Socialist Standard November 2020

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  • #209459
    Wez
    Participant

    ‘ That there are universal laws of motion in physics and of evolution in biology may be conceded, but it is more contentious to say that there are entirely equivalent laws of motion or evolution in human society.’ 

    What are we to make of this statement? Is the SPGB about to abandon Marx’s theory of historical development? What’s next – perhaps we should junk his theory of surplus value?

    #209488
    ALB
    Participant

    Actually, if you read it carefully it is not saying what you seem to think it is saying. It was in fact carefully crafted (it was redrafted several times by the editorial committee) to take into account different emphases while respecting the general position of the author.

    All it is saying is that the laws of physics and laws of social evolution are not “entirely equivalent” and that it is rather “contentious” to say so. They may both act on humans as a coercive force but the difference is that the laws of physics, etc are external and operate independently of human action whereas the laws of social evolution are carried out by the actions of people eg through class struggles and through developing new technologies.

    We will probably get stick from the other sides as well, eg from those who think that there is no end (aim) of history or who think that the laws of physics are human-made too as well as those who think that the dialectics applies to nature as well as human thought.

    Bit of a cheap jibe incompatible with your usual respect for the rules of logic, isn’t it, to say that the passage signals junking the theory of surplus value? Even if the article did say (which it didn’t) that there were no laws of historical and social evolution, it would not follow that the theory of surplus value was wrong.

    As you know, A junks B does not imply that A junks C.

    #209490
    Wez
    Participant

    ALB – I just get the impression sometimes that our Party is moving away from Marxism and embracing an anti-intellectual perspective. I thought the whole point was that before socialist consciousness historical development was independent of human intentions and desires and so constituted, as you say, a ‘coercive force’!

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 1 day ago by Wez.
    #209501
    ALB
    Participant

    Yes, that it’s. It all here (which also has relevance for the other thread on “philosophy”).

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1859/critique-pol-economy/preface.htm

     

    #209623
    L.B. Neill
    Participant

    ‘ That there are universal laws of motion in physics and of evolution in biology may be conceded, but it is more contentious to say that there are entirely equivalent laws of motion or evolution in human society.’ 

    Wez, ALB,

    The general principles that can be observed in biology, in organisms, their physical ‘force’ differ from the social life (reproductions of givens, and transformations). It is contentious. It need not be contentious though. Human evolution in consciousness does not have that same physical properties that nature has- nature will do as nature does well before we could cognise it. At present, human consciousness is the force applied to insist on our ‘taken for granted’ understanding of social production- so it is subject to change.

    Human consciousness can change and try to understand the natural world, use a microscope to break it down into atoms. But that is it. The thing is, it means we can consciously change the social, the societal. And yes:

    We will probably get stick from the other sides as well, eg from those who think that there is no end (aim) of history or who think that the laws of physics are human-made too as well as those who think that the dialectics applies to nature as well as human thought. 

    There is a conscious aim and end to history in the social, the societal (an end to the class struggle), the end to hierarchical divisions in economic political.

    The human made laws of physics are that: the best approximations to describe them according to know-how at that time. If we try to apply our will on nature, a dialectic will, or some idealism-  nature will counter that, and ignore our mere postulations- rolling right on as it has done. Thing is it points to the societal as being malleable, neuro-plastics, and subject to change in human thinking- the pragmatic and deliberate end to the class struggle… and nature will continue on as usual, ignoble to all our epochs.

    It is a subtle shift, but not breaking with Marx, just a correction according to social change agency.

    It is not anti intellectual nor anti Marx. It is a reboot. No matter the course: ‘stick happens’.

    • This reply was modified 5 days, 15 hours ago by L.B. Neill.
    • This reply was modified 5 days, 15 hours ago by L.B. Neill.
    • This reply was modified 5 days, 15 hours ago by L.B. Neill.
    • This reply was modified 5 days, 15 hours ago by L.B. Neill. Reason: correction of proximal scaffolding in thought!
    #209631
    Wez
    Participant

    LB –  ‘If we try to apply our will on nature, a dialectic will, or some idealism-  nature will counter that, and ignore our mere postulations- rolling right on as it has done’

    Of course the dialectic is a human construct – just as the paradigms of science are. Its use is only viable if it explains observed phenomena successfully – which in the Marxian context it has done spectacularly.

    #209634
    L.B. Neill
    Participant

    Bloody hell Wez- thanks. Feel that was confirmed- I have been in too much close contact with the people encouraging the ‘opposite’…

    • This reply was modified 5 days, 12 hours ago by L.B. Neill.
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