Wrestling with Marx- Negations, Continuity and change- Help!

January 2021

Forums General discussion Wrestling with Marx- Negations, Continuity and change- Help!

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 84 total)
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  • #209349
    L.B. Neill
    Participant

    L.B. here,

    I was reading Capital Vol I and came across this statement in the German forward:

     

    In its mystified form, dialectic became the fashion in Germany, because it seemed to transfigure
    and to glorify the existing state of things. In its rational form it is a scandal and abomination to
    bourgeoisdom and its doctrinaire professors, because it includes in its comprehension and
    affirmative recognition of the existing state of things, at the same time also, the recognition of the
    negation of that state, of its inevitable breaking up; because it regards every historically
    developed social form as in fluid movement, and therefore takes into account its transient nature
    not less than its momentary existence; because it lets nothing impose upon it, and is in its essence
    critical and revolutionary. (Capital, 1873)

    I am trying to contextualise this statement in and of its time- and then consider it in our time. It seems here Marx second guessed the development of post structural theory: “social form as in fluid movement, and therefore takes into account its transient nature not less than its momentary existence; because it lets nothing impose upon it, and is in its essence
    critical and revolutionary” I take it to mean that he believed that thought and action are fluid momentary states that are subject to change (subjective) over time, and space and movements in epochal trends. Seems heterogeneity in discourse, and attempt to reduce it to a fixed point and true for all time is opposed.

    Controlling elite try to fix, and in it, there is still a counter narrative opposing it: ‘critical and revolutionary’.

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. I know we are busy with the election threads, but some help in contextualising this would be so wanted.

    #209352
    Young Master Smeet
    Participant

    A lot of post modernism is a dialogue with Hegel in any case (and in terms of the debate against monolithic Modernity of the Soviet type, I think it was a reaction similar to Marx’ above, in terms of the declaration that the USSR was the end of history).

    In it’s own time, Hegelianism arose out of combined/uneven development: Britain and France had had their bourgeois revolutions, and had their philosophies to accompany that, German liberals operating under conditions of absolutism found a philosophy ready to hand.  Hegel celebrated the Prussian state, trying to marry liberal individualism and monarchy.

    This took the form of idealism, because the ideas came ready formed, and (I think) elsewhere in the above passage Marx makes his declaration of having turned Hegel on his head by putting the material first.

    #209354
    L.B. Neill
    Participant

    Thanks YMS,

    This took the form of idealism, because the ideas came ready formed, and (I think) elsewhere in the above passage Marx makes his declaration of having turned Hegel on his head by putting the material first.

    And idealism assumes an essentialism in some ways. E.g. The way things are ordered. Any sign according to that order is fixed.  It is like saying because I understand it, so you must understand it! We share that sign and there can be no ambiguity. I am master, so you are slave. But Marx turns this reified notion on its head.

    But that order or chain of being, or meta narrative, is not fixed. It is subject to material and mental change. I think Marx, like Saussure (semiotics) had been ahead of their time, it is beyond modernism- as it unpacks its own time.

    By inverting Hegel, he challenges the fixity of things- and notices it will change – revolution and constant formation and transformation. The history of things will end with the final moment of the class struggle, but then there will be ongoing transformations…

    I may be running too far ahead of ‘material first’ but thanks YMS.

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by L.B. Neill.
    #209357
    LBird
    Participant

    In simple terms, L. B. Neill, Marx is arguing that ‘socio-historic change’ is at the heart of our reality.

    That is, ‘social production’ produces ‘change’.

    Marx reconciled ‘idealism’ with ‘materialism’, by which he meant ‘conscious activity’ with ‘humanity’.

    Prior to Marx, the German Idealists saw ‘conscious activity’ as ‘divine’, whereas the Materialists saw ‘humanity’ as ‘clockwork mechanism’.

    Thus, idealism argued for ‘divine activity’ and materialism argued for ‘human passivity’.

    Marx reconciled ‘conscious activity’ with ‘humanity’, and ditched the ‘divine’ and ‘passivity’.

    ‘Social production’ is the key to understanding Marx, which all of his key concepts involve.

    #209358
    L.B. Neill
    Participant

    But that is the thing.

    We need to consciously make a change, and it impacts across the bio-psycho-social.

    Yet the material seems fixed by dominant ruling classes- I know it is not fixed, but to many it feels fixed. I am not going anywhere near we make our own reality here, not at all. But I am saying, Marx saw that things are not fixed at all, but subject to ongoing change- and anyone who tries to limit it, control its progression, is an oppressor of sorts. And try to:

    “to glorify the existing state of things.”

    I know from hydraulic theory in social science that drilling down into the fixed state of the personality sees people as a state of being fixed- yet in other theories, we are changing, ever moving forward.

    So we need to glorify change and the material/ and mental forces of change- and end the class struggle consciously.

    #209360
    L.B. Neill
    Participant

    “German liberals operating under conditions of absolutism found a philosophy ready to hand.  Hegel celebrated the Prussian state, trying to marry liberal individualism and monarchy.”

    Got it Young Master Smeet.

    The historical conditions- the incremental negation- the self and the monarch. The penny dropped from such a height, and hit. Well aimed. and only took me a few hundred years.

    We do not need to move forward on our masters coat tails- but make our own coats… and share them.

    #209361
    LBird
    Participant

    L.B. Neill wrote: “I am not going anywhere near we make our own reality here, not at all.

    That’s fair enough, L.B.

    But Marx argues that we do ‘make our own reality’.

    His point is that we create any ‘nature’ that we know.

    That’s why we can change it, which is the whole political point of Marx’s philosophy of ‘socio-historic production’.

    Indeed, as you actually say, “Yet the material seems fixed by dominant ruling classes- I know it is not fixed, but to many it feels fixed.

    Your key insight here is ‘feels fixed’ – this is  the point of view of the isolated, biological, individual, who ‘knows reality’ because they can ‘kick a brick’, and so the ‘brick is real’.

    You’re correct of course, about your point regarding ‘fixity’ and ‘ruling classes’ – they pretend that the ‘reality’ that they’ve had produced by us workers, is ‘fixed’, and can’t be changed. Thus, ‘capitalism’ is the only reality, and not subject to change by its creators (which Marx argues).

    Our viewpoint has to be that of the ‘social producers’, not ‘biological individuals’. Thus, it is a historical approach to ‘our own reality’ and its ‘making’, and our intention to revolutionise ‘our reality’.

    #209362
    Young Master Smeet
    Participant

    I think Hegelian essence is slightly more complex than that, and is bound up with actuality: IIRC the example of a knight on the chess board is the example: as a piece of wood on a board it is just that, and merely abstractly potential, it is only when it moves that it comes into contact with the essences of knightness, but even that essence is subject to negation and change (ultimately destruction).

    Hence Marx’ value never actually exists but is an essence that interacts with commodities in the actual flow of human behaviour.

    Hegel saw the world as unfurling through the struggle between being and nothingness and the unfurling of the Idea (my grasp is loose, I’ve avoided spending too much time on these things).

    #209365
    L.B. Neill
    Participant

    LBird,

    It boils down to a point- and then that point requires more boiling.

    That is because it is ever changing, never limiting.

    We can’t vote what reality is- but observe it, and then decide what to do with the findings.

    I had a discovery today, helped by YMS.

    I see your point on ‘social producer’ over “individual”. Understand.

    I was conveying the ruling elite’s fixity of meaning; and a meaning that would be challenged by the class interests of the worker. Negating what they say, and then moving ever forward.

    We just need that extra forward, in simple terms.

     

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by L.B. Neill.
    #209366
    Young Master Smeet
    Participant

    I should add: Britain had Empiricism, it’s middle class were doing things.  France had rationalism, it’s middle class was disempowered and could only work from first principles, Germany inherited that rationalism: America also inherited philosophy, but because it’s middle class was active, it could turn that into pragmatism…

    #209368
    L.B. Neill
    Participant

    In Derrida’s later years, he saw the legal forms as being deconstructive- but the essence of justice as not-  as justice was yet to come into being. It is yet to arrive.

    I do not want to go knee deep, but YMS, you are right- the emergent-or dominant idea is pragmatic of the newly power sharing class.

    #209370

    I have studied Hegel phenomenology and  there is nothing revolutionary in it, as CLR James said: There is nothing revolutionary for us in Hegel and he was right, the only ones who have found something revolutionary in Hegel are the Marxist Humanists, and the School of Frankfurt who were the creator of Cultural Marxism. They also have said that in order to understand Marxs capital you must understand Hegel dialectic which is totally false, you do not need dialectic or idealism to understand Capital, they  are also the unifier of Idealism and materialism

    #209372

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/dunayevskaya/works/phil-rev/dunayev3.htm

     

    Just look at this. Hegel and dialectic turned Lenin into a real Marxist when he was reading Hegel from a materialistic point of view, this is what they call the ambivalence of Lenin, so, in order to be a real Marxist you must be a Hegelian and a dialectician. If we look at Lenin evolution, we can see that he had a better approach to Marx before the Russian revolution, it was after or within  the Russian revolution, that he created his own version of Marxism which Stalin called Leninism, or Marxism/Leninism. Capital must be read and studied as it was written, as a treatise in Political Economy. I read it when I was very young and I did not need Hegel or dialectic to understand it. I would prefer to read Adam Smith, David Ricard and Feuerbach than to waste my time with Hegel and with dialectic. Personally, I do not need philosophy or philosopher to understand the world. As Marx said on capital: All beginning created difficulties, and the main difficulty is to understand the whole concept on Commodity. The Evangelicals have always said that you need god guidance in order to understand the Bible, without that you will never understand it

    #209380
    LBird
    Participant

    L.B. Neill wrote “We can’t vote what reality is- but observe it, and then decide what to do with the findings.

    This statement must be untrue, L.B., otherwise Marx is wrong. And I go with Marx’s democratic ‘social productionism’ on this issue, because I think Marx is correct.

    Firstly, ‘observe it’. To ‘observe’ is passive, not active. Marx argued for ‘conscious activity’, and condemned mere ‘passive contemplation’. So, Marx argues for ‘production’, not ‘observation’.

    Secondly, to observe ‘it’ suggests ‘it’ is unchanging. But Marx argues that whatever ‘it’ is, it is a socio-historic product, which changes over place and time. That is, any ‘it’ is different between different modes of production – otherwise, ‘it’ would be exactly identical for ever, in any circumstances, as an Absolute It.

    Thirdly, ‘We’. Who is this ‘we’? If this ‘we’ is the social producers, then their conscious activity within democratic socialism would have to be democratic. So, this ‘we’ can vote upon their ‘product’. The same applies to ‘decide what to do’ – this must be democratic, as otherwise an elite would ‘decide’.

    Fourthly, ‘findings’. This is a rerun of ‘it’. ‘Findings’ are social products, which are actively produced, by conscious humans.

    From your other comments, L.B., you seem to be already aware of some of the difficulties involved in what you’re saying, regarding ‘material’ and ‘fixed’. Keep investigating Marx’s views, because I think that he offers a way forward beyond ‘bourgeois science’ (production by an active conscious, undemocratic elite) towards a ‘revolutionary science’ (production by an active conscious democratic humanity). The ‘passivity’ of ‘observation’, BTW, is a lie. ‘Science’ means ‘active production’. The ‘dominant ruling classes’ (to use your own terms) just hide this fact. ‘Passive observation’ is an ideology.

     

    #209390
    L.B. Neill
    Participant

    Capital must be read and studied as it was written, as a treatise in Political Economy

    I think I was reading it through critical theory, so better to read as it is: a treatise… now that reduces the complication… thanks, I overthink things- I think!

    LBird- I am mindful of absolutes- and thanks, will keep up the discoveries… just when I thought I had reached the know-how…  more to learn…

    Be safe

    • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by L.B. Neill.
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