Day of Discussion - World War One: how the workers were mobilised for war, and how they put an end to it

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radicalchains
Day of Discussion - World War One: how the workers were mobilised for war, and how they put an end to it
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Day of Discussion - World War One: how the workers were mobilised for war, and how they put an end to it. The discussion was initiated by radicalchains.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

radicalchains
An important discussion given

An important discussion given the seeming never ending increase in war, disintegration and horror in the world. I would very much like to attend and would look forward to meeting many (or any!) of the people on this forum including ICC militants. I hope as many people can make it as possible.

Redacted
I was listening to BBC radio

I was listening to BBC radio on NPR and they had a story about some new WWI museum that just opened somewhere in Britain. It was disgusting really. They were talking about how cool it was to be in the reconstructed model of a trench, laughing and being silly with the FX of gunshots and screaming in the background. These were men at least 40 years old.

Something tells me the spirits of the 37,000,000 casualties of that war would not find it too amusing in death.

Wish I could make it to the meeting. Cheers

Alf
meeting in the flesh

Look forward to meeting you in the flesh, radical.

Alf
"dirty evil bastards"

 

"dirty evil bastards"

 

seems about right. 

 

The film about how the working class stopped the war is now up on page one....

 

https://en.internationalism.org/

 

 

baboon
Good film. Packs a mighty

Good film. Packs a mighty punch.

Dirty evil lying bastards. Today, amid all the sickening celebrations, the bourgeoisie are presenting the flight of their ambassador and his secret service entourage from LIbya as if it was some sort of victory.

Theft
The latest issue of my paper

The latest issue of my paper is devoted to WWI and some of the voices that stood up for Internationalism. 

http://www.freecommunism.org/the-free-communist-issue-6/

Fred
Thank you Theft for the link

Thank you Theft for the link to your paper.  I found it a refreshing read but particularly liked the photographs which convey the atmosphere of those far off World War One  days very well, and make them seem very far off indeed.  How much we have changed since those times!  I think we have lost the sweet innocence that the working class and its revolutionaries of that epoch project across the years.  But that this is actually a plus for us, 

 I'm thinking of John Maclean's not particularly clear statement and even the one by Luxemburg, Liebknecht and others, which seems oddly naive in its calling on workers to set up soviets and committees as if working class autonomy and it's associated consciousness wasn't essential to the formation of class organizations, but rather that the form itself would do as a beginning.  Did they believe consciousness would catch up later? This surprises me.  Is it possible that revolutionaries at that time didn't fully appreciate the degree of class consciousness necessary as the basis for  successful  revolution, but thought or hoped it could just be summoned up when required?  Is it possible that they themselves lacked the insights and understandings which we ourselves can take as given now - like that the class itself has to have sufficient consciousness of the nature of its task in liberating both itself and the rest of humanity from capital, and that without this essential consciousness nothing will be achieved? And that no leaders, and no Party, can do this for us: that our liberation is our own business, and substitution doesn't work.

We of course have the benefit of historical hindsight, but also the immense and absolutely essential work of clarification and analysis which the left communists undertook after the revolutionary failure and which we are the beneficiaries of via their vital  texts, which the ICC and others have  done so much to try and disseminate.   Am I wrong in thinking that we know a great deal more now (if only in theory!) about the basic requirements necessary for a revolutionary uprising to have any chance of success than did our forebears a century ago?  And particularly the amount of organized class consciousness needed to proceed in an organized and thus potentially successful manner.  We don't want a repeat of the innocent haphazardness of 1918.

 This may be the  great lesson that the  First World War generation of workers have bequeathed us. We need to know in advance what we are in fact doing in attempting to overthrow capitalism and organize ourselves as best we can in solidarity to do it efficiently;   and with the fullest amount of organized class consciousness internationally  we can muster. Otherwise we'll fail again. 

lem_
Fred so you think that the

Fred so you think that the revolution has to occur as late as possible - as long as consciousness will continue to expand?

slothjabber
I'm all for innocent haphazardness

I think I disagree with Fred quite a lot on what the immediate prospects for revolution were in 1918. Yes, obviously, the world revolution was defeated. Yes, the working class in Germany put too much faith in its long-trusted Social-Democratic Party and representatives. Yes, the working class was divided and the imperialist powers managed to isolate the revolution in Russia and then pick off and crush the revolutions and other actions of the working class that followed from Budapest to Clydeside to Seattle to Shanghai.

 

Does that mean that Luxemburg and Leibknecht were wrong, or naive, to call for the formation of soviets? I don't think so. Surely, it is in the 'doing' that workers learn 'how' to be revolutionary. We're not the SPGB; we don't expect the working class to aquire theory then put it into practice. We believe that praxis emerges from engagement with conditions, don't we? We struggle, because we have to struggle; we develop our theories as to how and why in the course of struggles, we don't start with a blueprint and say 'this is how the revolution will proceed'. The best guide we have is only ever what we learned from the previous struggles (positive and negative).

 

In 1918 the best guides to what the working class 'should do' were 1917 and 1905. The best tactic I believe was to encourage the working class to form 'organs of proletarian power'. What else was on the agenda? How else could the working class learn to exercise its power, other than by attempting to do it?

LBird
What's first? Theory or practice?

I haven't commented on any threads recently, because I think I've become aware just how great are the differences between my conceptions of 'revolution and how to get there', and the other comrades who post here.

But I felt obliged to comment on slothjabber's post, because it shows quite clearly these differences, and I think it worthwhile emphasising slothjabber's points, which excellently display these alternative conceptions, and their illustration of 'method', too.

slothjabber wrote:
We're not the SPGB; we don't expect the working class to aquire theory then put it into practice.

This is precisely my view of the process: I expect the working class to acquire theory, and then put it into practice. I suspect that some in the SPGB share my view, but I'm not entirely sure, because different members of that party seem to have other beliefs which would negate that position. The SPGB is, on the whole, confused, IMO.

slothjabber wrote:
We believe that praxis emerges from engagement with conditions, don't we?

And this is precisely what I don't agree with. To me, 'praxis' (ie. theory and practice) can't 'emerge from 'engagement with conditions' (ie. practice) because 'practice doesn't produce theory', but rather the other way round, 'theory informs practice' (ie. the two together form praxis) which produces change in conditions.

To locate this 'praxis emerges' view, which slothjabber embraces, within discussions about 'science and method', it is clearly the 'inductive method'. That is, thowing oneself into the 'objective data' without any theoretical presuppositions, and getting on with 'practice', leads to the 'emergence' of 'theory'.

The method of induction (practice and theory) is not the scientific method (which it was thought to be), but is essentially a conservative method of 'dealing with the real world as it exists', which leads to conservative conclusions and 'theory'.

Our method must be to criticise the existing world (a theoretical and class task), and then build our practice upon those theoretical criticisms of 'the existing'.

That is, 'theory and practice'; not 'practice and theory', as comrade slothjabber suggests.

I hope comrades take this post in the spirit it was intended, that of generating comradely discussions about, and clarification of, the tasks of Communists within the working class.

If my presence is not wanted, I apologise now, and will return to interested, but passive, reading of your site.

lem_
LBird

whatever theoretical disagreements you have, you seem to sgare the core principles of the ICC, which few people do  explicitly. you should continue to post, even if nothing else good comes of it.

 

edit IMVHO consciousness must inform practice, whether or not that consciousness is theoretically informed.

LBird
Are they 'scared'?

lem_ wrote:

whatever theoretical disagreements you have, you seem to sgare the core principles of the ICC, which few people do  explicitly. you should continue to post, even if nothing else good comes of it.

I'm assuming that you're saying that I 'scare', lem_

If I am, that's not my intent. If that is so, it's a by-product of my arguments, rather than their purpose.

My purpose is to stimulate debate and discussion between Communists, in an attempt both to understand the past and prepare for the future, of the working class.

If, however, the ICC's 'core principles' are threatened and unchangeable, perhaps it's time to clearly state those 'principles' for all Communists who come here, so that they can clearly see why they might disagree fundamentally with the ICC and thus leave the site.

Or, if the 'principles' might be amended or rejected, to change those 'principles' in the light of comradely discussions between Communists.

However, in the past, so-called 'Communist' organisations have not welcomed workers interfering in their 'principles'. I'm not sure if the ICC are a continuation of that line. That line simply leads to workers leaving the organisation, once they realise that they are there only to be taught, rather than sometimes to teach.

That was my (and many others') experience of the SWP (and other Leninist/Trotskyist groups), for example.

lem_
amusingly, i meant "share" 

amusingly, i meant "share"  their platform.

 

just to add: i don't think huge proportions of the proletariat will read marx in depth, but perhaps they will learn dialectical thinking, as well as this class consciousness thing. so

> we don't expect the working class to aquire theory then put it into practice

is also for

> the working class to acquire theory, and then put it into practice

it's just we're talking about different theories: marxism; or a particular concept in it. which is not to minimize the differences between you and the icc, only attempt to get to grips with them.

LBird
Can we have uninformed consciousness?

lem_ wrote:

edit IMVHO consciousness must inform practice, whether or not that consciousness is theoretically informed.

But 'consciousness' is always 'theoretically informed'.

For workers, consciousness is either informed by ruling class ideas or Communist ideas.

Thus, if they are not Communists and do 'practice', that 'practice' will be informed by ruling class ideas. That practice will not produce Communist ideas, it will bolster the ideas on which it is based.

Our Communist class consciousness must be based upon 'criticism'. The 'practice' that then follows will be critical practice, aimed at changing the existing conditions, and not working within them (which 'uncritical practice' will always do, because 'uncritical practice' will maintain 'uncritical theory').

lem_
> if they are not Communists

> if they are not Communists and do 'practice', that 'practice' will be informed by ruling class ideas. That practice will not produce Communist ideas, it will bolster the ideas on which it is based.

 

that is a non seqitor on one level i.e. it is not an analytic statement you have made that if A then B. i agree with you that consciousness needs dialectics to begin without being battered down by ruling class ideology... what else is DEMANDED already? i mean obviously we aren't expecting most of the workers to have a scientifically nuanced grasp of historical materialism from having read its every exposition by marx?

 

edited to add: that there is a dialectics of the individual disengaged with his conditions. isn't that what hegel wrote about? so accoridng to me ha, all the worker can achieve independet of praxis is an inversion of boureoise ideology... but that is not small thing!!"

LBird
Scary sharing?

lem_ wrote:

amusingly, i meant "share"  their platform.

LOL!

It just shows how 'history' shapes one's perceptions!

No, from the feedback that I've had from posters on this site, I don't think I 'share'; it's more like I 'scare'.

Funnily enough, from reading some ICC publications and recommended books, I think my views are closer to the 'official' ICC line than are the other posters here!

Go figure that!

LBird
If not 'most workers', then 'who'?

lem_ wrote:
i mean obviously we aren't expecting most of the workers to have a scientifically nuanced grasp of historical materialism from having read its every exposition by marx?

Yeah, that's just about what I am expecting.

If workers don't do the 'theory' bit, it will be provided for them. That's not 'class consciousness'.

To explain a bit further, I think much of Marx's work can be explained better by present-day Communists, given our 150 years advantage in thinking, than it was by Marx himself.

But, yes, I do think that workers must have 'a scientifically nuanced grasp' of what it is they are about to embark upon: the building of Communism.

This is a class task, not the task of a party, IMO.

Obviously, many Communists disagree with me, but I don't see why this can't be discussed without rancour.

lem_
No rancour from me!!   Well

No rancour from me!!

 

Well in terms of what I am expecting, you misunderstand the relevance of Marx. He doesn't offer a blueprint so:

> I do think that workers must have 'a scientifically nuanced grasp' of what it is they are about to embark upon: the building of Communism.

misses it's target.

May I ask what the average worker will have to "know" that he learns neither from workers that are part of a party, nor from his immediate working etc. conditions? Aside from how to engage with the world, of trying to change it from his and his class's perspective?

IMVHO you seem to make this claim because the worker must remain absolutely soveriegn and independent of any group aside the council. But then what role do you see for a communist party, aside from making some pocket of the workers movement obsolete?

 

LBird
Role

lem_ wrote:
But then what role do you see for a communist party...

The role I see for 'communists parties' (note the plural) is education and propaganda within the working class.

This is essentially the building of class consciousness.

But it's a two-way process, of workers who're influenced by this 'education and propaganda', then getting involved in 'communist parties' and helping to actively shape further 'education and propaganda'. All those 'parties' must be democratically controlled, so that if 5 party members influence 6 workers to join, then those 6 workers can now outvote the original 5 and change the content of the 'education and propaganda' of that party, if the 6 so wish to do.

If this new 'content' fails to gain adherents within the class, and the original 5 have left, then the party will wither.

If new 'content' both convinces the 11 (5 old and 6 new) - in other words, the newer members have made a contribution, and it has been shown that older members are open to new class ideas - and the new 'content' continues to prove useful to the class, thus securing more adherents, then the 'theory' will be shown to be useful in 'practice' to workers.

There has to be some method of ensuring constant refreshing of the class' revolutionary organisations with new members of the class, who will have new ideas to share.

The 'Noah' method, of presenting 'principles' to the class like the Ten Commandments (ie, take it or leave it) has been shown to not work.

Workers have consistently chosen to 'leave it'. I include 'dialectical materialism' in this list of 'principles', myself, but perhaps others will want to continue to try to persuade doubting workers. I'll be fully behind 'laughing openly at the Dia-Mats' and calling them 'clowns'. The choice, though, will be the class' choice.

If workers aren't an active part of the building of Communism (and that means, within my perspective, of 'critical theory' first), but are simply 'recruits' to be 'shaped', then it simply won't happen.

Communism requires mass activity, both in thinking and doing, and not mass passivity, in either doing or thinking.

lem_
> I think my views are closer

> I think my views are closer to the 'official' ICC line than are the other posters here!

I'm sorry but for the sake of the argument we have started: could you please explain those views?

If not I will have to assume what they are, and that would be:

1. Consciousness arises independently of any material conditions

2. At any point in time the role of the party is only to disband all Marxist parties including itself and regardless of what else is happening.

1 is not Marxism as I understand it. And 2 seems a little absurd. It's not just that this could perhaps be achieved more easily by a e.g. a right wing libertarian party, but it ignores the fact that a "party" doesn't have any profound epistemic or 'ontological' status. only the working class in workers councils can fulfill its historical role, but a communist party would be composed of working class people, and so complaining that they shouldn't exist is IMVHO not very different to picking random people in the street and saying "you are not voting in a council you must cease existing". yes the Bolshevik party was a mess, but if that's your objection then you should say it, not try and parachute in on the doctrine that the working class is sovereign.

i'm sorry if this isn't what you believe and i've missed something... :)

lem_
> But it's a two-way process,

> But it's a two-way process, of workers who're influenced by this 'education and propaganda', then getting involved in 'communist parties' and helping to actively shape further 'education and propaganda'.

> All those 'parties' must be democratically controlled

No I don't disagree with this.

You seem to be saying that a party must be democratic and must be open to new ideas.

I don't disagree.

I don't see how you get to this though:

> I'll be fully behind 'laughing openly at the Dia-Mats' and calling them 'clowns'. The choice, though, will be the class' choice.

Are you saying that because you've been on board longer, you have to agree with what everyone else says? I would suggest making your own mind up, dependent on your conditions and general wishes. Bcause only granting new "comrades" a voice, and noone else, would surely be a disaster.

I can't see how else "the class' choice" could be cashed out           ?

LBird
Reluctant to continue

lem_ wrote:
1 is not Marxism as I understand it.

lem_, I don't wish to derail this thread any further, and I'm not sure if the other posters would welcome a re-run of several threads about the nature of 'Marxism'.

If you want to discuss this, could you start a new thread, with a suitable title (eg. 'What is the nature of Marxism?').

But, could you first check with the moderators that such a thread would be welcome?

I don't wish to re-open 'old wounds'.

In fact, truthfully, I'm not sure if I even want to participate in it anyway.

I know this is an unsatisfactory conclusion to your genuine and entirely acceptable questioning, but experience has lead me to think it is unwise to go any further.

Perhaps it's just best to say that there are differences of opinion about what 'Marxism' actually is, and I don't share your opinion, and leave it at that.

lem_
threads can be split quite

threads can be split quite easiy... and you don't have to reply  but i find this unsatisfactory. i am of course not a part of the icc, or any left communist group... but what is your reply to 2?

 

marxism is quite literally imho all about conditions being linked to class consciousness. i can't see how anyone could read das kapital etc. and not think he is partly talking about condittions and their relation to revolutionary consciousness.

LBird
Party-ontology?

lem_ wrote:
... and you don't have to reply  but i find this unsatisfactory. i am of course not a part of the icc, or any left communist group... but what is your reply to 2?

Which included:

lem_, post #22, wrote:
...but it ignores the fact that a "party" doesn't have any profound epistemic or 'ontological' status.
[my bold]

The type of 'party' does have a 'profound epistemic and ontological status', lem_.

Perhaps for many, the "doesn't" view equates to Leninism, whereas the "does" view equates to Marxism.

There is no 'objective position' on these issues, lem_.

Unless one is a Leninist, of course!

lem_
again, i am still not sure if

again, i am still not sure if we disagree...

 

1. are you saying that consciousness is ENTIRELY independent of conditions? if so then i disagree.

2. are you saying that party members ought only EVER do as the worker's councils do? if so, then i disagree.

i find 1 and 2 so self evidently odd, that i would r like an explanation :)

lem_
> There is no 'objective

> There is no 'objective position' on these issues, lem_.

> Unless one is a Leninist, of course

 

That is not true at all, unless one glosses "leninist" as anyone who has their own opinion. And that gloss is your own opinion IMHO, nothing more.

lem_
so your free choice, that is

so your free choice, that is not constrained by the opinions of the masses, seems to include the choice to believe that the party is not only redundent, but in some way reactionary through and through.

 

if we call "the party" the "left communist tendency" as we must, then it seems that your opinion is stalinst with of course the caveat that you don't have any power.

 

that is just what the class opinion seems to be  :)

that exercise was just meant to demonstrate how absurd it is to always do as you imagine the "working class" want? the "working class" IMHO don't want communism right now, so you're just imagining stuff.

LBird
The 'Bethlem Royal' Perspective

lem_ wrote:
do you not see how absurd it is...

Unfortunately, this is always the way these threads go.

First, rather than discussing what I'm saying (based on my ideological views), we move straight to 'so, you're saying' (based on opposing ideological views), and then follows the catalogue of my 'absurdities'.

This method is not a discussion.

Let's leave it at that, lem_.

If you find what I say 'absurd', why continue to ask me to participate? Isn't that just like tormenting the inmates at Bedlam?

'Poke the loonies, and watch them dribble and dance!'

lem_
no LBird, this is how the

no LBird, this is how the thread goes:

1. someone says something you disagree with

2. you disagree with it

3. someone asks for clatification and gives their view

4. you reply to attack their view without clarifying yours

FIVE. then they proceed to make up what your view is.

 

it's all well and good not having any answers, but then why claim to have any answers about what anyone is saying?

AFAICT the sum, humble, rejection of my argument is that i am a leninist for believing in an objective truth about the status of the party. i'm sorry if i've misunderstood, but i'm more than willing to agree so make me agree then. i.e. clarify...

lem_
you are seeing what you want

it takes two to tango dude. i know i'm trying to reconcile out views... i am not sure if you are and suspect you've given up on trying. and yes that doesn't make for good discussion.

 

 

i.e. if you've given up already don't start again, it will only end in confusion, and kinda makes it seem you just want to throw a spanner in the works. no offence but without commitment to getting it right it makes no sense to be arguing the toss on these things.

lem_
you CAN'T leave it like that,

you CAN'T leave it like that, if you do i will never speak to you again.

 

either 1. clarify something you've said or

2. agree you can't be bothered so it would be pointless

that's it, that's all you can do,,, you either clarify something or admit your mistake for trying to communicate your opinion when you can't or can't be bothered to.

 

else i don't ever speak to you again ok ?

LBird
Clarify?

lem_ wrote:
3. someone asks for clatification and gives their view

This is not what you did.

You called my views 'absurd'. That is not asking for clarification; that is rejecting prior to discussion.

If you think my views 'absurd', why continue to question them? Just ignore them.

LBird
Knowledge or denial?

lem_ wrote:

it takes two to tango dude. i know i'm trying to reconcile out views... i am not sure if you are and suspect you've given up on trying. and yes that doesn't make for good discussion.

 

 

i.e. if you've given up already don't start again, it will only end in confusion, and kinda makes it seem you just want to throw a spanner in the works. no offence but without commitment to getting it right it makes no sense to be arguing the toss on these things.

If 'it takes two to tango', how can you 'refuse to tango' (by calling my 'dancing stance' absurd), and then accusing me of refusing to tango?

If your aim is 'to reconcile', it isn't mine.

Mine is 'to clarify our differences'.

So, do you want to know the 'differences', or do you merely wish to deny them?

LBird
Difference

lem_ wrote:

you CAN'T leave it like that, if you do i will never speak to you again.

 

either 1. clarify something you've said or

2. agree you can't be bothered so it would be pointless

that's it, that's all you can do,,, you either clarify something or admit your mistake for trying to communicate your opinion when you can't or can't be bothered to.

 

else i don't ever speak to you again ok ?

Oh, I can leave it like that.

I'd rather not, but experience has taught me that whilst I'm being called 'absurd', the other person is not engaging in discussion, but is denouncing me as the devil!

So, a discussion will consist of the elaboration of our differences.

If we continue, you'll find us to be different.

If you find 'difference' to be 'absurd', I suggest that that tells us something about your position.

In fact, I'd suggest that we're on the road to 'Party Truth', and the eliminating of 'The Different'.

lem_
> why continue to question

> why continue to question them? Just ignore them

 

becase i want to be sure that  i didn't do what you say i did... that you do believe in the absurd belief lol.

lem_
> If you find 'difference' to

> If you find 'difference' to be 'absurd', I suggest that that tells us something about your position.

> In fact, I'd suggest that we're on the road to 'Party Truth', and the eliminating of 'The Different'.

 

No I do not think "difference" is absurd, though perhaps seeking difference without any reconciliation is. Perhaps that is absurd IMHO. You're free to call that "elminating of the different" and "party truth" but as long as you don't clarify your differing opinions, then however ideal you find your speech, I am stuck following your lead.

Alf
the meeting

So, who's coming to the meeting?

Fred
Who's  coming to the meeting?

Who's  coming to the meeting?  I'm not but I wish I was. I'd like to meet some of the posters  like slothjabber with whom I don't believe I disagree at all. But the posting practice, and the way the written word impacts on people as opposed to the lively interaction of talking to people,  can generate confusions and misunderstandings  that aren't really there. This is  frustrating. So have a super-dooper meeting. And down to earth too! 

slothjabber
Agreements and disagreements

LBird wrote:

I haven't commented on any threads recently, because I think I've become aware just how great are the differences between my conceptions of 'revolution and how to get there', and the other comrades who post here.

But I felt obliged to comment on slothjabber's post, because it shows quite clearly these differences, and I think it worthwhile emphasising slothjabber's points, which excellently display these alternative conceptions, and their illustration of 'method', too.

slothjabber wrote:
We're not the SPGB; we don't expect the working class to aquire theory then put it into practice.

This is precisely my view of the process: I expect the working class to acquire theory, and then put it into practice. I suspect that some in the SPGB share my view, but I'm not entirely sure, because different members of that party seem to have other beliefs which would negate that position. The SPGB is, on the whole, confused, IMO...

 

However, its insistence that the working class needs to acquire theory from self-conscious socialists, then put it into practice, is closer to your view than it is to (my understanding of) the theory of the Communist Left. This is why I recommended that you check them out 18 months ago or whenever it was - even if you're very wary of referring to this body-of-self-conscious-socialists-with-the-theory as 'the party', which the SPGB is happy to do. I think they're right about that of course, because as far as I'm concerned, your socialist pedagogues from whom the rest of the working class needs to learn are 'the party'.

 

My view, which I believe that the majority of users of this site shares, is that class struggle happens regardless of whether workers have read Marx or Engels, Pannekoek, Luxemburg or anyone else - because class oppression happens whether or not the bourgeoisie has read Marx or Engels - or Hayeck or von Mises or Mussolini. Class struggle by the proletariat is engendered by social relations in capitalism, not theoretical musings on that class struggle. The working class won Marx to communism, not the other way around; communist intellectuals who distill the lessons of struggles post-date the struggles from which they distill the lessons.

 

LBird wrote:
...

slothjabber wrote:
We believe that praxis emerges from engagement with conditions, don't we?

And this is precisely what I don't agree with. To me, 'praxis' (ie. theory and practice) can't 'emerge from 'engagement with conditions' (ie. practice) because 'practice doesn't produce theory', but rather the other way round, 'theory informs practice' (ie. the two together form praxis) which produces change in conditions.

To locate this 'praxis emerges' view, which slothjabber embraces, within discussions about 'science and method', it is clearly the 'inductive method'. That is, thowing oneself into the 'objective data' without any theoretical presuppositions, and getting on with 'practice', leads to the 'emergence' of 'theory'.

The method of induction (practice and theory) is not the scientific method (which it was thought to be), but is essentially a conservative method of 'dealing with the real world as it exists', which leads to conservative conclusions and 'theory'.

Our method must be to criticise the existing world (a theoretical and class task), and then build our practice upon those theoretical criticisms of 'the existing'.

That is, 'theory and practice'; not 'practice and theory', as comrade slothjabber suggests.

I hope comrades take this post in the spirit it was intended, that of generating comradely discussions about, and clarification of, the tasks of Communists within the working class.

If my presence is not wanted, I apologise now, and will return to interested, but passive, reading of your site.

 

I agree that we must 'criticise the existing world'. It is because I 'criticise the existing world' that I am a socialist. But I criticise the existing world because it's rubbish, not because I read a book. It is the rubbishness of the world that preceeds the writings about how rubbish it is. There is no 'socialist theory' that is not rooted in a critique of actual, real conditions.

 

Without the working class's lived experience of capitalism, there can be no idea that the working class can take humanity beyond capitalism. The class has to struggle against the conditions of the world (practice) to produce any theory of class struggle (theory); it is the unity of the two that is praxis, not the subbordination of struggle to theory. It is living through and seeing class struggle that provoked me into reading Marx, not reading Marx that made class struggle happen.

 

 

And Alf, in case I didn't mention it, yes I'll be there.

LBird
Comradely agreements and disagreements

Thanks for your comradely reply, slothjabber.

I'll let your post stand as it is, because I think we've outlined two potential answers to the choices which face the proletariat, when they attempt to build Communism.

It's up to the wider class to wrestle with these methodological issues; all we can do is offer alternatives for their discussion.

slothjabber
perhaps there's more

Or, you could attempt to explain.

 

Why, for example, do you think that there is a pre-existing socialist theory and that people cannot struggle until they have understood it? I've attempted to explain to you my reasoning. I am, however, still in the dark as to yours, after many months of on-and-off engagement on this question, and I suspect that many others don't understand your reasoning either.

 

Do you think that the working class cannot struggle against capitalism, if it has not first acquired a theoretical understanding of capitalism and class struggle?

 

If you do think that, then where did the theoretical understanding of capitalism and class struggle come from, if not the experience of the working class?

LBird
We must think first

slothjabber wrote:
Or, you could attempt to explain.

I could, but my experience (and not just on this site) is that others start calling me 'absurd', and when I answer in kind, they complain.

But, taking your polite request at face value...

You mention 'class struggle', twice and 'struggle' twice; I'll assume all four times that you meant 'class struggle'.

To me, something can only be termed 'class struggle' when there is some Communist consciousness within it. I don't regard workers fighting for higher wages as 'class conscious'. I think if they win, they regard the system as working, and if they lose, they often lose heart.

In more general terms, I don't regard simple 'practice' as a source of 'knowledge'.

I think Marx was right to stress 'theory and practice'. So, if the 'practice' appears to have 'no theory', it just unconsciously uses an 'unexamined theory'. Within capitalism, the default theory is the market, and I don't think 'market theory and struggle' leads to class consciousness.

I think workers have to be exposed to Communist ideas prior to struggle. They must be struggling to consciously replace the market with Communist social relations.

I don't think that the evidence from the last 150 years bears out the 'struggle first', consciousness later, model.

slothjabber
Going further...

LBird wrote:

slothjabber wrote:
Or, you could attempt to explain.

I could, but my experience (and not just on this site) is that others start calling me 'absurd', and when I answer in kind, they complain.

But, taking your polite request at face value...

You mention 'class struggle', twice and 'struggle' twice; I'll assume all four times that you meant 'class struggle'.

To me, something can only be termed 'class struggle' when there is some Communist consciousness within it. I don't regard workers fighting for higher wages as 'class conscious'. I think if they win, they regard the system as working, and if they lose, they often lose heart...

 

But do you regard the bourgeoisie as oppressing them? Class struggle isn't just the working class resisting the bourgeoisie, it's also the bourgeoisie struggling to assert its dominance over the working class.

 

Obviously, I disagree that there needs to be 'communist consciousness' before there is class struggle. If my fellow-workers organise against the bosses, that is 'the self-organisation of the working class' and none of us needs to have read Capital to do it.

 

Sometimes workers do win and sometimes they think that means 'the system works'. Sometimes they think 'we can go even further'. Sometimes they do lose and often as you say they lose heart when they do. But sometimes when they lose a struggle, they don't lose heart. And even if every worker in a particular struggle loses heart, the fact that workers are struggling enheartens others to struggle.

 

But even if none of that ever happened, workers would still struggle against capitalism because they're compelled to, and some people would still try to learn lessons from those struggles, both inside them and outside them, lessons about how the working class can struggle, and lessons about why it needs to struggle.

LBird wrote:
...

In more general terms, I don't regard simple 'practice' as a source of 'knowledge'.

I think Marx was right to stress 'theory and practice'. So, if the 'practice' appears to have 'no theory', it just unconsciously uses an 'unexamined theory'. Within capitalism, the default theory is the market, and I don't think 'market theory and struggle' leads to class consciousness.

I think workers have to be exposed to Communist ideas prior to struggle. They must be struggling to consciously replace the market with Communist social relations.

I don't think that the evidence from the last 150 years bears out the 'struggle first', consciousness later, model.

 

So where did the ideas come from? If everything was and is fine with no class conflict, why did anyone decide to invent socialist theory?

LBird
Responding further...

slothjabber wrote:
Obviously, I disagree that there needs to be 'communist consciousness' before there is class struggle. If my fellow-workers organise against the bosses, that is 'the self-organisation of the working class' and none of us needs to have read Capital to do it.

I know you disagree, and that's no problem. We just disagree in our advice to the class.

My advice to the class is, 'become a Communist, then engage in class struggle'.

I regard your advice of 'engage in struggle, it makes Communists' as disproven by events.

But I'm not saying you shouldn't do what you regard as correct, and in fact I say 'good luck!' to you, and if you're proved right and me wrong, and Communism comes about, I'll be the first to embrace you and admit my mistake.

I just don't think that will happen. That doesn't make me a counter-revolutionary, or a dickhead; it just means we disagree.

sj wrote:
Sometimes workers do win and sometimes they think that means 'the system works'. Sometimes they think 'we can go even further'. Sometimes they do lose and often as you say they lose heart when they do. But sometimes when they lose a struggle, they don't lose heart. And even if every worker in a particular struggle loses heart, the fact that workers are struggling enheartens others to struggle.

 

But even if none of that ever happened, workers would still struggle against capitalism because they're compelled to, and some people would still try to learn lessons from those struggles, both inside them and outside them, lessons about how the working class can struggle, and lessons about why it needs to struggle.

Yeah, all correct, about being compelled to 'struggle'.

But I don't agree that the 'lessons' are necessarily 'class conscious' or Communist lessons. It's just as likely that workers in mass struggels will turn to trade union bosses (UK 1926?), reformist Social Democracy (Germany 1919) or a cadre-party (Russia 1917). None of these saw workers running their economy, society, police and army by democratic means.

Whilst workers can't 'do it for themselves' (and they can't without education, theory and experience, all on a class conscious basis), then other social groups will 'do it for them' (ie. do it for the interests of the 'do-ers').

sj wrote:
So where did the ideas come from?

Ideas have always come from humans. Unless workers start to 'have ideas of their own', then I don't think Communism is possible.

I certainly don't think a 'party' can do it for them, which is why I think the notion of 'revolution first by minority, Communism afterwards' won't work.

Now, anyone might disagree with me (and no doubt you do, sj), but if you do, just get on with your methods. There is no need to get angry with me because I disagree. I personally hope you do prevail. It's just that my personal experience of class, unions, Labour governments, Trotskyist parties, history in general, etc., don't lead me to agree with you. I especially have no faith in cadre parties, central committees, 'special consciousness denied to workers' or Engelsian science or dialectics, as you are probably aware.

I think workers have to educate themselves first, and then take action based upon Communist theory. To me, the role of Communists is to organise workers around discussions and education, at least in this period of a total lack of class consciousness and Communist awareness.

slothjabber
round in circles

LBird wrote:

slothjabber wrote:
Obviously, I disagree that there needs to be 'communist consciousness' before there is class struggle. If my fellow-workers organise against the bosses, that is 'the self-organisation of the working class' and none of us needs to have read Capital to do it.

I know you disagree, and that's no problem. We just disagree in our advice to the class.

My advice to the class is, 'become a Communist, then engage in class struggle'.

I regard your advice of 'engage in struggle, it makes Communists' as disproven by events...

 

I don't say 'engage in struggle, it makes Communists'. I say 'the working class will struggle, whether or not you (or anyone else) give it some theory, becuse it is compelled to by capitalism; and from those struggles, minorities will question capitalism, the state, the future, the past, the lies we're told and the possibilities that we can bring into being'; and I know that out of these struggles, out of trying to understand what is happening and what has happened, some workers will become communists.

 

LBird wrote:
...But I'm not saying you shouldn't do what you regard as correct, and in fact I say 'good luck!' to you, and if you're proved right and me wrong, and Communism comes about, I'll be the first to embrace you and admit my mistake.

I just don't think that will happen. That doesn't make me a counter-revolutionary, or a dickhead; it just means we disagree...

 

I'm not sure this is the case. If what I advise is, in your view, harmful to the revolution, surely, it does make me a counter-revolutionary? Not out of choice of course, I could really believe I'm doing the right thing. But if I'm working against the working class acquiring the necessary consciousness that you see, then surely that means I am countrer-revolutionary?

 

Likewise, if you are arguing that the working class should not struggle, and I think struggle is how the working class learns to be revolutionary, then you are counter-revolutionary.

 

The only question then is which of us is right in the end.

 

LBird wrote:
...

sj wrote:
Sometimes workers do win and sometimes they think that means 'the system works'. Sometimes they think 'we can go even further'. Sometimes they do lose and often as you say they lose heart when they do. But sometimes when they lose a struggle, they don't lose heart. And even if every worker in a particular struggle loses heart, the fact that workers are struggling enheartens others to struggle.

 

But even if none of that ever happened, workers would still struggle against capitalism because they're compelled to, and some people would still try to learn lessons from those struggles, both inside them and outside them, lessons about how the working class can struggle, and lessons about why it needs to struggle.

Yeah, all correct, about being compelled to 'struggle'.

But I don't agree that the 'lessons' are necessarily 'class conscious' or Communist lessons. It's just as likely that workers in mass struggels will turn to trade union bosses (UK 1926?), reformist Social Democracy (Germany 1919) or a cadre-party (Russia 1917). None of these saw workers running their economy, society, police and army by democratic means.

Whilst workers can't 'do it for themselves' (and they can't without education, theory and experience, all on a class conscious basis), then other social groups will 'do it for them' (ie. do it for the interests of the 'do-ers')...

 

All of the examples you gave - UK1926, Germany 1918/19, and Russia 1917 - saw the working class "running their economy, society, police and army by democratic means". All of them saw the creation of workers' councils, all of them saw production and distribution taken into the hands of the workers, all of them saw workers' militias and armed resistance against the powers of the state - even in 1926.

 

All of them were defeated. They weren't defeated because the workers hadn't acquired enough theory, they were mostly defeated by people with more guns.

 

LBird wrote:
...

sj wrote:
So where did the ideas come from?

Ideas have always come from humans. Unless workers start to 'have ideas of their own', then I don't think Communism is possible.

I certainly don't think a 'party' can do it for them, which is why I think the notion of 'revolution first by minority, Communism afterwards' won't work...

 

But if you think the workers need to acquire socialist consciousness, you don't think the working class needs to 'have ideas of their own', you think they need 'the ideas of the socialists'. Why you think this is different to the party being the bearer of a 'special consciousness' beats me.

 

I believe that they working class needs to have 'ideas of its own'. I don't think it needs to acquire your consciousness or mine or the ICC's. I think that the working class will continue to develop socialist consciousness, class consciousness, revolutionary consciousness, because workers confront bosses and the state, confront the lies of capitalism and start to see the truth, constantly. Class conflict produces workers who question what is happening every day around them. That is where socialist consciousness comes from. Else, as I asked earlier, what was the point of inventing socialist theory? If everyone is happy with capitalism, what reason did the original socialist killljoy have for thinking of an idea that made so many people angry?

 

LBird wrote:
...Now, anyone might disagree with me (and no doubt you do, sj), but if you do, just get on with your methods. There is no need to get angry with me because I disagree. I personally hope you do prevail. It's just that my personal experience of class, unions, Labour governments, Trotskyist parties, history in general, etc., don't lead me to agree with you. I especially have no faith in cadre parties, central committees, 'special consciousness denied to workers' or Engelsian science or dialectics, as you are probably aware.

I think workers have to educate themselves first, and then take action based upon Communist theory. To me, the role of Communists is to organise workers around discussions and education, at least in this period of a total lack of class consciousness and Communist awareness.

 

If you have no faith in 'special consciousness denied to workers', why are you arguing that workers need to acquire special consciousness? I don't think they do; I think, as it was in 1905 and 1917, that it is the working class that will be educating the socialists.

 

It's not the job of communists to 'organise workers' around anything. Workers are not sheep or machines to be herded or administered by enlightened socialist minders. It is the job of communists - the workers who have most clearly (not completely but 'most clearly') understood the historic picture - to enable the working class to fight against capitalism. The working class needs tools to do that, and the revolutionary organisation is one of those tools. That is all. Theory is a tool too. And it's much easier for the working class if it can lay hold of some ready-made tool that it can use. But if it can't find one it can fashion its own. It doesn't need yours, or mine, or any other socialist's. All our theories belong to the class as a whole, to the collective experience of the class, because they are derived from the collective experience of the class. Where else could they come from?

LBird
Squaring the circle?

I'll have to leave the bulk of your post to stand uncommented upon, sj, because you're right, we're going around in circles. Other comrades will have to read what I've written, and judge for themselves if it matches what you claim I've written.

But this belief of yours gets to the heart of our disagreements:

slothjabber wrote:
All our theories belong to the class as a whole, to the collective experience of the class, because they are derived from the collective experience of the class. Where else could they come from?

'Theories' are not 'derived from experience'. In scientific terms, that is 'induction'. The conservative method of induction suggests that 'doing things' produces 'theories'.

'Theories' come from creative humans, who are critical of what exists.

Those 'theories' are then tested in practice, and if they seem to work, they are adopted as 'knowledge'.

This is Marx's method of 'theory and practice', which is the polar opposite of induction (or, 'practice and theory', which you recommend).

So, the class have the choice of your recommendation to 'struggle', from which 'theory' will emerge.

And they have the choice of my recommendation to 'criticise', from which the direction of 'struggle' will emerge. If the struggle has success, the 'critical theory' will be adopted as 'proletarian knowledge'.

FWIW, sj, I think your recommended method is precisely the one that's been tried, over and over, and it hasn't worked.

Historical evidence shows that (unconscious) 'struggle' does not lead to 'consciousness'.

All the evidence, 1917, 1919 and 1926, contrary to what you say, show a failure of proletarian struggle, not the emergence of mass class consciousness.

slothjabber
struggle to consciousness or consciousness to struggle?

I think that hstory has demonstrated exactly the opposite of what you claim. The struggles of 1871, 1905, and 1917 have produced a great deal of theorising about what the working class has done, and can do, while the all the theorising since has produced remarkably little struggle.

 

But I'm curious as to why you think 'mass class consciousness' and 'failure of struggle' cannot go together? As the proletariat has to struggle with not only it mental chains, but the material facts of its existence, the two can obviously happen at the same time.

 

Whether or not in the words of the slogan 'ideas are bullet-proof', workers holding those ideas are certainly not, no matter how 'theoretically advanced' they are. If the bourgeoisie shoots enough workers, as in Germnany in 1919, then it is possible to drown class cosnsciousness in blood. It is up to the revolutionary minorities - the organisations of conscious socialists that you alternately denigrate and think are indespensible - to learn the lessons of those defeats. But if they weren't episodes of class consciousness in the first place, there wouldn't be any lessons to be learned.

 

You still haven't answered the question as to why it is necessary, if class struggle doesn't produce socialist theory, to invent socialist theory. What is the point?

LBird
Step by step

slothjabber wrote:
You still haven't answered the question as to why it is necessary, if class struggle doesn't produce socialist theory, to invent socialist theory. What is the point?

I keep answering this question, but you won't read my answer. I know you disagree with it, but surely you know what 'it' is?

'Theory' does not come from 'practice'.

The claim that 'theory comes from practice' is called 'induction'.

Induction is a conservative method.

I'm not a conservative.

I'm a Communist.

'Theory' comes from humans.

Once they create 'theory', they test it in practice.

If the 'practice' seems successful, they adopt the 'theory' as 'knowledge'.

So, it is necessary for the proletariat to 'invent their theory', prior to entering 'struggle'.

If they merely enter 'struggle', they'll have a 'theory', but will be unaware of it.

The 'theory' will be 'bourgeois theory'. It will produce 'bourgeois practice' and 'bourgeois results'.

I know you don't agree with me, but surely you can follow these steps, and stop pretending that you 'don't understand my argument'.

It is possible for you to both understand and disagree with my argument, y'know.

Theft
meeting

Alf wrote:

So, who's coming to the meeting?

Hopefully I will travel down to this event.

Fred
Hi Theft. Presumably you do

Hi Theft. Presumably you do not live in London and therefore you will not be traveling "down" to the meeting but "up" to  London the UK's Capital.  This is an important point to bear in mind, and, even though there may not be a United Kingdom for much longer, this hasn't happened yet and we should all be praying it won't. After all what'll happen to the Queen and her annual hols in Scotland? Is there no pity abroad anymore. 

On another issue.  I am a human  being and I have my theories.  Not all of them have stood the test of time and some  have been quite silly. My theories have generally been based on my own practice and the practice that is to say the life process of others which I have observed and thought about. By "practice" I mean being  alive  and experiencing things which you can then think about and "theorize" about as well if you like. After all you  can only theorize if you're alive and experiencing things via practice. 

 To suppose that human theorizing could pre-date human life experiences  - that is to say  human practice - is like expecting someone to learn to play the violin without ever touching one. 

I know that this can be called "the induction method" but that doesn't prove it wrong. Just because some scientists are able to theorize in advance of having "proof" that certain things may be the case doesn't mean that  their theorizing has no inputs whatever from previous human practice, hunches and assumptions regarding the field  in which they are working. So yes. Theory comes from humans; that is  to say from human practice. 

 

LBird
Induction

Fred wrote:
I know that this can be called "the induction method" but that doesn't prove it wrong.

Unfortunately, Fred, 'induction' has been 'proved wrong', by science itself, and furthermore it's a conservative method, which stresses responding to 'what exists' (rather than criticising what exists), and the active subject is an individual and their own senses (rather than a society and its theories).

Fred wrote:
Theory comes from humans; that is to say from human practice.

Science has proved this claim to be wrong, Fred.

'Theory' comes from critical thought, not mindless practice.

That's why Marx (correctly) stressed 'theory and practice', and not 'practice and theory'.

What's the subtitle of his Capital?

A Critique of Political Economy

Not Capital: Just get on with it, and all will become clear

slothjabber
monty python

LBird wrote:

...I know you don't agree with me, but surely you can follow these steps, and stop pretending that you 'don't understand my argument'.

It is possible for you to both understand and disagree with my argument, y'know.

 

Stop pretending you have an 'argument', rater than just a contention.

 

LBird wrote:
...

'Theory' does not come from 'practice'.

The claim that 'theory comes from practice' is called 'induction'.

Induction is a conservative method...

 

Those three statements don't logically follow. If the third is true, then the first must be false. Induction cannot be both a method that does not produce theory, and a method for the production of bourgeois theory.

 

LBird wrote:
...

I'm not a conservative.

I'm a Communist...

 

One can be 'conservative' about a lot of things and still be a communist. I notice you don't use a completely new language every time you type something, for example. That's a form of 'conservatism'. I bet you wear trousers. If you do, that's a form of 'conservatism'. Culture is by its nature heavily conservative, because social inertia is a factor in social cohesion. Change is managed.

 

If you claim that one cannot use inductive methodology and still be a communist, you need to demonstrate why instead of just asserting it.

 

LBird wrote:
...'Theory' comes from humans...

 

No-one's disputing that, the only difference is that the humans that I think are theorising are workers, and the humans you think are theorising are socialist intellectuals.

 

You haven't answered the qiestion about why, if theory produces struggle, theorising that socialism is possible or necessary was itself a necessary thing.

 

LBird wrote:
...

Once they create 'theory', they test it in practice.

If the 'practice' seems successful, they adopt the 'theory' as 'knowledge'.

So, it is necessary for the proletariat to 'invent their theory', prior to entering 'struggle'...

 

Again, this doesn't follow.

 

Pre-struggle theory could be no more than 'this is shit, I don't like it, I want to resist it'. This, to you (though not to me) is not a form of class consciousness. So, in fact, I'm arguing that at this level, workers do have a theory, it's you that's arguing that they don't/can't, until the enlightened socialists have filled their empty untheoretical heads.

 

Again, the problem of 'where socialists come from' has not been solved.

 

LBird wrote:
...

If they merely enter 'struggle', they'll have a 'theory', but will be unaware of it.

The 'theory' will be 'bourgeois theory'. It will produce 'bourgeois practice' and 'bourgeois results'...

 

Doesn't follow. Events will happen, no matter what the participants will think about them. Theory tested in practice is either accepted, modified or rejected. I credit the working class with the ability to learn, not just use every result (no matter how contradictory) to bolster their previous assumptions.

 

 

LBird
Probably enough?

I don't know why you can't have a comradely discussion, sj.

Baritz
ICC meeting

Theft wrote:

Alf wrote:

So, who's coming to the meeting?

Hopefully I will travel down to this event.

 

And hopefully there will be 3 or 4 SPGB members in attendance.

slothjabber
comrades and others

LBird wrote:

I don't know why you can't have a comradely discussion, sj.

 

If you claim other people are pretending not to understand you, I don't think you can also claim it's 'uncomradely' of them to take your statements to pieces.

 

In other words, I'm perfectly capable of having comradely discussions with everyione else on this site, but then again, no-one else on this site has called me a liar. So, I'd ask, why are you incapable of having comradely discussions?

 

LBird wrote:

...

I know you don't agree with me, but surely you can follow these steps, and stop pretending that you 'don't understand my argument'.

It is possible for you to both understand and disagree with my argument, y'know.

 

I don't understand was passes for your argument, I understand some assertions that you've made, but think that the logic that you clain connects them them is faulty, and I think that you don't see (or don't admit that you can see) the connections between the things you say you're arguing for and the things you say you are arguing against.

 

I'm not sure I regard you as a 'comrade'. I'm not sure how I regard you; sometimes as a dangerous charlatan, sometimes as a hopelessly naive pseudo-intellectual who doesn't understand half of what he has read, sometimes as a dilletante with nothing better to do than try to pick holes in things for no discernable reason, sometimes as someone so driven by rage against 'Leninism' that you latch onto anything that will discredit it in your eyes, even the most arrant nonsense, even the most abject 'Leninism' of your own. I used to regard you as a comrade with whom I had disagreements; someone who, for all their faults, was at least part of the working class searching for its self-emancipation. I'm really not sure that is the case now. Now I regard you more often as someone who is poisonous to debate and clarification and whose obfuscations and what I at least believe to be lies need to be countered.

LBird
I'm clearly 'an other'

That's a hell of a catalogue of accusations, sj.

On this thread I've been determined not to sink to the level displayed by you, a number of times before on other threads.

I'll leave the thread now, to be read and considered by other comrades, and let them form their own opinions, both about the content, and your response to debate.

Alf
this thread

I think it's important to keep this thread on the topic of the meeting. I havent kept up with the disagreements between Sloth and LBird and will try to do so. But they could be taken up on another thread.   

Alf
Theft

Good to hear that Theft is thinking of coming

lem_
i think i understand

i think i understand LBird.

he / she, for whatever reason, wants to critisize things at the expense of any agreement or making sense to the person their critisizing.

i don't find that helpful either, i think saying "no" to everything without caring about making sense to who you're talking to, or who agrees, is riddled with contradictions. it may be that this peculiar ideology of theirs makes sense to them, but believing in true and false, disagreeing or claiming something false just because someone said it, confuses the discussion and seems to make truth harder to come by.

 

FTR if we tried to get by without induction, we would soon starve to death.

lem_
> Theory' comes from

> Theory' comes from humans.

> Once they create 'theory', they test it in practice.

> If the 'practice' seems successful, they adopt the 'theory' as 'knowledge'.

 

Is theory not generated via induction? It's either that or deduction.

Let's assume your theory, for sake of argument... I have certain assumptions, and through deductive reasoning alone create a proletarian theory of capitalism, which I induce is right due to its success in practice, and so adopt it as Knowledge.

But where have these original assumptions come from? It seems to me that they must be inductive, or given to us perhaps as a class a priori from the empirical world.

If the former, then why hasn't the mixed inductive / deductive schema rendered the Knowledge unreliable and empty? Because it is only this purity of deduction that I disagree with: i.e. that theory also comes from practice.

But if the latter, then I think our knowledge is far from critical. Indeed, it seems to me that any purely deductive schema, be it synthetic or analytic, does not need empirical test. It is like "testing" to see if any bachelors are married, or if 2+2=4.

 

 

 

Link
In spite of Fred's poor grip

In spite of Fred's poor grip on geography, i am also intending to come down to the day of discussion on 20th Sept

I have re-read with interest the above thread trying to get to grips with Lbird's arguments.

I have genuinely found some of the discussions with lbird interesting because he really pokes at key bits of theory - Im sure he will be happy enough with that - but I agree with the above that the lack of need to justify arguments is a most annoying if not thoroughly dishonest approach to discussion

From what i can see lbird's theory is that  because communist theory is out there it doesnt have to to be justified other than by its future acceptance by humanity as a whole.  His interpretation of Marx's theory doesnt need to be able to discuss and explain the link between theory and practice (or material world and human thought) or even make sense therefore.   Marx apparently put it (ie lbirds interpretation) forward to the world irrespective of how he came to that theory, and one day it will grip the world!  If it doesnt they, lbird and Marx, were wrong anyway!!  

‘Since, according to their fantasy, the relationships of men, all their doings, their chains and their limitations are products of their consciousness, the Young Hegelians logically put to men the moral postulate of exchanging their present consciousness for human, critical or egoistic consciousness, and thus of removing their limitations. This demand to change consciousness amounts to a demand to interpret reality in another way, i.e. to recognise it by means of another interpretation.’  

Despite lbird's likely protestations, this seems appropriate criticism of lbird's theory too.  Its from marx’s critique of the ‘Young Hegelians’ –- whoever they were -  in the German Ideology 

LBird
More abuse

Link wrote:
...LBird's... thoroughly dishonest approach to discussion.

So, you too have taken slothjabber's route, eh, Link?

I'm disappointed.

This all makes me fear for critical thought within 'Communism'.

Personal abuse is the Stalinist method.

Why can't you and sj just say that you don't understand, and that I'm unclear and should explain better?

Why does any disagreement have to be 'objectively counter-revolutionary' (sj) or 'dishonest' (Link)?

There's more freedom of thought under the bourgeoisie. You should take that on board.

baboon
Reference to the above

The thread is "World War One: how the workers were mobilised for war and how they put an end to it". Discussions on other topics, interesting as they may be, do not belong here. You could start another thread or use one the existing ones dealing with consciousness.

Alf
agree

Thanks for that baboon. I am not a moderator on this forum, but I think we have to insist that this discussion about Lbird's ideas and attitudes has to be stopped immediately on this thread, otherwise we cannot begin to have any discussion in preparation for the meeting, which is only a week and a half away

Alf
the actual meeting

Meeting went fairly well with participation of ICC members and sympathisers, comrades from SPGB, CWO, Free Communist, MDF and unattached. The main points of the discussion will be written up and we will see if we can make use of the audio recording.

baboon
In the meantime a couple of points

At the meeting on Saturday on “How the working class stopped the war” there was a bit of discussion on the question of what is the working class, where is it now, where was it in relation to war and so on. A big discussion in itself but nevertheless worth looking at even briefly. The ICC defended the historical and international nature of the working and its communist project. I would add here that there were minority elements in the Italian Left that saw the complete elimination of the working class during the second world war and the class struggle itself showed up these lies about its theorised non-existence (these elements of the Italian Left also saw the end of the war – a war that in their original opinion was an economic success for capitalism – as being due to the “exhaustion of production”). Rejecting these positions, the majority of the left (including some trotskyist and anarchist elements) all initially saw and expected a major upsurge of class struggle at the end of the war and in this completely underestimated the intelligence and cunning of the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie – the destruction and complicity of all the powers in the wiping out of workers’ areas throughout Europe and Asia; the holding onto prisoners of war (five million Germans for years for example); the refined use of democracy and its adjuncts of anti-fascism and “resistance”.

That’s one point that I wanted to briefly make and the other concerns a very brief discussion about the current proletariat in China – which again was put in the historical and international framework of the working class. I also agreed with the point made about the centrality of the proletariat of Europe and the Americas to a successful revolution. But I think that it’s important not to underestimate the development of the working class in China these last 15 years or so and how that development, whatever the stultifying breaks of Maoism and Stalinism have imposed on the population here, is also significant for the historical and international nature of the class. The way that a largely peasant population, “lambs to the slaughter”, has, after just a generation and a half, by dint of its association and place in the productive process, integrated itself and expressed itself as a class is itself testimony to the historical and international nature of the working class.
Most of this youth were leaving the countryside where their parents were themselves often up in arms against the ravages of Chinese capitalism. From an initial torpor these workers soon expressed themselves with the weapons of workers: self-organisation, illegal strikes and demonstrations. To call an elected strike committee “Workers’ Unity” (and there were other examples like this in the 2007-2013 wave) means something significant where the word “Workers this or that” is bandied about ad nauseum by the Chinese state and its union goons. Yes the Stalinist-type state has problems with the rigidity of its anti-working class structures but let’s take nothing away from the confirmation and actions of the working class here. There may not be any organic link to the past workers’ movement in China or elsewhere (or there may be, we don’t know) but the struggle of the class can’t be denied.
Last April a retiring woman worker kicked up a fuss because her final pay slip showed massive reductions in her expected pension payments. She talked to her fellow workers and by the following day fifty thousand workers were on strike, fighting the police and demonstrating over the same issue that would affect them all. The BBC recently reported (June) that strikes were spreading over the south, east and northern China going beyond the “hot-spots” of previous struggles – and all of them spontaneous wildcats. Certainly there’s the import of the major battalions of the Americas and Europe but the proletariat in China – as young as it is – is flying the proletarian flag at the moment.