Marx & Stirner

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Sat Dec 31 12:26:59 MST 1994


OF AFRICANS, MARX, INTELLECTUALS AND INDIVIDUALS IN SOCIETY

>debate must have an aim other than debate.

Yes, I agree.

>Thus I agree with some of the remarks about African Philosophy.
>But let us not be carried away.

As wasn't my point that philosophy, in this case the quixotic
project of African philosophy, was too preoccupied with picking
its own belly button lint?

>It seems to me that the role of the intellectual is, while being
>disputatious about what others write, to work so as to raise the
>understanding of ordinary people.

This is true!  This is precisely what concerns me.

>Some structural form called socialism is the better way of
>solving the problem of 1) but we need a different structural
>form.  Some would say we need democracy, or democratic control.
>True but this is not enough. What organisational structures
>would ensure such control.

If the left is working on this problem, I haven't seen it.
Instead we have analytic and postmodern Marxism.  Not that I don't
value theory, I just don't value theory without value.

>In fact what is this thing called SOCIALISM. We thought we knew.
>We were wrong.

The word "we" makes me nervous.  How are we feeling today?  I
agree that the left ought to think about its goal much more
concretely, since socialism is such a vague abstraction,
especially in light of the deserved failure of statism.  More
importantly, to determine what proximate and mid-range goals
people should organize for.  This is a world-wide problem.  Nobody
knows where to go, so they stand by and helplessly watch the
descent into barbarism.

>This question needs the attention of those whose job it is to
>think.

Yes it does!

>Not forgetting that even the African, and the Chinese, and ....
>also think.

Yes they do.

>At the end of the day the problem is that not only do people
>think but they act more often without thinking.

Or they are paralyzed and intimidated.  They stagnate because
society stagnates.  In this intellectuals and ordinary folks are
in a similar predicament.  The whole point of my comments about
the intellectual class is that they can't THINK either.  They not
only can't act, except as flunkies, they can't think either.  They
stagnate in their thinking because society has stagnated in
practice.  This is the crux of my take on THE GERMAN IDEOLOGY and
the period immediately preceding it.  Marx went to Paris and
discovered that Germany was stagnant.  He discovered that his own
environment had held him back.  "The educator must himself become
educated."  He discovered that the greatest thinkers of his day
could not advance because society did not advance.  Marx himself
only advanced as the political and social situation advanced.  The
journey from 1843 to 1848 was a journey of the mind that
paralleled the journey of society.  It's so obvious, and yet, the
professors don't catch on -- and the Marxist professors are as
philistine as the rest, sometimes more so -- they don't catch on
because of that very obviousness.  People can come to grips with
complexity; it's simplicity that eludes them.  They are imprisoned
in the space they occupy in the system of social relations -- all
of us are in that boat.

There is not a soul alive, I promise you that, who values thinking
more than I do, and so when I observe a reality that disables and
precludes thought, I apply my thought also to that reality.  I
value thought because my environment consists of non-thinkers 24
hours a day.  And yet these non-intellectuals deserve better than
to be crushed to pulp by Newt Gingrich and his kind.  The lady who
makes my sandwiches at the corner deli two doors down who greets
me with a bright smile every day -- an extra bright smile way
beyond the call of duty, concealing her despair -- has more
dormant greatness within her than ten thousand self-important,
puffed up Nietzsches and Heideggers put together.  This is not
because thought doesn't matter, but because it does.

And so, with these final thoughts of 1994, I wish you all a Happy
New Year, and you'll need all the best of luck, because unless you
are rich or solidly cushioned, in 1995 your ass is grass.

"Trembling I sit day and night, my friends are astonish'd at me,
Yet they forgive my wanderings.  I rest not from my great task!
To open the Eternal Worlds, to open the immortal Eyes of Man
inwards into the Worlds of Thought, into Eternity Ever expanding
in the Bosom of God, the Human Imagination."

--- William Blake (Jerusalem, Chap. I, Plate 5, lines 16-20)


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