fragmentos (learning)

Originally Posted by Counterculturalist View Post
And not just those you listed. Liberals, center-right and center-left politicians, and - en masse, regardless of their actual political beliefs - muslims, jews, gays, feminists, atheists, musicians and everybody in Hollywood. All of them are Gramscian communists.

And hippies, let's not forget hippies.

How are we going to conquer the world without the inestimable help of hippies?


Originally Posted by Armchair Partisan View Post
I figured so, although I didn't understand it either.

In the immortal words of our comrade Devrim, "a joke that needs to be explained isn't funny at all".

But the idea is that conspiracy theorists that shpeal about "Cultural Marxism" earnestly believe that the dissensions among communists are merely a guise and that deep down we all agree on how to have a revolution. Their notion is that Gramsci realised that a violent revolution is impossible and so proposed a stealth revolution by means of which we slowly erode the foundations of freedom (usually under the orders of the São Paulo Forum). So left communists, Trotskyists, tankies, Maoists, anarchists, are all minions of the same conspiracy, a Gramscian attempt at conquering hegemony without the right wing noticing what is happening.

So, when Blake's Baby says that

Originally Posted by Blake's Baby
I for one welcome our Cosmopolitan Cultural Marxist Jewish Overlords.

he confesses that this absurd conspiracy theory is true. I was consequently reminding him that, according to the instructions we received from the São Paulo Forum, we have to continue to pretend that we have significant disagreements with each others, otherwise we won't be able to steal the world under the noses of the bourgeoisie.

Secrecy is the matter of the Revolution, my socialist comrades! Ooops, I mean, you dirty reformists!


Perhaps an example of how vulgar materialism ignores human practice is in order.

Take for instance Richard Dawkins' theory of memetics. Here he tries to explain human ideas by an analogy to genetics, proposing that "ideas" are "replicants" like genes. So he figures out ideas competing against each others, striving to survive, and apparently possessing human beings by making themselves useful as selectable items.

It shouldn't be difficult to see that Dawkins' theory necessarily has at least one, very serious (and very obvious) blind spot. If human ideas are like Dawkins proposes, then how does Dawkins know that his memetics theory isn't just a replicant using him, possessing his mind in an attempt to be selected against rival ideas? It is clear that Dawkins cannot get out of such conundrum except through a deus ex machina, an ad hoc concept that implicitly negates his theory: at least one idea, memetics itself, has to have an "objective" value, corresponding not to reproductive needs of either humans or ideas themselves, but to an actual, more or less precise, picture of the world. Like the Baron of Munchhausen, Dawkins pulls himself out of the swamp of human sensuous activity into the realm of "science" (ie, contemplation): all human ideas are driven by competition between replicating memes, except those that… aren't, and instead are, by "scientific" decree, an objective mental appropriation of the world without the need for any actual theoretical labour. Such is the ideology of "science", "science" mystified into a metaphysical principle that isn't subject to the laws of matter it claims are valid for everything that exists.

Of course, vulgar materialist theories are legion, and most are very different from Dawkins' fantasy, but they all have this problem: since everything is matter, and matter is purely "objective", inert, passive, where do ideas come from? Who knows, who discovers, who learns, who is the subject of these processes?


Originally Posted by Comrade #138672 View Post
Thanks for that. I understand you a lot better now.

Thank you.

I need time to think about it some more. But I think the problem is that many people seem to treat dialectics as some sort of fetish, which is imposed on the world, rather than being used as a tool to understand the world.

Oh, well, that might be true. But since we are discussing Marxist dialectics, not manypeopleist dialectics, it stands to reason that we should take Marx's opinion of it in higher consideration than the opinion of those people.

But I totally accept that we need to do that. In fact, I think that is the very basis of intelligence, the ability to reconstruct the world in our minds.

I am still not completely sure if it is really dialectics that you are advocating, but I am quite sympathetic towards your view.

Well, I think Marx is very clear regarding this:

1. there is a method to reconstruct the world in our minds;
2. Hegel thought that the method mentioned in 1. above was the same method used by the Spirit to create the material world.

It is well known that

3. Hegel called the method mentioned in 2. above "dialectics"

So, if the method in 2. is "dialectics" (per 3. above) and the method in 1. and 2. are the same (per 1. above), it follows that the method in 1. is also "dialectics".

Evidently, it should be noted that that method is only valid for the purpose stated in 1. - to reconstruct the world mentally - and that it is not to be sought as the method for the purpose described in 2. Also evidently, it is a terminology issue - if it pleases you to call the method in 1. by a different name, be my guest.

What however can't be denied is that the method proposed by Marx is very different from the method of vulgar materialism (bourgeois materialism, pre-Marxian materialism, metaphysical materialism, non-dialectical materialism, you name it). To again quote the old man,

Originally Posted by Marx
The first procedure attenuates meaningful images to abstract definitions, the second leads from abstract definitions by way of reasoning to the reproduction of the concrete situation.

which quite precisely describes the difference between Marxism and positivism. What I have seen from anti-dialectics ignores the distinction, to the point that I have seen some of its proponents reproducing the basic notions of positivism (neutrality of science, mystification of the position of the scientist as someone beyond the fray of human strife for existence, etc), claiming that they make no ideological or philosophical assumptions. The result has to be either complete passivity or voluntarism, for those ideas disconnect human action from the conditions of its existence, as if human sensuous activity wasn't material in and of itself. Thence assertions like "capitalism could be in fact eternal, we just should make sure it isn't", which is an evident denial of the internal contradictions of capitalism, and, by consequence, either a denial of the theory of value, or a complete inability to understand it. I don't think this, or a-historical absurds such as positing a transhistorical "ruling class" that pervades all pre-capitalist societies and capitalism itself, which in turn transforms socialism, from an issue that is posited by capitalism and its crisis, into a metaphysical, transhistoric principle that accordingly pervades all of human history, are accidental to that line of thought. They stem directly from the vulgarity that is central to it.


Originally Posted by Comrade #138672 View Post
I agree with you that Marxist materialism goes beyond pre-Marxist materialism by including human sensuous activity.

So the answer to this

Can we base revolutionary politics on d'Holbach or Democritus?
is no. They are not sufficient.

I'm not trying to strawman you and I'm not trying to misrepresent you. I just don't see the dialectics here, unless it is another name for materialism + human sensuous activity consciously transforming the world.

The short answer is, yes, Marxist dialectics is basically "materialism + human sensuous activity consciously" (or not) "transforming the world".

The long answer you can find here, in Marx's to a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy.

I don't think that is true, though. Dialectics is more than that, but if Marxist materialism does not Hegelian dialectics, then I am not sure what Marxist dialectics is.

The kernel of Marx's text referenced above it is the following:

Originally Posted by Marx
Hegel accordingly conceived the illusory idea that the real world is the result of thinking which causes its own synthesis, its own deepening and its own movement; whereas the method of advancing from the abstract to the concrete is simply the way in which thinking assimilates the concrete and reproduces it as a concrete mental category. This is, however, by no means the process of evolution of the concrete world itself.
Which makes clear the difference between Marxist and Hegelian dialectics:

To Hegel, the method of advancing from abstract to concrete is the way by which the real world is created; the world is the result of thinking causing its own synthesis, deepening and movement. To Marx, however, the method of advancing from the abstract to the concrete is only the way by which thinking assimilates the concrete and reproduces it as a mental category, as knowledge about the world. It still "causes its own synthesis, its own deepening and its own movement", but these are the synthesis, deepening and movement of mental categories, not of the real world. Consequently, Hegel's dialectics are an ontological method, the method by which God/Geist/The Absolute Idea creates the actual, material world. Marx's dialectics are an epistemological method, the method by which material men and women recreate the material world in their minds as knowledge about the world. It is then easy to see that Engels/Plekhanov/Stalin/etc. make a re-Hegelianising movement, dispensing, at least formally, with God, Geist, and Absolute Idea but reontologising the method as the method by which the world spontaneously creates itself.

What "anti-dialectics" does is to ignore all this, and propose a de-Marxed "Marxism" that is merely the world view of d'Holbach plus a few conclusions by Marx and/or other Marxists, those latter crudely ontologised as immediate data of the concrete world or acritically and artificially transformed into axioms, grossly ignoring the methods by which Marx and other Marxists have arrived at their conclusions.


Margareth Thatcher infamously told us that there is no society, just individuals (and families, but we can ignore this latter clause as a product of her sloppy thinking processes). How are we to object that society actually exists, and not only society but social classes, value, exploitation, etc., if we start by denying that we need to reconstruct the universe in our minds to understand it, by the method described by Marx in the text referenced above? Without such a method, all those categories by which we intend to build our knowledge about the world - to consequently rebuild the world itself - are no more than metaphysical conundrums, and all that is left to us is either acritical acceptance of the world like it is, coupled with a vulgar "theory" of the ununderstandability of such world, or a mere voluntaristic, Luciferian wish to remake things out of pure will or distaste for the world-as-it-is (which is in turn bound to crash against the sheer inertial resistance of the material world and, out of disillusion, turn into its opposite, ie, the already described acritical acceptance of what is, for the fact that it is).


Originally Posted by Comrade #138672 View Post
Why I am asking you? Because you used it in the context of dialectics.

And I used it because… it is a well known Marxian topos.

According to you, materialism is vulgar when it does not include dialectics. I want to know why.

Because it doesn't conceive of human practice as material practice. To vulgar materialism, it is only "matter" if it is passive, inert. So human practice cannot be understood, it must remain out of our visual field, and abandoned to idealism.

You claim that without dialectics human sensuous activity is reduced to a subjective matter. I honestly do not see why. Why is dialectics necessary to overcome the limitations of traditional philosophy as a contemplative process?

Because once you want to take human sensuous activity into account, you must reason about how to take into account how your human sensuous activity impacts human sensuous activity. Vulgar materialism short-circuits this by ignoring the fact that the search of knowledge is itself human sensuous activity.

Why do I need the obscure jargon of dialectics to realize that "the point is to change it"? All this talk about unity of opposites in the abstract to understand and change concrete processes in society?

The problem is that you define "dialectics" as "Hegelian dialectics". Then when we argue that Hegelian dialectics is not Marxist dialectics, and conversely, then you feel cheated, because you don't find the "obscure jargon" you want to fight against… because Marxist dialectics dispenses with such verbiage!

You want us to be your strawman, and complain when we tell you that we aren't made of straw.

Again, what is the specific difference between Marxist and pre-Marxist materialism? What is that makes the former "historical" against the latter? Or is no such difference? Can we base revolutionary politics on d'Holbach or Democritus? Come on, answer it!


Originally Posted by Fourth Internationalist View Post
VivalaCuarta did not say that, nor is it the position of the ICL or the LFI. Their position is that if someone, anybody, attacks the imperialists, it is necessarily a good thing even if everything else they do is wrong. So if a Shiite militia were to down a U.S. drone, that single action is good even if they do it for entirely the wrong, most reactionary reasons. That's their position, I believe. The ICL is particularly sloppy in its writing on this issue, to a point of being very wrong on a number of things.

So they would support Wako or the Oklahoma bombing or Ammon Bundy?


Originally Posted by Rudolf View Post
This is what i don't get. Even if we're to consider IS as the only non-US backed force in the region (although what about Assad?) we have to acknowledge that IS has links with Turkey and thus the military alliance of western imperialism (nato).

Obviously, even the proxiest proxies aren't just proxies, and will try and undermine their overlords when and if possible and advantageous.

ISIS are proxies of Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which in turn are both proxies of the US. Backstabbing isn't above any of them. Backstabbing also doesn't mean that they magically become something else than proxies.


The key problem with this discussion is that it is predicated, on both "sides", on the idea that we can somehow defeat imperialism by cheering against it.

There is only one correct position for communists in the central countries: to oppose intervention, never mind how awful the forces against which intervention is intended are. That is not because Daesh or the YPG or Assad or those mysterious "moderate rebels" that only Obama and his administration seem able to see are anti-imperialist, but because an imperialist intervention is, well, imperialist. Duh.

Opposing intervention isn't supporting Daesh or Assad, and it is not cheering for those political forces. It is simply fighting against the deployment of American (or British, or French, etc) troops to the region, the bombing of military or civilian targets there, the use of planes to establish no-fly zones, the funding of any of the many sides of the conflict, or sales of weapons to them.

The positions here are kind of wagging the dog. The centre of proletarian politics isn't in backward areas where industrialisation has been arrested by Dutch disease, where the proletariat is weak and unorganised, where the class isn't even constituted as a class. The centre of proletarian politics is in the central areas of capitalism, where a working class is able to minimally self-determine as a political agent. That is to say, Daesh or Assad, or even the YPG winning over their opponents, even if that includes shooting down a few American planes, killing a couple of British spies, or sinking a French destroyer, will not and can not inspire the western proletariat to take action against the western bourgeoisie. Conversely, though, the western proletariat being able to make intervention politically inviable will perhaps inspire the proletariat in the Middle East to organise as an independent political force.

We have to do our duties. Daesh, like the Argentinian Junta, or Vargas, or Hizballah or the People Republic of Donetsk, or Gaddafy, cannot do them for us.


Originally Posted by Comrade #138672 View Post
What is "vulgar bourgeois materialism" according to you?

According to me? But why according to me?

Marx's Historical Materialism (Erich Fromm)
Between materialism and idealism: Marx on “sensuous activity” (Peter Sas)

Oh, I know: Fromm, Gimenez and Sas are all examples of the Engels-Plekhanov-Lenin-Mao Zedong tradition of mystics and metaphysicians set forth by the bourgeoisie in order to allow Stalin to flip-flop and zig-zag in his politics. Except, of course, that they aren't, and that they are quite directly quoting Marx, not Engels or Plekhanov:

Originally Posted by Karl Marx, First Thesis on Feuerbach
The main defect of all hitherto-existing materialism — that of Feuerbach included — is that the Object [der Gegenstand], actuality, sensuousness, are conceived only in the form of the object [Objekts], or of contemplation [Anschauung], but not as human sensuous activity, practice [Praxis], not subjectively. Hence it happened that the active side, in opposition to materialism, was developed by idealism — but only abstractly, since, of course, idealism does not know real, sensuous activity as such. Feuerbach wants sensuous objects [Objekte], differentiated from thought-objects, but he does not conceive human activity itself as objective [gegenständliche] activity. In The Essence of Christianity [Das Wesen des Christenthums], he therefore regards the theoretical attitude as the only genuinely human attitude, while practice is conceived and defined only in its dirty-Jewish form of appearance [Erscheinungsform]. Hence he does not grasp the significance of ‘revolutionary’, of ‘practical-critical’, activity.

This is far from being a secret; it is a quite well known text by Karl Marx, first published in 1888, so not exactly one of those manuscripts that Kautsky, Lenin, or Trotsky hadn't access to. It is also a very basic distinction: "materialism", in its pre-Marxist versions (Feuerbach included, as Marx very explicitly writes) conceives of knowledge as a contemplative process, not as an active one. To vulgar materialism, human activity is subjective, not objective, and, as a consequence, not material.

But it is a distinction that "antidialectics" (being, in the end, nothing else than a rehashed version of non-Marxist materialism) cannot deal with.


Originally Posted by MarxianSocialist View Post
And this is what I fail to see: how an understanding of the contradictions in nuclear fusion (or any other process in nature) has to do with understanding class conflict and communism. This seems to be belonging into that one camp of "dialectics" which takes some abstract formula and tries to wrap it around every single thing, which, at least from the minuscule amount of dialectics I do know, is certainly not the dialectical process of Hegel, or Marx's flipped version.

Simply put, class conflict and communism have absolutely nothing to do with "contradictions in nuclear fusion". Natural phenomena are not dialectical, or at least can be best understood without resorting to "dialectical" verbiage. As Marx says, Hegel's mistake was to believe that the process by which our intellect appropriate reality is the same process by which reality came into existence first place. So unless we are abandoning Marx and going back to Hegel, we should stay away from ontological "contradictions". But just like the process by which the real came into existence is not the same process through which we apprehend reality, the process by which we apprehend the real cannot be the same process by which the real was "created". Aprehending the real is a mental operation and it implies struggling against the opaqueness of reality. Knowledge is an active process, not a passive one. And "anti-dialectics" fails to understand this basic principle.


So, before this fades into unimportance, again,

What is the difference between "historical materialism" and vulgar bourgeois materialism?

This is a question that I have never seen an "anti-dialetician" be able to give a half-decent answer to.

Because if there is nothing especial in historical materialism, then we don't need Marxism. Locke, Smith, Weber, Comte, Menger, Walras, or Durkheim will be enough for a proper understanding of society.

But if there is something that makes a difference between "historical materialism" and the materialism of Locke and Stuart Mill or Malinowsky, then it would be necessary to make it real clear that this difference is not dialectics. As far as I see, nobody has ever been able to make this point, and I fear that the reason is exactly this: the specific difference of historical materialism is dialectics.


Originally Posted by Alet View Post
Orthodox Marxists are not stagists. In fact, Marx himself wrote about Mir's chance to literally skip the capitalist mode of production - though he added that it was missed due to the agrarian reforms of 1861.

Obviously Marx was not an "orthodox Marxist".

The phrase is an oxymoron.


Originally Posted by Aslan View Post
I listen to this guy all the time. He's probably the only far-left intellectual who I've ever listened to with so much admiration. He made good points, and I understand if he lived in our current society. But the fact that he makes investments in something like that? Does he even have any moral fabric? Wheres the donations to socialist thinktanks? Where are the resources for future revolutionaries? Where are donations to people less fortunate, who are victims of this system?! I don't know what to really say, what do you guys think?

// //

And another thing, I'll listen to the guy. Because the sad fucking state of the left is intolerable.

What this means is that Chomsky is not a hippy. He doesn't think that pretending that he already lives in a socialist society will do any good. So he has money, he invests it.

Which is only a problem because much of Chomsky's following are hippies. And deal in the delusions that capitalism can be circumvented instead of destroyed, that individual decisions about individual property do make a difference, and that the system can be modified and improved through consumer decisions.

The extent to which Chomsky is responsible for the delusions of his followers is obviously debatable. I think it is huge, but then I am not really an expert in Chomsky, and I frankly find statements like,

Originally Posted by Albert Mohler
Noam Chomsky is the current intellectual of record for the far Left. Now that Edward Said and Susan Sontag are dead, Chomsky reigns virtually supreme among the leftist intelligensia.

quite overblown (and probably more damaging against the left than against Chomsky; after all, if he is the end all be all of leftist politics, destroy him and the whole left is destroyed. Ho, hum*), to the point of ridicule.

Chomsky is anything but the leading left intellectual, in all three counts: he is a shallow thinker, he is a liberal, not a leftist, and he isn't leading anything. The cult of his personality, particular the cult of his political thought, must be an Anglo thing, and perhaps more specifically an American thing. I very much doubt that he is given much attention either in the left or in the academy outside the US, at least not outside the Linguistics Departments in the academia.

He is someone who is highly critical of American imperialism, or, rather, of American specific imperialist actions, and he is good at it, and helps keeping imperialist ideology under scrutiny. But he really doesn't add anything to any deeper comprehension of imperialism, and doesn't offer any practical alternatives in the struggle against it.

I see that others have brought up Chomsky's "universal grammar". I do think that this theory is essentialist, and opens itself quite easily to reactionary interpretations (interpretations that Chomsky himself never made or avowed; say what you say, he is no Richard Dawkins). Science is a strange thing, however, in that wrong hypotheses often are useful hypotheses in that they help advancing our comprehension of the world. This seems to me the case with Chomsky's "universal grammar". While it is a mistaken hypothesis (and leads to wild speculations of the kind evo-psy chalatans like), it certainly helped the advance of linguistics, through his theory of generative grammatics. So I would make a distinction here: while I think it is quite easy to point out the mistakes of speculation that leads to the positing of a supposed "brain area" responsible for speech, to the idea of an evolutionary leap due to a single mutation explaining glossogenesis, etc., I would be wary of any criticism of generative grammatics that isn't grounded in solid linguistic knowledge.


Originally Posted by Vladimir Innit Lenin View Post
I was of the understanding that there was a difference between dialectics as philosophy, and historical materialism as a methodology of the study of present and past societies.

But what this precise methodology called "historical materialism" is? And how is it different from the methodology for the study of physics or biology?


Originally Posted by Vladimir Innit Lenin View Post
Doesn't this prove, at least in my own case, that a direct understanding of dialectics is not necessary to understand historical materialism itself?

How does "historical" materialism differ from non-historical materialism?


a proletarian dictatorship would certainly not have a "rapid increase in freely accessible goods"

Regardless of any other condition, the dictatorship of the proletariat is a regime in which the proletariat is the ruling class.

But "ruling" demands time. A class of people who works eight hours a day, five days per week, eleven months each year, is not ruling anything. So, first thing, it is necessary that a huge part of social production is redirected into allowing proletarians to work something like four hours a day, quite immediately. I mean, within the month following the political revolution. If this is not possible, then a DotP isn't possible, and if it isn't a DotP, it is something else, something else that will not and can not possibly proceed to transitioning from capitalism to communism.


Originally Posted by MarxianSocialist View Post
It is generally held true by revolutionary leftists here that capitalism does not require individual Capitalists

I am not sure that it is "generally held". There are a few groups that sustain different (and possibly incompatible) versions of a "State capitalism" theory - namely, "left communists", Cliffist Trostkyists, and left Maoists.

Most other revolutionary leftists I think do not adhere to those ideas.

Practice seems to uphold the idea that capitalism does indeed require individual capitalists: societies that expropriated individual capitalists but failed to make the transition to socialism seem to have been unstable, and either underwent political upheavals that restored private property (the SU, Eastern Europe), or are reinstating private property "from above", in a process led by their rulling parties (China, Vietnam, etc)

– that capitalism, in fact, is a mode of production which is not determined by who reaps the surplus value generated by exploitation, but rather as a system where, as Bordiga put it, "value [is] perpetually set in motion as to multiply itself."

That is correct. What characterises capitalism is that "value is perpetually set in motion as to multiply itself", or, as Kurz puts it, "the tautological process of capitalist accumulation". But value requires competition to multiply itself; as Marx puts it, "capital exists and can only exist as many capitals, and its self-determination therefore appears as their reciprocal interaction with one another".

But here lies a problem: if capitalism does not require capitalists, and supposing we were to live under a state-capitalist regime (that being: the state acting as the national capitalist), this necessarily means there is no parasitic, "owning" class (of capitalists) that reap the surplus value for their own keepings.

That's well spot, but if capitalism requires no individual capitalists (and even if it does, as we will discuss further), then the central problem of capitalism is not that a exploitative class reaps the surplus value; it is that surplus is reaped by an automatic process of production for the sake of production.

Rather, the only value extracted is that which would be reinvested in production – something which would certainly still exist in a developed communist society, albeit with calculations in-kind and not with value (in other words: a communist society would of course have to reinvest, but just without money).

In practice, it is quite clear that part, at least, of the value extracted in a so-miscalled "State capitalist society" is used to provide an "especial" life standard to a especial layer of society members (which has been called the "bureaucracy", or the "Nomenklatura", or - in order to match "State capitalism" - a "State bourgeoisie").

But this is certainly not the core of the problem. The extraction of surplus-value requires competition, that the "bureaucracy" cannot provide because it is not composed of individual controllers of individual capitals. Competition, which is at the very core of the accumulation of capital even in conditions of inexistence of private property, must then assert itself against the juridical structure, in contradiction to it, instead of in harmony with it as in a capitalist society proper.

The process is consequently even more chaotic, less socialised, and less planned, than in an ordinary capitalist society. But it still imposes itself upon the mass of workers, as an external imposition that is uncontrolled and ununderstandable: it is still the extraction of surplus value, still the reduction of human activity to senseless expense of muscle, nerve, and brain, in order that capital increases itself. Perhaps even more so, because while in an ordinary capitalist society it is obvious that this process enriches a bourgeois minority (and that enrichment in turn is a deduction from capital accumulation, ie, a properly human finality for accumulation, if only for a very small minority), in these "extraordinary" kind of capitalism, the process of accumulation is ideologically fancied as an enrichment of all society, or of the "homeland", etc.

So my question is this: if there is no class personally taking in surplus value to line their own pockets, and the only surplus value generated is being used to reinvest into production, then where is the problem? Where is the taking exploitation of labor? Undoubtedly this reinvestment is only being used to expand production and, consequently, enhance the quality of life for the working class.

This is evidently contrary to the evidence we have. In those "workers' paradises", the expansion of production has been even less related to the quality of life of the working class. Apart of some iconic developments that couldn't be undone without immediately delegitimising the structure of society (full employment, social security) but weren't directly related to production, so called "State capitalist" societies failed badly to improve life standards for their working class. Infamously, the Soviet Union could put sattelites in space, and build nukes enough to destroy the whole world, but it couldn't put enough butter in the tables of its citizens, or decent freezers in their kitchens.

In a developed socialist society, without money, wages, or value, you would see the same phenomenon, just without this silly "money" nonsense. In other words, in a higher phase of socialism, we would still see certain amounts being redirected to production – only this time, the worker would not receive a wage but will have full access to the products of labor.

The worker would also have a say in what part of his efforts would be put into improving production, and what part would result in improvement of his own life, of of those who legitimately cannot work, while in so-called "State capitalist" workers' paradises, it always went to the tautological increase of the means of production (or, worse, as an increase of means of destruction as demanded by the arms race).

So hypothetically, is the only real difference between a state capitalist regime and a socialist one that the former would feature the worker buying back the products of labor, while in the latter he would simply take it as he wills? Or, more broadly: is the functioning the same, but there ceases to be money?

The inexistence of money means the end of the accumulation of capital. Or expresses such an end. So it is not merely a superficial, cosmetic, difference: if money actually does not exist (and is not merely artificially suppressed in order to fulfill ideological fantasies), then the monstruosity of production for the sake of production is gone (because production for the sake of production has to express itself as production for the sake of money).

If so (and this is a slightly different question), is there thus any real difference between a state-capitalist regime and a "lower phase of socialism"?

As long as this is a mere transitional issue, then yes, "State capitalism" may be a initial step in the direction of communism. But if it becomes entrenched - to the point it becomes a "regime" - then something has gone awfully wrong, and in all likelyhood society is not progressing in the direction of the abolition of capital.

Because, although the state would not exist in the latter (formally, at least), the same processes would go on in the economy: society would deduct a given amount to reinvest into production, monetarily in the former and purely resource-wise in the latter, and would pay the worker a given amount for his labor (money in the former, a certificate/labor credit in the latter). These processes seem, to me, to be identical once you subtract money from the equation – and it seems to give Lenin's (in)famous statement that "Socialism is state-capitalism made to benefit the whole people" a real basis.

The problem with Lenin's formula seems to me to be that "State capitalism" cannot be made to benefit the whole people. Capitalism exists to benefit capital, as ridiculous as this may seem. Even the bourgeois are transformed into mere tools of this blind secular deity; they are certainly well-paid functionaries of this mad system, but the system is not made to benefit them; this is a mere by-product of the accumulation of capital. And they can be benefited because, and only because, they fulfill this essential role in capitalist production: they compete against each others, and in so doing allow capital to compete against itself, allow it to "exist as many capitals". Workers cannot fulfill such role unless they cease to be workers and become capitalists. So Lenin was wrong here, positing something that could not exist, probably under the pression of the failure of the internationalisation of revolution, already giving form to ideological fantasies that could misrepresent failure as success.

(And please word responses in a way that is at least comprehensible for those like myself who are not immersed in Hegelian logic and dialectical thinking; half the answers I generally see give the impression of one masking bad rebuttals with obfuscating prose. I do not mean to be ungrateful for the plethora of generous answers I have received hitherto, but there is certainly less cloudy ways of wording things for those who are fairly new to Marxism).

Hope the above fulfills your demands.


Originally Posted by Caesar View Post
Im a Left-Nationalist Libertarian Socialist which is definitely left wing I just want to no is it left wing enough to be revolutionary left?

What nation is your nationalism linked to? And why do you think that supporting that specific nation is a left-wing position?

What is socialism in your opinion? How is it compatible with nationalism? How do you reconcile these two things?

What is, especifically, "libertarian socialism", and how does it differ from socialism in general?

With whom are you organised in order to foster a "left-nationalist libertarian socialist" political platform?


There isn't a linear scale from right to left, that at some point someone is so to the left that he or she becomes "revolutionary". What we call "revolutionary left" is predicated into a few basic principles, which could perhaps be summarised as:

1. We want a "revolution", ie, a complete rupture with our capitalist present. We want a society without private property of means of production, without social classes, without money and markets, without a State and its political tools, police, army, bureaucracy, etc.;

2. We don't believe such a rupture can be attained by an incremental process of slow, gradual, transformation and improvement of the present situation;

3. We want a revolution from below, ie, we don't believe that such a rupture can be a concession from our present masters - it will have to be fought for, and won, by the vast labouring majority of the world population, consciously united and organised for that end.


24th December 2015, 20:22
Division of Labor

Originally Posted by Servia View Post
Is the abolition of the division of labor meant to occur in a later period of transition to truly socialist society?

There is a technical division of labour, and a social division of labour. The former cannot be abolished without destroying the technological advances of the last 100,000 years; the abolition of the latter basically is the transition to a communist society.


24th December 2015, 20:03
Marxism based on subjective moralism?

Originally Posted by MarxianSocialist View Post
Competition for labor-power does increase wages; I'd think they decrease when there is less competition/more centralization of capital & monopolization.

Competition among capitalists for labour power does increase wages, of course. Competition among workers for jobs on the other hand decreases wages. However, the capitalists compete for the improvement of their business; we compete for our own lives. Capitalists are 1% or less of the population; workers are the vast majority. So, the net effect of these two kinds of competition is decreased wages - at the very least, a relative decline as a share of global social wealth, in the good times; and an absolute decline in bad times.

Monopolisation, concentration and centralisation are the logical consequence of competition among capitalists. And the mechanisms that promote de-centralisation and de-concentration in a capitalist economy, though they exist, are much weaker than inter-capital competition.

So competition is this monstruosity that positivists of all kinds cannot stand or understand: an entity whose existence implies the destruction of the conditions of its own existence.


24th December 2015, 19:50

Originally Posted by MarxianSocialist View Post
But this is still reducible to a moral argument, no?

I think this critique is one of the endless rhetoric traps the bourgeois ideologues like to throw against Marxism and Marxists.

If Marxism really is based on "purely objective" science, then it is a cold ideology devoid of any real sympathy for the workers: Marx and the Marxists only want an abstract "progress of history" (at any price, including the lives and happiness of mankind at large and workers in particular) which is a complete, metaphysical hypostasy.

If on the other hand it isn't based on "purely objective science" then it must, by force of logic, be based on some hidden, or not so hidden, moral essentialism.

Marx however didn't agree with that dichotomy between "purely objective science" and moral essentialism. That's why he talked about a historical materialism, not to be confused with the metaphysic "materialism" of the Enlightenment or the positivists.

That the exploitation of labor is bad, and socialism would fix this? And the same with alienation?

"Bad" for whom?

On an unrelated note (to knock out two birds with one stone): why is exploitation "bad" per se? If workers are, due to competition, paid at or well above the value of their labor/are paid a wage sufficient for their living, where lies the problem?

Exploitation isn't "bad" per se. It is very good for the exploiters, at least on the short term. It is bad for the exploited, because you are at the taking end of an unequal relationship. You give more than you are given.

In a capitalist society, workers cannot be paid at (and even less above) the value of their labour. A part of this value has to go to the capitalists, both for their own private consumption and for the tautological process of the reproduction of capital.

What is a "living"? Food and shelter? Why would we be happy with food and shelter when others have (finer) food, (safer) shelter, and also education, knowledge, culture, pleasure, free time to contemplate the universe or do whatever they want? Why would we be happy to be mere cogs in the absurd machine that transforms money into… more money, for the sake of it?


8th December 2015, 10:19
Will musical artists still be paid by sales?

Originally Posted by Sewer Socialist View Post
even the most horrible musicians receive anything and everything they need.

Except, of course, applause.


27th November 2015, 16:18
What is Fascism's Connection to the Petty Bourgeoisie?

Originally Posted by e_e View Post
I have heard that fascism is petty bourgeois reaction at the decay of capitalism. What exactly is the petty bourgeoisie'is role in a society under a fascist system and how does it exactly fulfill their reactionary fantasies?

The petty bourgeoisie has not coherent program for society; its "reaction" consequently cannot be anything else but fantasies. For this reason, it makes no sence to suppose a petty bourgeois society as opposed to capitalism and socialism.

Consequently, if we stick with the (quite problematic) definition - fascism as "petty bourgeois reaction at the decay of capitalism" - then there can be no such thing as a fascist society. A "fascist society" is a capitalist society, managed by a particular kind of government, in which the bourgeoisie, not the petty bourgeoisie, is the ruling class. As such, it cannot fulfill the reactionary fantasies of the petty bourgeoisie.

It is more productive to think of the role of the petty bourgeoisie in a fascist movement, as opposed to a fascist government; and fascism changes a lot when it makes its Machtgreifung.

I would recommend Nikos Poulantzas' Fascism and Dictatorship, which makes a real good job of dissecting German and Italian brands of fascism, both as oppositionist movements and as established government.


27th November 2015, 15:54
The Observation of Karl Kautsky - apt or inappropriate?

Originally Posted by Communist Mutant From Outer Space View Post
"Foreign tourists in Russia stand in silent amazement before the gigantic enterprises created there, as they stand before the pyramids, for example. Only seldom does the thought occur to them what enslavement, what lowering of human self-esteem was connected with the construction of those gigantic establishments."

Is this observation from Kautsky an evaluation based on his own biased Marxist tendency, or could be it be said to be, somewhat, objectively true? Not just in relation to these monuments, but in relation to the treatment of Soviet workers in general. Was it a worker's paradise or a slaver's delight? Are these monuments aptly compared to the pyramids (in that they were built through slave labour), or is this a gross exaggeration based on Kautsky's own dogmatism?

Personally it would seem to me that he is at least partially right but I an unfamiliar with much of the history of the time. I would like a critical evaluation of the viewpoint expressed in this quotation, if you please.

It would depend on when that was said. Russia was not the same in 1935 as it was in 1925.


27th November 2015, 15:41
Will a classless stateless society be polyamorous?

"Monogamy" is not about individuals preferring to have just one partner instead of many; it is about a societal norm in which having more than one partner is socially unacceptable.


15th November 2015, 16:48
Value of Entrepeneurs

Originally Posted by Comrade #138672 View Post
If they perform socially necessary labor, then yes.

Then the question is, do entrepreneurs perform socially necessary labour?


6th November 2015, 13:09

Originally Posted by Major K. View Post
I don't mean value in the Marxist sense here. That's a special category of value used to justify social change. I'm thinking more about how individuals evaluate their reality. A dresser that was your mothers is probably more valuable to you than it is to someone who never knew her. Attitudinal and experience based wealth disparity is inevitable.

In which case "entrepreneurs" may well be valuable. But such "value" isn't transferred to the "value" (which is "value" in the Marxist sence) of commodities.

I also thought that ownership would only be abolished in name — leaving it severely curtailed. I don't think you can really abolish ownership. On a basic level — what about ownership of your own self?

It depends on what we are calling "ownership". People don't own themselves, as demonstrated by Comrade Allende. People own teeth brushes, which they will probably continue to own in a communist society, and people own factories, which will no longer be possible in communism. But the ownership of teeth brushes is not predicated on "self-ownership"; it is predicated upon the fact that my teeth brush is useless for anyone else.

This is the foundation of human rights. Or slightly less philosophically challenging, what about the clothes on your back? Let's say you even made them yourself — would it be right for someone to come take them from you as you're going along so they can go give them to someone else? And under what basis of authority would this thief have of doing so? The mandate of the people? Surely that's rather micromanaging of us…

Clothes are like teeth brush. They are personal ownership, and there is absolutely no sence in taking them from their owners to distribute them to anyone else.

I don't think you can reasonably abolish ownership. You can abolish private property on the macro level, but trying to do so entirely seems unnecessary and oppressive.

Private property that matters is property of means of production. Those will become collective ownership in communism. Objects of consumption - that aren't used to exploit others' labour - aren't going to expropriated in order to become collective. That means teeth brushes, clothes, houses, automobiles, yachtes, etc.

The market also — you can say it would be abolished only in name. In reality, it's a matter of reframing the processes of the market in terms beneficial to the proletariat. Discourse about the market would be transformed, but the circulation of goods and services would still be conceptualized in not so very disparate terms as they are now.

There will still be circulation of goods, obviously; but such circulation isn't to depend on a counter-circulation of "money". Things will be produced and distributed to those who need them; there isn't going to be a system of accounting, in which we confront how much a given person has "contributed" to society to how much the same person has "profited" from society, in order to calculate whether he or she "deserves" goods and services, and how much.

I'm also interested in what you guys think about the place of meritocratic values in a communist society.

Depends on what you call "meritocratic". A great poet is a great poet, a good soccer player is better than a lousy one, and we won't call the runner up in a chess championship "the winner". But mediocre poets, lousy soccer players, and loosing chess players are going to be fed, sheltered, and respected as human beings or members of society as much as those who excell them in poetry, soccer, or chess.

There is a strong tendency among the upper middle class, at least here in Brazil, to consider the difference between their earnings and those of the lower layers of the working class a function of "merit" - they "deserve" their better wages, and those who earn less are at a fault for earning less. If this is what called "meritocracy", then it is hogwash - people cannot even define what "merit" is in this reasoning.

On the other hand, it is evident that, within a capitalist society, positions within the civil service must be allocated according to a system of "merit", not according to the personal relationships of civil servants. That is what is more properly called "meritocracy", but it has little to do with anything but exactly this: civil service within capitalist societies.


3rd November 2015, 13:58
"A rising tide lifts all"?

Originally Posted by MarxianSocialist View Post
This is a question often posed by defenders of capitalism – that yes, capitalism results in a concentration of wealth, but it is not merely a few who benefit – according to them, the whole standard of living increases to a huge degree. The poor of today are richer than the kings of centuries past, even if it is "unequal."

What is a Marxist argument against this?

I think that this pro-capitalist argument is based in a conundrum.

Cappies will gladly agree that "wealth is relative". But then they want us to accept the idea that poverty is absolute.

Yes, a poor man nowadays has access to things that a feudal lord in the 12th Century had not. For instance, tapped water for daily baths, or bus rides.

But lack of daily baths or bus rides were not tantamount to poverty in the Middle Ages; they are now.

So yes, the standard of life increases for all; but if wealth is more concentrated, then there is more poverty, even if such poverty means something less dearth than in the past.

And also: how would a communist society continue, if not increase, the tempo and efficiency of production and innovation? Capitalism provides exponential growth and ever more products – how would communism, lacking in competition, be able to match this productivity?

This is a more complicated problem. But why would it not? Competition is vital to innovation in capitalism, where it is intended to improve the competitive position of a given company against others. But even in capitalism, most innovation is made in the academy or other public institutions, not in private firms. People invent things because, a) they like inventing things; and b) because those inventions free people from repetitive, dull labour. It is only in capitalism that inventions enslave people instead of freeing them, and that people dislike doing things, even scientific research, "because it is labour", and labour should be avoided whenever possible, which is, whenever it isn't necessary for earning a livelilhood.


31st October 2015, 13:10
Capitalism lifted 800 million Chinese from poverty?

Originally Posted by Emmett Till View Post
That would be tricky, especially since China was never feudalist in the first place. Feudalism is something that existed in Europe, in Japan, in Ethiopia, and as far as I know noplace else on the entire planet.

Right. But Blake's Baby question remains, if reworded:

How can a country be transitioning into capitalism (from a pre-capitalist status quo, feudal or otherwise) and out from capitalism (into some kind of socialism, I presume)?

Even if so, it very much looks like the first transition (into capitalism) deserves an "A" grade, being extremely successful - but the second transition is looking like an "F" grade in the making, with no signs of actual abolition of generalised commodity production, of labour alienation, of surplus value production, of capitalist exploitation of workers.

And it didn't have an "Asiatic mode of production" either, that being probably Karl Marx's least successful concept.

To be fair, while I certainly agree that it isn't very successful, I don't think it is from Karl Marx either. What little Marx wrote on the subject (link here) seems to me to point into a very different direction - that of three different ways (ancient, Germanic, "Asiatic") in which primitive communist societies broke up and transitioned into class societies. True, "ancient" transition brought slaverism, "Germanic" transition (combined with the collapse of a centralised slave-based empire) brought feudalism, and it is possible to speculate that "Asiatic" transition should have brought us a third, "Asiatic", mode of production. But that is already reading into Marx, instead of reading Marx.

For those who want to learn something, this being the Learning corner of Revleft after all, I highly recommend Perry Anderson's brilliant "Lineages of the Absolute State," which really ought to be the core textbook for the second half of all the World History college survey courses out there. And his "Passages from Antiquity" for the first half.

That. Those are absolutely wonderful books; no one can call him or herself a historian, or a knowledgeable Marxist, without having read those. And since I have defended Marx in the paragraph above, it is necessary to say that their criticism of Marx's limited knowledge of all things "Asian" (meaning, in fact, "non-European") is spot on.


28th October 2015, 19:25
Did Karl Marx have doubts about his theory being put into practice?

Perhaps this is related to the famous quote, "I myself am not a Marxist".

More to the point, the Critique of the Gotha Program shows Marx worried about people misinterpreting his work, and deriving mistaken conclusions from that misreading.


28th October 2015, 19:18
Capitalism Contradictions

Originally Posted by Servia View Post
What are the contradictions within capitalism that will ultimately cause its own fall? And why is socialism the inevitable system to come forth?

Most basic would be,

  • the drive for more profits causes capitalists to rise the productivity of labour,
  • but the increase of labour productivity causes the average profit rate to fall.


  • capitalists want to pay the lower possible wages to their employees,
  • but capitalists need workers in general to earn the highest possible wage in order to buy their products.

There surely are many others, but those two imply that the expansion of the production of value undermines the premises for the production of value.


28th October 2015, 18:55
WHY is the production and exchange of commodities the basis of all social structure?

Originally Posted by Wyboth View Post
In Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, Engels says:

Originally Posted by Engels
The materialist conception of history starts from the proposition that the production of the means to support human life and, next to production, the exchange of things produced, is the basis of all social structure; that in every society that has appeared in history, the manner in which wealth is distributed and society divided into classes or orders is dependent upon what is produced, how it is produced, and how the products are exchanged.

Notice that this is very different from the way you frame the question, namely,

Originally Posted by Wyboth
WHY is the production and exchange of commodities the basis of all social structure?

However, "means to support human life" and "commodities" are synonimous only in capitalist societies.

I have heard Marx and Engels say this several times, but I have yet to see an explanation for why this is true (or perhaps I missed it). I can think of one situation where this would be true. Consider a family subsistence farm - I can see in that situation how people's relations to each other would depend upon their labour, since they have to tend to the farm every day in order to continue living.

People who do not produce means to support human life must rely on others producing the means to support their lives. A priest cannot eat his prayers, nor a bourgeois economist can dress his "theories". Someone else has to build their houses, bake their bread, and seam their tunics.

But it seems to be a bit of a stretch to say that all social structure sources back to production. Help me understand this better. Give me an example. If I'm thinking about this in entirely the wrong way, show me the right way to think about it.

Evidently, what I stated above doesn't mean that non-directly productive activities are unnecessary or illegitimate. A building stands on its foundations, but without walls and a roof it is hardly a building. So the priest or the bourgeois economist may be quite necessary for a feudal or capitalist society to make - but their usefulness is dependent on a) the production of "means to support human life" by others; b) a social structure that liberates them from producing "means to support human life" so that they can do hocus-pocus with sacred texts or mathemathical formulae; and c) the specific form of the society they live in (the "utility" of priests having starkly declined since the demise of feudalism, the "utility" of "economists" having not yet been discovered before the rise of capitalism).

It doesn't mean, either, that the priest or the economist directly act in order to uphold the system that allows their existence. Indeed, ideally, such relation is transparent to them, and they could easily (and honestly) say of themselves to "have no ideology" or to "be independent" from the economic or politic structure of society.


28th October 2015, 18:16
Is Reformism Real?

Originally Posted by Xhar-Xhar Binks View Post
Quite a few people believe they can reach something they call socialism by parliamentary means.

This is not what reformism is, though.

Reformism is two very different things:

1. The belief that capitalism can be "reformed" into "socialism" without destroying the bourgeois State apparatus.

2. The belief that capitalism can be "reformed" into… ever better capitalism.

Of course those who believe that "capitalism" can be transformed into "socialism" by parliamentary methods are reformists of the first kind; but they could as well believe in such transformation through cooperatives, or bitcoins, or peaceful street demonstrations, and despise parliamentarian action, and they would still be reformists, if they think this can be made without breaking down the bourgeois State.

(There is of course a particular subspecies of this kind of reformism, mostly associated with Kautsky, that tries to elude the issue of rupture by proposing that such rupture should be preceded by electoral victory, but they are far from being the only reformist tendency available in the political market.)

Reformists of the second kind on the other hand may very well be even violent, whether opposed to parliamentary action or not. Many third world "revolutionary" national liberation movements are or were like this. The FARC are no less reformist just because they wage a guerrilla war on the Colombian government.


7th October 2015, 18:56
Would Women Stop Tending to be Submissive Outside Capitalism?

Originally Posted by Major K. View Post
Last time I checked, lesbians weren't reproducing sexually.

If they aren't reproducing sexually, then either, a) this isn't a genetically hereditary trait, or b) they will quickly become extinct.

But as their numbers don't seem to be dwindling, I think it is easy to see that b) above is false, and consequently a) is true.

And that is the problem with "evolutionary psychology": it intends to find genetic, and consequently evolutionary, causes for human behaviours that are quite obviously not evolutionary or genetic.

I don't know why so many of you think I'm hating on dominant women. They exist. However, they are obviously not the norm. I was careful to use words like "mostly" in my first post to avoid people thinking they can dismiss what I'm saying because of outliers.

I don't think you hate dominant women, or lesbians, or women who like anal sex or who like to swallow. I think your line of reasoning would imply that those people don't exist, either as the norm, or as a numerically important deviation from the norm.

Or what would be, in your reckoning, the reason for the existence of dominant women? A recurring mutation?

Because in my opinion, they exist because dominance/submissiveness aren't genetic traits.


6th October 2015, 14:20
Does "society" even exist?

Originally Posted by MarxianSocialist View Post
A simple question, but one asked by a lot of objectivists and individualists. Does society even exist? Is it not just a collection of autonomous individuals - can we really speak of "society" as an actual, independent entity? In the words of Ayn Rand,

"[S]ince there is no entity such as society, since society is only a number of individual men—this meant some men (the majority or any gang that claims to be its spokesman) are ethically obliged to spend their lives in the service of that gang's desires."

How is Rand's view on society, or the individualist view, exactly wrong? To me, it seems fairly accurate - that man is independent and that society is merely the collection of individual, autonomous men acting out of their rational self interest.

I suppose you have assembled your internet connection all by yourself - or that you think that internet connections grow in trees.


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