Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Notes on Marxism

favourite  Marxist thinkers:-
Marx ,  Leon Mattis, Gilles Dauve , Paul Mattick  ,Guy Debord, Maurice Brinton, Bourdieu, Silvia Federici ,Raymond Williams , Edward Said ,

I dislike  though do not dismiss: Engels, Herbert Marcuse ,  Lukacs ,  althusser,  Gramsci

totally oppose:  Lenin, Trotsky,  Mao,

The core of Marxism consists of   Dialectical materialism which is it's philosophical framework, Historical materialism which is it's theory of history and Marxist economics and politics like class struggle, it's critique of capitalism, surplus value etc.

"For dialectical philosophy nothing is final, absolute, sacred. It reveals the transitory character of everything and in everything; nothing can endure before it except the uninterrupted process of becoming and of passing away, of endless ascendancy from the lower to the higher."

"Dialectics is the method of reasoning which aims to understand things concretely in all their movement, change and interconnection, with their opposite and contradictory sides in unity."

"For formal thinking, light must be either a wave or a particle; but the truth turned out to be dialectical – light is both wave and particle."

“the whole world, natural, historical, intellectual, is represented as a process – i.e., as in constant motion, change, transformation, development; and the attempt is made to trace out the internal connection that makes a continuous whole of all this movement and development.” [Socialism: Utopian & Scientific]

Dilectics is opposed to Aristotle "who formulated the present system of formal logic...He laid down three basic laws of logic: the principle of Identity (A = A), of contradiction (A cannot be A and not-A), and the excluded middle (A is either A or non-A; there is no middle alternative)".

"Thus the axiom A is equal to A signifies that a thing is equal to itself if it does not change, that is, if it does not exist."


Hegel was an idealist. He held the zeitgeist was a force moving through history via dialectical syntheisis of opposing forces(theses) which would lead to the end of history. He also mentioned Alienation.

Feuerbach and the Young Hegelians brought this down to earth,humanized it and made it materialist.They tried to work out the practical consequences of this for human beings. Feuerbach said religion led to alienation of humans from themselves because it sets god(s) up as ideas beyond humans when infact it was humans who created them.He sees religion as a human social construct.

Marx takes young hegelian ideas further.He agrees with Feuerbach.He sees economics as causing alienation.Communism is the practical form of Hegel's end of history which will abolish alienation as well as religion.It will be brought about not by the zeitgeist but by the proletariat class.Alienation is caused by the need to produce for economic ends not purely for necessity or beauty etc. Theses on feuerbach is where Marx develops beyond Feuerbach's ideas.He talks about human activity and how theoretical problems are solved by practical matters.


It seems Marx brings down to earth and makes Hegel humanist and practical in much the same way Dewey gets rid of the transcendental and almost mystical aspects of philosophy to make Philosophy about humans not abstract entities or ideas.
Marx says productive forces i.e. technology determines the relations of production e.g. wage labourer and boss which then determines the way society is organized(superstructure). As technology changes ,old relations break down and are replaced by new ones e.g. feudalism gives way to capitalism. If this sounds quite simplistic then it is.In some places Marx argues as simply and deterministically as this.In other places e.g. 18th Brumaire of Bonaparte he's less deterministic.


"Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given, and transmitted from the past"(18th Brumaire of Napoleon Bonaparte)


Marx on Communism

  • In a higher phase of communist society, after the enslaving subordination of the individual to the division of labor, and therewith also the antithesis between mental and physical labor, has vanished; after labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly -- only then then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs! (Critique of the Gotha Programme)
  • but sadly Marx precedes Leninism with this line , " Between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat"(Critique of the Gotha Programme).

 

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