Once more on decadence: What does it mean to say that capitalism is a historically transitory system?

23 posts / 0 new
Last post
Hawkeye
Once more on decadence: What does it mean to say that capitalism is a historically transitory system?
Printer-friendly versionSend by email

The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Once more on decadence: What does it mean to say that capitalism is a historically transitory system?. The discussion was initiated by Hawkeye.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

Hawkeye
Capitalism is a historically transitory system ?

The article 'Once more on decadence.' certainly presents much food for thoughts. But then we need to remember that there is a considerable difference between foreseeing the demise of capitalism and advocating and recommending what is to follow. Then we are advised to regard 'communism' not just as a nice idea, but as a necessity.  We are then advised that it is too early to make plans, despite being encouraged to look forward to a planned communist economy. OK, now let's take things one at a time. A key question after a revolution will be whether or not money will continue to be used, and if it is to be abandoned, will that be done immediately or gradually ? That will have to be decided by what so far are purely aspirational workers councils ?  It is a very practical matter of knowing whether or not money will be used and needed. Try imagining London, for instance, running without any use of money (or without some sort of electronic equivalent of it.). Overproduced goods preceding abolition of money might be freely available for a while, but then when stocks of those run out, how many workers would produce more without expecting nor getting paid ? It is one thing to say that they don;t need to be paid, but quite another to clarify just why anyone would go to work. To persuade workers and everyone else that communism will work, it seems necessary to explain not just that it is supposed to intend to rid the world of wars and poverty and devastation of climatic situations etc, but that it will actually work, and work better than the chaos of capitalism. Revolution itself is mostly regarded as likely to be chaotic anyway, but to advocate it to the extent that its prospect becomes acceptable, it would probably be as well to explain that its aftermath will not just consist of something or other being sorted out when the time comes.

jk1921
Good Point

Hawkeye wrote:

To persuade workers and everyone else that communism will work, it seems necessary to explain not just that it is supposed to intend to rid the world of wars and poverty and devastation of climatic situations etc, but that it will actually work, and work better than the chaos of capitalism. Revolution itself is mostly regarded as likely to be chaotic anyway, but to advocate it to the extent that its prospect becomes acceptable, it would probably be as well to explain that its aftermath will not just consist of something or other being sorted out when the time comes.

Well, that's a good point. The council communists tried this with The Fundamental Principles of Communist Production and Distribution in the 1920s and 1930s, but it is unlikely that their account of how a future communist society would solve these problems would be satisfactory or complete today. Marx for his part mostly tried to avoid such questions for philosophical and methodological reasons: i.e. "The recepies of tomorrow will be left to the cooks fo the future' (paraphrased). In other words, the epistemological vantage point of the captialist present does not permit even the most skilled and farsighted communists to describe in detail the precise features of communist society--perhaps only in a mostly negative sense is this possible, i.e. there would be no money (to answer your question about money), no nations, no international borders, etc. In this sense, the council communist efforts violated this spirit of Marxism to not bind the cooks of the future. Of course, that doesn't mean that this reluctance to not speak about the communist future (or the transitional period) in detail is a very convincing way to deal with the problem. Some might see it as a cop out. I am reminded of Zizek's commentary on the movie V is for Vendetta when the protestors storm Parliament, take it over and the movie suddenly ends. As Zizek says, he would sell his mother into slavery to see a movie called V is for Vendetta, Part II. What happens next might be the most crucial question of all that demands more than Marx's epistemological deflection.

Here is some commentary on the FPCPD:

http://en.internationalism.org/internationalreview/201303/6505/communism-not-nice-idea-vol-3-part-10-bilan-dutch-left-and-transitio

Demogorgon
Neglect or Fundamental to Marx's vision

"Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality will have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence."

Marx saw scientific socialism as a break with the utopian plans and their artificial preconstructed visions. It was also part and parcel of his rejection of Hegel's conception of society evolving to a predetermined outcome determined by some ultimate ideal. Communism emerged as a result of the contradictions and movements of humanity's material conditions and social activity. More importantly, communism would be the product of the workers themselves and the movement they created, not that of intellectuals fantasising in isolation.

The need for a "plan" is indicative of a certain stage of in the development of consciousness: an awareness of the need to abolish capitalism but a fear of being somehow adrift without it. A working class that is unable to overcome this fear and set about the task of creating its own plans for a new society is not a class ready to take power.

Non ex hoc mundi
No transformation before cessation

Hello to the posters here! This article and thread caught my eye and finally led to my posting. Hope it’s OK to just ‘hop on in’ here. It’s my first time posting here.

I’d like to warn you now my opinions differ widely from those here and those of traditional left communism. I avoid labels like elections. But others perhaps might describe me as of the ‘post-left anarchist’ variety. I formerly identified quite strongly with left communism.

Please do not question my allegiances to the vision of a communist future, however. Even though I’d place my interpretation of communism outside the tradition of marxism and Communism altogether, I’m still very, very much hopeful for that future and the prospect of a classless, stateless society.

Before I proceed, I’d also just like to say it does not surprise me Zizek would sell his mother for movie tickets...obviously, in Part II of V, they elect Labour, Jeremy Corbyn becomes Emperor of the Free World, and everyone goes home. (Hah.)

So.

It’s hard to know how to begin to respond to this article. The amount of issues raised, their interconnectedness, as well as their complexity makes it truly difficult to approach the discussion – I will attempt to give it a shot anyway.

For clarity, it should be pointed out the title of the ICC book being mentioned here is ‘not a nice idea’, rather than ‘not just a nice idea’. As a long-time spectator and occasional browser of ICC literature, it was wondered if there is any Bolshevist pistol-brandishing inherently implied in the ‘not’ in the title there. I use Bolshevist pejoratively because, well, communism sounds just plain great to me, and in my opinion the Bolsheviks would go on to ruin what the ICC calls ‘the first great wave’ (and come back for second servings in Spain, 1937), but I can understand that this will be unwelcomed by some here. And I digress. (Happy to continue the discussion on Lenin and co. elsewhere if need-be.)

I’ll begin by saying: I suppose one is really on the wrong track when they begin any serious rigid planning. It can only lead to empty ritual and procedure.

It’s not our task to prepare, but rather to show patience and try to increase our own (individual/collective) understandings as fluidly and rapidly as possible. The more we cling to formulas, the less relevant and more alienated we become; strong and rigid – the kinds of qualities that might be said to actually be weakness. Because what is stronger than the grip of a newborn baby? Strength, hardness, and rigidity are much more symptomatic of things that are dead than growing.

When I pointed my browser to these discussion forums today, something that happens only a few times a year, I intended on registering and starting a topic on this very subject; we’ll call it fate I found no need for that as this one was already here!

That was all because of this Paul Mattick quote from pre-1983:

‘In Marxian theory, a period of social revolution ensues when the existing social relations of production become a hindrance to the utilization and further development of the social forces of production. It is by a change of the social relations of production that the hampered social powers of production find their release.’

Which, coincidentally is repeated by MH within the article in question:

‘In an abstract, a-historical sense, of course, capitalist social relations are always a fetter on the productive forces of humanity because wage labour and capital place artificial restrictions on their potential growth from the very start. But the real question is whether the material conditions for a new mode of production exist, since in the materialist conception of history, “new superior relations of production never replace older ones before the material conditions for their existence have matured within the framework of the old society” (Preface). Only when these conditions exist does capitalism’s continued survival become a definitive fetter on the development of all the productive forces available to humanity.’

Which is itself sourced from the oft-quoted paragraph or two of Marx’s introduction to the Economic Manuscripts. It’s a foundational sentence or two for the ICC, and it’s ‘theory of decadence’.

And so we arrive at the first point of this article where I feel provoked enough to respond in direct opposition, and surely in the minority.

Firstly, in regards to the articles attempts to disown this theory, to claim it as non-unique, indistinct, and part of the Marxist standard, that is really not a fair or honest take of the temperature. Perhaps it is true in a sense this type of determinism (not using that pejoratively here) is indicative of marxism in a wider sense, but in terms of the ‘theory of decadence’ itself… A sober look at the ICC’s positions on these matters clearly reveals they are not above the confusion which results from all revolutionaries tackling these issues head on. To claim otherwise is plain arrogance and, I’m sorry to be the one to say it – the ICC needs to make itself as humble as possible over it’s theory, and it’s understandings (or lack thereof). The consensus about the originators and main advocates of ‘decadence theory’ from the rest of the milieu is very clear. It’s disingenuous to explicitly point to it in the writings of Marx, because no such thing is possible. I’ll further support my position on this a bit later.

It makes me very uncomfortable we are using scientific socialism and communism interchangeably. If you want to truly understand the ‘science’ of Fred Engels, and perhaps Marx, pick yourself up a copy of ‘Dialectics of Nature’. You will see how utterly malformed, Cartesian, Darwinian, etc. their ‘science’ was. It would have been perhaps nearly impossible to pick-up on back then, but we can say now for sure that science, the empiricism/positivism that comes with it, is all complete voodoo.

Science is the new God. In the beginning, there was science. It is the final arbiter of issues in our time.

Science, much like democracy, is like kryptonite to the worker, yet he cannot avoid it’s shimmery-green glow.

Science, like ‘economics’, is nothing more than holy scripture used by the bourgeoisie. It is agreed upon as ‘fair’ by ‘the common man’, in order to gain the moral rights to legislate over issues such as where to employ scarce productive resources which are then used to produce and distribute commodities. It is used for nothing more than assisting in the domination of capital. It has itself been totally dominated by capital. And you might respond that science helps produce things like medicine. Well please if you don’t mind point me in the direction of this free medicine because I, like us all, could direly use it. The point is it doesn’t exist. There is not higher mathematics or physics, it’s just another measly and sensual human attempt at describing something with language. Science is the most bourgeois of poetry. Kelly-Anne was right, science is opinion, nothing more. All facts are alternative facts. There is no ‘real science’, no ‘proletarian science’, just like there is no ‘proletarian democracy’ or culture. All human activity is right now enslaved by capital (Camatte).

MH does not even deny these operative measures in the ICC article, side-skirting the issue of truth being beyond provability (as Godel’s incompleteness theorem proved in the `30s) instead claiming:

‘This rather misses the point; from the beginning, scientific socialism, as the highest theoretical expression of the proletarian movement, consciously based itself on the discoveries and best insights of the bourgeoisie’s historians and philosophers. ‘

Yes, that’s exactly correct, indeed Marxism has based itself on bourgeois insight. But that isn’t a good thing. That much should be obvious. More on this later maybe.

Moving past the issue of science briefly: my second major criticism of the ICC’s theory of decadence is that all the hoopla and debate over this or that epoch – over periodization in general – is totally pointless. It may be true in some fractured sense that all class societies have been transitory. But this is nothing more than expert misdirection that even a magician would be proud of. The history of the past 12,000 yrs or so is almost irrelevant compared with the millions of years of communism of human/hominid society experienced before civilization. That’s right: millions of years of communism. But MH simply glosses over this and calls it ‘a-historical’.

MH writes that progress ‘is the extent to which the real movement of history makes possible the liberation of humanity; not economic growth or the development of technology in itself.’ But let me remind you there is no progress needed for communism. It’s part of our human essence. Progress was needed for patriarchy, private property, etc. Marx pointed this out and stated it was perhaps possible for the small peasants in Russia village communes (‘mirs’) to reach communism without proletarianization.

Again, going back to the rest of the Mattick quote, and shifting gears momentarily:

‘Their [productive forces] further expansion might, but need not, require a quantitative increase in the social powers of production. By ending the drive to “accumulate for the sake of accumulation” and with it the various restrictions due to this type of abstract wealth production, the available productive power of social labor is set free in a qualitatively different system of production geared to the rationally considered needs of society.’

The ICC, Mattick and Marx all talk about ‘development’. And the ICC have continued the tradition of using this Darwinian model.

This notion of linear causality is ‘self-cleansing’, especially in politics. Things are not set on a path because of some unknown cause that dictates their route from start to finish. All that exists is sustained noumenally, irregardless of sense or perception. ‘Ding an sich’ to use the German of Kant. In matters of consciousness, a quantifiable level of ‘awareness’, or ‘enlightenment’ is to be obtained. ‘Trade-union consciousness’ be damned! In evolution, ‘acclivity’; in politics, ‘reform’; in the history of civilization, ‘progress’. ‘The more hygienic the form, the greater its capacity for self-forming separation. The promethean narrative of causation is directed towards its escape from causation, and this is only conceivable within the framework of incrementalism, improvability and sanitation as assertion of the self-causing form.’

...’No individual, group or class escapes its containment by the life-world. No individual, group or class is sufficiently hygienic that it may look in from outside. No individual, group or class may speak or act against its world in complete confidence that it is not also replicating the values of that world at another velocity.’ (Dupont)

One of the central tenants of the situationists, whom I reference very much in awareness of the ICC’s misunderstanding of them, was that of ‘recuperation’, or the channeling of social revolt in a way that perpetuates the dynamic forces of capitalist social relations (Debord). In a nutshell, recuperation is an ingenious feedback system that turns every attack into an energy source with which to perfect itself. The ICC even has a semi-formed critique of activism – something it places itself above (hygenic and self-cleansing, attempting to ‘look in from without’), but still engages in.

‘Just as the bourgeoisie seeks to maintain its hold on power through competitive innovation (the arms race of all terms) so Marxism seeks the objective conservation of fitting historical mutations under changing environmental conditions. However, Marxism has no effective power over environmental processes in order to secure which mutations are conserved and which are not.’ (Dupont)

We can try, as the poster Hawkeye above me suggests, try to persuade every worker in the world that communism is a great idea. But no amount of persuasion will stop capital. If class struggle is a part and parcel of the dynamism of capitalist social relations, then implosion or ‘collapse’, rather than unity and planning, seems to be the only escape trajectory.

So, yes...we are faced with understanding as best as possible the situation at hand and making the best, most rigorous analysis possible, and spreading that as far as possible. As attempted by Mattick, Marx, etc. But this by no means, though, equals definite victory. Bordiga, for example, disagreed: “Communism is inevitable, it is as though it has already happened.”And even today, if I may say so, the Bordigists are really into planning.

In closing this post, I’d like to offer one more Mattick quote:

‘Thus far, [...] revolutionary actions have occurred only in connection with social catastrophe, such as were released by lost wars and the associated economic dislocations. This does not mean that such situations are an absolute pre-condition for revolution, but it indicates the extent of social disintegration that precedes revolutionary upheavals’.

In summary:

1. No amount of consciousness-augmentation will bring us any closer to communism.

2. The collapse of capitalism is not inevitable. I have no doubt that when faced with the choice of less profit, or no profit at all, the bourgeoisie will choose the former. Profit and growth rates can slow.

3. Marx pointed out ‘the conditions themselves’ will shout ‘Hic Rhodus, hic salta!’ rather than any theory of decadence. Trotsky said in his history of the Russian revolution, the ‘immediate causes of the events of a revolution are changes in the state of mind of the conflicting classes’, but this is pure bourgeois social democratic bullshit. As Voline, one of the co-founders of the first Soviet (ever) in the days leading up to 1905, later wrote in his Unknown Revolution, it is the deepening of the crises that leads to proletarian combativity and nothing more.

How was that for a first post? 2,300 words!

LBird
Marx and democracy

Non ex hoc mundi wrote:
If you want to truly understand the ‘science’ of Fred Engels, and perhaps Marx, pick yourself up a copy of ‘Dialectics of Nature’.

There is a strand of Democratic Communist thought that argues that it was Engels, not Marx, who was responsible for this adulation of bourgeois 'science'.

Quote:
You will see how utterly malformed, Cartesian, Darwinian, etc. their ‘science’ was. It would have been perhaps nearly impossible to pick-up on back then, but we can say now for sure that science, the empiricism/positivism that comes with it, is all complete voodoo. Science is the new God. In the beginning, there was science. It is the final arbiter of issues in our time.

Again, this is bourgeois 'science', which Engels mistakenly turned to.

Quote:
Science, much like democracy, is like kryptonite to the worker, yet he cannot avoid it’s shimmery-green glow. Science, like ‘economics’, is nothing more than holy scripture used by the bourgeoisie. It is agreed upon as ‘fair’ by ‘the common man’, in order to gain the moral rights to legislate over issues such as where to employ scarce productive resources which are then used to produce and distribute commodities. It is used for nothing more than assisting in the domination of capital. It has itself been totally dominated by capital. And you might respond that science helps produce things like medicine. Well please if you don’t mind point me in the direction of this free medicine because I, like us all, could direly use it. The point is it doesn’t exist. There is not higher mathematics or physics, it’s just another measly and sensual human attempt at describing something with language. Science is the most bourgeois of poetry. Kelly-Anne was right, science is opinion, nothing more. All facts are alternative facts. There is no ‘real science’, no ‘proletarian science’, just like there is no ‘proletarian democracy’ or culture. All human activity is right now enslaved by capital (Camatte).

I think that you're over-estimating existing bourgeois science, and under-estimating the potential of proletarian, democratic 'science'.

Without proletarian democracy, Marx's theories are meaningless. The alternative is always a 'knowing elite', who workers are compelled to follow. That was Engels' great misunderstanding, that the bourgeoisie have a neutral, elite, special, access to 'matter'.

Marx argues that we socially produce our world, and so can change it. It's our nature, our universe.

Hawkeye
Responding to comment #5

Your quoting from Dupont - 'that no individual, group or class escapes its containment in the life world',prompts me to remember a Buddhist piece of advice for those in very difficult circumstances, that they should ask 'What is the next thing to be done ?"  I and others can spend a lot of time on theory, whilst surrounded by all the crises of the capitalist world. The terrible fire in the tower block in London made me ask just how many tower blocks are there in London and Moscow? In a nuclear war, presumably they would be reduced to radioactive rubble, shrouded by radioactive dust and clouds. Whereas older workers in London and Moscow know what war is like, how many ordinary people in those cities want war ? Who does imagine that war could be of any advantage to themselves ? - Obviously the capitalist arms manufacturers, who make billions, both from wars in progress and the alarmist rumour that yet more wars are likely and so need weapons in waiting. So, contained in today's world, which could be turned into a paradise if only we could get hold of it, we need to do something today and tomorrow to explain to people we meet just what is needed to keep us alive and maybe even happy. Then what ? As Lenin advised the youth groups - "Organise, agitate, study !". But now, without dismissing theories, do we need to overdo study ? Time runs out, it cannot be retrieved. Communism (or whatever it's going to be called)  won't just be somewhere else, but here.

 

MH
Reply to Non ex hoc mundi

Non ex hoc mundi (=not outside of this world?) I’ll call you Nehm from now on!

Given that the article is intended to show just how and why decadence is intrinsic to Marxism it is entirely logical that your post is essentially a critique of Marxism.

I won’t reply to all your points because I think the article actually deals with some of them at length, eg. the idea that Marxism is ‘determinist’ or views human human history as linear progress. And I'm going to leave your comments on science to one side because this topic has been well aired here!

Firstly, you argue that the collapse of capitalism is not inevitable. We argue that the collapse of capitalism is not possible. Unless it is consciously destroyed by the proletariat it will persist, albeit in an advanced state of decomposition, ie. barbarism.

You also argue that “no progress [is] needed for communism. It’s part of our human essence” and refer to “the millions of years of communism” that existed before civilisation.

Significantly Marx described this as primitive communism (based on the insights of the bourgeois anthropologist Morgan...) because the conditions for the unlimited growth of the productive forces did not yet exist. Only with capitalism is the possibility of a society based on abundance brought into existence. How can you have communism, which means the flowering of human individual's full potential, in conditions of scarcity? 

Perhaps most surprisingly, you argue that “no amount of consciousness-augmentation will bring us any closer to communism” and that it is the deepening of the crisis that leads to proletarian combativity.

So you accuse Marxism of ‘determinism’ - and then apparently deny that there is any need to develop class consciousness if we are to overthrow capitalism and create a communist society?

And if combativity alone is necessary why has the proletariat not already destroyed decadent capitalism, especially in the revolutionary wave at the end of WW1?

For us supposedly determinist Marxists the development of class consciousness is the absolutely crucial factor today.

How do you square this?

 

 

LBird
Class consciousness, not Engels' 'material'

MH wrote:

For us supposedly determinist Marxists the development of class consciousness is the absolutely crucial factor today.

[my bold]

I agree with you, MH, 100%.

Perhaps the only improvement that I'd make to your statement, is to replace 'today' with 'always'.

Not 'material conditions', nor 'party consciousness', but 'class consciousness'.

The 'absolutely crucial factor' is always 'class consciousness'.

Non ex hoc mundi
Marx opposed ideology.

That's essentially correct. Indeed, there's a wider, complete critique of marxism itself. As mentioned, I'd place myself outside the tradition of communism and marxism altogether.

That's also right about the collapse of capitalism. I do not see it as 'inevitable' in the very specific way of periodization the ICC has proposed. I'm not a supporter of the luxemburgist trope of the markets being done because of 'geographically' formal subsumption. And the whole 'barbarism' thing has a racist and many times specifically orientalist origin, the term is slanderous towards indigenous people, and many including myself find it offensive -- I hope this can be respected as Rome is not the center of world history from my perspective and there are plenty of synonyms aside from savagery, barbarism, etc. I think the real disagreement here is over the question of moral determinism but once again, I digress. Oddly enough, the term is something else that can be traced back to Luxemburg.

If the argument is capitalism cannot be destroyed unless by a proletarian revolution, I am in full agreement there. Although, I have sympathies with Camatte's view that it's not as much 'prole vs. bourgeois' as it is 'humans vs. capital', especially when 6 men own as much wealth as half the world (3 plus billion people) and we've almost completely destroyed Mother Earth.

So, can you please clarify the differences, in your views, between a capitalism that is 'decomposing' and/or 'decadent' against one that's 'collapsing' (i.e. ending)? Thanks!

MH asks: 'How can you have communism, which means the flowering of human individual's full potential, in conditions of scarcity? ' Foraging wild mushrooms and hunting wild game? It's a fair question which deserves not to be written off. For me, a person with serious but critical 'anti-civ' tendencies (sorry fellas, totally not a primmo, though) 'homeostatic equilibriums' such as those found in the wild are the fall-back model. Before human civilization, basically all species on Earth were meeting their full potential. Where was scarcity then? I certainly don't advocate or at all support endless consumption and surplus for the sake of plain accumulation. Sorry to be callous, but I'd rather keep the honey bees than the melon-fucking, 24/7, 'organic' supermarkets that sell 'asparagus water' for an hours wages.

Listen, MH, the determinism thing isn't really a problem in my view. I would consider myself an economic determinist. It's not about whether I think 'determinism' is 'wrong' or 'right'; it's more that marxism, like the science it bases itself on (which LBird calls 'bourgeois'), comes across as tautological, teleological. Some have called it a 'naive' determinism and criticized it for its adherence to (non-existent, imo) 'laws' of history which at times appear to rewrite history, compressing it into a shape that fits the narrative of a reeling, sinking capitalism being brought down by a wolfpack of crises -- economic, moral, political.

MH asks 'if combativity alone is necessary why has the proletariat not already destroyed decadent capitalism, especially in the revolutionary wave at the end of WW1?' Simply because conditions aren't bad enough yet. When Denver becomes like Damascus, we'll perhaps look back on this frame. Part of me, as does part of the soul of the ICC, believes WWI was just the beginning. Hopefully not. But jesus, how can one not see things like these wildfires in Portugal and be fearful?

It's not clear to me why it's surprising I've taken the position of conditions over consciousness? You'll have to expand a bit as to why so I'll know how to respond more acutely. There are marxists like Mattick who didn't buy the Marx-Engels-Kautsky-Trotsky consciousness line; today I'd classify it more as a Trotsky-Luxemburg-Kautsky-Engels thing. But I'm splitting hairs now, mostly.

I think that 'like a blind mole, tunneling through the dark' (an actual picture of which has been included in past ICC articles dealing with the question of consciousness), when things get bad enough, the workers will learn all that's needed in the blink of an eye and the system will come bowing down. Remember Poland, `80? Remember Egypt, 3 times in the past 6 years? Communist consciousness is not needed to bring about a total cessation of production. This much we know from very obvious and well-documented past historical revolutionary events. It's a two-stage thing. Cessation before transformation. First, the conditions reach a point where the proletariat could (and would) give capitalism its coup de grace (if the conditions are truly present only). Then, a revolutionary consciousness will have to develop after this moment, in order to prevent any authoritarians from imposing any 'semi-states' and the like, or even telling anyone else what to do, even in the slightest degree. A child should not even be subject to the lectures and demands of their own parents. Nothing can be forcefully 'communized' -- at least not successfully.

Again, I'm reminded here of words that are not my own:

'Communism: Not a belief; not a commitment; not a discipline. Only a reference to what caused me to arrive at this point a decade and a half ago. My source material is the unravelling contradictions expressed by the ultra-left in the decades from the 1950's to the 1990's. These contradictions continue to frame the self-conditioning, or subjective, component of my awareness. Communism now appears precisely as the practical and imperative refusal of every communist proposal: Not the party (neither formal nor historic); Not the class itself; Not historical materiality; Not the real movement; Not the dialectic; Not voluntarist measures taken; Not determinism; Not what is to be done; Not fully automated luxury communism; Not solidarity; Not class struggle; Not dictatorship of the proletariat; Not transitional stages; Not one no many yeses; Not value critique; Not autonomy; Not accelerating the means of production; Not communising measures; Not primitivism; Not human community; Not the network; Not the reading group; Not the brotherhood or secret society; Above all, not marxism.'

That's just my take on it.

Demogorgon
Confused

"Simply because conditions aren't bad enough yet. When Denver becomes like Damascus, we'll perhaps look back on this frame. Part of me, as does part of the soul of the ICC, believes WWI was just the beginning. Hopefully not. But jesus, how can one not see things like these wildfires in Portugal and be fearful?"

"I think that 'like a blind mole, tunneling through the dark' (an actual picture of which has been included in past ICC articles dealing with the question of consciousness), when things get bad enough, the workers will learn all that's needed in the blink of an eye and the system will come bowing down. Remember Poland, `80? Remember Egypt, 3 times in the past 6 years? Communist consciousness is not needed to bring about a total cessation of production. This much we know from very obvious and well-documented past historical revolutionary events. It's a two-stage thing. Cessation before transformation. First, the conditions reach a point where the proletariat could (and would) give capitalism its coup de grace (if the conditions are truly present only). Then, a revolutionary consciousness will have to develop after this moment, in order to prevent any authoritarians from imposing any 'semi-states' and the like, or even telling anyone else what to do, even in the slightest degree. A child should not even be subject to the lectures and demands of their own parents. Nothing can be forcefully 'communized' -- at least not successfully."

I'm confused by these passages.

On the one hand you say conditions are necessary to impulse the working class to seize power (or "cease production", using your words). Yet you don't offer any explanation as to why things will get worse. Why can't they get better? Why are they going to get worse? Why is WW1 just the beginning? And the beginning of what?

Secondly, you say that you hope you're wrong about WW1 being the beginning and you're fearful of what things like the Portugese forest fires mean. But aren't these sorts of things the very factor that, in your schema, might drive the working class forward?

You mention the Polish mass strike in the 80s and the movement in Egypt more recently as examples of how the revolution can proceed without consciousness. Yet, this raises the question as why workers in those circumstances launched those movements and yet did not do so at other times. Things got much, much worse in Poland (and the whole Eastern bloc) after the defeat of the strikes in the 1980s. Why did class struggle begin to recede following this?

Then there's this: "Listen, MH, the determinism thing isn't really a problem in my view. I would consider myself an economic determinist. It's not about whether I think 'determinism' is 'wrong' or 'right'; it's more that marxism, like the science it bases itself on (which LBird calls 'bourgeois'), comes across as tautological, teleological. Some have called it a 'naive' determinism and criticized it for its adherence to (non-existent, imo) 'laws' of history which at times appear to rewrite history, compressing it into a shape that fits the narrative of a reeling, sinking capitalism being brought down by a wolfpack of crises -- economic, moral, political."

You say you're an economic determinist and then, without missing even a beat, launch a critique about how Marxism is teleological, mistakenly talks about "laws of history", and the idea that crises will bring down capitalism. This is an exact description of economic determinism! How does your determination differ from what you think Marx's is? How is it "naive"?

As for the point about crises, if these are not the factors that will compel the working class to overthrow capitalism, the "bad conditions" you seem to think are necessary then what bad conditions do you mean? And why will they happen?

Non ex hoc mundi
Response to Demogorgon

I was hoping my questions regarding my confusions on ICC positions would be answered before new ones had been raised.

I don't see much 'confusion' in this summary. I really hope we can keep this discussion in good and genuine faith. In that spirit:

① I said nothing of the 'seizure of power'. No, not at all. So let me be very clear: I absolutely and outrightly reject this underlying notion of Leninist coup d'etats, among other things which have already been listed at the end of post #10.

② I think things can get 'better' in the sense that a 'kinder' seeming capitalism could appear, one which wouldn't abuse work and nature to the degree where it runs itself into the ground. Likely? Maybe not. But it's not impossible. Has the ICC seriously not noticed that a large portion of the global ruling class has adopted the ICC's rhetoric on 'decadence'? It's probably part of the official Labour party platform at this point; everything is in disarray and of course that's why we need green energy, better social services, etc.

③ I see no reason that one cannot maintain the view that political 'economics' are the driving force of civilization, as opposed to the view the ICC holds which points to history itself and it's 'laws' as that driving force (i.e. historical determinism).

④ Demogorgon asks: But aren't these sorts of things the very factor that, in your schema, might drive the working class forward?' Yes, that's correct.

⑤ Demogorgon writes:You say you're an economic determinist and then, without missing even a beat, launch a critique about how Marxism is teleological, mistakenly talks about "laws of history", and the idea that crises will bring down capitalism. This is an exact description of economic determinism! How does your determination differ from what you think Marx's is? How is it "naive"? Again, are we conflating historical materialism/determinism with the economic kind here?

Lastly, I just wanted to reiterate my main question from before Demogorgon's latest response: Can you please clarify the differences, in your views, between a capitalism that is 'decomposing' and/or 'decadent' against one that's 'collapsing' (i.e. ending)? Thanks!

Demogorgon
I don't see much

"I don't see much 'confusion' in this summary. I really hope we can keep this discussion in good and genuine faith."

Our own positions seem crystal clear to ourselves, but it's not always the case for other people. I'm having difficulty following your line of argument or what the actual disgreements are. Hence, my questions.

To respond to your points.

1) I didn't say anything about a "Leninist coup d'etat". I mentioned a seizure of power, because that was implied in your post. To be clear, I was working on the assumption that we were both talking about the working class seizing power from the bourgeoisie, not a party.

2) Okay. So you think capitalism can, albeit with difficulty, can be transformed into a kinder version of itself. That answers one of my questions. But it then raises another. If this is possible, why shouldn't the working class throw itself into reformist struggles to improve its lot and clear capitalism to a better, safer path?

I'm not sure of the relevance of your second point here about the ruling class apparently sharing a conception of decadence. I don't think they have any conception at all concerning capitalism, although some factions have views about the future of neoliberalism. Even if they did, I'm not sure whether that has much bearing on whether decadence is a real phenomena or not.

3) In what way does the ICC suggest "history itself" has laws, as distinct from the economic foundations of society?

4) Okay, so why are they to be feared? Obviously, if I see a forest fire I'm going to run very fast the other way, but from a historic point of view surely these things, in your schema, will push things in the right direction.

5) My motivation here is to try and understand your distinction between historical and economic determinism.

On your questions, very briefly.

Decadence: society has reached a tipping point where future development comes at a price of increasing social, economic, and political convulsions which threaten the development and possibly the survival of society. There is wide disparity of opinion on the precise causes of this tipping point within the communist left and, to a lesser extent, within the ICC itself.

Decomposition: A very particular set of circumstances that arose from the inability of both the bourgeoisie and proletariat to fully defeat the other. The bourgeoisie is unable to fully impose the necessary restructuring of capital to restart its economy; the proletariat is unable to launch any more than a defensive struggle and is demoralised by its successive defeats. Unable to act decisively, the bourgeoisie fragments and the economic and political apparatus more and more escapes its conscious control, leading to the break-up of capitalist society while the proletariat has a tendency to remain passive. Decomposition is one of several possible outcomes for decadence and, at the moment, is the dominant trend.

Non ex hoc mundi
Second Reply to Demogorgon

① Ah, ok, I understand where you are coming from a bit better now, Demogorgon. But there is still heavy disagreement on this point. You would like to see workers 'seize' power -- I'd like to see them abolish it.

I see the workers 'seizing' control over production in order to bring it to a total standstill or a carefully 'induced coma' as others have called it. But after this, any clingings-on to power would be a serious threat to the chance of the second stage of this revolution: social revolution establishing communist social relations.

The dystopian novel The Foundation Pit written by Andrei Platanov, 'a Soviet Russian writer, playwright, and poet, whose works anticipate existentialism' (Wiki) and finished in 1930, but only published in 1987, is a precise picture of what would happen if the ICC and other organizations like it (any organization) facilitated some 'seizure of power'.

② Yes. The working class absolutely should throw itself into reformist struggles -- not to improve capitalism -- but selfishly, to improve the conditions of their own lives. I suspect they will fail, however.

Their have been succesful offensive struggles since the late `80s, in many places. Albeit, they weren't 'generalized' across the whole class, but through every indication I've seen, 'generalized conditions' themselves have improved greatly since WWII or so. A 'progressive development of productive forces' to use ICC lingo, although I would hope I already made clear enough my criticisms of these Darwinian concepts i.e. progress and development as to not further confuse.

③ Through it's pointless and inaccurate attempts to periodize capitalism.

④ Because we don't want to die in a fiery capitalist holocaust? I mean...what...not sure where to go with this.

Once again, I feel you are projecting your positions onto me. My schema has very little to do with catalysts 'pushing' anyone or thing 'in the right direction'. You can't get past this promethean Darwinism, huh?

⑤ Oh, that's easy, I pretty much reject historical materialism outright. See promethean Darwinism.

⑥ So...decadence and decompostion are different from 'ending'? How so?

Demogorgon
Still confused

Might as well stick with the number format:

1) I think responding here will throw the discussion about decadence off-track.

2) This seems contradictory to me. First, you say the working class should struggle for reforms. They you say it will likely fail. Then you give examples of how recent "offensive" struggles have succeeded. How have they succeeded? They certainly didn't bring about a revolution - capitalism is still here - so the only other success I can imagine is some sort of reformist one. You don't specify exactly what reforms were won, but if these struggles have succeeded in bringing about reforms, why do you think future reformist struggles will "likely fail"? What has changed?

With regard to improvement in 'generalized conditions', there's a difference between an improvement in living conditions related to improvements in the technological base (e.g. more households having access to electricity) and ones related to the social relationships of capitalism.

Our position is not that productive forces cannot improve, but that these productive forces cannot reach their full potential under capitalism and that these improvements destabilise capitalist social relationships. (Or, to put it in Marx-speak: the secular rise in organic composition of capital, lowers the general rate of profit and pushes the contradiction between production and consumption to breaking point, thus making capitalism more vulnerable to crisis.)

3) Why is it pointless to periodize capitalism? How is it innaccurate? What specific "laws of history" do you impute to us, and how are they different from what you see as "economic determinism" which you say you agree with?

4) I was under the impression you didn't think capitalism would collapse of its own accord. Your words: "If the argument is capitalism cannot be destroyed unless by a proletarian revolution, I am in full agreement there." Forests may burn, but the larger society will carry on as before. So there is no reason to fear forest fires, or wars, or anything else really, at least not from a historic point of view. By that, I mean these things won't bring an end to the current civilisation even if they cause untold misery and suffering for those caught up in them. They are not existentialist crises for society as a whole.

You say your "schema has very little to do with catalysts 'pushing' anyone or thing 'in the right direction'." But earlier you say the reason why the working class has made a revolution yet is "Simply because conditions aren't bad enough yet." Doesn't this mean if conditions do get that bad, that will drive a revolution? Aren't these two statements contradictory?

5) It's quite clear you reject historical materialism. What I'm trying to understand is your specific distinction between historical materialism and economic determinism.

6) What's the difference between a cancer patient and a dead body? What's the difference between a pregnancy and a birth? Decadence, decomposition, etc. are processes, the culmination of which is the end of capitalism. That end may be one of several possibilities: communist revolution; global (thermonuclear?) war; slow disintegration of society (i.e. decomposition). There is, no doubt, any number of specific possibilities within those broad possibilities, of course.

jk1921
AMP

Demogorgon wrote:

6) What's the difference between a cancer patient and a dead body? What's the difference between a pregnancy and a birth? Decadence, decomposition, etc. are processes, the culmination of which is the end of capitalism. That end may be one of several possibilities: communist revolution; global (thermonuclear?) war; slow disintegration of society (i.e. decomposition). There is, no doubt, any number of specific possibilities within those broad possibilities, of course.

Not to muddy the waters (about to muddy the waters)--how about a societal transformation away from captialist/proletarian relations of exploitation towards a kind of hybrid society where wage labor is more and more redundant and/or supplemented with things like debt servitude, direct transfers from the state, etc., uh, not sure where I am going here--but perhaps the world starts to look more and more like the Asiatic Mode of Production and less purely capitalist. Is this compatible with capitalism in decomposition or does the tendency for the generalization of wage labor persist?

 

Non ex hoc mundi
The Essential Proletariat & Two-stage Revolution

Quote:
[G]ive examples of how recent "offensive" struggles have succeeded. How have they succeeded?

I'm not gonna waste my time doing this because there are way too many specific examples to provide. In some cases workers win back pay, or a union, a raise, healthcare, retirement benefits, stop a co-worker from being fired, stopping someone being deported on the job, stopping unfair labor practices, stopping on the job harrasement, minimum wage hikes...the list goes on and on and on!

The problem is not a lack of quantity or quality in terms of workers acting in their own interest, neither is it due to any lack of 'unity'. The problem is something that Marx became aware of after the failure of the 1848 uprisings. He expected a quick victory via a 'battle for democracy'. He was wrong. Way wrong! More than a hundred years later, the situationists would write much on the topic of 'recuperation' -- the channeling of social revolt in a way that perpetuates capitalism. Their solution: we can 'no longer combat alienation with alienated means.' But it is impossible to escape the alienation of this society without first ending capitalist production forever.

Because of the way 'change' actually happens in the totally produced and representational world we call 'reality', everything ends up as 'reformist' -- it all boomerangs back in favor of capital and then creates new market opportunities and/or new ways of exploiting people.

I'm reminded of a quote of Feuerbach:

“But for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, appearance to essence, . . . truth is considered profane, and only illusion is sacred. Sacredness is in fact held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be seen as the highest degree of sacredness.”

Or to return to the language of the SI, 'Everything that was directly lived has receded into representation.'

Quote:
Why do you think future reformist struggles will "likely fail"? What has changed?

Tendency of the rate of profit to fall. Credit. Fictitious capital. Non-living labor. Overproduction. The lack of aggregate demand. Automation. Unemployment. Growing population. We've killed Nature and totally destroyed the biosphere.

Quote:
With regard to improvement in 'generalized conditions', there's a difference between an improvement in living conditions related to improvements in the technological base (e.g. more households having access to electricity) and ones related to the social relationships of capitalism.

Not sure the point of highlighting this distinction. Are you suggesting improvements in the tech base don't have a corallary effect on social relationships? C'mon...think about things like 'social' media...the Internet in general. Don't understand this.

Re: "full potential". Who cares about full potential? I care about sustainability. 'Homeostatic equilibrium'.

Quote:
Doesn't this mean if conditions do get that bad, that will drive a revolution? Aren't these two statements contradictory?

Yes. And no, not contradictory at all.

Quote:

At this point, there is some recourse to some conception of 'crisis theory' ...If class war is the dynamic force of capitalist relations, and every engagement renews those relations, then 'collapse' rather than strategy would appear to constitute the most likely form of release. It follows that, any potential collapse of a net-form set of relations would depend upon the corruption or depletion of an essential component or resource.

The most unstable factor of production is 'labour'. Not only does labour have 'objective and 'subjective' features, it is component, raw material and end product of the productive apparatus (that is, it appears as several inputs at once). Even so, labour in revolt remains capable only of replicating 'labour' and 'production for need' as the basis of its counter-lifeworld...[We] proposed that as a factor of the capitalist relation in crisis 'there will be workers' councils'. And yet, the function of 'workers' councils' defines the concept of crisis management - historically, soviets have succeeded only in maintaining the production of use-values during crisis. When the economy is refinanced and passes out of spasm, the workers' councils fade away in the glare of business as usual.

For reason of the homing instinct in revolutionaries, as they seek unprecendented rationalisations for returning to familiar forms (the revolutionary secret police; the revolutionary state bureaucrats; the revolutionary managers of production), a revolt against the form of the revolution becomes the necessary condition of escape. If the first phase of social revolution is the seizure of the produced world by one of its essential components, then the second phase involves not permitting that component its return to familiar conditions.

[Our idea] conjectures that the first phase of revolution, if it is implemented by labour, will involve a relatively small number of workers (what it calls, 'the essential proletariat'). As production passes therapeutically into an induced coma, the second phase must then be commenced - this will be undertaken 'consciously' on a 'species' scale (perhaps the only moment in all of history where consciousness, or its absence, will prove decisive one way or the other). The 'species' revolt will be directed against the possibility of a return to production as life-world. The first phase of revolt is conditioned environmentally by productive relations and realises the ideal form of production. The second phase is 'over-conditioned' by multiple crisis forms and thereby wins at least the possibility of selecting its environmental conditions - that is to say, it wins the chance to become its environment.

I think that 'decadence theory' is the flagship result of the ICC's ideological explorations since the late `70s. But the backside of that coin, something the ICC appears much less eager to debate about, is this notion of the 'subterranean development of consciousness'. This theory is the closet where all the one-off puzzle pieces and other odds and ends that don't fit into decadence theory end up. It is the 'higgs boson' or the 'dark matter' of the theoretical underpinnings of the ICC, and 'decadence theory' specifically.

The worsening of material conditions is why the Russian revolution happened (aside from the nationalist socialist German state allowing Lenin safe passage back to Russia in early 1917 and backing the Bolsheviks to help further German war efforts and imperialist ambitions).

The Soviets arose in 1905 as a direct reaction and response to economic 'privations'. They were resurrected again in the 1917 revolution completely inorganically.

The worsening of conditions only opens the possibility for for the cessation of production; for seizing the means of production; for transformation. But this whole chicken vs. egg thing gets old and boring. 'The revolution', or the move to seize the means of production in order to halt capitalist production -- it's success relies on a relatively small portion of the global working class which myself and others refer to as the 'essential proletariat'.

Quote:

Why [do we] identify an 'essential proletariat'?

A hypothesis does not seek its own realisation but only the means to escape the internalised constraints of bad procedures. The decisive move in the formulation of a hypothesis, as with any art, is the formal exclusion of extraneous content. There is much to be said on the 'essential proletariat' but much of that is also extraneous.

The plausibility of the 'essential proletariat' is less an issue...than is the ongoing attachment to conventional mechanisms for social transformation amongst those refusing the present state of things. Why should those desiring social transformation locate the engine of transformation within the processes of that which they oppose?

The 'essential proletariat' is hardly a hypothesis at all and is closer in form to a gambit. The purpose of the gambit option is to enforce radically other terms where the same pieces remain in the game.

...

The 'essential proletariat' hypothesis is framed in terms of cessation not transformation. It proposes that there can by no transformation until there is cessation. It evaluates the predominant hypothesis of system immanent transformation as a paradox: those alterations accumulated within an outline are functions of the reproduction of the same, not of change. That which is left behind may not also be carried forward (the major theorem of historical materialism). Marxism's theses on historical accumulation overlay the general propositions of evolution by natural selection, which in turn reflect bourgeois categories of expanding dominion.

Just as the bourgeoisie seeks to maintain its hold on power through competitive innovation (the arms race of all terms) so Marxism seeks the objective conservation of fitting historical mutations under changing environmental conditions. However, Marxism has no effective power over environmental processes in order to secure which mutations are conserved and which are not.

With 'the essential proletariat', [we abandon] the 'science' of history, and thus detaches itself from the ideology of realism... it has no interest in expropriating the existing apparatus and bending it to a better purpose where it conjectures that any designated better purpose is already expropriated by the apparatus, being one of its dream-products. That is to say, the 'essential proletariat' is a calculated gambit - a hypothesis made in bad faith.

[We attempt] to discover the most unlikely or outlandish outcome, a species-wide 'human community' given the containment of life-world processes, and thus human consciousness within the iron cage of production pour production. Every other theory of communism relies upon a pre-existing 'real movement' of humanisation which insists that the human species is really something more, or even something else, than it actually is. Every other theory of social transformation presumes to asset an ideal human substance against historical form: a general will; a general desire; a general activity; a general capacity for world changing consciousness. [We seek] to establish a theory of change for the better which also incorporates the sickness, the perversity, the vacillating pusillanimity of human beings. It begins not with their good but with men's capacity for evil. Above all, it strives not to express itself in conformity with that guillotine-happy, misanthropic 'love' of the People which drives so-called revolutionaries. It arrives at the theory of 'essential proletariat' as a structural defence, a sort of failsafe protection, against the traitorous villainy which has thus far constituted the 'revolutionary' activity of the communists.

The argument for the 'essential proletariat' must combine several propositions: 1. The world is literally a produced world; 2. Conscious efforts at redesigning the world end up, by way of unintended consequence, reproducing it as the same; 3. Every agency equally expresses the conditions of which it is a function; 4. Conscious agreement within populations on the precise values of in-group interest is delusory and unsustainable within an environment that generates perpetual differentiation as markets; 5. The question of transformation may only appear where the homeostatic equilibrium of environmental processes is punctuated.

Strategists for state power (and there are no other kind) calculate that any given modern population is always 3 days from 'anarchy' where life-world processes are suspended. In other words, under emergency conditions where the productive process has passed into a sate of interregnum, the subject population becomes radically divorced from what it was when constrained by productive relations. It is only under conditions of radical alienation from its host environment that an entity's exaptations come into play. And it is only through relations established via exaptations that an other environment may be adapted to and moulded into new forms.

If the world is a produced world, then the cessation of production, rather than its transformation, is the only immediate alternative given that the revolutionising of the means of production is precisely the mechanism by which the same relations of production are maintained. If production of the produced world must be interrupted before any project of emancipation becomes realisable, then it is necessary to identify the most energy efficient and simplest means of effecting the interruption. If interruption of production and not transformation itself is the basis of any project of transformation, then the interruption must not itself behave as a function of reproduction (as for example, aberrant but contained behaviours such as war, capital flight, terrorism, natural disaster, popular unrest, leftist insurgency and so on).

If the employment of labour power is an essential component of production (appearing both as production's general principle and as a function within the realising process), then any interruption of its contribution is translated into an interruption of the apparatus as a whole.

If, for reasons of perpetual divergences in consciousness, and thus for reason of the elimination of the possibility of conscious practical activity, a general strike is out of the question, then the question of an interruption of the labour process is inseperable from the identification of that concrete labour, and those workers, essential to the ongoing production of the world. Or to put it another way, the essential proletariat is not a formation of 'the masses' but is that fleshy component of production which, by implementing a refusal of work, immediately interrupts the entire system.

The 'essential proletariat' is the most capitalised, and most integrated, fraction of the workforce. It is the fraction that is least likely to act against its conditions and yet, because its numbers are so small whilst its capacities for disruption of the 'whole' so great, the 'essential proletariat' gambit still seems a more likely circuit breaker than some potential mass movement.

Given, the higher chance of aberrant outcomes amongst smaller populations, it is to be hoped, as the proletariat is progressively essentialised by accumulating forces of production, that it will eventually be reduced to a single worker, whose work consists of pressing one essential button, and who is as subject to capricious whims as any other bored prince, wearied by the collective fate of unknown millions.

mhou
Quote:I think that 'like a

Quote:
I think that 'like a blind mole, tunneling through the dark' (an actual picture of which has been included in past ICC articles dealing with the question of consciousness)

The article in question ('Notes on the Subterranean Maturation of Consciousness') isn't an official ICC text and shouldn't be viewed as such. There is a comment about that above where the article starts, but I just want to reiterate that point. It was just a contribution to discussion on SMC by a non-member (me). Your last reply has a criticism of SMC, so I thought this would be a good time to say as much.

Non ex hoc mundi
Re: Post #18, and more

Ok, I see that...so, is it incorrect to view the theory itself as an 'official theory' of the ICC?

Just a few more words on the topic while I'm here:

The 'laws of history' I mentioned before are really not unique to the ICC. It goes back to the notion of progress, development, improvement, etc. As Hegel said, despite all the bumps and 'detours', history is viewed by some linearly-- still moving in the 'right direction'. Hegel thought he had identified 'the end of the line' of history, so did Marx, and now so has the ICC.

The ICC's need for a 'theory' of decadence is partly a result of the question (and it's crises over it, which has been taken up in its press since the late `80s) of organization. In order to do everything to refute the image others paint of the ICC, that off a 'sect' or 'clique', the ICC must base it's thinking in something supposedly universal and indisputable: bourgeois empiricism.

Trump uses science to refute the realities of climate change; so does the ICC use science to refute the stark realities of the modern class struggle.

But science cannot prove one thing or another. It can only disprove. All scientific thought and learning depends on this notion-- that at some point it might be shown to be wrong. Apparently, the 'theory of decedence' is above this phenomenon? I think not. Therefore, in order to appear confident, relevant and non-sectarian, the ICC bases it's idealism in science.

Not everything is looked at. Things that don't fit the big picture are disregarded. The determinism of the ICC is naive because it ignores things that do not fit-in with it's theories.

LBird
'Science', once again

Non ex hoc mundi wrote:
But science cannot prove one thing or another. It can only disprove. All scientific thought and learning depends on this notion-- that at some point it might be shown to be wrong. Apparently, the 'theory of decedence' is above this phenomenon? I think not. Therefore, in order to appear confident, relevant and non-sectarian, the ICC bases it's idealism in science. Not everything is looked at. Things that don't fit the big picture are disregarded. The determinism of the ICC is naive because it ignores things that do not fit-in with it's theories.

The problem with your formulation, Nehm, is that you have a notion of 'science' which is asocial, ahistorical, and outside the class struggle. In fact, modern 'science' is a product of the bourgeoisie.

As a political tool, 'science'  can both 'prove' and 'disprove' whatever its adherents wish to achieve with 'their science'. It's a bourgeois myth that they have a neutral, disinterested, elite method which tells them 'The Truth' (or, at least, it can 'objectively determine' non-truth, as you seem to be saying, above).

Any human science worth its name will be democratic, and I'm prepared to call this 'proletarian science', to differentiate this human social activity from constrasting human social activity like 'bourgeois science', which has both a history (we can date in from c. 1660) and a social basis (it fits with the power claims of the minority bourgeoisie). Science is always a method of social theory and practice.

In effect, 'truth' or 'fiction', 'proof' or 'disproof', 'fact' or 'value', are all human, social, creations. So, these, within a proletarian, democratic, science, would all be voted upon. That is, 'truth' will be elected within Communism, because  any 'truth' can only be a 'truth' that serves our collective needs, interests and purposes, and not 'The Truth' that serves those of a minority of an exploiting, ruling class.

The ICC is not wrong to use 'science', but it has to be clear about just what its 'science' actually is.

mhou
Quote:Ok, I see that...so, is

Quote:
Ok, I see that...so, is it incorrect to view the theory itself as an 'official theory' of the ICC?

Not at all. Just that that particular article should be viewed more like a long forum post here rather than a kind of organizational statement on the subject (unlike the other texts on SMC). That's all.

Non ex hoc mundi
Re: Post #20

Science literally cannot prove anything.

This problem is widely acknowledged by bourgeois and 'proletarian' scientists alike. It's called the problem of 'underdetermination' in philosophy of science.

All we can do to obtain evidence is to observe trends and patterns. But unless you've examined the entire universe on every level, across all of time and space, you can never say beyond doubt that something has been 'proven'.

For example, complete the following pattern:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, X

You might say, 'Look at all this evidence. I have 23 pieces of evidence. The next number will clearly be "24"'.

But here's the thing: it's not. As it turns out, I'm counting numbers on a digital clock, and the next number in the sequence is '0'.

The only thing one has to do to show a particular conclusion is underdetermined is provide a rival conclusion which is equally supported by a given body of evidence.

LBird
'Evidence' doesn't escape democracy

Non ex hoc mundi wrote:
Science literally cannot prove anything. This problem is widely acknowledged by bourgeois and 'proletarian' scientists alike. It's called the problem of 'underdetermination' in philosophy of science. All we can do to obtain evidence is to observe trends and patterns. But unless you've examined the entire universe on every level, across all of time and space, you can never say beyond doubt that something has been 'proven'.
[my bold]

This is a political misunderstanding by you, I think, Nehm.

For 'proletarian scientists' (who argue, like Marx, that we socially produce 'our world'), 'proof' is determined by a vote.

So, 'proof' (like 'truth'), is something produced by social theory and practice, and if that social activity produces a product that meets our social needs, interests, and purposes, then it is 'proof' of its 'truth'. Of course, 'meets' can only be democratically determined.

Bourgeois science, on the other hand, pretends that 'objectivity', 'truth', 'proof', etc., are all 'out there', simply waiting to be 'passively discovered', by an elite of 'scientists with special consciousness', who are 'politically disinterested', and have a 'neutral method'.

Plus, what counts as 'evidence' is itself a social selection, and so must be also determined by the democracy of the social producers.

This 'democratic science' is what is meant by 'proletarian science'. It's completely politically different from 'bourgeois science'.

'Proof' is thus elected.