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Thread: Ruling-Class Ideology

  1. #21
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Je suis un spectacle

    BS:

    Living the Commie lifestyle on the Capitalist dime--Good for you!
    WTF are you blathering on about now?

    Who the hell is 'living the Commie lifestyle'? -- Whatever that is.

    You ain't no "worker" Comrade.
    You know absolutely nothing about me, or my job, so you can stick that comment where the sun never shines.

    This is a serious thread so we can do without your inane comments.

    Any more will be treated as trolling, and deleted.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

  2. #22
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Je suis un spectacle

    Can comrades please refrain from reading this material until I have checked it has been posted here correctly. By that, I mean that, since I have typed this post into Word on my computer, and have inserted by hand all the codes the software here normally inserts semi-automatically, I need to check this material doesn't contain any coding errors. Because of its length, this reply has been broken down into at least nine separate posts, so I will have to check that each one is individually error-free before posting the next 'instalment'. I have no idea how long this will take!

    I will also be proof-reading this material over the next few hours, so some of it might be altered.

    Apologies are due in advance for (1) the inordinate length of this reply, but, as I have already pointed out, I began my site back in 2005 precisely to avoid having to do what I am now about to do -- give you as full an answer as the software here will allow, and as practicalities will permit -- in the process of which I will quote extensively from my site since there seems to be little chance you will read my Essays (and I mean no offence by that); and (2) for the slight repetition of some parts of my argument. Leaving these repetitions out would have ruined the flow of my argument -- but, as I also point out, I often repeat myself since long experience discussing these ideas (many of which are completely original, but which challenge other ideas that have dominated thought ('east' and 'west') for well over two thousand years) with others, not all of whom are Marxist dialecticians, has taught me that unless they are repeated, often from different angles, their significance is all too easily lost -- or, indeed, the point they seek to make just hasn't registered. If I may be permitted to say this, and with all due respect: this will become apparent as my response unfolds, since, you, Astarte, appear to have missed several things I have already said, or you have misconstrued them.

    It is worth pointing out in advance that I have left out much of the supporting evidence and argument, which is often to be found in footnotes or in other part of my site (indicated by the links I inserted in the original material, but here flagged by the use of the phrase "link(s) omitted").

    Astarte

    But again, all traditional philosophies, and especially the mystical traditions of the world are not and were not "ruling class hot air". As I mentioned earlier, many mystical traditions have remained mystical traditions precisely because they challenge the legitimacy of the ruling class and have lead actual movements of the oppressed classes against the ruling class.
    [DM = Dialectical Materialism/ist, depending on context.]

    I largely agree with this, that some oppressed groups have used/appealed to religious, and in some cases mystical ideas in their fight against their oppressors, but that doesn't mean that those theories/beliefs aren't ruling-class ideas themselves. As I have pointed out at the top of all my Essays:

    In connection with the above, it is worth pointing out that phrases like "ruling-class theory", "ruling-class view of reality", "ruling-class ideology" (etc.) used in this Essay and at this site (in connection with Traditional Philosophy and DM) aren't meant to imply that all or even most members of various ruling-classes actually invented these ways of thinking or of seeing the world (although some of them did -- for example, Heraclitus, Plato, Cicero and Marcus Aurelius). They are intended to highlight theories (or "ruling ideas") that are conducive to, or which rationalise the interests of the various ruling-classes history has inflicted on humanity, whoever invents them -- or makes use of them. Up until recently this dogmatic approach to knowledge had almost invariably been promoted by thinkers who either relied on ruling-class patronage, or who, in one capacity or another, helped run the system for the elite.
    On this, see Essay Two:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2002.htm

    The fact that oppressed groups appropriate some of these ideas and concepts and then turn them against those who invented them in no way affects their source -- or do you suppose Christianity became non-mystical when Thomas Munster, for example, used it to motivate both his rebellion and his followers in the 16th century?

    Again, as I have pointed out elsewhere -- once more, I am sorry I have to keep doing this, but I set up my site in order to save me having to type out the same answers dozens of times each year (if you check out my posting record over at RevLeft you will see I have been over these topics scores of times since 2006) --, apologies also for some very slight repetition below:

    In the 'West' since Ancient Greek times, Traditional Thinkers have been imposing their theories on nature -- indeed, as Cornforth and Novack point out:

    "A consistent materialism cannot proceed from principles which are validated by appeal to abstract reason, intuition, self-evidence or some other subjective or purely theoretical source. Idealisms may do this. But the materialist philosophy has to be based upon evidence taken from objective material sources and verified by demonstration in practice...." [Novack (1965), p.17. Bold emphasis added.]

    "Marxism, therefore, seeks to base our ideas of things on nothing but the actual investigation of them, arising from and tested by experience and practice. It does not invent a 'system' as previous philosophers have done, and then try to make everything fit into it…." [Cornforth (1976), p.15. Bold emphasis added.]
    [Exact references can be found at the link posted above.]

    In fact, this practice is so widespread and has penetrated into traditional thought so deeply that few notice it, even after it has been pointed out to them. Or, rather, they fail to see its significance. And that includes DM-theorists.

    This ancient tradition taught that behind appearances there lies a hidden world, more real than the material universe we see around us, which is accessible to thought alone. Theology was openly and proudly built on this idea, but so was Traditional Philosophy.

    This way of viewing things was concocted by ideologues of the ruling-class, which class ensured that others were educated (but often, forced) to see things this way, too. They invented this 'world-view' because if you belong to, benefit from, or help run a society that is based on gross inequality, oppression and exploitation, you can keep order in several ways.

    The first and most obvious way is through violence. This will work for a time, but it is not only fraught with danger, it is costly and it stifles innovation (among other things).

    Another way is to persuade the majority (or a significant section of "opinion formers" -- philosophers, administrators, editors, bishops, educators, 'intellectuals', and the like) that the present order either works for their benefit, is ordained of the 'gods', defends 'civilised values', or is 'natural' and thus cannot be fought against, reformed or negotiated with.

    These ideas were then imposed on reality by those who invented them -- plainly, since they can't be read from it. On that, see here:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/Why...n-sensical.htm

    As Marx pointed out, members of the ruling-class often relied on these other layers in society to concoct and then disseminate such ideas on their behalf in order to persuade the rest of us that each system was 'rational', 'natural', or 'divinely ordained':

    "The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance. The individuals composing the ruling class possess among other things consciousness, and therefore think. Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is self-evident that they do this in its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch...." [Marx and Engels (1970) The German Ideology, pp.64-65, Bold emphases added.]
    Notice, Marx tells us they do this "in the whole range", and that they "rule as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age."

    In Ancient Greece, with the demise of the rule of Kings and Queens, the old myths and Theogonies were no longer relevant. So, in the newly emerging republics and quasi-democracies of the Sixth Century BC far more abstract, de-personalised ideas were required.

    Enter Philosophy.

    As Marx noted, once more:

    "Feuerbach's great achievement is.... 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...." [Marx (1975b), 1844 Manuscripts, p.381. Bold added.]
    It is no accident then that Philosophy emerged as Greek society developed in the above way.

    From its inception, philosophers constructed increasingly baroque and abstract systems of thought. These were invariably based on obscure and arcane concepts and jargon, impossible to translate into the language of everyday life. Proof of this can be found in Essay Twelve Parts Two and Three -- summary here:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/Res..._of_Twelve.htm

    Again, as Marx pointed out:

    "One of the most difficult tasks confronting philosophers is to descend from the world of thought to the actual world. Language is the immediate actuality of thought. Just as philosophers have given thought an independent existence, so they were bound to make language into an independent realm. This is the secret of philosophical language, in which thoughts in the form of words have their own content. The problem of descending from the world of thoughts to the actual world is turned into the problem of descending from language to life.

    "...The philosophers have only to dissolve their language into the ordinary language, from which it is abstracted, in order to recognise it, as the distorted language of the actual world, and to realise that neither thoughts nor language in themselves form a realm of their own, that they are only manifestations of actual life." [Marx and Engels (1970), The German Ideology, p.118. Bold emphases added.]
    Philosophers felt they could read their doctrines into nature, since, for them, nature was 'Mind' (or, indeed, it was the product of 'Mind'). In that case, the human mind could safely project its thoughts onto a world created by just such a 'Mind'.

    True thoughts were thus a "reflection" of the underlying, 'Divine Order'. "As above, so below", went the old Hermetic saying. The microcosm of the mind "reflected" the macrocosm of the universe. The doctrine of Correspondences thus came to dominate all ancient and modern theories of knowledge. On this view, 'philosophical' truth corresponded with hidden 'essences', which supposedly lay 'underneath', or 'behind' the superficial world of 'appearances'. These 'essences' were impossible to detect by any physical means whatsoever, and hence they were accessible to thought alone.

    As Novack pointed out, this rendered all such theories Idealist.

    Indeed, as Marx hinted, and as the record confirms, these systems were based on the idea that language somehow contained a secret code that 'enabled' traditional theorists to represent to themselves the rational order underlying 'appearances' -- the so-called "secrets of nature" --, and, in some cases, the very 'Mind of God'.

    As Umberto Eco points out (in relation to the 'Western' Christian tradition):

    "God spoke before all things, and said, 'Let there be light.' In this way, he created both heaven and earth; for with the utterance of the divine word, 'there was light'.... Thus Creation itself arose through an act of speech; it is only by giving things their names that he created them and gave them their ontological status....

    "In Genesis..., the Lord speaks to man for the first time.... We are not told in what language God spoke to Adam. Tradition has pictured it as a sort of language of interior illumination, in which God...expresses himself....

    "...Clearly we are here in the presence of a motif, common to other religions and mythologies -- that of the nomothete, the name-giver, the creator of language." [Eco (1997), pp.7-8. Bold emphases added.]
    [Exact references can be accessed by following the link added at the end.]

    Language and thought were thus seen as vehicles for the "inner illumination" of the 'soul'; a hot-line to 'God'.

    Unsurprisingly then, the philosophical theories and theological dogmas produced by countless generations of ruling-class ideologues almost invariably turned out to be those that rationalised and 'justified' the status quo.

    Either that, or these dogmatic ideas were used in order to 'justify' a change in, and then a defence of, the new status quo, as one Mode of Production, or ruling-class, was replaced by another -- or as one oppressed group sought to overthrow the ruling elites of their day.

    Allied to this, language was viewed primarily as a means of representation -- a vehicle by means of which 'God' could 'illuminate the soul', and then re-present 'his' ideas to humanity --, but, not as a means of communication, as Marx and Engels had argued. A social tool, invented by those involved in collective labour, was thus reconfigured as an individualised device by means of which each theorist could re-present the deity's thoughts to him/herself.

    As noted above, this ancient tradition has changed many times throughout history (with the rise and fall of each Mode of Production), but its form has remained basically the same throughout: fundamental 'truths' about reality can be derived from language/thought alone, which 'truths' can then be imposed dogmatically on nature.

    Some might object that philosophical ideas can't have remained the same for thousands of years, across different Modes of Production, since that assertion itself runs counter to core ideas found in Historical Materialism. But, we don't argue the same for religious belief. Marx put no time stamp on the following, for example:

    "The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man -- state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d'honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.

    "Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people." [Marx (1975c), p.244. Emphases in the original.]
    The above remarks applied back in Ancient Babylon and Egypt, just as they did in China and India, in Greece and Rome, in the Middle Ages and they have done so right across the planet ever since.

    The same is true of the core thought-forms found throughout Traditional Philosophy -- that there is indeed an invisible world, accessible to thought alone --, especially since Marx also argued 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...." [Marx (1975b), p.381. Bold added.]
    This, of course, helps explain why Marx thought this entire discipline (philosophy) was based on distorted language and contained little other than empty abstractions and alienated thought-forms -- and, indeed, why he turned his back on it from the late 1840s onward. On that, see here:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/was..._To_Philosophy

    [Remember, the above link (and many of the others I have inserted) won't work if you are using Internet Explorer 10 (or later), unless you engage 'Compatibility Mode', in the Tools Menu; for IE11 select 'Compatibility View Settings', and add my site.]

    So, just like Theology, but in this case in a far more abstract and increasingly secularised form, subsequent philosophies sought to reflect the 'essential' structure of reality, which view 'justified' and rationalised class division, but mystified now by the use of increasingly obscure terminology and technical jargon.

    Exactly how this is connected with attempts to legitimate class power and oppression is explained in more detail here:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/Why...-Class-Thought

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/Res..._of_Twelve.htm

    'Materialist Dialectics' emerged from this tradition, as Lenin himself acknowledged (plainly failing to appreciate the significance of what he was saying):

    "The history of philosophy and the history of social science show with perfect clarity that there is nothing resembling 'sectarianism' in Marxism, in the sense of its being a hidebound, petrified doctrine, a doctrine which arose away from the high road of the development of world civilisation. On the contrary, the genius of Marx consists precisely in his having furnished answers to questions already raised by the foremost minds of mankind. His doctrine emerged as the direct and immediate continuation of the teachings of the greatest representatives of philosophy, political economy and socialism.

    "The Marxist doctrine is omnipotent because it is true. It is comprehensive and harmonious, and provides men with an integral world outlook irreconcilable with any form of superstition, reaction, or defence of bourgeois oppression. It is the legitimate successor to the best that man produced in the nineteenth century, as represented by German philosophy, English political economy and French socialism." [Lenin, Three Sources and Component Parts of Marxism. Bold emphases added.]
    In its modern form, this doctrine was re-invented and re-packaged by a quintessentially Idealist Philosopher (Hegel), working in the mystical Neoplatonic and Hermetic Traditions. It was appropriated by Marxist classicists before the working class could provide them with a materialist counter-weight. DM was thus born out of Idealism, and, as we will see, it has never escaped from its class-compromised clutches -- despite the materialist flip dialecticians claim to have inflicted upon it.

    And that is why dialecticians are only too happy to impose their ideas on nature: it is thoroughly traditional to do so, as Novack noted. Indeed, since their theory is based on ancient and idealised abstractions -- which, plainly, can't be derived from the material world -- they have to be read into it.

    Evidence fully substantiating the above allegations can be found here;

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2002.htm

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2003_01.htm

    Unfortunately, by so doing, dialecticians have (unwittingly) identified themselves with a tradition that wasn't built by working people, and which doesn't serve their interests.

    Worse still, since DM isn't based on material reality it can't be used to help change it.

    Small wonder then that it has failed us for so long!.

    Some might think that if the above were correct, it would mean that science itself must be equally flawed. This is incorrect. Science has always been dominated by individuals who don't just theorise about nature, they interact with it, observe it, experiment on it and learn from it, modifying their ideas accordingly. [On this, see Conner (2005).] Scientific theory is thus tested and confirmed by its complex relation to the material and social world; Traditional Philosophy not only isn't, it can't be.

    Again, why that is so has been outlined here:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/Why...n-sensical.htm

    Hence, for all their claim to be radical, DM-theorists are thoroughly conservative when it comes to Philosophy. Why that is so is explained here:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2009_02.htm

    Indeed, despite the fact that DM-theorists appear to be challenging traditional ideas, their theoretical practice reveals they belong to a tradition that is quite happy to derive fundamental truths about nature -- valid for all of time and space -- from thought alone, just as boss-class theorists have always done.
    The above was taken from here:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/Why...ppose%20DM.htm

    Astarte:

    They were ideologies that employed a dialectical worldview.
    Well, that just confirms the mystical origin of 'dialectical ideas'. Anyway, I deny the ideologues you mention could have used dialectical ideas in their struggle with anyone (any more than Thomas Munster could have used mystical Christian ideas to help his cause -- except, of course, as an ideological or motivating device for those who already accept such ideas: that they were doing 'the Lord's work' etc.). It is no more possible to put such ideas to practical use that it would be possible to use the following:

    'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.
    Astarte:

    Secondly, you can say that you don't seek to replace traditional philosophies with anything, but that is impossible. Nature abhors a vacuum. The only way you could do this would be to cease to exist, so, you do seek to replace it with something and it is reflected in your conclusion that "every traditional philosophical theory attempts to derive fundamental truths, valid for all of space and time, from thought/language alone. "
    Well, I defy you to find anything in my work that does this. If I make any empirical claims (that purport to be factually true) then I back them up with evidence. The above passage from my site was intended for beginners; in my full Essays, I provide such evidence. But, even if you disagree, or think the evidence too thin, what I allege could, of course, be false. And that is the point. I make claims which are capable of being falsified by evidence; that isn't the case with Philosophical theories which are supposed to be true a priori. [On this, see below.] I nowhere try to derive any fundamental truths about reality from thought alone; if my ideas prove to be false (that is, if they can be shown to be false by an appeal to evidence), or if you think they are false (because you have the evidence to show they are false), then that, of course, shows I haven't derived fundamental truths from thought alone, but from the evidence before me, even if I erroneously did do (that is, as you might see things). As Novack points out, only Idealists attempt to derive such truths from thought alone -- which is why I claim that DM is a form of Linguistic Idealism: its theorists attempt to derive such truths from a handful of words, or from a few thoughts/concepts (which they have appropriated from Hegel or some other mystic).

    If you can find anywhere in my work, or here at this forum, where I have tried to derive a truth or a set of truths about fundamental (or even superficial) aspects of the world from thought alone, then I will withdraw it immediately and apologise profusely. But can you?

    Notice: I use the phrase "from thought alone". The significance of that comment will become apparent to you if you follow this link:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/Why...n-sensical.htm

    Astarte

    You have abandoned a materialist view of the development of ideology and instead have replaced it with one where thought dominates. It is not material conditions that have caused philosophers and thinkers to come to worldviews that they believe derive fundamental truths, but rather their "ideas" alone, that is "though/language alone", completely severed from the influence of material conditions on their person and in turn thoughts have lead them to derive their conclusions, so says your position.
    Not at all; I provide (at my site) just such a material analysis why the ruling-class (and their ideologues) formed/adopted this world-view. I have summarised this argument in my last few posts (and it has been repeated above). I can only think you skipped that part of my argument. [Again: one of the reasons I repeat myself all the time is that long and bitter experience (going back well over 25 years) has taught me that dialecticians see and hear what they want to see and hear, and miss key parts of an argument, as you now seem to have done.]

    Here is part of the explanation much of which you won't have seen before (apologies again for the slight repetition):

    One of the main reasons why I reject not just DM, but all forms of Traditional Philosophy, is that, as Marx noted above, both represent or champion a ruling-class view of the world....

    In earlier times, the vast majority of Philosophers were either (1) Members of the ruling-class, or (2) They were patronised by them, or (3) They helped run the system for the elite. These theorists saw the state as an earthly embodiment of the cosmic order. In that case, just as society was ruled by "law", so was the Universe.

    In ancient and medieval class societies, rulers and/or their representatives employed highly specialised language to frame laws in order to (a) Reflect the above connection, (b) Secure the rights of property and (c) Help keep the masses in their place.

    Moreover, these theorists failed to see language for what it is: a means of communication. On the contrary, they regarded discourse as a means of representation, a secret code that (i) Linked each thinker to the 'mind of god' -- allowing the deity to re-represent 'his' thoughts to each adept, and that (ii) Contained a series of hidden clues capable of revealing the 'essential' truths of 'Being', the very "secrets of nature".

    Indeed, the ruling-class and/or their ideologues certainly thought that this was how the 'gods' actually constituted the universe. As early creation myths reveal (and as we saw earlier), this is indeed how the ancients saw things: the 'gods' simply had to speak and not only did everything spring into existence, it did as it was told, as if it were intelligent. The entire universe effortlessly obeyed the 'word of god', materialised now as physical law. Hence, just as good citizens observe the civil and criminal code, everything in nature bends its knee to 'divine' and/or 'natural' law.

    These beliefs prompted such thinkers into concluding that if (a) Language was essential to the creation of everything, (b) It is capable of being used to order servants effortlessly about the place, and if (c) Words codified into law actually control the state, securing power, property and privilege, then language must possess an inherent power of its own, and must likewise enable those versed in highly specialised terminology to control reality, too -- or at least understand it inner secrets. This was, of course, because they viewed the state as a reflection of the cosmic order.

    Indeed, as the record shows, the idea soon suggested itself to these ruling-class hacks that language must not only constitute the underlying fabric of reality (i.e., both of nature and the state), it must be capable of making things move all of its own. [So, this idea isn't just found in magic.]

    To paraphrase Marx: what had once been the product of the relations between human beings (ordinary language) became inverted and fetishised into a specialised, secret code that supposedly represented the real relations among things, or which constituted those things themselves.

    According to this world-view, reality was either controlled by language or was constituted by it. In that case, language on its own could be used to deduce fundamental truths about reality.

    This doctrine I call "Linguistic Idealism" [LIE].

    LIE, in one form or another, has dominated all subsequent philosophical theories, and that is why all Traditional Philosophers think it quite natural to impose their ideas on reality. More on that here:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2002.htm

    It thus became 'natural' for ruling-class hacks to think of law and order, conflict and change in linguistic and/or conceptual terms -- indeed, as a 'unity of opposites'.

    And, that is why mystics the world over argue and think in the way they do (as we saw above --, and as we will see again below, this time in connection with Heraclitus (540-475BC)): for them, the specialised language they concocted contained (or expressed) this secret code, a universal master key, invented by 'god' and delivered to the select few -- indeed, as Lenin himself let slip:

    "The identity of opposites…is the recognition…of the contradictory, mutually exclusive, opposite tendencies in all phenomena and processes of nature…. The condition for the knowledge of all processes of the world in their 'self-movement', in their spontaneous development, in their real life, is the knowledge of them as a unity of opposites. Development is the 'struggle' of opposites…. [This] alone furnishes the key to the self-movement of everything existing…." [Lenin (1961), Philosophical Notebooks, pp.357-58. Bold emphasis added.]

    "Hegel brilliantly divined the dialectics of things (phenomena, the world, nature) in the dialectics of concepts…. This aphorism should be expressed more popularly, without the word dialectics: approximately as follows: In the alternation, reciprocal dependence of all notions, in the identity of their opposites, in the transitions of one notion into another, in the eternal change, movement of notions, Hegel brilliantly divined precisely this relation of things to nature…. [W]hat constitutes dialectics?…. [M]utual dependence of notions all without exception…. Every notion occurs in a certain relation, in a certain connection with all the others." [Ibid., pp.196-97.]
    Hence, those who conceptualise reality in this way will quite naturally think that if the status quo on earth is the product of language, and if reality reflected, or was a reflection of the state, then thought alone could unmask, and then perhaps control, nature.

    Thus was born Philosophy, the most abstract form of boss-class ideology:

    "Feuerbach's great achievement is.... 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...." [Marx (1975b), p.381. Bold emphasis added.]
    Philosophical theories could now be imposed on nature because 'God' originally constituted the world this way, out of language, which meant that reality was in effect condensed language/thought. After all, nature was ultimately 'Mind', constituted by the 'Divine Logos', the 'Word'.

    This philosophical doctrine was invented, as far as we know, by the very first dialectician in history, Heraclitus:

    "Heraclitus, along with Parmenides, is probably the most significant philosopher of ancient Greece until Socrates and Plato; in fact, Heraclitus's philosophy is perhaps even more fundamental in the formation of the European mind than any other thinker in European history, including Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Why? Heraclitus, like Parmenides, postulated a model of nature and the universe which created the foundation for all other speculation on physics and metaphysics. The ideas that the universe is in constant change and that there is an underlying order or reason to this change -- the Logos -- form the essential foundation of the European world view. Every time you walk into a science, economics, or political science course, to some extent everything you do in that class originates with Heraclitus's speculations on change and the Logos....

    "In reading these passages, you should be able to piece together the central components of Heraclitus's thought. What, precisely, is the Logos? Can it be comprehended or defined by human beings? What does it mean to claim that the Logos consists of all the paired opposites in the universe? What is the nature of the Logos as the composite of all paired opposites? How does the Logos explain change? Finally, how would you compare Heraclitus's Logos to its later incarnations: in the Divided Line in Plato, in foundational and early Christianity? How would you relate Heraclitus's cryptic statements to those of Lao Tzu?" [Quoted from here. [Link omitted.] Bold emphasis added.]
    The short answer to many of the above questions is, obviously this: The ideas of the ruling-class are always the ruling ideas!

    From then on -- for most Traditional Thinkers --, Logic depicted, or could be used to picture the underlying form of reality, its 'essential' structure. This further justified the imposition of the products of thought onto nature.

    These days, for DM-theorists, this idea resurfaces in the way they characterise 'Dialectical Logic':

    "Dialectics requires an all-round consideration of relationships in their concrete development…. Dialectical logic demands that we go further…. [It] requires that an object should be taken in development, in 'self-movement' (as Hegel sometimes puts it)….

    "[D]ialectical logic holds that 'truth' is always concrete, never abstract, as the late Plekhanov liked to say after Hegel." [Lenin (1921), Once Again on the Trade Unions pp.90, 93. Bold emphases added.]
    What else is a "demand" or a "requirement" other an imposition? This allows DM-fans to assert the following sorts of things, dogmatically:

    "Nature works dialectically and not metaphysically." [Engels (1976), p.28.]

    "Dialectics…prevails throughout nature…. [T]he motion through opposites which asserts itself everywhere in nature, and which by the continual conflict of the opposites…determines the life of nature." [Engels (1954), p.211. Bold emphases added.]

    "A dialectical method is only possible because reality itself is dialectically structured." [Rees (1998), p.271.]
    Rees's claim, for example, goes much further; he asserts that "reality itself" (that is, not just a part of it, or even most of it, nor yet that of which we currently have some knowledge, but the entire universe, at every level, for all of time -- i.e., reality itself) is dialectically structured.

    Even if we took into account all the available evidence (which evidence isn't conducive to DM, anyway, as we shall see in other Essays posted at this site), the inference that "reality itself" is dialectically structured goes way beyond this. As seems plain, the claim that reality itself is dialectically structured could only ever amount to a reading into nature something that might not be there. It certainly isn't justified on the basis of the meagre and threadbare evidence dialecticians have so far scraped-together.

    Of course, Rees isn't alone in this; all dialecticians argue along similar lines.

    Scores of quotations from the DM-classics and 'lesser' DM-works (which show that they all impose their ideas on nature, dogmatically and aprioristically), can be found here:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2002.htm

    Although recently there have been notable exceptions to the above generalisations, for most philosophers (and DM-theorists), a priori knowledge (like those expressed in the above quotations) is the only reliable source. Empirical knowledge (that is, knowledge based on evidence and experience) was considered unreliable since it reflected the debased experience and life of ordinary workers. [This is brought out particularly well in Conner (2005).]

    So, from the beginning, philosophers denigrated the language and experience of working people -- just as they undervalued and ignored their view of the world -- gradually transforming the vernacular into a complex, jargon-riddled code capable of expressing, or representing 'divine truth' and the 'rational' order of 'Reality'.

    And, surprise, surprise, dialecticians have done the same; and we can now see why.

    Which is rather odd, since Marx emphasised the exact opposite:

    "For philosophers, one of the most difficult tasks is to descend from the world of thought to the actual world. Language is the immediate actuality of thought. Just as philosophers have given thought an independent existence, so they had to make language into an independent realm. This is the secret of philosophical language, in which thoughts in the form of words have their own content....

    "...The philosophers would only have to dissolve their language into the ordinary language, from which it is abstracted, to recognise it as the distorted language of the actual world, and to realise that neither thoughts nor language in themselves form a realm of their own, that they are only manifestations of actual life." [Marx and Engels (1970), The German Ideology, p.118. Bold emphases added.]
    Traditional Philosophers thus sought to concoct a priori theses that revealed the underlying 'essence' of reality -- i.e., fundamental features of existence inaccessible to the senses, and hence 'safe' from refutation by any material means.

    In every single case, but in different forms depending on which Mode of Production was dominant at the time, Philosophers derived their theses from language alone -- either from specially-concocted jargon (such as, "Being", "Entelechy", "Substance", "Becoming", or "Nothing"), or from suitably distorted ordinary words (such as "cause", "law", "thought", "consciousness", or "determined"), just as Marx pointed out.

    These a priori theses were imposed on nature, and were not only held to be true everywhere and everywhen, they determined the form of any and all possible worlds.

    Moreover, because these doctrines had been derived solely from language/thought, they appeared to be 'self-evident' (that is, no external, physical evidence was required to establish their 'truth'; they were thus self-certifying verities). Hence, these Super-truths were not only easy to invent (a few moments reflection on the 'real' or 'hidden meaning' of a handful of words was all that was required), but once concocted they seemed impossible to doubt.

    The same is true of the theses dialecticians appropriated from Hegel (upside down, or 'the right way up').

    Of course, that is just one more reason why practice has never been used to test of the truth of DM, and never will be. Dialectics is self-certifying. It doesn't require testing in practice, nor does it need 'revising'. In which case, whatever happens, DM will always appear to ratify itself.

    As Lenin noted, DM is above the search for empirical proof:

    "This aspect of dialectics…usually receives inadequate attention: the identity of opposites is taken as the sum total of examples…and not as a law of cognition (and as a law of the objective world)." [Lenin (1961), p.357. Emphasis in the original.]
    Hence, the need to provide evidence ("examples") is in fact a distraction, one that dedicated dialecticians should rightly eschew. In this particular case, the thesis that UOs exist everywhere in nature and society, and which govern every single instance of change right across the universe, for all of time, expresses a "law of cognition", a "law of the objective world", and it is these "laws" that in the end legitimate the imposition of dialectical dogma on nature.

    [UO = Unity of Opposites.]

    If so, why bother testing these a priori truths in practice?

    Small wonder then that actual practice has demonstrated time and again that the deliverances of practice are consistently ignored.

    On that, see here:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/pag...onary-Practice

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/pag...Excuse-Central

    This approach to 'knowledge' is well summarised by James White (in this case in relation to German Idealism):

    "Already with Fichte the idea of the unity of the sciences, of system, was connected with that of finding a reliable starting-point in certainty on which knowledge could be based. Thinkers from Kant onwards were quite convinced that the kind of knowledge which came from experience was not reliable. Empirical knowledge could be subject to error, incomplete, or superseded by further observation or experiment. It would be foolish, therefore, to base the whole of knowledge on something which had been established only empirically. The kind of knowledge which Kant and his followers believed to be the most secure was a priori knowledge, the kind embodied in the laws of Nature. These had been formulated without every occurrence of the Natural phenomenon in question being observed, so they did not summarise empirical information, and yet they held good by necessity for every case; these laws were truly universal in their application." [White (1996), Karl Marx and the Formation of Dialectical Materialism, p.29. Bold emphasis added.]
    It is worth noting here how the word "law" was lifted from legal theory and projected onto nature -- the use of which term plainly suggests that reality is governed by a cosmic will of some sort. After all, who enacted these 'universal laws'? And who 'enforces' them? And how is 'unintelligent' matter able to 'obey' them, unerringly, right across the universe?

    The answer is quite plain: given this view of knowledge, reality is mind-like.

    Hence, for Traditional Theorists, if nature is deemed to have an underlying rational structure, then not only was it now much easier to 'justify' the status quo (as a reflection of this underlying order), it was no less easy to argue that those who rebelled against the status quo could be opposed on 'legitimate', 'divinely sanctioned', 'rational' grounds.

    In fact, opposition to the status quo was futile; the cosmic/social order will always re-assert itself.

    [These days, that task has been hived-off to our genes, and to what did or did not take place in the early Pleistocene.]

    The above is further amplified by the following two authors:

    "Empirical, contingent truths have always struck philosophers as being, in some sense, ultimately unintelligible. It is not that none can be known with certainty…; nor is it that some cannot be explained…. Rather is it that all explanation of empirical truths rests ultimately on brute contingency -- that is how the world is! Where science comes to rest in explaining empirical facts varies from epoch to epoch, but it is in the nature of empirical explanation that it will hit the bedrock of contingency somewhere, e.g., in atomic theory in the nineteenth century or in quantum mechanics today. One feature that explains philosophers' fascination with truths of Reason is that they seem, in a deep sense, to be fully intelligible. To understand a necessary proposition is to see why things must be so, it is to gain an insight into the nature of things and to apprehend not only how things are, but also why they cannot be otherwise. It is striking how pervasive visual metaphors are in philosophical discussions of these issues. We see the universal in the particular (by Aristotelian intuitive induction); by the Light of Reason we see the essential relations of Simple Natures; mathematical truths are apprehended by Intellectual Intuition, or by a priori insight. Yet instead of examining the use of these arresting pictures or metaphors to determine their aptness as pictures, we build upon them mythological structures.

    "We think of necessary propositions as being true or false, as objective and independent of our minds or will. We conceive of them as being about various entities, about numbers even about extraordinary numbers that the mind seems barely able to grasp…, or about universals, such as colours, shapes, tones; or about logical entities, such as the truth-functions or (in Frege's case) the truth-values. We naturally think of necessary propositions as describing the features of these entities, their essential characteristics. So we take mathematical propositions to describe mathematical objects…. Hence investigation into the domain of necessary propositions is conceived as a process of discovery. Empirical scientists make discoveries about the empirical domain, uncovering contingent truths; metaphysicians, logicians and mathematicians appear to make discoveries of necessary truths about a supra-empirical domain (a 'third realm'). Mathematics seems to be the 'natural history of mathematical objects' [Wittgenstein (1978), p.137], 'the physics of numbers' [Wittgenstein (1976), p.138; however these authors record this erroneously as p.139, RL] or the 'mineralogy of numbers' [Wittgenstein (1978), p.229]. The mathematician, e.g., Pascal, admires the beauty of a theorem as though it were a kind of crystal. Numbers seem to him to have wonderful properties; it is as if he were confronting a beautiful natural phenomenon [Wittgenstein (1998), p.47; again, these authors have recorded this erroneously as p.41, RL]. Logic seems to investigate the laws governing logical objects…. Metaphysics looks as if it is a description of the essential structure of the world. Hence we think that a reality corresponds to our (true) necessary propositions. Our logic is correct because it corresponds to the laws of logic….

    "In our eagerness to ensure the objectivity of truths of reason, their sempiternality and mind-independence, we slowly but surely transform them into truths that are no less 'brutish' than empirical, contingent truths. Why must red exclude being green? To be told that this is the essential nature of red and green merely reiterates the brutish necessity. A proof in arithmetic or geometry seems to provide an explanation, but ultimately the structure of proofs rests on axioms. Their truth is held to be self-evident, something we apprehend by means of our faculty of intuition; we must simply see that they are necessarily true…. We may analyse such ultimate truths into their constituent 'indefinables'. Yet if 'the discussion of indefinables…is the endeavour to see clearly, and to make others see clearly, the entities concerned, in order that the mind may have that kind of acquaintance with them which it has with redness or the taste of a pineapple' [Russell (1937), p.xv; again these authors record this erroneously as p.v, RL], then the mere intellectual vision does not penetrate the logical or metaphysical that to the why or wherefore…. For if we construe necessary propositions as truths about logical, mathematical or metaphysical entities which describe their essential properties, then, of course, the final products of our analyses will be as impenetrable to reason as the final products of physical theorising, such as Planck's constant." [Baker and Hacker (1988), Wittgenstein. Rules, Grammar And Necessity, Volume Two, pp.273-75. Italic emphases in the original.]
    DM-theorists attempt to do something similar: from a few specially-selected, jargonised expressions (which they have by-and-large borrowed from Hegel) they suddenly produce a host of a priori theses that they then happily impose on nature.

    For instance, from what he believed was the 'real' meaning of the word "move", Engels thought he could derive what he imagined was true of every single example of motion in the entire universe, for all of time:

    "...[A]s soon as we consider things in their motion, their change, their life, their reciprocal influence on one another[,] [t]hen we immediately become involved in contradictions. Motion itself is a contradiction: even simple mechanical change of place can only come about through a body at one and the same moment of time being both in one place and in another place, being in one and the same place and also not in it. And the continuous assertion and simultaneous solution of this contradiction is precisely what motion is." [Engels (1976), p.152.]
    Unfortunately for Engels (and Hegel), there are many legitimate uses of words connected with movement (including "move" and "place") that don't imply this. More details can be found here:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2005.htm

    Anyway, even if Engels were right, this use of language is no less a 'brute fact', too. After all, why should a 'contradiction' make anything change or move? Indeed, why should a force make anything move? And, why should quantity change into quality? Why should the whole be more than the sum of the parts? The only possible answer is that they too are just brute facts about reality -- or, far more likely, brute facts about the odd way that dialecticians use language.

    Hence, just as metaphysics can't in the end explain anything, neither can 'Materialist Dialectics'. In that case, not only have Dialectical Marxists bought a pig in a poke, for them, there is in fact no pig and no poke!

    Once more, all this isn't the least bit surprising since, as we have seen, these ideas were hatched within an ancient ruling-class, Idealist tradition. As we have also seen, without exception every single DM-classicist was a non-worker, socialised and educated to think along these alien-class lines.

    So, DM is based on and has replicated the thought-forms of a well-entrenched ruling-class.

    No wonder then that it has presided over little other than defeat, failure, and disaster.

    No wonder, too, that it makes not one ounce of sense.
    I'll deal with some of the other things you say in my next post.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 02-06-2015 at 12:35 PM.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

  3. #23
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Je suis un spectacle

    Astarte:

    Dialectics are merely a methodology of analysis, there have been many revolutionaries all throughout history that have used dialectical methodologies in their ideological war against the ruling class. This is hard to deny. If you deny this you are simply wrong and if you don't you are forced to admit that dialectics is not the exclusive property of the ruling class and in turn is not a "ruling class thought form", which, by the way, the phrase "ruling class thought form" sounds highly idealist to me. I don't think dialectics are incoherent and I don't think they are vague or confused either.
    I don't deny it, I merely add that I'd like to see just one positive practical use to which dialectical ideas can be put. By that, I don't mean concepts drawn from Historical Materialism [HM], but ideas exclusve to dialectics (the ancient, medieval or modern versions). I have yet to see one, and I find it difficult to believe there are any -- any more than I can see, say, the mystical aspects of Thomas Munster's beliefs had any positive practical applications (that is, over and above motivating his 'followers').

    Of course, this thread isn't actually about the allegations I have levelled against DM (i.e., that it is not only far too vague and confused to do much with, it is incoherent to boot); my whole site is devoted to that topic (all 2.5 million words!). However, when this thread is finished, I'll be more than happy to start a new thread on this, where I will examine several egregious examples of this malaise.

    Dialectical analysis is not done in "ordinary language"? What kind of language is it done in? It is funny that you use the term "backward ideologies" (this in itself is not "ordinary" language - what is meant by "backwards?" is it a Eurocentric slur to mean European civilization is forwards or upright and all others are backwards or hunched over? I am not accusing you of using it in this way, but to people unfamiliar with Marxism it easily could be understood in this sense and hence is not "ordinary language"), yet reject false consciousness. In what way are these ideologies backwards if they are not false compared to a certain standard - and which standard exactly do you hold them up against to justify calling them "backwards"? How is ordinary language unaffected by the "backwards ideologies" "workers swallow"? It seems many working people in the USA go to mass every Sunday and it seems the preachers are speaking "ordinary language", except for the snippets of glossolalia tosses in here and there, at least.
    1) DM-theorists certainly use words that are typographically identical to those employed in ordinary language, but, upon examination, it soon becomes obvious that they are nothing at all like them. I will give several examples in the thread I mentioned above.

    2) In my essays I use a variety of linguistic modes; most often I employ ordinary language (wherever possible), but in some cases I draw on more technical terminology drawn from the sciences, mathematics and/or HM (which can be paraphrased in ordinary terms when necessary (and I often do this, too)). I would have hoped that from the context of the remark of mine that you focussed upon that the meaning of 'backward' would be clear; I was referring to racist, sexist and homophobic language (etc.). I trust you agree with me there is nothing progressive in such talk (and nothing specifically Eurocentric, either). In which case, 'backward' fits the bill quite nicely.

    3) I will be happy to explain my objections to the use of 'consciousness', let alone 'false consciousness', in another thread.

    4) I covered the question how ordinary language isn't affected by 'backward ideologies' in this comment:

    It is worth pointing out at this stage that this defence of ordinary language is not being advanced dogmatically. Every user of the vernacular knows it to be true since they know that for each and every sexist, racist and ideologically-compromised sentence expressible in ordinary language there exists its negation.

    This is why socialists can say such things as: "Blacks aren't inferior"; "Human beings aren't selfish"; "Wages aren't fair", "Women aren't sex objects", "Belief in the after-life is baseless" -- and still be understood, even by those held in thrall to such ideas but who might maintain the opposite view. If ordinary language were identical with 'commonsense' -- and if it were ideological (per se), in the way that some imagine -- you just couldn't say such things. We all know this to be true -- certainly, socialists should know this --, because in our practical discourse we manage to deny such things every day.
    I'm surprised you missed it.

    5) I covered your religious language point, too. I'm not sure how I can be more emphatic or more clear in future so that you don't so easily miss the points I make.

    I think we are finally approaching a kernel of your argument. For some reason you think dialectics is couched in something other than ordinary language. What kind of language is in couched in if not ordinary language? What is so impenetrable and obscure about the language of dialectics? I don't think it is obscure at all or difficult to understand, and furthermore, I don't think it stands in contradiction to "ordinary language" as it is written in ... ordinary language that anyone who reads the language it is written in, and has access to a dictionary and a mind for thinking should be able to understand, whether the particular thinker "fetishizes" language or not. You present dialectics as something that people just blindly accept ... furthermore, I take issue with your consistent usage of "mystical" and "mysticism" in a negative, counter-intellectual and borderline derogatory way in that you consider it a sign of "backwardsness" - I think it runs counter to the interests of socialism in fact as it is extremely off putting to socialists and communists who do have personal spiritual beliefs. I suggest you abandon the political stance of advocating atheism and adopt a political stance of advocating secularism. The general trend of Marxism is even moving in this direction, much more so than the abandonment of dialectics due it its "impenetrability". More and more people in the world today are abandoning official organized religion not because they are becoming atheists but precisely because they are having highly personalized spiritual experiences that run counter to atheism, and for the same reason they do not think of the dialectical method as "impenetrable", but rather extremely accessible, and furthermore, they are articulate enough to be able to express that method in the ordinary language of the languages they are native speakers of, or fluent in. So, in fact, speaking in a hard-materialist language is rather a language that runs contrary to the "ordinary language" the vast majority of the people on the planet speak. When you say something like holding "spiritual beliefs" are baseless, and that their "baselessness" can be explained away in ordinary language you are wrong precisely because the spiritual experience is highly subjective and runs counter to expression in any other words besides ones like "ineffable", though, two people who have had these types of experience understand exactly what the other is talking about. The person who has not had the aforementioned type of experience is only left to assume what the two have had is delusion, and this is harmless in and of itself, but actually becomes a type of bigotry when, as many hard-materialists do, it is assigned derogatory words like "superstition", or "backwardsness". Hence, again, why you should probably consider adopting a political stance that refrains from passing derogatory judgement on highly personal beliefs.
    As I noted above, I will deal with such issues in that other thread I mentioned earlier.

    Moreover, I have explained why I use such pejorative language in the Introductory Essay at my site:

    Several other features of these Essays will strike the reader as rather odd: (1) Their almost exclusively negative, if not unremittingly hostile tone....

    Although I have endeavoured to construct as comprehensive a case against DM as I am capable of producing, I have also sought to raise objections to my own criticisms at nearly every stage. While this strategy has been adopted to test my ideas to the limit, it has also been of some use in trying to render DM a little clearer and/or more comprehensible.

    To that end, the reader will find that many issues have been raised here for the first time ever. Core DM-theses have been examined in unprecedented detail, most of them from a completely novel angle. It is a sad reflection on the mental paralysis induced in those who -- in Max Eastman's words -- "suffer from dialectics" that these ideas have escaped detailed attention for over a hundred years, but it is nonetheless accurate for all that.

    Even if it should turn out that this project is misconceived in some way, it succeeds in breaking entirely new ground, as readers will soon discover. In fact, should DM-supporters engage fairly with the content of this site -- even if they remain of the same opinion by the end --, they will find that their own ideas will emerge clarified and strengthened because of the entirely novel set of challenges advanced in this work.

    As alleged earlier, it is the opinion of the present author that DM has contributed in its own not insignificant way to the spectacular lack of success 'enjoyed' by Dialectical Marxism. It is an alarming fact that of all the major political ideologies and/or movements in history, Dialectical Marxism is among the least successful ever. The role that DM has played in helping to engineer this disastrous state of affairs partly accounts for the persistently negative (if not openly hostile) tone adopted in these Essays.

    If revolutionaries genuinely wish to change the world by assisting in a successful working-class revolution (and I certainly count myself among those who do), then the sooner this alien-class ideology (DM) is excised the better.

    In that case, if the ideas presented in these Essays are correct, then it is clear that DM has helped cripple the revolutionary movement almost from the beginning. Because of that, those who insist on clinging to this regressive doctrine (for whatever reason) risk extending this abysmal record of failure into this new century.

    Unfortunately, it is far from clear whether either the planet or humanity can take another hundred years of Capitalism. Indeed, one more protracted cycle of DIM-induced failures (link omitted) could mean that even fewer workers will take Marxism seriously --, or, what amounts roughly to the same thing, live to tell the tale in anything remotely resembling a civilised society....
    I see no reason (certainly none you have managed to bring to my attention) why I should modify my use of language. [Of course, the tone I have adopted palls into insignificance when compared to some of the purple language Marx, Engels and Lenin employed (some of which has been reproduced below).]

    Astarte:

    No, it was not. I think it is impossible to say when exactly the concept of the existence of a non-material world first became a notion to humans, though, it is clear, that spiritual belief, magic, ritual etc. supersedes state and class society by at least tens of thousands of years and perhaps hundreds of thousands of years. You are essentially vulgarizing the actual advent of spiritual thought in human history (which no one knows the exact date of its occurrence, though there is evidence to suggest it is likely up to 30,000 years old or more) to say that the ruling class created the numinous experience itself is a vulgarization of history as there are many examples of numinous practices within early, pre-organized religion, pre-class and pre-state peoples belief systems such as the 30,000 year old Venus of Willendorf to name but one example. What actually seems to have happened is that spiritual notions or numinous experience in humans, having virtually "always" existed were easily used as a quality in humans that the ruling class could use to reinforce class society and the division of labor and hence why organized religion with its official dogmas geared towards coercive ends came along with the division of labor, classes and the state....

    I don't think you give non-priestkings in the Neolithic enough credit. I do not think the majority of those people would have been able to have been "duped" by an "invented" spiritual system. Organized religion grew directly out of the super-imposition of the division of labor, class relations and the state onto paleolithic and shamanistic spiritual beliefs and practices and not some historical "invention" that the ruling class simply pulled out of their ideological ass for the lack of better words. That is the numinous quality of human beings was appropriated by the ruling class and rationed via organized religion, much like food stuffs themselves.
    As my previous post indicated, I am referring here to the theoretical expression of these ideas, not the everyday superstitious, 'numinous', and pre-theoretical notions ancient people adopted/formed of the 'gods' etc. And we know from the record when this theoretical approach began (in the 'West') -- with the first Greek Philosophers (many of whom were members of the ruling class, or who were patronised by them). So, these comments of yours are, I'm afraid, beside the point.

    In essence, you claim that the ruling class created "the ultimate truth" concept and has repeatedly used it to dupe the working classes.
    Those are your words, not mine.

    I would argue that conceptions of mysticism, shamanism, "magic", the numinous experience etc have more or less always existed, and have been a vehicle by which humans have gotten in touch with highly subjective personal spiritualities that they feel make them whole human beings. Of course, since you feel that this type of spiritual experience is a symptom of "superstition" and "backwardsness", and that history itself is driven by pulling ideas out of some kind of ahistorical linguistical hat you would believe that the ruling class simply, one fine day, "created" this concept.
    Again, this has nothing to do with my argument. With all due respect, may I suggest you stop making stuff up about my ideas?

    The ruling class merely appropriated the concept of the spiritual experience - that is the mechanism which individual human beings have used to find their own subjective connections with themselves in relation to the rest of reality - and built around it layers and layers, and years and years of dogma and corruptions in the form of organized religion which has been used as a mechanism of class rule. The spiritual experience, i.e. the idea that an "ultimate truth" about a "hidden world" is accessible is not one that has ever been monopolized by the ruling class.
    Where did I say it has/had been 'monopolised' by the ruling-class?

    In fact, the idea that it is accessible to all, and the access of it by those that are not members of the status quo or the ruling class has always been a mechanism of revolution. Virtually every single one of the uprisings in Chinese history, from roughly 2000 BC to the Yi Ho Tuan movement have revolved around mystical and heterodox spiritual beliefs as the guiding ideology of the revolutionary process which counter-posed an alternative ownership and interpretation of the "ultimate truth" to that possessed by the ruling class. If such a thing as the belief, that spiritual access to subjective realities were not something that the majority of people in history found a basis in truth in and was rather a ruling class lie created by the ruling class, rather than appropriated by it to reinforce class society then I think atheism would have sprung up as the main counter-hegemonic ideology in history long ago, rather than mysticism and heterodox spiritual belief as highly personalized numinous experiences would not have occurred in or resonated with enough individuals to get them to die in uprisings with them as the guiding ideology and rather an atheist worldview would have been the original driving force of revolution. From the ancient Yellow Turbans, to the Five Pecks of Rice Movement, to the White Lotus Society to the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom to the Yi Ho Tuan in the East to the Gnostics to the Cathars to the Brethren of the Free Spirit to Freemasonry all manner of millenarianisms the world over, mysticism and heterodox spiritual ideologies have been the ideological form revolution against the status quo has taken before Marxism.
    I don't doubt any of this, but what has it got to do with the point I made?

    Furthermore, the dogmas of organized religion did not simply say "there is a non-material world accessible to pure thought alone" open endedly. Sometimes (especially in Europe) they did not say this at all. In the case of Christianity it was more through a death in Christ alone that Heaven was accessible - and even still depending on the interpretation one might have had to have even waited until the Final Judgement in their graves to be Judged. This is much vaguer and more is contingent on getting there through a death in Christ, and even at times only being able to get their via pre-determination as with Calvinism than merely thought-driven enlightenment of the Eastern and Greek mystics. Where Buddhism and Taoism (rarely) came to state power in the East here too it was not through open ended thought that arrival to the ultimate reality was reached, but rather through the specific doctrines the heads of state imposed. Other alternative doctrines and mechanisms for spiritual attainment were usually considered dangerous, or at least not something desirable as they could lead to a situation of counter-hegemony in the form of organizations that center around alternative interpretations of the numinous experience. The only thing that remains consistent between virtually every religion and every mystical tradition is that there is an ultimate reality that is accessible to human beings one way or another and not always through thought or language alone. Hell, the Pharaohs needed elaborate tombs as vehicles and excessively elaborate preparations of their corpses to attain the after-life, not just the magical formulae written on the tomb walls. What this ultimate reality is, and how to attain it has varied greatly and has been used by revolutionaries to overthrow ruling classes and the ruling classes to maintain the status quo.
    Again, I struggle to see the relevance of this to what I had argued.

    You, like Jung, realize that humans have always had a need to make transcendental statements. What you fail to realize is that they always have, whether they have existed in class society, or pre-class society, whether they were made 30,000 years ago by hunter gatherers or by workers 30 years ago, human beings have always had numinous experiences and they are not merely the invention of the ruling class, otherwise numinous experiences would not occur, and there would not be people who though are irreligious and maintain a secular political stance, have had first hand experience with numinosity. As for myself, I will always remain, no matter what, the most incorrigible defender of people who have had them while at the same time the most irreconcilable fighter of such notions that numinous experiences are simply the result of "backwardsness", "superstition", or "miscalibration" or "ruling class invention". I too belief Marxism needs to change, and it is changing, but rather it is not in that it should harden atheism further by rejecting dialectics but rather it should drop hard-atheism and the atheistic worldview and adopt a secularism that passes no judgement on whether or not a spiritual existence exists and does not denigrate those who belief it does exist.
    Well, I am of the opinion that such 'experiences' are incoherent non-sense. So my ideas are nothing like Jung's.

    I agree with Marx that when the social conditions that motivate people to form such odd ideas are a thing of the past, they will abandon backward notions like these. So, yes, you can see that I still regard them as 'backward'. I see no reason to abandon such talk; just because something has been around for a long time (and takes in/dupes/fools the majority of human beings) doesn't mean we (or, rather, it doesn't mean that us militant atheists) should tip-toe around it, or handle it with kid gloves. Sexism has been around for almost as long as the 'numinous' (and it has been nearly as pervasive and widespread -- it still is in many places). Good riddance to both, I say. If that upsets the religious, I can live with that.

    Whether or not the "thought-form" of an ultimate reality being accessible to humans by way of thought alone exists in dialectical materialism I am not sure if I accept or not, but from the consensus view of most of my fellow Marxists, I am inclined to say it does not. And really, whether or not I accept it is rather a peripheral matter, as I have demonstrated that the idea that a vehicle in which humans may get in touch with their own spiritual ultimate truth was not created by, and is not the monopoly of the ruling class. If it does exist within dialectical materialism it only means that DM is yet another in a long line of "mystical" (again, I am not prepared at all to categorize DM as mystical, but for the sake of argument lets) traditions which has waged class war with the ruling class. I think your insistence that DM is a ruling class ideology, and your need to string DM to some kind of lie originally fabricated by the Neolithic ruling class is merely a way of justifying that the USSR was state-capitalist to yourself, even though its existence coincided, globally, with the greatest emancipations mankind has ever experienced in so many areas of life, the beneficial consequences of which were felt in the core and peripheral countries of capitalism itself, but that is the place for another debate altogether, or maybe just a huge tangent off of this one.
    1) It is a key allegation at my site that the concepts found in DM have indeed been derived from thought alone -- or, to be more honest, from Heraclitus, Plotinus, Boehme, Spinoza, and Hegel's thought alone, to name but a few of the mystics who have fathered this theory. Apologies in advance for saying this yet again: I will post some classic examples of this in another thread. I can't do so in this post or thread, for obvious reasons!

    2) And sure, most Marxists would (and do) think as you allege of them -- but, oddly enough, Marx had an explanation for this: "The ideas of the ruling class always rule". If most Marxists actually agreed with me about this topic, that would be a sure sign I was on the wrong track.

    I think your insistence that DM is a ruling class ideology, and your need to string DM to some kind of lie originally fabricated by the Neolithic ruling class is merely a way of justifying that the USSR was state-capitalist to yourself, even though its existence coincided, globally, with the greatest emancipations mankind has ever experienced in so many areas of life, the beneficial consequences of which were felt in the core and peripheral countries of capitalism itself, but that is the place for another debate altogether, or maybe just a huge tangent off of this one.
    I covered this in my original post, and again in my last post.

    Just because DM is based on a set of ancient concepts, beliefs, and theories, doesn't mean that when those ideas were invented (thousands of years ago) they had to be put to the same use that DM has been over the last century or so. To be blunt, and if you'll forgive me, I am rather amazed you think otherwise. If a Christian uses the book of Genesis, for example, to argue that Darwin is mistaken, does that prove, or even imply, that the writer/writers of Genesis had Darwin and/or evolution in mind?

    Do you deny that change is inevitable? Do you seriously deny that, if nothing else, change actually is the cosmic order of things?
    Well, that is in fact a classic example of an a priori dogma you (and other dialecticians) have peremptorily imposed on reality. In fact, there are countless trillion objects in each gram of matter that do not change -- Protons and Electrons, for example, and which are, by the way, absolutely identical to one another. [So, bang go two core DM-theses!]

    You can find the evidence and argument in support of the above, here:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/pag...less-Particles

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qt-idind/

    [Anyway, it's not too clear whether or not even you accept this dogma, since you seem to believe that there is something called the 'essence' of humanity -- its attachment to the 'numinous'-- which has remained the same for millennia. But, in asserting that I hope I haven't misinterpreted you.]

    That doesn't mean I deny change; I just refuse to turn it into an a priori dogma -- and a dogma, it is worth reminding ourselves, that had been appropriated from the confused musings of that boss-class Philosopher, Heraclitus. Based on his theoretical observations about stepping into a river, he thought he could derive a fundamental thesis, true for all of space and time. [Which nicely illustrates my point, I think.] And, what is more, he got the details wrong, too! I explain why here:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/pag..._and_the_river

    This is derogatory.
    I have no problem being derogatory about such backward ideas, or, indeed, those who hold them.

    The fundamental claim you make is that Christian mysticism and Hermetic mysticism is fundamentally reactionary.
    Ideas can't be reactionary; it is the use made of them that can be and, in such cases, often are. Recall, my argument isn't as follows: DM is a mystical ruling-class theory therefore it is false/reactionary. It is this: DM is far too vague and confused for anyone to be able to say whether or not it is true or false; it doesn't make it that far. Now, as part of a totally separate argument, I show that DM has in fact been used to 'justify' all manner of anti-Marxist and reactionary ideas, tactics and strategies:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/pag...tm#CaseStudies

    Fundamentally "ruling class", fundamentally "backwards". Tell this to the Cathars and Brethren of the Free Spirit who were slaughtered for resisting the Church on the basis of ... mysticism, tell this to the Gnostic Christians who buried the Nag Hammadi codex in order to hide it from the Roman authorities.
    Just because one set of confused individuals fights against oppression in no way makes their ideas 'progressive', or something Marxists should extol. Are you going to say the same about the mystical ideas that motivate, for example, many Nazi groups in their fight against the bourgeois State?

    Characterization of Hegel as a reactionary thinker is sheer absurdity considering he lived from 1770 to 1831 and was a high Enlightenment thinker, fundamentally opposed to the Catholic Church.
    In fact, this is what I have written about Hegel (on this topic):

    Despite this, the importation of Hegel's ideas into Marxism is often justified by comrades on the basis that he lived at a time when the bourgeoisie were the revolutionary class, that he lived in the 'Enlightenment', and so his ideas weren't as 'ideologically-tainted' -- so to speak -- as those of later, bourgeois thinkers.

    Now, that excuse might work in relation to theorists like Smith or Ricardo, but it can't work with Hegel. Not only did he live in politically backward Germany, where there was no such revolutionary bourgeois class, his ideas represented both a continuation of ruling-class thought and a throwback to earlier mystical ideas about nature and society. [On this, see Essay Twelve Part Five and Essay Fourteen Part One (links omitted).]

    Moreover, by no stretch of the imagination were Hegel's ideas scientific, unlike those of Smith and Ricardo.

    Nor can it be argued that Marx derived HM from Hegel; in fact (as Lenin himself half admits -- see below), both Kant and Hegel were influenced by the 'Scottish Historical School' (of Ferguson, Millar, Hume, Steuart, Robertson, Anderson, and Smith). If anything, Hegel's work helped slow down the formation of Marx's scientific ideas, by mystifying them.

    "The history of philosophy and the history of social science show with perfect clarity that there is nothing resembling 'sectarianism' in Marxism, in the sense of its being a hidebound, petrified doctrine, a doctrine which arose away from the high road of the development of world civilisation. On the contrary, the genius of Marx consists precisely in his having furnished answers to questions already raised by the foremost minds of mankind. His doctrine emerged as the direct and immediate continuation of the teachings of the greatest representatives of philosophy, political economy and socialism.

    "The Marxist doctrine is omnipotent because it is true. It is comprehensive and harmonious, and provides men with an integral world outlook irreconcilable with any form of superstition, reaction, or defence of bourgeois oppression. It is the legitimate successor to the best that man produced in the nineteenth century, as represented by German philosophy, English political economy and French socialism." [Lenin, Three Sources and Component Parts of Marxism. Bold emphasis added.]
    It could be argued that Marx derived other important concepts from Hegel (such as alienation, and species being), but these ideas (or concepts very much like them) can be found in Rousseau, Fichte and Schelling (who were far clearer thinkers than Hegel ever was). Moreover, these terms are easily replaced with materialist analogues -- which explains why Marx subsequently dropped them, and adopted others. [On this, see White (1996).]

    White, J. (1996), Karl Marx And The Intellectual Origins Of Dialectical Materialism (Macmillan).

    Finally, no dialectician, as far as I know, would argue the same for other figures who were writing at about this time, and who were much closer to the class action (as it were). Does anyone think this of Berkeley? And yet he lived in and around what was the leading capitalist country on earth at the time: Great Britain. Or, of Shaftesbury and Mandeville? Slap bang in the middle these two. And, it is little use pointing out that this pair wrote shortly after the reaction to the English Revolution, since Hegel did so, too, after the reaction to the French Revolution. Nor is it any use arguing that these two were card-carrying ruling-class hacks, since the same can be said of Hegel. Or, even that one of them was an aristocrat; it may be news to some, but Hegel wasn't a coal miner!

    Indeed, the only reason Hegel is chosen for special treatment is because of contingent features of Marx's own biography. Had Marx's life taken a different course, or had Hegel died of cholera (or whatever it was that killed him) forty years before he actually did, does anyone think we'd now be bothering with dialectics? It is no surprise, therefore, to find that Marx himself moved away from Hegel and Philosophy all his life.

    [The first of these controversial allegations was substantiated in Part One of this Essay; the second here. (Links omitted.)]

    In that case, and contrary to what Lenin said, we should exclude Marx himself (at least in his more mature work) from the above seriously compromised, boss-class pedigree.
    So, nowhere do I call Hegel a 'reactionary'. He was far too confused to be called that.

    The premise of your entire argument rests on the idea that since the founders of Communism were exposed to mystical ideas via Hegelian dialectics, and that since mystical ideas believe that within humans is numinosity and since the numinous experience has also been found in the dogmas of organized religion the founders of Communism must also have a share in the reactionary nature of organized religion, since they were exposed to mysticism. The problem is, organized religion appropriated the numinous experience from pre-class civilization in the first place when organized religion first began to occur as a result of class society.
    In fact, my argument is based on the following comments of Lenin's (quoting Kautsky):

    One can't help recalling in this connection the brilliant social and psychological characterisation of this latter quality recently given by Karl Kautsky. The Social Democratic parties of different countries suffer not infrequently nowadays from similar maladies, and it would be very, very useful for us to learn from more experienced comrades the correct diagnosis and the correct cure. Karl Kautsky's characterisation of certain intellectuals will therefore be only a seeming digression from our theme.

    'The problem...that again interests us so keenly today is the antagonism between the intelligentsia and the proletariat. My colleagues (Kautsky is himself an intellectual, a writer and editor) will mostly be indignant that I admit this antagonism. But it actually exists, and, as in other cases, it would be the most inexpedient tactics to try to overcome the fact by denying it. This antagonism is a social one, it relates to classes, not to individuals. The individual intellectual, like the individual capitalist, may identify himself with the proletariat in its class struggle. When he does, he changes his character too. It is not this type of intellectual, who is still an exception among his class, that we shall mainly speak of in what follows. Unless otherwise stated, I shall use the word intellectual to mean only the common run of intellectual who takes the stand of bourgeois society, and who is characteristic of the intelligentsia as a class. This class stands in a certain antagonism to the proletariat.

    'This antagonism differs, however, from the antagonism between labour and capital. The intellectual is not a capitalist. True, his standard of life is bourgeois, and he must maintain it if he is not to become a pauper; but at the same time he is compelled to sell the product of his labour, and often his labour-power, and is himself often enough exploited and humiliated by the capitalist. Hence the intellectual does not stand in any economic antagonism to the proletariat. But his status of life and his conditions of labour are not proletarian, and this gives rise to a certain antagonism in sentiments and ideas.

    '...Quite different is the case of the intellectual. He does not fight by means of power, but by argument. His weapons are his personal knowledge, his personal ability, his personal convictions. He can attain to any position at all only through his personal qualities. Hence the freest play for his individuality seems to him the prime condition for successful activity. It is only with difficulty that he submits to being a part subordinate to a whole, and then only from necessity, not from inclination. He recognises the need of discipline only for the mass, not for the elect minds. And of course he counts himself among the latter....

    '...The typical intellectual à la Stockmann regards a "compact majority" as a monster that must be overthrown....'
    "Just such feeble whining of intellectuals who happened to find themselves in the minority, and nothing more, was the refusal of Martov and his friends to be named for office merely because the old circle had not been endorsed, as were their complaints of a state of siege and emergency laws 'against particular groups', which Martov cared nothing about when Yuzhny Rabochy and Rabocheye Dyelo were dissolved, but only came to care about when his group was dissolved.

    "Just such feeble whining of intellectuals who happened to find themselves in the minority was that endless torrent of complaints, reproaches, hints, accusations, slanders, and insinuations regarding the 'compact majority' which was started by Martov and which poured out in such a flood at our Party Congress (and even more so after).

    "The minority bitterly complained of the 'false accusation of opportunism'. Well, it had to do something to conceal the unpleasant fact that it was opportunists, who in most cases had followed the anti-Iskra-ists -- and partly these anti-Iskra-ists themselves -- that made up the compact minority, seizing with both hands on the championship of the circle spirit in Party institutions, opportunism in arguments, philistinism in Party affairs, and the instability and wishy-washiness of the intellectual." [Kautsky, quoted in Lenin (1947) One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, pp.121-24.]. Bold emphases added.]
    http://www.marxists.org/archive/leni.../onestep/m.htm

    And on Marx's famous comment:

    It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/mar...reface-abs.htm

    Now, even while Kautsky and Lenin applied this analysis to those intellectuals who take the side of the bourgeoisie, it is nevertheless the case that Lenin and the other founders of DM failed to notice that this analysis applied to them, too!

    So, the 'social being' (i.e., their class origin and current class position) of these great revolutionaries (as petty-bourgeois or de-classé theorists), meant they not only had had ruling-class ideas rammed down their throats almost from the cradle on upwards, but also that when they became revolutionaries, they'd quite naturally look for philosophical reasons why change was inevitable and part of the fundamental fabric of reality -- enter Hegel and his a priori, dogmatic fantasies.

    Hence, my argument is not at all as you portray it.

    Astarte:

    You assume the opposite, that one fine day organized religion created, out of nothing, a fantasy, and ever since "backwards" mystics (those dummies) have also believed in that "fantasy" and since the founders of Communism were exposed to that "fantasy" via dialectics they too have been contaminated by the "virus of the mind", that evil of all evils of which organized religion one fine day created and of which mysticism was the carrier of to dialectics. This is fundamentally not the case. Shamanism, mysticism, ritual, magic and so on pre-dates organized religion, the state and classes.
    Not my argument, or 'assumption', at all, and I defy you to find anything like it in anything I have written here, at my site, or anywhere else, for that matter.

    We're not going to get far if you keep making stuff up, are we?

    I'll comment on the other things you say in my next few posts.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 02-06-2015 at 12:53 PM.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

  4. #24
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Je suis un spectacle

    Astarte:

    Dialectical Materialism, though, I agree has short comings, namely its hard-materialism which does not leave room for an acceptance of a secular worldview which would include such things as more classical Hegelian dialectical analysis such as Jung uses in his interpretations of the self, wholeness and individuation, I do not think that dialectical materialism at all has been a long term failure.
    Here is my argument (or a part of it, at least) to that effect:

    Despite the above, it could be argued that the actual success of revolutionary practice speaks for itself; this alone shows the above comments are either seriously misguided or are more obviously "academic" and/or "sophistical".

    Indeed, revolutionaries often appeal to 1917 as just such a success. The Party that advocated 'Materialist Dialectics' won the day, they argue. Here is Trotsky arguing to that effect (in his Open Letter To Burnham):

    "You are not unacquainted with the great role played by Iskra in the development of Russian Marxism. Iskra began with the struggle against so-called 'Economism' in the labour movement and against the Narodniki (Party of the Social Revolutionists). The chief argument of the 'Economists' was that Iskra floats in the sphere of theory while they, the 'Economists,' propose leading the concrete labour movement. The main argument of the Social Revolutionists was as follows: Iskra wants to found a school of dialectic materialism while we want to overthrow Czarist autocracy. It must be said that the Narodnik terrorists took their own words very seriously: bomb in hand they sacrificed their lives. We argued with them: 'Under certain circumstances a bomb is an excellent thing but we should first clarify our own minds.' It is historical experience that the greatest revolution in all history was not led by the party which started out with bombs but by the party which started out with dialectic materialism." [Trotsky (1971), p.100. Bold added.]
    Trotsky, of course, isn't alone in advancing this claim.

    However, as we saw in Essay Nine Part Two, such an appeal can't successfully be made by dialecticians since it is clear from the record that the comrades actually involved in the October 1917 revolution did not in fact use DM (or even 'Materialist Dialectics') to propagandise and organise the Russian working class. [As noted above, the evidence for this controversial claim can be found in Essay Nine Part Two; follow the link for more details. (Link added at the end.)]

    Does anyone really think that Bolshevik workers, having to face up to the likes of General Kornilov, were all that interested in the fact that 'Being is different from but at the same time identical with Nothing, the contradiction resolved in Becoming?' Or, that the Totality is a mediated whole? Or, that plants negate seeds? Or, that there are UOs everywhere? Small wonder then that dialectics gets no mention (by the Bolshevik Party leadership) in this period -- nor for several years after.

    [NON = Negation of the Negation; UO = Unity of Opposites.]

    This is, of course, quite apart from the fact that the 1917 revolution has now gone backwards, confounding the NON.

    So, to answer Trotsky, the party that used DM/'Materialist Dialectics' (that is, if it did) also screwed up.

    In Fact History Refutes Dialectics

    Nevertheless, as it turns out, past events do return a clear picture, unfortunately for DM-fans, they speak of the long-term failure of Dialectical Marxism.

    Hence, dialecticians would be well advised to avoid using practice as a test (or a proof) of the correctness of their theory.

    If a list is drawn up of all the 'successes' 'our side' has 'enjoyed' over the last 150 years or so, it would soon become obvious that it is depressingly short. Worse: our few 'successes' are greatly out-numbered by our manifest 'failures'. A shortened list of both is given in Table One, below.





    [I have had to spilt this into two parts because the software at this forum couldn't cope with the original table.]

    ...In response, it could be argued that the above list is highly prejudicial since it is padded out with dozens of failures that not only pre-date revolutionary Marxism, but which have nothing whatsoever to do with 'Materialist Dialectics', or even with Marxism in general.

    However, if these are filtered out -- along with the corresponding successes enjoyed by these non-revolutionary non-Marxist movements -- the list would become even more depressing!

    As noted above, many of the items in the list are open to re-classification upon closer examination, and that includes most, if not all of our 'successes'. Naturally, the validity of that observation itself depends on when that judgement is made --; indeed, as Zhou Enlai once remarked of the French Revolution: "It is too early to tell".

    For example, although the Anti-Nazi League (ANL) was a resounding success thirty years ago, the resurgence of the BNP (and latterly the EDL) over the last four or five years could lead to the future re-classification of the successes the ANL enjoyed as failures. If everything is indeed subject to change (according to DM), so are judgements and reputations. History is no respecter of the past; no status is locked in permanent stasis -- which is why, of course, pragmatic criteria are so unreliable.

    [A criticism of the idea that practice is a test of the truth of a theory was subjected to sustained criticism in earlier sections of this Essay, which material I have omitted.]

    Moreover, several outwardly successful movements could turn out to be the exact opposite if they are given an unsympathetic reading. For instance, the massive demonstrations around the world in 2003 failed to stop the invasion of Iraq. Was this a success or a failure?

    (1) It was clearly a success if it is regarded as the high-water mark of the anti-Capitalist movement -- especially if every other relevant political and historical factor involved is taken into account, including (a) how close the movement came to actually stopping the war, (b) the fact that this movement has so far forestalled, or at least delayed, further imperialist 'adventures', and (c) how it has drawn in a several new layers of activists/revolutionaries.

    (2) On the other hand, it could be viewed as a failure if its explicit aims are read into the equation -- i.e., stopping that war!

    This alone shows that the concepts of success and failure are highly contestable; they are theory-, and context-dependent. No doubt in the long run many 'failures' will turn out to be 'successes', but that just underlines the point being made here: if we have to wait for the future to tell us if Dialectical Marxism is a 'success', and that DM is therefore a correct theory, that would be an implicit admission that we can't (on that basis) determine whether it is true now....
    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/pag...onary-Practice

    Astarte:

    For one, the ideology of Dialectical Marxism, as the philosophy of Marxism-Leninism has been the philosophy which has added more life years to the greatest populations in the smallest amount of chronological years ever in history. The gains China alone made between 1960 to the present in terms of its population growth and increase in living standards is testament to this. A comparison of Chinese growth from 1960 to today with India's growth over the same period, a "liberal democracy", in these two basic statistics alone prove that, contrary to your baseless rhetoric, dialectical materialism (which the CPC still follows, by the way, as Chinese political and philosophical theory today is "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" - the content of which is: Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong thought-Deng Xiaoping Theory-"Three Represents" (and I do own the selected works of Jiang Zemin also, so I am familiar with modern Chinese Marxist theory, for what its worth), whose theory is still paramount in Chinese thought and theory today). This theory is still one that adheres to dialectical materialism. Consider this along with the achievements of the Soviet Union, which made great scientific strides, especially in early space sciences and, again, for what its worth, was the "best" state Russia ever had, in terms of increases in life expectancy and population and over all productivity, it is rather absurd to say dialectical materialism is a "long term failure". Stalin called China and India the "heavy reserves" of the world socialist revolution and this is why Marxist-Leninists focused so much energy on the ex-colonial world, because a successful revolution in either China or India, as was achieved by the way, meant a firm anchoring of socialism in 1/6 of the entire world's population. You may consider arguing "but China is state-capitalist!" Ok, though I think this would be a crude picture to paint of the base mode, and one that is literally only about 40% true, let's say it was just for the sake of it - it really does not make a difference as to the historical success of failure of DM, as the fact that China every year only becomes more and more dominant on the world stage and still adheres to dialectical materialism, only confirms that DM is not a historical failure by any means.
    It is open to considerable doubt that the concepts and theses unique to DM have in any way contributed to this, despite what you might have been told, or what you appear to believe. How does "Quantity turns into Quality" actually provide a practical guide to anyone -- even if it were clear what was meant by "quality" to begin with, which it isn't -- who wants to run, say, a hospital or organise a rally? In what way has "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts" ever helped anyone, for example, build a factory or construct a dam? How has "The Law of Identity is true only within certain limits" or "A does and does not equal A" ever assisted anyone (in China, or anywhere else on the planet, for that matter) design an aircraft or harvest a crop, for instance? How has "Being is identical with but at the same time different from Nothing, the contradiction resolved by Becoming" ever provided anyone with practical guidance when deciding whether or not to increase the size of a print run or invest more in infrastructure?

    Sure, just like Bishops, Imams and Priests who mouth all manner of theological obscurities when giving advice, those enamoured of 'the dialectic' will utter DM-nostrums, but when it comes to spelling out the details, the practical implications of this theory (other than those that are negative) are absolutely nil.

    And, the gains made by China (and the fSU before it) are far more easily explained in HM-terms: the super-exploitation by the Maoist regime of the Chinese working class -- and before it, Russian workers by the CPSU. We can see this from the fact that Nazi Germany also grew staggeringly fast between 1934 and 1944 without an ounce of DM to guide it. This, too, was on the back of the super-exploitation of workers (both slave labour and indigenous labour after the Unions, the KPD and the SDP had been smashed).

    http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk...ic_miracle.htm

    Sure, this growth wasn't as impressive as the recent growth achieved by China, but the Nazis squandered a sizeable proportion of their economy on re-armament, repression (concentration camps, prisons, secret police), as well as ostracising/outlawing some of their most productive sectors (the Jews, for example).

    Economic growth in Tsarist Russia between 1890 and 1914 was also quite remarkable:

    http://www.ianblanchard.com/IMPERIAL...ecture%201.pdf

    Does this prove that the nostrums spouted by the Russian Orthodox Church are in any way of practical value?

    Moreover, the USA developed from being a largely rural economy in the period 1820-1830 into a leading industrial nation by 1900, and then to the leading capitalist country on earth (controlling approximately 50% of world GDP, with a massive increase in living standards for the bulk of the 'white' population) by the late 1940s, all without an ounce of DM to guide it:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economi..._United_States

    http://socialdemocracy21stcentury.bl...-18702001.html

    Should we all become WASPs as a result?

    And, of course, we are now witnessing all the structural problems of capitalism re-asserting themselves in China (wage pressures (because of labour and skill shortages, low birth-rate, and increasing numbers of strikes), massive, if not obscene, inequalities of wealth and power (with 'Socialist Billionaires' littering the place -- 122 in 2013 -- and even more multi-millionaires; a recent survey suggests income inequalities are now rising faster than they are in the USA), systematic corruption at all levels (here is Xi Jinping, 20th November 2012: "Lots of facts tell us that corruption is becoming more and more rampant, and eventually, the party and the country will fall. We have to be vigilant"), over-production, over capacity, property speculation, under-consumption, etc., etc.). So, at best, DM is leading China into a good old fashioned capitalist crisis.

    Of course, I don't think DM has anything to do with this -- except it is used ideologically to 'justify' and rationalise the oppression of the working class and the legitimacy of the state; but then I don't think DM had anything to do with China's temporary economic success, either.

    Billionaires and multi-millionaires:

    http://www.forbes.com/china-billiona...6/#tab:overall

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...lionaires#Asia

    Massive inequalities of wealth, even exceeding the USA:

    http://journalistsresource.org/studi...-todays-china#

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-0...udy-shows.html

    Corruption rife:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-30808665

    http://thediplomat.com/2015/01/get-r...-to-intensify/

    Growth beginning to stall:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/...0KT04920150120

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30876464

    Overcapacity:

    http://www.chinabusinessreview.com/c...-overcapacity/

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles...s-china-growth

    Property Speculation:

    http://thediplomat.com/2013/11/china...ation-problem/

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-0...eculators.html

    Internal Underconsumption:

    http://www.networkideas.org/networki...lmaz_akyuz.pdf

    http://www.nbar.org/publications/asi...us_preview.pdf

    Crises of overproduction:

    http://chinadailymail.com/2013/01/08...verproduction/

    http://www.businessspectator.com.au/...overproduction

    Wage rates forced upwards -- aggravated by labour shortages:

    However, the dramatic double digit increase in Chinese migrant workers' wages are an ominous sign that the world's most populous nation is about to run out of surplus labour.
    http://www.businessspectator.com.au/...-looming-china

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-0...services-.html

    Skill Shortages:

    https://www.mapi.net/skills-shortages-china

    http://mckinseyonsociety.com/can-chi...he-skills-gap/

    Growth built on sand:

    http://www.isj.org.uk/?id=777

    http://www.isj.org.uk/?id=430

    Increasing worker resistance:

    http://www.isj.org.uk/index.php4?id=125

    http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?...&jumival=11777

    https://libcom.org/blog/new-strikes-china-28072014

    To cap it all, the 1948 Revolution wasn't prosecuted for the benefit of working people, they were at best passive bystanders (so none of the above problems are the least bit surprising):

    http://www.marxists.de/china/hore/

    Hence, it is still up to you to show that DM has played a practical (and you should spell out the actual details; no more vague generalities), as opposed to an ideological role in China (and I would maintain this was/is a negative ideological role, too -- indeed, I maintain that it is the ideology of substitutionist elements within Marxism), in a way that Nazi ideology, Russian Orthodox Theology, or even WASP dogma didn't (in Germany, Russia or the USA).

    Again, see the PRC. China has successfully recognized problems as good as or better than any non-DM state, and though has dealt with them unorthodoxly and in methods which many Marxists (rightfully) criticize, they have dealt with them on the basis of dialectical materialism. The picture you paint of DM is really rather crude and out of touch with the living ideology that it is and focuses on the USSR alone and the collapse of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact states which did not collapse due to dialectical materialism but rather antagonisms between the Imperialist powers of the world and the USSR as a country which supported socialist property form as well as the internal contradiction in the USSR between socialist property form and a social parasitic group in state power which in the end had to convert themselves to actual capitalists in order to maintain and expand their privileges. Again, not a failure of DM but rather the result the historical contradiction of the imperialist epoch that demands successful socialist revolutions first occurred in the periphery of capital and all the problems this brings with it. If anything, diamat has propelled China forward with no end to development in sight. I can already see you arguing that the books are cooked and that the progress is not an actual fact. On the contrary, it is actual fact. The statistics of the increases in life expectancy and population speak for themselves. The ability of China to loan out massive amounts of money, and in essence prop up other states financially speaks for itself. The sheer improvement in living standards and huge amount of wealth which China has now accumulated in comparison to 1949 is obvious.

    The condition of China up until 1949 was even worse than that of India as far as imperialist exploitation, intervention and civil war and yet on the basis of Marxism-Leninism and dialectical materialism it has surpassed India and has become a power that can not only successfully compete with Europe and North America, but also created a situation in which countries (like the USA) that once engaged in imperialism within the boarders of China, is now reliant on Chinese loans. Some failure of dialectical materialism, indeed.
    1) Well, these are just vague generalisations again, lacking in specific details about precisely how a single DM-concept/thesis has any practical implications (other than ideological (and negative)).

    2) I have never claimed that DM led to the downfall of the fSU and other 'socialist' societies; what I have claimed is that it made a bad situation worse. You can find the details here (I'd post this material in this thread, but I think I have reproduced more than enough from my site already!)

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/pag...tm#CaseStudies

    Astarte:

    I don't think this is true at all. I do think Marxism is one of the three main methodologies of historiography though, the other two being the classical liberal analysis and post-modernism. There is nothing inherent in Marxism that makes theoretical and interpretative differences between Marxist and non-Marxist historians and sociologists any different or fundamentally more "religious".
    1) Where did I say the difference was 'religious'? What I have asserted was that DM-theorists use the DM-classics like the religious use the Bible and other assorted Holy Books to justify whatever is expedient -- and since such books are quintessentially obscure, as are the DM-classics, they 'allow' Bishops and theologians, and now DM-theorists, to obfuscate whenever it suits them.

    However, DM is unique in other respects, perhaps the most important of which is that it countenances/insists on the existence of 'contradictions' all over the place. Hence, this theory has been used (and demonstrably so; this is not me just making stuff up) to 'justify' whatever a dialectician finds expedient, and its opposite, at the same time, or in the same speech/article, and by the same theorist, or, perhaps, 24 hours later, as we saw happen repeatedly throughout the 1930s in Russia and China -- 'justifying' calling the SPD 'social fascists' one minute, and then arguing for a Popular Front with them the next; then flipping through another 180 degrees to justify the signing of a pact with the actual fascists, the Nazis, a few years later; then yet another flip and it was all-out war with the barbarian fascists two years later still (with the fSU now being allied with the imperialists, formerly social fascist, powers), then another flip back to anti-imperialism a few years later -- you will find dozens of examples of this if you follow the above link.

    Of course, these flips and re-alignments were taken for hard-headed political reasons (which seemed to make sense to the Stalinists at the time). These were taken for genuinely political reasons, but in order to rationalise and 'justify' them and sell them to the cadres and the wider international communist movement, they were liberally coated in dialectical jargon, which, as we have seen, can be used to justify anything and its opposite. How else would the rank-and-file swallow these flips?

    To be sure, it could be argued that other theories can be, and have been used in this way -- e.g., one individual might use a given theory to prove one thing and then another theorist might use that theory to prove the opposite. Maybe so, but only DM (or, perhaps, Zen Buddhism) has been used by the very same individual to rationalise one course of action/thesis and its opposite, sometimes on the same page, or even in the same paragraph/sentence/speech! Moreover, no other theory is accepted by revolutionary cadres, and so no other theory is so well placed to 'win' them over to anything their 'leaders' consider expedient.

    2) My argument was directed specifically against DM, not HM. You seem to have muddled or missed this point (perhaps with all those comments about "historiography"). I fully accept HM, since it is a scientific, not a philosophical, theory.

    The Jacobins disagreed with the Girondists. Gandhi had differences with Nehru. John Adams was a federalist and Sam Adams was an anti-federalist. Some in Gran Columbia wanted a stronger central government, others wanted a stronger constitution. Just last night Bill Maher on his show, "Real Time" said that Westerners who believe in freedom of speech yet at the same time think cartoons which inflame a religion of 1.5 billion people should not be published "just don't get freedom of speech" - they just don't get it! Political factions althroughout history have always claimed the opposing faction "doesn't get" the ideology both factions claim to represent. This is nothing new to Marxism. It does not require an "obscure" theory to do this and dialectical materialism is really not obscure at all, nor are dialectics in general. Your description of constant denunciations and theoretical degeneration on the basis of "sacred texts" seems to apply more to the history of Trotskyism than Marxism-Leninism as Marxism-Leninism, for its meteoric rise and successes althroughout the 20th century in which at its peak roughly 1/3 of the world's population living in a government of which it was the official ideology, it was normal that there should be opposing view points and tactics and that at certain instances antagonisms between these ideologies in state power arose.
    Sure, different political parties and theorists argue and dispute. When have I ever questioned this? But, when pressed for explanations that go beyond the usual nostrums that DM-theorists parrot, all that they can come up with is: "You don't understand dialectics" (which is, of course, an easy accusation to make since no one understands DM, of if they do they have kept that well hidden for over 150 years). Again, if you follow the above link you will find scores of examples where DM-theorists accuse one another of just this; indeed, as I have put this point in Essay Nine Part Two:

    Anyone who doubts this allegation can test it with the following experiment: the very next 'Orthodox Trotskyist' [OT] you meet in person or encounter on the Internet, try telling him/her that the Stalinists and Maoists also use the dialectic. Then, the very next Stalinist/Maoist you meet in person or encounter on the Internet, try telling her/him that OTs use the dialectic, too. Try the same with the Maoists/Stalinists in relation to the Stalinists/Maoists. Extend this impromptu survey and permute the name of every tendency or group you can think of, telling each of them that all their opponents also accept and use the dialectic. Unless you are incredibly unlucky, you will be told the same thing over and over: "Those other guys misuse/distort/ignore the 'dialectical method'; they have all adopted wooden, formulaic abstractions, yada, yada...".

    In fact, there is no objective way of deciding if, when or how the dialectic has been, or can be used correctly. Indeed, as we have seen (link omitted), it can be, and has been used to defend any theory you like and its opposite, sometimes in the very next breath, and by the very same dialectician!
    I haven't left this as a bald assertion; I have given dozens of examples of this phenomenon in this Essay:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/pag...tm#CaseStudies

    No political theorist, of the sort you mention (unless they are Zen Buddhists!) has this contradictory and obscure theory to fall back on as a court of last appeal, which is why I asserted that this was one reason DM-fans cling to it like drunks to lamp-posts.

    I will comment on other things you say in my next post.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 02-06-2015 at 1:06 PM.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

  5. #25
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Je suis un spectacle

    Astarte:

    These did not occur as a result of some "original sin" inherent in dialectical materialism as you purport but rather the transitional characteristic of these states being caught in the lurch between capitalism and socialism and needing to resolve both practical and theoretical issues "on the fly" as historical events unfolded.
    No 'original sin' anywhere in my allegations against 'dialectics'.

    Anyway, where do I 'purport' this? What I have done is actively assert that DM is a unique theory (except perhaps for Zen Buddhism) in this respect: 'allowing' its theorists to argue for, 'justify' and try to sell their readers/listeners/cadres anything they find expedient and its opposite (because 'Marxist Dialectics' is supposed to be contradictory). Here, for example, is Stalin doing just this:

    "The flowering of cultures that are national in form and socialist in content under the dictatorship of the proletariat in one country for the purpose of merging them into one common socialist (both in form and content) culture, with one common language, when the proletariat is victorious all over the world and when socialism becomes the way of life -- it is just this that constitutes the dialectics of the Leninist presentation of the question of national culture.

    "It may be said that such a presentation of the question is 'contradictory.' But is there not the same 'contradictoriness' in our presentation of the question of the state? We stand for the withering away of the state. At the same time we stand for the strengthening of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is the mightiest and strongest state power that has ever existed. The highest development of state power with the object of preparing the conditions for the withering away of state power -- such is the Marxist formula. Is this 'contradictory'? Yes, it is 'contradictory.' But this contradiction us bound up with life, and it fully reflects Marx's dialectics." [Political Report (link omitted) of the Central Committee to the Sixteenth Congress of the CPSU(B), June 27, 1930. Bold emphases added.]
    Here is what I have posted about Maoist theorist, Ai Ssu-ch'i (whose work was highly influential on Mao) in his defence of Mao's tactics around the defence of Wuhan, in Essay Nine Part Two:

    Ai (the point of which will be revealed presently):

    "The law of identity is a rule of the abstract, absolute unity; it sees in identical things only the aspect of absolute identity, recognising this aspect alone and disregarding its own contradictory and antagonistic aspects. Since an object can only be absolutely identical to itself, it therefore can't be identical to another aspect. One expresses this with the formula: A is not Not-A, or A is B (sic) and simultaneously it can't be Not-B.... For example, 'retreat is not attack' (A is Not-A (sic)), concentration is limitation of democracy (A is B), one can't in this case develop democracy (simultaneously 'not is Not-B' (sic)). In this definition, an object (concept, thing, etc.) is confronted absolutely with another object, which lies beyond the actual object, a consequence of which is that an object (A) and the others (Not-A) have no relations at all with each other.... The law of identity thus only recognises abstract identity, and the law of contradiction only recognises an absolute opposite." [Ai Ssu-ch'i, 'Formal Logic And Dialectic', quoted in Meissner (1990), p.107. Bold emphasis added.]
    We have already (link omitted) had occasion to note the incondite and sloppy syntax (links omitted) that litter the writings of these 'superior' dialectical logicians, but here we encounter yet another example. For instance, the "A" in this passage is at one point "retreat", while "Not-A" is "not attack"! Ai's schema should therefore have been "A is not-B"....

    Despite this formal screw-up, Ai Ssu-ch'i continues in the same fantastical vein:

    "The law of the excluded third specifies: either there is an absolute identity (A is B) or an absolute opposition (A is not B); an object can't be simultaneously identical and at the same time be antagonistic. For example 'concentration' is either limited democracy or unlimited democracy; it can't at the same time be limited and a developed democracy. A government in which the people participate is either a democratic organ or it is not a democratic organ. It can't be simultaneously democratic and insufficiently democratic. Therefore the law of the excluded third only recognises opposition or unity, and struggles against the 'unity of opposites'. This meant that it ['formal logic'] and the dialectic are diametrically opposed." [Ibid. Bold emphases added.]
    [LEM = Law of excluded Middle.]

    This, of course, has nothing whatsoever to do with the LEM; Ai Ssu-ch'i has simply made this tale up (as did Hegel before him (link omitted)).

    In relation to the above (i.e, "retreat is not attack"), and the question whether increased democracy implied further concentration of power at the centre (which might appear to those trapped in a 'formal' view of the world as diametrically opposed, and which we have already seen Stalin brush aside with an appeal to DM-'contradictions') Meissner summarises Ai Ssu-ch'i's main points as follows:

    "1. What is the meaning of 'Retreat is not attack'? As we will see in more detail below, this formulation referred to the strategic principles of the long-protracted war....

    "For Mao Tse-Tung...the defence of Wuhan had no special meaning. Instead he advocated surrendering the city and building up the resistance in the countryside. Ai Ssu-ch'i thus defended Mao's tactics, in that he dismissed the phrase 'Retreat is not attack' as 'formal logically'. To consider the 'retreat' from Wuhan solely as a retreat or non-attack corresponded, according to Ai, to the first law of 'formal logic' and was in no way seen as 'dialectical'. On the other hand, Ai wanted to show that the retreat was at one and the same time both a retreat and not a retreat.... The retreat thus contained an attack.

    "2. The explanations of 'democratisation' and 'concentration' were also a criticism of Wang Ming's concepts of setting back 'democratisation' in favour of the 'concentration' of all political and military forces, and of attempting to commit the CCP exclusively to the support of the national government. Behind this was hidden the consideration that a possible 'democratisation' of Kuomintang control could lead to an impairment of the military effectiveness of the United Front. Ai criticised this view as 'formal logically', because 'democratisation' and 'concentration' were seen as mutually exclusive contradictions. 'If we thus say: during the war against Japan, everything must be concentrated and united, but at the same time as much democracy as possible must be developed, that is, according to the rules of formal logic, unreasonable, i.e., illogical.' However according to Ai, that was true only for the rules of 'formal' not of 'dialectical logic.'

    [This was] because, according to 'dialectical logic', 'democratisation' and 'concentration' were not mutually exclusive but rather represented a unity. Ai thus argued in support of Mao Tse-tung's position since Mao had often insisted that the 'democratisation' of all areas of the state by the Kuomintang was essential for the concentration of all forces in the struggle against Japan.

    "3. However, Ai Ssu-ch'i' made a further observation concerning the relationship between the CCP and the Kuomintang by speaking of the 'unification of several objects identical to themselves' and by characterising them as a 'formal-logical' combination of independent, mutually unrelated objects, which thus represented a state of rest. The 'formal-logical identity' served him as an example of how the relationship between the two parties should not be constituted. The United Front was not to be a condition of repose, but the very reverse: the 'struggle' was to form the 'driving force'.... This was a clear rejection of the concept of the Commintern faction within the United Front which wanted to suspend the struggle against the Kuomintang.

    "Through the example of the 'law of identity', Ai also grappled with the question of how far the CCP should acquiesce in the Kuomintang's demand to base itself on the 'Three principles of the people', without endangering the independence of the CCP....

    'Since the law of identity only recognises the absolute aspect of identity, one can maintain in the United Front that all parties and factions have now already given up their independence and have only one goal; consequently, many people say that the CP has given up Marxism. Since, on the other hand, the law of contradiction only recognises the absolute opposite, some people advocate the view that every party and faction must retain its own independent programme and organisation'. [Ibid.]
    "Ai characterised the adherents of the first view as 'right deviationists' and those of the second as 'left deviationists'.... Both groups...are, according to Ai, 'formal-logical' in their thought; they consider one aspect of the whole and make it absolute.... 'Formal logic' recognises only attack and/or retreat, only concentration and/or democracy, only the 'three principles of the people' and/or communism. However, it is not capable of comprehending the existing relationships between those respective pairs of objects....

    "Thus, in concrete terms, 'dialectical logic' can be explained thus: the United Front is accepted and at the same time rejected, in that the struggle against the Kuomintang is to be continued within the United Front." [Meissner (1990), pp.107-110. Bold emphases alone added.]
    So, once again, we witness a dialectician using DM to derive specific conclusions -- a result required for political reasons -- and their opposite, at the same time.

    Anyone interested in material like this can read plenty more of it, comprised of page-after-page of lame-brained 'logic' (not all of it taken from the writings of Ai Ssu-ch'i), in Meissner's book. In these writings alone we can see how dialectics 'allowed' its acolytes to see the world in whatever way they found expedient, just as we can see how DM helped insulate their thought processes from material reality itself.
    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/pag...tm#CaseStudies

    There are dozens more examples of twisted 'reasoning' like this quoted and referenced in the above Essay.

    Do any -- have any (!) -- other political theorists ever argued this way (other than, perhaps, Zen Buddhists -- and the certifiably insane)?

    I think not.

    This makes DM totally unique, the non-existent deity's gift to opportunists and substitutionists of every stripe.

    I hate to say this, and again, I don't mean to be rude, but your writings eventually start to sound like idealist conspiracy theorist's interpretation of history rather than that of a Marxist's. The "original sin" in dialectical materialism is that it purports to hold the keys to the "Ultimate Truth" because the leaders of socialist movements were "infected with a virus".
    1) Not at all; there is no 'conspiracy' at all implied by my argument. The DM-classicists were educated from an early age to view the world in a certain way: that there is a hidden world, inaccessible to the senses, which is more real than the transitory world we see around us -- they were all brought up in the Christian faith -- or some other faith that taught likewise -- and when they encountered philosophy, they found it, too, taught a secular version of the same idea: that fundamental truths about the world could be derived from thought alone (again, note the use of 'alone' here). So, when they became revolutionaries, their 'social being' (as either petty-bourgeois theorists and/or de-classé professional revolutionaries) meant they were all pre-disposed to think in certain ways -- 'ruling ideas' had been fed to them from infancy --, in which case Hegel's Christian Mysticism and Hermetic Philosophy landed on fertile ground, for they saw it as a way of combining ideas they had already internalised (about these hidden concepts, abstractions, and forces) with those advocating revolutionary change. So, there is no more a 'conspiracy' here than there is when we argue that capitalist ideologues all argue more-or-less the same way against Marxism: 'social being' shapes how individuals in class society think. I am rather surprised I have to make this point.

    2) Moreover, my appeal is to material circumstances; I nowhere appeal to 'free-floating' ideas to account for the movement of history and the theories individuals invent or which they accept and then promote. In fact, my argument is the other way round. The material circumstances in which the DM-classicists found themselves shaped their thinking. Hence, my argument is just an extension of Lenin's about petty-bourgeois 'intellectuals' (reproduced again below), except I use it to show that Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, etc., were also susceptible in this way.

    Here is how I have made this point (again, in Essay Nine Part Two -- apologies for the slight repetition):

    As far as the DM-'faithful' are concerned, all this will fail to go even in one ear, let alone straight out through the other. This is because they refuse to accept that any of the pressures that bear down on the rest of humanity could possibly have any effect on them, the DM-elect. Hence, social psychology apparently does not apply to these demi-gods!

    In stark contrast, dialecticians are quite happy to reduce their opponents' ideas to their class origins/position; indeed, they do this all the time. Any attempt to do likewise with respect to their own philosophical ideas --, i.e., tracing the fondness leading dialecticians have for Philosophy back to their own class origin/position --, is rejected out-of-hand as "crude reductionism"!

    Indeed, Lenin was quite happy to 'reduce' his opponents' politics to their class position/background:

    "In a word, Comrade Martov's formula will either remain a dead letter, an empty phrase, or it will be of benefit mainly and almost exclusively to 'intellectuals who are thoroughly imbued with bourgeois individualism' and do not wish to join an organisation. In words, Martov's formulation defends the interests of the broad strata of the proletariat, but in fact it serves the interests of the bourgeois intellectuals, who fight shy of proletarian discipline and organisation. No one will venture to deny that the intelligentsia, as a special stratum of modern capitalist society, is characterised, by and large, precisely by individualism and incapacity for discipline and organisation (cf., for example, Kautsky's well-known articles on the intelligentsia). This, incidentally, is a feature which unfavourably distinguishes this social stratum from the proletariat; it is one of the reasons for the flabbiness and instability of the intellectual, which the proletariat so often feels; and this trait of the intelligentsia is intimately bound up with its customary mode of life, its mode of earning a livelihood, which in a great many respects approximates to the petty-bourgeois mode of existence (working in isolation or in very small groups, etc.). Nor is it fortuitous, lastly, that the defenders of Comrade Martov's formulation were the ones who had to cite the example of professors and high school students! It was not champions of a broad proletarian struggle who, in the controversy over Paragraph*1, took the field against champions of a radically conspiratorial organisation, as Comrades Martynov and Axelrod thought, but the supporters of bourgeois-intellectual individualism who clashed with the supporters of proletarian organisation and discipline." [Lenin (1947), One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, pp.66-67. Bold emphasis added.]
    And later on, quoting Kautsky on the social psychology of his opponents, Lenin argued:

    "One can't help recalling in this connection the brilliant social and psychological characterisation of this latter quality recently given by Karl Kautsky. The Social Democratic parties of different countries suffer not infrequently nowadays from similar maladies, and it would be very, very useful for us to learn from more experienced comrades the correct diagnosis and the correct cure. Karl Kautsky's characterisation of certain intellectuals will therefore be only a seeming digression from our theme.

    'The problem...that again interests us so keenly today is the antagonism between the intelligentsia and the proletariat. My colleagues (Kautsky is himself an intellectual, a writer and editor) will mostly be indignant that I admit this antagonism. But it actually exists, and, as in other cases, it would be the most inexpedient tactics to try to overcome the fact by denying it. This antagonism is a social one, it relates to classes, not to individuals. The individual intellectual, like the individual capitalist, may identify himself with the proletariat in its class struggle. When he does, he changes his character too. It is not this type of intellectual, who is still an exception among his class, that we shall mainly speak of in what follows. Unless otherwise stated, I shall use the word intellectual to mean only the common run of intellectual who takes the stand of bourgeois society, and who is characteristic of the intelligentsia as a class. This class stands in a certain antagonism to the proletariat.

    'This antagonism differs, however, from the antagonism between labour and capital. The intellectual is not a capitalist. True, his standard of life is bourgeois, and he must maintain it if he is not to become a pauper; but at the same time he is compelled to sell the product of his labour, and often his labour-power, and is himself often enough exploited and humiliated by the capitalist. Hence the intellectual does not stand in any economic antagonism to the proletariat. But his status of life and his conditions of labour are not proletarian, and this gives rise to a certain antagonism in sentiments and ideas.

    '...Quite different is the case of the intellectual. He does not fight by means of power, but by argument. His weapons are his personal knowledge, his personal ability, his personal convictions. He can attain to any position at all only through his personal qualities. Hence the freest play for his individuality seems to him the prime condition for successful activity. It is only with difficulty that he submits to being a part subordinate to a whole, and then only from necessity, not from inclination. He recognises the need of discipline only for the mass, not for the elect minds. And of course he counts himself among the latter....

    '...The typical intellectual à la Stockmann regards a "compact majority" as a monster that must be overthrown....'
    "Just such feeble whining of intellectuals who happened to find themselves in the minority, and nothing more, was the refusal of Martov and his friends to be named for office merely because the old circle had not been endorsed, as were their complaints of a state of siege and emergency laws 'against particular groups', which Martov cared nothing about when Yuzhny Rabochy and Rabocheye Dyelo were dissolved, but only came to care about when his group was dissolved.

    "Just such feeble whining of intellectuals who happened to find themselves in the minority was that endless torrent of complaints, reproaches, hints, accusations, slanders, and insinuations regarding the 'compact majority' which was started by Martov and which poured out in such a flood at our Party Congress (and even more so after).

    "The minority bitterly complained of the 'false accusation of opportunism'. Well, it had to do something to conceal the unpleasant fact that it was opportunists, who in most cases had followed the anti-Iskra-ists -- and partly these anti-Iskra-ists themselves -- that made up the compact minority, seizing with both hands on the championship of the circle spirit in Party institutions, opportunism in arguments, philistinism in Party affairs, and the instability and wishy-washiness of the intellectual." [Ibid., pp.121-24. Bold emphases added.]
    http://www.marx2mao.com/Lenin/OSF04ii.html

    Trotsky was also happy to do likewise (but this time applying it to individuals in his own party):

    "[Y]ou [James Burnham -- RL], likewise, seek an ideal party democracy which would secure forever and for everybody the possibility of saying and doing whatever popped into his head, and which would insure the party against bureaucratic degeneration. You overlook a trifle, namely, that the party is not an arena for the assertion of free individuality, but an instrument of the proletarian revolution; that only a victorious revolution is capable of preventing the degeneration not only of the party but of the proletariat itself and of modern civilization as a whole. You do not see that our American section is not sick from too much centralism -- it is laughable even to talk about it -- but from a monstrous abuse and distortion of democracy on the part of petty-bourgeois elements. This is at the root of the present crisis....

    "Petty-bourgeois, and especially declassed elements, divorced from the proletariat, vegetate in an artificial and shut-in environment. They have ample time to dabble in politics or its substitute. They pick out faults, exchange all sorts of tidbits and gossip concerning happenings among the party 'tops.' They always locate a leader who initiates them into all the 'secrets.' Discussion is their native element. No amount of democracy is ever enough for them. For their war of words they seek the fourth dimension. They become jittery, they revolve in a vicious circle, and they quench their thirst with salt water. Do you want to know the organizational program of the opposition? It consists of a mad hunt for the fourth dimension of party democracy. In practice this means burying politics beneath discussion; and burying centralism beneath the anarchy of the intellectual circles. When a few thousand workers join the party, they will call the petty-bourgeois anarchists severely to order. The sooner, the better." [Trotsky (1971), In Defence of Marxism, pp.116-17. Bold emphases added.]
    So, Trotsky saw nothing wrong with applying this analysis to the ideas formed by fellow Marxists. But, which Trotskyist accuses Trotsky of "crude reductionism"?

    Indeed, this is how Trotsky analysed the clique around Stalin:

    "The entire effort of Stalin, with whom at that time Zinoviev and Kamenev were working hand in hand, was thenceforth directed to freeing the party machine from the control of the rank-and-file members of the party. In this struggle for 'stability' of the Central Committee, Stalin proved the most consistent and reliable among his colleagues. He had no need to tear himself away from international problems; he had never been concerned with them. The petty bourgeois outlook of the new ruling stratum was his own outlook. He profoundly believed that the task of creating socialism was national and administrative in its nature. He looked upon the Communist International as a necessary evil would should be used so far as possible for the purposes of foreign policy. His own party kept a value in his eyes merely as a submissive support for the machine." [Trotsky (1977), The Revolution Betrayed. What Is The Soviet Union And Where Is It Going?, p.97. Bold emphasis added.]
    In which case, while it seems quite legitimate for dialecticians like Trotsky and Lenin to 'reduce' their enemies and opponents' (and, indeed, fellow Marxists') ideas to their class position and/or class origin, it isn't legitimate to do the same to theirs!.

    Marxists are quite right to point out that when, for example, union militants are drafted into the trade union machine, becoming bureaucrats themselves, their new material conditions have a predictable effect on the attitudes they adopt and the ideas they form. However, they will resist with no little vehemence the same conclusion when it is applied to them, their material circumstances and/or their class position.

    If this class analysis is rejected for some reason, the only other conclusion possible is that it must be a sheer coincidence that revolutionary parties the world over have replicated, time and again, practically every single fault and foible that afflicts the god-botherers among us -- even down to their reliance on an obscure book about an invisible 'Being' (i.e., in this case, Hegel's Logic).

    So, while all these faults and foibles have well-known material/social causes when they descend upon the alienated, the superstitious and the gullible, they apparently have no cause whatsoever when they similarly grace the sanctified lives of our very own Immaculate Dialectical Saints. In which case, faults and foibles like these can safely be ignored, never spoken about in polite company.

    This means that the Dialectical Merry-go-round will take another spin across the flatlands of failure, its participants ever more convinced of their semi-divine infallibility and pristine ideological purity....

    Despite this, it might be wondered how this relates to anything that is even remotely relevant to the ideas entertained by hard-headed revolutionary atheists. It could still be argued that any attempt to trace a commitment to DM to its origin in allegedly alienated and mystical thought-forms is both a reductionist and an Idealist error.

    Fortunately, Lenin himself supplied a materialist answer to this apparent conundrum, and John Rees kindly outlined it for us when he depicted the period following the failed 1905 Russian revolution in the following terms:

    "[T]he defeat of the 1905 revolution, like all such defeats, carried confusion and demoralisation into the ranks of the revolutionaries…. The forward rush of the revolution had helped unite the leadership…on strategic questions and so…intellectual differences could be left to private disagreement. But when defeat magnifies every tactical disagreement, forcing revolutionaries to derive fresh strategies from a re-examination of the fundamentals of Marxism, theoretical differences were bound to become important. As Tony Cliff explains:

    "'With politics apparently failing to overcome the horrors of the Tsarist regime, escape into the realm of philosophical speculation became the fashion….'

    "Philosophical fashion took a subjectivist, personal, and sometimes religious turn…. Bogdanov drew inspiration from the theories of physicist Ernst Mach and philosopher Richard Avenarius…. [Mach retreated] from Kant's ambiguous idealism to the pure idealism of Berkeley and Hume….

    "It was indeed Mach and Bogdanov's 'ignorance of dialectics' that allowed them to 'slip into idealism.' Lenin was right to highlight the link between Bogdanov's adoption of idealism and his failure to react correctly to the downturn in the level of the struggle in Russia." [Rees (1998) The Algebra of Revolution, pp.173-79, quoting Cliff (1975) Lenin, Volume Two, p.290. Bold emphases added.)]
    ...It is quite clear from this that the experience of defeat (and the lack of materialist input from a mass working-class movement) directed the attention of certain revolutionaries toward Idealism and the search for a mystical explanation for the serious set-backs Russian Marxists had witnessed in and around 1905. Plainly, that search provided these comrades with some form of consolation -- just as Marx had asserted of religious belief pure and simple, and as Lenin himself implied.

    But, there is another outcome that Rees and others have clearly failed to notice: this major set-back also turned Lenin toward philosophy and dialectics. These were subjects he had largely ignored up until then.

    ------------------

    Added in a footnote:

    This is not to suggest that Lenin didn't mention dialectics at all before 1905. Clearly he did (for example, in What The 'Friends Of The People' Are And How They Fight The Social-Democrats and One Step Forward Two Steps Backward), but this theory only assumed a centrally-important role for Lenin after 1905, and then again after the capitulation of the SPD in 1914. Which is, of course, why he spent months studying Hegel's 'Logic'. This theory came to dominate his thought -- that is, until 1917, when he seems largely to have forgotten about it for several years.

    -----------------

    While it is true that Bogdanov and the rest turned to Mach, Berkeley, Subjective Idealism, and other assorted irrationalisms, it is equally clear that Lenin, too, looked to Hegel and Hermetic Mysticism.

    Nevertheless, Lenin's warning shows that revolutionaries themselves aren't immune to the pressures that lead human beings in general to seek consolation in order to counteract disappointment, demoralisation and alienation. As we have seen, Lenin was well aware that alien-class ideas, which 'satisfy' such needs, could enter the revolutionary movement from the "outside" at such times.

    This is all the more especially so since, as we have seen, Marxist intellectuals had had ruling ideas installed in their heads from the cradle on upwards.

    Much more severe and challenging disappointments confronted Lenin a few years later when World War One broke out. Kevin Anderson takes up the story (without perhaps appreciating its significance):

    "The outbreak of World War 1 in 1914 shattered European liberals' belief in peaceful evolutionary progress. To Marxists, however, most of whom already believed that capitalism was a violent and warlike system, an equally great shock occurred when, yielding to the pressure of domestic patriotic sentiment, most of the world's socialist parties, including the largest and most important one, the German Social Democracy, came out in support of the war policies of their respective governments.... So great was the shock to Lenin that when he saw a German newspaper report on the German Social Democracy's vote to support the war, he initially thought that it was a forgery by the Prussian military for propaganda purposes....

    "Once he arrived in Bern, Lenin moved quickly in two seemingly contradictory directions: (1) he spent long weeks in the library engaged in daily study of Hegel's writings, especially the Science of Logic, writing hundreds of pages of notes on Hegel, and (2)...he moved toward revolutionary defeatism...." [Anderson (1995), Lenin, Hegel, And Western Marxism. A Critical Study, p.3. Bold emphasis alone added.]
    Just as Christians turn to the Bible in times of stress and/or depression, so Lenin turned to the writings of a Christian Mystic, Hegel. Disappointed by the course of events in this "vale of tears", Lenin turned toward this source of quasi-religious consolation, away from the material world of woes, toward a hidden world governed by invisible beings ('abstractions' and, of course, 'Being' itself), and mysterious forces (a veritable trinity: 'contradiction', 'sublation', 'mediation'), which (like 'God') not one DM-theorist is capable of explaining.

    Is it possible, then, that revolutionaries of the calibre of Engels, Lenin, Luxembourg, Plekhanov, Mao and Trotsky were tempted to seek metaphysical consolation of the sort depicted not only in this Essay, but attributed to others by Lenin himself? Is it conceivable that they opened themselves up to the alien-class ideas that later found expression in DM, and for such reasons?

    As we have seen in other Essays posted at this site (especially Essay Three Parts One and Two, Twelve Part One, the rest of Essay Twelve, and Essay Fourteen Part One (links omitted)), and as Lenin himself acknowledged, dialectics is shot-through with ideas, concepts and thought-forms borrowed from Traditional Philosophy (which ideas, concepts and thought-forms were in turn invented by theorists who, undeniably, had material and ideological interests in rationalising the status quo, or who, in some cases, wanted to set-up and rationalise a new status quo, and a new ruling-class). Indeed, in many places it is hard to tell the difference between DM and open and honest Mysticism (as Essay Fourteen Part One will demonstrate).

    All this strongly suggests that the above allegations aren't completely wide-of-the-mark.

    On the contrary, as we will see, they hit the bull's eye smack in the middle.

    But, is there anything in the class origin and class background of leading comrades that pre-disposed them toward such an unwitting adoption of this rarefied form of boss-class ideology?

    Does defeat automatically lead to dialectics?

    Does DM in fact stand for Demoralised Marxists?

    The rest of this Essay will provide an unambiguous answer to these and many mother questions.
    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2009_02.htm

    So, if my ideas constitute a 'conspiracy' theory (or are deemed 'idealist') then so were Marx and Lenin's.

    Astarte:

    The basis of your entire stance relies not on actual material circumstances effecting the way history has unfolded but rather thought and a "ruling class ideological infection" alone in the leadership having been to blame for the collapse of the Soviet Union and Warsaw pact states. This is the pinnacle of idealism and, though you remain verbally firm to hard-atheism in one of the most chauvinistic ways I have seen from a socialist in a long time, you have actually abandoned a materialist analysis of history in favor of an idea driven on to the extent that it mirrors the "original sin" parable of Abrahamic religion.
    Well, you are just making stuff up now; nowhere do I 'blame' this theory for the collapse of the fSU and other 'socialist' states, and I challenge you to find anywhere where I have argued this (or even hinted at it). What I have alleged is that this mystical theory made a bad situation worse.

    I have covered the other allegation (that "This is the pinnacle of idealism and, though you remain verbally firm to hard-atheism in one of the most chauvinistic ways I have seen from a socialist in a long time, you have actually abandoned a materialist analysis of history") above.

    Astarte:

    Yes, again, you are absolutely describing Trotskyism. You may have your opinion of Maoism but the numbers of the CPC both during the course of the Civil War periods and now are hardly risible ...
    It is open to considerable doubt whether these are/were genuine Marxists -- but, of course, that depends on whether my class analysis of the State Capitalist regime in China is correct. We can perhaps debate this another time. [You should watch the video (posted in another thread at this site) where Norman Finkelstein describes his Maoist roots, and why he abandoned them, and his opinion of those who claimed to be Marxists in China at the time, and before. The fact that they flipped so easily into market capitalism, or so he alleges, shows how 'deep' their Marxism went. More-or-less the same can be said about the way that the mass communist parties haemorrhaged members between 1989 and 1991 in Russia and E Europe, and how many leading communists so quickly adapted to the new non-'socialist' states that emerged, alongside the new pro-capitalist ideology they promoted.]

    again, althroughout the massive transformation China has undergone from 1949 when it emerged from a long historical epoch of being an imperialized to a warlord torn to again an imperialized to again a civil war torn country they followed dialectical materialism and have successfully developed into a world class superpower. I am afraid you will find the reasons why Trotskyism degenerated into the laughing stock of Marxism due to its splitter-nature not in the idea of an original sin some-how hardwired into dialectical materialism but rather in the material conditions Trotsky found himself in after being exiled from the USSR and the material conditions the 4th International found itself in after Trotsky was killed shortly after its birth.
    Well, if I may be permitted to make this point: of course the old Stalinist and Maoist parties didn't split -- but that is because if anyone disagreed with the party-line, they were either shot, imprisoned or declared insane and then institutionalised. I'm not too sure which represents a bigger stain on Marxism: mass murder of comrades, or Dialectical Marxism being 'laughing stock'.

    However, Stalinist and Maoist parties outside the old communist block were just as prone to fragment as their Trotskyist opponents were -- which shows that the only way that these parties managed to avoid this inside the old communist regimes is as I suggested above: the dire consequences of questioning the party-line.

    [Indeed, I have made the same point about Trotskyism as you in my Essays (you will find I am even more critical of fellow Trotskyists than you are -- but, again, I have a class analysis of this problem, just as I have one that accounts for the degeneration of Bolshevism in Stalinists and Maoist parties) -- my site was set up (partly) to try to combat this.]

    Astarte:

    I think that is just as much a "religious" and dogmatic view, if not an even more apocalyptic view as you have accused Marxists of having. I am a worker and I have revolutionary politics and I follow the dialectic.
    1) I am a worker, too, and until recently, I was a trade union rep (unpaid).

    2) Of course, what you have hitherto read of my work comprises edited and greatly simplified highlights (written for novices) -- as I hope you can see, when I post even a tiny fraction of the material at my site, even if you still disagree, I trust you will agree that my ideas aren't 'dogmatic'. No wonder you thought my ideas were 'dogmatic' if all you have read is this introductory and simplified material. [You can no more assess my more considered and developed ideas by reading this material than you can accurately assess Das Kapital by reading Wages, Price, and Profit.] Again, as I hope you can now see, there is some rationale to my argument, and, if I may say so, considerable evidence in its favour.

    How many workers have "woken up" to your view of an abandonment of dialectical materialism? Have you managed to convince any workers, or really any one at all of this view? I don't think you do stand a chance as dialectics, materialist or not, are inherent in the thought methodology of most people and it really isn't something sinful or "ruling class" or obscure or confusing any more than most people know how to perform simple algebra.
    1) I nowhere claimed that my work would 'wake up' a single worker, or even that they need me to 'wake them' up. I do wish you'd stop making stuff up about me and my ideas.

    2) And, yes, I have managed to convince some comrades that my view of this theory (and philosophy in general) is correct. Hardly a week goes by without some comrade or other e-mailing me to thank me for my work. Indeed, only last week, I received the following comment in an e-mail (from a comrade in the USA): "I have read your essays and I have come to believe that my own adherence to dialectical materialism has been incorrect. Your essays have revived questions that I have never been able to answer about the 'theory' and have driven me to what I think is even sharper clarity about how to end oppression and exploitation, and my role in that process."

    Furthermore, at least two of the comrades who help run The North Star magazine fall into this category, too (which is why I was given space for that interview) -- one of whom I met over at RevLeft. In addition, another comrade in Pakistan has translated my work into Urdu, since he found many in his country wanted to read my Essays. Another has translated parts of my work into Vietnamese (in fact, he posts at this site), and for the same reason. Still another, who comes from Calcutta, has translated my work into Bengali, has printed out sections of my Essays and bound them into booklet form because many others (who had grown disenamoured of Maoism and DM) wanted to read my work, too. In fact, there are now discussion groups in Calcutta debating my ideas. Even in the USA -- for example, in Oregon -- there is a group of socialists who have also printed out some of my work to distribute. Type my name (and/or 'anti-dialectics.co.uk') into Google; you will soon find my ideas have been discussed right across the planet (albeit often negatively, but there are enough individuals out there who promote and/or defend my approach) for the last eight or nine years. [My Essays only began to appear on the Internet in November 2005, although I began writing them in 1998.]

    But, even if my work fell on totally deaf ears, that would neither stop me nor deter me from continuing, and nor would it show that what I had to say was in error. My work stands or falls on its own merit.

    3) Well, I'd like to see the proof of this rather bold statement: "dialectics, materialist or not, are inherent in the thought methodology of most people".

    [On this specific topic, see another of my replies below.]

    Also, in countries in the periphery of capital, ex-colonial countries like China, and Vietnam in which the working class was a small minority of the population of the oppressed classes - exactly what were the tiny land owning peasantry suppose to do...? Were they to wait for the working class to grow into a sufficiently large enough population in the cities? I don't think so.
    Well, they would need (or would have needed) the revolutionary working class of the advanced countries (if and when they rise, or had they arose, in revolt to overthrow capitalism) to provide the material surplus every society needs -- as well as the added political weight -- otherwise, as Marx pointed out, the old class war, predicated on scarcity, would simply return. Having said that, their struggles (for example, in Vietnam from the 1930s onward, against French and later the US imperialism) can certainly inspire revolt and opposition in the metropolitan areas (indeed, as it did).

    Even your own example of Solidarity - which you compared to the Bolshevik revolution, was "infected" with "dialectical" or "mystical" thinking:

    They also inherited the student revolt of 1968 and the suffering of the Radom and Ursus workers in 1976, as well as independent actions by workers, intellectuals and youth, the church's efforts to preserve values, and all Poland's struggles for human dignity.... In determining its activity, Solidarity turns to the values of Christian ethics, our national working-class tradition, and the democratic tradition of the labor world. John Paul II's encyclical on human labor is a fresh source of encouragement. As a mass organization of the working people, Solidarity is also a movement for the moral rebirth of the people.
    1) I can see very little 'dialectics' in there; I hope you agree.

    This seems to refute what you said earlier, though: "dialectics, materialist or not, are inherent in the thought methodology of most people". Workers in Poland look like they are immune to this theory (and in their millions). These Polish Catholics seem to know nothing of it.

    2) I have never claimed that workers are free from mystical ideas (I even argued the opposite in previous posts!). My point, like Marx's, is that a successful transformation of society will challenge and then remove the cause(s) of alienation that motivate individuals (like these workers, or, indeed, your good self) to seek consolation in such mystical and regressive notions. Indeed, I put it this way (at the end of that interview you didn't appear to read too carefully):

    If I were an Idealist, I'd harbour illusions that my work could make some difference; that is, I'd be under the illusion that Dialectical Marxists could be argued out of their adherence to this creed. But, as a Historical Materialist, I know that only social change will bring to an end the conditions (and the consequent alienation) that motivates the vast majority of comrades into looking at the world in the traditional manner I outlined earlier. Since fundamental social change can only come about through the revolutionary activity of workers themselves, Dialectical Marxists of every stripe are going to need the proletariat to 'save them from themselves'.
    And, in doing that, the proletariat will also 'save itself' from any traces of their own mysticism.

    In fact, your arguments to the contrary show that you, my friend, are the one who seems to have abandoned a materialist account of humanity, and appear to have adopted an Idealist view of the origin of their, and your own, ideas. However, since I do not know enough about your beliefs, I have expressed this tentatively -- unlike some, I don't want to make stuff up about another comrade's beliefs.

    Astarte:

    So, they really are never going to come ... that is your anti-dialectical hard-atheist workers. Nor should they as the numinous experience can never be extricated from the human as it is the essence of humanity itself.
    1) Well, that just confirms your Idealism, I'm afraid. For you, it seems that social and material circumstances don't motivate and promote the formation of religious beliefs since they are somehow -- but please do not ask how; it just 'happens'! -- the result of 'the essence of humanity'. This is a very 'un-dialectical' concept in itself, if I may be permitted to say so. 'The essence of humanity' appears to be a free-floating concept!

    So, let me get this straight: the only thing in the entire DM universe not allowed to change is 'the essence of humanity'. [It seems that you don't even accept your own theory about change!]

    2) Anyway, may I borrow your crystal ball? I only ask this since you seem to be quite good at predicting the future of this unchanging 'essence of humanity', even under full socialism/communism, and perhaps many thousands of years into the future.

    But again, the workers themselves are largely dialecticians in that, by your own admission, dialectics is ingrained in virtually all mystical and religious traditions and most workers and working people the world over are not atheists or hard-materialists.
    1) Well we have already seen that this isn't so (but see the next point).

    2) What I have claimed is that DM-style concepts can be found all over the planet, in all Modes of Production (that we know of). However, it is open to question whether the vast bulk of rank-and-file believers (in each faith so afflicted) are cognisant of the full doctrinal implications of their religion. The various 'holy men', philosophers, clerics, Imams, Bishops, monks, and theologians that litter such religions might indeed be fully aware of, and accept these 'dialectical concepts', but not those they lord over. Even so, there appear to be none of the latter in Christianity -- except, perhaps, as part of its mystical traditions; I am thinking of the mystical Christian Gnostics and Hermeticists, as well as those who look to the work of Christian Mystics (like Meister Eckhart or Jakob Boehme) -- mainstream Christianity appears to know nothing of such nostrums, and the same can be said of the vast majority of lay-Christians.

    So, you have yet to show that even a sizable proportion of their flocks are aware of, comprehend or accept these concepts/theories. How many ordinary Muslims know that 'quantity turns into quality'? Not many I suggest -- otherwise the 'discovery' of this 'law' would not have been attributed to Hegel. How many ordinary Hindus know of the 'negation of the negation'? I willing to bet very few. How many rank-and-file Roman Catholics (other than those who are perhaps Marxists) think that change is the result of 'internal contradictions', or that 'Being is identical with but at the same time different from Nothing, the contradiction resolved in Becoming'? I have never met one, heard of one or read of one. Have you? This is, of course, one of the reasons why Hegel is widely regarded as heretical by mainstream Christians -- i.e., his perceived panentheism coupled with his other 'un-orthodox' Hermetic beliefs:

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/panentheism/

    http://www.millinerd.com/2006/05/is-hegel-christian.htm

    http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/lei.../hegel-heretic

    See also, Cyril O'Regan, The Heterodox Hegel (SUNY Books, 1994).

    And

    Glenn Magee, Hegel and the Hermetic Tradition (Cornell University Press, 2008).

    The Introduction to the above is available here:

    https://www.marxists.org/reference/s...s/en/magee.htm

    And at my site:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/glenn_magee.htm

    Of course, this is a defeasible empirical claim of mine (that is, that rank-and-file believers know little or nothing of dialectics), so if you have the facts to hand (concerning the questions I raised above), please share them. Again, I do not want to spread falsehoods here or at my site.

    It is impossible to not hold a philosophical theory.
    It can't be impossible, since I don't. However, if you can show, as opposed merely to assert, otherwise, please feel free to do so. I don't think Meridian does either. There are many others who support the aims of my site that don't, too -- just as there are scores of Wittgensteinians across the planet who don't.

    Everyone has some view of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and or existence whether they dwell on and contemplate it regularly or not.
    I'd like to see the proof of this. Not only do I not hold such a view, I deny there can be anything even remotely like it for anyone (philosopher, theorist or ordinary individual) to look for let alone find). [However, what I have to say about this doesn't amount to an alternative philosophical theory; what I claim is that the original question (that there such a thing as "the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and or existence") is incoherent.]

    [Anyway: Do you perhaps have the results of scientific survey you conducted on this topic -- that is, about what everyone is supposed to believe about such things?]

    No one's mind is a void on this question unless they are badly mentally disabled.
    That's like saying: in order to cure a disease you have to catch it first!

    My ideas are devoid of all philosophical theories (again, you are welcome to show otherwise, if you can), but I still think I am able to think reasonably well. I could be wrong, but that is for others to decide...

    I'll add my response to other things you say in my next post.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 02-06-2015 at 1:35 PM.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

  6. #26
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Je suis un spectacle

    Astarte:

    I think it is a bit odd that you don't also reject Historical Materialism as I don't see how you can separate the theory from the dialectic itself.
    1) HM is a scientific theory, DM isn't.

    2) Here's how I answered this question (in Essay Nine Part One):

    It could be objected that the distinction between DM and HM drawn at this site is completely spurious; hence, the claims made in this Essay are hopelessly misguided.

    However, as will be argued in Essay Fourteen Part Two, HM contains ideas that are incoherent only when they are translated into, or are expressed in, DM-jargon. The eminent good sense made by the former theory [HM] -- even as it is perceived by workers when they encounter it (often in times of struggle) --, testifies to this fact.

    [HM = Historical Materialism; DM = Dialectical Materialism; LOI = Law of Identity.]

    The clear distinction between these two theories isn't just a wild idea advanced at this site; it can be seen in the day-to-day practice of revolutionaries: No Marxist of any intelligence would use slogans drawn exclusively from DM to communicate with workers; indeed, few militants would even attempt to agitate strikers, for example, with the conundrums found in DM. On a picket line the alleged contradictory nature of motion or the limitations of the LOI don't often crop up. How frequently does the link between part and whole loom large in the fight against the Nazis, for instance?

    Consider, for example, the following slogans: "The Law of Identity is true only within certain limits and the struggle against the occupation of Afghanistan!" Or "Change in quantity leads to change in quality and the defence of pensions!"

    Or, "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts and the campaign to keep hospital HH open!" Or even, "Being is identical with but at the same time different from Nothing, the contradiction resolved by Becoming, and the fight against Police brutality!"

    Slogans like these would be employed by militants of uncommon stupidity and legendary ineffectiveness.

    In contrast, active revolutionaries employ ideas drawn exclusively from HM -- i.e., as the latter applies to the current state of the class war -- if they want to communicate with workers. The vast majority of revolutionary papers, for example, use ordinary language coupled with concepts drawn from HM to agitate and propagandise; rarely do they employ DM-phraseology. [What few examples of the latter there are, are considered here (link omitted).]

    ...Only deeply sectarian rags of exemplary unpopularity and impressive lack of impact use ideas and terminology lifted from DM to try to educate or propagandise the working class. Newsline (the daily paper of the old WRP) was notorious in this regard; but like the Dinosaurs it resembled, it is no more. [The NON, it seems, took appropriate revenge.]

    [NON = Negation of the Negation.]

    It could be objected that no one would actually use slogans drawn from certain areas of HM to communicate with or agitate workers. That doesn't mean HM is of no use, so the same must be true of DM. For example, who shouts slogans about "Base and Superstructure", or "Relative Surplus Value" on paper sales? Who tries to propagandise workers with facts about the role of the peasantry in the decline of Feudalism? Once again, this means the distinction drawn in this Essay is entirely bogus.

    Or, so it could be argued.

    While it is true that no one shouts slogans about the relation between "Base and Superstructure" on paper sales, or prints strike leaflets reminding militants of the role of the peasantry in the decline of Feudalism, they nevertheless still use slogans (often popularised slogans) drawn exclusively from HM, or which connect with HM as it relates to current events in the class war. Very nearly every article, leaflet or slogan written and distributed by revolutionaries is informed by ideas drawn from HM.

    In stark contrast, again, very few slogans, leaflets or articles -- or none at all, even -- employ DM jargon.

    To be sure, revolutionary papers from time to time casually throw in a handful of terms drawn from DM (such as, "contradiction") in some of their articles, but this forms only a very tiny fraction of their output -- even though few, if any, comrades use these terms in slogans, on street sales, on demonstrations or in discussions on the picket line.

    Anyway, as will be shown in Part Two of this Essay (link omitted), the use of DM-terminology like this is clearly a nod in the direction of tradition and orthodoxy. Indeed, we are forced to to say this since no sense can made of this jargon -- indeed, as we have seen, for instance, here, here, here and here (links omitted). Hence, the employment of DM-terminology clearly amounts to a declaration, or an admission, of 'orthodoxy' on the part of the individual or group using it -- an 'in-group'/'out-group' marker (as is argued here (link omitted)). DM-jargon does no real work (other than negative) in such circumstances, unlike concepts drawn from HM.

    [Claims to the contrary are neutralised here, here and here. (Links omitted.)]

    So, just like Marx in Das Kapital, revolutionary papers merely "coquette" with Hegelian jargon -- and even then, only "here and there".

    Hence, at least at the level of practice -- where the party interfaces with the working class and the material world -- DM is totally useless.

    [Indeed, as we will see here (link omitted), there is no evidence that DM, or any of its jargon, was used even by the Bolsheviks in October 1917, or, for that matter, for several years after.]

    Consequently, tested in practice -- or, rather, tested by being left out of practice! --, the status of DM is plain for all to see: At best, it is a hindrance; at worst, it would totally isolate revolutionaries and make them look ridiculous. Does anyone really think the revolutionary working class and/or peasants were at all interested in seeds being negated, or were at all concerned that "A does and does not equal A" in the late autumn of 1917? Small wonder then that there is no evidence they did, or even that the Bolsheviks attempted to preach Dialectical Gospel to them (or to one another, for that matter), either.

    This shows that the distinction drawn at this site between DM and HM isn't spurious in the least -- when they communicate with workers, militants draw it all the time.

    Nevertheless, it could be argued in response that this attempt to separate HM and DM would fragment and compartmentalise our knowledge of nature and society. Such an approach to knowledge would possess clear, Idealist implications, suggesting that human beings are unique by implying that mind is independent of matter, etc. If mind is dependent on matter (howsoever that link is conceived) there must be laws that span across both of these. And this is partly where DM comes in.

    Or, so it could be argued, once more.

    But, this isn't even remotely so. DM is far too vague and confused for it to function in this way; it can't account for anything, social or natural (as the Essays at this site have demonstrated -- indeed, if DM were true, we have seen that change would be impossible (link omitted)). Hence, even if there were natural laws that governed these two spheres (and I will pass no comment on that possibility here), and an inventory were drawn up of all the viable alternative theories that are capable of accounting for the above hypothesised connection, DM wouldn't even make the bottom of the reserve list of likely candidates.
    Astarte:

    Who is to do the reminding of the workers of the relevance of historical materialism by the way? Presumably some layer of the class itself (gee, what would that be called - the more advanced layer of the class - oh, that's right, the vanguard) or a fraction of one of the other oppressed classes in society that clearly is not a member of the ruling class as they are also oppressed by it - like I don't know, the petty bourgeois intelligentsia?
    1) Where have I questioned the importance of the 'intelligentsia' in bringing scientific ideas into the movement? [In fact, in the above Essay, I make this very point.] All I have done is question the class-compromised origin of their philosophical ideas.

    2) I am a Leninist; I accept the need for a 'vanguard party'. In which case, you can stop making this point!

    Astarte:

    But at the same time, why do most Marxists - who are usually also workers, especially in the USA and Western Europe today - accept not just historical materialism, but also dialectical materialism?
    I also covered this point in the above Essay; here it is:

    It should be pointed out that I will first of all present the following allegations in what might at first sight seem to be a dogmatic form. The rest of this Essay, Part Two and Essay Ten Part One will be aimed at substantiating each of them in turn.

    In what follows, I aim to show that while workers are capable of developing ideas consonant with HM (which enables them to connect with revolutionary theory and practice systematised by the revolutionary party), they can't form from their own experience -- as a matter of fact or of logic -- any notion whatsoever of concepts drawn exclusively either from DM or from Hegel.

    Indeed, it will be shown that such concepts lie way beyond the experience that any human could conceivably have.

    And that includes dialecticians themselves.

    It will be argued, therefore, that workers have had to have this alien-class ideology imposed on them. DM has to be substituted into workers' heads by outside influence, and this has to be done against their materialist inclinations. In fact, DM has to replace many of the ideas that workers might already have formed which could have helped them understand, not only Marxism, but also how to transform their own lives by acting for themselves and in their own interests. In short, it will be argued that DM not only cripples workers' comprehension of Marxism, it hinders their self-activity, fatally compromising their capacity to create a socialist society for themselves.

    Even worse: it will be maintained that not only does DM put workers off Marxism (because it is incomprehensible), it helps foment splits in 'their' Party, encouraging a climate of unreasonableness, sectarianism and systematic corruption (political, personal, and sexual). Worse still, it allows Dialectical Marxists to elevate themselves above the class, and then rationalise various forms of substitutionism, which frame-of-mind has helped cripple revolutionary socialism, putting hundreds of millions of workers off Marxism, leading directly or indirectly to the injury or death of countless millions of proletarians and their families. [That particular topic will form a major part of Essay Nine Part Two (link omitted).]

    Plainly, this in no way makes the antics of generations of 'dialectical' revolutionaries appealing to workers.

    Furthermore, it will also be shown that despite claims to the contrary, revolutionaries themselves couldn't possibly employ -- or have employed -- dialectical concepts, either (1) In their own day-to-day activity, or (2) During revolutionary upheavals (such as 1917). [On that, see here (link omitted).]

    That is because it is impossible to use incomprehensible concepts. Since no one (not Engels, not Lenin, not Trotsky, not Plekhanov, not Mao, nor anyone else for that matter) is capable of understanding dialectics, it can't feature, nor could it have featured, in the practical activity of the Party, despite what we are constantly told. Again, this isn't because dialectics is too difficult to grasp, it is because its theses are either non-sensical and incoherent, or they are far too confused for anyone to be able to understand, and thus act upon. [Why this is so will be explained in detail in Essay Twelve Part One, especially here (link omitted).]

    Hence, it will be concluded that the concepts found in DM can't have been developed out of -- or in response to -- the class struggle (by any stretch of the imagination), by anyone, ever. In that case, whatever else DM-theses are, they are neither historical nor materialist.

    Furthermore, it will also be argued that one of the side-effects of this alien-class 'theory' is that it has superglued workers to a passive ideology, which transforms them into the objects of theory, not the subjects of history -- this is especially true of Stalinism and Maoism, where workers are no longer seen as the ultimate agents of change, but as, at best, passive objects and spectators of the wondrous things supposedly done in their name by the Party, and who must be 'guided' and 'taught' by an elite that masquerades as a Bolshevik-style party. In connection with this it will be maintained that DM encourages in workers a servile, subservient notion of themselves as the playthings of mysterious metaphysical forces that neither they nor anyone else understands -- or ever will, or ever could --, but which they find they have to accept because DM forms an integral part of an alien-class philosophical tradition they had no part in building, but which has taken over 'their' party.

    Strange as it may seem, Dialectical Marxist activity has (1) Contributed to the theoretical passivity of any workers it has managed to attract to its ranks, (2) Helped, directly or indirectly, put them off Marxism altogether by (a) Attempting to fill their heads with incomprehensible jargon they have to accept, and which no one is allowed to question, (b) Saddling them with undemocratic party and/or state structures, and (c) Murdering them, or otherwise causing their deaths, in countless millions -- among many other things.

    The irony is that this 'theory' enslaves workers' minds because it forms an integral part of the doctrine that only if these alien concepts are internalised and obeyed will they be capable of freeing themselves from the slavery they experience under Capitalism!

    Plainly, that 'unity of opposites' hasn't so far worked to the benefit of workers.

    Now, all this is quite remarkable -- not just because it represents another dialectical inversion -- but because no one seems to have noticed it before.

    Nevertheless, if the above allegations are correct, it is in fact the self-activity of workers that DM-theorists have turned on its head, not Hegel!

    To that end, workers have had to be ideologically knocked off their feet, their material ideas inverted and mystified.

    This topsy-turvy approach to revolutionary theory is just one more reason for our side's revolutionary impotence.

    DM thus encapsulates, not the 'rational core' inside a mystical shell, but the rotten corpse of a monumental shambles.

    In stark contrast, HM provides workers with an analysis of the course of history and of the vital part they must play in overthrowing their exploiters and oppressors -- and which connects directly with their daily experience. It sees workers as the agents of change, not the passive recipients of socialism delivered "from above".

    Hence, HM doesn't need to be substituted into their heads, simply introduced to them -- and, as we will see, not from the "outside", either.

    In comparison, once more, DM stands out as an anachronism: an atavistic throw-back to ideas that have motivated ruling-class hacks for thousands of years. In bringing this to workers, revolutionaries have inadvertently substituted obscure metaphysical jargon for clear materialist concepts, and imposed on workers (and themselves) a theory that they not only do not understand, no one understands, or could understand.

    Serious doubts have been raised throughout this site about the philosophical provenance of the concepts found in DM; however, its actual historical origins aren't in any doubt. The long and sordid trail is there for all to see (and will be exposed for those who want to see, in Essay Fourteen Part One (summary here (link omitted))).

    [AIDS = Absolute Idealism.]

    This particular fact needs no inverting; it just needs airing. DM was developed out of the most all-embracing form of AIDS ever concocted -- a theory located right at the heart of an age-old tradition of philosophical and mystical thought that stretches back into Ancient Greece, perhaps further into Ancient Egypt, and arguably beyond even that to the very origins of class society itself -- as even Lenin half admitted (link omitted, but this comment of Lenin's has been quoted several times in earlier posts).

    This means that DM has had to be brought to workers from the "outside", from traditions and forms-of-thought that are inimical to their interests and alien to their materialist view of the world --, which concepts, too, lie beyond anybody's grasp, and which are foreign both to their experience and to their use of language.

    Oddly enough, these claims are nearly as easy to substantiate as they are to make; the rest of this Essay and the two that follow it are aimed at showing this isn't just an empty boast.
    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2009_01.htm

    I have posted some of this material below.

    Astarte:

    But at the same time, why do most Marxists - who are usually also workers, especially in the USA and Western Europe today - accept not just historical materialism, but also dialectical materialism? Because, histomat speaks to the workers experiences of exploitation whereas diamat speaks to workers experiences in actual material reality.
    I'd like to see you give an example where dialectical concepts actually "speak to workers' experience". Perhaps you have in mind something Trotsky said?

    Again, here is how I have put this point in the above Essay (using this example of Trotsky's):

    It was asserted above that DM not only isn't, it can't be connected with workers' experience. But, this seems to contradict the following observation of Trotsky's:

    "[A] worker who has gone through the school of class struggle gains from his own experience an inclination toward dialectical thinking…. Every worker knows that it is impossible to make two completely equal objects…. Every individual is a dialectician to some extent or other, in most cases, unconsciously. A housewife knows that a certain amount of salt flavours soup agreeably, but that added salt makes the soup unpalatable. Consequently, an illiterate peasant woman guides herself in cooking soup by the Hegelian law of the transformation of quantity into quality…. Even animals arrive at their practical conclusions…on the basis of the Hegelian dialectic. Thus a fox is aware that quadrupeds and birds are nutritious and tasty…. When the same fox, however, encounters the first animal which exceeds it in size, for example, a wolf, it quickly concludes that quantity passes into quality, and turns to flee. Clearly, the legs of a fox are equipped with Hegelian tendencies, even if not fully conscious ones. All this demonstrates, in passing, that our methods of thought, both formal logic and the dialectic, are not arbitrary constructions of our reason but rather expressions of the actual inter-relationships in nature itself. In this sense the universe is permeated with ‘unconscious’ dialectics." [Trotsky (1971), In Defence of Marxism, pp.58, 65, 106-07. Bold emphases added.]
    [I have subjected Trotsky's risible claims about that fox to detailed criticism in the above Essay -- this material has been omitted.]

    One of the more revealing parts of the above passage is Trotsky's assertion that human beings obey the laws of dialectics for the most part "unconsciously", and, moreover, that the actual law they observe is the "Hegelian law" -- not (note!) its alleged 'materialist inversion' --, i.e., they obey the full-blooded version derived from AIDS.

    [AIDS = Absolute Idealism.]

    Trotsky also claimed that workers "obey" DM-laws "unconsciously" ("in most cases"). To be sure, if workers are themselves largely unaware of these 'laws', then, ex hypothesi, they would need to be informed of them from the 'outside', since it wouldn't be possible to learn about them from their own experience, left to their own devices.

    This poses a problem, however, since the above quotation also appears to suggest that workers can form rudimentary dialectical concepts if left to themselves. Hence, it would seem important for dialecticians to show that workers are capable of gaining a rudimentary grasp of dialectics, as Trotsky argued. If this is indeed so, then, plainly, dialectics doesn't need to be introduced to workers from the 'outside'.

    To that end, it could be argued that workers might become aware of these 'laws' to some extent when they encounter them as part of their day-to-day activity. Indeed, it could even be maintained that while most workers do not always think dialectically, certain advanced sections of the proletariat might attain a rudimentary or limited dialectical view of the world as a result of their experience of the class struggle (etc.).

    In that case, there appear to be several alternatives that Trotsky (and indeed others) might have had in mind in connection with workers like this (or with human beings in general). Consider, therefore, the following possibilities:

    [1] Some individuals might gain a vague or rudimentary grasp of DM as a result of their experiences in the class struggle.

    [2] Some might gain a vague or rudimentary grasp of DM as a result of their practical activity in the labour process.

    [3] Others might gain a vague or rudimentary grasp of DM as a result of their reflection on their own unconscious compliance with certain dialectical laws.

    [4] Still others might gain a vague or rudimentary grasp of DM as a result of reading Hegel, and/or the DM-classics.

    While Trotsky might have assented to [1], [2] and [3], he certainly wouldn't have disagreed with [4]. I won't, however, be discussing [4] here since the idea it expresses has already been covered. [Readers are, therefore, re-directed here for further details (link omitted).]

    Nevertheless, his general point seems to be that workers (and human beings in general) could attain a vague or rudimentary grasp of DM, in some way, by some means, somehow. Hence, he might have thought that ordinary folk/workers might be able to comprehend one or more of the following: (a) Certain aspects of change, (b) The concrete inapplicability of the LOI, (c) The truth of the 'three laws of dialectics', (d) The nature of the "Totality" and (e) Universal inter-connectedness (and much more besides), in an attempt to account for some of the many changes there are in nature and/or society (etc.) as a result of their general life experiences.

    [LOI = Law of Identity.]

    I shall consider each of these possibilities in turn, beginning, however, with [2]. But, first a minor digression.

    Bootstrap Dialectics

    To recapitulate, Trotsky argued as follows:

    "Every worker knows that it is impossible to make two completely equal objects. In the elaboration of a bearing-brass into cone bearings, a certain deviation is allowed for the cones which should not, however, go beyond certain limits…. By observing the norms of tolerance, the cones are considered as being equal. ('A' is equal to 'A')…. Every individual is a dialectician to some extent or other, in most cases, unconsciously." [Trotsky (1971), pp.65, 106.]
    This passage was analysed in Essay Six along the following lines:

    From this it is clear that Trotsky misconstrued his own version of the LOI! If he had wanted to direct our attention to the lack of identity between two different objects (two "cone bearings", in the above example) he should have used, and then criticised, the following sentence:

    W1: A is equal to B.

    But not:

    W2: A is equal to A.

    In the quotation above, Trotsky referred to the manufacture of "cone bearings" as part of his argument against the unrestricted application of his own simplified version of the LOI. In this, he was clearly interpreting the two "A"s of W2 as standing for different (even if somewhat similar) "cone bearings", that is, he was in fact employing W1. Naturally, this throws into serious doubt Trotsky's ability to spot even when something is or is not an instance of his own garbled version of the LOI!

    [In Essay Six, I explain in detail (a) how and why Trotsky confused the 'principle of equality' with the LOI, and (b) how, even if we ignore (a), he seriously garbled the LOI. I have omitted this material from this reply.]

    Some might regard this as unfair. Surely, Trotsky's point was to argue that just as cone bearings look very similar (but are nevertheless distinct), the two "A"s in W2 are equally similar but distinguishable (in some way). So, he was right to use W1.

    This objection has some force -- but, fortunately, not much. That is because Trotsky began with the following assertion:

    W3: Every worker knows that it is impossible to make two completely equal objects.

    The idea seems to be that workers often (invariably?) realise that the LOI is of limited (or zero) applicability when they make things. However, even if he were correct, Trotsky's main point would be irrelevant; his avowed target had been the LOI ("A is equal to A", not "A is equal to B"), since he hoped to show that workers in their practical activity implicitly or explicitly reject that 'law', and that they are aware of its limitations. In order to do this, he advanced the claim that workers in general know that it is impossible to make two objects exactly alike. But, one of his criticisms of the LOI was that all objects change continually and hence they are never equal to themselves. Now, even if we accept Trotsky's version of the LOI, it doesn't refer to two separate objects being the same; in its classical form (and sometimes this features in Trotsky's garbled version, too) it is manifestly about an object's alleged relation to itself, not to another object.

    If, on the other hand, Trotsky had written:

    W4: Every worker knows that it is impossible to make an object completely equal to itself,

    the absurdity of what he was claiming would have been clear to all; no worker (or anyone else for that matter) would entertain or accept such a crazy idea.

    However, in W1, Trotsky's point is completely different; there he was arguing that different objects aren't identical, and that workers know this. In this particular case, he was not saying that any one specific object is not self-identical, but that of any two objects, not only can workers see that they are not the same, they also know they can't make two that are the same. He didn't say that workers are aware that they can't make one object the same as itself. But, that is precisely what Trotsky needed to show, that no worker believes that one object can be made the same as itself -- i.e., that it is impossible to make an item that is self-identical. He manifestly failed to do this....

    Put like this, it is reasonably clear that few workers (if any) would understand such a claim (does anyone understand it?), but, even if they did, no worker would draw such an odd conclusion from their own activity.

    It is worth noting that in view of the fact that Trotsky misconstrued his own version of the LOI -- and, according to his followers, he is supposed to be a consummate dialectician --, few workers should be expected to draw the suggested 'dialectical conclusion' (about the limitations of the LOI in this case) from their own productive activity.

    Not even Trotsky got it right!

    [At this point, Maoists and Stalinists should take no heart from the above; in other Essays at this site I show in even greater detail how the things Mao and Stalin wrote about DM fall apart just as quickly. If they can't get this theory right, what chance have workers!? (Again, this isn't to malign workers; this theory is incomprehensible because it is incoherent; no one can understand it. We have just seen Trotsky fail miserably in this regard.]

    In any case, Trotsky's point (in W3) can't even be derived from his own criticism of the LOI. W3 isn't even a DM-thesis! It isn't even attributable to Hegel. And this is quite independent of whether or not workers conclude all that Trotsky says they should. As seems clear, it isn't relevant to claim that workers are automatic dialecticians because they assent to a banal truth that isn't actually part of DM! It isn't a DM-thesis that two objects are different -- only that no object is self-identical. That is because this dogma is related to the fact that objects change as a result of their internal contradictions. That is, that they are the same and different all at once. What is wanted here is an example taken from DM to which workers could assent before they were talked into accepting it by a fast-talking Dialectical Missionary. What we actually have here is a truism that any card-carrying member of the ruling-class could accept; even George W Bush knows that two apples aren't one apple!

    W3: Every worker knows that it is impossible to make two completely equal objects.

    [Trotsky's point that the two letter "A"s in "A is equal to A" aren't identical themselves is also critically assessed, and shown to be no less incoherent, in Essay Six (link omitted).]

    Nevertheless, and contrary to what Trotsky said, workers can make countless identical objects. Given the fact that certain sub-atomic particles are identical with every other particle of the same type (e.g., electrons are absolutely identical with one another and so are photons), any worker can easily 'produce' two or more identical objects. Hence, every time a worker throws a light switch, he or she makes/generates countless trillion identical objects per second -- which must mean that such workers are "unconscious" anti-dialecticians, if we apply the same sort of fractured reasoning here as Trotsky.
    The evidence supporting this seemingly controversial claim (about identical sub-atomic particles) can be found in Note 21 to this Essay -- I have omitted this material, but it can be accessed here:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/pag...ntical-Objects

    Ordinary Language

    This brings us back to point [2], mentioned above:

    [2] Some might gain a vague or rudimentary grasp of DM as a result of their practical activity in the labour process.

    Despite the comments made in the previous section, it could be argued that Trotsky's point is that all workers are aware of change, since they know that the machines they use produce seemingly alike but different objects. Hence, it could be argued in line with [2] above that the labour process will allow or enable them at least to form certain rudimentary dialectical ideas.

    If this is what Trotsky meant then it is certainly unexceptionable (as it stands), but it isn't what he said. And even if he had, it wouldn't have distinguished a DM-description of processes at work in nature and society from one available to anyone using ordinary language, or, indeed, anyone cognizant of 'bourgeois' science -- or even anyone with an ounce of 'commonsense'! Indeed, we can go further: no sane Capitalist believes that all commodities are identical or that things do not change.

    In fact, workers themselves were aware of change long before they arrived at their first job. They learn to talk about and understand change as they learn to use ordinary language and gain practical experience -- as, indeed, do members of the ruling-class, their hangers-on, and their ideologues. Hence, workers (at least) do not need to be informed from the "outside" about change -- and neither are they "unconscious" of it. Clearly, a failure to learn about change -- or, a lack of awareness of it -- would threaten the survival of any organism so handicapped, let alone the survival of human beings. This means that any attempt made by DM-theorists to enlighten workers about change would be about as useful as telling them that water is wet, grass is green or that fire burns.

    Again, it could be objected that this admission simply confirms that DM is integral to workers' consciousness, after all, since it acknowledges that they are aware of change almost from birth.

    Of course, this is something that was underlined in an earlier Essay (link omitted): ordinary language contains countless words capable of describing and depicting every conceivable sort of change way beyond the limited capacity possessed of technical jargon -- and far in excess any expressible in the obscure terminology Hegel invented (as well as any jargon found in the writings of his modern-day DM-proselytisers). Furthermore, ordinary human beings are highly proficient at recognising change. In fact, our ancestors would have left few progeny behind to ponder this question were they not possessed of this capacity and had failed to pass it on.

    The only point at issue, therefore, is whether or not we should call this facility a sort of 'dialectical' awareness of the nature of reality. If this is what DM-theorists mean by such a skill, it is worth asking: What happened to the general DM-claim that ordinary language and 'commonsense' are super-glued to a static view of reality? The latter was underlined in John Rees's The Algebra of Revolution with the patently false assertion that all that ordinary humans are capable of doing when they speak about the world is pathetically mutter words like "this" and "that":

    "Ordinary language assumes that things and ideas are stable, that they are either 'this' or 'that'…." [Rees (1998), p.45.]
    -------------------------

    Added in a footnote:

    And Rees isn't alone in so arguing. Compare his comment with Engels's view of ordinary 'commonsense':

    "To the metaphysician, things and their mental reflexes, ideas, are isolated, are to be considered one after the other and apart from each other, are objects fixed, rigid, given once for all. He thinks in absolutely irreconcilable antitheses…a thing either exists or does not exist; a thing cannot at the same time be itself and something else. Positive and negative absolutely exclude one another; cause and effect stand in rigid antithesis one to the other.

    "At first sight this mode of thinking seems to us very luminous, because it is that of sound common sense. Only sound common sense, respectable fellow that he is, in the homely realm of his own four walls, has very wonderful adventures directly he ventures out into the wild world of research. And the metaphysical mode of thought, justifiable and necessary as it is in a number of domains whose extent varies according to the nature of the particular object of investigation, sooner or later reaches a limit, beyond which it becomes one-sided, restricted, abstract, lost in insoluble contradictions. In the contemplation of individual things, it forgets the connection between them; in the contemplation of their existence, it forgets the beginning and the end of that existence; of their repose it forgets their motion…. Nature works dialectically and not metaphysically…." [Engels (1892), Ludwig Feuerbach and the end of Classical German Philosophy, pp.406-07. Bold added.]
    Note that in this passage Engels all but says that ordinary people can't attain a dialectical view of things on their own, contradicting Trotsky.

    However, if Trotsky is maintaining that workers do in fact know about change, and hence that they reject the LOI in practice, should we now conclude that "sound common sense" isn't "metaphysical" after all? Do we agree with Engels or with Trotsky?

    Furthermore, we now find Trotsky almost flatly contradicting himself on the same page as the quotation above (about what workers might or might not think about making two identical objects):

    "Our scientific thinking is only a part of our general practice including techniques. For concepts there also exists 'tolerance' which is established not by formal logic issuing from the axiom 'A' is equal to 'A,' but by dialectical logic issuing from the axiom that everything is always changing. 'Common sense' is characterized by the fact that it systematically exceeds dialectical 'tolerance.'

    Vulgar thought operates with such concepts as capitalism, morals, freedom, workers' state, etc. as fixed abstractions, presuming that capitalism is equal to capitalism, morals are equal to morals, etc. Dialectical thinking analyzes all things and phenomena in their continuous change, while determining in the material conditions of those changes that critical limit beyond which 'A' ceases to be 'A', a workers' state ceases to be a workers' state.

    "The fundamental flaw of vulgar thought lies in the fact that it wishes to content itself with motionless imprints of a reality which consists of eternal motion. Dialectical thinking gives to concepts, by means of closer approximations, corrections, concretizations, a richness of content and flexibility; I would even say a succulence which to a certain extent brings them close to living phenomena. Not capitalism in general, but a given capitalism at a given stage of development. Not a workers’ state in general, but a given workers’ state in a backward country in an imperialist encirclement, etc.

    "Dialectical thinking is related to vulgar thinking in the same way that a motion picture is related to a still photograph. The motion picture does not outlaw the still photograph but combines a series of them according to the laws of motion. Dialectics does not deny the syllogism, but teaches us to combine syllogisms in such a way as to bring our understanding closer to the eternally changing reality. Hegel in his Logic established a series of laws: change of quantity into quality, development through contradictions, conflict of content and form, interruption of continuity, change of possibility into inevitability, etc., which are just as important for theoretical thought as is the simple syllogism for more elementary tasks." [Trotsky (1971), pp.65-66. Bold emphases added.]
    Trotsky, perhaps even more than Engels, argues that vulgar (i.e., common) thought (that is, the thought of ordinary folk, which must include workers) is stuck inside a static view, a non-dialectical view, of reality, and he starkly contrasts it with 'dialectical thought' itself.

    ----------------------------

    As was argued in an earlier Essay (link omitted), it is in fact ordinary language and common sense that lend even to DM-theorists what little ability they have to talk about change -- not the other way round! Again, if this is what Trotsky meant, there would be no problem because it concedes the point (defended here) that ordinary language is all right as it is (to paraphrase Wittgenstein). It doesn't need any assistance from dialecticians -- still less from their obscure jargon. Quite the reverse, in fact. As we have seen, if DM were true, change would be impossible. [Several links omitted.]

    However, this is almost certainly not what Trotsky meant -- that is, of course, if it were possible to decide what, if anything, he meant.

    In addition, members of the ruling-class and their hangers-on are also aware of these issues (just as much as workers are) when they use the vernacular. Even they are able to refer to change -- and, it must be said, in a way that is vastly superior to dialecticians, since the latter insist on employing the impoverished and severely limited logico-linguistic resources with which Hegel saddled them. If it were possible, that would, of course, make members of the ruling-class superior 'dialecticians', at least in this respect!

    Anyway, this is very different from showing that workers are capable of gaining even a hazy grasp of DM from their life experiences. Workers understand change as a result of their interaction with nature and with one another -- and because of the sophistication ordinary language and common understanding (link omitted) makes available to them (partly by means of which we are all socialised). This doesn't mean that the rest of DM can be lumped in as a job lot.

    This is so for at least three reasons:

    (1) Everyone (not just workers and their families) learns about change in this way -- including the most fascistic, reactionary and conservative elements in society. Are we to now to say that the latter are "unconscious" dialecticians, too? [And superior ones, at that, since their ideas don't imply that change is impossible.]

    (2) Ordinary language is incomparably richer in its capacity to express change, identity, difference, negation, movement, stability, instability, opposition, struggle, development, resistance (etc., etc.), than the obscure jargon one finds in DM. Indeed, that is why ordinary language is used by most revolutionary papers. Few of them quote Hegel (even briefly). In which case, a switch to DM by workers wouldn't just be a backward step, it would be detrimental to their ability to think clearly. If any of them subsequently wanted to comprehend examples of much more complex change, they would have to unlearn DM, and become conscious anti-dialecticians!

    (3) The type of change referred to in the DM-classics isn't just any old change, it is change through 'internal contradiction'. Not only is this sort of change incomprehensible (to one and all, as was demonstrated in Essay Eight Parts One, Two and Three (links omitted) -- and more specifically here (link omitted)), workers would never think of using such odd language to depict anything whatsoever -- indeed, as we will see below.

    Labour And Dialectics

    It could be argued in response that the labour process in fact teaches workers more about the deeper aspects of change than does ordinary language and 'commonsense', something DM later hooks onto and greatly amplifies.

    Unfortunately, it is impossible to assess the validity of that particular claim until it is made clear what these "deeper aspects of change" actually are. And, as we have seen (link omitted), that is by no means easy.

    Presumably, these "deeper aspects" are related to the 'appearance/reality' distinction, the idea that change occurs through 'internal contradiction', the 'mediated nature of the Totality', and so on. But, even if sense could be made of these notions (and we have already seen that none has been made of it so far (links omitted)), it is equally clear that workers could make little of them -- especially if the best minds in the DM-tradition have yet to attain to this blessed state themselves (again, as earlier Essays have shown).

    It is worth remembering that workers are supposed to be able to conclude such things simply from watching items roll off the production line, or from engaging in collective activity, attending strike meetings or on a picket line (etc.) -- if this interpretation of Trotsky's intentions is correct. But, are we really supposed to believe that as the 1000th Widget for the day is packed into the 100th crate, worker NN thinks to herself: "Well, that's another nail in the coffin of the LOI"? Or: "So, that's what the deeper aspects of change really are"? Or: "How amazing, the Totality has just mediated another 1000 Widgets!" Or even: "Now I understand why Being is identical with but at the same time different from Nothing, the contradiction resolved in Becoming"?

    Naturally, this doesn't mean that workers don't reflect on their experiences, or learn from them; far from it. But, if 2500 years of philosophical speculation, mountains of obscure Hegel-speak -- coupled with DM-theorists' own best efforts over the last 150 years -- can't produce a single clear description (link omitted) or characterisation of "deeper change", never mind other items that litter the Dialectical Dungeon, it is a pretty safe bet that workers can't either. Or even that they could make sense of such questions, to begin with.

    Or, and perhaps more significantly: ascertain whether or not there is actually anything substantive here for anyone to make sense of.

    By way of contrast, this does mean that we are once again faced with the fact that Trotsky's claims are either completely misguided or they are far too vague and confused for them to be evaluated. Hence, in this respect, it isn't credible to suppose that workers can raise themselves up by their conceptual bootstraps in order to attain to a DM-understanding of their own experience, howsoever vague, attenuated and rudimentary this is deemed to be.

    This isn't because workers are incapable of understanding complicated questions, it is because there is as yet nothing here that they (or anyone else) can even aim toward comprehending. DM-theorists have yet to provide us with a clear goal for anyone -- let alone workers -- to aim for. They have yet to say with any clarity what the options before us actually are!

    Indeed, we might as well be asked to suppose that workers could understand the Incarnation of Christ and the 'mysteries of the Trinity' by their own efforts.

    That being the case, then not only must workers have DM concepts imposed on them (since it is alien to their experience), we should also expect them to become confused in the process. That is because they would have to have an incoherent set of doctrines foisted on them, one that runs counter to both their experience and their language, and one that not even DM-experts seem capable of fathoming. [Or, if the latter can fathom them, they have kept that fact well hidden for over 150 years.]

    Finally, it is worth noting that since workers already understand change (i.e., they know how to use language connected with real material change in everyday life) (link omitted), even if DM provided the bootstraps, workers wouldn't need them.

    ------------------------------

    Added in a footnote:

    This isn't to suggest that workers possess a scientific grasp of change, only that whatever we mean by "change" in everyday life is available to any worker who uses the vernacular. Moreover, scientists themselves wouldn't be able to understand the complex changes in nature without a prior grasp of the ordinary language. [More on this in Essay Three Part Two, and here (links omitted).]

    Be this as it may, and as we have seen (link omitted), the obscure language and concepts DM-theorists use actually prevent them from understanding change (four links omitted).

    It is worth pointing out at this stage that the comments in the main body of this Essay don't mean that workers have no need of revolutionary theory -- i.e., HM. [That caveat will be discussed presently.]

    In addition, this doesn't imply that workers have access to a special or superior source of knowledge, unavailable to others. Anyone who is able to use the vernacular (and who isn't learning impaired or intellectually-challenged in some way) can access and thus employ the countless words it contains for things like change, identity (link omitted), difference, the material constitution of the world, and so on. That being so, they are in the same position as ordinary workers, which, of course, means that they are also capable of grasping the ideas encapsulated in HM. Hence, this more naturally makes HM the 'world-view' of the proletariat, since (1) It is framed in their language (or it can be, very easily), (2) It systematises their experience of class society and (3) It is universally accessible.

    Finally, once more, this isn't to belittle or denigrate the achievements of scientists, but since the word "change" is an ordinary language term already, they can no more tell us how to use it correctly than they can tell us how to use "table", "garage" or "inadvertently". [On this, see here (link omitted).]
    I will continue this point in my next post.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 02-06-2015 at 2:02 PM.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

  7. #27
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Je suis un spectacle

    Continuing from where I left off:

    Class War Dialectics

    In this sub-section, consideration will be given to option [1], which was:

    [1] Some individuals might gain a vague or rudimentary grasp of DM as a result of their experiences in the class struggle.

    Trotsky's likely assent to [1] seems to be much clearer and easier to evaluate. Few (if any) socialists would wish to contest the idea that workers have their lives or their ideas changed in, or by, struggle.

    But, what has [1] got to do with DM?

    Recall that the whole point of this exercise was is to ascertain if there are any ideas exclusive to DM (not HM) that workers can access unaided and on their own as a result of the class struggle.

    ---------------------

    Added in a footnote:

    It is worth pointing out that issues connected with the "class-consciousness" (or otherwise) of workers aren't under scrutiny here -- and neither is any other topic exclusive to HM. Nor is it assumed that all or most workers have encountered Marxist concepts. The issue here is solely whether workers can attain to a single classical DM-notion on the basis of the class struggle alone, even if only at a rudimentary level.

    Of course, it is pretty clear that DM-theorists have never even so much as attempted to survey workers to see if there are any "natural dialecticians" among them. Certainly, Trotsky didn't do so; and it is reasonably clear why: few workers would be able comprehend the basics of DM even if they were communicated to them. This isn't to denigrate workers; DM-'experts' are themselves incapable of explaining DM-theses clearly to one another, let alone to workers!

    In that case, if dialecticians were to collect data concerning their own comprehension of DM -- never mind workers' supposed understanding of it -- they would flunk their own survey!

    [And this isn't just because each and every one of them seems to believe (and many actually claim) that every other Marxist dialectician (especially if they belong to a rival party) doesn't actually 'understand' DM -- or that they apply it in a 'wooden and lifeless' way. I take this theme up again in Part Two, here and here. (Links omitted.)]

    ...To be honest, who really wants to know if a strike has taught workers that two objects can't be identical? Or, whether the whole is greater than the sum of the parts? Or, whether freedom 'emerges' from necessity? Or, for goodness sake(!), whether Being is identical with but at the same time different from Nothing?

    Will a single DM-concept help the working class overthrow Capitalism? Or organise a protest or even win a strike?

    [The answer to that is pretty clearly in the negative -- and this is partly because, if DM were true, change would be impossible (link omitted).]

    ...At this point, it could be objected that the dice have been heavily loaded against DM and in favour of the author's idiosyncratic interpretation of HM. Hence, while it is maintained here that workers can't 'arrive at DM' solely as a result of their own experience -- meaning that it has to be foisted on them "from the outside" -- no such strictures have been placed on HM. But, if HM can't itself be learned by workers as a result of their own experience, then the alleged contrast between the two is unsustainable. Not only that, the phrase "from their own experience" has been interpreted rather narrowly in this work in order to rule out workers learning about DM from books, or from other Marxists. When these constraints are applied to HM, the same conclusions would surely apply.

    Or, so it could be maintained.

    It is worth recalling that the assertion that workers can't learn about DM from their own experience wasn't an empirical claim on my part -- it was an a priori observation based on the fact that, if DM makes no sense, no one (not Engels, not Lenin, not Trotsky, not Mao, not Stalin -- not even Gerry Healy or, praise be upon him, Bob Avakian) could arrive at a DM-view of the world by any means whatsoever -- including even, if there were such a thing, as a result of 'divine intervention'!

    That is because there is no such thing as a DM-view of anything (any more than there is off-side in chess, or the cube root of your left foot), let alone of 'reality' itself. DM is far too confused for it to be described as "a view", still less a "theory". Those other considerations were introduced solely to illustrate this contention. These strictures, of course, also apply to Theology and the fictional works of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear -- but they don't apply to HM.

    Moreover, reference was made to "workers' experience" simply because this is a phrase in common use among Marxists. However, it isn't to be assumed that the present author endorses the use of this phrase in philosophical contexts. It has been employed here strictly ad hominem -- that is, it has been used in order to undermine several other ideas accepted by DM-theorists.

    [Of course, the ordinary language use of "experience" isn't in doubt; indeed, it has been used in this Essay and at this site many times. Moreover, any who take exception to my use of an ad hominem argument might do well to reflect on the fact that much that is written about this argument form is misguided in the extreme. Indeed, on the Internet it is widely viewed as synonymous with "abuse". Ad hominem has in fact got nothing to do with abuse. Moreover, ad hominem arguments are perfectly acceptable if they expose the inconsistencies in another's position, which is precisely how it is being used here.]

    By way of contrast, it is clear, however, that workers' understanding is pre-disposed toward HM. Few workers need to be informed of one or more of the following: class division, the great disparity in wealth between classes, the havoc caused by the relentless pursuit of profit, the de-humanising effect of work, the poor education, housing and healthcare they and their families have to endure (without fighting for improvements), the bias and partiality of the Government, the Police, the Press, and the Judiciary, the need for unions, and so on and so forth. Survey after survey shows this, and anyone who knows workers knows it, too.

    This isn't to suggest that this awareness is evenly distributed, or that it doesn't change over time and from generation to generation; but only the most backward sections of the working-class are ignorant of most of the above. Nor is it to suggest that workers don't hold regressive ideas, or beliefs and attitudes that socialists shouldn't challenge --, but, the plain fact is that these can all be confronted in ordinary language. (Link omitted, although I have covered this point in an earlier post.)

    [On this, see Callinicos and Harman (1987), Callinicos (1987, 1988), German (1996), and Rees (1988). See also Callinicos (2004), pp.160-68. (Details concerning these references can be found in the Bibliography to this Essay -- link at the end.)]

    However, in contrast, every single worker would need to be 'informed' that, for example, change occurs as a result of 'contradictions' (even then they'd fail to comprehend how the mere "gainsaying" of someone/something -- which is what "to contradict" would mean to them -- could actually help a cat move off a mat, let alone how it could possibly have led to the demise of, say, Feudalism); that flowers negate seeds (in fact, they would probably have a good laugh at that one, recalling, say, several prize stories about UK Prince Charles talking to his plants, or the childish conversation between the Weed and Bill and Ben in the BBC children's programme, Flower Pot Men); that truth is the whole (they'd perhaps view this as some sort of New Age nostrum); that things are the same and not-the-same, as well as being not-not-the-same (they'd assume that 'care in the community' had badly failed whoever invented that gem); that "John is a man" reveals the secret of the essential nature of everything in existence, as Lenin believed (that might make them suggest that whoever came up with that gem cut out the hallucinogens from now on); or that Being is identical with but at the same time different from Nothing, the contradiction resolved in Becoming (they'd definitely agree with Lenin that whoever "divined" that pearl of wisdom was a genius; in fact, they'll probably associate nothing with dialectics from that day forth).

    So, while HM needn't be learned from books (but it can be), DM ultimately can't be 'learnt' any other way.

    ["Learnt" is in scare quotes, since it is clear that no one can actually learn DM -- since it is incomprehensible non-sense -- even though they might become proficient with its jargon, the way that one can memorise and then recite a nonsense poem, for example.]

    --------------------------------

    Perhaps, the following is an example of something a worker can learn in this way?

    W5: As a result of the class struggle, worker NN learnt that change occurred through internal contradiction.

    But, it is worth noting here that until Hegel (and perhaps a few other Idealists/Mystics) began to employ this term idiosyncratically approximately 200 years ago, no one had ever thought of using the word "contradiction" in such a way -- or, indeed, in the manner subsequently found in DM. [I discuss this point in more detail in another footnote, which I have omitted.]

    In which case, it is pertinent to ask: Who today (outside DM-circles) utilises this term in this rather odd way in ordinary life -- or anywhere else, for that matter? As soon as this question is posed the answer is obvious: no one. Not one soul on the planet (that is, outside of esoteric Hegelian/DM/Buddhist-circles and/or other assorted mystical religions) uses this term in this idiosyncratic manner, least of all ordinary workers and their families. [Examples of the alleged use of this word in ordinary discourse are examined here (link omitted).]

    In fact, in ordinary discourse, to "contradict" generally means to "gain-say" something that someone else has said. Indeed, the ordinary word "contradiction" isn't even synonymous with its more tightly defined, typographical twin found in FL, let alone its distant, mutant cousin, artificially cloned in DL.

    [FL = Formal Logic; DL = Dialectical Logic.]

    Now, if any workers were naïve enough to conclude from their experience of the class struggle that change occurs simply by "gainsaying" the boss, the police or even the state, then they are going to lose far, far more battles than they will ever win. But, this is precisely what the word "contradiction" in W5 would mean to workers (as brought out in W5a, below), based on their own experience -- but, plainly, not after having read a DM-tract --, that is, that change results from merely arguing with someone!

    W5a: As a result of the class struggle, worker NN learnt that change occurred through gainsaying.

    W5 would be interpreted this way by anyone unschooled in DM.

    [LCD = Low Church Dialectician; HCD = High Church Dialectician. These terms are explained in Part Two of this Essay. Follow the links (which have been omitted). HCDs are by-and-large academic dialecticians, many of whom deny 'the dialectic' applies to nature; LCDs are by-and-large active revolutionary dialecticians, who cleave to the unadulterated word in the DM-classics.]

    Furthermore, as we have seen several times already, DM-theorists themselves (LCDs and HCDs) have an alarmingly insecure grasp of the term "contradiction" as it is actually used in FL -- and even as it is supposedly used in DL! (Links omitted.) Hence, it is highly unlikely that workers would/could succeed in comprehending the Hegelian (or even the DM-) use of this familiar word if generations of dialecticians have signally failed to do so themselves -- confusing this word, as they do, with such diverse things as: contraries, opposites, paradoxes, puzzles, unexpected events and opposing forces (among many other things (link omitted)).

    But, why should, or would, workers bother grappling with this obscure Hegelian notion if they already understand (in use) the vernacular version of this term? Indeed, and because of this, few workers would commit the simple-minded mistakes that DM-theorists constantly make, confusing the everyday "gainsaying" of someone with, say, the secret inner dynamic of reality!.

    To be sure, you have to "understand" dialectics really well to swallow that one...

    Well, perhaps this is being unfair to Trotsky and other dialecticians? Maybe then the following is what he/they mean?

    W6: As a result of the class struggle worker NN learnt that change occurred as a result of the struggle between opposing class forces.

    W6 is clearly unexceptional. Many workers who have never heard of Marxism would agree with W6 (or something like it). Unfortunately, however, W6 doesn't express an idea that is exclusive to DM. As noted elsewhere, if this is what Trotsky meant by "dialectics" then it would be perfectly acceptable. Unfortunately, what we're looking for here are ideas specific to DM that might conceivably pop into workers' heads before they encounter a fast talking DM-missionary. Clearly, W6 isn't relevant since it is a proposition taken from HM. What is required, on the other hand, is an example exclusive to DM that workers might form and/or grasp, unaided.

    Are there then any other notions exclusive to DM that workers could discover unaided? Perhaps the following:

    W7: As a result of the class struggle worker NN learnt that truth is the Whole.

    If W7 is meant to be restricted to DM-type ideas about the Totality (assuming, of course, that we are ever actually told what the Whole, the Totality, is (on that, see Essay Eleven Part One) (link below)), then it is difficult to see what NN could possibly conclude from the class war that would express this new state of mind.

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2011_01.htm

    Perhaps W7 might imply that NN learnt something about the Andromeda Galaxy, an idea prompted by her attending a strike meeting? Or, NN could begin to ponder the deep significance of the mass extinction of life at the end of the Permian Age as a result of winning the subsequent dispute? Or, maybe W7 implies something about semi-conductors, or the mean number of grains of wheat in Dallam County, Texas on any day in August 1897 -- these startling thoughts perhaps motivated in NN by her securing an above inflation pay award in another strike? Alternatively, on an anti-war march, NN's thoughts could turn to issues connected with the minimum dimensionality of space required for Superstrings to exist. Or, maybe even whether there really are any gravitons or tachyons -- that particular query arising perhaps because of that nasty look the foreman just gave her? Or, whether Being is identical with but at the same time different from Nothing...?

    And, it isn't to the point to object that the above examples are ridiculous. That is because such things, and many more, would have to occur to workers if they are to conclude that "truth is the Whole" as this thesis features in DM as a result of their experience of the class war. So, if, in W7, the Totality is meant to be the DM-Totality (whatever that mysterious 'object' turns out to be), then one or more of the above thoughts (along with many others) would have to occur to NN as a result of the class struggle alone (if, of course, this is what Trotsky meant).

    Again, this isn't to suppose that workers don't think about such things, but they don't appear to do so as a result of the class war. They don't begin to contemplate universal interconnectedness as a by-product of struggle, nor do they ponder deep metaphysical truths about "Being", "Becoming" and "Nothing" (materially 'inverted', or not), either.

    Or, if they do, they have remained remarkably quiet about it for many centuries.

    In addition, if W7 were correct, workers would have to conclude something about the Whole, not just the parts, as a result of struggle, and what they finally conclude must be exclusive to DM (and not be part of HM), if Trotsky is correct, and if option [1] represents what he meant.

    Even so, I do not propose to examine this option any further here -- that would be for me to do the job of DM-theorists on their behalf. As far as I am aware, not one single DM-apologist has attempted to expand on or develop Trotsky's ideas in this area -- or, indeed, survey workers to see if he was right -- in the intervening years (even though many unthinkingly quote this passage).

    Given the insurmountable problems they would have faced had they done so (merely outlined above), that was no doubt wise.

    Hindsight Dialectics

    Perhaps Trotsky believed that DM-concepts might occur to workers (or to "peasant women") in a rudimentary sort of way as a result of their post hoc reflections on general features of the world, or as a result of their response to it? Alternatively, DM-thoughts could arise because of their (perhaps unwitting) adherence to certain dialectical laws, as indicated by option [3]:

    [3] Others might gain a vague or rudimentary grasp of DM as a result of their reflection on their own unconscious compliance with certain dialectical laws.

    Hence, in connection with this, Trotsky might have meant something like the following:

    W8: Worker/peasant NN realised as a result of his/her life-experiences that a change in quality could only come about through a change in quantity, and vice versa.

    Naturally, W8 is far too broad a claim to be evaluated with any ease, since it clearly depends on individual life experiences. However, since Hegel was apparently the first human being in history to 'discover' the alleged 'Law' of the transformation of quantity into quality, and he wasn't a worker, the truth of W8 is somewhat in doubt.

    Nevertheless, the veracity of W8 may only be ascertained after it has been decided what on earth it actually means. As we saw in Essay Seven (link omitted), even where any sense can be made of it, this so-called "Law" (i.e., Q/Q) is not only highly questionable, it is irredeemably obscure....

    [Q/Q: The Law of the Change of Quantity into Quality, and vice versa.]

    Despite these initial worries, it is worth considering the following everyday scenarios, which might illustrate the peculiar nature of W8 -- if, indeed, it is applicable in such circumstances:

    W9: NN drank five times as much tea this week as last week, but found that its quality hadn't changed.

    W10: NN watched ten times as much TV this week as last week, but found that the quality of the programmes hadn't altered.

    W11: The quality of the exercises MM performed improved because she read the keep-fit manual far more carefully this time, even though she spent just as many hours in the gym as she had before.

    W12: NM cooked three times as much potato soup today as yesterday, but his children said it tasted no different.

    W13: The quality of NP's French homework improved dramatically this week -- even though she spent the same amount of time on it --, because of the new pen and the new calculator she used.

    W14: MN read twice as many books on DM this year as he did last year but found that the quality of the arguments they contained remained depressingly the same.

    This list can be extended indefinitely to cover situations with which we are all familiar, and the relevant numbers can be made as large as is practicable in each case, but no obvious dialectical conclusions would be drawn from any of them by ordinary workers or their families.

    It could be objected that these examples have been deliberately chosen to challenge [3], and that because of this they are highly contrived and banal in the extreme, which makes them unsuitable for use in scientific analysis. Anyway, they are not the sort of situation or processes that illustrate Q/Q.

    Now, with respect to the first of the above charges, it is worth noting that the whole point of this exercise is to see how ordinary people/workers might conceivably grope their way toward even a rudimentary grasp of DM-concepts from their own life-experience. Technical examples would clearly be of little use or, indeed, relevance. Anyway, Trotsky himself cited trite instances to make his point. [Or, is making soup a highly technical, scientific undertaking?] Moreover, other dialecticians also cite (allegedly) everyday examples (such as water boiling, balding heads, and rubber bands snapping).

    In addition, the allegation put forward here is that ordinary folk -- except when subject to outside influence -- can't develop DM-concepts because the latter are either too obscure or because they are non-sensical and incoherent. In their practical activity ordinary folk would find that dialectical concepts actually hindered them; indeed, non-sensical and incoherent ideas could not but fail to impede day-to-day life. The point, therefore, isn't that the prosaic examples listed above were specifically chosen to embarrass DM -- whether or not they are contrived, or even whether they illustrate this obscure 'Law' -- but whether any day-to-day examples at all can be found to support Trotsky's claims about what ordinary folk can or can't grasp unaided about this 'law', or, indeed, about DM in general -- if, that is, [3] expresses what he meant.

    With respect to the last of the above counter-claims, the standard examples usually wheeled-out to illustrate the 'three laws of dialectics' were be examined in detail in Essay Seven (link below). There, it was shown that not only do they fail to establish what DM-apologists claim for them, there are far more instances where these 'Laws' are 'broken' than where they might even seem to be 'obeyed' -- that is, where any sense can be made of them.

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2007.htm

    Finally, examples W9-W14 are more likely to teach workers that the opposite of Q/Q is in fact the case, which was all that was required of them. Recall that Trotsky needed to show that workers could gain a rudimentary grasp of something vaguely DM-specific as a result of some experience or other. The examples listed above (along with countless others) seem to indicate that if anything, the opposite would be the case.

    Of course, Q/Q is the least implausible of the DM-'Laws' (and one that Trotsky himself chose). In which case, it is even less likely that ordinary workers/cooks would conclude anything about 'change through internal contradiction', the 'negation of the negation' -- to say nothing about whether they'd be able to re-discover the alleged fact that 'Being is identical with but at the same time different from Nothing, the contradiction resolved in Becoming' -- in the above circumstances (or any other, for that matter). Certainly, we have yet to see a single DM-fan show how this might happen. Not only have we seen that these 'Laws' make not one ounce of sense, dialecticians have yet to tell us clearly what even they think they mean. Once more, if 'expert' dialecticians can't manage this, it is hardly credible that workers could/would do much better.

    Recall, this isn't to impugn workers; it is simply to remind us that DM-theorists have yet to tell us precisely what workers are supposed to be aiming for.

    As things stand, dialecticians might just as well suppose that workers could travel with Alice through the looking glass.
    In addition, I have subjected the example Trotsky used (i.e., the one where a cook adds salt to soup) to detailed and destructive criticism here:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2007.htm#Soup

    I won't reproduce this material here (unless I have to): I have inflicted (and will inflict in my next three posts!) enough of my site on both you and the good folk at this site, as it is!

    I'll deal with several other things you say in my next post.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 02-06-2015 at 2:22 PM.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

  8. #28
    Senior Voting Member hierophant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Je suis un spectacle

    Just gave this a quick skim. It seems a consistent claim is I am "making things up" about Rosa and her ideas. I was not "making" anything "up". On the contrary, as I have stated in previous replies, I find her writings difficult to follow, and subsequently it seems I have misunderstood what she was trying to convey.

  9. #29
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Je suis un spectacle

    Astarte:

    The only time workers reject dialectical materialism, as has been the overwhelming case in the entire history of the Marxist movement, is when they reject the materialism part, and not the dialectical part as dialectics is, as you admit, a fundamental component of most spiritual and religious traditions. In my view dialectical materialism does a wonderful job of explaining most things in physical reality, but cannot explain all things nor is it a theory of everything or a science, it is simply a convenient and handy methodology. Likewise the dialectic in general, in the more Hegelian sense, I feel is an even more handy methodology of investigation as it is, again, not a theory of everything, but once more, an extremely handy and convenient tool.
    In fact, there is no evidence workers (en masse, or even a small fraction of them) have ever accepted DM; and this is hardly surprising given the material I posted above (and again below).

    In my view dialectical materialism does a wonderful job of explaining most things in physical reality, but cannot explain all things nor is it a theory of everything or a science, it is simply a convenient and handy methodology. Likewise the dialectic in general, in the more Hegelian sense, I feel is an even more handy methodology of investigation as it is, again, not a theory of everything, but once more, an extremely handy and convenient tool.
    Well, as I said above, when this thread is played out, I'll start a new one where I will post my main objections to this theory -- but before I do I will need to know which version of this theory you accept. You see, when I have debated this before with DM-fans (in fact, scores of times over the last 25 years on the Internet as well as before the Internet was thought of) I have found that if I attack one aspect of this theory, my opponent, if that is the right word, will often say, 'Ah, but that's not central to dialectics'. It will help me greatly, therefore, if I know in advance which aspects of this theory you hold to be the most important: (a) The primacy of Engels's 'three laws' ('change of quantity into quality', the 'unity of opposites', and the 'negation of the negation'); (b) Universal change through 'internal contradiction'; (c) Universal interconnection; (d) The doctrine that 'Truth is the whole'; (e) Belief in the 'mediated Totality'; (f) Dialectical holism -- the whole makes the part and the part makes the whole; the whole is more than the sum of the parts, etc.; (g) The 'law of identity' is true only within certain limits -- 'A is at the same time A and not-A'; (h) Motion is a/the form of existence of matter (i) Dialectics is a universal theory of change, or as Engels put it: "Dialectics...is nothing more than the science of the general laws of motion and development of nature, human society and thought"; (j) 'Truth is concrete, never abstract' according to Lenin, but then again, he also said: "Thought proceeding from the concrete to the abstract -- provided it is correct (NB)… -- does not get away from the truth but comes closer to it", which seems to contradict his other belief that 'truth is never abstract'; (k) Knowledge is based partly on a reflection of the world in the mind (but it is also based on practice not passive reflection), beginning with "images" -- or what?

    "Militants" need to bring something to the table now? Pray tell, who exactly are these "militants"? I thought the task of emancipation of the working class was the task of the workers themselves? Now it is with the small footnote attached that they just need a little pat-on-the-back encouragement from ... militants. Oh, you Leninist, you.
    Yes, and this shouldn't surprise you: I am a Leninist. I have made no secret of this. So, providing these 'militants' (many of whom will be the vanguard of the working class, anyway) bring with them scientific knowledge, not thinly disguised mysticism (DM), I have no problem with that.

    Can you name one example of any Marxist who ever described themselves as a "prophet" or "visionary" rather than an organizer or administrator and how you know they thought of themselves as a "prophet" or a "visionary" if they never referred to themselves as a "prophet" or a "visionary"?
    1) Where did I say they used such words to describe themselves? They are my words, and they are apt for all that.

    Anyway, just who was it who was called the 'Great Teacher'?

    Check out the following descriptions of the wise 'Prophet', Stalin -- here is Bulganin, for openers:

    "All the peoples of our Motherland and the working people all over the world are today doings (sic) honour to their great leader, wise teacher and best friend, Comrade Stalin, on the occasion of his seventieth birthday. Comrade Stalin has been fighting for the happiness of the working people, for over fifty years. His life has been one of self-sacrificing effort, and is an inspiring example for all Soviet people, and for the working people of the whole world. Comrade Stalin’s name is most precious and dear to the heart of all toiling mankind; Stalin -- is the symbol of all that is advanced and progressive.

    "Stalin is the genius, the continuer of Lenin’s immortal cause, the inspirer and organizer of the building of Communism in our country. Stalin is the creator of the Soviet Armed Forces; he is the greatest military leader of modern times. It was under his guidance that our Armed Forces were created, grew and gained strength. It was under his leadership that they routed the enemy in the period of the Civil War (sic -- RL!), upheld the freedom and independence of our Motherland in the Great Patriotic War, and saved the people's of the world from the menace of enslavement to German fascism. Stalin is the creator of the advanced, Soviet military science." [Bold added.]
    [The above continues in the same vein for many more bucket-filling paragraphs.]

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/bul...1949/12/21.htm

    If that wasn't enough, here is Malenkov:

    "Comrade Stalin, as nobody else, profoundly understood Lenin's inspired ideas on the Marxist Party of a new type, upheld the purity of the Marx-Engels-Lenin teaching, developed the Marxist-Leninist theory [i.e., he was the 'Great Teacher' -- RL], steeled the Party in the struggle against numerous enemies, and forged and trains cadres capable of furthering the cause of our Party. The whole world saw Stalin’s greatness at the sharp turning-points of history: in October, 1917, during the Civil War (sic! -- RL -- editing Trotsky out again!), in the years of the intervention, when together with Lenin, he led the Socialist Revolution and the struggle to defeat the enemies of the Soviet Power, and in the Great Patriotic War, when Comrade Stalin led the routing of the strongest enemies of our Motherland.

    "Together with the great Lenin, Comrade Stalin created the first Socialist State in the world. Under the banner of Lenin, under the leadership of Comrade Stalin, our mighty Motherland, the country of friendship among the Soviet peoples, lives, grows and becomes stronger....

    "Comrade Stalin is rightly regarded as the great and loyal friend of the peace-loving peoples of the countries of people's democracy, liberated from the yoke of Fascism, of the peoples of China and North Korea, who have for ever thrown off the yoke of the imperialists. That is why the peoples of the Soviet Union and all progressive mankind see in the person of Comrade Stalin their recognised leader and teacher. That is why today they express with particular warmth their affection and devotion to Comrade Stalin, and put on record his great services in the struggle for a happy life for the people, for peace among the nations.

    "The name of Comrade Stalin has long become the banner of peace in the mind of the peoples of all countries. All who want to struggle against the instigators of a new war know and are convinced that they will do the right thing by rallying around Comrade Stalin, the great defender of peace. Mankind, having lived through the horrors of the last world war, craves for peace and is resolutely opposed to a new slaughter. Precisely for this reason all nations greet with gratitude the resolute, unequivocal policy of peace which Comrade Stalin pursues and upholds." [Bold added.]
    This, too, continues for many more nausea inducing paragraphs.

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/mal...1949/12/21.htm

    And here, perhaps, is the most sycophantic -- from A. O. Avdienko -- you might not be able to hold on to your last meal if you read it:

    "Thank you, Stalin. Thank you because I am joyful. Thank you because I am well. No matter how old I become, I shall never forget how we received Stalin two days ago. Centuries will pass, and the generations still to come will regard us as the happiest of mortals, as the most fortunate of men, because we lived in the century of centuries, because we were privileged to see Stalin, our inspired leader. Yes, and we regard ourselves as the happiest of mortals because we are the contemporaries of a man who never had an equal in world history.

    "The men of all ages will call on thy name, which is strong, beautiful, wise and marvellous. Thy name is engraven on every factory, every machine, every place on the earth, and in the hearts of all men.

    "Every time I have found myself in his presence I have been subjugated by his strength, his charm, his grandeur. I have experienced a great desire to sing, to cry out, to shout with joy and happiness. And now see me -- me! -- on the same platform where the Great Stalin stood a year ago. In what country, in what part of the world could such a thing happen.

    "I write books. I am an author. All thanks to thee, O great educator, Stalin. I love a young woman with a renewed love and shall perpetuate myself in my children -- all thanks to thee, great educator, Stalin. I shall be eternally happy and joyous, all thanks to thee, great educator, Stalin. Everything belongs to thee, chief of our great country. And when the woman I love presents me with a child the first word it shall utter will be: Stalin.

    "O great Stalin, O leader of the peoples,
    Thou who broughtest man to birth.
    Thou who fructifies the earth,
    Thou who restorest to centuries,
    Thou who makest bloom the spring,
    Thou who makest vibrate the musical chords...
    Thou, splendour of my spring, O thou,
    Sun reflected by millions of hearts
    ."
    [Bold added.]

    http://www.historyguide.org/europe/cult.html

    Did even Hitler ever receive such praise?

    And, as I am sure you know, for the last fifty or sixty years we have had to endure even more sycophantic praise for each of the ruling members of the Kim family gushing out of North Korea (the members of which family have been raised almost to the level of demi-gods); I'm afraid you might have to reach for the sick bucket again if you read the wall-to-wall and egregiously excessive adulation these no marks have received:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_K...of_personality

    Every night, North Korea's news bulletin begins with a song about the mythical qualities of the country's leader Kim Jong-il and the mountain where he is said to have been born.... And since the death of the Dear Leader on 17 December, the media have focused their attention on a series of strange, natural phenomena being reported across the country -- a giant lake of ice cracking in half, a red glow covering the mountain where their leader was born and, most recently, magpies gathering by the dozens in a single tree, in grief, according to one party official.

    "We can't dismiss it as just a natural phenomenon," he told state television. "It shows that not only the people of the world, but the animals too, cannot forget our Dear Leader." This is hardly surprising, perhaps, when his image -- and that of his father Kim Il-sung -- appears everywhere in billboards, buildings, television reports and every office wall....

    Brian Myers, professor of International Relations at Dongseo University in South Korea, has studied the archives of North Korean media reports closely. He says this kind of imagery from the natural world has been seen before in other political systems.

    "There is the belief, which was common also in imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, that the actual physical territory occupied by the nation reflects the attributes of the race itself," he said. "And this kind of flowery language that we've seen in the past few days, of ice cracking and cranes being seen in the sky, does reflect a uniquely North Korea understanding of a connection between the territory and the race." [Bold added.]
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-16336991

    Even Mao has been subject to something similar (I am sure we can all recall the mega-hysteria surrounding Mao's rather mediocre 'Little Red Book', with its rabid evangelists proselytising its ideas the world over in the late 1960s).

    [I will be inserting a few relevant photographs at the end of this series of posts that nicely illustrate these points.]

    Here is Lin Biao:

    "Chairman Mao is a genius, everything the Chairman says is truly great; one of the Chairman's words will override the meaning of ten thousands of ours."
    http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Mao-Zedong/44790109

    Revolutionary students from east, northeast, north, central-south, southwest and northwest China also spoke at the rally. They declared:

    "We feel boundlessly happy now that we stand by the side of our respected and beloved leader Chairman Mao. We are here to learn from the Red Guards of the capital. We are here to learn successful experience. We are determined to carry back with us the dauntless revolutionary spirit of Peking’s Red Guards, the spirit of daring to think, to speak out, to do, to break through and to make revolution so that all of China will be set ablaze by the revolutionary flame of Mao Tse-tung's thought.”

    These revolutionary students said:

    With the great helmsman Chairman Mao steering for us and with the brilliant Mao Tse-tung's thought lighting our way of advance, we are dauntless. We are fully confident and resolved to create a completely new world with our own hands. Through this great proletarian cultural revolution, we shall eradicate the roots of revisionism in our country so that our beloved motherland will for ever keep its bright red colour!"

    "The banner and arm band of the Red Guard fighters are a bright red, and so are our hearts. Completely loyal, we'll follow the Party and Chairman Mao for ever to make revolution and carry it through to the end!"

    "We Red Guards follow Chairman Mao’s teachings most faithfully. We'll work hard to learn from the People’s Liberation Army. We'll seriously study the 16 Points, know them well and apply them. We'll persist in carrying on the struggle by reasoning and not by coercion or force. And we pledge to carry the great proletarian cultural revolution through to the end."
    Peking Review, Vol. 9, #37, Sept. 9, 1966, pp.5-9.

    https://www.marxists.org/subject/chi...PR1966-37g.htm

    The New Year has arrived at a time when several hundred million people of our country are triumphantly marching forward along the road of the great proletarian cultural revolution charted by Chairman Mao. We wish long, long life to Chairman Mao, our great teacher, great leader, great supreme commander, and great helmsman! We salute the workers, members of the people's communes, revolutionary students and teachers, and revolutionary intellectuals and revolutionary cadres of the whole country!

    In the course of the revolution, this great spiritual force of Mao Tse-tung's thought is turning further into a new tremendous material force. In the year just past, our whole army, holding high the great red banner of Mao Tse-tung's thought, has faithfully implemented the five-point principle, put forward by Comrade Lin Piao, for giving prominence to politics. It took an active part in the great proletarian cultural revolution and won great successes on both the ideological and material fronts. The mass movement of studying and applying Chairman Mao's works in a creative way surged ahead, each wave higher than the preceding one....

    Whatever our army has achieved is due to Chairman Mao's brilliant leadership and the implementation of the directives of Comrade Lin Piao and the Military [Affairs] Commission of the Party's Central Committee. It represents a shining victory for giving prominence to proletarian politics, a shining victory for the great proletarian cultural revolution, a shining victory for the great thought of Mao Tse-tung!

    ...We must really turn our army into a great school of Mao Tse-tung's thought, meet the new situation of the great proletarian cultural revolution, and the new situation in which the whole Party and the whole nation are studying Chairman Mao's works in a big way. Therefore, in the months ahead we must hold higher than ever before the great red banner of Mao Tse-tung's thought and bring the mass movement of creatively studying and applying Chairman Mao's works to a new and higher stage, in accordance with Comrade Lin Piao's directive.
    Peking Review, Vol. 10, #3, Jan. 13, 1967, pp.8-13.

    In both cases, bold added -- same below.

    Plenty more of the same here:

    https://www.marxists.org/subject/chi...PR1967-03c.htm

    Comrade Lin Piao points out in his important speech: Under the guidance of Chairman Mao's correct line, the broad revolutionary masses of our country have created the new experience of developing extensive democracy under the dictatorship of the proletariat. This extensive democracy is a new form of integrating Mao Tse-tung's thought with the broad masses, a new form of mass self-education, it is a new contribution by Chairman Mao to the Marxist-Leninist theory on proletarian revolution and proletarian dictatorship.

    On November 3, at a time when the proletarian revolutionary line represented by Chairman Mao has won a great victory, our great teacher, great leader, great supreme commander and great helmsman Chairman Mao received revolutionary students and teachers and Red Guards from all parts of the country in Peking, the capital and the centre of the great proletarian cultural revolution. Including the National Day rally, this was the sixth time within something over two months that Chairman Mao received revolutionary students and teachers from all parts of the country. More than two million people took part in this mammoth rally....

    Thousands upon thousands of eyes, filled with the deepest of sentiments, looked up to Chairman Mao, thousands upon thousands of arms wearing red arm bands waved shining red-covered Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-tung, and people kept cheering "Long live Chairman Mao!" "Long, long life to Chairman Mao!"

    The mammoth parade began immediately after. Revolutionary students, teachers and Red Guards from all parts of the country swept past the Tien An Men Square to be reviewed by Chairman Mao, the great supreme commander. Standing imposingly on the Tien An Men rostrum in his olive-green military uniform, Chairman Mao, with a kindly smile, frequently waved his salutations to the young revolutionary fighters below. On seeing him, the elated youngsters declared: "What is the reddest thing in the world? The sun on the Tien An Men gate! Who is the dearest person in the world? The great leader Chairman Mao! What is the greatest happiness in the world? To see the great supreme commander Chairman Mao! What is the most glorious task in the world? To study, implement, propagate and defend Mao Tse-tung’s thought!"
    Plenty more here, too:

    http://www.massline.org/PekingReview...PR1966-46c.htm

    And this comment sums up this entire stomach-emptying sideshow (albeit from a critical angle):

    The cult of Mao's personality began to reach its present exaggerated heights in July 1966 -- when great prominence was given in the press to reports that Mao had swum nine miles in the Yangtse. In the autumn of 1966 Mao reviewed some 11 million "Red Guards" in Peking, prior to their return to their home areas "to spread the flames of the cultural revolution". At the same time all the organs controlled by the counter-revolutionaries began to publish large photographs of Mao Tse-tung in every issue, he being described as

    the great teacher, great leader, great supreme commander and helmsman... (Peking Review, No. 38, 1966.; p.3).
    On August 8th, 1966 it was announced that the entire printing industry would be mobilised to print 35 million copies of Mao's, writings by the end of 1967. In the spring of 1967, the "cultural revolution" had manifestly failed to achieve its planned "blitzkrieg" against the Party and the working people. And the "arrest" or "removal" of so many veteran Communists from the Central Committee had turned this body into a mere fiction usurped by the counter-revolutionaries. It therefore became necessary for the counter-revolutionaries to raise to ever more exaggerated heights the cult of Mao Tse-tung, to whose instructions the obedience of everyone in China -- and in the world -- was due.

    A typical example is an article published under the cynical title "Down with Slavishness":

    Chairman Mao is the greatest Marxist-Leninist of our era. Every sentence uttered by Chairman Mao is truth.... Therefore we must act according to Chairman Mao's instructions whether or not we have already fully grasped its significance.... A proletarian party must have its own true outstanding leader and it is necessary to establish his absolute revolutionary authority throughout the party. (Lin Chieh: "Down with Slavishness....etc", in "Renmin Ribao", June 16th, 1967, in: "Peking Review", No. 27, 1967; p.30).
    The most extreme presentation of the cult of Mao's personality to appear to date appears in an article by the Acting Chief of Staff, General Yang Cheng-wu under the title "Thoroughly Establish the Absolute Authority of the Great, Supreme Commander Chairman Mao".

    If you are a revolutionary, a Marxist-Leninist, you will inevitably support the great leader Chairman Mao...; if you are a counter-revolutionary, an anti-Marxist-Leninist, you will inevitably oppose Chairman Mao...

    Chairman Mao is the very red sun that shines most brightly in our hearts. He is the great, teacher, great leader, great supreme commander and great helmsman selected by the proletariat and the revolutionary people of China and the world in the course of their protracted revolutionary struggles. He is the authority of the world proletarian struggle in the present era.... He has the most profound Marxist-Leninist wisdom and the richest experience in struggle.... Chairman Mao is the greatest Marxist-Leninist, the most outstanding proletarian leader and the greatest genius of our era....

    Comrade Lin Piao says that a genius like Chairman Mao appears in the world only once in hundreds of years, or in China only once in thousands of years. Chairman Mao is the world's greatest genius.... Chairman Mao will always be our supreme leader, our supreme commander and the red sun shining most brightly in our hearts. Without him, there would not be the great Party we now have, nor our great army and great country; the Chinese people would have nothing, and the people of the world would find it impossible to achieve their liberation.... We will always follow him closely and thoroughly establish the absolute authority of our great supreme commander Chairman Mao. We pledge our lives to defend Chairman Mao's position as the supreme leader. Anyone who opposes Chairman Mao stands condemned by all of us, the whole Party; he will be denounced by all of us, the entire nation....

    None of the earlier Marxist-Leninists personally, at the very forefront, directed so many important political and military campaigns as Chairman Mao. And none of them experienced such protracted sharp and diverse struggles as Chairman Mao has. (Yang Cheng-wu: "Thoroughly Establish the Absolute Authority of the Great Supreme Commander Chairman Mao. . .etc.", in: Peking Review, No.46, 1967; p.17-18, 19, 20).
    In May 1967

    A huge statue of Chairman Mao was unveiled at Tsinghua University in Peking. (Peking Review, No 20, 1967; p.5).
    Also in May 1967, the Military Commission of the "Central Committee" of the Party announced that, beginning mid-May, a badge bearing the profile, of Mao Tse-tung would be issued to every member of the army. The General Political Department of the Army did not disguise the reasons for this move.

    The General Political Department of the P.L.A. points out that the issue of the badges is an important event in the political life of the entire army. Wearing the badges will remind the P.L.A. men that their great leader, the reddest red sun in their hearts, is always with them.... [A bit like the cross worn by many Christian soldiers, then -- RL.] The General Political Department urges all commanders and fighters, after receiving badges, to be still more loyal to Chairman Mao... act:.. according to his instructions and be his good fighters. (Peking Review, No. 21, 1967; p.13).
    And, it was announced in July 1967 that

    more than 840 million copies of Chairman Mao...were printed in the 11 months from July 1966 to the end of May 1967. (Peking Review, No. 31, 1967; p.5).
    Bold added.

    https://www.marxists.org/history/ero.../section27.htm

    Long after Mao's death, his personality cult is still going strong:

    .

    Mao Zedong has clearly entered the pantheon of Chinese folk deities, along with the Yellow Emperor and other legendary sages and heroes in Chinese history. And Shaoshan, visited by millions over the years, is the Lourdes of his cult.

    This is not so strange. Humans have been worshipped as gods for thousands of years in China, and the point of Mao, in the eyes of the believers, is no longer whether he was good or bad; such categories do not apply to godmen. The point, as a taxi driver in Hunan pointed out to me when I asked him about the Mao charm dangling from his rearview mirror, is that Mao was Great, or weida. Greatness, in the sense of projecting great personal power, is much admired among the Chinese peoples....

    A godman in China or Japan can still have entirely human characteristics -- more so, perhaps, than Jesus Christ, whose status with some Chinese is somewhat similar to Mao's. In Changsha, the capital of Hunan, where Mao went to school and founded the regional communist party, I visited the provincial museum, where there is a lavish display of Mao's underwear. That is the interesting thing about godmen: they are both divine and very human.

    Divine beings in every society promise salvation and good fortune, and where there are miracles, there is business to be done. This, too, is universal. Mao's divine status has brought a great deal of business to Shaoshan. Indeed, it has become the main cottage industry of this small but prosperous town. Restaurants offer "Mao's favourite dishes". Snake-oil salesmen sell miracle cures for all kinds of diseases. And almost every shop is a purveyor of Mao memorabilia.

    Shaoshan, as a pilgrimage site, is surprisingly traditional. Not only does it have all the characteristics of Chinese folk religion, which Mao affected to despise, but of higher Chinese culture as well; for example, the ubiquitous presence of Mao's calligraphy and poetry. One of the tasks of great Chinese leaders is to carry on Chinese civilisation, and the core of that civilisation is the word, which finds its highest expression in calligraphy. No matter how much tradition Mao and his followers smashed -- and they smashed a great deal -- he kept the word. And so did his successors. Not only is Mao's own rather wild calligraphy everywhere to be seen in Shaoshan -- on paper, on rocks, on walls, on silk -- but also that of Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin. Shaoshan, the birthplace of the greatest wrecker of Chinese tradition, has become, in many ways, a repository of it.

    There is, none the less, something curious about the cult of Mao, which began in the 80s, roughly 10 years after the Great Helmsman's death. First of all, folk cults are usually suppressed by a nominally communist government which officially, in good Marxist fashion, dismisses all religion as superstition. Government approved, so-called patriotic churches, subservient to the party, are tolerated, but spontaneous cults are viewed with deep suspicion. Secondly, memories of the famines and mass murders associated with the Mao years have not faded away, even though younger generations often know little or nothing about them....

    The deification of Mao happened just as Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms once again made chaos, inequality and corruption visible in China. Deng's reforms also meant a restoration of a different kind. Intellectuals, persecuted horribly under Mao, came back as advisers to the reformist rulers. They were the modern mandarins, as it were, at the court of Deng. Tired of utopian campaigns, they knew that a degree of inequality and corruption was an inevitable side-effect of China's rush towards economic modernisation. But these side-effects can become intolerable if political freedom fails to match economic liberties. That is what produced the protests on Tiananmen Square in 1989. It is also what produced the banned Falun Gong sect -- and the cult of Mao....
    Bold added.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/200...ina.features11

    And nauseating adulation like this isn't confined to Mao, the Kims or Stalin. That towering mediocrity, Bob Avakian, receives his own fair share:

    But Bob Avakian is more than that. He is someone who has persisted in confronting the hardest, most excruciating questions before humanity. In so doing, he's taken the communist understanding of the world and how to change it to a new place. [Another 'Great Teacher' -- RL.] The answers he's brought forward and the pathways he's forged demand a serious look -- a deep engagement -- from everyone concerned about the future of humanity....

    Avakian has broken new ground on the important role of ethics and morality in a revolutionary society. He's analyzed how the basic relations of today's society drive people to confront each other as "owners of things" and forces them to strive to profit at each other's expense....

    This restless search for the truth has often led Avakian to "go against the tide." He has stood up for truth and refused to back down, even in the face of tremendous and fierce opposition, including, at times, from within the communist movement. It's a question of whether you want revolution badly enough, he has said, to be rigorously scientific about it.
    This, too, continues for many, many more paragraphs:

    http://revcom.us/avakian/crossroads/index.html

    Historic Talks by Bob Avakian

    Get The Word Out!

    We are proud and thrilled to announce the posting of important new talks by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the RCP/USA, on bobavakian.net and revcom.us. These talks are truly pathbreaking explorations in communist theory and its application to a breathtaking range of questions, including political questions which are urgently and sharply posed in today's situation. They are also living laboratories in the communist method and approach to the world. There is a scope and a depth to each talk, and the talks as a whole, that is really unprecedented and extraordinary."
    [Bold emphases largely in the original; some have been added.]

    http://revcom.us/a/055/avakiantalks-en.html

    In Bob Avakian, the Chairman of our Party, we have the kind of rare and precious leader who does not come along very often. A leader who has given his heart, and all his knowledge, skills and abilities to serving the cause of revolution and the emancipation of humanity....

    He has deeply studied the experience of revolution -- the shortcomings as well as the great achievements -- and many different fields of human endeavor, through history and throughout the world—and he has brought the science and method of revolution to a whole new level, so that we can not only fight but really fight to win. Bob Avakian has developed the scientific theory and strategic orientation for how to actually make the kind of revolution we need, and he is leading our Party as an advanced force of this revolution. He is a great champion and a great resource for people here, and indeed people all over the world. The possibility for revolution, right here, and for the advance of the revolution everywhere, is greatly heightened because of Bob Avakian and the leadership he is providing. And it is up to us to get with this leadership…to find out more about Bob Avakian and the Party he heads…to learn from his scientific method and approach to changing the world…to build this revolutionary movement with our Party at the core…to defend this leadership as the precious thing it is…and, at the same time, to bring our own experience and understanding to help strengthen the process of revolution and enable the leadership we have to keep on learning more and leading even better....

    We must spread the word to every corner of this country… [The words of The Prophet? The 'Gospel'? -- RL.]
    http://revcom.us/avakian/ba-message-...xcerpt-en.html

    Bold added.

    Here is Mike Keely on the Avakian personality cult (by the way, also inadvertently admitting to a cult of the personality in Maoism, about which he approves):

    The second stanza of the Internationale, the international anthem of the working class, states that the workers "want no condescending saviours". The RCP seems to have sadly forgotten this, as I watch the cult of Avakian grow out of control and out of proportion with each issue of Revolution I read.

    I am a Maoist; at the end of the day, I have no problem with a "culture of appreciation" or "cult of personality" built around a leader if that leader is at the forefront of a key revolutionary line. I make no apologies for this. However, Communists must constantly interrogate themselves around the question of leadership and how to exercise it, asking at all times "on what basis and with what methods should we Communists use to promote our leadership"? Even with a revolutionary line, a cult of personality around a great leader can become counter-productive -- nay, even dangerous -- if it is upheld in a wrong way.

    The Revolutionary Communist Party speaks of Comrade Avakian in messianic terms, such as "once in a while, a great leader comes forward…" and sees him as the "single thread" that the International Communist Movement "hangs by". The RCP speaks of their leadership as the "revolutionary people in a concentrated form", which has arisen out of this particular epoch in history due to its virtuousness and greatness. The RCP, in its methods of upholding Avakian, hearken back to the capitalist-roaders in China such as Chen Boda, who tried to uphold the cult of Mao on the basis of the "genius theory" (the concept of a leader arising periodically across history that concentrates a great leap in understanding or theory), a theory that Mao criticized deeply. Lin Biao, the revisionist leader who eventually tried to pull a coup d'etat against Mao, put forward unscientific ideas such as "Every sentence of Chairman Mao’s works is a truth; one single sentence of his surpasses ten thousand of ours." Looking at these quotes and theories, and looking at the way the RCP uphold Avakian (just read through the special issue of Revolution "The Crossroads We Face, The Leadership We Need"!) can one say that the RCP's method of promoting their leader is any different from the way Lin and Chen promoted Mao?

    ...The general line of the Revolutionary Communist Party as of now has in a sense erased the Revolutionary Communist Party from being a sensible organization. The Central Task of the RCP, USA in 2001 was "Create Public Opinion, Seize Power! Prepare Minds and Organize Forces for Revolution". Officially, it still is, but in my observations I have noticed the Party, Youth Brigade, and Revolution newspaper pushed further and further onto the backburner as the cult of Avakian takes over. Now the Party, Youth Brigade, and newspaper have been reduced to a crude instrumentality; simple tools whose sole use is to use the newspaper and the Party's literature to promote the Chairman. The RCP is no longer the vanguard party that Lenin spoke of -- "tribunes of the people" -- instead we have people used as tools to promote the Chairman in the realm of popular culture in a way that does not unleash the masses, but instead places them in the role of being disciples to the "Great Leader". A Bob Avakian street preacher team, if you will.
    http://kasamaarchive.org/2008/02/10/...outh-brigader/

    Bold alone added.

    Not much different from the way I described these individuals as 'Prophets', is it?

    And we find this is in relation to Marlene Dixon, ex-guru of the now defunct DWP (yet another quasi-Maoist off-shoot):

    "Comrade Marlene and the Party are inseparable; [and] her contribution is the Party itself, is the unity all of us join together to build upon. The Party is now the material expression of that unity, of that theoretical world view. That world view is the world view of the Party, its central leadership and all of its members. And there will be no other world view…. This was the unity that founded the Party, this was the unity that safeguarded the Party through purge and two-line struggle, and this is the unity we will protect and defend at all costs. There will be no other unity." [Lalich (2004), p.164.]
    Lalich, J. (2004), Bounded Choice. True Believers And Charismatic Cults (University of California Press).

    Bold alone added.

    Lalich was a leading member of the DWP-cult, and in her book she spells out in detail adulation heaped on that walking personality disorder, Marlene Dixon, the control she exercised on her acolytes and the crazy lengths to which they were prepared to go in order to follow her orders and maintain her in the luxury to which she had become accustomed -- a bit like the way that assorted gurus and yogis (from the Indian subcontinent) managed to fleece, and are still fleecing, their gullible 'western' disciples (along with several rock stars), even now. Check out the words posted on-line about these con-men; they aren't much different from those spewed out by the Stalinist and Maoist 'faithful':

    http://my-waking-dream.blogspot.co.u...1_archive.html

    http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/W...u_Granth_Sahib

    http://www.thehindu.com/features/fri...cle3605669.ece

    http://gradworks.umi.com/34/39/3439867.html

    http://www.nonduality.com/shankar6.htm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Beatles_in_India

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz...old-fraud.html

    http://www.sabaisabaiyoga.com/#!prai...ai-sabai/c1bnk

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajneesh

    And, surprise, surprise, we find another cult of personality around that no-mark, and ex-Professor of Philosophy, Abimael Guzmán, of The Shining Path (itself a quasi-religious title) in Peru -- and another Maoist:

    The official ideology of the Shining Path ceased to be "Marxism–Leninism-Mao Tse-tung thought", and was instead referred to as "Marxism–Leninism–Maoism-Gonzalo thought"
    Guzmán adopted the nom de guerre Presidente Gonzalo.... His followers declared Guzmán, who cultivated anonymity, to be the "Fourth Sword of Communism" (after Marx, Lenin, and Mao).
    Bold added.

    Do we have yet another 'Great teacher', here? Seems so.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abimael_Guzm%C3%A1n

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shining_Path

    Even the Marxist-Leninist Maoist website, The Red Phoenix, is incongruously censorious about this phenomenon (which, as we have seen, appears to be a semi-permanent character trait of most Stalinist-, and Maoist-style parties -- which isn't surprising given their emphasis on top-down socialism -- that is, socialism as a gift handed down from the elite party cadres to the toiling masses, just like 'god', who hands down 'his kingdom' to sinful humanity):

    One of the gravest instances of revolutionary movements becoming corrupted by bourgeois ideology is in the creation of personality cults around leaders within these movements. From Kim Il-Sung to Abimael Guzmán (known as Chairmen Gonzalo of the Communist Party of Peru, referred to in the media as the "Shining Path"), Mao Tse-Tung to Nicolae Ceau?escu, even in the case of dedicated Marxist-Leninists like Joseph Stalin and Enver Hoxha, personality cults have been propped up in revolutionary movements for counterrevolutionary purposes. While in some cases the personality cults met resistance from those subjected to it, with the main manipulators of them doing so to work against such leaders, many movements and political leaders have cultivated the anti-Marxist cults around them to achieve their political aspirations. These opportunists inevitably helped in the restoration of capitalism, of bourgeois ideology and counterrevolution, despite the assurances of their cults to their revolutionary nature. Personality cults never serve revolution, and must be exposed for their bourgeois nature and counterrevolutionary purpose.

    To expose the reactionary nature of personality cults, one must understand that the theoretical basis for a cult of personality is entirely metaphysical. Rather than accurately view individuals in their role in history, which requires that one examine the material conditions which existed outside of the volition of individuals, what we see employed in cults of personality is a metaphysics -- an analysis which attributes events in the material realm as being influenced by forces outside or above the material -- that serves to fetishize the central character within the personality cult as having insight, abilities and inherent worth greater than any other human being. When it becomes the policy of a group, a movement or a society to refer to any particular leader or leaders using messianic terms, treating a person or persons as being "more" than human, a cult and the metaphysics which guide it are formed.

    In a personality cult, the cult leader's word is final -- it is the pinnacle of their analysis, the chief lens of their historical analysis and the origin of activity. The consistency of the analysis that a movement begins to fade as the cult rises. It is because the standard of the "magic man," the metaphysical notion that the leader is always right and no other analysis is necessary, takes precedence over whatever ideology or systems they had put forward before. When confronted with a contradiction between past and present actions and statements of their cult, the good cultist will reach for an excuse, often a sound-bite generated by the cult leader themselves. These attempts at artful dodges reveal the priorities of the cult, which are the cult itself and not a movement, and reveal norms which are at play. Whereas Marxist-Leninist discourse and norms of democratic-centralism promote criticism and self-criticism among all members of an organization, for a cult, there must always be one exception. How an organization treats democratic-centralism in relation to the figure acknowledged to be their leader represents the dividing line between cult and party -- any organization who would put any person above democratic centralism has engaged in cultism and taken up metaphysics as their ideological base, ultimately leading to the promotion of bourgeois theory.
    Bold added.

    Plenty more here of the same:

    http://theredphoenixapl.org/2012/11/...f-personality/

    I couldn't have put it better myself (in fact, it echoes many of the points I have made in my Essays), except I'd throw in the role played in all this by DM (as opposed to a rather vague reference to "metaphysics"), and I'd lose the word "contradiction".

    However, not even us Trotskyists are above such sycophantic and nauseating adulation of cultish leaders. You can find the details here:

    Tourish, D., and Wohlforth, T. (2000), On The Edge. Political Cults Right And Left (M E Sharpe).

    Wohlforth, T. (1994), The Prophet's Children. Travels On The American Left (Humanities Press).

    See also:

    Tourish, D. (1998), 'Ideological Intransigence, Democratic Centralism And Cultism: A Case Study From The Political Left', Cultic Studies Journal 15, 2.

    Available here:

    http://www.culteducation.com/group/1...ical-left.html

    A shorter version of the above was published by What Next?, and is available here:

    http://www.whatnextjournal.org.uk/Pa...t27/Cults.html

    [I distance myself from Tourish and Wohlforth's comments about Leninism, but what they have to say about the cultish nature of some leftists is, I think, completely accurate.]

    For example, I am sure we are all familiar with the scandal surrounding that 'Daddy-of-Dialectics', Gerry Healy; he held his party in such thrall that he was able to 'get away with' the systematic rape of female comrades for decades. The details can be found here:

    http://www.whatnextjournal.org.uk/Pa.../Contents.html

    http://libcom.org/history/break-wrp-...h-simon-pirani

    Again, more details can be found in, Tourish and Wohlforth's, and Wohlforth's books (mentioned above).

    More-or-less the same can be said of those who look to Pierre Lambert, Jack Barnes, James Robertson, and Jean Posadas for 'dialectical' guidance:

    http://links.org.au/node/2864

    http://www.bolshevik.org/ETB/Rtj.html

    https://gushorowitz.wordpress.com/20...lt-in-the-swp/

    So, I think my description of these dialectical gurus and yogis as "prophets" wasn't all that wide of the mark.

    As I have put this point in Essay Nine Part Two:

    Trotsky's Quasi-Religious Fervour

    In addition to the many recent examples listed here (link omitted), the above allegations concerning the highly emotional and irrational responses elicited from dialecticians when their theory is criticised find ready confirmation in the case of at least one leading Marxist, Trotsky. George Novack records the following meeting he and Max Shachtman had with Trotsky in Mexico, in 1937:

    "Our discussion glided into the subject of philosophy.... We talked about the best ways of studying dialectical materialism, about Lenin's Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, and about the theoretical backwardness of American radicalism. Trotsky brought forward the name of Max Eastman, who in various works had polemicized against dialectics as a worthless idealist hangover from the Hegelian heritage of Marxism.

    "He became tense and agitated. 'Upon going back to the States,' he urged, 'you comrades must at once take up the struggle against Eastman's distortion and repudiation of dialectical materialism. There is nothing more important than this. Pragmatism, empiricism, is [sic] the greatest curse of American thought. You must inoculate younger comrades against its infection.'

    "I was somewhat surprised at the vehemence of his argumentation on this matter at such a moment. As the principal defendant in absentia in the Moscow trials, and because of the dramatic circumstances of his voyage in exile, Trotsky then stood in the centre of international attention. He was fighting for his reputation, liberty, and life against the powerful government of Stalin, bent on his defamation and death. After having been imprisoned and gagged for months by the Norwegian authorities, he had been kept incommunicado for weeks aboard their tanker. Yet on the first day after reunion with his cothinkers, he spent more than an hour explaining how important it was for a Marxist movement to have a correct philosophical method and to defend dialectical materialism against its opponents!...

    "[Trotsky later wrote:] 'The question of correct philosophical doctrine, that is, a correct method of thought, is of decisive significance to a revolutionary party....'" [Novack (1978), pp.269-71. Bold emphases added.]
    The accuracy of Novack's memory is confirmed by the following comment by Trotsky:

    "...It would not be amiss, therefore, to refer to the fact that my first serious conversation with comrades Shachtman and Warde, in the train immediately after my arrival in Mexico in January 1937, was devoted to the necessity of persistently propagating dialectic materialism. After our American section split from the Socialist Party I insisted most strongly on the earliest possible publication of a theoretical organ, having again in mind the need to educate the party, first and foremost its new members, in the spirit of dialectic materialism. In the United States, I wrote at that time, where the bourgeoisie systematically in stills (sic) vulgar empiricism in the workers, more than anywhere else is it necessary to speed the elevation of the movement to a proper theoretical level. On January 20, 1939, I wrote to comrade Shachtman concerning his joint article with comrade Burnham, 'Intellectuals in Retreat':

    "'The section on the dialectic is the greatest blow that you, personally, as the editor of the New International could have delivered to Marxist theory.... Good. We will speak about it publicly.'

    "Thus a year ago I gave open notice in advance to Shachtman that I intended to wage a public struggle against his eclectic tendencies. At that time there was no talk whatever of the coming opposition; in any case furthest from my mind was the supposition that the philosophic bloc against Marxism prepared the ground for a political bloc against the program of the Fourth International." [Trotsky (1971), p.142. Bold emphasis added.]
    Given the content of this Essay -- and Marx's own words [i.e., about religion operating as a source of consolation -- and that he, following Feuerbach, regarded philosophy as "nothing else but religion rendered into thought" -- both re-quoted below] --, Trotsky's semi-religious fervour, his emotional attachment to the dialectic, and his irrational response to Max Eastman and James Burnham, for example, become much easier to understand. Can you imagine anyone getting so worked up over the minutiae underlying the demise of Feudalism? Or the falling rate of profit?

    -------------------------------

    Added in a footnote:

    Further confirmation comes from Max Eastman's own testimony:

    "Like many great men I have met he [Trotsky] does not seem altogether robust. There is apt to be a frailty associated with great intellect. At any rate, Trotsky, especially in our heated arguments concerning the 'dialectic' in which he becomes excited and wrathful to the point of losing his breath, seems to me at times almost weak. He can't laugh at my attacks on his philosophy, or be curious about them -- as I imagine Lenin would -- because in that field he is not secure....

    "...Yesterday we reached a point of tension in our argument about dialectics that was extreme. Trotsky's throat was throbbing and his face was red; he was in a rage...." [Eastman (1942), p.113. Bold emphases added.]
    Anyone who has discussed dialectics face-to-face with certain leading comrades alive today (whose names I won't divulge -- to save their blushes), and who has challenged this 'theory' on-line with other comrades held in thrall to this theory, will no doubt recognise in the above passage something all too familiar: the highly emotive, abusive and irrational response one receives from the faithful when the source of their 'opiate' is even so much as questioned, let alone thoroughly demolished (as it has been at this site).

    My own experiences with emotive and abusive DM-fans have been recorded here:

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/RevLeft.htm

    However, Eastman is surely wrong about Lenin; anyone who reads Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, for example, will discover how emotive and irrational he, too, could become in this respect....

    Unquestioning faith in this theory is not confined to the past; we have already seen this comment of Tony Cliff's (recorded for us by his biographer):

    "But Cliff remained an incorrigible optimist...:

    "'The dialectics of history, the general crisis of capitalism, are far more powerful than all the bureaucrats
    . If the crisis accelerates the death of the reformist forest, it will -- if revolutionary socialists adopt a correct strategy and tactics -- accelerate the growth of the green shoots of rank and file confidence, action and organisation.'" [Birchall (2011), p.466, quoting Cliff from 1979. Bold emphasis added.]
    In addition, we find the following somewhat similar passage in the Preface to the new edition of Woods and Grant's Reason in Revolt (published in the summer of 2007):

    "Ted Grant was an incorrigible optimist all his life. Marxists are optimistic by their very nature because of two things: the philosophy of dialectical materialism, and our faith in the working class and the socialist future of humanity. Most people look only at the surface of the events that shape their lives and determine their destiny. Dialectics teaches one to look beyond the immediate, to penetrate beyond the appearance of stability and calm, and to see the seething contradictions and ceaseless movement that lies beneath the surface. The idea of constant change, in which sooner or later everything changes into its opposite enables a Marxist to rise above the immediate situation and to see the broader picture." [Quoted from here (link below). Bold emphases added.]
    http://www.marxist.com/science-old/p...sh_2nd_ed.html

    [The above comment nicely illustrates the charge I have laid against ruling-class theory of this sort, that is, that it teaches that there is an invisible world behind appearances, which is more real than the material world we see around us, and whose 'contradictions' allow dialecticians to ignore the deliverances of practice and the long-term failure of Dialectical Marxism (since they are the 'opposite' of what they seem to be, because appearances 'contradict' underlying 'essence'), and which allows them to argue for anything that seems expedient, and its opposite.]

    It looks, therefore, like this substandard opiate -- DM -- is continuing to do its job (supplying its acolytes with the sort of metaphysical consolation they obviously need, indeed, as Marx noted). Even so, the above supplies us with a clue why the DM-faithful so easily succumb to the leader/guru-complex -- genuine religions have been doing this since the year dot.
    I will continue this in my next post.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 01-04-2017 at 7:32 PM.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

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    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Je suis un spectacle

    Continuing with the previous point:

    Stalin, Too

    For all their other major differences, Trotsky and Stalin were both Deeply Devoted Disciples of the Dialectic.

    Ethan Pollock records a revealing incident that took place in the Kremlin just after the end of World War Two:

    "In late December 1946 Joseph Stalin called a meeting of high-level Communist Party personnel.... The opening salvos of the Cold War had already been launched. Earlier in the year Winston Churchill had warned of an iron curtain dividing Europe. Disputes about the political future of Germany, the presence of Soviet troops in Iran, and proposals to control atomic weapons had all contributed to growing tensions between the United States and the USSR. Inside the Soviet Union the devastating effects of the Second World War were painfully obvious: cities remained bombed out and unreconstructed; famine laid waste to the countryside, with millions dying of starvation and many millions more malnourished. All this makes one of the agenda items for the Kremlin meeting surprising: Stalin wanted to discuss the recent prizewinning book History of Western European Philosophy [by Georgii Aleksandrov -- RL]." [Pollock (2006), p.15. Bold emphasis added.]
    Pollock then outlines the problems Aleksandrov faced because of his interpretation of the foreign (i.e., German) roots of DM in an earlier work, and how he had been criticised for not emphasising the "reactionary and bourgeois" nature of the work of German Philosophers like Kant, Fichte and Hegel --, in view of the fight against Fascism (when, of course, during the Hitler-Stalin pact, of a few years earlier, the opposite line had been peddled by the Kremlin). Pollock also describes the detailed and lengthy discussions the Central Committee devoted to Aleksandrov's previous work years earlier at the height of the war against the Nazis!

    It is revealing, therefore, to note that Stalin and his henchmen considered DM to be so important that other more pressing matters could be shelved or delayed so that they might devote time to discussing...Philosophy! In this, of course, Stalin was in total agreement with Trotsky and other leading Marxists -- philosophy was, for them, a vital source of consolation. [More on this below.]

    Once more, Marx's comments (repeated below) make it abundantly clear why that is so.

    Bukharin Makes His Peace With The Dialectical Deity

    We can see something similar happening in the case of Nikolai Bukharin. Anyone who reads Philosophical Arabesques [Bukharin (2005)] will be struck by the semi-religious fervour with which he defends and then promotes dialectics. In view of Bukharin's serious predicament, this is hardly surprising. But, it is also no less revealing since it confirms much of the above: this theory is responsible for holding the dialectical ego together, even in the face of death!

    [Again, I explain the above point more fully, below.]

    The old saying, "There are no atheists in a foxhole", may be incorrect, but it looks like there might not have been many non-dialecticians in the Lubyanka Prison waiting on Stalin's 'mercy'. Behind those grim walls it seems that even hard-nosed Bolsheviks needed some form of consolation. As Helena Sheehan notes in her Introduction to Bukharin's book:

    "Perhaps the most remarkable thing about his text is that it was written at all. Condemned not by an enemy but by his own comrades, seeing what had been so magnificently created being so catastrophically destroyed, undergoing shattering interrogations, how was he not totally debilitated by despair? Where did this author get the strength, the composure, the faith in the future that was necessary to write this treatise of Philosophy, this passionate defense of the intellectual tradition of Marxism and the political project of socialist construction?

    "Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin was a tragic true believer...." [Sheehan (2005), pp.7-8. Bold emphases added.]
    Again, Marx, I think, had the answer:

    "Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again.... Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d'honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification....

    "...Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions...." [Marx (1975b), p.244. Bold emphases alone added.]
    "Feuerbach's great achievement is.... 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...." [Marx (1975b), p.381. Bold emphasis added.]
    The fact that this doomed comrade chose to spend his last days and weeks expounding and defending this Hermetic theory (albeit, a theory that had supposedly been given a materialist flip) -- pleading with Stalin not to destroy this book --, tells us all we need to know.

    Militant Martinets

    The founders of Dialectical Marxism, and those who have controlled its ideas ever since, weren't recruited from the working class; the mind-set of this 'class fraction' is connected with the way that these individuals found their way into the revolutionary movement.

    Unlike most worker-revolutionaries, professional revolutionaries have joined, or have been recruited into the socialist movement (by-and-large) as a result either (1) Of their own personal commitment to the revolution, (2) Their rebellious personality, (3) Their individual alienation from the system (e.g., perhaps because of some form of oppression they or their families have had to endure), or because (4) Of other contingent psychological/sociological motivating factors --, but, significantly, not as a direct result of, or involvement in, the class war.

    That is, they become revolutionaries through their own efforts, or those of some other individual (such as a parent, partner, sibling, friend, teacher, author), and not (in general) through participation in collective action, or in strikes (etc.) at their own place of work -- that is, of course, if they work.

    This means that from the beginning (again, by-and-large), because of their class position and non-working class upbringing, such comrades act and think like individuals. This (a) Affects the ideas they are capable of forming, (b) Colours their attitude to such ideas, (c) Skews their activity inside the movement/party, and (d) Slants the relationships they form both with other revolutionaries and with workers themselves.

    Again we have no less an authority than Lenin for this, who, quoting Kautsky, argued as follows:

    "The problem...that again interests us so keenly today is the antagonism between the intelligentsia and the proletariat. My colleagues (Kautsky is himself an intellectual, a writer and editor) will mostly be indignant that I admit this antagonism. But it actually exists, and, as in other cases, it would be the most inexpedient tactics to try to overcome the fact by denying it. This antagonism is a social one, it relates to classes, not to individuals. The individual intellectual, like the individual capitalist, may identify himself with the proletariat in its class struggle. When he does, he changes his character too. It is not this type of intellectual, who is still an exception among his class, that we shall mainly speak of in what follows. Unless otherwise stated, I shall use the word intellectual to mean only the common run of intellectual who takes the stand of bourgeois society, and who is characteristic of the intelligentsia as a class. This class stands in a certain antagonism to the proletariat.

    "This antagonism differs, however, from the antagonism between labour and capital. The intellectual is not a capitalist. True, his standard of life is bourgeois, and he must maintain it if he is not to become a pauper; but at the same time he is compelled to sell the product of his labour, and often his labour-power, and is himself often enough exploited and humiliated by the capitalist. Hence the intellectual does not stand in any economic antagonism to the proletariat. But his status of life and his conditions of labour are not proletarian, and this gives rise to a certain antagonism in sentiments and ideas.

    "...Quite different is the case of the intellectual. He does not fight by means of power, but by argument. His weapons are his personal knowledge, his personal ability, his personal convictions. He can attain to any position at all only through his personal qualities. Hence the freest play for his individuality seems to him the prime condition for successful activity. It is only with difficulty that he submits to being a part subordinate to a whole, and then only from necessity, not from inclination. He recognises the need of discipline only for the mass, not for the elect minds. And of course he counts himself among the latter...." [Kautsky, quoted in Lenin (1947), pp.121-23. Bold emphases added.]
    To be sure, Lenin (or Kautsky) was describing hostile (non-Marxist) intellectuals, but much of what he said applies to those who become professional revolutionaries, too. Indeed, this class analysis applies to Lenin himself, and to other petty-bourgeois Dialectical Marxists.

    While it is true that there are significant differences between Marxist intellectuals/professional revolutionaries and non-Marxist intellectuals, because they both come from (or now belong to) the same class, there are far more similarities -- especially since both of these class fractions have had ruling-class ideas fed to them almost from day one.

    Such comrades thus enter the movement committed to the revolution as an Idea, as an expression of their own personal/intellectual integrity, their anger directed at the system, their idiosyncratic alienation from class society, or their individual life-goals. They aren't revolutionaries for proletarian/materialist reasons --, that is, as a result of their direct experience of collective action, or as a direct consequence of workers' response to exploitation --, but for individualistic, albeit often very noble, reasons.

    This isn't to malign such individuals, but it is to remind us that this is a class issue.

    So, when these comrades encounter DM, it is quite 'natural' for them to latch on to its a priori theses. That is because, as Lenin noted above, their class position has already delivered them up as atomised, isolated individuals with no collective identity. This non-negotiable fact is further compounded by the additional fact that these individuals have had their heads filled with "ruling ideas" almost since the day they left the cradle -- which indoctrination was itself a direct result of their 'superior' education and the bourgeois/petty-bourgeois socialisation they received, indeed, as Marx noted:

    "The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance. The individuals composing the ruling class possess among other things consciousness, and therefore think. Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is self-evident that they do this in its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch.'" [Marx and Engels (1970), pp.64-65. Bold emphases added.]
    Notice how Marx pointed out that:

    "The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it.... Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is self-evident that they do this in its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age...." [Ibid. Bold emphases added.]
    They rule also as "thinkers", and they do so in "its whole range".

    In which case, the individuals who were later to become leading revolutionaries (but who had been "subject to" the full force of this indoctrination before they became Marxists), can't fail to have had their thinking shaped by the ideas and thought-forms of the ruling-class.

    Which is, of course, why Lenin thought it quite natural to look to the work of previous thinkers as precursors of the concepts we find in DM:

    "The history of philosophy and the history of social science show with perfect clarity that there is nothing resembling 'sectarianism' in Marxism, in the sense of its being a hidebound, petrified doctrine, a doctrine which arose away from the high road of the development of world civilisation. On the contrary, the genius of Marx consists precisely in his having furnished answers to questions already raised by the foremost minds of mankind. His doctrine emerged as the direct and immediate continuation of the teachings of the greatest representatives of philosophy, political economy and socialism.

    "The Marxist doctrine is omnipotent because it is true. It is comprehensive and harmonious, and provides men with an integral world outlook irreconcilable with any form of superstition, reaction, or defence of bourgeois oppression. It is the legitimate successor to the best that man produced in the nineteenth century, as represented by German philosophy, English political economy and French socialism." [Lenin, Three Sources and Component Parts of Marxism. Bold emphases alone added.]
    Notice, DM is "a continuation of the teachings of the greatest representatives of philosophy". A "continuation", not a break from!

    These social atoms need an internally-generated unifying force -- a theory that supplies a set of self-certifying ideas -- to bind them to The Party and The Cause. Enter DM.

    As we will see in Essay Twelve Part One, and the rest of Essay Twelve (summary here (links omitted)), there is a very clear thread running through the many different world-views that have been encouraged and/or patronised by as the ruling-classes that history has inflicted upon humanity: that there is a hidden world underlying 'appearances', accessible to thought alone, the nature of which can only be derived from the meaning of a handful of words/concepts. Because of this, Traditional Philosophers were quite happy to impose their theories on the world in a dogmatic and a priori manner -- plainly because these theories relate, not to the material word, but to this invisible world, a world that is supposedly more real than the world we see around us.

    Even though the content of these theories has altered with each change in the mode of production, their form has remained remarkably consistent for two-and-a-half millennia: philosophical theses, valid for all of space and time, can be derived from words/thought alone, and can thus be imposed on nature dogmatically.

    In which case, these individuals -- who had been educated to see the world precisely this way before they'd even heard of Marxism --, when they encountered Hegel and DM, readily appropriated these dogmatic theses. That is because they looked for 'logical' principles in this hidden world that guaranteed change was part of the underlying fabric of reality. The thought-forms encapsulated by this theory appeared to them to be at once both philosophical and self-certifying (i.e., they were true a priori). Moreover, because DM-theses were part of what seemed to be a radical philosophical and political tradition, they also appeared to be revolutionary.

    Alas, here, they were quite happy to accept appearances at face value!

    Manifestly, dialectical concepts could only have arisen from Traditional Theory -- workers aren't accustomed to dreaming them up (link omitted) --, which ideological source had already been tainted by centuries of boss-class dogma -- indeed, as Marx himself pointed out, and as Lenin unwittingly acknowledged.

    That is because (1) Traditional Philosophy was the only source of developed 'High Theory' available at the time, and (2) These erstwhile radicals were predisposed to search for a world-view of their own -- because, as they repeatedly tell us: "everyone has to have a philosophy"! -- and this particular world-view suited them down to the ground since it encapsulated thought-forms to which they were already susceptible. The class background, socialisation and education to which such individuals were, and still are, subject under Capitalism means that ruling-class ideas had already been installed in their brains long before they became revolutionaries. So, a priori knowledge (courtesy of Hegel -- upside down, or 'the right way up') appealed to them from the get-go. This latest batch of Dialectical/Hermetic ideas hardly raised an eyebrow -- again, as we saw was the case with Lenin, for example.

    Indeed, it alights on ready soil.

    Initially, very little specialist knowledge is needed to 'comprehend' DM; no expensive equipment or time-consuming experiments are required. And yet, within hours this superscientific 'world-view' can be 'appropriated' by each devoted novice (since it relies on thought alone, and thus appears to be 'self-evident'). Literally, in half an afternoon, or less, an initiate can internalise a handful of theses that purport to explain all of reality, for all of time.

    Just try learning Quantum (or even Newtonian) Mechanics that quickly!

    One only has to examine the vast majority of (Marxist) revolutionary websites, for example, to see how they claim to be able to reveal nature's deepest secrets (valid for all of space and time) in a page or two of homespun 'logic', loosely defined jargon, and Mickey Mouse Science -- [that term is explained in Essay Seven Part One, link below] --, for instance, here, and here. [Links omitted.]

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/pag...key-Mouse-Main

    [I have reposted much of this on-line, 'dialectical' material in one of the Appendices to Essay Two; link below.]

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/pag...s_The_Internet

    Contrast that with the many months, or even years of hard work and study it takes to grasp the genuine science of Marxist economics, for example. Contrast it, too, with the detailed knowledge required in order to understand, say, the class structure and development of the Ancient World, or even Medieval Society. No 'self-evident', a priori truths there!

    Moreover, because this 'theory' is connected with wider historic, or even romantic aims (explored briefly below), dialectically-distracted comrades soon become wedded (nay, superglued) to this doctrine. They become converts who act, talk and behave as if they have received a revelation from on high.

    As Alex Callinicos of the UK-SWP recently admitted (in his obituary of Christopher Hitchens):

    "It was from him that I first learned, often with the force of revelation, many of the main ideas of the Marxist tradition." [Quoted from here (link omitted). Bold emphasis added.]
    This echoes George Novack's comment about Trotsky:

    "He was an orthodox Marxist from his conversion to its doctrines in 1898 to his death in 1940." [Novack (1978), pp.271-72. Bold added.]
    Novack's use of quasi-religious language is, in the event, quite revealing.

    The subjective and emotive response by such individuals when they encounter these all-too-easily accessible 'doors of perception', as it were, now connects DM with the revolutionary ego, for it is this theory which guarantees that the anger they feel at the injustices of Capitalism, allied with their own alienation from it, and all the hard work they have devoted to The Cause, won't be in vain.

    On the contrary, this theory ensures that the life of each initiate assumes cosmic significance. Dialectics places the militant mind at the very centre of the philosophical universe -- for it gives to each of these 'social atoms' a unifying purpose, with a set of eternal 'truths'/'laws' that underwrite and confirm their exclusivity, linking their actions directly with the further development of reality itself. Only they understand 'the dialectic' of nature -- the very Algebra of the Revolution -- only they have their fingers on the 'pulse of freedom', only they know how to further its development.

    We might even call this process the "Ptolemisation Of The Militant Mind", since around this 'theory', and their interpretation of it, all of reality now revolves -- the obverse of Hegel's doctrine of the 'self-development' of 'Mind', which places the development of 'God's Mind' at the centre and periphery of this process -- put into neat 'logical' order by a handful of trite, a priori theses.

    The heady romance of being a revolutionary, and an active participant, if not partner, in the cosmic drift of the entire universe now takes over. As Alan Wald (veteran US Marxist and editor of Against the Current) noted (in connection with the US-SWP):

    "To join the SWP was to become a person with a mission, to become part of a special group of men and women who, against all odds, wanted to change society for the better; one felt a bit more in control of the universe." [Quoted from here (link omitted); bold emphasis added.]
    [What was it again that Marx said about the cause of religious alienation? We have already seen the semi-religious fervour that gripped the followers of Stalin, Mao or the Kim's, compounded by the adulation which descended upon anything they said or did, no matter how trite and banal that was -- quoted at length in my previous post.]

    Much the same can be said about those joining other far-left groups. Indeed, even rank-and-file revolutionaries are affected in this way. Speaking of his time in the Militant Tendency, this is what Andy Troke had to say:

    "It's like somebody who has been through a religious period. You look to either Trotsky, Marx, Lenin, Engels or Ted Grant or Peter Taaffe and you have got the rationale for why people are reacting this way or that. And obviously, everyone else is illogical, because you have the right view. I believe there was a great deal of this type of thinking: we were the chosen few. We had the right ideology. People like Tribune, who were at that time Militant's main opponents, didn't know where they were going.... We were the right ones." [Quoted in Tourish and Wohlforth (2000), p.181. Bold emphases added.]
    To be honest, I must admit to similar thoughts and feelings myself when I joined the UK-SWP in 1987, pinned a red, clenched fist badge to my lapel, and started selling the paper. I am sure I wasn't the only one who reacted this way. In fact, I can recall a period in 1988 when a major debate broke out in the UK-SWP after a talk given by Lindsey German. In that talk, she advanced the claim that there were, in her, "no traces of bourgeois ideology". For some time after it became a hot topic whether or not revolutionaries were free from all such 'indecent thoughts'. One could almost hear the phrase "born again"!

    For all the world, these comrades seem to fall in love with this 'theory'! That itself is evident from the irrational, emotional, often extremely abusive, if not violently aggressive way they respond when it is attacked. [On that, see below, and here (link omitted).]

    [The vitriol, hostility, lies and smears (link omitted) I have had to face now for many years suggests I'd not last long if DM-fans were ever to gain power! Indeed, one prominent Marxist Professor of Economics, Andrew Kliman, in an e-mail exchange, expressed the fervent hope I should "Eat sh*t and die!" (either that or quaff some Hemlock) because I had the temerity to question the sacred dialectic. This comradely wish was repeated here (in the comments section) (link omitted) in October 2013, but was deleted by the moderators soon after because of the violent and intemperate nature of the language the good Professor thought to use! Another SWP comrade (implicitly) accused me (link omitted) of being "worse than the Nazis", and for the same reason!...]

    The revolutionary ego can only ascend to the next 'level' if it becomes a willing vehicle for the tide of history, a slave to the dialectic. The dialectic now expresses in its earthly incarnation cosmic forces that have governed material reality from the beginning of time, and will continue doing so until the end of time. Its theses are woven into the very fabric of the universe -- just like the 'Word of God'.

    A veritable Dialectical Logos, if you will.

    Or, at least, judged by the way they speak about this theory, and about those who promulgate it from the dialectical pulpit, this is how the DM-Faithful seem to picture it to themselves.

    [On that, see here (link omitted).]

    Indeed, the dialectic, so we are told, governs the nature and development of every last particle in existence (link omitted), including the thoughts of these, the 'least' of its slaves.

    By becoming a willing and devoted vessel for the mysterious 'mediations' that emanate forth from the "Totality" (which, like 'God', can't be defined (link omitted), and which works no less mysteriously), through revolutionary 'good works' ("activity") and pure thoughts ("non-Revisionism", "orthodoxy", devotion to "the tradition"), by joining a movement that can't fail to alter fundamentally the course of human, if not cosmic, history, the petty-bourgeois ego is 'born again' to a higher purpose and with a cosmically-ordained mandate.

    The dialectical novitiate thus emerges as aprofessional revolutionary --, sometimes even with a brand new name to prove it. But, certainly with a new persona.

    The scales now drop from its eyes.

    The Hermetic Virus has found another victim.

    There is now no way back for this lost soul.

    As Max Eastman pointed out:

    "Hegelism is like a mental disease -- you can't know what it is until you get it, and then you can't know because you have got it."
    Given the nausea inducing sycophancy we have seen exhibited by DM-fans, who can doubt it?

    This now provides these social atoms with well-known social psychological (link omitted) motivations, inducements and reinforcements. They in turn help convince these Hermetic Victims that:

    (1) They as individuals can become key figures in the further development of history -- actually lending a hand determining the direction social evolution will take.

    (2) Their personal existence is, after all, neither meaningless nor for nought.

    (3) Whatever it was that caused their personal alienation from class society, this can be rectified, reversed and/or redeemed (in whole or in part) through the right sort of acts, thoughts and deeds -- reminiscent of the way that Pelagian forms of 'muscular Christianity' taught that salvation might be had through pure thoughts, good works, and the severe treatment of the body.

    Dialectics now occupies a role analogous to that which religious belief has always assumed in the minds of the credulous, giving cosmic significance and consolation to these, its very own petty-bourgeois victims. Same cause, similar palliative drug....

    So, because they think and act as individuals, and because they are motivated by those internally-processed ideas, they both require and then look for a unifying force, a theory, a Cosmic Whole, allied to a Holistic Theory, to make sense of (and counteract) their own social fragmentation. This is where the mysterious "Totality" (with its 'universal inter-connections' -- analogous to the Omnipresence of 'God') comes into its own. But, just like 'God', so completely mysterious is this "Totality" that not one of its DM-slaves can tell you of its nature, even though they all gladly bend the knee to its Contradictory Will.

    [Concerning the few superficial attempts made by DM-theorists to explain what this 'Totality' is, see Essay Eleven Part One, link below.]

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2011_01.htm

    In stark contrast, workers involved in collective labour have unity forced on them by well-known, external, material forces. These compel workers to combine; they do not persuade them to do so as a result of a philosophical theory of some sort. Workers are thus forced to associate, with unity externally-imposed upon them. This is a material, not an Ideal force.

    In contrast, once more, while the class war forces workers to unite, it drives these petty-bourgeois individuals, these professional revolutionaries, apart, and thus into ever smaller, continually fragmenting sects.

    In that case, a holistic, dialectical theory replaces collective struggle as their sole unifying principle; petty-bourgeois/de-classé Marxists are thus 'united' by a set of universal, dogmatic theses, controversy over which, in the end, divides them!

    Another ironic unity of opposites for the reader to contemplate.

    --------------------------

    Added in a footnote:

    Workers, if and when they become déclassé, professional revolutionaries, soon distance themselves from the collective discipline of the workplace, and can thus fall prey to this regressive creed. [On this, see Note 23a0, below (link omitted).]

    It could be objected here that this paints an incorrect picture of the dynamic inside the working class -- as Tony Cliff argues:

    "In Lenin's view...capitalism tended to organise the proletariat for the class struggle. However, it also constantly disrupted the unity of the working class, creating centrifugal forces. The daily struggle for immediate economic demands constantly unites sections of the class, but this does not last; quite often, in fact, it prevents the unity of the class as a whole. The dialectical contradiction between the unifying and disruptive tendencies creates the need for a revolutionary party which embraces only a minority, perhaps a very small one, of the working class. Without such an organisation, with its clear ideological demarcation and discipline, the socialists will tail-end the class, with all the variety of views influencing it, with the great majority dominated by the prevailing ideas in society, in other words bourgeois ideas. There is nothing élitist, or substitutionist, in Lenin's view of the revolutionary party." [Cliff (1989), p.58.]
    There are several points worth making about the above:

    (1) Very few working-class revolutionaries have ever led Marxist parties, and I can think of none that have helped shape their core ideas (i.e., those encapsulated in DM) -- not even Dietzgen managed to do that!

    (2) Both Lenin and Cliff emphasise the material roots of the forces that move workers to unite and/or divide, but neither of them even so much as mentions -- it doesn't even make it onto the edge of their radar screens! -- the material forces that similarly operate on the non-working class sections of the Party, which, in general, comprise its 'leading' figures and theorists.

    To be sure, worker revolutionaries will come from the "advanced battalions" of the class and will thus have had democratic ideals introduced to them by struggle, which they will bring with them into the movement. But, what about the dominant non-working class elements in the Party? What material forces influence, or have influenced, them? What do they bring with them into the party? From what we can ascertain about this layer (and from what has been written by them!), it seems that, in their own eyes, they are superhuman beings who are moved solely by progressive ideas, which have either descended from on high, or which have been culled from earlier non-working class theorists (like Hegel), who were similarly blessed with immaculate, or near-immaculate, 'sin-free' concepts. In that case, unless we are prepared to accept an Idealist view of these non-working class comrades (arguing that they are moved solely and uniquely by such pure and untainted thoughts), we are forced to look elsewhere for the material/class origin of the tendency which means that every single one of the parties they form or join have split and fragmented, and which characteristic of the far-left is so well known and documented that it is in no need of further proof.

    I have attempted to outline what these factors are in this Essay.

    (3) Cliff doesn't say how Marxist intellectuals and other non-working class elements in the Party are able to resist, almost heroically, the influence of bourgeois ideology. From what he says, it seems that workers are all too easily duped in this regard, whereas Party intellectuals float sublimely above such things. In that case, and in relation to the Pure-As-The-Driven-Snow Party Elect, should we not now appeal to a 'dialectical version' of the 'Immaculate Conception of Ideas' in order to find an ideological source that is pure enough for these non-working class comrades to have relied upon in the formation of their ideas? Have their thoughts 'popped, de novo, into existence' untainted by ruling-class ideology? Are these comrades the only individuals in human history to whom Marx's famous words (i.e., "social being determines consciousness") fail to apply?

    But, it isn't as if we don't already know where these comrades derived their core philosophical ideas. They were inherited from a well-entrenched, mystical, ruling-class tradition. Dialectically-distracted comrades not only openly admit this, they revel in it, and see themselves as part of an ancient and noble history. Lenin is worth quoting yet again:

    "The genius of Marx consists precisely in his having furnished answers to questions already raised by the foremost minds of mankind. His doctrine emerged as the direct and immediate continuation of the teachings of the greatest representatives of philosophy, political economy and socialism.

    "The Marxist doctrine is omnipotent because it is true. It is comprehensive and harmonious, and provides men with an integral world outlook irreconcilable with any form of superstition, reaction, or defence of bourgeois oppression. It is the legitimate successor to the best that man produced in the nineteenth century, as represented by German philosophy, English political economy and French socialism." [Lenin, Three Sources and Component Parts of Marxism. Bold emphases added.]
    Hence, the 'dialectical' wing of Marxism was ideologically knobbled even before it reached the starting blocks!

    Moreover, when workers join the Party (and are largely unaware of these more 'sophisticated' ruling-ideas), they invariably have to have them rammed down their throats. In which case, it is a bit rich of Dialectical Marxists pointing to the ideologically-compromised 'consciousness' of workers (e.g., their alleged 'false consciousness') when the Party itself is awash with alien-class ideology, promoting a set of doctrines that these petty-bourgeois comrades will defend to the death -- of the movement and/or the planet, or both --, if necessary!

    In addition, we also know about the fragmentary and atomised nature of the petty-bourgeoisie, from which class most leading Marxists have been recruited, or into which they are soon inducted as "professional revolutionaries"/'full-timers'. So, unless we are prepared to argue that such comrades are "born again" when they became Marxists -- the effects of their "social being" having been somehow miraculously wiped both from their memories and their personalities --, we are forced to apply a Marxist analysis to expose the effect boss-class ideas like these have had on Dialectical Marxists in general.

    Once more, only Idealists will take exception at this point -- i.e., individuals who think ideas are 'free-floating' above class society.

    It is also worth pointing out that this isn't to adopt a naive view of workers, nor is it to advocate some form of spontaneism; but this topic was discussed in more detail In Part One of this Essay, so readers are directed there for more details.

    http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2009_01.htm

    After reading the above, some might be tempted to ask: If, according to Ms Lichtenstein, we are all in thrall to bourgeois ideology, how come she isn't, too?

    Maybe I am, maybe I am not. But, one thing is for sure, my thought isn't dominated by ideas drawn from Mystical Christianity and Hermetic Philosophy (or, indeed, any other branch of Traditional Philosophy). Moreover, since I base my ideas on the language and experience of the working class, on the vernacular, as Marx suggested we should, as well as on common understanding, the influence of boss-class ideology is much more attenuated as a result. [Common understanding must not be confused with common sense. On this, see Note 51. (Link omitted.)]

    It could be objected that ordinary language is itself ideologically tainted. I have batted that idea out of the park here (link omitted), and in Essay Thirteen Part Three -- here and here (links omitted). [This was in fact covered in an earlier post in this thread.] However, I will address this topic in detail in Essay Twelve Part Seven (when it is published), where I will show that the defence of ordinary language and common understanding is a class issue.

    --------------------------------------

    Dialectics, the theory of universal opposites, goes to work on militant minds and helps turn each of its acolytes into a serial sectarian and fanatical faction fiend.

    Collective discipline is paramount inside Bolshevik-style parties. But, the strong-willed, petty-bourgeois militant this style of politics attracts isn't used to this form of externally-imposed regimentation (and that is because, as Lenin noted, these comrades are attracted by internally-processed, self-certifying ideas). Hence, fights soon break out, often over what seem minor, even personal issues. [I give a dozen or so examples of this phenomenon in a footnote -- this material has been omitted.]

    Ever since childhood, these comrades have been socialised think like social atoms, but in a revolutionary party they have to act like social molecules (which is a psychological trick that lies way above their 'pay grade' -- i.e., beyond the capacities created and/or motivated by their class origin or their current class position). Because of this, as noted above, personal disputes quickly break out and are soon re-configured as political differences. Once again, these are primarily disputes over ideas --, which require, and are soon given, a theoretical 'justification'.

    Unfortunately, these individuals are socially-conditioned egocentrics who, in their own eyes, enjoy direct access to the dialectical motherlode itself (a hot wire installed, once more, in each brain by those self-certifying Hegelian concepts -- upside down or 'the right way up'), and they can't help exploiting that fact. That is because this 'dynamic', contradictory world-view now defines them as revolutionaries.

    In such an Ideal environment, the DM-classics -- just like the Bible and other assorted Holy Books -- soon come into their own.

    Again, as Lenin pointed out, ruling-class theorists and 'intellectuals' have always endeavoured to make a name for themselves by developing 'their own ideas', carving out a corner, or niche, in the market of ideas, which they can only do by criticising the ideas of every other rival theorist. That is, after all, part of their being able to establish a reputation for themselves, which is an essential component in furthering their individual careers -- or, perhaps, for defending/promoting a patron or some other beneficent section of the ruling-class. [This was particularly true in earlier centuries.]

    Just as petty-bourgeois capitalists have to rely on their individual skill-set, knowledge, and efforts in order to survive in the face both of Big Capital and the working class, so these unfortunate dialecticians have to ply their trade in the revolutionary movement as individual theorists, armed with a set of dogmatic ideas and an entire Thesaurus crammed full of obscure jargon and arcane terminology. Hence, these unfortunate comrades find they have to ply their trade in hostile waters, too.

    [Anyone who doubts this only has to read the writings of these characters to see how little respect they have for the work of the vast majority of other, rival, revolutionary theorists (sometimes whose opinions differ from their own only in the minutest of theological detail); their work always seems to be a "rant", a "re-hash", a "screed"; it is invariably "boring", "turgid", even "hysterical"; the one writing it has "bloviated" all over the page. In addition, we find a surfeit of scatological epithets. Lenin's Materialism and Empirio-Criticism being the go-to guide in this ideological bun fight. (Monty Python lampooned this mind-set rather too well: "The only people we hate more than the Romans are the f*cking Judean People's Front.") I am not suggesting that every last one of them does this cynically. Many have very noble intentions -- but, and once again, this is a class issue.]

    So it is that these 'social atoms' have brought with them into the Workers' Movement this divisive, bourgeois trait. And, by all accounts, they have perfected it with all the verve of inveterate religious sectarians.

    In the market for 'Marxist' ideas, those with the most sharply-honed critical skills soon claw their way to the top.

    As one-time UK-SWP stalwart, Andy Wilson, pointed out:

    "Things get interesting when you go a little deeper. If the correct, imputed class-consciousness resides in the revolutionary party, and yet the members of the revolutionary party are in fact pulled in different directions by their day-to-day experience, where in the revolutionary party does it actually reside? Well, of course, if the members at the 'periphery' of the party -- where it makes contact with the world outside, so to say -- are being pulled by the class, then the correct consciousness must lie at the point furthest away from this periphery -- it must reside at the 'centre' of the party. That is why all the groups have their 'centre', and 'centralised' leaderships.

    "However, in reality the central committees are also torn apart by ideological differences; by outside allegiances, prejudices, whims -- whatever it is that drives these people. Therefore, ultimately possession of the correct consciousness comes down very, very often to one person (though a member of the SWP central committee once confided to me that, in her opinion, only two people in the SWP had the correct revolutionary 'instincts' -- herself and Tony Cliff). The way that Gerry Healy dominated the WRP, the way that Cliff dominated the SWP, and so on, is perhaps not merely down to their talents or the force of their personalities, but has been prepared by the logic of a particular mindset. So, while there is no Führerprinzip involved, in practice these groups are nevertheless generally dominated by powerful individuals, or powerful cliques."
    Bold emphases alone added.

    http://weeklyworker.co.uk/worker/884...organisations/

    Except, Wilson manifestly hasn't applied a class analysis to this phenomenon, nor does he even so much as mention the theory that lies at the heart of all this: DM .

    And, that isn't surprising, either, since he is a dialectician, too!

    The fact that such individuals have very strong characters (otherwise they'd not survive long at the top in a revolutionary party, let alone climb the greasy pole) merely compounds the problem. As noted above, in order to make a name for themselves, and advance their 'revolutionary careers', it becomes important, if not necessary, for them to disagree with every other theorist, which they then almost invariably proceed to do.

    In fact, the expectation is that every single comrade should argue his/her corner, and do so with vigour and conviction. [And, in some parties, with no little added violence (link omitted).]

    Sectarianism is thus caused by petty-bourgeois 'social atoms' such as these.

    Dialectics merely makes a bad situation worse.

    Plainly the next question is: how is it able to do this?

    The answer isn't hard to find: what better theory could there be (other than Zen Buddhism, perhaps) --, which is capable of initiating and exacerbating endless disputation -- than one that is as contradictory and incomprehensible as DM? What other theory informs all who fall under its hypnotic spell that progress (even in ideas) may only be had through "internal contradiction", and thus through splitting? [Or, as a Maoist might say, "One divides into two".]

    Indeed, as Lenin himself pointed out:

    "The splitting of a single whole and the cognition of its contradictory parts...is the essence (one of the 'essentials,' one of the principal, if not the principal, characteristics or features) of dialectics....

    "The struggle of mutually exclusive opposites is absolute, just as development and motion are absolute...." [Lenin (1961) Philosophical Notebooks, pp.357-58.]
    Bold emphases alone added.

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/len...5/misc/x02.htm

    Hence, according to Lenin, splitting is an "essential" (perhaps the principal) characteristic of this divisive theory, not an accidental by-product. "Struggle" is an "absolute", which must involve the relations between comrades, too.

    An emphasis on internal party strife and splitting thus sits right at the heart of this theory!

    Few comrades who bemoan the fragmentary nature of all Dialectical Marxist parties seem to have noticed this.

    So, we don't need to wait for the ruling-class to divide us, we are experts in that direction already!

    More importantly, as we will see (link omitted), DM is almost unique in its capacity to 'justify' anything at all and its opposite, both of these alternatives often promoted and rationalised by the very same individual, in the same book, article or even speech! Hence, this theory is uniquely well-placed to rationalise any point of view and its opposite. In which case, this theory is an ideal tool in the hands of every argumentative comrade, opportunist, and faction fiend.

    This also helps explain the corruption and screw ups we see all too often at the 'top' of our movement.

    As I pointed out in Part One [this passage was added to the aforementioned Essay in response to the UK-SWP's recent disastrous handing of rape allegations made against one of their leading members]:

    Here lies the source of much of the corruption we see in Dialectical Marxism. If your core theory allows you to justify anything you like and its opposite (since it glories in contradiction), then your party can be as undemocratic as you please while you argue that it is 'dialectically' the opposite and is the very epitome of democratic accountability. It will also 'allow' you to claim that your party is in the vanguard of the fight against all forms of oppression, all the while covering up, ignoring, justifying, rationalising, excusing or explaining away sexual abuse and rape in that very same party. After all, if you are used to 'thinking dialectically', an extra contradiction or two is simply more grist to the dialectical mill!

    And if you complain, well you just don't 'understand' dialectics...
    DM is thus the theoretical equivalent of throwing petrol onto a raging fire.
    I will finish both this point and end my comments on the other things you said in my next post.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 02-06-2015 at 3:06 PM.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

  11. #31
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Je suis un spectacle

    For Dialectical Marxists, the drive to impose one's views on others in the party thus becomes irresistible. Doctrinal control (i.e., the control of all those inner, privatised ideas lodged in every other atomised party skull, which threaten the legitimacy of the ideas of still other dialecticians similarly so 'mentally' isolated) now acts as a surrogate for external control by material forces.

    Indeed, this desire to control the thoughts of all those other 'atoms' in the Party has even been given the grandiloquent name: "democratic centralism" -- a nice 'contradiction-in-terms' for you to ponder.

    [In another footnote, I devote much space to an analysis of the degeneration of the UK-SWP, its lack of democratic accountability, and its inner corruption -- but much of what I have to say could very well be applied to many other Dialectical Marxists parties. I have omitted this material.]

    Don't get me wrong; I am here referring to the Zinoviev-Stalin aberration, not democratic decisions openly agreed upon and collectively implemented, whatever we decide to call it.

    As a recent (anonymous) contributor to the internal debate in the UK-SWP over the crisis that engulfed it in early 2013, puts it:

    "The Bolshevik leadership of 1917 was elected individually. There was no ban on factions. On the eve of the October Revolution, Zinoviev and Kamenev publicly opposed the insurrection in Maxim Gorky's newspaper...and resigned from the Bolshevik Central Committee. They were not expelled from the Party.

    "The model operated currently by the SWP is not that of the Bolshevik revolution. It is a version of the Zinovievite model adopted during the period of 'Bolshevisation' in the mid-1920s and then honed by ever smaller and more marginal groups."
    http://internationalsocialismuk.blog...y-to-alex.html

    But, just as genuine religionists soon discovered, mind-control is much easier to secure if an appeal is made to impenetrably mysterious doctrines that no one understands, and which all must accept, all must repeat constantly (in order to dull the critical faculties).

    Hence, because the party can't reproduce the class struggle inside its four walls, and thus force materialist unity on its cadres externally, it can only control political thought internally (in each head) by turning it into a repetitive, mind-numbing mantra, insisting on rigid doctrinal purity, and then accusing all those who fail to conform (to such Ideal standards) of heresy, or -- worse -- of not "understanding" dialectics!

    In this milieu, an Authoritarian Personality type soon emerges to endorse, underline, and then enforce, ideological orthodoxy (disguised now as part of an openly stated collective aim, to keep faith with "tradition", which is, un-coincidentally, a noxious trait shared by all known religions). "Tradition" now becomes a watch-word to test the doctrinal purity of party cadres -- especially those who might stray too far from the narrow path which alone leads the elect toward revolutionary salvation.

    This naturally helps inflame yet more disputes and thus more splits.

    [History has indeed shown that the 'centrifugal forces' of fragmentation that operate between dialectically-distracted comrades far out-weigh their constant calls for unity. (I return to this theme below. See also Appendix F.) (Links and material omitted).]

    Lack Of Power Corrupts

    Lord Acton was mistaken when he said:

    "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely."
    This gets things completely the wrong way round. As Tony Cliff remarked (in a talk), it is lack of power that corrupts absolutely. It corrupts the working class, and that in turn allows the members of the ruling-class to get away with whatever they feel they can get away with, corrupting them in return.

    Similarly, a passive working class allows revolutionaries -- or, rather, their supposed 'tribunes' -- to get up to all kinds of dialectical mischief. Hence, the latter become corrupted, too.

    As we have just seen, among the many different forms this corruption can take is the general lack of any sort of effective democratic control exercised both on Central Committees and on Party 'Leaders', who often end up being treated like demi-gods, or are viewed as blessed beings with incorruptible ideas, which -- 'saints be praised'(!) -- have absolutely no trace of alien-class-ideology weaved into them.

    Despite the regular trumpet calls to "build the party", small now becomes beautiful, if not highly desirable. Plainly, that is because it allows for maximum thought-control. In small parties the 'purity' of the 'revolutionary tradition' is easier to enforce.

    Sectarianism is thus an intrinsic, semi-permanent, and universal feature of the political and organisational practice of these petty-bourgeois revolutionaries. This keeps the party small, and helps distinguish it from all the rest.

    This is what Hal Draper had to say about the situation in America alone, thirty odd years ago:

    "American socialism today has hit a new low in terms of sect fragmentation. There are more sects going through their gyrations at this moment than have ever existed in all previous periods in this country taken together. And the fragments are still fissioning, down to the sub-microscopic level. Politically speaking, their average has dropped from the comic-opera plane to the comic-book grade. Where the esoteric sects (mainly Trotskyist splinters) of the 1930s tended toward a sort of super sophistication in Marxism and futility in practice, there is a gaggle of grouplets now (mainly Maoist-Castroite) characterized by amnesia regarding the Marxist tradition, ignorance of the socialist experience, and extreme primitivism. The road to an American socialist movement surely lies over the debris, or around the rotting off-shoots of, this fetid jungle of sects."
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/dra.../microsect.htm

    This isn't just an American phenomenon; it is international, right across the planet, and, as we will see in Essay Ten Part One (link omitted), the situation has worsened considerably since the above words were written. [The on-going fragmentation of the UK-SWP (link omitted) is just the latest example of this trend.]

    The aforementioned Authoritarian Personality ensures that democratic accountability is at best merely formal; genuine democratic control soon becomes a casualty in this backwater of the class war. Democracy is, after all, an external constraint exercised by the majority on the individual, hence it is favoured by the majority for these reasons; but, it is equally feared by the petty-bourgeois minority, and for the same reasons. In such dialectically-dominated micro-parties, democracy threatens the internally-enforced control that the professional revolutionary minority prefers. Which is, of course, why many such parties have latched onto the 'slate system' as the preferred method of electing their CCs.

    This is, after all, one of the reasons why Capitalists themselves need the state (allied with a well oiled propaganda machine) to impose and then consolidate the rule of the minority over otherwise democratically inclined workers. And, it is also why they need to call upon various Idealist and reactionary doctrines to convince the recalcitrant majority that this is, of course, 'for their benefit'.

    It is also why Dialectical Marxists need the "centralism", but not the "democratic" part of democratic centralism, and why democracy is dispensed with so readily, and so often.

    Naturally, this degeneration doesn't arise independently of external social forces. As noted above -- [Added for this response: earlier in this Essay I presented evidence and argument that substantiates what I am now about to allege; I have omitted this material from this reply, too -- RL] --, the more malignant aspects of Dialectical Dementia tend to dominate (1) When the materialist counter-weight provided by the working class is much more attenuated, (2) When it was totally absent (that is, before the working class had emerged as an effective social force), and/or (3) In periods of "downturn", retreat and defeat. This is, of course, exactly when Dialectical Druggies tend to 're-discover' this 'theory', and when all of them attempt to snort along the 'correct' philosophical line.

    Small wonder then that these petty-bourgeois victims cling to DM like drunks to lampposts -- and, alas, just like religionists their own opiates, too.

    DM now dominates and shapes the personal and party identity of such comrades. Any attack on this sacred doctrine is an attack not just on the glue that holds each one of them together, but on the cement that holds the party and the entire Dialectical-Marxist 'tradition' together.

    In their own eyes, these professional, petty-bourgeois revolutionaries are special: they live -- no they embody -- the revolution. They have caught the tide of history, they must keep the faith. Commitment to the revolution on these terms now helps shape these militants who, for all the world, appear to suffer from a 'dialectical personality disorder' of some sort -- one of which is the Leader Complex. [Link omitted.]

    This helps explain why, among dialecticians, disagreements quickly become so personal, and why factionalism is so rife -- and why strong characters, like Ted Grant, Gerry Healy, Michael Pablo, Tony Cliff, Ernest Mandel, Pierre Lambert, Sean Matgamna, Jack Barnes, Jean Posadas, and host of others, begin to foment splits and divisions almost from the get-go.

    Again, as noted above, fragmentation is now synonymous with Dialectical Marxism itself -- witness the well-aimed joke in Monty Python's Life of Brian (about the Judean People's Front, etc.). This is a memorable joke because everyone recognises the central core of truth it contains. [In the original Essay I had included a YouTube video which showed this notorious scene.]

    Dialectical Marxists are soon transformed into Militant Martinets, ostracising and expelling anyone who fails to tow the 'correct' line. Often these Dialectical Despots have very powerful personalities, something they can use to good effect in the small ponds they invariably patrol, and clearly prefer. Expulsions, splits and bans thus keep their grouplets small, and thus easier to control.

    The petty-bourgeois revolutionary ego helps keep our movement fragmented, small, insular and thus ineffectual --, in preference to its being democratic, outward-looking and effective. No wonder then that in such circumstances, democracy goes out the window along with reasonableness --, and, of course, along with any significant political impact.

    In this way, ruling-ideas have come to rule Dialectical Marxism, which has helped ruin our movement -- by allowing those who divide, rule.

    Yet another ironic 'dialectical inversion' for you to ponder.

    The Road To Dialectical Damascus

    Each dialectical ego acts as if he/she imagines that it alone has direct access to the exact meaning of the dialectic (here is an excellent recent example (link omitted)), mirroring the sort of bourgeois individualism that underpins Protestantism, whereby each believer is required to find his/her own way to salvation through studying the Bible, coupled with, and alongside, endless disputation. Among DM-fans, this helps account for the interminable dialectical debates over vacuous Hegelian concepts (again, rather like those that exercised the Medieval Schoolmen): for example, whether this or that thesis is "abstract", "positivist", or "one-sided" --, or, in fact, whether "motion precedes matter" --, or is it the other way round?

    This, of course, also helps explain why each supplicant thinks that no one else really "understands" the dialectic.

    [Since no one does in fact understand this theory (on that, see Essay Nine Part One (link omitted)), that is a very easy claim to make -- and one no less difficult to refute.]

    Thus, every opponent is branded in the same way (on this see below, and here (link omitted)): all fail to "understand" the dialectic -- that is, all except the blessed soul that made that particular claim!

    Rather like the Old Testament Prophets, it is almost as if these comrades have received a personal visit from the Self-Developing Idea Itself.

    Indeed, the Road to Damascus and the Road to Dialectics have more in common than a capital "D".

    All this explains why, to each DM-acolyte, the dialectic is so personal and so intimately their own possession, and why you can sense the personal hurt they feel when it is comprehensively trashed, as it has been at this site.

    Hence, any attack on this 'precious jewel' is an attack on the revolutionary ego itself, and will be resisted with all the bile at its command.

    And that explains, too, all the abuse you, dear reader, will receive (links omitted) if you think to challenge the Dialectical Doctrines of a single one of these Hermetic Head Cases.
    ----------------------------------

    Astarte:

    Again, you drift away from an actual material analysis and slip into idealism. You plainly say that "revolutionaries shouldn't consider themselves as prophets or visionaries, but as organisers and administrators. Anything else would amount to substituting themselves for the class." According to this statement, what hinges on whether or not organizers and administrators are "substituting themselves for the class" is a thought. The idea of whether or not the cadre "considers itself" "prophets" or "visionaries" is what causes a divide between the administration and the class - not the material conditions of a numerically small working class and a low development of capitalism, as was the case in every place (the periphery) where socialist revolution occurred, but rather what caused degeneration of the revolution was an idea - the idea that leaders of the revolution who were "infected with ruling class ideas" considered themselves "prophets and visionaries" caused the degeneration of the revolution - not actual material conditions.
    I have largely dealt with this above, however, it is worth noting that my comments concern the revolutionary working class, not its current political or social condition. In which case, under their control, the control of the vast majority of the working population in revolt, the party will do as it is told, or suffer the consequences.

    But, independently of that, and with all due respect, it is a little rich to be lectured about my alleged drifting "away from an actual material analysis and slip into idealism" by someone who openly proclaims their mysticism -- which is itself as good an example of Mystical Idealism as one could wish to find.

    Your appeal to the 'numinous', allegedly ever-present among human beings, and which view you also appear to want to advocate, seems to imply (but I might be being presumptuous here, so forgive me if I am) you believe in 'god', or some other 'supernatural' being/force/entity, the existence of which must pre-date our evolution, or even the origin of the universe. In which case, it looks like you are committed to the belief that 'mind precedes matter'. I have to say, if I am to be lectured about my supposed 'idealism', I'd be more inclined to listen to someone who hasn't already capitulated to the worst form of Mystical Idealism.

    But, as I have pointed out, my ideas on this score are based on Marx and Lenin's analysis of religion and the class origin of petty-bourgeois ideology, whereas yours appears to be diametrically opposed to one or both -- unless, of course, I do you a disservice, for which I apologise in advance if that is so.

    Again, your entire thesis hinges on the concept that ideas drive history rather than material conditions.
    Not so; as we can see: these words in fact more closely typify your beliefs (that is, what little we know of them).

    In China the Red Army arose because of the actual material conditions of an underdeveloped working class in a predominantly peasant country.
    And how might this army succeed in neutralising the class origin of its officers, and indeed its own rank-and-file; by a sheer act of will? That sounds like Idealism to me.

    I wonder what else the peasantry and underdeveloped proletariat, under the thumb of brutal warlordism, the Japanese and the KMT that constantly sold them out to imperialism should have done rather than take the route of the most effective means of struggle then at their disposal: protracted peoples' war. This was the means that was successful as China was a peasantry dominated country, and not a proletarian one.
    You seem to think I don't support the Chinese revolution -- I do --, but just because one force takes upon itself to do the work that only the proletariat can do, that doesn't mean we should abandon a class analysis of the forces involved or of the results themselves. Of course, we can see the results for ourselves (as I argued in more detail an earlier post), as can the Chinese working class: an advanced form of exploitative and oppressive capitalism now dominates China (which was predictable, and was predicted, by those like me who refuse to draw a veil over Marxism just because one social force substitutes itself for the proletariat).

    Fortunately, this advanced form of capitalism has now created its own "grave-diggers", who will now have to do the job that the Red Army and the CCP could not, and did not, do -- create a socialist society.

    Likewise, should the Bolsheviks have waited for the Constituent Assembly? Should they have handed power over to the CA in January 1918? Should they not have seized power by means of a coup - a means the Mensheviks, Plekhanov, Kautsky and so many others also cried out as heterodox and anti-Marxist - because the proletariat was a tiny fraction of the oppressed classes in Russia and by way of its taking power the dictatorship of the proletariat was immediately to be one of the dictatorship of a minority class? What about in Cuba? Should revolutionaries have continued to agitate in the cities only to be continually sold out by the Communist Party which supported Batista or should they have used the most potent means at their disposal as they did? Likewise the partisans in Yugoslavia. Should Tito have agitated in the Nazi controlled and heavily monitored work places or waged an armed revolutionary struggle - again, the only potent means at his disposal. This has nothing to do with an "importation of boss class theory" but rather applying the struggle for national liberation and socialism in an anti-dogmatic way.
    I am not sure why you are asking me these questions, since I support all these revolutions, and would make the more-or-less the same point in response as I have just done above. But, let us not kid ourselves, just because one set of individuals -- who find themselves backed into a corner, with no way other out -- rebel, revolt, or engage in some form of guerrilla war/open war with their oppressors, that doesn't give them a free pass, enabling them to short-cut history. Nor does it give us licence to ignore the very thing you accuse me of ignoring: an "actual material analysis", substituting for it an appeal to revolutionary will, or heroism, or 'the right programme', or some other Idealist principle. That would be to "drift away from an actual material analysis".

    Again, we can see the result for ourselves: very nearly everywhere where the latter -- Idealist approach -- has been tried, it has led to the introduction, or re-introduction, of some form of capitalism (or it is about to). As noted above, DM simply made a bad situation worse.

    There are no free passes or short-cuts in history -- that is what a materialist analysis teaches us.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 02-06-2015 at 3:29 PM.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

  12. #32
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Je suis un spectacle

    As we can see, there is absolutely no cult of 'The Great Teacher', 'The Great Helmsman', the 'Dialectical Saints', or even the 'Dialectical Prophets' in Dialectical Marxism, and any suggestion to the contrary is a bourgeois lie!











    So, let's hear no more about it:













    Daily Life on 'Planet Dialectics':









    A Workers' State, but, alas, only for bodybuilders:



    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

  13. #33
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Je suis un spectacle

    Astarte:

    Just gave this a quick skim. It seems a consistent claim is I am "making things up" about Rosa and her ideas. I was not "making" anything "up". On the contrary, as I have stated in previous replies, I find her writings difficult to follow, and subsequently it seems I have misunderstood what she was trying to convey.
    In fact, what you have done is asserted things about my ideas which can't be found anywhere in anything I have posted here, or at my site, at RevLeft or anywhere else, for that matter, nor which can reasonably be inferred from what I have said.

    And, if you find my ideas 'difficult to follow', you must have had serious problems reading the work of any of the mystics you have studied, whose work is fashionably opaque, to say the least -- if it wasn't, then any mystic who failed in that department would lose his/her licence to confuse -- let alone anything Hegel or Spinoza inflicted on their readers.

    I will add a few examples (where you clearly "made stuff up"), in the next couple of minutes.

    Here are just a handful:

    A: I would argue that conceptions of mysticism, shamanism, "magic", the numinous experience etc have more or less always existed, and have been a vehicle by which humans have gotten in touch with highly subjective personal spiritualities that they feel make them whole human beings. Of course, since you feel that this type of spiritual experience is a symptom of "superstition" and "backwardsness", and that history itself is driven by pulling ideas out of some kind of ahistorical linguistical hat you would believe that the ruling class simply, one fine day, "created" this concept.
    Me: Nowhere do I even suggest this.

    A:
    The basis of your entire stance relies not on actual material circumstances effecting the way history has unfolded but rather thought and a "ruling class ideological infection" alone in the leadership having been to blame for the collapse of the Soviet Union and Warsaw pact states. This is the pinnacle of idealism and, though you remain verbally firm to hard-atheism in one of the most chauvinistic ways I have seen from a socialist in a long time, you have actually abandoned a materialist analysis of history in favor of an idea driven on to the extent that it mirrors the "original sin" parable of Abrahamic religion.
    Me: Well, you are just making stuff up now; nowhere do I 'blame' this theory for the collapse of the fSU and other 'socialist' states, and I challenge you to find anywhere where I have argued this (or even hinted at it). What I have alleged is that this mystical theory made a bad situation worse.

    A:
    How many workers have "woken up" to your view of an abandonment of dialectical materialism? Have you managed to convince any workers, or really any one at all of this view? I don't think you do stand a chance as dialectics, materialist or not, are inherent in the thought methodology of most people and it really isn't something sinful or "ruling class" or obscure or confusing any more than most people know how to perform simple algebra.
    Me: I nowhere claimed that my work would 'wake up' a single worker, or even that they need me to 'wake them' up. I do wish you'd stop making stuff up about me and my ideas.

    A:
    In essence, you claim that the ruling class created "the ultimate truth" concept and has repeatedly used it to dupe the working classes.
    Me: Those are your words, not mine.
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

  14. #34
    Senior Voting Member hierophant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Je suis un spectacle

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    As we can see, there is absolutely no cult of 'The Great Teacher', 'The Great Helmsman', the 'Dialectical Saints', or even the 'Dialectical Prophets' in Dialectical Marxism, and any suggestion to the contrary is a bourgeois lie!











    So, let's hear no more about it:













    Daily Life on 'Planet Dialectics':









    A Workers' State, but, alas, only for bodybuilders:



    Rosa, thank you for these images, though I resent mixing Juche ideology up with them. They [with the exception of the DPRK images] truly brighten my day and are very inspiring, reminding me, at least, that working people all over the world have successfully waged revolutionary struggles against capitalism and imperialism.

  15. #35
    Senior Voting Member hierophant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ruling-Class Ideology

    Also, your placing the "spiritual beliefs" thread in with the counter views section only further proves that you consider spiritual belief in general, and not simply organized religion, a "ruling class ideology". Your writings are hard to follow because every time someone thinks they understand them you say "no, no, that isn't what I mean at all". It's not? Well, when I get time I suppose I will have to read your hundred page reply, though I am not sure if it is worth it for me to take time out from Marxist writers or Jung to do so.

  16. #36
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ruling-Class Ideology

    Not so; it is an opposing ideology whoever invents it.

    You need to stop making stuff up...

    [And I nowhere use the clause "no, that isn't what I mean at all", which, ironically, is yet another thing you have just made up!]
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

  17. #37
    Senior Voting Member hierophant's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ruling-Class Ideology

    Quote Originally Posted by Rosa Lichtenstein View Post
    Not so; it is an opposing ideology whoever invents it.

    You need to stop making stuff up...
    LOL ... ok, it is not an invention. Millions if not billions of people in history have had numinous experiences. We will have a vote on whether or not the "spiritual beliefs" thread deserves to remain in counterviews or be returned to "small talk".

  18. #38
    Senior Voting Member Rosa Lichtenstein's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ruling-Class Ideology

    Astarte:

    LOL ... ok, it is not an invention. Millions if not billions of people in history have had numinous experiences. We will have a vote on whether or not the "spiritual beliefs" thread deserves to remain in counterviews or be returned to "small talk".
    I have covered this point in the above (long) reply to you -- perhaps you should read it and then make some more stuff up about what you think you read there?
    The emancipation of the working class will be an act of the workers themselves.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/index.htm

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