General

Ron Press anclondon at gn.apc.org
Mon Apr 3 19:42:29 MDT 1995


Hi

I may well be worried unnecessarily, but I get the feeling that
there is a tendency to discuss marxism and dialectics in two ways
which leads it away from the struggle of ordinary people.

1) It sometimes seems very academic. I am personally impressed by
the depth of reading and philosophical commitment of so many of
the list contributers. However so many quote people such as
Bhaskar, T. Smith, and Postone. Are any of them active or have
been active in the struggle in a practical way ? I noted Sweezy
was mentioned. I remember his writings as being directed to the
struggle as it proceeded. Lenin and Marx were of course involved
personally with the practical side of struggle. Moses Kotane, Joe
Slovo, Dr. Dadoo. Were not great theoreticians in the ususl sense
of the word but they developed new paths, new ways of working
which which resulted in great conrtibutions to the theory of the
South African struggle.

We had some theoreticians in out party ( I suppose there still are
) But I also remember one, a very good chap Mike Harmel. Very
active in the practical and theoretical sides. He often came
forward with revolutionary ideas and directions, Some times the
ideas were exellent and worked out well but equally others were
disasters. The Central Committee members  who were more often
right and were good judges of his ideas were those who worked in
the factories and mines.

Perhaps it would be a good idea if the practical activities of
some of these theoreticians were referred to sometimes.

2) I always beleived that marxism had at it's base the material
universe. It encompassed idealism in as much as the idealist and
idealist ways of thinking existed and were therefore in themselves
materialist. But the base, the foundation was materialism.

In reading the various discussions on the list I get a feeling
that the discussions become so erudite and deeply theoretically
that the material base gets divorced from the discussions. It is
as if marxism has become so complex so as to no longer be
attatched to the reality of a material world.

I am a reasonably intellegent person, by no means top draw but I
can read and write.

Many years ago I turned to Bertrand Russell for philosophical
guidance. I got lost and felt stupid.  I was clearly not cleaver
enough to understand life, religion, sex and all that. Clearly
Russell knew all about it but I was clearly too lower class to
understand.

Then I read Cornforth, then Marx, then Lenin, and so many others.
They made the complex so simple. I was really not so stupid after
all. It was Russell who clothed his ignorance in long sentences of
mutisylabic words.

Now I am beginning to wonder. Or can I take the liberty to be so
arrogant and think that I am correct. Philosophers who really
onderstand life... and all that, explain it in a way that ordinary
people who try, can gain understanding and strength, and not end
up feeling inadequate.

Ron Press.

Ps There is an exellent article by Sam Shilowa the General
Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions in the
latest edition of the African Communist.


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