Do stones talk to us?

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baboon
Do stones talk to us?
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Stones and bones talk to us

On a thread on the ICC website, and other threads, L. Bird makes a fairly definite rejection of science; "stones don't talk to us", he says as part of his argument, an argument that I have a great deal of trouble in following. I can understand that a future, communist society, should we ever get there, would necessarily consign a great deal of our ignorance to the dustbin of history and open up untold, unknown parameters as it develops - I don't see communism as a static ideal where everything is voted on once and for all.

Marx saw science in its social function and was greatly nuanced about the question, never rejecting it out of hand but, on the contrary, using it as a tool. He saw it like the law, art and religion, as a superstructural element from the infrastructure each of which acted upon and affected elements of themselves, each other and the base. In the Communist Manifesto he was clear about the corrupting effect of capitalist society on science: "The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet and the scientist into wage labourers." Marx, like many revolutionaries working from their insight from proletarian methodology never rejected science and his work reflects it .We know this from Marx's various works about the relationship of humanity to nature,  the Ethnological Notes and his profound approach to issues of ecology are fundamental to his thoughts and attitude towards both science and communism.  Material only published a few years ago, as expounded by Martin Hundt, "The connection of the Mind and Nature: Marx's 1878 notebooks on geology", not yet translated into English I think, show that Marx was engaged in an extensive study of geology while writing Capital. He had hundreds of pages of notes, diagrams and statistical calculations that, in part, served to underline elements of geological formations with the economic formations of society. There have been frequent references about Marx being "diverted" from finishing Capital by branching off to investigate this or that phenomenon. But Capital was always going to be an unfinished symphony and Marx's "diversions" were part of his vital research as he realised the connection of everything to everything else and the effects that they can have on each other. In Capital itself there are many references to geology both directly and as analogies to the development of class society and capitalism. The stones talked to Marx, just like they will talk to anyone who will listen.

So we have the positive impact of, in this case, the science of geology, on the proletariat and its developing theory as well as the noxious effects that developments of science in capitalist society can have on humanity but the latter mustn't force us to reject the former. Like all superstructural developments the science of geology affects itself by its own movement as well as affecting other superstructural elements close to and far distant from it. One could cite the effect that geology had on evolution by confirming Darwin, Marx, etc. on the descent of life and humanity, as well as its later applications to astrophysics and sub-atomic physics.

The argument isn't really about stones but about what I consider to be a reactionary rejection of science, a real throwing out of the baby with the bathwater. But stones, because of their very nature, because of their prime position in the mediation of humanity and nature, have a great deal to do with the argument. And here we've also got to include bones and other body parts (Marx was also interested in physiology) because these calcified remains also present a scientific challenge and scientific information in themselves. From remains in Herto, Ethiopia we are now reasonably clear, if only until the next discovery, that Anatomically Modern Humans existed in Africa nearly 200,000 years ago (University of Utah), tens of thousands of years before previously thought.  Dates are always being put back from the study of stones and bones, particularly as more efficient scientific methods of measurement are developed. Teeth from a recently discovered cave in China has shown that AMH reached Asia around a hundred thousand years ago (Nature, 14.10. 2015), tens of thousands of years before previously validated. And around twenty-thousand years earlier than previously thought, a re-examination of the Kakadu rock shelter, shows AMH living in Australia sixty-five thousand years ago. The site has sophisticated rock art depicting the myths and magic of that time. Because of the time-scale the discovery also further debunks the generally social darwinist idea, a real inversion of science applied by the bourgeoisie throughout the world, that the arrival of humans wiped out the Australian megafauna.

Stone and stones and their use are vital elements in the defence and success of our species. They tell us a great deal of that history, which for a large part was a developing form of primitive communism. Stretching from Clacton in Britain to Asia and Africa, the Acheulean hand-axe was the tool of choice. There were other adaptions, not least bamboo, but the Acheulean axe predominated and with labour became the central means of production. Hundreds of them have been found piled up unused but as worked tool they are versatile and reflecting its mediating role between nature and labour, it became a beautiful piece of art into its million-and-a-half years' existence. Stone, paint and carvings have a great deal to tell us about mankind's further development: there are the graphic stories and images painted on the cave walls of the Upper Palaeolithic in Europe, Asia and Australia, With the stone and the images intertwining these elements to give access to the cosmos and the other worlds that were part of this society's daily life. Further along some millennia, we probably see one of the beginnings of agriculture in the stone temples of Gobleki Tepe, Nevali Cori, 'Ain Ghazal in west Asia where the carved stones in recreated man-made caves not only carry the carved narratives of the belief system but themselves appear like human figures. In the temples of 'Ain Ghazal there is compelling evidence of human sacrifice where ritual stone bowls have been used. Evidence of human sacrifice is often ambiguous, given that the disarticulation of bones of the dead was a ritual event in part celebrating the ancestors, but 'Ain Ghazal, like the fantastic stone structures of the emerging civilisations of South America connecting the earth to the sky, looks to have used it.

As a superstructural element belief systems, with remarkably similar concepts around the globe as evidenced by stone and on stone and also in the burying and use of particular stone in the great Neolithic "temples",  acted as a cohering factor in society. I don't think that we can understand the line of thought and how that was applied in the Palaeolithic or even the Neolithic but the concept of the ancestors and the tiered cosmos spans both periods. As we enter the Neolithic and the enormous change towards class society, then no longer are animals carved on stone but geometric shapes based on and developed from universal mental concepts. Some stone has clear "special" qualities that are closely related to the spiritual world. Quartz, called "the semen of the Gods" by one South American tribe, was used extensively in European Neolithic buildings and further, ritual "decorations";; flint is closely related to the way in which it was mined (often, the hardest route to get to it was deliberately taken), showing its spiritual quality and the rituals involved in mining it point to a descent to a nether world where labour and spirituality were not separate and the world was multi-dimensional. The bluestones of Stonehenge and Avebury transported over miles point to a specific recognised quality.

If, as expressed by the stones, the belief systems depicted were a factor in the coherence of society, then we already see in the Upper Palaeolithic, strains and tensions emerging in cave art. By the Neolithic, in general, there are further developed antagonisms that are clearly expressed in the stories of the stones. One clear example, due to extensive research and scientific analysis, is the 5000 year-old megalithic structures of the Bend in the Boyne (Ireland), the Scottish islands and parts of the mainland, Anglesey (Wales) and Wiltshire (England). There are of course the megalithic structures right across Europe (particularly Brittany) and the Middle East but the "British Isles" structures show evidence of a new, related polity that is beginning to use the ubiquitous belief system(s) in order to develop its own distinctions, its place as a ruling elite and, very possibly, the beginnings of class society (in this area of the world at least). Old ancestor based systems expressed on stone carvings are defaced and anthromorphic, carved stones of the "old religion" are literally turned upside-down (sometimes making a comeback) emphasising a new order. Like the South American structures to the Gods, the ritual areas become more restrictive and open only to the few which, along with other developments, begin to manipulate belief systems to its own advantage..

These are just a few elements, of a few significant areas where stones talk to us. It's not crystal clear what they are saying and probably will never be given the specific level of the development of consciousness in those areas. But contrary to L. Bird and his rejection of science, stones do talk to us. And from the magic of the stones came the science of ceramics and metallurgy which represented further advances for humanity and further elements that reinforced the tendencies to class society.
 

LBird
The ruling class ideology of 'self-talking stones'

You should be honest in your posts, baboon. You're following the Stalinist method of slandering your opponents, prior to building a dishonest case against them.

Our disagreement, as I've said many times, is not whether either of us rejects 'science' - I don't, and I don't falsely accuse you of doing so, either. I'll quite happily state openly that 'baboon employs science'.

The issue, which you're so keen to avoid discussing, and which is why you use dishonest tactics, is the socio-historical nature of 'science'.

Put simply, you seem to think 'science' is an asocial, ahistorical 'activity', done by an 'elite' of 'disinterested experts'.

On the contrary, I think 'science' is a 'socio-historical activity', which is done differently in different societies, over time.

So, the question of whether 'stones talk to us' or not, can only be answered by reference to the 'science' that makes either claim.

Again, trying to keep this as short as possible, the 'idea' that the 'stones talk to scientists' is a bourgeois invention, and is intended to keep the 'ignorant masses' out of this 'objective activity' of bourgeois 'science'. The bourgeoisie pretend that they have an 'elite' that 'stones talk to'.

The contrary view, from a Democratic Communist perspective, is that, as Marx argued, that 'we create our objects', and so we can change them. Whatever 'stones' supposedly 'say' is a function of the theories of those doing the 'asking'.

So, for revolutionary proletarians, the 'theories' and 'questions' that are 'put to stones' are under the political control of the community. If we allow an 'elite' to claim, as you apparently do, that the 'stones are talking, from their own volition, to careful, disinterested listeners', then we workers are handing over the power to initiate this 'conversation' to a 'scientific elite'. Of course, this 'scientific elite' pretends that 'the stones are talking to them', but class conscious workers know, from their study of history and society, employing Marx's theories, and concepts like 'modes of production', that different societies socially produce different accounts of what 'stones say'.

This is what our disagreement is about, baboon.

You want an 'elite science', which workers do not control.

I want a 'democratic science', which workers do control.

baboon
I had the distinct impression

I had the distinct impression that you rejected science L. Bird from some of your earlier posts. I agree with you that science is a "social-historical activity" and within this stones talk, just as they still talk to workers today.

Science has thrown up determinism and Social Darwinism and the way to confront these abominations is from a materialist analysis that is in part based on science which makes for a strong historical materialism.

Driving a wedge, between Marx and Engels (and Marx, Engels and others), doesn't just weaken a materialist analysis of the relationship of man to nature deveeloped by them both (and others), nor is it only a great underestimation of the contribution that Engels made to the workers' movement, but it also tail-ends the divisions within the workers' movement that the bourgeoisie like to play up.

John Bellamy Foster wrote: "Marx's standpoint thus demanded of science that it be materialist, if it were to be scientific at all. In this view, no study of changing historical developments and ;possibilities could be free from the study of natural science. Hence Marx laboured relentlessly, throughout his life, to keep abreast of developments within science. The common misconception that this was an obsession of Engels, of which Marx was not a part, is contradicted by an enormous mass of evidence - a fact much more obvious to us today, after additional scientific notebooks by Marx have been published, than was true even a decade ago". This is from "Marx's Ecology" published in 2000. Since then even more scientific works by Marx have been found (see the first post).

Marx wasn't part of an "elite" was he?

LBird
'Stones' are our puppets - we put words into their mouths

baboon wrote:

I had the distinct impression that you rejected science L. Bird from some of your earlier posts.

I don't know which posts you got this 'distinct impression' from, baboon, because I've never written anything about 'rejecting science'. I think your 'distinct impression' was formed by your 'theory and practice' (as are all socio-historical 'impressions', distinct or blurry). Your theory is Engels' 'materialism', which echoes 19th century 'bourgeois science', in the developmental state it was in then, that 'matter' is the basis of 'ideas'. From your bourgeois ideology (let's be clear about this being political and ideological), you see any attempt by Democratic Communists (ie., Marxists who argue that only the social producers can democratically determine their world) to argue that any 'science' which can satisfy the needs, interests and purposes of the class conscious proletariat must be under their own democratic control, as an example of 'idealism', 'post-modernism', 'religion', etc.

So, for this 'materialist' ideology, any attempt to criticise 'science' (ie. bourgeois science) is, in effect, an attack on 'Science'. Thus, you read, through the lens of your ideology, me as writing that I reject 'Science'. In fact, as I've written plenty of times, I reject bourgeois science.

You do not regard 'science' as a socio-historical activity which can be changed. You regard 'Science' as a politically-neutral 'tool' for 'scientists', an elite, which you regard yourself as belonging to.

baboon wrote:
I agree with you that science is a "social-historical activity" and within this stones talk, just as they still talk to workers today.

If you really agree with this, then you must agree that 'science', its theories, its practices, and its social products (ie. scientific knowledge), can be changed. That is, your first post about 'talking stones' can be voted to be 'scientifically wrong'. You do not have a personal, individual, access to 'talking stones', which you can 'hear' to the exclusion of the working class. Only the proletariat can determine what 'questions' are 'asked' of 'stones'. The bourgeoisie have not produced a complete set of 'questions' which are 'objective' and cannot be changed. The 'stones' IN-THEMSELVES do not produce 'scientific knowledge'. This is a bourgeois myth. Bourgeois scientists are either liars or poorly educated about the world we all live in

baboon wrote:
Science has thrown up determinism and Social Darwinism and the way to confront these abominations is from a materialist analysis that is in part based on science which makes for a strong historical materialism.

Marx wasn't a 'materialist' and didn't employ 'historical materialism'. These claims are from Engels, not Marx. I've written many posts on many threads, to substantiate this, so I won't do so again, here.

Marx was an 'idealist-materialist' (ie. a 'social productionist', whose 'science' was 'theory and practice').

baboon wrote:
Driving a wedge, between Marx and Engels (and Marx, Engels and others), doesn't just weaken a materialist analysis of the relationship of man to nature deveeloped by them both (and others), nor is it only a great underestimation of the contribution that Engels made to the workers' movement, but it also tail-ends the divisions within the workers' movement that the bourgeoisie like to play up.

The 'wedge between' them was 'driven' by Engels, as any reading of their works shows.

For example, Marx argued that any 'relationship of man to nature' was a socially productive one, in which humanity produces their nature. This is politically very different to Engels' argument that 'nature' is 'out there', already produced, simply awaiting our 'discovery' of it. The latter is the claim of 'materialists', that a 'material nature' is already in existence - and thus, this 'nature' is not a socio-historical product of human conscious activity, but a 'nature' which IN ITSELF impinges upon a passive humanity. 

Engels' contribution wasn't in the area of science, philosophy or epistemology, none of which he understood.

Your last point is very ironic, because it's 'bourgeois materialism' that 'plays up divisions between workers'. The only answer for the workers' movement is democracy. This is the one thing that bourgeois science will not have - the election of 'truth', or the democratic control of the production of 'scientific knowledge'. 

baboon wrote:
John Bellamy Foster wrote: "Marx's standpoint thus demanded of science that it be materialist, if it were to be scientific at all. In this view, no study of changing historical developments and ;possibilities could be free from the study of natural science. Hence Marx laboured relentlessly, throughout his life, to keep abreast of developments within science. The common misconception that this was an obsession of Engels, of which Marx was not a part, is contradicted by an enormous mass of evidence - a fact much more obvious to us today, after additional scientific notebooks by Marx have been published, than was true even a decade ago". This is from "Marx's Ecology" published in 2000. Since then even more scientific works by Marx have been found (see the first post).

I've got a number of John Bellamy Foster's books and articles, and Neil Smith's and Paul Burkett's and Noel Castree's and Reiner Grundmann's, but a discussion of 'Green Marxism' is for another thread.

Quote:
Marx wasn't part of an "elite" was he?

Yes, he was. Part of an 'elite' of Communists. Like us, comrade.

That's precisely our political problem - to end our 'elite status', and ensure that Communism becomes the viewpoint of all workers.

'Materialism' does nothing whatsoever to advance that political aim - and so, the last 130 years since Marx's death, with the dominance of Engels' 'materialism' (which is why Lenin must link Marx and Engels into the unity 'Marx-Engels'), have not advanced the cause of the class one iota.

The 21st century proletariat must re-think its own theory and practice, and reject Leninism, Engels' 'materialism', and bourgeois 'science', with the aim of instituting their own political rule.

Arguments about 'science' are political arguments about 'power', and 'who' wields it.

baboon
That is now clear to me at

That is now clear to me at least; you don't reject science but you reject "bourgeois science". I'm not entirely sure what "bourgeois science" means but, and I'm assuming now, you would also reject the science of Antiquity including the Ancient Greeks and the Roman poet Lucretius? I don't know, but at any rate the rejection of bourgeois science wasn't the path that Marx took in his research from his early days of study. Marx's thesis on the "Difference between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature" (1840 - 41) showed that the scientific works of Epicurus were central to the developments of Marx's political understanding.and central to his materialism in the struggle of materialism against idealism. I'm surprised that you that wouldn't call Marx a "materialist" - or maybe this is something else that I've misunderstood of you L. Bird?

Epicurus explicitly raised views on evolution and adaptability and, against the Gods, called the Earth, "Mother" Along with others he envisaged atoms, boundless space, endless time, infinite worlds and he rejected the idea of  divine power over Nature. And this was a struggle that Marx continued (also basing himself greatly on developments in "bourgeois science") with his materialist approach. Marx's positive interest in Epicureanism, which he also used to put Hegel the "right way up", is evident in his seven "Notebooks on Epicurean Philosophy" and in the works he wrote with Engels: "The Holy Family" (1845) and "The German Ideology" (1846).

LBird
Marx wasn't a 'materialist' in the Engelsian sense

baboon wrote:

That is now clear to me at least; you don't reject science but you reject "bourgeois science". I'm not entirely sure what "bourgeois science" means ...

In effect, to keep this short, 'bourgeois science' means 'materialism'.

baboon wrote:
... central to the developments of Marx's political understanding.and central to his materialism in the struggle of materialism against idealism. I'm surprised that you that wouldn't call Marx a "materialist" - or maybe this is something else that I've misunderstood of you L. Bird?

Marx wasn't engaged 'in the struggle of materialism against idealism'. That is a myth that you've picked up from Engels. Marx was engaged in taking the best from both idealism and materialism.

So, Marx wasn't a 'materialist' - that belief is an Engelsian belief. Marx is best described as an 'idealist-materialist', which he sought to unify.

No misunderstanding there, baboon - I don't call Marx a 'materialist', because he wasn't.

By 'material', Marx meant 'social', eg. by 'material production' he means 'production by humans', 'conscious activity', or, easiest to understand, simply 'social production'.

It was Engels who 'translated' Marx's use of 'material' to mean 'matter'. This was a commonplace of 19th century thought and science.

Unless workers in the 21st century can come up with a version of 'science' which is suitable for their own needs, interests and purposes, then they will be in the power of those who claim that bourgeois scientists have already built their world, and thus workers can't change it.

Engels' 'materialism' is not suitable for those democratic purposes. 

baboon
If "bourgeois science" is

If "bourgeois science" is materialism then Marx is a bourgeois scientist, which of course he wasn't because he spent his life developing a materialist analysis.

The quote from Epicurus above, where he characterises the Earth as "Mother" is a good example of stone talking to humanity through Epicurus, because stone, under the effects of other elements, produces soil which is a vital ingredient of life and the reproduction of life. Why does one have to belong to any sort of "elite" to appreciate that soil comes from stone?

The relationship between Marx and Engels was a coalescene rather than the division that L. Bird proposes. They weren't automons but fighters for the proletariat who sometimes had different approaches and different emphases at different times. But their works went in the same cooperative direction. Again, I point to their joint work of "The Holy Family" and "The German Ideology". The  materialism of both men was based on the developments of materialism from Antiquity and developments in "bourgeois science" which dealt not just with the idealism of "divine intervention" but the bourgeoisie's ideological adaption with its idea of "a world made for man", its "Final Cause" theory.

LBird
Who or what socially produces 'stones' and 'soil'?

baboon wrote:

If "bourgeois science" is materialism then Marx is a bourgeois scientist, which of course he wasn't because he spent his life developing a materialist analysis.

You seem to have (again) stopped reading what I'm actually writing, baboon. It's no way to carry on a conversation. You have to respond to what I'm writing, not a figment of your own ideology.

Once again, Marx isn't a 'materialist', so he isn't a 'bourgeois scientist'.

If you disagree with this, that's fine, but you have to stop reading what you want me to write, and then arguing with that illusion.

baboon wrote:
The quote from Epicurus above, where he characterises the Earth as "Mother" is a good example of stone talking to humanity through Epicurus, because stone, under the effects of other elements, produces soil which is a vital ingredient of life and the reproduction of life. Why does one have to belong to any sort of "elite" to appreciate that soil comes from stone?

Because, for Marxists, only the revolutionary proletariat can determine for themselves 'what comes from what'. You're arguing that an elite can pre-determine what the revolutionary proletariat consciously decides for itself (and 'how' it does so). That's Leninism, baboon, not Marxism.

'Soil', 'stone', even 'the Earth', are social products of conscious human activity, which is why Marx stressed 'social production'.

You're following Engels' 'materialism' (who himself was following 19th century bourgeois science), that 'matter' pre-exists its production by humans, and so it's just 'sitting there' simply 'awaiting' our 'discovery' of 'it-in-itself'. This is bourgeois elitism, baboon, and you're following ruling class ideas about 'science'.

baboon wrote:
The relationship between Marx and Engels was a coalescene rather than the division that L. Bird proposes. They weren't automons but fighters for the proletariat who sometimes had different approaches and different emphases at different times. But their works went in the same cooperative direction. Again, I point to their joint work of "The Holy Family" and "The German Ideology".

Have a look at some recent work, that shows that the supposed 'joint work' of 'The German Ideology' is a product of a Soviet scholar in the 1920s.

Marx and Engels had completely different views about 'production'. For Marx, 'material' meant 'human' (as opposed to 'ideal' meaning 'divine'), whereas, for Engels, 'material' meant 'matter' (which was the current ideology of the bourgeois science that he uncritically read).

baboon wrote:
The  materialism of both men was based on the developments of materialism from Antiquity and developments in "bourgeois science" which dealt not just with the idealism of "divine intervention" but the bourgeoisie's ideological adaption with its idea of "a world made for man", its "Final Cause" theory.

So, you don't accept Marx's concept of 'modes of production' then?

Different 'modes' socially produce different ideologies, so any 'science' has to be located in the 'mode' that produced it.

As I said in a previous post, you have an asocial and ahistorical view of 'science'. To you, 'materialism' is some sort of 'Eternal Truth', which has a politically-neutral method, which allows a 'special individual', the 'genius' of bourgeois mythology, to 'disinterestedly' examine 'matter' ('reality', 'object', 'existence', etc.), and so to prejudge the political decisions of the revolutionary, class conscious, proletariat, when it comes to the social production of their own 'scientific knowledge'.

You should be open with us, and yourself, baboon, about your political and ideological views about 'science' (or, 'Science', as no doubt you regard it).

Only a 'democratic science' can serve the needs, interests and purposes of workers, because only they can determine those. There is not an elite, like you seem to want to belong to, which can pre-determine our 'science'.

As a 'materialist, you want an elite science, which rejects democratic activity, in favour of pretending to 'know matter'. Thus, for you, 'stones' and 'soil' are eternal categories, which we can't change. It's nothing to do with Marxism, comrade, and everything to do with Engels (and Lenin).

baboon
Stones changed to soil L.

Stones changed to soil L. Bird, atoms changed to stars and planets. Nothing is fixed and everything is in movement.

With Epicurus and Lucretius we have elements of what you call "bourgeois science" centuries before capitalism was even a twinkle in the eye of feudalism and centuries before the bourgeoisie existed. That is L. Bird, that "bourgeois science", materialism, predates the existence of the bourgeoisie by over a dozen centuries. The writings of the two mentioned above prefigure some of the major discoveries of the Enlightenment - but, presumably you reject all of that given that there's a certain consistency in your rejection of all science in favour of some post-dated, global democratic vote by all the workers on all the questions of science.

L. Bird's views are in opposition to the materialist Marx, for whom Epicurus "was the greatest representative of the Greek science and he deserves the praise of Lucretius" (Marx and Engels, Collected Works, Volume I). The materialism of Epicurus wasn't based on a mechanical determinism, no more than the materialism of Marx and Engels themselves.It was Marx, more than anybody, who first revealed the profundity of what Epicurus called the "swerve" in atoms which is totally analogous to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of modern quantum mechanics. What's remarkable about Marx's analysis of Epicurus is how little was known about his work in Marx's time compared to today and from the scraps available Marx was also able to develop his theory of man's alienation from Nature. Works of Epicurus recently found among the charred remains of papyri in the Herculean library have confirmed Marx's interpretation of his work which was based on very little but intuition and hard work.

What distinguishes Epicurus from what is generally thought to be the first to talk about atoms, Democritus, is his "swerve" in the disposition of atoms, which does away with the mechanical and deterministic approach of Democritus and lays the basis for various possibilities that include the development of Nature and life which are essential for the further development of "modes of production".

 

LBird
'Swerving' the political issue? An Epicurian baboon?

baboon wrote:

Stones changed to soil L. Bird, atoms changed to stars and planets. Nothing is fixed and everything is in movement.

Apparently, except when you're studying them, baboon.

Funny that, isn't it? As an 'elite materialist', you pay lip service to 'change', but insist to workers that you 'know matter' that doesn't change. And you certainly won't have workers changing stones, soil, atoms, stars or planets, will you? Because you already 'objectively know' all these 'objects'.

babon wrote:
With Epicurus and Lucretius we have elements of what you call "bourgeois science" centuries before capitalism was even a twinkle in the eye of feudalism and centuries before the bourgeoisie existed. That is L. Bird, that "bourgeois science", materialism, predates the existence of the bourgeoisie by over a dozen centuries. The writings of the two mentioned above prefigure some of the major discoveries of the Enlightenment - but, presumably you reject all of that given that there's a certain consistency in your rejection of all science in favour of some post-dated, global democratic vote by all the workers on all the questions of science.

L. Bird's views are in opposition to the materialist Marx, for whom Epicurus "was the greatest representative of the Greek science and he deserves the praise of Lucretius" (Marx and Engels, Collected Works, Volume I). The materialism of Epicurus wasn't based on a mechanical determinism, no more than the materialism of Marx and Engels themselves.It was Marx, more than anybody, who first revealed the profundity of what Epicurus called the "swerve" in atoms which is totally analogous to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of modern quantum mechanics. What's remarkable about Marx's analysis of Epicurus is how little was known about his work in Marx's time compared to today and from the scraps available Marx was also able to develop his theory of man's alienation from Nature. Works of Epicurus recently found among the charred remains of papyri in the Herculean library have confirmed Marx's interpretation of his work which was based on very little but intuition and hard work.

What distinguishes Epicurus from what is generally thought to be the first to talk about atoms, Democritus, is his "swerve" in the disposition of atoms, which does away with the mechanical and deterministic approach of Democritus and lays the basis for various possibilities that include the development of Nature and life which are essential for the further development of "modes of production".

You're just repeating yourself, now, baboon.

Unless you address the political issues of 'who creates objects' and 'how they do so', you'll continue to pretend to workers that your 'Leninist Elite' already 'know objects'.

And your political practice will follow your 'scientific' practice, of a 'knowing elite' having power over an 'ignorant mass', who won't be allowed to decide for themselves whether stones, soil, atoms, stars and planets 'exist for workers'.

Once again, Marx wasn't an Engelsian Materialist, and you're still employing an ahistoric and asocial method, for which a classless 'humanity' has always sought 'Truth'.

You might be able to bluff your way past other Leninists, with some classical knowledge, but you won't fool workers seeking a democratic science, which suits their own needs, interests and purposes, for whom Engels' hule is a class-based concept (which he didn't understand), and would rather employ Marx's hupokeimenon, a concept that allows for democratic production.

For 'materialists', there are only ahistoric and asocial 'needs, interests and purposes', and so you can pretend that Epicurus, Democritus, Aristotle, Plato, and Engels, Kautsky, Lenin, and Heisenberg, Bohr, Einstein, all knew better than the class conscious proletariat.

But then, you're not interested in democratic science, are you, baboon? You should be honest with workers about this, and stop your 'swerving'.

This discussion can only progress further if you address the lack of democracy within your 'scientific method'. Marx wished to unite all science on a revolutionary basis, not to continue to tell workers that they should meekly follow the 'science' of their 'betters'.

LBird
Science as a social power

baboon, you need (politically) to introduce some explanation of where workers, social production, historical change and democracy, fit into your ideological conception of 'science'. You never mention these factors.

If this discussion doesn't address the question of 'power' within 'science', it seems a bit pointless the ICC hosting this site. After all, politics is the core reason that we're all here, isn't it?

jaycee
what do you think of Marx's

what do you think of Marx's idea that there will be 'one science' L.Bird?

Baboons point is the key one. It begs the question, what is 'science'?

Science as an ideology is bourgeois but as a practice has existed as long as humanity. In this sense science simply means 'knowledge based on experience'. All human practice is therefore a science (and an art).

Science as an ideology is however at the root of mechanical 'materialism' in that it is based on a world view/ideology/religion based on the idea that the universe/existence can be fully explained by its mechanics and what human beings can observe in the 'outside' world. Even when the bourgeoisie believed in the 'spiritual' world it seperated it from the 'real' world it was studying and has always in truth elevated it above the 'spiritual world'. This is deeply connected to the secular ideology and the need of capitalism to constantly revolutionise the productive forces because it is the need for constant progress/profit that drives the need to constantly change the 'moral' laws of society; in particular when it comes to money and the domains it is considered acceptable in.

I personally think this gets to the root of the point about 'materialism'. It is based on a definition of 'matter' as opposed to 'mind'/'spirit' (generally unconsciously and by athiests as much as theists) where matter is still viewed as part of the 'base'/'profane' world. 

This is again linked to the reason capitalism fragments eveything into smaller and smaller units in every area of life/society. This is why I started with the question about 'one science'. If in communism we go back towards a conception of knowledge that is regarded and practiced as part of one endevour for 'knowledge' in general then the problem of 'elitism' in science is also overcome. In this situation it would be absurd to have to vote on every aspect of what 'truth' is. 

That is the thing I really have a problem with when it comes to your ideas L.Bird. This insistence that 'truth' can be voted on. Truth has to be demonstrated to be true and will convince people eventually (if given an even playing field). Also your view to me suggests an elitist vision in which there is still a 'body' to decide the truth even if they get everyone to vote to decide it. Surely if we were living from each ones abilities to each ones needs then different theories/ideas would simply have free reign to develop and prove themselves superior to other theories (this part would probably become unnecesary most the time too).  

 

 

 

LBird
'Who' produces 'truth'? Or is it 'out there', awaiting us?

I'll get to what I think is the key point of your post, jaycee. I can address your other points later, if you still wish me to do so.

jaycee wrote:

That is the thing I really have a problem with when it comes to your ideas L.Bird. This insistence that 'truth' can be voted on. Truth has to be demonstrated to be true and will convince people eventually (if given an even playing field). Also your view to me suggests an elitist vision in which there is still a 'body' to decide the truth even if they get everyone to vote to decide it.

If the social producers are not to 'vote on truth', who or what does socially produce 'truth'?

What is the 'body' with the authority to make such scientific decisions?

I argue that the 'authoritative body' is the revolutionary, class conscious, democratic proletariat. This, by its very nature (a majority employing democratic methods within its science) cannot be an 'elite'.

This political answer of mine will be insufficient for two political reasons:

1. my political opponent is not a Democratic Communist, a Marxist, and a revolutionary;

2. my political opponent believes that 'truth' is not a social product, but is a 'reflection of reality'.

jaycee wrote:
Surely if we were living from each ones abilities to each ones needs then different theories/ideas would simply have free reign to develop and prove themselves superior to other theories (this part would probably become unnecesary most the time too).
[my bold]

Your statement assumes that the 'authoritative body' in your ideology is an 'individual', rather than a social producer. It also assumes that 'theories' themselves 'prove' what is 'true'. You don't say 'who' is the producer of these social theories, and then contradict your belief in apparently freestanding, asocial 'theories', and say that even that is mostly unnecessary. If even 'theories' are unnecessary, you must believe that Marx was wrong, because he stressed the need for 'theory and practice', in that order.

From all this, I think that you regard 'individuals' who simply 'do practice' (without worrying about social theories), as the source of 'truth'. This is some form of US, late 19th century Pragmatism, which stresses, as we'd expect for a bourgeois American capitalist theory and method, the 'individual who acts in isolation', who produces 'truth' for themself as an authoritative individual, and 'reflects their own reality'. As an extension of this, you probably regard 'scientists' as simply 'discovering' what already 'exists', and so trust this 'scientific elite', and so see no need for 'democracy' within 'science'.

I think that this is where we disagree, jaycee.

I'm a Democratic Communist and a Marxist, a worker who wants to see a 'democratic science' which is employed by humans collectively, in their social pursuit of building a 'world-for-us', which is our social product, a 'truth-for-us'. 

jk1921
Secular?

jaycee wrote:

This is deeply connected to the secular ideology and the need of capitalism to constantly revolutionise the productive forces because it is the need for constant progress/profit that drives the need to constantly change the 'moral' laws of society; in particular when it comes to money and the domains it is considered acceptable in.

I am not sure I understand the point about "secular ideology." What does this refer to? "Mechanical" materialism?

jaycee wrote:

I personally think this gets to the root of the point about 'materialism'. It is based on a definition of 'matter' as opposed to 'mind'/'spirit' (generally unconsciously and by athiests as much as theists) where matter is still viewed as part of the 'base'/'profane' world. 

Right, and I think we see that in rejection of "decadence" in the milieu (to bring in another thread) and the idea that capitalism is driven by "objective" forces that are not immediately susceptible to human agency. There is a moral objection to such a conception in that it seems to construct a "profane" world of material forces that are largely outside of human control, supposedly leading to the idea that communism can only be the result of some kind of "mechanical" breakdown or led by a professional elite that has mastered these objective laws. It is seen as denying proletarian (human) agency in favor of impersonal forces nobody fully controls or maybe even understands, except the experts. So what is the "spiritual" remedy for such a world? Some kind of subjective "democratic" revolt that restores the spiritual balance to the universe disturbed by capitalism's inhuman, objective "laws." In many ways, this instinct is a healthy reaction to capitalist dehumanization evidencing a needed skepticism towards substitutionist (Jacobin) models of social change, but taken to its bathetic extreme, this fetishization of agency ends up in an absurd universe where people vote on scientific truth.

It may very well be the case that there is a certain tension or even incoherence between democracy and scientific truth. We even see that today in capitalism in decomposition wherein different social groups increasingly live in their own self-constructed truth bubbles and even self-consciously defend their right to do so. The question then is why is "democracy" useful to the goal of communism? Is it a means to an end? In what sense? Or is it a goal in and of itself? A goal even more important than scientific truth? Or is it the argument that communism will at some point reconcile these things and therefore make the distinction meaningless?

LBird
Democracy, Communism, and Science are all interlinked

jk1921 wrote:

 The question then is why is "democracy" useful to the goal of communism? Is it a means to an end? In what sense? Or is it a goal in and of itself? A goal even more important than scientific truth? Or is it the argument that communism will at some point reconcile these things and therefore make the distinction meaningless?

This is the heart of the issue, jk.

As a Marxist (and Marx was a Democrat), I define 'Communism' as 'Democratic', and 'Democracy' as 'Communism'

It's open to any worker to define 'Communism', in contrast, as either 'Individualist' or 'Elitist' (which therefore obviously removes the 'democracy-communism' link). But if any worker does this, they should be open with other workers about exactly what they are proposing politically.

I argue (and I think that this was Marx's position) that only the proletariat as a social force can build Communism. That is, not 'individuals' each on their own, nor an 'elite' who supposedly have a 'special' form of consciousness that workers can't have (at least, prior to the 'elite' having carried out a revolution). So, only the mass of the proletariat (again, to stress, the majority) can build Communism.

Thus, only 'democracy' can be the legitimate political means of building Communism. There are no 'special' individual geniuses, nor 'special' cadre parties, who can do this for the proletariat, by non-democratic means.

Thus, regarding 'science', it is a ruling class myth that they have special geniuses or academic elites that simply 'discover' The Universe, 'Nature As It Is'. As Marx argued, there is only a nature that we have socially produced, the one we know, a 'Nature For Us'. Thus, there can be a 'unified science', which employs the same political method in its science, whether sociology or physics (and all disciplines in between, including maths and logic).

At bottom, these are all political issues, about 'power' and 'who wields it'.

In one's politics, one has to choose between 'individualism', 'elitism' and 'democracy'. Marx chose democracy, and argued that only the class conscious proletariat could, by its own self-determination, builds its own revolutionary consciousness.

There are no non-democratic short cuts to this political process.

baboon
L. Bird, in post number 10

L. Bird, in post number 10 you mock the revolutionary idea of the Epicurean swerve. In respect of this the main thing you should bear in mind is the discussion in Antiquity over the atom in Epicurus's response to Democritus: "It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got swing" (loosely translated by me).

As you say, it wasn't just Heisenberg that developed the Epirurean swerve at the sub-atomic level but it was also demonstrated by Eddington's 1919 experiment on the path of Mercury which showed that light itself could be bent. Eddington's experiment, which has been confirmed to a number of decimal points by subsequent experiments with far superior measurements, confirmed Einstein's General Theory of Relativity: photons of light, elementary electromagnetic particles that have no mass, swerved under the influence of fundamental forces.

You remember Einstein L. Bird - you designated him as a revolutionary on an earlier thread, even though there has been no vote in the working class on this issue which is essential in your terms for defending any position. In fact on all the issues you defend, contrary to your overall position, there has been no vote by the working class. This to me sort of undermines your overall positions.

I will repeat myself by saying that Marx took a "swerve" in a very positive direction by understanding the import of the scientific analysis of Epicurus compelling him to investigate natural sciences, eventually seeing, as Jaycee says above "ONE science" (Marx's emphasis) from his recognition that "natural science will in time subsume the science of man just as the science of man will subsume natural science".  I embrace the connection that he made between natural history and human history, Nature and man.
 

LBird
How does baboon know 'light itself'?

baboon wrote:

... light itself... 

Can you please tell me, baboon, how you (or Eddington, or Einstein, or Bohr, or Engels, or Lenin) know 'light itself'?

It's a serious question - please outline what method the bourgeoisie (or, if you wish, ahistoric, asocial, 'timeless humanity' or 'special geniuses') employ to 'know light itself'.

I follow Marx on this issue, that humans socially produce their 'knowledge', by 'theory and practice', and so 'scientific knowledge' is not a 'reflection' of 'nature itself', but is located in the ideas and activity of different modes of production (and so, within class-divided modes, by differing class views of 'theory and practice').

I've asked you this political and ideological question before, but you don't seem to follow Marx, but to follow the bourgeois prize-fighters of physics. That is, you seem to believe that either 'special individuals' alone or 'academics' as an elite have found a way to 'know light itself'.

If they have, we can't change it.

Marx argued that we create 'our nature', and so we can change 'our nature'. I suspect that you just want to 'contemplate' the truth of 'light itself'. Marx opposes this passive conception of 'reality in itself'.

LBird
Marx's unified science

baboon wrote:

... as Jaycee says above "ONE science" (Marx's emphasis) from his recognition that "natural science will in time subsume the science of man just as the science of man will subsume natural science".  I embrace the connection that he made between natural history and human history, Nature and man.
 

Yes, I actually pointed this out myself, that Marx wants the same scientific method for both sociology and physics.

But I'm not sure you do 'embrace the connection', because when I ask what is the defining characteristic of all science, you don't seem to agree with Marx that it is that we create sociology and physics (and all other disciplines, including logic and maths), and so we can change them.

Marx sees both 'society' and 'nature' as our social products, so that any 'society' that we know is a 'society-for-us', and that any 'nature' we know is a 'nature-for-us'.

It's a ruling class myth that bourgeois elites 'objectively' study either sociology or physics, and that their social product (bourgeois scientific knowledge) gives them access to 'society-in-itself' or 'nature-in-itself'.

This realisation by workers that the bourgeois physicists are lying to us, and that we workers can play our part in building both our society and our nature, is the basis of Marx's 'unified scientific method'. The social producers become conscious of their own creative role in creating our world, and so both sociology and physics (et al) come under our sway.

Because both the 'laws of society' and the 'laws of nature' are our social products, we can change them. The bourgeoisie dispute this, and argue that only a 'disinterested' elite has the capability of 'objectively knowing' a supposed 'nature-in-itself', including 'light itself'.

If you claim that you (or any other 'genius' or 'elite') already know 'light itself', you are politically and ideologically opposing Marx, and denying the power of the class conscious proletariat to change its sociology and physics.

baboon
I'll point out to you again

I'll point out to you again L. Bird that none of the positions that you defend above have been voted on by the working class (in a communist society?) so, by your own terms, they are equally valid or invalid as mine. You don't just reject "bourgeois science", you reject all science and in doing so leave open the question of the role of divine intervention in the development of history.

I wouldn't want to leave it at this crude level though and reiterate my position, with Marx, that science is a superstructural element of society and like all superstructural elements acts on other superstructural elements as well as the base itself. It is not just a one-way process from base to superstructure. The change from hunter-gatherer society to agriculture and domestication in the "revolutionary" Neolithic, came largely from superstructural elements and against any idea the immutability of the economic base.

petey
stones speak

one opinion

https://www.amazon.com/Mute-Stones-Speak-Archaeology-Second/dp/0393301192

 

LBird
Failure to discuss politics

baboon wrote:

 You don't just reject "bourgeois science", you reject all science ...

We won't get anywhere, baboon, whilst you keep making up baseless accusations.

I've already said that neither of us 'reject science', and then I've gone on to point out the socio-historical differences between us, regarding 'science'.

But you've ignored my posts, you reject what Marx argues about 'social production', you've made no attempt to discuss politics or epistemology, and have simply returned to your first inaccurate post.

It's no way to carry on a political debate, baboon.

I'm inclined to conclude that you're not really interested in politics at all.

LBird
Whose political opinion?

petey wrote:

one opinion

https://www.amazon.com/Mute-Stones-Speak-Archaeology-Second/dp/0393301192

Unfortunately, it's not a Marxist-informed opinion, petey.

I'm a Communist - if you're not, that's fine, but you should say so, when discussing archaeology with other workers.

petey
archaeology

Quote:

Unfortunately, it's not a Marxist-informed opinion

indeed it isn't.

Quote:
I'm a Communist

as am i.

Quote:
when discussing archaeology with other workers.

beleive me i do, as i'm in the ancient business professionally.

LBird
'Professional' blindness to bourgeois ideology?

petey wrote:

Quote:

Unfortunately, it's not a Marxist-informed opinion

indeed it isn't.

Quote:
I'm a Communist

as am i.

Quote:
when discussing archaeology with other workers.

beleive me i do, as i'm in the ancient business professionally.

So, why would you express a 'professional' reading recommendation, that is neither Marxist, nor Communist, nor intended to develop the class consciousness of other workers?

Perhaps, like baboon, you think 'archaeology' is nothing to do with politics?

In my academic experience, it's a common trait in 'professional academics' to be completely unaware of their own ideologies. They seem to really believe the bourgeois myth of 'objective knowledge', garnered by 'disinterested specialists', who produce 'Scientific Truth'.

I'd expect a fellow Communist to be aiming to develop a critical consciousness amongst fellow workers, regarding the ideology of the educational system in bourgeois society.

LBird
Superbasisfragilisticexpialidoshioustructure

baboon wrote:

I wouldn't want to leave it at this crude level though and reiterate my position, with Marx, that science is a superstructural element of society and like all superstructural elements acts on other superstructural elements as well as the base itself. It is not just a one-way process from base to superstructure. The change from hunter-gatherer society to agriculture and domestication in the "revolutionary" Neolithic, came largely from superstructural elements and against any idea the immutability of the economic base.

This is just as confused an argument, as was Engels' in his letters of the 1890s.

In effect, you're arguing that there is a 'basic superstructure' and a 'superstructural basis', which act together on each other.

This is why the 'basis/superstructure' model has been called into question for a hundred years - it's nonsensical, and gives no help whatsoever in helping to direct research.

In effect, it simply acts as a smokescreen for Engelsist 'materialists' to baffle workers with unfamiliar terms. That allows the 'materialists' to claim a 'special consciousness', as did Lenin, for a cadre party, which intends to 'instruct' the proletariat.

Trouble is, after a hundred years, the working class has rumbled 'The Party'.

petey
"blindness"

LBird wrote:

In my academic experience, it's a common trait in 'professional academics' to be completely unaware of their own ideologies. They seem to really believe the bourgeois myth of 'objective knowledge', garnered by 'disinterested specialists', who produce 'Scientific Truth'.

in your experience. that's your problem, generalizing it. mackinnon and the reat of us are well aware of interpretive frameworks. the book is dated now, btw, but it has an apposite title. maybe "the mute stones are made to speak" would have been better. 

detecting your supercilious attitude, i'm not going to expand any further.

LBird
Supercilious worker, or haughty elitist?

petey wrote:

LBird wrote:

In my academic experience, it's a common trait in 'professional academics' to be completely unaware of their own ideologies. They seem to really believe the bourgeois myth of 'objective knowledge', garnered by 'disinterested specialists', who produce 'Scientific Truth'.

in your experience. that's your problem, generalizing it. ...

detecting your supercilious attitude, i'm not going to expand any further.

In my experience, too, 'professionals' like you always shy away from answering difficult ideological questions about their 'academic' activities, and, like baboon, simply 'call names', and hide from critical workers.

The real problem, is that you don't have any idea about Marx, Communism, workers' democracy, or social production, and hide behind 'materialism', and your ideological belief in an 'elite' which 'knows better' than workers. As in 'archaeology' and 'science', so it is in 'politics'.

Let's hope that you can have some influence upon the 'stones' that you interact with, because in the 130 years since Marx died, the 'materialists' have made no progress whatsoever in helping to develop class consciousness in the proletariat.

But then, that's not your aim, is it? Faith in Matter is not Faith in Workers.

LBird
Only the proletariat can be 'professional' in their science

petey wrote:

LBird wrote:

In my academic experience, it's a common trait in 'professional academics' to be completely unaware of their own ideologies. They seem to really believe the bourgeois myth of 'objective knowledge', garnered by 'disinterested specialists', who produce 'Scientific Truth'.

mackinnon and the reat of us are well aware of interpretive frameworks. the book is dated now, btw, but it has an apposite title. maybe "the mute stones are made to speak" would have been better. 

So, you've switched your political ideology in archaeology from 'Mute Stones Speak', to 'Mute Stones Are Made To Speak'.

As I've said in the passage quoted by you, you seem to be 'completely unaware of your ideology', and simply switch around, when under the pressure of Marxist political questioning.

The former, 'mute stones speak', is the standard 19th century bourgeois ideology of 'materialism', within which it is claimed that 'matter' speaks to 'academic professionals', who thereby produce 'objective knowledge' of 'stones-in-themselves'.

The latter, 'mute stones are made to speak', is the confession that 'stones do not speak', but have words put in their mouths, by those 'making them speak'.

[FWIW, this 'political unawareness' is also expressed by those, like baboon, who argue for the 'base/superstructure' model (ie. 'mute base speaks'), and then switch to a more interactive model (ie. 'mute base can be made to speak by superstructure').]

The 'mute stones speak' model pretends to workers that a 'special elite' can tell workers 'what stones in-themselves say', and so workers can't ask the political question, 'who has the power to make stones speak?'. It is a model suited to hiding the ideology of its holder from workers.

The 'mute stones are made to speak' model, however, leaves its holders open to the revolutionary question 'who gave you the power to decide you can do the 'making'?'.

So, given 'professional' petey's political revelation, we class conscious workers can now ask, 'why can't the revolutionary proletariat decide for itself why and how to 'make' the stones speak?'.

That is, in the scientific method of the class conscious, revolutionary proletariat, only the workers themselves can determine the 'making' of the political act of 'stones speaking'.

There is no elite, petey, who can do this for workers. Marx argued that the proletariat must develop itself, for itself. So, the 'making' within science will always be a democratic 'making', not one of an 'elite', 'professional' or not.

This is the basis of Marx's aim of a 'unified scientific method' - a democratic science controlled by the social producers.

baboon
In confronting Malthus's

In confronting Malthus's position on population and food supply, and the sometimes "socialist" idealism that tended to support it, Marx made generous use of the (bourgeois) science of the day because for him it was a tool. He didn't reject it out of hand as L. Bird does, he didn't conclude that it was "lying to us" or that it was part of an "elite" but used it as a tool for the present in order to lay a firmer basis for his analyses for the present existence and a future for a 'proletariat'. Thus Marx used scientific experts in soil analysis, geologists,statisticians and mathemeticians, some of whom he was in constant correspondence with. Marx's approach couldn't be more different than what is increasingly appearing to me as L. Birds idealism. Marx's break with the contemplative materialism of Feurebach and , less so, his break with Epicurus's materialism, was the historical materialism which he laid out, along with Engels, in "The German Ideology", a major piece of communist theory that L. Bird above seems to dismiss as a Stalinist fraud.

LBird
The bourgeois myth about 'science is a neutral tool'

baboon wrote:

... Marx made generous use of the (bourgeois) science of the day because for him it was a tool. He didn't reject it out of hand as L. Bird does,...

You really have to read what I'm writing, baboon, and interactively respond to my arguments, not just keep reverting to a figment of your own making. I keep telling you that I don't 'reject out of hand' science. The point is, to make it for the third time on this thread, is that 'science' is a socio-historical product, and so there are different versions of 'science'. Please respond to my statements.

baboon wrote:
...he didn't conclude that it was "lying to us" or that it was part of an "elite"...

You obviously haven't read Marx, baboon - he refers to the 'prizefighters of the bourgeoisie'. 'Physicists/sociologists' are the same as 'economists'.

baboon wrote:
...but used it as a tool for the present in order to lay a firmer basis for his analyses for the present existence and a future for a 'proletariat'. Thus Marx used scientific experts in soil analysis, geologists,statisticians and mathemeticians, some of whom he was in constant correspondence with.

Once again, you seem to regard 'science' as an ahistorical, asocial 'tool'. If you do regard 'science' as such a politically neutral 'tool', you should say so, openly, to workers. Then they'll know that you won't have them making their own decisions about their own 'tools'. 

baboon wrote:
Marx's approach couldn't be more different than what is increasingly appearing to me as L. Birds idealism.

Back to the old 'materialist' argument, that if it isn't 'materialism', it simply must be 'idealism'. I've dealt with this several times, and baboon never seems to respond to those points, so it seems pointless to go over it all again.

baboon wrote:
Marx's break with the contemplative materialism of Feurebach and , less so, his break with Epicurus's materialism, was the historical materialism which he laid out, along with Engels, in "The German Ideology", a major piece of communist theory that L. Bird above seems to dismiss as a Stalinist fraud.

Well, I'm prepared to read the latest research about 'The German Ideology', but I'm already aware that these findings support those who argue that Marx's and Engels' views on 'science', 'objectivity', epistemology and method, were very different.

Put simply, Marx wasn't a 'materialist', in the sense argued by Engels (that 'material' means 'matter'), but was in the sense that 'material' means 'human', as opposed to 'ideal' meaning 'divine'.

As Marx clearly argued that the 'idealists' had the correct view about the 'active side' in the production of knowledge, in this sense Marx was an 'idealist-materialist', who argued that 'conscious activity' was the key to understanding human history, and our production of 'nature-for-us'. This is very different from Engels' 'materialism', which was simply the bourgeois ideology of his day, and was suited to 'elites' in politics, and so was taken over by Lenin, to justify his (anti-Marxist) ideas about an 'elite' having a 'special consciousness' that workers can't have, and so that a Leninist elite party provides the 'consciousness' whilst the passive workers supply the 'activity'.

Any one who argues for a 'special elite' in 'science', and that workers can't politically control this 'science', is simply reproducing the politics of the bourgeoisie.

You should try to address these political and ideolological debates about 'science', baboon. Even if you don't agree with my views, you'll meet them again within any workers' movement to build for Communism, because any Communist movement worthy of that name will be building for workers' power in all areas of human production, including 'academia'. It you simply repeat the myth that any worker who argues for Democratic Communism is an 'idealist', you'll be politically sidelined. 

baboon
archaeology and anthropology

In my last post above I mentioned the fact that in his struggle against Malthus, a struggle which on and off was to last most of his militant life, Marx turned to and used various areas of science. A couple of important scientific areas that I omitted were the relatively recent dsciplines at the time of archaeology and anthropology. Marx had already showed an interest in these and embraced wholesale Engels' analysis of Morgan's "Ancient Society..." For both Marx and Engels this strengthened their view of the rise and fall of previous modes of production which included feudalism and from which capitalism wasn't exempt - on the contrary. In "The German Ideology" the transitional nature and the basis of the decadence of capitalism is being laid out more clearly by both. Successive modes of production from primitive communism have become fetters on the development of society which has led to the transformation of systems of production. This is the objective basis for the movement of history, for historical materialism. Many bourgeois economists saw that a working class existed and also recognised the class struggle but "The German Ideology" more clearly developed the idea of a proletariat, a class that was the bearer of a future society and the transient nature of capitalism.

LBird
Science, archaeology and anthropology - all our products

baboon wrote:

 This is the objective basis for the movement of history, for historical materialism.

But Marx argued that we humans create our 'objects', that any 'object' is an 'object-for-us'.

And because of this, we humans can change our 'objects-for-us'. This is the key to understanding Marx's thought. We socially produce our world, our society, our nature. And Marx was clear that the method for this was 'theory and practice'. We come up with 'theories', and we put them into 'practice', and we decide whether the outcome of this social method is suitable for our needs, interests and purposes.

So, there isn't an 'objective basis' that is simply sitting 'out there', awaiting a special elite to 'discover' it, and pass that 'objective knowledge' onto the passive proletariat.

Since we, according to Marx, create our 'basis', which is 'objective-for-us', we can change it. The axioms, assumptions, categories, concepts, theories, which we employ, are all our creations. There isn't an academic elite who 'know' supposed 'objective categories' prior to their social creation, and so any 'theories' can be examined by workers, to determine their socio-historical origin, and, if necessary, they can reject them, and replace them with others more suitable to the aims of the revolutionary proletariat.

This revolutionary method, of the democratic control of the production of society, including 'ideas', is Marx's basis for a 'unified science'. Physics is just like sociology. Both are socially created with someone's purposes in mind - and up until now, those purposes have not been those of the vast majority on this planet, but those of an exploitative minority. This also applies to maths, logic, reason... and archaeology, anthropology, etc.

In the case of the latter, it's entirely possible that the 'basic' axioms might be replaced by others deemed more suitable... of course, it might be democratically deemed that the existing 'basic' axioms are at present suitable, and so will be retained. But the power to decide, retain, reject or replace all academic 'ideas' will be within the grasp of the majority of humans, the social producers who actually build this world we all live in.

As an example, it's possible that the concepts of 'palaeolithic', 'neolithic', indeed 'stones', might be replaced, if other concepts are deemed better at explaining the 'objective basis for us for the movement of our history', for 'idealism-materialism', for conscious human activity.

No-one knows prior to a successful revolution what 'reality-for-us' will be like, because we haven't created it, yet.

One thing is for certain, that 'reality' (social and natural) as it is 'described' now by the bourgeoisie (who were the ones who created it), will be changed. That's why Marx's ideas are revolutionary.

baboon
Real history, real man and

Real history, real man and woman, a succession of methods or modes of production and the underlying fundamentals, whatever the formers' ideas, of the material production of life's necessities, these are the objective bases of the development of society. You can, as L. Bird does, avoid all this messy business, by just posing a future where a working class revolution, or more correctly a communist society that comes from it, sorts everything out, re-naming, re-qualifying, re-classifying everything from a future perspective but that abstract view doesn't take you a cock-stride nearer to such a society.

That a revolution means change, that communism means a different world, is not open to question by anyone on here. In this sense, L. Bird is constantly throwing himself against a door that's already wide open. But his "method" in doing so is not at all the method of Marx and Engels and it's not the method of historical materialism whose radicalisation went "to the root of things".

Maybe L. Bird doesn't reject the past in the same way he says he doesn't reject science. It's not clear. But his idealist vision, separate from and separating the historical development of humanity, can't be mystified by his baseless accusations of "stalinism", "elitism" and "bourgeois" to anyone that disagrees with him.

LBird
Avoiding Marx's democratic proletarian politics, as usual

baboon wrote:

Real history, real man and woman, a succession of methods or modes of production and the underlying fundamentals, whatever the formers' ideas, of the material production of life's necessities, these are the objective bases of the development of society.

This is exactly what Marx said, baboon, and I keep saying that I agree with this. The 'underlying fundamentals', 'material production', 'objective bases' are, as Marx argued, social production.

It's you who keep rejecting Marx, and turning to Engels' claim that 'matter' determines 'ideas'. As such, you fulfill Marx's warning, that 'materialism' will split society into two, one superior to the other.

You can't explain how you, as a 'real person', can differ from all the other 'real men and women' whose 'ideas' are supposedly subject to 'matter', but yours are not. You have to claim, as Marx warned, that you have a 'special consciousness', which other 'real people' don't, which allows you to be different from all other 'real humans'.

baboon wrote:
You can, as L. Bird does, avoid all this messy business, by just posing a future where a working class revolution, or more correctly a communist society that comes from it, sorts everything out, re-naming, re-qualifying, re-classifying everything from a future perspective but that abstract view doesn't take you a cock-stride nearer to such a society.

I'm not the one 'avoiding this messy business', because 'working class revolution' is the 'messy business'.

And, once again, because you can't avoid it, you have to pretend that this is 'abstract', rather than quote me about 'social theory and practice' (Marx's method). It's the standard pretence from 'materialists', that those who argue, like Marx, for conscious activity (social production), are 'idealists'.

baboon wrote:
That a revolution means change, that communism means a different world, is not open to question by anyone on here.

But your 'change' is that done by an elite, who have a special consciousness, unlike all the other 'real people', whose 'ideas' are formed by 'matter' - which only you 'know', and so you can supposedly escape the determination of 'matter' over 'ideas'.

baboon wrote:
In this sense, L. Bird is constantly throwing himself against a door that's already wide open.

No, you and petey are 'keeping the door tightly closed'. You won't have workers voting on 'objectivity', and so you deny workers the power to change 'objects'. You both want to keep this power for a 'professional' elite.

You both contrast 'objectivity' to 'democracy', in favour of the former.

baboon wrote:
But his "method" in doing so is not at all the method of Marx and Engels and it's not the method of historical materialism whose radicalisation went "to the root of things".

Maybe L. Bird doesn't reject the past in the same way he says he doesn't reject science. It's not clear. But his idealist vision, separate from and separating the historical development of humanity, can't be mystified by his baseless accusations of "stalinism", "elitism" and "bourgeois" to anyone that disagrees with him.

It's very clear, baboon. History is science, and science is history. It's you who separates the two. The 'root of things', for Marx, is 'social production', not 'matter'.

This is not 'idealism', but Marx's 'idealism-materialism', social theory and practice, where humans consciously change their world. Marx unifies history and science, and you separate them. You take 'matter' out of history, and claim that 'material' is eternal, and humans can't change it.

And anyone who actually reads history, of the 20th century, can see that it's your 'materialist ideas', that Marx warned about, that leads to elite parties, Leninism, Stalinism, the mirror image of bourgeois class society, within which an elite, special, professional, party, minority, tell workers what the 'objective material conditions' say must be done, and 'real' workers remain passive.

Why not, for once, baboon, address the political and ideological issues involved in your claiming that you 'know' the 'real history', a 'history' that is supposedly outside of the control of 'real' humans?

jaycee
LBIrd: the problem is your

LBIrd: the problem is your obsession with voting.

Workers voting on 'objectivity' is meaningless. The idea of what 'objectivity' means and the nature of matter/existence will be something the workers/humanity will gradually develop over a long period of time. the new view will reflect a new reality. In this sense we will 'vote with our feet (or hands and brains etc to be more precise).

This brings me back to my main point about the 'one science'. i perhaps was not clear in last post so i will try again here:

'one science' to me means science has merged with the rest of social existence and has become indivisible from day to day life. In this sense 'voting' becomes unnecessary and a little ridiculous. As I said truth will demostrate itself. 

Will it be necessay to 'democratise' science? yes; as it will be necessary to 'democratise' all of social life. Voting may be a necessary element in this at times but it is not the key issue. The key issues are (an egalitarian distribution and control of) resources, time and expertise (there are probably more but these come to mind). At first this democratisation will probably be 'elitist' to the extent that not everyone will immediately be able to practice 'science' and there will probably need to be 'scientist soviets' or some such body for some amount of time. As long as a body like this exists science has not become 'one' but such bodies would open up the possibility of attaining this intergration of 'society' and 'science'.

To come back to the topic of voting on 'objectivity' the problems I see are: firstly it suggests a relativist position in which 'reality' is 'simply social'; i.e. that there is only a 'social' reality and no 'actual' reality. This to me seems like a anthropocentric view which seperates humans from reality too much. Secondly, why do we need to all agree on the nature of the universe? I think agreement will eventually tend to predominate eventually but it need to be a very slow process in which ideology and alienation are increasingly overcome by the development of a communist society/consciousness.

 

LBird
Who knows, and how, the 'actual', in itself?

jaycee, I think that your objections to 'voting' are based upon an 'individualist' perspective.

Inasmuch as you're referring to 'individual' or 'biological' issues, of course 'voting' is not required. So, the acts of eating, sleeping, daydreaming, shitting, etc., are personal issues.

But, and this is what Democratic Communists and Marxists like me are talking about, when it comes to social production (and this includes all socially-productive activities, like science), then the only acceptable method is a democratic method. If you (or others) disagree, it's up to you to tell workers just what your political method is, if not democratic. So, on this, the ball's in your court.

On 'relativity', well of course, Marx was a relativist. That's exactly what a 'mode of production' is - a relativist concept.

As far as the difference between your posited 'social reality' versus 'actual reality' makes any sense, it's up to you to outline what that difference is, and how you know it.

Marx argued that we create our 'social reality', that is 'reality-for-us'. That means, that 'reality-for-us' is our 'actual reality'. For Marx, the 'social' and the 'actual' are the same thing. That's why we can change 'actuality'. As you say, this is a fundamentally anthropocentric view of 'nature'.

Marx argues that we can't separate 'humans' from 'reality' at all, never mind your 'too much'. This is why he argues for nature as human, and human as nature. Thus, there can be a unified science.

In contrast to this, is your ideological belief in a separate 'actual reality', a 'real nature', outside of the nature of humanity. This is a bourgeois myth, that they introduced to try to pretend that 'nature' was simply awaiting their 'objective discovery', that it 'already exists', and that they themselves did not build any nature that we know. They pretend that 'nature' hasn't been socially-produced by humans, but that it just 'exists'. Of course, the fundamentally conservative basis to this ruling class belief must be clear, to anyone interested in politics. The upshot of this belief, is that 'nature', 'reality', can't be changed, because it 'already exists', and so we must simply, passively, contemplate it.

It certainly removes 'power' from humanity. Or, at least, the majority. Of course, the bourgeoisie don't let their myth propagated to the masses, interfere with their elite control of the production of 'scientific knowledge'. They change 'reality' whenever it suits their own needs, interests and purposes. 

This is precisely what 'materialists' do, too. They claim 'nature' (usually 'matter') is 'out there', that we can't change it, but also that they, and only they, can change 'reality'. Thus, as Marx warned, they lie to the masses, and they substitute themselves for humanity, and so they fundamentally object to democracy in social production, because that would remove power from them, as an elite, and place power in the hands of the majority - that is, the class, not an elitist party.

Because I know that Marx's ideas are very unfamiliar to those influenced by bourgeosie science (and thus by 'materialism'), I'd ask you to tell us how you 'know' an 'actual reality' that is separate from 'social reality'.

Bourgeois academics claim to have such a neutral method, which is non-ideological and non-political, but whenever they are asked to tell us this method, they can't. That's Marx's whole point - this is a class society, and the ruling class make claims which can't be substantiated. 'Science' as we know it today, is a bourgeois myth, because it propagates the belief that only the elite can 'know reality'.

'Objectivity' is a myth, and Marx argued for 'social objectivity', our social product, a form of 'objectivity' that we can change.

baboon
I don't think that there's

I don't think that there's any doubt that Marx, Engels and the whole workers' movement valued and utilised the science of Antiquity, Classical and bourgeois society as well as the expressions of the poets and artists of those times.

LBird
Our past, present and, most importantly of all, future

baboon wrote:

I don't think that there's any doubt that Marx, Engels and the whole workers' movement valued and utilised the science of Antiquity, Classical and bourgeois society as well as the expressions of the poets and artists of those times.

I think that that's true of anyone with an interest in humanity, baboon.

It still doesn't mean that 'stones talk to us', though.

Or that Communist/proletarian/democratic science won't be a revolutionary advance on what has gone before.

Looking to 19th century 'materialism' is simply hampering any forward advance for workers. Whilst any 'communists' look to Engels or Lenin for inspiration, the proletariat will remain unconscious of their potential. But from what I can tell, by my conversations with 'materialists' (not just on this site), that proletarian passivity suits the 'materialists' just fine, because they see themselves as the 'consciousness', and whilst lacking any faith in workers, they place their faith in matter.

Whatever that is, it's nothing to do with Marx's ideas.

baboon
It's an incredible expression

It's an incredible expression of fundamentalism that denies the existence of matter - it predates religious fundamentalism by about 16 billion years. It's all the more incredible that on the say-so of one individual, none of the details of matter can be established before a vote by the whole working class. The exact workings of this voting procedure, simple majority, amendments, what questions are asked, etc., are obviously, like matter, non-existent in this individual view.

jk1921
Origins?

baboon wrote:

It's an incredible expression of fundamentalism that denies the existence of matter - it predates religious fundamentalism by about 16 billion years. It's all the more incredible that on the say-so of one individual, none of the details of matter can be established before a vote by the whole working class. The exact workings of this voting procedure, simple majority, amendments, what questions are asked, etc., are obviously, like matter, non-existent in this individual view.

 

All of this is true, but that begs the question of where  it come from? What function is being performed by this worldview? Is there any political work being done at all or does it come from somewhere else?

LBird
baboon still not addressing political power in science

baboon wrote:

It's an incredible expression of fundamentalism that denies the existence of matter - ...

Once again, for the fourth time baboon, you have to read what I write, not what you wish that I'd written.

No-one on this thread 'denies the existence of matter' - Marx argues, and I agree with him, that 'matter' is created by humans, and so we can change matter.

Until you can get your head around Marx's views about the 'social production' of 'nature-for-us', you won't be able to engage in this political debate, about 'power and science', and will continue, like all 'materialists', to keep thinking that Marx's views were 'idealist'. 'Theory and practice' is not 'idealism'. You will continue to regard Marx's ideas as 'religious' (as did Lenin, in his battles with 'fideism').

baboon wrote:
...it predates religious fundamentalism by about 16 billion years.
[my bold]

What is the 'it' that you're assuming, baboon? How do you know 'it'? Please tell all of the workers reading, the 'method' that you employ to know your 'it'.

And why return to 'religious fundamentalism'? Why accuse Marx of this?

baboon wrote:
It's all the more incredible that on the say-so of one individual,...
 

This is a political lie by you, baboon. Marxist Communists, like me, argue that only the proletariat can decide what any 'it-for-the-class' is. Only non-democratic Leninists argue that they, as an elite, have the requisite consciousness and political method to establish an 'it' entirely without workers' participation.

baboon wrote:
...none of the details of matter can be established before a vote by the whole working class. The exact workings of this voting procedure, simple majority, amendments, what questions are asked, etc., are obviously, like matter, non-existent in this individual view.

Yes, this is Marxism - the details of 'matter' can only be established by the proletariat, and thus this can only be a democratic method. You could help to begin a discussion on the 'exact workings', to help develop the consciousness of the proletariat, but you are determined not to develop workers' consciousness, because you think that you and your elite, alone, can (and should) do this for a passive working class.

You really should address the political  consequences of your 'materialist' ideology, baboon. You are determined to prevent the development workers' political power, and to keep this power for your 'special elite'.

It's 19th century bourgeois nonsense, baboon, and even the bourgeoisie have realised that. What sort of ideology wishes to take workers backward? Why do you cling to an anti-proletarian ideology?

LBird
What is our political function?

jk1921 wrote:

baboon wrote:

It's an incredible expression of fundamentalism that denies the existence of matter - it predates religious fundamentalism by about 16 billion years. It's all the more incredible that on the say-so of one individual, none of the details of matter can be established before a vote by the whole working class. The exact workings of this voting procedure, simple majority, amendments, what questions are asked, etc., are obviously, like matter, non-existent in this individual view.

 

All of this is true, but that begs the question of where  it come from? What function is being performed by this worldview? Is there any political work being done at all or does it come from somewhere else?

This isn't 'true', jk. You should keep an open mind on this political issue, and read carefully Marxist arguments against anti-proletarian elitism.

The 'function being performed by' the Marxist 'worldview' is to help develop the working class into a 'class-for-itself'. This can only happen when workers realise that they, and only they, have the power to change their world. As Marx clearly argued, this 'world-for-workers' is both natural and social, social and natural. There is no separation, as 'materialists' argue, between 'actual reality' and 'social reality'. There is only a 'reality-for-us', which we can change.

As far as I can tell, the only 'political work' being done by the 'materialists', is to keep power out of the hands of workers - see baboon's last post, where baboon admits that this is his political aim. He wants an elite, not workers, to determine 'matter'.

baboon
I don't think that Marx's

I don't think that Marx's views are idealist L. Bird, but I think that your interpretations of his historical materialism are.

Matter came into existence 16 billion years ago. How do I "know" this? Because it's been demonstrated and verified by science. I had the distinct impression from many of your earlier posts that you not only rejected the science of the period of capitalism but also the science of all societies. When I posted above irrefutable evidence that Marx used many of the disciplines of science in bourgeois society (and other societies) you appeared to me to change your mind and say that you didn't reject science - though you left that rather unclear.

While writing Capital, Marx immersed himself in the writings of various scientists and their disciplines. Looking at the question of ground rent for his developing critique he wrote to Engels: "I had to plough through the new agricultural chemistry in Germany, in particular Liebig and Schonbein, which is more important in this matter than all the economists put together" (Collected Works). The matter that these works were more important "than all these economists put together" was his use of science to understand the self-destructive tendencies of capitalism and the relationship of labour to nature. Do you reject this aspect of science for example?

On to "elites". Sometimes you use this word to describe the ruling class and other times you bracket it with scientists, other times to anyone who tries to develop a class position against whom you also make the accusation of "Stalinist", bourgeois and so on. Or did I imagine all that? For you there is no vanguard of the working class, just a vote ("just"?) on every question sometime in the future and all else is pretence, anti-working class "Leninists" or "Stalinist". There must have been vanguards elements in societies since we came out of the trees and, from hundreds of thousands of years ago, there is evidence in Africa from stone artefacts that this was the case. But then you are deaf to such important revelations.The cave art of the Upper Palaeolithic shows vividly the vanguard elements of society at work in primitive communism and this differentiation is certainly not inimical to a unifed society. On the contrary, we can, with Marx, assume that the individual or individuals will flourish in a future.society and vanguard elements will continue to be produced.

There is no agreement between us at all.

LBird
Marxists versus Engelsists

baboon wrote:

There is no agreement between us at all.

Your political conclusion is no suprise to me, baboon.

I'm a Democratic Communist, a Marxist, who wishes to develop the class consciousness of the proletariat, to carry out a revolution in social production. As such, I always argue that only the workers as a class can carry out a revolution for themselves, and that only they can determine their own 'reality'.

You're clearly not a democrat or a Marxist, but an elitist Leninist, who wishes to ensure that an elite party retains the requisite special consciousness to dictate to the proletariat about all areas of social production. This clearly will not be a proletarian, class-based revolution, as argued for by Marx, but a political manoeuvre by an 'expert' Party, who claim to "know what's best" for workers. As such, you retain the political right to tell workers 'what matter is', without them having any participation in this political act.

It must be obvious to anyone reading our debate, that you argue for an elite in power. You never mention, when discussing archaeology or 'stones', either workers, democracy, class, social production, politics or ideology. Anyone, approaching these subjects from a Communist position, would expect you to have mentioned these issues.

Finally, you have never even attempted to explain how you have decided that 'matter' must be the political starting point, without the working class having any choice. Marx, for example, didn't use that concept, but the concept of 'inorganic nature' (his term for the Greek concept of 'hupokeimenon', the 'underlying'). You start from Engels' concept of 'matter', not from Marx.

jk1921
Not really primed to open the

Not really primed to open the entire "Engels wasn't a real Marxist" debate, but I think anyone who wants to argue that has to explain how or why Engels was able to ingratiate himself into the Marxist movement, including to Marx himself, for so long? Was he some interloper--a conscious plant from the elite within the workers' movement? To what end? Why was Marx himself so blind to the nefarious influence of such an agent in his midst? Why did Marx think Engels was a comrade? Maybe its just the case that for whatever his errors, Engels (no less than Marx himself) was a complex figure whose ideas speak to problems as well as strengths in historical materialism as a method of understanding realty and for guiding the proletarian revolution to overthrow capitalism? This quest to identify "good" and "bad" figures in such a Manichean way seems to me to violate something about the Marxist method itself! Anyone who thinks Marx was some pure democrat needs to reread the relevant sections of the Manifesto where a much more complex relationship between communists and the rest of the working class is portrayed. But its still not clear to me what function is being performed here, by a kind of dogged insistence that materialism itself is in some way morally repugnant, violative of some kind of first principle commitment to something--what I am not sure.

LBird
Closed to thought - the basis of critical materialism?

jk1921 wrote:

Not really primed to open the entire "Engels wasn't a real Marxist" debate, but I think anyone who wants to argue that has to explain how or why Engels was able to ingratiate himself into the Marxist movement, including to Marx himself, for so long? Was he some interloper--a conscious plant from the elite within the workers' movement? To what end? Why was Marx himself so blind to the nefarious influence of such an agent in his midst? Why did Marx think Engels was a comrade? Maybe its just the case that for whatever his errors, Engels (no less than Marx himself) was a complex figure whose ideas speak to problems as well as strengths in historical materialism as a method of understanding realty and for guiding the proletarian revolution to overthrow capitalism?

Unfortunately, starting a post, which is asking questions about an issue, by saying "I'm not willing to ask questions about that issue", is not much of a method, jk.

It seems to be "I'll put my head into the sands, and ignore the issue about why I've got my head in the sands".

jk1921 wrote:
This quest to identify "good" and "bad" figures in such a Manichean way seems to me to violate something about the Marxist method itself!

Ahhh.. 'the Marxist method', 'itself!', no less!

But... you've just said that you're 'not really primed to open...', so we'll never get to hear what your version of 'itself' is, just like we'll never hear why you claim to 'know matter itself'.

Probably 'sand-based' materialism, eh?

jk1921 wrote:
Anyone who thinks Marx was some pure democrat needs to reread the relevant sections of the Manifesto where a much more complex relationship between communists and the rest of the working class is portrayed.

So, you seem to be claiming that Marx wasn't a 'pure democrat', but without telling us about your 'impure democracy', that you now allege Marx held to. I'm sure workers will be pleased to hear that you're going to sell them 'impurities' in politics. Bit like back to Victorian times, with 'impure loaves' being sold to  workers by 'materialist bakers', eh? 19th century method, too, by any chance?

jk1921 wrote:
But its still not clear to me what function is being performed here, by a kind of dogged insistence that materialism itself is in some way morally repugnant, violative of some kind of first principle commitment to something--what I am not sure.

It's Marx who argued against 'materialism', jk, but you won't read anything that 'opens' you up, will you? Try reading Capital - I've given the relevant quote, about there being no 'matter' in value, but I'm sure you hate Marx for his 'idealism'.

And you, just like baboon, never mention 'social production', or 'class struggle', or 'workers' power', or any other political concept, when discussing 'matter'.

But I'll put you out of your misery, about 'what function' - Marx argued that 'materialists' will separate society into two, with one part being superior to the other. That's Leninism, jk. It posits a small section of society ('materialists') who are superior to the rest of the masses ('workers').

Ask any 'materialist' if they'll let workers vote on 'matter', and they'll say 'no'. Thus, the materialists assume power over workers. That is nothing to do with Marxism, jk.

LBird
Test and answers; test and answer

Here's a political test for workers:

'What should be the basis of our social production:

a) matter

b) mass

c) energy

d) underlying

e) resistance?'

As some help, it might be useful to mention who argued for what - a) was Engels and Lenin, b) and c) was bourgeois physics (at various times), d) was Marx, and e) was Bogdanov.

Because I'm a Democratic Communist, I think that workers should discuss these issues, and decide for themselves.

But 'materialists' insist that, since they believe that a) is the correct answer, only a) should be on the test.

So,

here's their test:

a) matter.

That's it, workers. The 'materialist method' in political science. They know best, so they say. There Is No Alternative. Hmmmm... I'm sure we've all heard that before, from another 'elitist' politician...

Demogorgon
The source of Anti-Engelsism?

jk wrote:
This quest to identify "good" and "bad" figures in such a Manichean way seems to me to violate something about the Marxist method itself!.

Bizarre rejections of materialism aside, which are easily refuted by even a cursory examination of Marx's work and his own commentary upon it*, I think this is an interesting question.

The attempt to separate Marx from Engels is hardly unique but has been the subject of extensive academic overproduction for years, from "luminaries" such as Carver, Sartre and Colletti and no doubt many others.

Leaving aside the dubious influences of academia - the constant need to publish contentious challenges to prevailing opinion in order to justify existence, petit-bourgeois environment and all the rest - it seems certain there's an underlying issue that results in this trend, which can't be solely reduced to "bourgeois ideology" even if that plays a role.

Over the years, I've noticed that:

  • Alleged disagreements seem highly overemphasised. For example, accusing Engels of positivism in contradistinction to Marx is only possible when we ignore the positivist tonality present in Marx's own works (in Capital, he compares capitalism's rules with natural "laws")
  • Marx is always considered the superior thinker and yet, by Marx's own estimate (and he wasn't exactly modest), Engels is by far the superior in terms of his knowledge of the science of his day
  • Bizarrely, Marx is always regarded as the standard bearer of proletarian consciousness, yet he never associated with workers and never set foot in a factory even as an observer. Engels, on the other hand, had a deep practical knowledge of the workings of the factory system from both sides and associated with proletarians both socially and politically

Marx acknowledges this latter point in the preface to the Contribution, where he states "Frederick Engels, with whom I maintained a constant exchange of ideas by correspondence since the publication of his brilliant essay on the critique of economic categories (printed in the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher), arrived by another road (compare his Lage der arbeitenden Klasse in England) at the same result as I ...". In the same piece, he also lays explicit claim to The German Ideology as a joint work, and even the Poverty of Philosophy is mentioned as a presentation of "our conception" despite being written solely by Marx.

Perhaps part of the riddle is to be found in the repeated traumas and betrayals, first by Social Democracy, then by Stalinism. Is there an ideological, even psychological need, to create clear blue water between these ideologies and "genuine" Marxism? To cleanse Marxism from the blood of these counter-revolutionary forces, it seems necessary for some to challenge every aspect of their ideology as far as possible, even those that actually do have a genuine Marxist heritage.

Certainly Pannekoek (who I personally think is greatly overestimated as a thinker in the communist left) falls victim to this cognitive error, when he connects Lenin's inadequate philosophy to the betrayal of Bolshevism. This is not to say Lenin's ideas are beyond criticism (far from it!) but the idea that some mechanical link exists between the two would surely be seen as the idiotic fallacy it is were it not for the deep trauma of Lenin's chronic failures and moreover, the counter-revolutionary acts carried out in his name.

I think the result is a kind of religious search for purity in the workers' movement, replete with both genetic fallacies (this guy did bad shit, therefore his thoughts on philosophy are wrong), but also the need to explain where the impurity came from. Engels fits the bill, not least no doubt, because the arch-betrayers of social democracy, Bernstein and Kautsky were his semi-official politica "heirs".

Perhaps there is also a religious need for completeness, for a method or system that will explain all things. This need for certainty, an inability to cope with ambiguity, is a symptom of an immaturity of consciousness, of a class that has yet to gain (in the case of the proletariat) or has lost (in the case of the bourgeoisie) a full confidence in its own abilities to answer the questions that confront its existence, either practically or theoretically. A system is needed, one that can answer all questions! For the bourgeoisie, it is religion or "science" (rather, its  twisted carricature); for the proletariat it is "Marxism", (or, rather, the one that made Marx glad he wasn't a Marxist!).

Ironically, Engels - derided by some as over-systemising Marx - opened Anti-Duhring by mocking this need for completeness. He denies Anti-Duhring presents such a system, although it does offer method: "... although this work cannot in any way aim at presenting another system as an alternative to Herr Dühring's "system", yet it is to be hoped that the reader will not fail to observe the connection inherent in the various views which I have advanced."

He goes on: "On the other hand, the "system-creating" Herr Dühring is by no means an isolated phenomenon in contemporary Germany. For some time now in Germany systems of cosmogony, of philosophy of nature in general, of politics, of economics, etc., have been springing up by the dozen overnight, like mushrooms. The most insignificant doctor philosophiae and even a student will not go in for anything less than a complete "system" ... This is an infantile disease which marks, and is inseparable from, the incipient conversion of the German student to Social Democracy, but which our workers with their remarkably healthy nature will undoubtedly overcome."

The simple fact is that Marxism is not complete, it is not a "system", and has unresolved practical, theoretical and conceptual difficulties. It does not have ready-made answers for all the questions that workers have. As with "true" science, it can offer method but not certainty. Indeed, how could it be otherwise for a method that grounds knowledge not in the seperate realm of thought but in practical, sensuous, conscious activity.

* (e.g. "My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, the life process of the human brain, i.e., the process of thinking, which, under the name of “the Idea,” he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurgos of the real world, and the real world is only the external, phenomenal form of “the Idea.” With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought")

LBird
Much agreement, but still fundamental difficulties

There's much that I agree with, in your post, Demo.

For example, I agree that Marx and Engels were both guilty of 'positivism', at times - it's just that we'd probably disagree about the different extent of both. Marx, whilst I think that he was a far superior thinker to Engels, nevertheless made mistakes, omissions, and failed to follow up and explain clearly on many of his ideas. On Pannekoek, too, I agree with your estimation - he contradicts himself, in places. Finally, you say:

Demogorgon wrote:
The simple fact is that Marxism is not complete, it is not a "system", and has unresolved practical, theoretical and conceptual difficulties. It does not have ready-made answers for all the questions that workers have. As with "true" science, it can offer method but not certainty. Indeed, how could it be otherwise for a method that grounds knowledge not in the seperate realm of thought but in practical, sensuous, conscious activity.

Again, I agree with every word (even if I might switch around the order of somesmiley), but the incompleteness, unresolved difficulties, lack of ready-made answers, uncertainty, are precisely the issues that 'materialists' deny.

In a nutshell, 'matter', too, suffers from 'incompleteness, unresolved difficulties, lack of ready-made answers and uncertainty', but 'materialists' clearly have a 'Faith In Matter' that the religious can only envy. 'Materialists' want 'contemplation' of 'reality', a 'reality' that 'exists' outside of human conscious activity.

Only when 'materialists' realise that 'matter' is a social product, which we can change, will they start to understand Marx. Marx starts from a 'Faith in Workers', not 'matter'.

jk1921
Means and Ends?

Demogorgon wrote:

Perhaps part of the riddle is to be found in the repeated traumas and betrayals, first by Social Democracy, then by Stalinism. Is there an ideological, even psychological need, to create clear blue water between these ideologies and "genuine" Marxism? To cleanse Marxism from the blood of these counter-revolutionary forces, it seems necessary for some to challenge every aspect of their ideology as far as possible, even those that actually do have a genuine Marxist heritage.

This is undoubetly a part of it, but I am specifically interested in getting to the root of the hatred of "materialism," a hatred that sometimes seems to even outshine the hatred for captialism itself. It seems that there must be a commitment to some first principle that materialism threatens in some way. Is it "democracy"? But if that is the case, what use is "Marxism" in this worldview? One might be better off with Rousseau. Is it something more like "proletarian self-determination"? Maybe that is getting closer to a real problem in Marxism, but that would seem to beg the question of whether such a thing is an end in itself or a practical means to an end--the transcendence of captialism and the construction of communsim? But why then does this end require the means of proletarian self-determination? If it is not some moral principle we are upholding, what is its practical value?

LBird
'Roots'?

jk1921 wrote:

Demogorgon wrote:

Perhaps part of the riddle is to be found in the repeated traumas and betrayals, first by Social Democracy, then by Stalinism. Is there an ideological, even psychological need, to create clear blue water between these ideologies and "genuine" Marxism? To cleanse Marxism from the blood of these counter-revolutionary forces, it seems necessary for some to challenge every aspect of their ideology as far as possible, even those that actually do have a genuine Marxist heritage.

This is undoubetly a part of it, but I am specifically interested in getting to the root of the hatred of "materialism," a hatred that sometimes seems to even outshine the hatred for captialism itself.

'Materialism' is 'capitalism', jk.

It's an ideology formulated by the bourgeoisie, to deny 'democracy'.

jk1921 wrote:
It seems that there must be a commitment to some first principle that materialism threatens in some way. Is it "democracy"? But if that is the case, what use is "Marxism" in this worldview? One might be better off with Rousseau. Is it something more like "proletarian self-determination"?

Yes, workers' self development requires 'democracy'. That's why Marx was a democrat.

If you have a different political method that can be the 'first principle' for class consciousness, which is not 'democratic', you should be open, and say what that is.

jk1921 wrote:
Maybe that is getting closer to a real problem in Marxism, but that would seem to beg the question of whether such a thing is an end in itself or a practical means to an end--the transcendence of captialism and the construction of communsim? But why then does this end require the means of proletarian self-determination? If it is not some moral principle we are upholding, what is its practical value?

This appears confused to me, jk.

The 'transcendence of capitalism and the construction of communism', 'proletarian self-determination', and 'democracy' are all the same thing.

If you regard the 'transcendence of capitalism' as non-democratic, you should say so.

If you regard the 'construction of communism' as non-democratic, you should say so.

If you regard 'proletarian self-determination' as non-democratic, you should say so.

You appear to have in mind a 'social subject', an 'active consciousness', which is not the mass of the proletariat, and so doesn't require 'democracy', because this 'subject' is an 'expert elite'.

I'd say that the 'root' of your incomprehension is in your own ideology. It's an ideology that never mentions proletarian democracy in any of its theories or practices. That's why, on this thread, the 'materialists', like you, can discuss 'matter', 'stones', 'archaeology', etc. without ever ever mentioning class struggle, ruling class ideology, or workers' power.

For 'materialists', 'proletarian' is simply a figleaf for 'materialist' consciousness, development and power.

'Materialists' are elitists, who are fundamentally opposed to workers.

Demogorgon
Hatred of materialism

jk wrote:
This is undoubetly a part of it, but I am specifically interested in getting to the root of the hatred of "materialism," a hatred that sometimes seems to even outshine the hatred for captialism itself.

Not sure, but I have some thoughts.

The bourgeoisie have always had an uneasy relationship with materialism, rationalism and science. I wrote on this in post #108 here, but the essential points are these:

  • capitalism's continual revolution of the technical bases of production are predicated on scientific progress, thus making science necessary from a practical point of view;
  • the bourgeoisie also turns to science in its ideological war - one might question how "scientific" the social sciences are, but the bourgeoisie invest a great deal examining human psychology in order to fine tune propaganda, marketing, advertising, etc.
  • the irrefutable success of science, as verified in everyday practical activity has given it authority, which various factions of the bourgeoisie draw on to support their ideological imperatives - even the creationists attempt to legitimate their ideology by appropriating the language of science in order to hide the fact their methodology is antipodal to science
  • however, the scientific method, also has the uncomfortable effect of revealing things that either factions of the bourgeoisie (the smoking lobby, the petrochemical industry, etc.) or the whole bourgeoisie don't want to contemplate.
  • worst of all, the scientific method when applied to society (which, one might argue, is basically what Marxism is) reveals the reality of capitalism's functioning and thus poses revolutionary questions that threaten the class rule of the bourgeoisie.

Marx notes the transition in bourgeois economics from disinterested scientific enquiry, the product of a revolutionary bourgeoisie that felt "truth" was on their side so-to-speak, to hired prize fighters and apologetics. Pannekoek notes the bourgeoisie's retreat from materialism into mysticism, as well.

So much for the decadent bourgeoisie, what about the currency of this movement in the proletariat.

The simplest answer - not necessarily the right one, of course - is the immaturity of the working class combined with the decadence of bourgeois ideology.

Essentially, unable to fully develop its own consciousness, the proletariat (or rather the pre-revolutionary minority within it) are quickly snared by pseudo-radical ideologies. The collapse of the Eastern bloc led to a whole flowering of this reactionary drivel in academia - post-structuralism mutated into post-modernism under the aegis of disillusioned academic "marxists" (Eagleton and Callinicos make this argument). This can't but help have an influence on the ideological life of the proletariat.

The association of truth with power, has led some to challenge truth, not merely in a relative way - the proletariat has a different truth to offer than the bourgeoisie, for example - but absolutely. The very concept of truth is authoritarian and thus has to be destroyed. This post-realist fundamentalism has to attack materialism, because materialism, in positing an objective world, essentially demands a concept of truth. Science, which aims to describe the observable universe, also has to be attacked because it works on the assumption that there is a universe to be described.

The fact that science - and marxism - offer a radically different kind of truth to the authoritarian truth of previous ideologies, is completely invisible to both bourgeois rationalists and post-realists, just as it's difficult for them to grasp that Marx posited a new form of materialism opposed to the old.

LBird
Good points, made better

A few points, Demo:

Demogorgon wrote:

  • the bourgeoisie also turns to science in its ideological war - one might question how "scientific" the social sciences are, but the bourgeoisie invest a great deal examining human psychology in order to fine tune propaganda, marketing, advertising, etc.

Good as far as it goes, but 'one might question how "scientific" the physical sciences are', too. This is what 'materialists' ignore, because of their 'Faith In Matter'.

Demogorgon wrote:
The simplest answer - not necessarily the right one, of course - is the immaturity of the working class combined with the decadence of bourgeois ideology.

Yes, the 'immaturity' of working class consciousness is an objective deficiency.

Demogorgon wrote:
Essentially, unable to fully develop its own consciousness, the proletariat (or rather the pre-revolutionary minority within it) are quickly snared by pseudo-radical ideologies.

Yes, spot on - the 'pre-revolutionary minority' were 'snared' by the 'pseudo-radical ideology' of 'materialism'. Thus, this 'materialist minority' are not able, never have been able, and never will be able, to help the proletariat 'to fully develop its own consciousness'. That is not the aim of elitist materialism - their aim is to 'Know Matter'.

Demogorgon wrote:
Science, which aims to describe the observable universe, also has to be attacked because it works on the assumption that there is a universe to be described.

No, this is a bourgeois myth - their 'science' claims 'to describe' the universe-in-itself, not simply 'the observable universe'. For Marxists, 'our-universe-for-us' is socially produced, and thus can be changed. 

Demogorgon wrote:
The fact that science - and marxism - offer a radically different kind of truth to the authoritarian truth of previous ideologies, is completely invisible to both bourgeois rationalists and post-realists, just as it's difficult for them to grasp that Marx posited a new form of materialism opposed to the old.

Yes, and the 'new form' was 'idealism-materialism', which embodies 'conscious activity' and 'social production'. Marx says that he did this, but Engels reverted to 'old materialism', hence our problems ever since.

Link
humanity rocks or humanising rocks?

A good effort folks.  Having read the above for me what is perhaps most problematic is not so much that humans are not capable of understanding what rocks communicate but the idea that rocks will be able to understand what humans communicate even when the wc takes over!!

LBird
Marx on '[hu]man[ity] and nature'

Marx wrote:
Now it is certainly easy to say to the single individual what Aristotle has already said: You have been begotten by your father and your mother; therefore in you the mating of two human beings – a species-act of human beings – has produced the human being. You see, therefore, that even physically man owes his existence to man. Therefore you must not only keep sight of the one aspect – the infinite progression which leads you further to inquire: Who begot my father? Who his grandfather? etc. You must also hold on to the circular movement sensuously perceptible in that progress by which man repeats himself in procreation, man thus always remaining the subject. You will reply, however: I grant you this circular movement; now grant me the progress which drives me ever further until I ask: Who begot the first man, and nature as a whole? I can only answer you: Your question is itself a product of abstraction. Ask yourself how you arrived at that question. Ask yourself whether your question is not posed from a standpoint to which I cannot reply, because it is wrongly put. Ask yourself whether that progress as such exists for a reasonable mind. When you ask about the creation of nature and man, you are abstracting, in so doing, from man and nature. You postulate them as non-existent, and yet you want me to prove them to you as existing. Now I say to you: Give up your abstraction and you will also give up your question. Or if you want to hold on to your abstraction, then be consistent, and if you think of man and nature as non-existent, ||XI| then think of yourself as non-existent, for you too are surely nature and man. Don’t think, don’t ask me, for as soon as you think and ask, your abstraction from the existence of nature and man has no meaning. Or are you such an egotist that you conceive everything as nothing, and yet want yourself to exist?

You can reply: I do not want to postulate the nothingness of nature, etc. I ask you about its genesis, just as I ask the anatomist about the formation of bones, etc.

But since for the socialist man the entire so-called history of the world is nothing but the creation of man through human labour, nothing but the emergence of nature for man, so he has the visible, irrefutable proof of his birth through himself, of his genesis. Since the real existence of man and nature has become evident in practice, through sense experience, because man has thus become evident for man as the being of nature, and nature for man as the being of man, the question about an alien being, about a being above nature and man – a question which implies the admission of the unreality of nature and of man – has become impossible in practice. Atheism, as the denial of this unreality, has no longer any meaning, for atheism is a negation of God, and postulates the existence of man through this negation; but socialism as socialism no longer stands in any need of such a mediation. It proceeds from the theoretically and practically sensuous consciousness of man and of nature as the essence. Socialism is man’s positive self-consciousness, no longer mediated through the abolition of religion, just as real life is man’s positive reality, no longer mediated through the abolition of private property, through communism. Communism is the position as the negation of the negation, and is hence the actual phase necessary for the next stage of historical development in the process of human emancipation and rehabilitation. Communism is the necessary form and the dynamic principle of the immediate future, but communism as such is not the goal of human development, the form of human society.

[my bold]

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1844/manuscripts/comm.htm

See also: Early Writings, Penguin, p. 357;

or, Collected Works, Volume 3, page 305;

or, Fromm, Marx's Concept of Man, page 112, for slightly different translations.

Since this thread has developed in quite a comradely way, I've decided to return to my former practice, of giving quotes and links, for comrades to follow up.

I think that this quote provides some food for thought about how Marx viewed the inescapable relationship between '[hu]man[ity] and nature'. He quite clearly stresses the necessity of keeping both in view, when discussing anything, including 'stones'.

If one is going to discuss 'stones', one has to start from the Marxian premise that 'stones' are a social product, of the conscious activity of humans, in their creation of 'nature for us', the metabolising of 'inorganic nature' into 'organic nature'. 

I can give further quotes from Marx, about any 'nature' without human activity being a 'nothingness for us', if there is a taste for this discussion.

baboon
The first premise

"...the first premise of all human existence and, therefore, of all history,... that men must be in a position to live in order to "make history". But life involves before everything else eating, drinking, housing, clothing and various other things ('geological, hydrographical, etc, conditions'). The first historical act is thus the production of the means to satisfy these needs, the production of material life itself. And indeed this is an historical act, a fundamental condition of all history, which today, as thousands of years ago, must daily and hourly be fulfilled merely in order to sustain human life." (Marx and Engels Collected Works, Vol. 5, 29).

L. Birds' position is abstract from and finds no basis in this history and its materialism.

LBird
Marx was not an Engelsian 'materialist', focussed on 'matter'

baboon wrote:

"...the first premise of all human existence and, therefore, of all history,... that men must be in a position to live in order to "make history". But life involves before everything else eating, drinking, housing, clothing and various other things ('geological, hydrographical, etc, conditions'). The first historical act is thus the production of the means to satisfy these needs, the production of material life itself. And indeed this is an historical act, a fundamental condition of all history, which today, as thousands of years ago, must daily and hourly be fulfilled merely in order to sustain human life." (Marx and Engels Collected Works, Vol. 5, 29).

L. Birds' position is abstract from and finds no basis in this history and its materialism.

But this quote substantiates Marx's view, that the 'first premise' is social production.

It doesn't mention 'matter' at all, baboon.

In fact, I could produce hundreds of quotes, from his earliest works in the 1840s through to Capital in 1867, which all focus on social production, and which don't mention 'matter' in any way at all.

In fact, the 'abstract position' which has no basis in this history of Marx's is Engels' 'materialism'.

Your quote proves this, baboon. It doesn't say what you wish it to say.

Whereas the quote I gave from Marx does confirm what I've argued, that Marx always relates humanity and nature to each other - he doesn't separate 'matter' from 'conscious activity'.

baboon
It's a lengthy quote from

It's a lengthy quote from volume one of Capital but it's worth it to see, amongst other things, how the stones "talked" to Marx in his own words (though I expect that not everyone will agree with it):
"Leaving out of consideration such ready-made means of subsistence as fruits, in the gathering of which a man's body organs alone serve as the instruments of his labour, the object the worker directly takes possession of is not the object of labour but its instrument. Thus nature becomes one of the organs of his activity, which he annexes to his own bodily organs, adding stature to himself despite the Bible. As the earth is his original larder, so too is it his original tool house. It supplies him for instance, with stones for throwing, grinding, pressing, cutting, etc. The earth itself is an instrument of labour, but its use in this way, in agriculture, presupposes a whole series of other instruments and a comparatively high stage of development of labour power. As soon as the labour process has undergone the slightest development, it requires specially prepared instruments. Thus we find stone implements in the oldest caves. In the earliest period of human history, domesticated animals, i.e., animals that have undergone modification by means of labour, that have been bred specially, play the chief part of instruments of labour along with stones, wood, bones and shells, which have also had work done on them. The use and construction of instruments of labour, although present in germ among certain species of animals, is characteristic of the specifically human labour process, and Franklin therefore defines man as a 'tool-making animal'. Relics of bygone instruments of labour possess the same importance for the investigation of extinct economic formations of society as do fossil bones for the determination of extinct species of animals".

Marx knew enough from his detailed studies of geology that the "matter" of nature predated human existence and, in accord with Engels and Darwin, that the antiquity of humanity went much further back beyond that of the domestication of animals. Despite L. Bird's scurrilous deceit about the divisions between Marx and Engels, they agreed on the fundamentals of the above, as they did on the "metabolic relationship", the decisive polemic against Malthus and the division, as well as the necessary means to overcome it, between town and country. What Marx wrote to Engels was "our view".

Matter didn't spring into existence once humanity existed to recognise it but what did spring into existence was the transformation of nature, not in conditions of its own choosing, by the use of labour. This understanding was expressed by developments in the workers' movement - something that L. Bird fails to recognise - and its close alignments with the science of materialism and materialists.
 

LBird
baboon never mentions workers in any context about power

baboon wrote:
Marx knew enough from his detailed studies of geology that the "matter" of nature predated human existence ...

That's your political opinion, baboon, but it ignores what Marx had to say, as I showed earlier. There are many other quotes, about the inseparability of 'humanity and nature' for Marx.

baboon wrote:
Despite L. Bird's scurrilous deceit...

Can't you have an adult debate, baboon? Why not just read Marx, rather than personally attack a Marxist and Communist?

baboon wrote:
...about the divisions between Marx and Engels, they agreed on the fundamentals of the above, as they did on the "metabolic relationship"...

This is simply untrue, as anyone who reads both and compares their concepts, will soon realise.

The reason you must insist on this supposed 'fundamental agreement' is for your own materialist politics, which takes power away from the 'social producers', and places it in the hands of the elite of 'knowing materialists', who claim to have a 'special access' to 'matter', which you insist that the mass of workers don't have. That is why you oppose workers' democracy and Marx's actual views.

baboon wrote:
Matter didn't spring into existence once humanity existed to recognise it...

How do you know that 'matter' had an 'existence' prior to humanity? Marx specifically says that the only 'nature' that 'exists' is the one that we create.

Even bourgeois science has moved on from 19th century 'materialism' and its socio-historical obsession with 'matter'. Bourgeois physics left 'matter' behind, and has since gone through 'mass', and onto 'energy'. This becomes obvious once you're asked to tell us all how you know 'matter'. You can't do this, and so refuse to describe your scientific method. This is because if you did, it would be easy to prove that the 'materialist method' is nothing whatsoever to do with Marx's views. 

baboon wrote:
...but what did spring into existence was the transformation of nature, not in conditions of its own choosing, by the use of labour. This understanding was expressed by developments in the workers' movement - something that L. Bird fails to recognise - and its close alignments with the science of materialism and materialists.

Marx argued that we transform 'inorganic nature' (not 'nature'), and produce 'organic nature' (a 'nature for humanity').

The 'science of materialism' is a political myth, intended to keep power away from workers.

Marx warned workers that that was precisely what what 'materialists' would do.

You never answer questions about who would have power in your version of 'communism', baboon, or how your elite know something that workers supposedly can't.

You're not the slightest bit interested in 'the workers' movement', or its self 'development', and just mention it as lip service to fool unaware workers, and you never mention workers when you talk about 'matter', 'stones' or 'archaeology'.

Why is that, baboon? You think that you know something that the rest of us don't (and can't), don't you? Why do you think that you, as a 'materialist', are better politically, and have a 'special consciousness', which is only available you as a member of the 'materialist' elite?

LBird
Simple question, which awaits a materialist's answer

One scientific question, baboon:

How do you know what a 'stone' actually 'is' in itself?

LBird
Marx on 'existence for', a socially productive relationship

Some quotes from Marx, on the origin of 'existence' of something - 'existence' is socially produced by humanity, and if human conscious activity is not involved, the 'something' does not 'exist'.

'Existence' is always 'existence-for' its creator.

'Matter' does not 'exist' outside of its human creator.

Marx, Early Writings, p. 392, wrote:
The way in which consciousness is, and in which something is for it, is knowing. Knowing is its only act. Hence something comes to exist for consciousness in so far as it knows that something. Knowing is its only objective relationship.

And what about 'something' as 'in itself', which has not been socially produced by humanity?

Marx, Early Writings, pp. 398-9, wrote:
But nature too, taken abstractly, for itself, and fixed in its separation from [hu]man[ity], is nothing for [hu]man[ity]....Nature as nature...nature separated and distinct from these abstractions is nothing, a nothing proving itself to be nothing, it is devoid of sense...

The 'materialists' are not Marxists, but are Engelsists - and Engels didn't understand Marx. This is clear to anyone who actually reads both Marx and Engels - it is soon obvious that the supposed 'unity' of the multi-being 'Marx-Engels' is a myth.

And it's a dangerous myth for workers, because Engelsist Materialists do not wish the proletariat to self-develop, but, as did Lenin, wish to politically control the passive proletariat, whilst the 'materialists' provide the 'active consciousness', the 'active side' that Marx said was an essential component of social production, of his method of 'social theory and practice'.

'Nature', never mind 'matter', is a 'nothing for humans', unless we create it. That's why we can change it, which is a concern for Marx, but not for 'materialists'. They want 'Eternal Matter', which 'exists outside of humans', and it is a 'God for materialists', and they worship and defend it to the end, to the detriment of workers' self-development.

It's easy to see that what I'm arguing on this thread is Marxism and correct, because none of the materialists can explain where their 'matter' came from, whereas any Marxist can locate 'matter' in both time and society, as a socio-historical product, and can explain its political purpose, as a 'ruling class idea' which is intended to prevent the democratic control of all social production by the social producers, the proletariat.

The politics of 'materialism' is an elitism determined to dominate workers, as Marx himself warned.

baboon
Opening this discussion I

Opening this discussion I wanted to demonstrate, within a marxist framework, that stones talk to us. Not in the sense that they grew lips, a tongue and a voicebox (although, we are very much products of ancient stone), but talk to us in a way that enriches our analyses of the development of society. Geology lays the basis but once stones are adapted, fashioned or engraved then they really begin talking and add, according to interpretations, to the sum of our present knowledge of society as well deepening some of the already acquired analyses of the workers' movement of historical developments. I think that the quote by Marx above from Capital strongly indicates that he was very interested in what the stones had to say. I think that in the face of this, L. Bird's position has degenerated into complete incoherence. As always, I'll leave the last word on this to him.

 

LBird
Materialists always refuse to engage, because they can't

Marx is 'incoherent' to bourgeois thinkers like you, baboon.

For Marx, we put words into the mouths of stones. That's why we can change them.

But Marx is of no interest to 'materialists', who persist in lying to workers that they, the materialists, and they alone, can 'hear' what the stones say, in themselves.

As for the 'last word', you haven't yet said a 'first word' that is Marxist or Communist, because you can't.

You want elite rule over workers.

LBird
What does Sooty say, to you alone, baboon?

In order that any worker, even those who have no understanding of philosophy or epistemology, can understand what the differences are between Marxists (like me) and 'materialists' (like baboon), I can give a metaphorical explanation. It's my political view that this is just what Communists should be doing, to help develop class consciousness in all workers. Only the mass of the proletariat can decide whether Marx or the 'materialists' have the best approach for the revolutionary workers.

Imagine a glove puppet (like Sooty) and a puppeteer (like Harry Corbett). They have a relationship. But what is the nature of that relationship?

'Materialists' (like baboon) argue that Sooty speaks to Mr. Corbett, even though most people can't hear what Sooty says. baboon argues that some special people, like baboon, have a method for hearing Sooty's words, and thus can tell us all 'what Sooty says', in itself, in Sooty's own words.

Marx (like me) argues that Sooty is a creation of Mr. Corbett, and that Mr. Corbett is pretending to 'hear what Sooty says'. Marx argues that humanity is active within this relationship, and that Sooty is passive. Marx also warns workers that the Mr. Corbetts of this world will claim that the Mr. Corbetts have a 'special consciousness' which is not available to their audience, and so the audience must remain passive, just like Sooty, whilst the Puppet-Masters provide the 'active side'.

Any worker reading the three sources that I gave earlier, of Marx's works, will soon see the nature of this relationship, according to Marx, and if they then read what 'materialists' write, they will easily see the differences between them. Marx argued for an active consciousness, embodied in the proletariat, whereas 'materialists' argue for a general passivity in workers, and an active, elite, expert, minority, embodied in 'materialists'.

These are political issues, comrades.

baboon
Sooty?

Despite the almost boundless limits of childhood imagination, and the beguiling influence of the folk-art of puppetry on adults and children alike, I didn't fall, even as a six-year-old, for a talking Sooty. It was obvious even then that it was a get-up and Corbett was putting words into his mouth: "What's that Sooty, the old silver mine at Wolf Creek has collapsed trapping three teenage boys. One has multiple fractures in his left leg and four broken ribs, while another has severe concussion and internal bleeding... the mine is filling with water and there's only fifteen and a half minutes breathable air left..." "There's no time to lose Sooty, get Sweep and we must away". Or something like that; flippy, scatty or sooty. I fell somewhat for Enid Blyton's fascism (this was the BBC after all) and her description of the intrusive, olive-skinned, scaley-fingered, hook-nosed goblins, but I was a kid.

To compare a 1950's TV glove puppet with the stone structures of Newgrange, Avebury and Gavrinnis for example is not a metaphor but an absurdity.

But having come out of retirement from this discussion there is one point I want to make on it overall and that is the way that it has opened my eyes somewhat to the analyses of Epicurus and the growing weight that Marx gave to his materialism. Epicurus, who also showed great imagination, talked about atoms moving through endless space. He talked about consciousness and subsistence. In his 1878 Old Preface to "Anti-Duhring on Dialectics", partly relying on notes provided by Marx, Engels noted the general ignorance of contemporary science of the old philosophers and the way that propositions and theories "were presented as brand new and, as a result, the atomic philosophy of Ancient Greece has of necessity come to the fore again" (one could point to its "eternal nature"). Engels' continues: "... already Epicurus has ascribed to atoms differences not only in magnitude and form but also of weight, that is, he was already acquainted in his own way with atomic weight and atomic volume". In "The Dialectics of Nature", again with help from notes of Marx, Engels talked about the "immanent dialectics" of Epicurus despite that period's lack of empirical knowledge that existed in the bourgeois science of the eighteenth century. For Marx and Engels this made the old philosophy far superior because of its brilliant intuition in its understanding of the material world.

The development of human evolution (not a word that Darwin ever used incidentally) as advanced by Epicurus and Lucretius, based clearly on the fundamental necessities of reproduction, was used by Lewis Henry Morgan as the basis for his great work "Ancient Society..."

Marx, Engels and their comrades (and their scientific allies) were able to connect directly with Epicurus whom Marx called "the greatest representative of the Greek Enlightenment; and he deserves the praise of Lucretius". The deterministic positions of Democritus (hailed today by the bourgeoisie as the father of atomic theory) was, according to Marx, "turned inside out by Epicurus" who gave rein from the fundamentals of society to chance, contingency and possible freedom for humanity.
 

LBird
'Matter' is a ruling class concept

baboon wrote:

To compare a 1950's TV glove puppet with the stone structures of Newgrange, Avebury and Gavrinnis for example is not a metaphor but an absurdity.

I can understand why you'd say that, baboon, because it's something that you've been told, all of your life, just as everyone else has been. It's a ruling class idea.

But, Marx was 'absurd', in their eyes, that's why his ideas are revolutionary.

'Stones', just like Sooty, are a social product of conscious human activity, as are all 'objects'. That's what Marx argued.

I know that it's very unfamiliar, and Engels didn't understand it, but this understanding, that the 'universe' is our creation, and so we can, not just contemplate it, but change it, is the core of Marx.

That's why, when you claim to 'know stones', in a way that can't be voted upon by the majority, you're simply following Mr. Corbett's method.

At least Mr. Corbett knew that he wasn't 'interpreting' Sooty, unlike 'materialists', who really believe they're simply telling 'it', 'as it is', 'in itself'.

And whilst 'materialists' keep telling this fairytale to workers, they'll have no influence with workers, who can read politics, philosophy and physics... ancient, medieval and modern.

LBird
Marx and Epicurus

baboon, I know that you're into all this stuff about Marx, materialism, Epicurus, science, democracy, etc., as am I.

It might be worth you (and any other comrade interested) having a look at:

McCarthy, G. E. (2003) Classical Horizons: The Origins of Sociology in Ancient Greece SUNY Press

McCarthy, CH, p. 20, wrote:
It is the human mind that makes objective reality possible by externalizing itself onto the natural world. Marx views this creative and theoretical activity as a form of self-conscious praxis.

This notion, of the social production of 'nature for us', through human history, is the heart of Marx, IMO. If we make it, we can change it. Passive contemplation is for conservatives, not for revolutionaries.

baboon
L. Bird is so caught up in

L. Bird is so caught up in his own position that not only is he deaf to any interpretation of what the stones may be saying, he is also deaf to Marx's own words about the importance of  hearing the stones speak. Talking stones (bones and other ossified relics), as Marx understood and often stated at length, do not compromise a communist perspective but can serve to enhance it and give it a firmer foundation.

What's more seriously wrong about L. Bird's position is his bourgeois-inspired attempt to separate Marx from Engels No future vote of the working class is needed here, L. Bird has spoken and that is final. From the Communist Manifesto, The German Ideology, The Holy Family these are all joint works representing what Marx called "our view". In fact there are, throughout their lifetime, all manners of joint work, close collaboration and exchanges of notes that show the unity of purpose and analyses of both men. There's so much of this that it is sometimes difficult to say who wrote what. Engels stayed politically linked to Marx after the latter's death.

One such example is Engels' work on Epicurus and the "metabolic relationship" between humanity and nature against the "exclusively mechanical" materialism of the eighteenth century. In fact the analyses of both men on Epicurus has been further confirmed and deepened by relatively recent discoveries of later evidence of his work. When Marx and Engels wrote about him (Hegel underestimated him it seems) there were only literally fragments of his work known about. That has been much more filled out today with new discoveries about the dialectical relationship of man and nature, not least from the inscriptions of Epicurus found on the Great Wall of Diogenes of Oenoanda - another very good example of the stones "talking".
 

LBird
Still ignoring Marx, and clinging to Engels

baboon wrote:

L. Bird is so caught up in his own position that not only is he deaf to any interpretation of what the stones may be saying, he is also deaf to Marx's own words ...

Well, since I'm the one who keeps quoting Marx's own words, on this thread, it seems pretty obvious that the 'position' that I have is not simply my 'own'. As to 'deafness', it's the 'materialists' who ignore Marx, as this thread has proved, yet again. 

baboon wrote:
What's more seriously wrong about L. Bird's position is his bourgeois-inspired attempt to separate Marx from Engels No future vote of the working class is needed here, L. Bird has spoken and that is final.

All I do is encourage workers to read both Marx and Engels, and decide for themselves whether Marx and Engels agreed on 'materialism', for example. Asking workers to read is not 'bourgeois-inspired', it's just trusting to workers' own abilities - unlike the 'materialists', like Lenin.

baboon wrote:
From the Communist Manifesto, The German Ideology, The Holy Family these are all joint works representing what Marx called "our view". In fact there are, throughout their lifetime, all manners of joint work, close collaboration and exchanges of notes that show the unity of purpose and analyses of both men. There's so much of this that it is sometimes difficult to say who wrote what. Engels stayed politically linked to Marx after the latter's death.

This is simply an Engels-inspired myth, and reading the two soon shows that to be the case.

baboon wrote:
One such example is Engels' work on Epicurus and the "metabolic relationship" between humanity and nature against the "exclusively mechanical" materialism of the eighteenth century. In fact the analyses of both men on Epicurus has been further confirmed and deepened by relatively recent discoveries of later evidence of his work. When Marx and Engels wrote about him (Hegel underestimated him it seems) there were only literally fragments of his work known about. That has been much more filled out today with new discoveries about the dialectical relationship of man and nature, not least from the inscriptions of Epicurus found on the Great Wall of Diogenes of Oenoanda - another very good example of the stones "talking".

'Stones' don't 'talk', baboon.

Even you admitted, in an earlier post, that you are 'interpreting' - read the thread, above. You are 'interpreting' in the same way as Mr. Corbett did with Sooty.

It's a shame that even Marx's words won't make you take stock and think about these issues - but, Faith In Matter is not to be dissuaded by workers' power. That's why you won't have workers voting on these issues, after they've read about them for themselves.

You 'Know Truth', baboon, you are of 'The Elite' who have a 'Special Consciousness' which is not available to all workers, and Marx's views about democracy count for nought.