The Long Awaited Materialism thread

June 2024 Forums General discussion The Long Awaited Materialism thread

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  • #100447
    twc
    Participant

    The original Socialist Party of Australia was founded in 1924 by a mix of [mainly ex-British] seamen, who had been influenced indirectly by the SPGB, and of course local workers. Two of them had managed a clandestine passage to Russia to attend the first Red Trade Union International as representatives of the Australian Seamen's Union.  One, the astonishing Bill Casey [of "Bump me into Parliament" fame], privately confided to his mate, Barney Kelly, that it was obvious from the Conference that the only way forward for "socialist" Russia, was for it to actually retreat to capitalism.Casey's brash colleague incautiously spouted this home truth out to the gathering — remember delegates were there merely to cheer and fawn, as now in North Korea — and Kelly was arrested for anti-Sovietism. Casey intervened on his behalf through senior officials, ultimately Trotsky when, fortunately for Kelly, Lenin came out at the Conference with his New Economic Policy, and the stupidity of jailing a prescient supporter of Lenin's new policy became evident.  Casey's report to the Australian Seamen's Union is lodged in the National archives in Canberra.These founders were committed world socialists.  They were fearless world socialists.Our seamen members rose to dominate the Australian Seamen's Union, after they exposed the fraudulent activities of its former Communist Party officials, whom they caught red-handed syphoning union money off to mother Russia. The resulting scandal catapulted the Australian Party to a national prominence out of all proportion to its actual size of membership.To put things in context, the coastal sea trade [including interstate tourism] between Australian state capitals formed a highly significant part of the Australian economy then, and the Socialists negotiated a new agreement with the ship owners that all seamen, whatever their nationality, who were employed in the trade, had to be payed national Australian rates and expect Australian working conditions.In fact the Australian Socialists rose to such prominence, that one of them was nationally vilified day-in day-out in the press, and jailed for deportation by the Federal Government, over industrial Seamen's disputation.Another stood for Federal Parliament, in the seat formerly held by a previous Prime Minister, telling electors "not to vote for me personally [he had a large personal following] but for Socialism, and only if you understand its implication". I haven't the figures immediately to hand, as I write, but the Socialist Party got something like 10% of the vote, for this first ever Socialist to stand on a Socialist Party platform for a national Parliament, anywhere in the world.An ill-conceived 1935 Seamen's strike — a prolonged national dispute that stopped the ships in the midst of the Depression — was opposed at the time by the Socialists but was fomented by the Communists as a Leninist means of showing capitalism how feeble it was.  This industrial dispute finished up smashing the union when those same Communists, in true Leninist treachery, deserted the membership and set up a rival scab union, with themselves as national officials, in league with the ship owners, on secret cosy anti-worker terms, and went back to work, leaving their followers who had heeded their idiotic call to down tools standing high and dry on land, jobless and betrayed.Many of our seamen members found they no longer got work at sea under the Communist dominated scab union. This merely explains the beginning of the Australian party's demise.The Australian world socialist party finally disintegrated after WWII when a younger generation of members, mainly English immigrants, recruited into the SPGB during the Depression years, arrived here full of brash enthusiasm and slowly fell hook, line and sinker for sophisticated Labourism and the brave new world of post-War Australia, and the adulation they received as intellectual poseurs.That was a time in Australia of social rebirth after Depression and War, and things looked so more rosy than they did in the depressed Britain they'd gladly left behind. Socialism was no longer a spur for them, and the lure of local intellectual superiority took hold of them, to the detriment of a working class party.In short, it was the gung-ho brand of egotistical bravado proselitysing, of the very determined kind being advocated above, as amply demonstrated in practice by those particular ex-SPGBers, that brought the Australian world socialist party to its knees. Of course, the Cold War and a determined Federal policy of anti-Communist repression here played their demoralizing parts.Finally, a Stalinist Party stole the Party name, and it settled for the World Socialist Party of Australia.  The small party has never recovered.  That is the size of the Australian task.

    #100449
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    twc wrote:
    The original Socialist Party of Australia was founded in 1924 by a mix of [mainly ex-British] seamen, who had been influenced indirectly by the SPGB, and of course local workers. Two of them had managed a clandestine passage to Russia to attend the first Red Trade Union International as representatives of the Australian Seamen's Union.  One, the astonishing Bill Casey [of "Bump me into Parliament" fame], privately confided to his mate, Barney Kelly, that it was obvious from the Conference that the only way forward for "socialist" Russia, was for it to actually retreat to capitalism.Casey's brash colleague incautiously spouted this home truth out to the gathering — remember delegates were there merely to cheer and fawn, as now in North Korea — and Kelly was arrested for anti-Sovietism. Casey intervened on his behalf through senior officials, ultimately Trotsky when, fortunately for Kelly, Lenin came out at the Conference with his New Economic Policy, and the stupidity of jailing a prescient supporter of Lenin's new policy became evident.  Casey's report to the Australian Seamen's Union is lodged in the National archives in Canberra.These founders were committed world socialists.  They were fearless world socialists.Our seamen members rose to dominate the Australian Seamen's Union, after they exposed the fraudulent activities of its former Communist Party officials, whom they caught red-handed syphoning union money off to mother Russia. The resulting scandal catapulted the Australian Party to a national prominence out of all proportion to its actual size of membership.To put things in context, the coastal sea trade [including interstate tourism] between Australian state capitals formed a highly significant part of the Australian economy then, and the Socialists negotiated a new agreement with the ship owners that all seamen, whatever their nationality, who were employed in the trade, had to be payed national Australian rates and expect Australian working conditions.In fact the Australian Socialists rose to such prominence, that one of them was nationally vilified day-in day-out in the press, and jailed for deportation by the Federal Government, over industrial Seamen's disputation.Another stood for Federal Parliament, in the seat formerly held by a previous Prime Minister, telling electors "not to vote for me personally [he had a large personal following] but for Socialism, and only if you understand its implication". I haven't the figures immediately to hand, as I write, but the Socialist Party got something like 10% of the vote, for this first ever Socialist to stand on a Socialist Party platform for a national Parliament, anywhere in the world.An ill-conceived 1935 Seamen's strike — a prolonged national dispute that stopped the ships in the midst of the Depression — was opposed at the time by the Socialists but was fomented by the Communists as a Leninist means of showing capitalism how feeble it was.  This industrial dispute finished up smashing the union when those same Communists, in true Leninist treachery, deserted the membership and set up a rival scab union, with themselves as national officials, in league with the ship owners, on secret cosy anti-worker terms, and went back to work, leaving their followers who had heeded their idiotic call to down tools standing high and dry on land, jobless and betrayed.Many of our seamen members found they no longer got work at sea under the Communist dominated scab union. This merely explains the beginning of the Australian party's demise.The Australian world socialist party finally disintegrated after WWII when a younger generation of members, mainly English immigrants, recruited into the SPGB during the Depression years, arrived here full of brash enthusiasm and slowly fell hook, line and sinker for sophisticated Labourism and the brave new world of post-War Australia, and the adulation they received as intellectual poseurs.That was a time in Australia of social rebirth after Depression and War, and things looked so more rosy than they did in the depressed Britain they'd gladly left behind. Socialism was no longer a spur for them, and the lure of local intellectual superiority took hold of them, to the detriment of a working class party.In short, it was the gung-ho brand of egotistical bravado proselitysing, of the very determined kind being advocated above, as amply demonstrated in practice by those particular ex-SPGBers, that brought the Australian world socialist party to its knees. Of course, the Cold War and a determined Federal policy of anti-Communist repression here played their demoralizing parts.Finally, a Stalinist Party stole the Party name, and it settled for the World Socialist Party of Australia.  The small party has never recovered.  That is the size of the Australian task.

    The only organization founded by socialists in Latin America ( or in the Caribbean )  was formed in Jamaica, and it was a group based on the same principles and objectives  of the World Socialist Movement.Most peoples and left wingers do not know about the existence of this organization, and it would have been a contradiction within their own principles,  and most of the others groups in others countries  have been totally influenced by the distortion of Leninism, Stalinism, Maoist, Trotskyism, and wrong Anarchists conceptions, which means that socialists theory  only reached up to the USA, and it was also brought by British and Canadians.Most of the so called Communists Parties are just nationalists organizations of  the countries where they have been formed

    #100450
    twc
    Participant

    Greetings.  Were you a member?The Caribbean islands would have been a fabulous place to hold a world socialist conference, except that none of us could get there.By the way, I'm going to hold you to account — mildly, of course — for your one-line denigration of Engels.One-liners, constantly floating around, turn into established truths. They must be substantiated. The only correct socialist one-liner is our Object.  [The clauses of our Declaration of Principles form lines in a continuous argument.]

    #100448
    twc
    Participant

    Limited ConcentrationAs for answering in a few lines. How would you answer, in a few lines, DJP's confident, apparently-impregnable, claim that quantum mechanics is not deterministic?   [my post #222]As for regurgitation.Where, for example, have you seen posts #119, #222 or #235 argued before?  Are you implying that they're rehashed, copied or plagiarized?  If so, show me the originals.Brevity as the Soul of ShitThe doorstop five-second bite is mostly inadequate to deal with serious problems, especially one liners that proclaim, for all the world, what all the world already believes is bleeding obvious.In reply to the haughty Emperor, who chided "Mozart, there's a lot of notes in your music", the intelligent composer — who set to music the revolutionary play that sparked the French Revolution, according to Napoleon — and who performed his court music as servant of inferior social rank, and so socially isolated behind a red cordon along with his players, proclaimed "Indeed, your Highness.  But not a note too many!"

    #100451
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    twc wrote:
    Greetings.  Were you a member?The Caribbean islands would have been a fabulous place to hold a world socialist conference, except that none of us could get there.By the way, I'm going to hold you to account — mildly, of course — for your one-line denigration of Engels.One-liners, constantly floating around, turn into established truths. They must be substantiated. The only correct socialist one-liner is our Object.  [The clauses of our Declaration of Principles form lines in a continuous argument.]

     Saying that Engels was an amateur, and that some of his mistakes were used by Lenin, is not a denigration, it is a fact.  You cited Engels definition of ideology as false conscience, and it is also incorrect, and it was a private statement of him, and his declaration on the principles of communism saying that communism is a doctrine, it is wrong too, and Lenin was the same concept constantly There are others peoples such as the Marxist-Humanists who have considered that he was a heterosexist, and that his book on the Family was not a legacy of Marx, but a legacy of himself, and that he cited  Morgan on an uncritical manner, which is true. because. what Morgan saw on the Iroquois was something particular of that society, it was not an universal phenomenon.The real Anthropologist was Marx, and he had a different point of view about the Asian mode of production. which was different to the European feudalism It is not so easy to set up a conference on an area dominated by Castroism and Guevarism, ideas do not fall from the sky, they must be work out

    #100452
    alanjjohnstone
    Keymaster

    i am led to believe that the World Socialist Party of India evolved independently of the SPGB before it found its affinity with ourselves, splitting from the mainstream Communist Party, naming its first magazine after Luxemburg's Rote Fahne . I maybe wrong and stand to be corrected in the details.The Socialist Party of Canada i also believe formed a few months after the SPGB founding from a merging of parties that pre-date the SPGB so it too can be described as an independent creation and not an import by SPGBers. 

    #100453
    LBird
    Participant
    twc wrote:
    Because the charge has been laid by an avowed anti-materialist, it is worth pointing out that class ideology can only be a materialist position…

    twc, in line with our new comradely understanding, I'd like to discuss what you mean by 'materialist'.In my opinion, there is ample evidence that Marx wasn't a 'materialist' (in the 19th century meaning of that word), but an 'idealist-materialist'.I think that most Marxists pay lip service to Marx's statement that 'ideas can become a material force', but when pressed return to old-fashioned 'materialism'. I think that the cause of this is Engels' muddled philosophising, about 'materialism versus idealism'. In my opinion, Marx united materialism and idealism into a philosophy of 'theory and practice'.I also think that the modern term 'realism' would be better employed by Marxists, because this better captures the unity of materialism and idealism. It is a commonplace in realist though that 'ideas are real', and I think other comrades here have previously supported that stance.So, I don't consider criticism of 'materialism' to be 'avowed anti-materialist', but to, like Marx, also stress 'the active side' of 'idealism'. I would amend your statement above to:"it is worth pointing out that class ideology can only be a materialist and idealist position";or, better still:"it is worth pointing out that class ideology can only be a realist position".I would really like to discuss this meaning of 'materialism' with you, twc.

    #100454
    twc
    Participant

    Marcos,[Apologies for getting your name wrong, initially.]Principles of CommunismI think it's inappropriate to judge a youthful Engels harshly by that socialist "catechism", the Principles of Communism [1847/8?]. This is tantamount to holding the slightly older Marx, eternally responsible for the reformism of the Immediate Demands at the back of the Manifesto [1848], reformist demands that the mature Marx totally repudiated.Either both Marx and Engels are equally guilty of immaturity — an immaturity that we are only able to recognize because we can view it from the vantage point of the maturity they bequeathed to us — or neither of them is guilty.To me, the Principles hardly matter politically today, just like the Demands. They served their immediate purpose, and have now passed their use-by date, except as an interesting document of the period, and as the first tangible precursor of the SPGB's own Declaration of Principles.As such, the Principles are historically precious to us. If other people choose to willfully misread them today, the author himself can hardly be held responsible.Engels, himself, openly admitted embarrassment in later prefaces to reprints/translations of the Manifesto, but he also acknowledged that the Manifesto had by then become a world-historical document, which should no longer be changed, but simply read now in the context of its time.I see no problem with Engels's sane approach at all.  He also expressed amazement that many of the ideas that he and Marx toyed with in their youth proved successful in their maturity, and we are eternally grateful to them for that. Their youthful mistakes should be seen as just that.HeterosexismSuch feminist accusation is the sort of thing so beloved of the Left.  Just reread the Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State and see if you can sustain the charge, except tendentiously.This charge can be more readily made of Marx.  Look how he opposed Virginia Woodhull's attendance at the Conference of the International , and see what he wrote of her bourgeois politics, consistently from his class against her sex point of view.  To be consistent, condemn Marx over Engels.On the other hand, Engels's Origin champions the discovery of mother-right by Bachofen.  Engels champions the discovery of matriarchy throughout the human race by Morgan.  Engels is the first person to recognize that many of the most groundbreaking discoveries were domestic — weaving, pottery, cooking, etc — and so were probably made by women, and that 19th century misogynist academics had unthinkingly mis-attributed to men, simply because men often appropriated them, later in class-based society.Engels, I think following Marx asserts point blank that the degree of civilization of a society can be read in the status of women .  A 19th century man, who defiantly stated this, can only churlishly be called heterosexist .  Pull another one!Of course, in his domestic life, he was slave to his Irish working class women folk.  He also never took advantage of the working class women in his employ, which he tells was unconscionable common practice in 19th century factories — a sort of droit du seigneur of the capitalist class.As to Marx's Ethnographic Notebooks, they are just that, notebooks, in which jumbled English quotations elicit English notes that elide into French quotations that elicit French notes, and so on though a dozen European languages, including Russian.Engels made something out of the jumble, because it was far too explosively socialist to drop.  Surely you are not seriously suggesting that Engels should have let the whole thing pass.  Engels, above all scholars, until the mid 20th century, knew how to recognize group marriage for the loose thing it is in the flesh, and not the academic thing it is on paper.To falsely claim that Engels only used Morgan's Iroquois data is nonsense. Have you ever looked at Morgan's Tables of Consanguinity and Affinity Throughout the Human Race?  He compiled these 1000 pages of kinship data from questionnaires and reports of countless missionaries, explorers, proto-anthropologists from all over Australia, the Pacific, Africa, the Americas, etc.  Engels understood the complex structure of Morgan's Tables [which structure, anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss used as one of the bulwarks of 20th century Structuralism] and which complex structure continues to befuddle modern university students, and even graduates, of anthropology today.  So much for the amateur Engels.  He was intellectually amazing.At the start of his career, the 24-year old Engels founded the science of sociology from scratch — no doubts about that — with his extraordinary readable Conditions of the Working Class in England in 1844. At the end of his career, he pioneered anthropology.  Of course, academic anthropologists oppose him.  How could German social democrats know more about anthropology than they?  But are the academic anthropologists right, especially now that they study contaminated societies?Of course there are unwarranted anthropological conclusions, but who could have done otherwise.  For the misses there are remarkable hits. There are errors, but they are mostly brilliant for the inception of a science. The science of anthropology tacitly recognizes Engels by stoutly refusing to acknowledge its indisputable founder Morgan, who it shuns as tainted by too close association with Marx, i.e. with Engels.So there are errors, big deal!  But sticking to the Iroquois is not one of them, and seeing the ancient kinship relations surviving into the  Roman gens and Fratries, as Morgan discovered, as Marx concurred, and as Engels told working men and women, is not another error.  Engels's anthropology is one of socialism's most humanly inspiring chapters.  It cannot be ignored by any socialist.Misappropriation by big-C CommunistsWhat a bogus charge.If either of them was mis-appropriated by Lenin, it was more seriously Marx than Engels. In particular, it was Marx's defence of the Paris Commune in the face of combined Franco–Prussian treachery against the people of Paris that was misappropriated.  Firstly, what else could Marx have done but defend the working class, but in the process he signed the death warrant of the First International, and he inadvertently set in train the path to bolshevism.Lenin poured over that Marxian document, appropriating its contingent message for that occasion as a universal message for his occasion.  Are you going to condemn Marx for Lenin's tactics retroactively?  If not, why condemn Engels retroactively?ApologyThis response was written at white heat, without stopping to reread it. I wrote it simply to point out that none of your accusations against Engels is significant, even supposing they are true.  There is a tribe of disaffected big-C Communists circling Engels as victim, as scapegoat, to blame everything upon.I claim, until someone can clearly prove otherwise, that this indispensable founder of world socialism, Frederick Engels, deserves far better from us, his direct heirs, beneficiaries and proud descendants.

    #100455
    DJP
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    "it is worth pointing out that class ideology can only be a materialist and idealist position";or, better still:"it is worth pointing out that class ideology can only be a realist position".

    You're really garbling things up here. No wonder this discussion goes round in circles.

    The Basics of Philosophy wrote:
    Idealism is the metaphysical and epistemological doctrine that ideas or thoughts make up fundamental reality. Essentially, it is any philosophy which argues that the only thing actually knowable is consciousness (or the contents of consciousness), whereas we never can be sure that matter or anything in the outside world really exists. Thus, the only real things are mental entities, not physical things (which exist only in the sense that they are perceived).Idealism is a form of Monism (as opposed to Dualism or Pluralism), and stands in direct contrast to other Monist beliefs such as Physicalism and Materialism (which hold that the only thing that can be truly proven to exist is physical matter). It is also contrasted with Realism (which holds that things have an absolute existence prior to, and independent of, our knowledge or perceptions).http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_idealism.html
    #100456
    LBird
    Participant
    DJP wrote:
    You're really garbling things up here. No wonder this discussion goes round in circles.

    Well, giving formal definitions and ignoring the context of trying to understand Marx's Theses on Feuerbach, is one way of concluding things.I take it that you're a 'materialist', like twc, and unlike me and Marx, who agree that 'idealism' developed the 'active side'.Marx was a realist. He united aspects of materialism and idealism.The return to 'materialism' is a retrograde step.I know that you'll pay lip service to the Theses, and then insist that the 'material' is the basis. It isn't. Thought is real, too.

    #100457
    DJP
    Participant
    LBird wrote:
    I know that you'll pay lip service to the Theses, and then insist that the 'material' is the basis. It isn't. Thought is real, too.

    There is nothing in 'materialism' that forces one having to say that 'thought isn't real' or 'the mental does not exist or have a causal role in the world'.Idealism isn't a form of 'realism'.This talk of idealism-materialism really doesn't make sense.Marx took the dialectic from Hegels idealist thought and applied it to a materialist framweork.Marx was a materialist, though not of the 'crude' kind… If you are going to try to claim that Marx was something else what is it? The only other options you have are dualist or idealist, there's plenty in his work that shows he was neither..

    #100458
    LBird
    Participant
    DJP wrote:
    Marx was a materialist, though not of the 'crude' kind…

    So, you agree that consciousness and nature are in a unity, and so we can't say that the 'material' determines any more than the 'ideal' does? That is, humans are not the hostages of 'conditions', and can creatively change the 'material'.'Crude materialism' constantly stresses the 'economic base' as the determinant 'in the final analysis'. This is Engelsism.'Realism' (non-crude materialism?) stresses that both consciousness/ideology and nature/economics can be determinant, and that we must examine both, giving them the same weight in our considerations.I think that those comrades influenced unduly by Engels always return to 'the final analysis'. Which never comes.

    DJP wrote:
    This talk of idealism-materialism really doesn't make sense.

    It does as a didactic tool to try to illustrate and contrast Marx's 'materialism' with the preceding 'materialism'.If the earlier materialism was the 'crude kind', why keep the term as a singular representation of Marx's new materialism? He clearly saw some value in 'idealism', as the 'active side'.It makes more sense, as I've argued, to find a new term (which clearly differentiates it from earlier 'crude' materialism, which Engels returned to, and is the source of our current difficulties). The term 'realism' fits this demand well, IMO.

    #100459
    twc
    Participant

    Materialist Marx

    twc wrote:
    Because the charge has been laid by an avowed anti-materialist, it is worth pointing out that class ideology can only be a materialist position, along the lines that social condition determines social ideology.

    The bold text is present in my original but was omitted in your copy, and was dodged by you in your “improved” rephrasing.  The bold text explains precisely why I made the claim.In case that alone wasn’t sufficiently convincing, I elaborated as follows .

    twc wrote:
    No idealist could credibly maintain that social ideology determines social condition throughout an entire social epoch, or mode of production.  No idealist could credibly argue that class ideology has the social power to determine a man’s social condition as that of a worker, a serf, or a slave, simply because he holds such conceptions of himself.  No idealist could credibly maintain that a man in the social condition of worker, serf or slave could become a capitalist, lord or master, merely by thinking “ideologically” like a capitalist, lord or master.

    I finally pointed out that these were the hot-topic political considerations that turned the boy Marx into the materialist we should know today.  Ironical put-downs of the great philosophes (such putdowns are common practice of the Left) have been kept in italics.

    twc wrote:
    Class-ideology turns out not to be idealist at all, but the oldest political form of materialism.This, of course, was already recognized by those bête noir 18th century materialist philosophes, Diderot, Holbach, La Mettrie, Condorcet, etc., who expressed it in plain language as “opinion governs the world”.  These detested fellows already proved that if social classes have their own social-class ideologies — and these pre-French revolutionaries knew a thing or two about social-class ideologies — then social-class ideology must be the product of social-class condition, and not social-class condition the product of social-class ideology.Marx was weaned on such French materialism — remarkable stuff — in his Rhineland youth , and spent his entire lifetime exploring the far-more complex nature of social consciousness that is raised upon the foundation of a social mode of production.
    #100460
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    twc wrote:
    That being the case, Steve, I’ll bow out of the forum. 

     That would be catastrophic. Your grasp of the MCH in relation to the SPGB's case is indespensable as far as I am concerned 

    #100461
    LBird
    Participant
    twc wrote:
    Materialist Marx

    twc wrote:
    Because the charge has been laid by an avowed anti-materialist, it is worth pointing out that class ideology can only be a materialist position, along the lines that social condition determines social ideology.

    The bold text is present in my original but was omitted in your copy, and was dodged by you in your “improved” rephrasing.  The bold text explains precisely why I made the claim.In case that alone wasn’t sufficiently convincing, I elaborated as follows….I finally pointed out that these were the hot-topic political considerations that turned the boy Marx into the materialist we should know today. …

    Yes, but my point was to ask you what 'materialism' means to you, twc.

    LBird wrote:
    I would really like to discuss this meaning of 'materialism' with you, twc.

    I think Marx was a Realist, and not a Materialist.That is, he wasn't a 19th century, mechanical, crude, materialist.He unified aspects of both materialism and idealism (its 'active side'), and produced a new unified view of 'theory and practice'. This is not simple 'materialism', and if the term 'materialism' continues to be used, then 'why?'.Marx wasn't a 'materialist', of the sort that means jettisoning the 'active side' of idealism.Can we discuss what you mean by 'materialist', twc?I think thought is as real as rock. So, if by 'material conditions', you mean 'ideas and circumstances', 'consciousness and nature', then we agree.If 'material' does not also signify and encompass 'ideas' to you, twc, can you say so, and we can progress this discussion?

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