of food and the process of obtaining it.  The whole point of MKarx is that as we act in the world, we change the world, but it also changes and acts upon us.  We are inextricably parts of a process.

    #115794
    Young Master Smeet
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
     If 'matter' determines, 'what exists' determines, capitalism determines… and never us class conscious workers.

    This doesn't hold, for several reasons.1) The class conscious working class are part of capitalism, and its determinations.2) It assumes capitalism is static, and not itself constantly changing.3) What exists is also what is becoming as well as what has been.

    #115795
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    LBird wrote:
    But humans are not just 'matter': they are 'consciousness',It's Engels who went looking for 'creative matter', which is just another term for a divine creator which is not humanity.

    Humans are creative matter

    #115796
    LBird
    Participant
    YMS wrote:
    …but her position is in fact an entirely idealist one, in as much as she separates the object from the thought.

    We're getting down to the epistemological basics, here.Materialism = objectivism (it separates 'material object' from 'conscious subject');Idealism = subjectivism (it separates 'conscious subject' from 'material object');Marx's Idealism-Materialism (unites the 'conscious subject' with 'material object' through social activity ie. 'theory and practice')= subjectivism-objectivism.Engels was a Materialist, because he sought a 'matter' which was outside of consciousness. As do modern physicists, who seek to 'know objectively' the smallest particle. They separate 'being' from 'consciousness'.The simple test of whether any scientist is a bourgeois 'materialist' or a Marxist 'idealist-materialist' is to ask them 'What social consciousness (ie. ideology) do you employ in your relationship with your 'object'?An 'idealist-materialist' will be forthcoming with their subjective position: they will say, for example, 'I'm a Marxist physicist'.A 'materialist' will hide their subjective position, and pretend to be an 'objective individual' simply dealing with 'objective reality', a process that will produce 'objective knowledge' (ie. eternal Truth).

    YMS wrote:
    The whole point of MKarx is that as we act in the world, we change the world, but it also changes and acts upon us.  We are inextricably parts of a process.

    Yes, you're spot on.Since 'we are inextricably', which "inextricably we's" social ideas do you employ during your social process to understand reality, YMS?I'm a Democratic Communist. I'm inextricably a part of a social process of understanding our physical and social world. Unity of subject and object, idealism-materialism, Marx's social theory and practice.

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