Members against Materialism

July 2024 Forums World Socialist Movement Members against Materialism

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  • #116995
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Marx himself defines what he means by "means of production" in section 1 on "The Labour Process or the Production of Use Values" of  Chapter 7 of Capital but he had already used the term in the second paragraph of Capital. Also in the first chapter, there's his well known reference to socialism/communism as "a community of free individuals, carrying on their work with the means of production in common,"Here's the key passage from that section (the whole section is worth reading for its clarity):

    Quote:
    The elementary factors of the labour-process are 1, the personal activity of man, i.e., work itself, 2, the subject of that work, and 3, its instruments.The soil (and this, economically speaking, includes water) in the virgin state in which it supplies man with necessaries or the means of subsistence ready to hand, exists independently of him, and is the universal subject of human labour. All those things which labour merely separates from immediate connexion with their environment, are subjects of labour spontaneously provided by Nature. Such are fish which we catch and take from their element, water, timber which we fell in the virgin forest, and ores which we extract from their veins. If, on the other hand, the subject of labour has, so to say, been filtered through previous labour, we call it raw material; such is ore already extracted and ready for washing. All raw material is the subject of labour, but not every subject of labour is raw material: it can only become so, after it has undergone some alteration by means of labour.An instrument of labour is a thing, or a complex of things, which the labourer interposes between himself and the subject of his labour, and which serves as the conductor of his activity. He makes use of the mechanical, physical, and chemical properties of some substances in order to make other substances subservient to his aims. [2] Leaving out of consideration such ready-made means of subsistence as fruits, in gathering which a man’s own limbs serve as the instruments of his labour, the first thing of which the labourer possesses himself is not the subject of labour but its instrument. Thus Nature becomes one of the organs of his activity, one that he annexes to his own bodily organs, adding stature to himself in spite of the Bible. As the earth is his original larder, so too it is his original tool house. It supplies him, for instance, with stones for throwing, grinding, pressing, cutting, &c. The earth itself is an instrument of labour, but when used as such in agriculture implies a whole series of other instruments and a comparatively high development of labour.  No sooner does labour undergo the least development, than it requires specially prepared instruments. Thus in the oldest caves we find stone implements and weapons. In the earliest period of human history domesticated animals, i.e., animals which have been bred for the purpose, and have undergone modifications by means of labour, play the chief part as instruments of labour along with specially prepared stones, wood, bones, and shells. The use and fabrication of instruments of labour, although existing in the germ among certain species of animals, is specifically characteristic of the human labour-process, and Franklin therefore defines man as a tool-making animal. Relics of bygone instruments of labour possess the same importance for the investigation of extinct economic forms of society, as do fossil bones for the determination of extinct species of animals. It is not the articles made, but how they are made, and by what instruments, that enables us to distinguish different economic epochs. Instruments of labour not only supply a standard of the degree of development to which human labour has attained, but they are also indicators of the social conditions under which that labour is carried on. Among the instruments of labour, those of a mechanical nature, which, taken as a whole, we may call the bone and muscles of production, offer much more decided characteristics of a given epoch of production, than those which, like pipes, tubs, baskets, jars, &c., serve only to hold the materials for labour, which latter class, we may in a general way, call the vascular system of production. The latter first begins to play an important part in the chemical industries.In a wider sense we may include among the instruments of labour, in addition to those things that are used for directly transferring labour to its subject, and which therefore, in one way or another, serve as conductors of activity, all such objects as are necessary for carrying on the labour-process. These do not enter directly into the process, but without them it is either impossible for it to take place at all, or possible only to a partial extent. Once more we find the earth to be a universal instrument of this sort, for it furnishes a locus standi to the labourer and a field of employment for his activity. Among instruments that are the result of previous labour and also belong to this class, we find workshops, canals, roads, and so forth.In the labour-process, therefore, man’s activity, with the help of the instruments of labour, effects an alteration, designed from the commencement, in the material worked upon. The process disappears in the product, the latter is a use-value, Nature’s material adapted by a change of form to the wants of man. Labour has incorporated itself with its subject: the former is materialised, the latter transformed. That which in the labourer appeared as movement, now appears in the product as a fixed quality without motion. The blacksmith forges and the product is a forging. If we examine the whole process from the point of view of its result, the product, it is plain that both the instruments and the subject of labour, are means of production, and that the labour itself is productive labour.
    #116996
    jondwhite
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    jondwhite wrote:
    You can get a pocket paperback here if you want it in printhttp://www.lulu.com/shop/harold-walsby/spgb-utopian-or-scientific/paperback/product-21092281.html

    I was going to order the book to read, jdw, but it doesn't seem to be available in the usual sources.Have you got an ISBN?

    Unfortunately lulu print on demand and only distribute more widely (e.g. Amazon) when the book is A5 with a spine which this is not – it is A6.Could you be tempted to order from lulu by ordering this pocket (A6) paperback as wellhttp://www.lulu.com/shop/steve-coleman/the-origin-and-meaning-of-the-political-theory-of-impossibilism/paperback/product-21110348.htmlor maybe one of the issues of Forum internal journal which is a very stimulating read, I think 1953 has articles on materialismhttp://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/forum-1953/13864849

    #116997
    LBird
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    Marx himself defines what he means by "means of production" in section 1 on "The Labour Process or the Production of Use Values" of  Chapter 7 of Capital but he had already used the term in the second paragraph of Capital. Also in the first chapter, there's his well known reference to socialism/communism as "a community of free individuals, carrying on their work with the means of production in common,"Here's the key passage from that section (the whole section is worth reading for its clarity):

    Quote:
    The elementary factors of the labour-process are 1, the personal activity of man, i.e., work itself, 2, the subject of that work, and 3, its instruments.The soil (and this, economically speaking, includes water) in the virgin state in which it supplies man with necessaries or the means of subsistence ready to hand, exists independently of him, and is the universal subject of human labour. All those things which labour merely separates from immediate connexion with their environment, are subjects of labour spontaneously provided by Nature. Such are fish which we catch and take from their element, water, timber which we fell in the virgin forest, and ores which we extract from their veins. If, on the other hand, the subject of labour has, so to say, been filtered through previous labour, we call it raw material; such is ore already extracted and ready for washing. All raw material is the subject of labour, but not every subject of labour is raw material: it can only become so, after it has undergone some alteration by means of labour.An instrument of labour is a thing, or a complex of things, which the labourer interposes between himself and the subject of his labour, and which serves as the conductor of his activity. He makes use of the mechanical, physical, and chemical properties of some substances in order to make other substances subservient to his aims. [2] Leaving out of consideration such ready-made means of subsistence as fruits, in gathering which a man’s own limbs serve as the instruments of his labour, the first thing of which the labourer possesses himself is not the subject of labour but its instrument. Thus Nature becomes one of the organs of his activity, one that he annexes to his own bodily organs, adding stature to himself in spite of the Bible. As the earth is his original larder, so too it is his original tool house. It supplies him, for instance, with stones for throwing, grinding, pressing, cutting, &c. The earth itself is an instrument of labour, but when used as such in agriculture implies a whole series of other instruments and a comparatively high development of labour.  No sooner does labour undergo the least development, than it requires specially prepared instruments. Thus in the oldest caves we find stone implements and weapons. In the earliest period of human history domesticated animals, i.e., animals which have been bred for the purpose, and have undergone modifications by means of labour, play the chief part as instruments of labour along with specially prepared stones, wood, bones, and shells. The use and fabrication of instruments of labour, although existing in the germ among certain species of animals, is specifically characteristic of the human labour-process, and Franklin therefore defines man as a tool-making animal. Relics of bygone instruments of labour possess the same importance for the investigation of extinct economic forms of society, as do fossil bones for the determination of extinct species of animals. It is not the articles made, but how they are made, and by what instruments, that enables us to distinguish different economic epochs. Instruments of labour not only supply a standard of the degree of development to which human labour has attained, but they are also indicators of the social conditions under which that labour is carried on. Among the instruments of labour, those of a mechanical nature, which, taken as a whole, we may call the bone and muscles of production, offer much more decided characteristics of a given epoch of production, than those which, like pipes, tubs, baskets, jars, &c., serve only to hold the materials for labour, which latter class, we may in a general way, call the vascular system of production. The latter first begins to play an important part in the chemical industries.In a wider sense we may include among the instruments of labour, in addition to those things that are used for directly transferring labour to its subject, and which therefore, in one way or another, serve as conductors of activity, all such objects as are necessary for carrying on the labour-process. These do not enter directly into the process, but without them it is either impossible for it to take place at all, or possible only to a partial extent. Once more we find the earth to be a universal instrument of this sort, for it furnishes a locus standi to the labourer and a field of employment for his activity. Among instruments that are the result of previous labour and also belong to this class, we find workshops, canals, roads, and so forth.In the labour-process, therefore, man’s activity, with the help of the instruments of labour, effects an alteration, designed from the commencement, in the material worked upon. The process disappears in the product, the latter is a use-value, Nature’s material adapted by a change of form to the wants of man. Labour has incorporated itself with its subject: the former is materialised, the latter transformed. That which in the labourer appeared as movement, now appears in the product as a fixed quality without motion. The blacksmith forges and the product is a forging. If we examine the whole process from the point of view of its result, the product, it is plain that both the instruments and the subject of labour, are means of production, and that the labour itself is productive labour.

    Yes, Marx includes both ideas and tangible things. He's talking about 'theory and practice', not 'matter'. He's describing social activites by humans, not 'active matter'.This is a text about 'idealism-materialism', not Engels' bourgeois 'materialism'.

    #116998

    It's not called idealism-materialism, the correct term is Underpantism-Struddlism (as Marx wrote in his seminal text "Materialism, my Arse").  Only bourgeois deviationists, led by Engels in his viscious text "Why I love Oxymorons" use the term Idealism-Materialism.

    #116999
    LBird
    Participant
    Young Master Smeet wrote:
    It's not called idealism-materialism, the correct term is Underpantism-Struddlism (as Marx wrote in his seminal text "Materialism, my Arse").  Only bourgeois deviationists, led by Engels in his viscious text "Why I love Oxymorons" use the term Idealism-Materialism.

    That's just about your level, YMS.Philosophical debate is a closed book to 'materialists'.And democracy certainly is off your agenda, since you think that you can tell workers that 'matter is the active side', and they have to obey an elite with access to 'matter'.

    #117000
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    Young Master Smeet wrote:
    It's not called idealism-materialism, the correct term is Underpantism-Struddlism (as Marx wrote in his seminal text "Materialism, my Arse").  Only bourgeois deviationists, led by Engels in his viscious text "Why I love Oxymorons" use the term Idealism-Materialism.

     Lol   

    #117001

    But why do you insist on using the term Idealism-Materialism, the very term beloved of Mengele?  Don't you realise that Idealism-Materialism means that a demon will be summoned onto the Earth to rule in an elitist fashion: idealism-materialism divides the world into Demonic and non-demonic.  Anyone who doesn';t agree is an Engelists.  how long has Lbird been an Engelsist?  Why does he avoid that question, eh?

    #117002
    LBird
    Participant

    For those seriously concerned with these issues, a few quotes from Antonio Labriola, ‘Historical Materialism’, pp. 95-246 in ‘Essays on the Materialistic Conception of History’, (first published 1896, for those who think that these are new debates, or simply made up by me).

    Labriola, p. 113, wrote:
    …there is no fact in history which is not preceded, accompanied and followed by determined forms of consciousness…
    Labriola, p. 127, wrote:
    …even the materialistic conception of history may be converted into a form of argumentation for a thesis and serve to make new fashions with the ancient prejudices… To guard against this, and especially to avoid the reappearance in an indirect and disguised fashion of any form whatever of finality…
    Labriola, p. 165, wrote:
    The boldest of these idealists were the extreme materialists…

    http://www.amazon.com/Materialistic-Conception-History-Antonio-Labriola/dp/1596055189Labriola had no time for a ‘matter’ outside of a ‘consciousness’, or Engels’ talk of ‘in the final analysis’, which gives ‘matter’ the final say.He agreed with Marx’s views about social production, or ‘theory and practice’, which require human ideas and consciousness being actively employed on ‘inorganic nature’ to produce our world.This is nothing to do with Engels’ concerns with ‘matter’ and its alleged ‘final’ say, and the passivity of workers.

    #117003
    jondwhite
    Participant

    LabriolaBird

    #117004
    Bijou Drains
    Participant

    L Bird – You might be interested in the Walsby Society, founded by the late George Walford. They used to send around the incredibly turgid "ideological Commentary" to any one on the Socialist Standard contact list in the 80s and 90s. when Walford died he left some money to the SPGB and also set money aside for the George Walford International Essay Prize (I shit you not). The prize is £3,500 to spend on the college course of  the winner's choice. The subject is Systematic Ideology and from reading through the essays it seems that pseudo-intellectual sophistry is the name of the game. You may want to enter, although when it comes to pseudo-intellectual sophistry you may be over qualified.Anyway here is a link -http://gwiep.net/wp/to be fair, Walford did come up with one reasonably funny joke, which was – A Martian lands in Clapham High Street, knocks on the door of number 52 and says "take me to your leader"

    #117005
    LBird
    Participant
    jondwhite wrote:
    LBird wrote:
    jondwhite wrote:
    The early parts of this text suggest a critique of materialismhttps://libcom.org/library/spgb-utopian-or-scientific-fallacy-overwhelming-minority

    Can't get access to those documents, jdw.Do you have a pdf?

    I have now added documents in other formats docx, odt and rtf. Hope this is easier to read.

    I've had a very brief look at the rtf, jdw, and his main problem seems to be a failure to distinguish between Marx and Engels.That is, as far as I can tell after a quick browse, he, like the SPGB, still regards the being Marx-Engels as a unity.If you know differently, could you point me to the relevant passages?

    #117006
    LBird wrote:
    That is, as far as I can tell after a quick browse, he, like the SPGB, still regards the being Marx-Engels as a unity.

    I can't believe you keep treating Marx and Engelss as unity, don't you know that leads to Leninism?  It's clear that Marx suppotred Materialism-Idealism, but Engels supported Cthulhu.  You should be arguing for Materialism-Idealism if you want to be a Marxist.

    #117007
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Labriola's criticism was aimed at the likes of Enrico Ferri who gave an openly Positivist interpretation of Marx and Engels, as in his Socialism and Modern Science:https://www.marxists.org/archive/ferri/1900/socialism-science/index.htmIronically, the Charles H. Kerr publishing house in Chicago, which specialised in publishing works by "Marxists", published translations of both Ferri (a member of the "Italian Socialist Party" at the time) and Labriola.Actually, Labriola and Engels seem to have been great mates. At any rate, there is no criticism of Engels in anything he wrote.

    #117008
    LBird
    Participant
    ALB wrote:
    Actually, Labriola and Engels seem to have been great mates. At any rate, there is no criticism of Engels in anything he wrote.

    Except in the quote that I gave, about 'finality'.Engels thinks 'matter' is 'final'.Marx thinks 'material' is social production, which is historical, and thus can't be 'final'.At a philosophical level, Marx sees both 'consciousness and being' as being in an inescapable relationship, whereas Engels commits the mistake of reverting to bourgeois 'materialism', which separates 'being' from 'consciousness'.That's why 'materialists' regard 'material' as something outside of social consciousness, whereas Marx regarded 'material' as something related to the creativity of social consciousness.For Engels, 'matter' simply 'is', and so is not socio-historical, and cannot change or be changed.For Marx, 'matter' is a creation of a socio-historical relationship, and thus changes and can be changed.I'll leave you to consider which view of 'matter' is the Marxist one, and most suited to a class conscious proletariat intent on changing their world.

    #117009
    ALB
    Keymaster
    Labriola wrote:
    Or did Engels, when he wrote his Anti-Dühring, which is to this day, the most accomplished work of critical socialism and contains in a nutshell the whole philosophy required for the thinkers of socialism, dream of exhausting the possibilities of the knowable universe in his short and exquisite work, or of laying down forever the outlines of metaphysics, psychology, ethics, logic, and whatever may be the names of the other sections of the encyclopedia, which were chosen either for intrinsic reasons of objective division, or for reasons of expediency, comfort, vanity, by those who profess to be teachers?
    Labriola wrote:
    Engels' Anti-Dühring is that work which ought to get an international circulation before any other. I know of few books which are equal to it in compactness of thought, multiplicity of view-points, and effectiveness in bringing home its points. It may become mental medicine for young thinkers, who generally turn with vague and uncertain touch to books which are said to deal with socialism of some kind. This was what happened when this book appeared, as Bernstein wrote about three years ago in the Neue Zeit, in an article commemorating the event. This work of Engels remains the unexcelled book in the literature of socialism.
    Labriola wrote:
    When Engels, in his Anti-Dühring, used the term metaphysics in a deprecating manner, he intended precisely to refer to that way of thinking, conceiving, inferring, expounding which is the opposite of a genetic, and therefore dialectical, consideration of things. The metaphysical way of thinking has the following characteristics: In the first place, it regards as self-dependent things, as things independent of one another, those modes of thought, which are in reality modes only to the extent that they represent points of correlation and transition in a process; in the second place, it regards these modes of thought as existing before the fact, as pre-existing, as types, or prototypes, of the weak and shadowy reality of sense perceptions. From the first point of view, for instance, such thoughts as cause and effect, means and end, origin and reality, and so forth, appear merely as distinct terminals of different, and sometimes opposite, kinds. Some of them seem to be only causes, others only effects, and so forth. In the second case the world of experience seems to be disintegrating and falling to pieces before our eyes, separating into substance and attribute, thing in itself and phenomenon, possibility and obvious reality. The critique of Engels demands substantially and realistically that terminal thought should not be considered as a fixed entity, but as a function. For such terminal concepts are valuable only in so far as they help us to think now, while we are actively engaged in proceeding with new thought.

    From here:https://www.marxists.org/archive/labriola/works/al03.htmand herehttps://www.marxists.org/archive/labriola/works/al04.htm

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