Thread: Dialectics and "Ruling Class Ideas"

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    Default Dialectics and "Ruling Class Ideas"

    ^^^ I agree, but then the downside is that such 'leaders' bring with them a whole package of bourgeois ideas, and a propensity to create sectarian division.

    That is why they need workers to keep them in line.
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    So Rosa, why haven't any revolutionaries with origins in the working class made an issue of those supposedly "ruling-class ideas"?

    Burnham and Eastman are the only figures in the history of Marxism who have attacked dialectics. Neither of them had working-class origins, as far as I can determine. I also don't think I need to point out what both of them went on to do afterwards.
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    Not the scientific parts -- that is, not Historical Materialism --, but as I argued here:

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.p...8&postcount=10

    the incorporation of dialectics has seriously compromised Marxism, since that 'theory' has an undeniable ruling-class pedigree.
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    Rosa, will you please answer my question?
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    Sorry RP, I missed it:

    So Rosa, why haven't any revolutionaries with origins in the working class made an issue of those supposedly "ruling-class ideas"?
    I am not sure what you mean by 'an issue'.

    Burnham and Eastman are the only figures in the history of Marxism who have attacked dialectics. Neither of them had working-class origins, as far as I can determine. I also don't think I need to point out what both of them went on to do afterwards.
    And Plekhanov and Schactman were dialecticians, but that did not stop them becoming anti-bolsheviks.

    And, there have been far more counter- and anti-revolutionary dialecticians than there have been the opposite: namely the Stalinists and the Maoists.

    So, if anything, adherence to the dialectic is anti-Marxist, if we must argue this crudely.
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    I am not sure what you mean by 'an issue'.
    I thought it was pretty obvious. Why haven't working-class revolutionaries combatted ruling-class ideas in the Marxist movement? For example, the Bolshevik Party had a predominantly working-class membership. Why did these working-class Marxists, many of whom were leaders of the party in their own right, not challenge the Hegelian ideas imported into the movement by ruling-class revolutionaries like Lenin? Why did they let him free reign while he indoctrinated the party with ruling-class ideas?

    And as I said, the only prominent figures in the history of Marxism who have challenged dialectics were Burnham and Eastman. Neither of them were of working-class origins.

    What I am asking is, where is the working-class opposition to dialectics within the Marxist movement? I think it's pretty clear that there is none.

    And Plekhanov and Schactman were dialecticians, but that did not stop them becoming anti-bolsheviks.

    And, there have been far more counter- and anti-revolutionary dialecticians than there have been the opposite: namely the Stalinists and the Maoists.

    So, if anything, adherence to the dialectic is anti-Marxist, if we must argue this crudely.
    It's not really comparable.

    Some (Stalinists for example) have been counter-revolutionaries. They also, coincidentally, accepted dialectics. Therefore, dialectics must have caused them to be counter-revolutionaries? This theory completely fails the test of your precious formal logic, let alone dialectics, and also completely rejects any kind of materialist analysis about the rise of Stalinism.

    Whereas we have a quite strong correlation that all those in the Marxist movement who began by rejecting dialectics- Burnham, Eastman- ended up abandoning Marxism.
    Last edited by Random Precision; 28th March 2009 at 18:50.
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    RP:

    Why haven't working-class revolutionaries combated ruling-class ideas in the Marxist movement? For example, the Bolshevik Party had a predominantly working-class membership. Why did these working-class Marxists, many of whom were leaders of the party in their own right, not challenge the Hegelian ideas imported into the movement by ruling-class revolutionaries like Lenin? Why did they let him free reign while he indoctrinated the party with ruling-class ideas?
    But, they did. After the 1917 revolution, younger Bolsheviks cadres and scientists argued that all of philosophy (and not just dialectics) was just ruling-class ideology (a crude version of my thesis). They were defeated (not by argument, but by bureaucratic manoeuvrings) by the Deborinites (almost out and out Hegelians) in and around 1925 -- as part of Stalin's attempt to impose a monolithic political culture on the party.

    You can read about this in these books:

    Bakhurst (1991), Joravsky (1961), Graham (1971), Wetter (1958).

    Bakhurst, D. (1991), Consciousness And Revolution In Soviet Philosophy. From The Bolsheviks To Evald Ilyenkov (Cambridge University Press).

    Graham, L. (1971), Science And Philosophy In The Soviet Union (Allen Lane).

    Joravsky, D. (1961), Soviet Marxism And Natural Science 1917-1932 (Routledge).

    Wetter, G. (1958), Dialectical Materialism (Routledge).

    Why did they let him free reign while he indoctrinated the party with ruling-class ideas?
    When they became 'leaders' they had to leave the collective discipline of the working class, and thus became de-classé Marxists. In order to get to and remain at the top, they had to demonstrate their 'orthodoxy'. Now, as we can see from the irrational responses here to my ideas by you lot, party structure constantly seeks to impose a single view on Marxism. So, these comrades either knuckled under, or did not get to the top.

    But, anyway, it is not part of my thesis that working class comrades cannot be seduced by ruling-class ideas, only that such ideas have in fact been introduced into the movement -- and the subsequently formed orthodox doctrines enforced on parties -- by petty-bourgeois comrades (none of whom can defend this theory, anyway -- just like you lot -- but who still adhere to it for non-rational reasons).

    You only have to look at how little space us materialists are allowed in Socialist Worker (both US and UK versions), or in International Socialist Review, International Socialism, or Socialist Review (or any other revolutionary paper/publication) to see how orthodoxy is enforced and other voices quashed/censored -- hence working class party members never get to hear the materialist case.

    Indeed, as the behaviour of several comrades here (and on other discussion boards) illustrates, newer comrades are actively warned not to read my Essays, etc.

    And they are warned in exactly the same way you did above: "If you stray from the straight and narrow, you will become a renegade...".

    And if they even voice doubts, they are ostracised; this happened to me, and it has happened to many others.

    So, no wonder they drop out -- they are forced out!

    Many blame this on Marxism (you can see this happened with Burnham, who was treated very shabbily by Trotsky), when it is the sectarian nature of petty-bourgeois dialecticians that is to blame.

    Again, you can see this here: you lot won't even discuss my ideas rationally (BTB, BenHur, Tupac, KC -- among others -- being excellent examples of this; you will not even agree that I am a Marxist!) -- so you had to slope off to your safe little sanctuary. You could not boot me out of the forum, so you had to exclude me in other ways.

    And as I said, the only prominent figures in the history of Marxism who have challenged dialectics were Burnham and Eastman. Neither of them were of working-class origins.
    Well, they went on to adopt other 'ruling ideas', so that just proves my point.

    What I am asking is, where is the working-class opposition to dialectics within the Marxist movement? I think it's pretty clear that there is none.
    Largely covered above, but a better question is: where are the massed ranks of dialectical workers? In fact, workers ignore dialectical Marxism in their billions.

    And it is not hard to see why; they are natural materialists, and dialectics runs counter to their language and common understanding. It has to be substituted into their brains against the grain, as it were. Hence, when they encounter it, they are repelled by it.

    And this is quite apart from the absolutely awful record of sectarianism, in fighting, murder, anti-working class oppression and counter-revolutionary activity they see among dialectical Marxists. That has put generations of workers off Marxism; they might never trust us again.

    So, if we are to count working class heads here, the non-dialecticians among us are in the overwhelming majority.

    Some (Stalinists for example) have been counter-revolutionaries. They also, coincidentally, accepted dialectics. Therefore, dialectics must have caused them to be counter-revolutionaries? This theory completely fails the test of your precious formal logic, let alone dialectics, and also completely rejects any kind of materialist analysis about the rise of Stalinism.
    When you say 'some', you do realise that the majority of communist party members from, say, 1929 to 1989 in the former 'socialist' states, and elsewhere, were actively counter-revolutionary, don't you? This is a pretty big 'some'!

    In stark contrast, you are quite happy to recruit two anti-dialecticians to the cause of anti-Marxism, but conveniently ignore the many hundreds of thousands of dialecticians who brought shame on Marxism.

    Hardly fair, eh?

    Whereas we have a quite strong correlation that all those in the Marxist movement who began by rejecting dialectics- Burnham, Eastman- ended up abandoning Marxism.
    A correlation with two data points; yes, very scientific!

    Well, the anti-dialectical comrades (who are Marxists) in the anti-dialectics group (that is, at least a dozen RevLefters) are proof of the opposite -- and we have at least 12 data points to your two.

    Add to that the hundreds of thousands (possibly tens of millions) of dialecticians who stained the name of Marxism, and I think my original point stands:

    Dialectical Marxism sucks, and is vastly more anti-Marxist than it is otherwise.
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    But, they did. After the 1917 revolution, younger Bolsheviks cadres and scientists argued that all of philosophy (and not just dialectics) was just ruling-class ideology (a crude version of my thesis). They were defeated (not by argument, but by bureaucratic manoeuvrings) by the Deborinites (almost out and out Hegelians) in and around 1925 -- as part of Stalin's attempt to impose a monolithic political culture on the party.
    Thanks, I'll try to learn some more about this conflict.

    When they became 'leaders' they had to leave the collective discipline of the working class, and thus became de-classé Marxists. In order to get to and remain at the top, they had to demonstrate their 'orthodoxy'. Now, as we can see from the irrational responses here to my ideas by you lot, party structure constantly seeks to impose a single view on Marxism. So, these comrades either knuckled under, or did not get to the top.
    I hope you don't expect me to take your word for that.

    Also, how do you call yourself a Leninist while indicting the entire party structure? To take your argument to its logical conclusions, we might as well give up on building revolutionary parties altogether and become anarchists. Which I don't suppose would be entirely out of character for you, considering where you get the vast majority of your support from.

    You only have to look at how little space us materialists are allowed in Socialist Worker (both US and UK versions), or in International Socialist Review, International Socialism, or Socialist Review (or any other revolutionary paper/publication) to see how orthodoxy is enforced and other voices quashed/censored -- hence working class party members never get to hear the materialist case.
    I don't think there's much evidence for a conspiracy. I wouldn't know about the British ones, but I've only ever seen one article in ISR that defended dialectics directly- Brother Jones' article on Anti-Dühring- which you were given space to respond to in a later issue. We do have discussions on dialectics at Socialism and the regional conferences- I imagine that if you showed up at one of those, you'd be given a hearing like everyone else is.

    Indeed, as the behaviour of several comrades here (and on other discussion boards) illustrates, newer comrades are actively warned not to read my Essays, etc.
    Where? I certainly didn't do this. All I've asked for is that people coming to this site take some time to learn about dialectics instead of just trusting you on the matter.

    Again, you can see this here: you lot won't even discuss my ideas rationally (BTB, BenHur, Tupac, KC -- among others -- being excellent examples of this; you will not even agree that I am a Marxist!) -- so you had to slope off to your safe little sanctuary. You could not boot me out of the forum, so you had to exclude me in other ways.
    If you were a bit more respectful (i.e., didn't complement your arguments against dialectics with shouts of "mystics! ruling class ideas! class traitors!") and didn't have such an abrasive style of argument in general, we might not ever have had to start a group.

    As for you being a Marxist- are you a member of a Marxist organization? Do you actively support the movement for working class power? Are you willing to work with other Marxists regardless of philosophical disputes?

    Largely covered above, but a better question is: where are the massed ranks of dialectical workers? In fact, workers ignore dialectical Marxism in their billions.
    If you're trying to prove that Marxism is largely ignored by workers, well done. I'm not seeing the legions of workers who are lining up to receive the anti-dialectical Marxism gospel from you, though.

    And it is not hard to see why; they are natural materialists, and dialectics runs counter to their language and common understanding. It has to be substituted into their brains against the grain, as it were. Hence, when they encounter it, they are repelled by it.
    Once again, I hope you don't expect me to take your word for this.

    So, if we are to count working class heads here, the non-dialecticians among us are in the overwhelming majority.
    ... who also happen to be non-Marxists. But I don't suppose it would be out of character for you to proclaim non-Marxists as better friends (at least they don't like Hegel!) than other Marxists, most of whom you've labeled as your enemies.

    When you say 'some' you do realise that the majority of communist party members from, say 1929 to 1989 in the former 'socialist' sates, and elsewhere were actively counter-revolutionary? This is a pretty big 'some'!
    So the crushing of the revolution in Spain, the purges in Russia, class collaboration in WW2, and so on all happened because of... bad philosophy? How very materialist.

    In stark contrast, you are quite happy to recruit two anti-dialecticians to the cause of anti-Marxism, but conveniently ignore the many hundreds of thousands of dialecticians who brought shame on Marxism.

    ...

    A correlation with two data points; yes, very scientific!
    Actually I also forgot to include Bernstein and the reformist movement inspired by him in the Second International pre-WW1.

    Well, the anti-dialectical comrades (who are Marxists) in the anti-dialectics group (that is, at least a dozen RevLefters) are proof of the opposite -- and we have at least 12 data points to your two.
    Bravo. Some people on an online forum agree with your conclusions.

    Add to that the hundreds of thousands (possibly tens of millions) of dialecticians who stained the name of Marxism, and I think my original point stands:

    Dialectical Marxism sucks, and is vastly more anti-Marxist than it is otherwise.
    Boring. Call me when you've led a revolution.
    Last edited by Random Precision; 28th March 2009 at 21:52.
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    nevermind. i was going to begin to debate Rosa but its worthless.

    remember: her ideas have absolutely no relevance outside revleft and her head. whatever she says just...doesn't matter.
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    Raw:

    nevermind. i was going to begin to debate Rosa but its worthless.
    Still scared, I see?

    her ideas have absolutely no relevance outside revleft and her head. whatever she says just...doesn't matter.
    And Marx's ideas at one time had no 'relevance' outside his small circle. But that is no longer true. And he certainly would not have been put off by an ignorant critic like you, had you been around in the 1840s, saying things like this:

    Marx's ideas have absolutely no relevance outside of the samll communist circle and his head. whatever he says just...doesn't matter.
    Carry on whistlng in the dark if it helps. You certainly can't respond to my arguments -- you just make personal attacks.
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    RP:

    I hope you don't expect me to take your word for that.
    Certainly not, but you did ask for my explanation. It is hardly to the point complaining when I give it.

    Perhaps you can explain where I go wrong?

    Also, how do you call yourself a Leninist while indicting the entire party structure? To take your argument to its logical conclusions, we might as well give up on building revolutionary parties altogether and become anarchists. Which I don't suppose would be entirely out of character for you, considering where you get the vast majority of your support from.
    Where do I indict the party structure? I merely criticised its petty-bourgeois core, and the sectarianism and dogmatism that comes with this social fraction.

    And I do that in order to make Leninism more successful. It can hardly be less successful.

    Once again, I hope you don't expect me to take your word for this.
    This is becoming tedious. If I supply all the argument and evidence from my Essays to prove every point, I would take up dozens of pages here and be accused of spamming. One of the reasons i set my site up is to substantiate everything I say, and at length, so I cannot be accused of not being thorough.

    So, no don't take my word for it, but then don't expect me to post a PhD length responses to every point you make.

    But, I note you are quite happy to accept what the dialectical classics tell you, when there is very little argument and evidence to support their assertions.

    If you are going to be picky with me, at least be consistently picky.

    Now, if you want more details that substantiate the things I say, then try these Essays:

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%2009_01.htm

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%2009_02.htm

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%20010_01.htm

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%2012_01.htm

    There's 200,000+ words of argument, evidence and references in these four.

    who also happen to be non-Marxists. But I don't suppose it would be out of character for you to proclaim non-Marxists as better friends (at least they don't like Hegel!) than other Marxists, most of whom you've labelled as your enemies.
    Well, the only point I was making was that if you want to count working class heads who are dialecticians, then the non-dialectical section of the working class is relatively massive in comparison. So, there's very little comfort for you there.

    But, where have I labelled fellow Marxists as enemies?

    So the crushing of the revolution in Spain, the purges in Russia, class collaboration in WW2, and so on all happened because of... bad philosophy? How very materialist.
    Where did I say that?

    But all these were carried out by Dialectical Marxists (and they rationalised these things using dialectics).

    If you can point the finger at two former comrades (Eastman and Burnham), who gave up dialectics, how can you complain if I point a finger at the millions of dialectical Marxists who did not give this theory up, but who brought shame on Marxism.

    Actually I also forgot to include Bernstein and the reformist movement inspired by him in the Second International pre-WW1
    Three data points; major improvement!

    Bravo. Some people on an online forum agree with your conclusions.
    Look, if you are going to be snide about things, the comradely atmosphere between us can cease.

    The point you (deliberately) miss is that there are plenty of anti-dialectical comrades, many of whom have been revolutionaries for many years.

    If you can, get hold of Eric Petersen's book, The Poverty Of Dialectical Materialism. Eric is a member of the Australian IS. This book is the best anti-dialectics book so far written (even if he does not go as far as I do). In it Eric lists all the comrades from the past who were anti-dialecticians, but who did not give up Marxism.

    Moreover, if you ask the unreconstructed Stalinists here, they will tell you that us Trots have abandoned the dialectic, and the Maoists will say this of us too, and of the Stalinists.

    Orthodox Trots will say it also of us IS-ers, and of each other and of the Stalinists and the Maoists. [You will find abundant evidence of this in the third of the essays I linked to above.]

    This means that for each tendency in Marxism, all the rest have abandoned the dialectic.

    So, there are more dialectical Marxists on the planet who have (in each other's eyes) abandoned the dialectic than there are those who have remained true to it --, but, who in their own eyes have not abandoned this theory.

    So, adherence to this theory does not guarantee that someone will not accuse you of being a traitor to Marxism, even though, in your own eyes, you are not guilty of this.

    And this illustrates why accusing us materialists of abandoning Marxism in that we have rejected the dialectic cuts no ice.

    You lot do this to everybody as a matter of course, and like the boy who cried wolf, are fit only to be ignored.

    Boring. Call me when you've led a revolution.
    I take it that this means you do not want a comradely debate?

    OK, gloves off from now on with you.

    Call me when you have led a revolution...

    But, "What about 1917?", you might ask. Well this:

    When confronted with the above unwelcome facts, DM-fans sometimes respond with a "Well if dialectics is so dire, how come the Bolsheviks were able to win power in 1917?"

    [Non-Leninist DM-fans, of course, do not have even this to point to as a 'success'!]

    Oddly enough, as a Leninist myself, I find this 'objection' remarkably easy to answer: the Bolsheviks were successful because they could not and did not use dialectics (either in its DM- or in its 'Materialist Dialectics'-form). To be sure, this claim is controversial, but only because no one has thought to question the role of dialectics before.

    In fact, the material counterweight provided by working class soviets prevented the Bolsheviks from employing this useless theory. Had they tried to propagandise/organise Russian workers with slogans such as: "Being is identical with but at the same time different from Nothing...", "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts...", or "Matter without motion is unthinkable" (and the like), they'd have been regarded as complete lunatics, and rightly so.

    On the other hand, they could and did use ideas drawn from HM to help organise the soviets. [All this was covered in detail Part One of this Essay.]

    [HM = Historical Materialism.]

    And it is no use arguing that dialectical concepts were used 'implicitly' (or that they 'informed' the tactics that Lenin and his party adopted, somehow operating 'behind the scenes'). As we will see below, since dialectical concepts can be employed to justify anything and everything (being inherently and proudly contradictory), had they been employed, they could only have been used subjectively since there is no objective way to tell these incompatible applications apart.

    Anyone who takes exception to the above will need to show precisely how Lenin and the Bolsheviks explicitly used dialectical-concepts --, as opposed to their actual employment of HM-concepts (the latter based on a concrete class analysis of events in 1917, and on years of experience relating to the working class). They will thus need to produce documented evidence of the Bolshevik's use of dialectical ideas/theses, and then show how they could possibly have been of any practical benefit to workers in revolutionary struggle --, or even how they could have helped the Bolsheviks comprehend what was going on and know how to intervene successfully.

    Now, I have trawled through the available minutes and decrees of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party (from August 1917 to February 1918), and have so far failed to find a single DM-thesis, let alone one drawn from 'Materialist Dialectics' put to any use, or even referred to abstractly! [Bone (1974).]

    Added later: I have now gone though the available documents line by line twice -- still no sign of this Hermetic virus!

    In fact, it is conspicuous by its absence.

    Hence, the evidence suggests that active revolutionaries made no use of this 'theory'.

    Added later still: I have now checked the Theses, Resolutions and Manifestos of the First Four Congresses of The Third International [Holt and Holland (1983)], and the only sign of dialectics is a couple of dozen occurrences of the word "contradiction" in relation to capitalism (etc.) in over 400 pages. No other examples of dialectical jargon appear in the entire volume, and even then this word is not used to explain anything, nor does it seem to do any work. Furthermore, most of the uses of this word were made by Zinoviev; as far as I can tell, Lenin does not use the term anywhere in this book.

    Moreover, in Trotsky's The Third International After Lenin [Trotsky (1974)], dialectics is mentioned only fourteen times in nearly 300 pages, and then only in passing. The theory does no work there either.

    And it is even less use someone requiring of me to produce proof that Lenin and the Bolsheviks did not use dialectical ideas, since there is no written evidence that he/they did, as the above indicates. Hence, the contrary case goes by default. Of course, all this is quite independent of the proof offered in these Essays that not one single dialectical concept is useable; after all, as we saw earlier, even Lenin got into a serious muddle when he tried to play around with such ideas, let alone when he attempted to apply them. [On this, see Essay Ten Part One.]

    As we will soon find out (below), when dialectical ideas are in fact deployed, they can be made to justify anything whatsoever (no matter how contradictory that "anything whatsoever" might otherwise appear to be; in fact the more contradictory it is, the more 'dialectical' it seems to be!) -- and it can be, and has been used to rationalise any course of action, and its opposite, including those that are both counter-revolutionary and anti-Marxist.

    In fact, shortly after the revolution, many younger comrades and Russian scientists began to argue at length that all of Philosophy (and not just dialectics) is part of ruling-class ideology (which is in fact a crude version of my own thesis!). It was not until the Deborinites won a factional battle in 1925/26 that this trend was defeated (and this was clearly engineered to help pave the way for the further destruction of the gains of October). More about this later.

    [On this, see Bakhurst (1991), Joravsky (1961), Graham (1971), Wetter (1958).]

    So, 1917 cannot be chalked-up as a success for this strain of Hermetic Mysticism.

    However, we will see that the disintegration of the results of 1917 can partly be put down to dialectics.
    This is from Essay Nine Part Two (where the above references are listed):

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%2009_02.htm

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