Thread: @nti-dialectics Made Easy -- Thread Two

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  1. #201
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    The above debate has resumed here:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/mr_b_up...old_tricks.htm
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    Just for kicks, I would like to see Rosa squirm out of this one. Though that said, I probably won't check for a response and I don't really care, cause I know she always manages to find some way to close her eyes to this. So, here we go:

    "A certain stage of capitalist production necessitates that the capitalist be able to devote the whole of the time during which he functions as a capitalist, i.e. as capital personified, to the appropriation and therefore the control of the labour of others [fremde Arbeit], and to the sale of the products of that labour (4). The guild system of the Middle Ages therefore tried forcibly to prevent the transformation of the master of a craft into a capitalist, by limiting the number of workers a single master could employ to a very low maximum. Hence the possessor of money or commodities actually turns into a capitalist only where the minimum sum advanced for production greatly exceeds the known medieval maximum. Here, as in natural science, is shown the correctness of the law discovered by Hegel, in his Logic, that at a certain point merely quantitative differences pass over by a dialectical inversion into quantitative distinctions. (5)" - Marx, Capital Vol. 1 Pt. 3 Ch. 11, p. 423 in the Penguin edition.
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  4. #203
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    RP (who answers none of my questions, many of which surely made him 'squirm', now (indirectly -- since, I am genuine materialist, it is beneath him to contact me directly) asks me this):

    Just for kicks, I would like to see Rosa squirm out of this one. Though that said, I probably won't check for a response and I don't really care, cause I know she always manages to find some way to close her eyes to this. So, here we go:

    "A certain stage of capitalist production necessitates that the capitalist be able to devote the whole of the time during which he functions as a capitalist, i.e. as capital personified, to the appropriation and therefore the control of the labour of others [fremde Arbeit], and to the sale of the products of that labour (4). The guild system of the Middle Ages therefore tried forcibly to prevent the transformation of the master of a craft into a capitalist, by limiting the number of workers a single master could employ to a very low maximum. Hence the possessor of money or commodities actually turns into a capitalist only where the minimum sum advanced for production greatly exceeds the known medieval maximum. Here, as in natural science, is shown the correctness of the law discovered by Hegel, in his Logic, that at a certain point merely quantitative differences pass over by a dialectical inversion into quantitative distinctions. (5)"
    - Marx, Capital Vol. 1 Pt. 3 Ch. 11, p. 423 in the Penguin edition.
    Well, Marx himself (not me) told us he was 'coquetting' with Hegelian jargon here, and throughout Das Kapital.

    In this particular case, we can see this from the fact that a mere increment of money does not turn a master into a capitalist. So, this isn't in fact an example of Hegel's alleged 'law' (which, as Trotsky pointed out (in his Philosophical Notebooks), Hegel applies only in a very limited sphere anyway, and certainly not here).

    It takes a change in the relations of production to turn a master into a capitalist.

    In fact, a master could have the same amount of money and still become a capitalist according to the way he/she uses that money, and according to the relations of production obtaining at the time.

    And that is why Marx was 'coquetting' here, since what he says is not even true (given his own theory).

    Anyway, I am sure comrades note RP's 'commitment' to discussion, since he reckons he won't even check this reply!

    But, doesn't that make him a troll?

    RP:

    Now, try and answer the many questions I have asked you.

    Or, alternatively, continue to 'squirm'.
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    Just for kicks, I would like to see Rosa squirm out of this one. Though that said, I probably won't check for a response and I don't really care, cause I know she always manages to find some way to close her eyes to this. So, here we go:

    "A certain stage of capitalist production necessitates that the capitalist be able to devote the whole of the time during which he functions as a capitalist, i.e. as capital personified, to the appropriation and therefore the control of the labour of others [fremde Arbeit], and to the sale of the products of that labour (4). The guild system of the Middle Ages therefore tried forcibly to prevent the transformation of the master of a craft into a capitalist, by limiting the number of workers a single master could employ to a very low maximum. Hence the possessor of money or commodities actually turns into a capitalist only where the minimum sum advanced for production greatly exceeds the known medieval maximum. Here, as in natural science, is shown the correctness of the law discovered by Hegel, in his Logic, that at a certain point merely quantitative differences pass over by a dialectical inversion into quantitative distinctions. (5)" - Marx, Capital Vol. 1 Pt. 3 Ch. 11, p. 423 in the Penguin edition.
    Now I would like to issue a verbal warning to myself for trolling and driving the thread off-topic. If I do it again, someone else can PM warn me, or give me an infraction.
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    Who is 'squirming' now?
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    After posting nearly 7000 posts here since June 2008, I thought I needed a break from RevLeft for a few weeks!

    Anyway, comrades might like to know that I am posting several of Guy Robinson's essays at my site:

    These had until recently been posted at Guy's site, which no longer seems to exist. In my opinion, Guy is one of the few Marxist Philosophers whose work is genuinely worth reading. Indeed, I'd go much further: I cannot praise his book, Philosophy and Mystification (Fordham University Press, 2003), too highly; it seems to me that this is how Marxist Philosophy should be done.

    Now, I only encountered Guy's work in 2005, but I soon saw that he had anticipated several of my own ideas -- except he manages to express in two paragraphs what it takes me several pages to say! Unlike the vast majority of work that claims to be Marxist, Guy's work is a model of clarity. It is no accident, therefore, to see Guy writing in the Wittgensteinian tradition.

    I am posting these essays with his permission, but no one should assume that he agrees with any of the views expressed at my site -- other than those already contained in his essays.

    The first one -- Making Materialism Historical -- has been posted here:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/making_...historical.htm

    More to appear over the next few weeks.
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  9. #207
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    For anyone interested, I am taking on several academic dialecticians here:

    http://www.marxmail.org/threads.html

    There you will see the same pathetic counter-arguments and abuse from many of these comrades.

    More permanenty here:

    http://old.nabble.com/-Marxism--fwd-...d27435764.html
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    I have now published the second of Guy Robinson's essays, here:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Robinso...troduction.htm
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    Comrades may be interested in a debate I am having on MarxMail. A comrade asked me to explain one or two of my ideas that were an extension of Guy Robinson's work (see the last three posts, above).

    Here was my reply:

    Well, this is not the place to discuss this in detail, but I think that many traditional philosophies regarded the world as a set of processes and not things, as you say, so this is not something unique to your version of dialectics. However, as I show in that essay, such a priori and dogmatic ontologies are based on a fetishisation of language.

    This observation is based on Marx's words in the German Ideology (see below) and his analysis of commodity fetishism in Das Kapital, and my work attempts to push Feuerbach's analysis (of alienated thought) to its logical conclusion, something Marx failed to do.

    Now, I do not claim that dialectics is a fetish like religion, only that it depends on the fetishisation of language -- whereby the product of the social relations among of human beings (language) is misconstrued as the real relation between things, or as those things themselves. This done in the following way.

    First I note what Marx said about traditional philosophy, thought and language:

    "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 The German Ideology (1970), p.118.]

    Traditional Philosophers, those who peddle the "ruling ideas" of the ruling-class, have, since ancient Greek times, attempted to derive fundamental truths about reality from this distorted language, and thus from thought alone -- which truths they then happily imposed on nature and society dogmatically. [Why they did this we can leave for now.]

    In doing this, as Wittgenstein noted, they project the means by which we represent the world (language) onto the world, so that, like the ancients who believed that the gods had created the world out of the words of their mouths, this ideal world became in effect the creation of distorted language. Instead of language reflecting the world, the world reflected language. Linguistic categories (Being, Cause, Mind, Substance, Property, Quality, etc., etc.) not only constituted this Ideal world, they ran it. This then 'allowed' traditional theorist to impose their a priori thought-forms (which changed their content with each new Mode of production) onto the world. Language was thus imbued with a power of its own, divorced/alienated from its role in communal life -- it went on holiday, as Wittgenstein also noted. It was thus fetishised. [I give an example of this from dialectics, below.]

    Dialectics, of the crude sort you mention or the sophisticated sort that tends to fascinate academics, is just a third-rate version of traditional thought. As my essays show, both sorts were derived from thought/distorted language alone, and dogmatically imposed on the world. Proof here:

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

    Hence, it is certainly analogous to a religion because it provides Dialectical Marxists with a form of consolation (as Marx noted in his famous comment on religion). Because Dialectical Marxism is so abysmally unsuccessful, dialectics, since it teaches that appearances contradict reality, allows comrades to look at the world and see things as the opposite of what they really are. It thus insulates the militant mind from reality, just like religious belief.

    So, I am pushing Feuerbach's idea much further: it's not just religious belief and theology that represent an alienated view that humans have of themselves, metaphysical thought in general (theological, secular and dialectical) represents an alienated misconstrual of social reality -- once more: the product of the social relations between human beings (language) becomes inverted, distorted and then misconstrued as the real relation between things, or as those things themselves. The 'dialectical world' reflects this distorted and fetishised language, not the other way round.

    For example, that is why comrades can see what is in reality a linguistic category (contradiction) as the motive force of nature and/or society -- this is a direct fetishisation of a social form.

    Incidentally, it also explains why, when I asked a few weeks ago, no one could explain what a 'dialectical contradiction is' (in fact, I have been asking comrades now for over 25 years; no luck so far!). Theologians have a similar difficulty with their concepts.

    Finally, it also explains why comrades often become so emotive and irrational (often abusive) when this fetishised world view is exposed for what it is by yours truly.

    The above is a very brief summary of Essay Twelve (of which the part you mentioned forms only 1/8 of the overall content), most of which has not been published yet. There, I hope to spell this out in considerable detail, showing how and why this world view (these "ruling ideas") took root in pre-Socratic Greece, and why it has dominated 'western' thought (including Hegel's work -- upside down or 'the right way up', including its allegedly 'rational kernel') ever since.

    Rosa!
    To which he responded:

    Well you lost me I’m afraid. Let me try and summarise. Its not that dialectics is a fetish but that its apriori and based on the idea that language has a life of its own independently of the social relations of which it’s a part. You cite Marx’s own critique of the dominant idealist philosophy of his day to that effect (though you say he doesn’t go far enough).

    Then you assert that ‘traditional philosophers’ then imposed these beliefs on society and nature. So let’s take an example. Plato created a theory of forms which abstracted from real objects to say that the world was an imperfect copy of the pure forms ‘laid up in heaven’ as it were. It’s easy enough to see how such ideas could be made to serve
    the Greek (and later) elites.

    I’m not familiar with Wittgenstein except as I get it through Robinson (and I know he was associated in an earlier(?) phase with logical positivism). But you suggest Wittgenstein recasts Marx’s basic idea of ‘being determining consciousness’ as a critique of idealism but in more linguistic terms. Anyone familiar with some kinds of discourse analysis will recognise we could substitute ‘discourse’ for ‘ideas’ in Marx’s text to make the same point. So far so good. I don’t think philosophers or academics have a lot to do with *imposing* idealist views on the public but I think I get the idea. You cite yourself and a 19000 word essay as proof that dialectics does this. So is your argument, in a nutshell, that dialectics is a form of idealism that serves the ideological purposes of Party bureaucrats?

    Before going further with you post let me pause there and see if I am reading you right and ask some questions. I. If you are concerned that idealist philosophy is a kind of
    apriorism (or linguistic fetishism) what are you proposing as the alternative? I gather you are influenced by analytic philosophy but as you are quick to draw links between philosophies and the interests of those who promote them surely the general run of Analytic philosophers are liberals (at best) and Cohen’s work (as a Marxist example) represents a pretty fetishised view of economic laws determining something called History (with a capital H) in a way that reminds me of the traditional Communist approach. In addition I wonder why we are focused so much on fighting Marx's battle with idealist philosophy when it seems to me that the greater threat comes from reductionist science rather than say postmodern idealism, which is closer to where this discussion began.

    I’ll have a go at explaining a dialectical contradiction when I have some time

    Shane

    Part 2

    You then argue that not only does it have an ideological purpose but comrades and, indeed, militants use dialectics as a kind of religion – which strikes me as a pretty extraordinary kind of claim. I don’t see you are pushing Feurebach’s idea since you seem to me to reiterate what Marx said that idealist metaphysics (the dominant philosophical current of his day) inverted being and consciousness. I don’t think anyone on this list disagrees – though you seem certain that dialectics is an example of this kind of idealism – and cannot have a materialist form or be useful in any way – and argue
    I guess implicitly that we should follow Cohen and Roemer and others into Analytic Marxism (a topic of which I know nothing – but certainly they can’t be seen as true revolutionaries as opposed to the ‘academics’ and third raters who
    use dialetics to mislead militant and are somehow responsible for the state of
    the far left.

    Leaving that aside you say that comrades take a linguistic category namely ‘contradiction’ and claim it is a motive force of society. This is exactly the kind of thing I asked you about before like using the Dialectic as a kind of demiurge. It’s a pretty crude fetishisation if that’s the best dialectical philosophy can produce. You claim comrades can’t see this because they treat it as form of religion – such you haven’t found anyone in 25 years who can explain what a ‘dialectical contradiction’ is. I find this a pretty spectacular claim and I’m not sure if I should rise to such a daunting challenge. But first up I wouldn’t call a contradiction a linguistic category – here’s how I put it together.

    If we are trying to understand ‘Capital’ as a series of social relations we begin by an empirical examination of what is going on in terms of its history and its structure to demonstrate how these things have given rise to the present conjuncture. Marx begins with the commodity which he notes is fetishised as having a life of its own. He then starts to examine the relations which make it up – bracketing off the complexities and gradually elaborating an understanding of how the processes that make up capital works. If we abstract from that we can say that he is looking at a process – and all processes have forces that preserve the status quo and forces that change it – these forces are in contradiction. We could say, abstractly, that Marx identifies 2 main contradictions: With the working class (one source of value) Capitalists seeks to expand profit and to limit wages and workers resist this. This process is contradictory because these 2 forces operate to pull in different directions. Likewise the contradiction between capitalists seeking to expand profits infinitely in a finite world. It is the struggle over these contradictions that drives the whole system. We can argue for more complexity but these are basic.

    Surely there’s nothing in there that would suggest that I think the 2 contradictions are some linguistic form that CAUSE the changes – or even that I think there is no contradiction in the real world (between capital and labour and between capital/nature as actions of real people with real interests) such that I am imposing them on the world.

    I don’t feel any need to become abusive or irrational either despite your claim but I'd be interested in how you think we should spell out how this should work.
    I'll add my reply in the next post:
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    Here is my reply:

    Shane:

    "It's not that dialectics is a fetish but that it's a priori and based on the idea that language has a life of its own independently of the social relations of which it's a part."

    Well, that's not what I argued. Just like traditional thought, dialectics is based on a fetishisation of language whereby, what had been the product of the social relations among human beings (language) was transformed and misconstrued as a relation between things, or those things themselves.

    I gave an example of this from dialectics: the use of "contradiction". Hegel misconstrued a social form (our ability to contradict one another) with a real relation between things (between a thing and its unique "other", to use his jargon). He did this by a further misconstrual; he thought that the 'negative form of the law of identity' implied the law of non-contradiction, which it doesn't. The demonstration of that I won't go into here; you can find the details in this essay:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2008_03.htm

    Summarised here:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Outline...mmitted_01.htm

    The dogmatic and a priori nature of Hegels' work was allegedly inverted by Marxist dialecticians, but that has in no way affected this fetishisation, or its a priori and dogmatic status. So, for them, too, what had been the product of the relations between human beings (the capacity we have to gain-say one another) has been transformed into a real relation between things. Hence, with respect to 'contradictions', these are now said to power every change in the entire universe; a relation between human beings is now seen as a real relation between things, and a verbal form is now attributed with the power to move everything in reality; this word has been fetishised. This distorted social form is then imposed on nature and society, dogmatically and as an a priori truth. It is taken as a given by all Dialectical Marxists.

    Shane:

    "Then you assert that 'traditional philosophers' then imposed these beliefs on society and nature."

    I think you misunderstand me; I am in fact alluding to Engels's words, when he said:

    "Finally, for me there could be no question of superimposing the laws of dialectics on nature but of discovering them in it and developing them from it." [Anti-Dühring, p.13.]

    Engels manifestly does not do this; he lifted his most important dialectical ideas from Hegel, and (super-)imposed them on reality. So have all dialecticians since, just as all traditional philosophers have done. So, by "imposition" I mean "read into nature, not read from it".

    That is why I said that in this way, instead of language reflecting the world, the world reflects language -- the world of traditional philosophy (and dialectics) is a reflection of language, not the other way round. I call this Linguistic Idealism -- the world is constructed out of the specialised terminology of the philosophers. "Contradiction" is just one example, but I gave others in my last post (e.g., "Substance", "Quality", "Cause", "Concept", and so on),

    Shane:

    "I'm not familiar with Wittgenstein except as I get it through Robinson (and I know he was associated in an earlier(?) phase with logical positivism)."

    Well, some of Wittgenstein's early work was appropriated by the Logical Positivists (but, they misconstrued what he was trying to say), and he met with them several times in the late 1920s and early 1930s, but he was never one of them, and rejected their core ideas.

    Shane:

    "But you suggest Wittgenstein recasts Marx’s basic idea of 'being determining consciousness' as a critique of idealism but in more linguistic terms."

    I do not think I suggest this. Wittgenstein nowhere openly appropriates any of Marx's ideas (although he was influenced indirectly by Marx's ideas in his lengthy discussions with Pierro Sraffa), but several of the things Marx says (about language, etc.) uncannily anticipate Wittgenstein's criticism of traditional philosophy (for example, that it is based on a distortion of ordinary language, among other things).

    Shane:

    "You cite yourself and a 19000 word essay as proof that dialectics does this. So is your argument, in a nutshell, that dialectics is a form of idealism that serves the ideological purposes of Party bureaucrats?"

    Well, that essay is in fact 50,000 words long, and in a later essay I argue that dialectics is the ideology of substitutionist elements in Marxism.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2009_01.htm

    Shane:

    "I. If you are concerned that idealist philosophy is a kind of apriorism (or linguistic fetishism) what are you proposing as the alternative?"

    Well, this is what I point out in the opening essay of my site:

    "From time to time readers will find themselves asking the following question of the author: 'Well, what's your theory then?' No alternative philosophical theory will be advanced here (or anywhere else for that matter). This tactic has not been adopted out of cussedness -- or even out of diffidence --, but because it is an important part of the Wittgensteinian method (employed here) not to advance philosophical theories. Wittgenstein's approach means that no philosophical theory makes any sense. Why this is so will be considered at length in Essay Twelve Part One."

    So, I have no alternative philosophical theory, nor do I want one -- , and I argue that we do not need one. [I hasten to add that I fully accept historical materialism, but point out that this is a scientific, not a philosophical theory.]

    Shane:

    "I gather you are influenced by analytic philosophy but as you are quick to draw links between philosophies and the interests of those who promote them surely the general run of Analytic philosophers are liberals (at best) and Cohen's work (as a Marxist example) represents a pretty fetishised view of economic laws determining something called History (with a capital H) in a way that reminds me of the traditional Communist approach."

    In fact, many prominent and influential analytic philosophers were socialists or Marxists (Russell, Carnap, Schlick, Neurath, Ayer, Austin, Ryle, Davidson, Robinson,...), but I agree with you about Cohen. The problem with Cohen is that he was not analytic enough.

    Even so, the tradition in analytic philosophy that has influenced me the most is that which derives from Wittgenstein, and he was an anti-philosopher. Moreover, he came closer than any other major philosopher since Marx to adopting a class view of society, as I show here:

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

    Shane:

    "I wonder why we are focused so much on fighting Marx's battle with idealist philosophy when it seems to me that the greater threat comes from reductionist science rather than say postmodern idealism, which is closer to where this discussion began."

    This is only a relatively minor threat to active revolutionaries. The latter are, however, in thrall to a very crude version of the dialectic, and that is why I have concentrated on this crude version in my essays (I am trying to influence revolutionaries, not academics). Now, it is my contention that this theory is part of the reason why Dialectical Marxism has been such a long-term failure. Hence, POMO is only a threat to academic Marxists, whose work anyway has little or no impact on the class war.

    Shane:

    "and argue I guess implicitly that we should follow Cohen and Roemer and others into Analytic Marxism (a topic of which I know nothing – but certainly they can’t be seen as true revolutionaries as opposed to the 'academics' and third raters who use dialectics to mislead militant and are somehow responsible for the state of the far left."

    No, I am not an 'Analytic Marxist', nor do I agree with their ideas (although, I have to say, much of Cohen's classic book on Marx's theory of history strikes me as a major step in the right direction, if one ignores his technological determinism and his functionalism).

    And, I have not argued this anywhere:

    "who use dialectics to mislead militant and are somehow responsible for the state of the far left."

    Militants, by and large ignore academic Marxists; they look to Engels, Plekhanov, Lenin, Mao and/or Trotsky (and their epigones) for instruction, and it is these classicists who mislead them. Now, there are many reasons why the far left is almost synonymous with long-term and abject failure, but to claim that our core theory, dialectics, has nothing to do with this is, quite frankly, bizarre -- especially when dialecticians spare no effort telling us that the truth of a theory is tested in practice. If this theory has no practical consequences, why cling on to it? On the other hand, if it has, then there must be a link between our failure and this theory. In fact, I spell out exactly what that link is in this essay:

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

    Shane:

    "You claim comrades can’t see this because they treat it as form of religion – such you haven’t found anyone in 25 years who can explain what a ‘dialectical contradiction’ is. I find this a pretty spectacular claim and I’m not sure if I should rise to such a daunting challenge. But first up I wouldn’t call a contradiction a linguistic category – here’s how I put it together."

    1) Please note that I have never said that dialectics is a 'form of religion' only that it operates in ways analogous to religious affectation -- as a source of consolation.

    2) Well, I have not only been asking comrades for over 25 years, I have read practically everything there is to read on this published in the English language -- and it's still not clear what these obscure 'dialectical contradictions' are. In fact, the exact opposite is the case: no sense can be made of them.

    Shane:

    "If we are trying to understand ‘Capital’ as a series of social relations we begin by an empirical examination of what is going on in terms of its history and its structure to demonstrate how these things have given rise to the present conjuncture. Marx begins with the commodity which he notes is fetishised as having a life of its own. He then starts to examine the relations which make it up – bracketing off the complexities and gradually elaborating an understanding of how the processes that make up capital works. If we abstract from that we can say that he is looking at a process – and all processes have forces that preserve the status quo and forces that change it – these forces are in contradiction. We could say, abstractly, that Marx identifies 2 main contradictions: With the working class (one source of value) Capitalists seeks to expand profit and to limit wages and workers resist this. This process is contradictory because these 2 forces operate to pull in different directions. Likewise the contradiction between capitalists seeking to expand profits infinitely in a finite world. It is the struggle over these contradictions that drives the whole system. We can argue for more complexity but these are basic."

    Well, I have read this sort of explanation so many times the ink is beginning to fade. You will note, however, that in trying to tell us what a 'dialectical contradiction' is you use the word "contradiction". This is, at best, a circular explanation. We still do not understand this use of this word.

    But, you add:

    "This process is contradictory because these 2 forces operate to pull in different directions. Likewise the contradiction between capitalists seeking to expand profits infinitely in a finite world. It is the struggle over these contradictions that drives the whole system. We can argue for more complexity but these are basic."

    But, why is this a contradiction? No one who asserted that force P -- expressed as a vector, say (25i+25j+25k) -- was counter-acted by force Q (-25i-25j-25k) would be contradicting themselves. So, you must be using "contradiction" in a new, and as yet unexplained sense. But what is it?

    Marx also says that the 'halves' of a 'contradiction' "mutually exclude" one another. In that case, they cannot co-exist. But if that is so, they can't contradiction one another (any more than an existent force can counteract a non-existent one).

    As I said, I have seen such 'explanations' now for more years than I care to mention, and none tells us what one of these obscure 'dialectical contradictions' are. They all beat about the bush, like you.

    And no wonder. This term was lifted from the mystical meanderings of Hegel, who derived his own use of this word from an argument replete with sub-Aristotelian logic. The founders of our movement appropriated this word, without giving it any critical examination (probably because they knew even less logic than Hegel), and comrades since have similarly used it -- mainly because it is traditional to do so. When pressed to explain it they all flounder -- a sure sign they haven't though much about it.

    Why is this important? There are many reasons, but the two most significant for present purposes are these:

    1) The use if this word has allowed revolutionaries argue for any tactical conclusion they like, and then the opposite the next day. It was used by Stalin in the following way:

    "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 of the Central Committee to the Sixteenth Congress of the CPSU(B), June 27,1930. Bold emphasis added.]

    Here, he justifies less democracy as more democracy purely because it is a contradiction!

    Moreover, he and his henchmen found it possible to 'justify' the idea that socialism could be built in one country by, among other things, the dubious invention of "internal" versus "external" contradictions, later bolstered by the concoction of "principal" and "secondary" contradictions, along with the highly convenient idea that some contradictions were, and some were not, "antagonistic". Hence, the obvious class differences that remained, or which soon emerged in the former USSR were either non-existent or were in fact "harmonious"; the real enemies (i.e., the source of all those nasty "principal" (or perhaps even the "antagonistic") contradictions) were the external, imperialist powers.

    The dire political consequences of the idea that socialism could be built in one country can be seen in the subsequent use to which dialectics was put to defend and rationalise this counter-revolutionary idea, and to try to limit (or deny) the catastrophic damage it inevitably inflicted on the international workers' movement, and on Marxism in general.

    And this is where dialectics comes into its own: short-term and lunatic policies sold to party cadres (world-wide) by the use of dialectics -- a 'method' that 'permits' the justification of anything whatsoever, and its opposite, sometimes in the same breath. And similar ideas are still being peddled to us on the same basis. Trotskyists, of course, argue for the exact opposite conclusion using equally sound 'dialectical' arguments to show how and why the revolution decayed, among other things.

    Later on, 'Materialist Dialectics' was used to justify/rationalise the catastrophic and reckless class-collaborationist tactics imposed on both the Chinese and Spanish revolutions, just as they were employed to rationalise/justify the ultra-left, "social fascist" post-1929 about-turn by the communist movement. This crippled the fight against the Nazis by suicidally splitting the left in Germany, pitting communist against socialist, while Hitler laughed all the way to the Reichstag.

    This 'theory' then helped 'excuse' the rotation of the Communist Party through another 180 degrees in its next class-collaborationist phase, the "Popular Front" --, and then through another 180 (in order to 'justify' the unforgivable Hitler-Stalin pact) as part of the newly re-discovered 'revolutionary defeatist' stage --, and through yet another 180 two years later in the shape of 'The Great Patriotic War', following upon Hitler's predictable invasion of the "Mother Land" -- "Holy Russia".

    This is why the word "contradiction", as used by dialecticians, is so pernicious.

    Sure, the above moves were taken for hard-headed political reasons, but the ideological justification for such rapid about-turns came from the use of this word. No other theory (apart perhaps from Zen Buddhism) glories in contradictions so much as Dialectical Marxism.

    Maoists use it to prove the Stalinists are wrong, who return the compliment, and they both use 'the dialectic' to prove the Trotskyists are not Marxists (since they do not 'understand' the 'contradictory' nature of, say, the former USSR, or China, or world capitalism, or...), and the many hundreds of Trotskyist sects use it to prove the Maoists and the Stalinists do not understand the 'contradictory' nature of..., and they use it to prove that each and every other Trotskyist sect is wrong too, and on the same basis.

    Hence, because of such 'contradictions' this theory can be used to prove almost anything you like, and its opposite.

    2) The dialectic tells us that appearances 'contradict' underlying essence. This allows militants to ignore the long-term failure of Dialectical Marxism, thus preventing an honest accounting of why this has happened. So, it not only insulates the militant mind from the facts, it prevents them from doing anything about it. As result, Dialectical Marxism takes another spin across the flatlands of failure.

    You can even see this happening at Marxmail; as soon as it is learnt that I am attacking the dialectic, comrades switch off, and refuse even to consider my arguments, branding me non-Marxist, or even anti-Marxist (even though my sole aim is to make Marxism more successful by eliminating one of the reasons why it hasn't been). So, adherence to a theory (to which few comrades have given much thought) insulates them from any consideration that the dialectic might not be all that it is cracked up to be. As I said above, the idea that our core theory is in no way responsible for our failures is bizarre, and yet highly intelligent comrades think along these lines.

    This is because as Marx noted: the ruling ideas are in every age those of the ruling class, and the founders of our movement imported the ideas of a card-carrying ruling class hack, Hegel. The (ideological) wells were thus poisoned before anyone took a sip from them.

    Shane:

    "Surely there’s nothing in there that would suggest that I think the 2 contradictions are some linguistic form that CAUSE the changes – or even that I think there is no contradiction in the real world (between capital and labour and between capital/nature as actions of real people with real interests) such that I am imposing them on the world."

    Well, your reference to real people is of course what we find in Historical Materialism, and I note that you can only make this work if you drop the obscure term 'contradiction'. There are countless words in ordinary language that can be used to account for change, we do not need to use this fetishised word.

    And despite what you say, contradictions are what human beings do -- they contradict (="gain-say") one another, and they do so in language. By fetishising this word, just as commodities are fetishised, those who do so cannot see this fetishisation for what it is. Nor can you.

    Shane:

    "I don’t feel any need to become abusive or irrational either despite your claim but I'd be interested in how you think we should spell out how this should work."

    You are an exception; virtually everybody with whom I have debated this, even before we begin, has been highly abusive toward me, and this has gone on now for over 25 years. I have collated the many hundreds of examples of this that have taken place on the internet over the last five years here:

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

    Finally, how will what work?

    Rosa!
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    "A certain stage of capitalist production necessitates that the capitalist be able to devote the whole of the time during which he functions as a capitalist, i.e. as capital personified, to the appropriation and therefore the control of the labour of others [fremde Arbeit], and to the sale of the products of that labour (4). The guild system of the Middle Ages therefore tried forcibly to prevent the transformation of the master of a craft into a capitalist, by limiting the number of workers a single master could employ to a very low maximum. Hence the possessor of money or commodities actually turns into a capitalist only where the minimum sum advanced for production greatly exceeds the known medieval maximum. Here, as in natural science, is shown the correctness of the law discovered by Hegel, in his Logic, that at a certain point merely quantitative differences pass over by a dialectical inversion into quantitative distinctions. (5)" - Marx, Capital Vol. 1 Pt. 3 Ch. 11, p. 423 in the Penguin edition.


    Well, Rosa posted the link to this discussion on Marxmail, and I followed the link to see what bit of Marx she would distort and dissemble next—and sure enough her reply of October 14 is Rosa distorting and dissembling at her best worst:
    Marx is not saying in any way shape or form that it is a simple quantity of money that transforms the guild master into the capitalist. Marx is saying:
    1. To become a capitalist, to become capital personified, the wannabe bourgeois must be able to devote full time to the appropriation of the labor of others, and the sale of the products so appropriated.
    2. The guild system attempted to restrict the guild master not through restrictions on money, but through restriction on the number of workers a single master could employ.
    3. Restricting these numbers meant, of course, that the guild master could not exist off the appropriation of the labor of others, and the sale of products from that labor of others, but had to devote considerable time to direct labor himself.
    4. That not just any amount of money could transform a person into a capitalist, but a significant amount of money, a “critical mass,” was necessary to employ labor in excess of the restrictions of the guild system.
    5. This finds its concrete historical expression in the fact that it is not guild masters who transform the social relations of production, but merchants and the like who develop the “putting out” [in textiles, fabrics, weaving, draperies] system of work to home laborers with monetary outlays beyond what the guild master could afford given the restrictions on his source of income. And again, it is these emerging capitalists, not the guild masters, who begin the accumulation of the means of production in a centralized location for the exchange with detached, “free,” labor via the wage form.
    6. If Rosa ever actually read Marx without her ideological blinders on, she just might learn something about the actual historical dialectic Marx was explicating, but then again, if people in hell had ice-water, they wouldn’t be so thirsty.
    SA
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  16. #212
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    S.Artesian (we all thought he'd pissed of in a huff the last time I wiped the floor with him):

    Well, Rosa posted the link to this discussion on Marxmail, and I followed the link to see what bit of Marx she would distort and dissemble next—and sure enough her reply of October 14 is Rosa distorting and dissembling at her best worst:

    Marx is not saying in any way shape or form that it is a simple quantity of money that transforms the guild master into the capitalist. Marx is saying:

    1. To become a capitalist, to become capital personified, the wannabe bourgeois must be able to devote full time to the appropriation of the labor of others, and the sale of the products so appropriated.

    2. The guild system attempted to restrict the guild master not through restrictions on money, but through restriction on the number of workers a single master could employ.

    3. Restricting these numbers meant, of course, that the guild master could not exist off the appropriation of the labor of others, and the sale of products from that labor of others, but had to devote considerable time to direct labor himself.

    4. That not just any amount of money could transform a person into a capitalist, but a significant amount of money, a “critical mass,” was necessary to employ labor in excess of the restrictions of the guild system.

    5. This finds its concrete historical expression in the fact that it is not guild masters who transform the social relations of production, but merchants and the like who develop the “putting out” [in textiles, fabrics, weaving, draperies] system of work to home laborers with monetary outlays beyond what the guild master could afford given the restrictions on his source of income. And again, it is these emerging capitalists, not the guild masters, who begin the accumulation of the means of production in a centralized location for the exchange with detached, “free,” labor via the wage form.

    6. If Rosa ever actually read Marx without her ideological blinders on, she just might learn something about the actual historical dialectic Marx was explicating, but then again, if people in hell had ice-water, they wouldn’t be so thirsty.
    Marx says, as you quote:

    "A certain stage of capitalist production necessitates that the capitalist be able to devote the whole of the time during which he functions as a capitalist, i.e. as capital personified, to the appropriation and therefore the control of the labour of others [fremde Arbeit], and to the sale of the products of that labour (4). The guild system of the Middle Ages therefore tried forcibly to prevent the transformation of the master of a craft into a capitalist, by limiting the number of workers a single master could employ to a very low maximum. Hence the possessor of money or commodities actually turns into a capitalist only where the minimum sum advanced for production greatly exceeds the known medieval maximum. Here, as in natural science, is shown the correctness of the law discovered by Hegel, in his Logic, that at a certain point merely quantitative differences pass over by a dialectical inversion into quantitative distinctions. (5)" - Marx, Capital Vol. 1 Pt. 3 Ch. 11, p. 423 in the Penguin edition.
    Bold added.

    So, let's look at your slanted interpretation:

    1. To become a capitalist, to become capital personified, the wannabe bourgeois must be able to devote full time to the appropriation of the labor of others, and the sale of the products so appropriated.
    To become a capitalist, there must be a change in the relations of production; it is not up to the individual to become a capitalist, unless, of course, we were all to become idealists.

    2. The guild system attempted to restrict the guild master not through restrictions on money, but through restriction on the number of workers a single master could employ.

    3. Restricting these numbers meant, of course, that the guild master could not exist off the appropriation of the labor of others, and the sale of products from that labor of others, but had to devote considerable time to direct labor himself.

    4. That not just any amount of money could transform a person into a capitalist, but a significant amount of money, a “critical mass,” was necessary to employ labor in excess of the restrictions of the guild system.
    But, employers had employed many labourers in the ancient world, but they could not become capitalists, no matter how many they took on.

    So, the critical mass you speak of does not exist; it takes a change in social relations for a man/woman to be a capitalist whether they employ one or one million workers.

    5. This finds its concrete historical expression in the fact that it is not guild masters who transform the social relations of production, but merchants and the like who develop the “putting out” [in textiles, fabrics, weaving, draperies] system of work to home laborers with monetary outlays beyond what the guild master could afford given the restrictions on his source of income. And again, it is these emerging capitalists, not the guild masters, who begin the accumulation of the means of production in a centralized location for the exchange with detached, “free,” labor via the wage form.
    Except, no matter how many of these there are, unless and until there is a change in the social relations of production, there can be no capitalists. This transformation can happen, as I pointed out above, and in my earlier post, while supervenient on any number of employees an individual employs. So, once more, it's not numbers but social relations that determine who is or who is not a capitalist.

    6. If Rosa ever actually read Marx without her ideological blinders on, she just might learn something about the actual historical dialectic Marx was explicating, but then again, if people in hell had ice-water, they wouldn’t be so thirsty
    But it is you who refuses to read Marx, since he was quite clear:

    "After a quotation from the preface to my 'Criticism of Political Economy,' Berlin, 1859, pp. IV-VII, where I discuss the materialistic basis of my method, the writer goes on:*

    'The one thing which is of moment to Marx, is to find the law of the phenomena with whose investigation he is concerned; and not only is that law of moment to him, which governs these phenomena, in so far as they have a definite form and mutual connexion within a given historical period. Of still greater moment to him is the law of their variation, of their development, i.e., of their transition from one form into another, from one series of connexions into a different one. This law once discovered, he investigates in detail the effects in which it manifests itself in social life. Consequently, Marx only troubles himself about one thing: to show, by rigid scientific investigation, the necessity of successive determinate orders of social conditions, and to establish, as impartially as possible, the facts that serve him for fundamental starting-points. For this it is quite enough, if he proves, at the same time, both the necessity of the present order of things, and the necessity of another order into which the first must inevitably pass over; and this all the same, whether men believe or do not believe it, whether they are conscious or unconscious of it. Marx treats the social movement as a process of natural history, governed by laws not only independent of human will, consciousness and intelligence, but rather, on the contrary, determining that will, consciousness and intelligence. ... If in the history of civilisation the conscious element plays a part so subordinate, then it is self-evident that a critical inquiry whose subject-matter is civilisation, can, less than anything else, have for its basis any form of, or any result of, consciousness. That is to say, that not the idea, but the material phenomenon alone can serve as its starting-point. Such an inquiry will confine itself to the confrontation and the comparison of a fact, not with ideas, but with another fact. For this inquiry, the one thing of moment is, that both facts be investigated as accurately as possible, and that they actually form, each with respect to the other, different momenta of an evolution; but most important of all is the rigid analysis of the series of successions, of the sequences and concatenations in which the different stages of such an evolution present themselves. But it will be said, the general laws of economic life are one and the same, no matter whether they are applied to the present or the past. This Marx directly denies. According to him, such abstract laws do not exist. On the contrary, in his opinion every historical period has laws of its own.... As soon as society has outlived a given period of development, and is passing over from one given stage to another, it begins to be subject also to other laws. In a word, economic life offers us a phenomenon analogous to the history of evolution in other branches of biology. The old economists misunderstood the nature of economic laws when they likened them to the laws of physics and chemistry. A more thorough analysis of phenomena shows that social organisms differ among themselves as fundamentally as plants or animals. Nay, one and the same phenomenon falls under quite different laws in consequence of the different structure of those organisms as a whole, of the variations of their individual organs, of the different conditions in which those organs function, &c. Marx, e.g., denies that the law of population is the same at all times and in all places. He asserts, on the contrary, that every stage of development has its own law of population. ... With the varying degree of development of productive power, social conditions and the laws governing them vary too. Whilst Marx sets himself the task of following and explaining from this point of view the economic system established by the sway of capital, he is only formulating, in a strictly scientific manner, the aim that every accurate investigation into economic life must have. The scientific value of such an inquiry lies in the disclosing of the special laws that regulate the origin, existence, development, death of a given social organism and its replacement by another and higher one. And it is this value that, in point of fact, Marx's book has.'

    "Whilst the writer pictures what he takes to be actually my method, in this striking and [as far as concerns my own application of it] generous way, what else is he picturing but the dialectic method?" [Marx (1976), pp.101-02. Bold emphases added.]
    You will note that Marx calls this the 'dialectic method', and 'his method', but it is also clear that it bears no relation to the sort of dialectics you have uncritically swallowed, for in it there is not one ounce of Hegel -- no quantity turning into quality, no contradictions, no negation of the negation, no unities of opposites, no totality...

    So, Marx's method has had Hegel totally extirpated. For Marx, putting Hegel on 'his feet' is to crush his head.

    And of the few terms Marx uses of Hegel's in Das Kapital, he tells us this:

    "and even, here and there in the chapter on the theory of value, coquetted with the mode of expression peculiar to him."
    So, Marx's use of the phrase "Hegel's Law" (which isn't a law anyway, since most things in reality disobey it) is, as he says, non-serious; these days we'd put 'scare quotes' around it -- as indeed I do.
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    If we are going to talk about the actual historical evolution of capitalism and capitalists, then let's do so.

    If we want to talk about this paragraph from Marx then let's concentrate on that. You state in your October 14 post that "it takes a change in the relations of production to turn a master into a capitalist." Marx isn't saying anything about what it takes to change a guild master into a capitalist. On the contrary, he is stating why the guild master did not become a capitalist.

    You state: "In fact, a master could have the same amount of money and still become a capitalist according to the way he/she uses that money, and according to the relations of production obtaining at the time."

    Historically, that is not accurate, and it is not accurate on the class, social level. While individual masters may or may not have become capitalists, the social class, or sector, of guild masters did not become the class of capitalists. Historically, it is much more accurate to say a) they were ruined b) they became proletarians.

    "A master could become a capitalist depending upon the way he or she used the money and the social relations at the time"? What complete ahistorical nonsense, actual ignorance. My aunt could have been my uncle depending on the chromosomes she inherited from my grandfather is essentially what Rosa is arguing... to which we can only reply.... "you're kidding me, right?"

    The master was a master precisely because of a specific social relation of the times; the wannabe bourgeois, most likely a merchant, could become a capitalist only through a different social relation. The issues are a) how did that social relation come into being b) how did it expand c) what were the critical differences between the new social relations and the old social relations.

    Marx is stating that in fact a different social relation is required to become a capitalist, one where the owner can devote himself to expropriating the collective labor of others. The token of that collective expropriation becomes money, money on a large, circulating, social platform.

    -- Time for announcement of full disclosure: I am here only pointing out that what Marx said is not what Rosa says he said. I guess it's a bit ironic since I personally do not hold to the "quantity becoming quality" bit, since history clearly shows that qualitative change is the originator of transformation-- that qualitative change has to achieve a certain specific gravity, a certain expansion, and if it doesn't achieve that increase in quantity, it will certainly die-- i.e. proto-capitalist farming in Catalonia as opposed to feudal property relations-- but I'm for quality first. The point here is that Marx did not say, that the sufficient condition for a transformation into a capitalist is the quantity of money deployed. He's not saying that at all. He's pointing out that a capitalist to become a capitalist must be able to aggrandize labor on a scale larger than that of the pre-existing social relations of guild master and apprentice, shop worker, etc.


    Return from digression:

    While individual masters may or may not have become capitalists, the social class, or sector, of guild masters did not become the class of capitalists. Historically, it is much more accurate to say a) they were ruined b) they became proletarians.

    A master could become a capitalist depending upon the way he or she used the money and the social relations at the time? The master existed as an agent, a factor, a element of a specific social relation of production—circumscribed by his relation to the labor of others in his workshop, his guild, and his own labor. This is why a) not just any amount of money defines the capitalist—it is the oversight, the ownership of the labor-power of others. The amount of money necessary to allow, support, that devotion to expropriation is above the level of money required, utilized, and available for the pre-existing mode of production b) The quantity of money must be sufficient to employ this wage-labor socially, producing articles that both have utility and value; that can be exchange based on the actual labor time necessary for their reproduction.


    Rosa says that employers in the past employed workers on a large scale, but they weren't capitalists. Marx in this paragraph is not talking about "the past"-- generic, he is specifically talking about the middle age guild system and why the system required limitations on the "outside" labor the master employed.

    Sure in the past, there have been projects employing masses of laborers-- as slaves, as debt peons, as builders of pyramids and religious structures, as soldiers-- and of course those eras did not produce capitalism or capitalists-- because a) the specific organization of agriculture was not capitalist b) without that organization of agriculture there could not be sufficient, sustained release of labor power .

    And finally, Marx is not describing or ascribing to money the singular ability to transform the social relations of production. He is pointing out the larger quantity of money that a merchant/wannabe manufacturing capitalist requires to produce himself as a capitalist, to reproduce himself as capital personified.
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    S Artesian:

    If we want to talk about this paragraph from Marx then let's concentrate on that. You state in your October 14 post that "it takes a change in the relations of production to turn a master into a capitalist." Marx isn't saying anything about what it takes to change a guild master into a capitalist. On the contrary, he is stating why the guild master did not become a capitalist.

    You state: "In fact, a master could have the same amount of money and still become a capitalist according to the way he/she uses that money, and according to the relations of production obtaining at the time."

    Historically, that is not accurate, and it is not accurate on the class, social level. While individual masters may or may not have become capitalists, the social class, or sector, of guild masters did not become the class of capitalists. Historically, it is much more accurate to say a) they were ruined b) they became proletarians.
    Well, I do not see how any of this helps you rehabilitate Hegel, or his alleged 'law'. I was addressing what Marx and you said. If you now want to change your story, fine. But, then the alleged Hegelian 'law' still does not apply. There is no addition of quantity here 'passing over' into a change of quality. What we have is a change in the relations of production, not an incremental change at all.

    "A master could become a capitalist depending upon the way he or she used the money and the social relations at the time"? What complete ahistorical nonsense, actual ignorance. My aunt could have been my uncle depending on the chromosomes she inherited from my grandfather is essentially what Rosa is arguing... to which we can only reply.... "you're kidding me, right?"

    The master was a master precisely because of a specific social relation of the times; the wannabe bourgeois, most likely a merchant, could become a capitalist only through a different social relation. The issues are a) how did that social relation come into being b) how did it expand c) what were the critical differences between the new social relations and the old social relations.

    Marx is stating that in fact a different social relation is required to become a capitalist, one where the owner can devote himself to expropriating the collective labor of others. The token of that collective expropriation becomes money, money on a large, circulating, social platform.
    In your haste, and your obvious emotional state -- why do you dialecticians get so emotional? -- you perhaps missed the subjunctive mood I used. Moreover, I'm glad you now concede that it's a change in social relations that creates capitalists, not Hegel's alleged 'law'.

    A master could become a capitalist depending upon the way he or she used the money and the social relations at the time? The master existed as an agent, a factor, a element of a specific social relation of production—circumscribed by his relation to the labor of others in his workshop, his guild, and his own labor. This is why a) not just any amount of money defines the capitalist—it is the oversight, the ownership of the labor-power of others. The amount of money necessary to allow, support, that devotion to expropriation is above the level of money required, utilized, and available for the pre-existing mode of production b) The quantity of money must be sufficient to employ this wage-labor socially, producing articles that both have utility and value; that can be exchange based on the actual labor time necessary for their reproduction.
    Well, the more you say, the less applicable Hegel's alleged 'law' seems to be.

    Rosa says that employers in the past employed workers on a large scale, but they weren't capitalists. Marx in this paragraph is not talking about "the past"-- generic, he is specifically talking about the middle age guild system and why the system required limitations on the "outside" labor the master employed.
    It's interesting, and brave of you think that the middle ages is not in the past, even for Marx -- but I suspect he'd disagree with you. So, my point still stands: it's not the quantities involved that makes a capitalist, but the new relations of production.

    Sure in the past, there have been projects employing masses of laborers-- as slaves, as debt peons, as builders of pyramids and religious structures, as soldiers-- and of course those eras did not produce capitalism or capitalists-- because a) the specific organization of agriculture was not capitalist b) without that organization of agriculture there could not be sufficient, sustained release of labor power .
    I wish you'd make your mind up; if it were mere quantitative increase that creates a capitalist, then why tell us all this? It simply drives more nails into the coffin that contains Hegel's alleged 'law'

    And finally, Marx is not describing or ascribing to money the singular ability to transform the social relations of production. He is pointing out the larger quantity of money that a merchant/wannabe manufacturing capitalist requires to produce himself as a capitalist, to reproduce himself as capital personified.
    Who said he was? Not me.

    -- Time for announcement of full disclosure: I am here only pointing out that what Marx said is not what Rosa says he said. I guess it's a bit ironic since I personally do not hold to the "quantity becoming quality" bit, since history clearly shows that qualitative change is the originator of transformation-- that qualitative change has to achieve a certain specific gravity, a certain expansion, and if it doesn't achieve that increase in quantity, it will certainly die-- i.e. proto-capitalist farming in Catalonia as opposed to feudal property relations-- but I'm for quality first. The point here is that Marx did not say, that the sufficient condition for a transformation into a capitalist is the quantity of money deployed. He's not saying that at all. He's pointing out that a capitalist to become a capitalist must be able to aggrandize labor on a scale larger than that of the pre-existing social relations of guild master and apprentice, shop worker, etc.
    It's as fascinating, as it is amusing to see what gyrations you mystics will put yourselves through to try to defend something that isn't a law anyway, and was never a law even when Hegel put pen to misuse 200 years ago, as the good people at RevLeft have had proven to them in several threads listed here:

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

    So, no wonder Marx "coquetted" with this non-law.

    However, from your amateur attempt to indulge in a rather convoluted form of casuistry, it's clear that you are already resiling from your earlier bombastic claims that I have got Marx wrong, and that Hegel's alleged 'law' applies in this case, for it's now apparent that it's not the quantities involved that creates a capitalist, but a specific social change that allows him/her to employ/exploit more people.

    Please post more of the same meandering prose so that the funeral of this 'law' can run to its completion...
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    I am not in the business, in this discussion, of rehabilitating Hegel, or anyone, and any so-called laws. The question is NOT "are dialectics valid," but rather did Marx use, or claim to use, dialectics or a dialectical method in his analysis of capitalism? In the cited paragraph from Capital, he clearly indicates that he does so claim and does so use.

    The problem with any discussion with Rosa is that she can add nothing new to an analysis of Marx's concrete work. She must, and must always, fall back on her particular misinterpretation of Marx's phrase about having "coquetted" with forms of expression peculiar to Hegel. Marx qualifies that term, that flirtation, in specifying where and how the flirtation appears-- and that is in the discussion of value.

    In discussing what Marx said in the cited paragraph, Rosa appears to be of two minds-- 1) Marx is wrong in his concrete analysis of the transformation of a wannabe into an actual capitalist 2) Marx is just trying to scare his reader by pretending to endorse Hegel's law of transformation.

    When challenged on the actual historical details of the "personification of capital" into the capitalist, Rosa, no surprise, has nothing to offer except her inability to comprehend specific social relations of production i.e. she insists that Marx is wrong and that any amount of money could transform the guild master into a capitalist provided the fundamental social relation of capitalism existed.

    What Rosa fails to grasp, besides Marx, besides Marx's extraction of Hegel, is fittingly, concrete history. And that concrete history shows that the guild master could not become the capitalist because of the precise social relations of production defining the guild, the guild master, and the relation of the master to the laborers in the workshop. To preserve those relations, the guild insisted on restrictions on the labor that could be employed.

    Marx is not arguing that the quantitative accumulation of money changes the qualitative social relation of capital-- the organization of the means of production as private property and labor as wage-labor. Marx is arguing that for the wannabe bourgeois, for the emerging and still petty bourgeois, for the merchant to become the industrial or manufacturing capitalist, he must be able to devote all his time, his labor time to overseeing, maintaining, capital--the expropriation of the labor of others. The transformation that is quantitative in the use of money is quantitative to the emerging capitalist, becoming the qualitative transformation into the full time capitalist.

    Rosa, as is her usual pathology, misses the historical specificity of Marx's analysis-- a specificity that Marx makes explicit in the very first words of the paragraph:
    "A certain stage of capitalist production necessitates..."

    A certain stage-- unlike Rosa, Marx clearly is aware that the fundamental social relation of capital has already been established and he is discussing an ensuing moment when "part-time" capitalists cannot satisfy the needs of capitalist reproduction. Clearly, Marx is describing what it takes for the part-time capitalist to become the full-time capitalist-- to "out-exploit" the guild master, and that takes access, control, expropriation of collective labor on a scale of greater than that of the guild master to command the labor of apprentices, assistants, laborers.

    The qualitative social relation has been established-- expanding the social relation requires the transformation of the small time capitalist into the big, and full, time capitalist. "Hence the minimum sums of money advanced" had to exceed the maximum sums of the guild system. And that increase in quantity precipitated, enabled, the qualitative transformation of the use of the capitalists' own time.

    Marx, in this discussion of the transformation of the capitalist, and the applicability of Hegel's "quantity into quality," isn't flirting with anything, isn't trying to shock, titillate, scare, or otherwise obscure his actual appreciation and use of dialectic.
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    S Artesian, I will reply to you tomorrow; I need to respond to 'Shane' first:

    A few posts back, I published a debate I was having at MarxMail. For my anti-dialectical sins, I have now been removed from that mailing list.

    One of the owners, a former Orthodox Trotskyist, has thus shown he is even more intolerant than Trotsky himself, who would not countenance the expulsion of anti-dialecticians in the former SWP-US from that party, in the 1930s.

    If comrades read my replies above, they will see that I allege that this 'theory', because it acts as a form of consolation (details above), turns otherwise intelligent comrades into intolerant martinets, in the same way that religious dogma does likewise to the openly superstitious. This incident merely confirms I was right.

    And, comrades can check by Googling my name and MarxMail (I'd post the link, but it changes regularly) that I was a model of politeness, unlike my persona here.

    So, the only reason I was banned is that this comrade cannot stand to have a theory that has little other than failure to its name questioned.

    As I allege in the OP to this thread: Dialectical Marxists cling on to this 'theory' like grim death (I also explain there why they do this).

    Anyway, Shane has posted a reply to me:

    Hi

    Well I will try to keep it brief since it’s clear we that even when I paraphrase you, you say that you didn’t say that or I should read another 50000 words so you can clarify your point. I didn’t mean that Wittgenstein drew on Marx (W was far too conservative for that) but obviously their thought overlaps or we wouldn’t be discussing Robinson in the first place. It’s no surprise that comrades here
    think that you mean that dialectics is the cause of the all our problems – because that’s what you imply. If you mean that Diamat was part of the ideological justification of party-state rule, well yes of course but if it’s not the cause of anything - so what?

    I think its disingenuous to say you have no philosophy to offer as if that’s what I expected – when I ask how it ‘works’ I want to know how a Marxist like you who rejects a key element in the tradition back to Engels (back 150 years would be before Marx wrote ‘Capital’) explains the workings of capitalism. I thought maybe it was Analytical Marxism but apparently not – and here you say that in the best of them – Cohen one has only (only?!) to ignore the technological determinism and functionalism. The irony here is that functionalism is a product of a non-dialectical view – all social (or other) processes are system maintaining, which is essentially what the Right Hegelians were on about (i.e. there are no contradictory processes). And it is to contradiction that I want to turn.

    You assert that ‘contradiction’ can only mean a human (and in this case individual) activity. I contradict you and you contradict me but of course this isn’t the meaning most of us give it at all. Just to make sure – here is your first mention of it:

    the use of "contradiction". Hegel misconstrued a social form (our ability to contradict one another) >with a real relation between things.

    Now our ability to contradict each other is not a social form – it’s a speech act. Hegel is analysing underlying processes – which he takes to be ‘ideas’ – and how they unfold in the material world – which as historical materialists we take to be arse-about. Now despite the fact that I asked you specifically if you thought most dialectical thinkers (like Rees) reified the dialectic – i.e. attributed causal powers to the concept – you said ‘no’. But now you re-assert it again (quote “Marxist dialecticians... with respect to 'contradictions', these are now said to power every change in the entire universe”).

    Now we come to my example (which you say you have heard a thousand times) but what exactly is your critique? You make 5 assertions:

    1. That I use the word ‘contradiction’ in trying to explain it. I’m not sure what to make of this. You want a definition of the word? Not an example of its explanatory USE. So you say it’s incoherent. I use the word to mean that processes are made up of elements which result in changes in the system. ‘Contradictory’ processes are those processes which pull the system in different directions. And again ‘contradiction’ is a concept I am using to explain the real, material processes, the concept doesn’t cause it, it’s just a shorthand way of capturing those ideas. This is really a common way to speak despite your seeming mystification by it – we routinely talk of ‘capitalism’ as a thing or as causing outcomes because it captures what we mean, even tho it’s reification.

    2. That we shouldn’t call it a contradiction because if 2 forces P & Q act in opposite directions we don’t call that a ‘contradiction’. No we don’t but that because forces like this operate *externally* on objects and we are talking about processes which constitute capitalism, not something that acts on it from the outside.

    3. Marx said that contradictions are ‘mutually exclusive’ and that if this were so they couldn’t co-exist. If this is true one can only wonder what sort of fool Marx was to fall into such an elementary logical trap. Because you think in terms of forces acting on objects which are external then Marx makes no sense but if you think of capital as a class *process* there are forces acting *within* that system that act in different directions they mutually ‘exclude each’ other because the system cannot be maintained and BOTH
    these processes continue (i.e. capital accumulation will eventually destroy its material base in the environment (one set of contradictions) or capital exploitations of wage labor will collapse the system or workers will overthrow it). Now this lies at the heart of a revolutionary Marxist perspective.

    4. Because ‘contradiction’ is incoherent it allows Stalinists to argue for any conclusion they like. This is of course what I mentioned before. The idea of the ‘Dialectic’ as some sort of motive force which is the sort of crude reification that you were assuring me you didn’t mean by ‘dialectical marxists’. I have Rees’s book downstairs but have never read it – maybe I should fish it out and see if he does this. Of course dialectics can be used as ideologically – like a religion - so can positivism or other forms of materialism. Stalinist apologetics is beside the point – the use of ‘principle’ and ‘secondary’, and what have you, may just be about the complexity of the system you are describing, not an apology for it or an excuse to justify stupidity. Nevertheless it’s pretty clear that you think dialectical philosophy to be the villain as if some other form of Marxism couldn’t have been pulled into service.

    5. That real people come into the equation only when I drop the word ‘contradiction’. All I can say is that we are describing class processes. You say other words would be better – well perhaps but let’s see your brief description of how capitalism works using ‘gainsay’.

    You seem to think that human actions can only be individuals (is that why you use the example of a contradiction as individuals contradicting each other?) rather than classes. Marxists don’t say the ‘working class contradicts the capitalists’ as if they are 2 individuals speaking to each other – yet you say this is the only way the term makes sense. What we do say (at times) is that working class interests are in contradiction to those of capitalists – by which we mean that neither can’t have they interests fully realised and the system survive.

    I don’t think its beating around the bush. You claim to be a historical materialist so once we eliminate the pernicious effect of dialectics - how will we be explaining Marxism to people? How would you have written ‘Capital’ 150 years ago without the pernicious influence of dialectics.

    Shane
    My reply will follow presently.
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    Shane:

    Well I will try to keep it brief since it’s clear we that even when I paraphrase you, you say that you didn’t say that or I should read another 50000 words so you can clarify your point. I didn’t mean that Wittgenstein drew on Marx (W was far too conservative for that) but obviously their thought overlaps or we wouldn’t be discussing Robinson in the first place. It’s no surprise that comrades here
    think that you mean that dialectics is the cause of the all our problems – because that’s what you imply. If you mean that Diamat was part of the ideological justification of party-state rule, well yes of course but if it’s not the cause of anything - so what?
    1) It's quite clear from what I posted what I said; why paraphrase me when it is easy to cut and paste these days? I quote you; I do not try to paraphrase what you say.

    2) Wittgenstein was not a conservative. Here is what I have already written on this (links and references can be found in the original essay; link at the end):

    Most revolutionaries seem to regard Analytic Philosophy as something of a conservative or ideological phenomenon, with Wittgenstein's work perhaps being seen as a particularly good example of this. That view has partly been motivated by the widely held opinion that Wittgenstein was a conservative and that he pandered to mystical and religious ideas.

    That this received picture is incorrect can be seen by reading Alan Janik's essays "Nyiri on the Conservatism of Wittgenstein's Later Philosophy" -- which was a reply to Nyiri (1998) --, and "Wittgenstein, Marx and Sociology", both reprinted in Janik (1985), pp.116-57. See also Crary (2000).

    In fact, not only were many of Wittgenstein's friends and pupils prominent Marxists -- e.g., Pierro Sraffa, Maurice Dobb, Nicholas Bakhtin, George Thomson, Maurice Cornforth, David Hayden-Guest, and Roy Pascall (cf., Monk (1990), pp.343, 348; Rhees (1984), pp.x, 48; and Sheehan (1993), pp.303, 343) --, but one of his foremost 'disciples' (Rush Rhees) at one point contemplated joining the RCP (i.e., the 1940's Trotskyist version, not that recent right-wing joke of the same name, now happily defunct), and asked Wittgenstein for advice on this. [Cf., Rhees (1984), pp.200-09.]

    Rhees and Monk record the many sympathetic remarks Wittgenstein made about Marxism, about workers and about revolutionary activity. While these are not in themselves models of 'orthodoxy', they reveal how close Wittgenstein came to adopting a very weak form of class politics in the 1930s -- certainly closer than any other major philosopher had done since Marx himself; cf., Rhees (1984), pp.205-09. [Cf., also Norman Malcolm's Introduction to Rhees's book, pp.xvii-xviii, Monk (1990), pp.343-54, and Monk (2007).]

    In fact, Monk reports a comment made by George Thomson on Wittgenstein's attitude to Marxism: "He was opposed to it in theory, but supported it in practice", and notes another friend who remembers Wittgenstein saying that he was "a communist, at heart" (Monk (1990), p.343). He concludes:

    There is no doubt that during the political upheavals of the mid-1930s Wittgenstein's sympathies were with the working class and the unemployed, and that his allegiance, broadly speaking, was with the left….

    Despite the fact that Wittgenstein was never at any time a Marxist, he was perceived as a sympathetic figure by the students who formed the core of the Cambridge Communist Party, many of whom ([David] Hayden-Guest, [John] Cornford, Maurice Cornforth, etc.) attended his lectures. [Monk (1990), pp.343, 348.]
    In Rhees's book, Fania Pascall -- who was another Marxist friend of Wittgenstein's, married to Communist Party intellectual Roy Pascall, translator of The German Ideology into English --, reports that Wittgenstein had actually read Marx (cf., Rhees (1984), p.44), but, the source of this information appears to be John Moran [Cf., Moran (1972)]. Garth Hallett's otherwise comprehensive survey omits reference to this alleged fact. [Cf., Hallett (1977), pp.759-75.] But if, as we will see, he had read Lenin, and all his close friends were Marxists, it is a safe bet that he had also read Marx.

    Rhees and Monk also note that when Wittgenstein visited Russia he met Sophia Yanovskaya, who was Professor of Mathematical Logic at Moscow University and one of the co-editors of Marx's Mathematical Manuscripts. [Cf., Yanovskaya (1983), in Marx (1983).] She apparently advised him to "read more Hegel" (which suggests he had already read some). [Monk (1990), p.351, and Rhees (1984), p.209.] In fact, Yanovskaya even went as far as to recommend Wittgenstein for the chair at Kazan University (Lenin's old college) and for a teaching post at Moscow University (Monk (1990), p. 351). These were hardly posts one would have offered to just anyone in Stalin's Russia in the mid-1930s, least of all to someone unsympathetic toward Communism.

    [DM = Dialectical Materialism.]

    Monk suggests that Yanovskaya formed the (false) impression that Wittgenstein was interested in DM (ibid.), but Drury (another of Wittgenstein's pupils) informs us that Wittgenstein had a low opinion of Lenin's philosophical work (but, exactly which part this refers to we do not know; but this does indicate that Wittgenstein had at least read Lenin since he never passed comments on second-hand reports of other writers' work), but the opposite view of his practical endeavours:

    Lenin's writings about philosophy are of course absurd, but at least he did want to get something done. [Drury, quoting Wittgenstein from recollection, in Rhees (1984), p.126.]
    Fania Pascall also records Wittgenstein's friendship with Nicholas Bakhtin (ibid., p.14), and notes that at one time he expressed a desire to go and live in Russia, as we have seen (ibid., pp.26, 29, 44, 125-26, 198-200). In fact he actually visited Russia in September 1935 (cf., Monk (1990), pp. 347-53), when he met the above Professor Yanovskaya. Like many other Cambridge intellectuals at the time his desire to live in the USSR was motivated by his false belief that under Stalin it was a Workers' State. In this regard, of course, his intentions are more significant than his mistaken views. One only has to contrast Wittgenstein's opinion of Russia with that of, say, Bertrand Russell -- his former teacher -- to see how sympathetic in comparison Wittgenstein was to revolutionary Marxism, even if, like many others, he finally mistook the latter for Stalinism. [Cf., Drury's memoir in Rhees (1984), p.144, and Russell (1962).] John Maynard Keynes (another of Wittgenstein's friends) wrote the following in a letter to the Russian ambassador Maisky (who had in fact once been a Menshevik) about Wittgenstein's plans to live in Russia:

    I must leave it to him to tell you his reasons for wanting to go to Russia. He is not a member of the Communist Party, but has strong sympathies with the way of life which he believes the new regime in Russia stands for. [John Maynard Keynes to Maisky, quoted in Rhees (1984), p.199. Also quoted more fully in Monk (1990), p.349.]
    In his biography of Wittgenstein, Ray Monk plays down Wittgenstein's proposed move, and, relying on Fania Pascall's view of Wittgenstein's motives, interprets it as a reflection of his attachment to a Tolstoyian view of the Russian peasantry and the 'dignity of manual labour'. While this clearly was a factor, it cannot explain Wittgenstein's positive remarks about the gains he believed workers had made because of the revolution -- but, given what happened to the Russian peasantry in Stalin's Russia in the 1930s, this is surely the least likely explanation! On this, Rhees is clearly a more reliable guide; he knew Wittgenstein better than almost anyone else. Moreover, it sits rather awkwardly with Keynes's comments above; there Keynes notes that Wittgenstein was sympathetic to "the way of life which he believes the new regime in Russia stands for" -- notice the comment about the regime, and not just the way of life.

    [The full details of Wittgenstein's desire to live in Russia, and his visit, can be found in Monk (1990), pp.340-54.]

    Moreover, his closest friend before he met Rhees was Francis Skinner, who had wanted to volunteer to fight in Spain as part of the International Brigade (he was finally rejected on health grounds).

    In addition, Wittgenstein thought that Alan Turing (who was also one of his 'part time' pupils for a brief period in the 1930s) believed that he (Wittgenstein) was trying to introduce "Bolshevism" into Mathematics, because of his criticisms of the irrational fear of contradictions among mathematicians. [Cf., Monk (1990), pp.419-20; see also Hodges (1983), pp.152-54.]

    As Wittgenstein himself said:

    Turing does not object to anything I say. He agrees with every word. He objects to the idea he thinks underlies it. He thinks we're undermining mathematics, introducing Bolshevism into mathematics. But not at all. [Wittgenstein (1976), p.76.]
    On this, and Wittgenstein's 'radical Bolshevism', see Ray Monk's on-line essay, (link in the original essay).

    The changes Wittgenstein wished to see are...I believe, so radical that the name 'full-blooded Bolshevism' suggests itself as a natural way to describe the militant tendency of his remarks. [Monk (1995).]
    See also Monk (2007).

    Finally, but perhaps most importantly, Wittgenstein himself declared that his later Philosophy had been inspired by his regular conversations with Pierro Sraffa (Gramsci's friend). The extent of Sraffa's influence is still unclear (however, see below), but Wittgenstein himself admitted to Rhees that it was from Sraffa that he had gained an "anthropological" view of philosophical problems. [Cf., Monk (1990), pp.260-61. Cf., also Malcolm (1958), p.69, von Wright (ND), pp.28, 213, and Wittgenstein (1998), p.16.]

    In the Preface to what is his most important and influential work, Wittgenstein had this to say:

    Even more than this…criticism I am indebted to that which a teacher of this university, Mr P. Sraffa, for many years unceasingly practiced on my thoughts. I am indebted to this stimulus for the most consequential ideas of this book. [Wittgenstein (1958), p.viii. Bold emphasis added.]
    This is quite remarkable: the author of what many believe to be the most original and innovative philosophical work of the 20th century -- and one that, if correct, brings to an end 2500 years of traditional Philosophy -- claims that his most "consequential" ideas were derived from a man who was an avowed Marxist!

    Attempts to reconstruct Sraffa's influence on Wittgenstein are in their early stages, and they are not likely to progress much further unless some hard evidence turns up; to date, these attempts are based largely on supposition and inference. On this, see Sharpe (2002), Davis (2002) and Rossi-Landi (2002), pp.200-04.

    Now, it is not being maintained here that Wittgenstein was a closet revolutionary, only that he has been rather badly misrepresented; a demonstrably erroneous view of his political leanings has been fostered by some of his 'disciples', who have (or have had) their own political agendas in mind.
    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Wittgenstein.htm

    3) Where exactly do I imply that dialectics is the cause of all our woes? I note you do not even attempt to quote me to that effect. In fact, I go out of my way, several times, at my site and in my essays to say things like this:

    (1) It is important to emphasise from the outset that I am not blaming the long-term failure of Dialectical Marxism solely on the acceptance of the Hermetic ideas dialecticians inherited from Hegel.

    It is worth repeating this since I still encounter comments on Internet discussion boards, and still receive e-mails from those who claim to have read the above words, who still think I am blaming all our woes on dialectics. I am not.

    However, no matter how many times I repeat this caveat, the message will not sink in (and this is after several years of continually making this very point!).

    It seems that this is one part of the universe over which the Heraclitean Flux has no power!

    What is being claimed, however, is that adherence to this 'theory' is one of the subjective reasons why Dialectical Marxism has become a bye-word for failure.

    There are other, objective reasons why the class enemy still runs this planet, but since revolutions require revolutionaries with ideas in their heads, this 'theory' must take some of the blame.

    So, it is alleged here that dialectics has been an important contributory factor.

    It certainly helps explain why revolutionary groups are in general vanishingly small, neurotically sectarian, studiously unreasonable, consistently conservative, theoretically deferential to 'tradition', and almost invariably lean toward some form of substitutionism.

    Naturally, this has had a direct bearing on our lack of impact on the working-class over the last seventy years or so -- and probably for much longer -- and thus on the continuing success of Capitalism.

    The following 'Unity of Opposites' is difficult to explain otherwise:

    The larger the proletariat, the smaller the impact that Dialectical Marxism has on it.

    Sadly, this will continue while comrades cling on to this regressive doctrine.

    Any who doubt this are encouraged to read on, where those doubts will be severely bruised, if not completely laid to rest.
    This has not been tucked away in an obscure corner of my site; it's on the opening page!

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

    More to follow in my next post.
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 26th February 2010 at 13:30.
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    Shane:

    If you mean that Diamat was part of the ideological justification of party-state rule, well yes of course but if it’s not the cause of anything - so what?
    Where did I say it wasn't the cause of anything? You seem to flip from one extreme to the next; one minute you say I imply it is the cause of all our woes, the next that it is the cause of nothing at all!

    I think its disingenuous to say you have no philosophy to offer as if that’s what I expected – when I ask how it ‘works’ I want to know how a Marxist like you who rejects a key element in the tradition back to Engels (back 150 years would be before Marx wrote ‘Capital’) explains the workings of capitalism. I thought maybe it was Analytical Marxism but apparently not – and here you say that in the best of them – Cohen one has only (only?!) to ignore the technological determinism and functionalism. The irony here is that functionalism is a product of a non-dialectical view – all social (or other) processes are system maintaining, which is essentially what the Right Hegelians were on about (i.e. there are no contradictory processes). And it is to contradiction that I want to turn.
    1) What I reject is the philosophical theory that Engels imposed on Historical Materialism, not Historical Materialism itself. I did say this in my earlier post, so I do not know how you managed to miss it.

    2) I'm not convinced that there is such a thing as a 'dialectical view' of anything, since dialectics makes no sense at all. So, functionalism cannot be a non-dialectical view if there is no such thing as a dialectical view to begin with. That would be like asserting that, say, the scientific work of Newton represents a non-Jabberwocky view of the universe.

    You assert that ‘contradiction’ can only mean a human (and in this case individual) activity. I contradict you and you contradict me but of course this isn’t the meaning most of us give it at all. Just to make sure – here is your first mention of it:
    Well, if you try to contradict anyone not already seduced by Hegelian philosophy, or 'materialist dialectics', they will understand you readily. On the other hand, if you try to sell them the idea that this involves a real-world 'unity of opposites', they will not know what you are talking about. The fact that you would then have to explain yourself (whether or not you were successful in this) would tell us that the word "contradict" (or even "contradiction") does not ordinarily mean what dialecticians tell us it means. That is why I quoted Marx to this effect:

    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.
    Hegel's 'innovative' employment of this word (itself based on a series of crass logical blunders) represents just such a distortion. And the same is true of the use to which Marxist Dialecticians put this word.

    Now our ability to contradict each other is not a social form – it’s a speech act. Hegel is analysing underlying processes – which he takes to be ‘ideas’ – and how they unfold in the material world – which as historical materialists we take to be arse-about. Now despite the fact that I asked you specifically if you thought most dialectical thinkers (like Rees) reified the dialectic – i.e. attributed causal powers to the concept – you said ‘no’. But now you re-assert it again (quote “Marxist dialecticians... with respect to 'contradictions', these are now said to power every change in the entire universe”).
    I'm intrigued that you think speech acts are not social forms (on this, see the end). Where do you think they are learnt and take place; on Jupiter?

    And Hegel is not analysing anything; he is imposing his mystical ideas on reality, based on a crass example of sub-Aristotelian logic. To that end, as Marx says, he has to distort ordinary language.

    You now say this:

    Now despite the fact that I asked you specifically if you thought most dialectical thinkers (like Rees) reified the dialectic – i.e. attributed causal powers to the concept – you said ‘no’. But now you re-assert it again (quote “Marxist dialecticians... with respect to 'contradictions', these are now said to power every change in the entire universe”)
    What you wanted to know was if I thought they caused change, which I do not; but dialecticians certainly think they do, and like Hegel they are quite happy to impose them on reality, and they do this in defiance of their constant claim that they do not do this.

    Now we come to my example (which you say you have heard a thousand times) but what exactly is your critique? You make 5 assertions:

    That I use the word ‘contradiction’ in trying to explain it. I’m not sure what to make of this. You want a definition of the word? Not an example of its explanatory USE. So you say it’s incoherent. I use the word to mean that processes are made up of elements which result in changes in the system. ‘Contradictory’ processes are those processes which pull the system in different directions. And again ‘contradiction’ is a concept I am using to explain the real, material processes, the concept doesn’t cause it, it’s just a shorthand way of capturing those ideas. This is really a common way to speak despite your seeming mystification by it – we routinely talk of ‘capitalism’ as a thing or as causing outcomes because it captures what we mean, even tho it’s reification.
    1) No, I do not want a definition; a clear explanation (and the first in 200 years) of what a 'dialectical contradiction' is will do.

    2) Now, you, like all other dialecticians, help yourself to this word, and use it to try to add to the explanation of change that is already available in Historical Materialism, without this word. You use it to account for " processes which pull the system in different directions", when, as I pointed out, that is a distortion of this word. Why use it? It bears no relation to its use in ordinary language or in logic. It adds nothing to the account available to us in Historical Materialism. It is like a wheel in a machine that does no work.

    3) You then say:

    And again ‘contradiction’ is a concept I am using to explain the real, material processes, the concept doesn’t cause it, it’s just a shorthand way of capturing those ideas. This is really a common way to speak despite your seeming mystification by it – we routinely talk of ‘capitalism’ as a thing or as causing outcomes because it captures what we mean, even tho it’s reification.
    But it doesn't help in any way; you might just as well use "banana" for all the use it is. And it's a pernicious 'shorthand', too, for the reasons I suggested in my last reply to you.

    That we shouldn’t call it a contradiction because if 2 forces P & Q act in opposite directions we don’t call that a ‘contradiction’. No we don’t but that because forces like this operate *externally* on objects and we are talking about processes which constitute capitalism, not something that acts on it from the outside.
    So, what is the point, then, of your earlier metaphor?

    ‘Contradictory’ processes are those processes which pull the system in different directions.
    If this is not an appeal to forces, then what is it?

    Marx said that contradictions are ‘mutually exclusive’ and that if this were so they couldn’t co-exist. If this is true one can only wonder what sort of fool Marx was to fall into such an elementary logical trap. Because you think in terms of forces acting on objects which are external then Marx makes no sense but if you think of capital as a class *process* there are forces acting *within* that system that act in different directions they mutually ‘exclude each’ other because the system cannot be maintained and BOTH these processes continue (i.e. capital accumulation will eventually destroy its material base in the environment (one set of contradictions) or capital exploitations of wage labor will collapse the system or workers will overthrow it). Now this lies at the heart of a revolutionary Marxist perspective.
    1) In fact, what I claim is that Marx is merely "coquetting" with this word in Das Kapital, as he himself tells us in the Preface to the second edition.

    2) And it is no use appealing to what is internal to capitalism, since these 'pulling apart' 'forces'/'contradictions' are still external to any process on which they allegedly act.

    3) You now say this:

    Because you think in terms of forces acting on objects which are external then Marx makes no sense but if you think of capital as a class *process* there are forces acting *within* that system that act in different directions they mutually ‘exclude each’ other because the system cannot be maintained and BOTH these processes continue (i.e. capital accumulation will eventually destroy its material base in the environment (one set of contradictions) or capital exploitations of wage labor will collapse the system or workers will overthrow it). Now this lies at the heart of a revolutionary Marxist perspective.
    Bold added.

    But in that case, Marx would have said that these 'contradictions' "seek to mutually exclude one another", or will "one day mutually exclude one another". But he doesn't. He says they mutually exclude one another, in the here and now; present perfect tense. If so, they can't co-exist, so they can't 'contradict' one another.

    4) Now I'm quite happy with most of the things you say above, indeed, I totally agree with them, but the explanation you give is in terms of Historical Materialism, and it only becomes obscure, indeed it is negated, by the use of this term drawn from mystical Hegelianism (upside down or the 'right way up'). Historical Materialism ceases to work it this term is imported. No wonder Marx 'coquetted' with it.

    You then say this:

    Because ‘contradiction’ is incoherent it allows Stalinists to argue for any conclusion they like. This is of course what I mentioned before. The idea of the ‘Dialectic’ as some sort of motive force which is the sort of crude reification that you were assuring me you didn’t mean by ‘dialectical marxists’. I have Rees’s book downstairs but have never read it – maybe I should fish it out and see if he does this. Of course dialectics can be used as ideologically – like a religion - so can positivism or other forms of materialism. Stalinist apologetics is beside the point – the use of ‘principle’ and ‘secondary’, and what have you, may just be about the complexity of the system you are describing, not an apology for it or an excuse to justify stupidity. Nevertheless it’s pretty clear that you think dialectical philosophy to be the villain as if some other form of Marxism couldn’t have been pulled into service.
    1) I did not say this: "Because ‘contradiction’ is incoherent it allows Stalinists to argue for any conclusion they like", what I said is that whether or not dialectics is incoherent it can be used this way, to justify anything you like and its opposite. And that is because it glories in 'contradictions', only now they are used in their logical sense, to justify two propositions as true, but both of which cannot be true (and both of which cannot be false), by-passing the more limited use you allege is present in Das Kapital.

    2) I do not think dialectics is the villain here; those are your words again, not mine. What dialectics has done is make a bad situation far worse, in that it has been used to saddle Marxism with anti-Marxist and opportunist policies and tactics.

    3) And it is arguable that other parts of Marxism could have been used -- and yet I'd like to see you try! -- , but only dialectics allows those who use it to argue one thing one minute, and then its exact opposite the next -- or, in many cases, both at once!

    Nothing in Historical Materialism allows this. Dialectics positively encourages it. In fact, the only other 'theory' I can think of that would 'permit' this is Zen Buddhism.

    4. And it's not just the Stalinists who do this; you will find more than enough evidence at my site that Maoists and Trotskyists do this too, and all the time:

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

    Use the 'Quick Links' at the top to jump to Section 7: Case Studies.

    That real people come into the equation only when I drop the word ‘contradiction’. All I can say is that we are describing class processes. You say other words would be better – well perhaps but let’s see your brief description of how capitalism works using ‘gainsay’.
    No need to; Historical Materialism, without this obscure term, does the job quite nicely.

    You seem to think that human actions can only be individuals (is that why you use the example of a contradiction as individuals contradicting each other?) rather than classes. Marxists don’t say the ‘working class contradicts the capitalists’ as if they are 2 individuals speaking to each other – yet you say this is the only way the term makes sense. What we do say (at times) is that working class interests are in contradiction to those of capitalists – by which we mean that neither can’t have they interests fully realised and the system survive.
    I do not think that human beings should be considered as individuals; in fact, I have published a 140,000 word essay at my site which argues for the exact opposite. That is why I have called this a social form -- which, you, not me, denied. See above.

    So, yes individuals use the word "contradiction" in the way I allege, but only because they have been socialised to do so.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page_13_03.htm

    Now, I partially agree with this (indeed, I make this point in Essay Eight Part Two):

    Marxists don’t say the ‘working class contradicts the capitalists’ as if they are 2 individuals speaking to each other – yet you say this is the only way the term makes sense. What we do say (at times) is that working class interests are in contradiction to those of capitalists – by which we mean that neither can’t have they interests fully realised and the system survive.
    With suitable change in wording, this could in fact have come from that essay. But this use of the word bears no relation to those obscure 'dialectical contradictions', a phrase that is still in need of explication.

    I don’t think its beating around the bush. You claim to be a historical materialist so once we eliminate the pernicious effect of dialectics - how will we be explaining Marxism to people? How would you have written ‘Capital’ 150 years ago without the pernicious influence of dialectics.
    I do not need to speculate; if you look at my answer to comrade Artesian above, you will see that I allege that, by the time he came to write [i]Das Kapital[/], Marx waved good bye to the sort of dialectics that most comrades have uncritically swallowed, and that his 'dialectic' bears a much closer relation to the dialectic found in Aristotle, Kant and the Scottish Historical Materialists.

    More on that here:

    'Scottish School':

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...9&postcount=57

    Aristotle:

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...4&postcount=68
    Last edited by Rosa Lichtenstein; 26th February 2010 at 13:23.
  25. #219
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    Take your time Rosa, I'm sure I've heard it all before, numerous times. Just one thing, I am not your comrade. Anyone who calls me a class-traitor is not a comrade.
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  27. #220
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    Where did I say you were my comrade, or I was yours? Using the phrase 'comrade Artesian' is like using the phrase "Brother William" in a monastery.

    I will continue to use it, however, even if only to annoy you...
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