Socialist Utopia

Seamus Malone redye at amanda.dorsai.org
Sat Jul 1 17:33:06 MDT 1995


On Sat, 1 Jul 1995, Chris M. Sciabarra wrote:

> On Sat, 1 Jul 1995 TimW333521 at aol.com wrote:
>
> > To refer back in a slightly earlier stage of this thread: Was Marx a Utopian?
> > Yes, it is true that Marx presented the quite scientific notion that  we
> > cannot develop a blueprint of the future socialist society since this future
> > would be determined by factors created in the process of revolution itself
> > and therefore unpredictable now.  Further, he maintained the democratic idea
> > that workers would create their own future for themselves.
> > However, no one is going to the trouble of overthrowing the existing order
> > without SOME IDEA of what will replace it.  Marx realized this and therefore
> > did sketch out a vision of the future, particularly after the Paris Commune.
> > My point is that this sketch was very similar to the vision of utopians
> > contemporary to him: essentially  a collection of small self-run communities.
> >  As such it can be considered romantic in that it suggests a return to
> > earlier "organic" communities.
>
> 	In general, I agree that, at least methodologically speaking,
> Marx was NOT a utopian.  Utopianism, according to Marx, was marked by a
> non-dialectical way of looking at the world.  Utopians posited a vision
> of the ideal society in disregard of historical conditions and material
> context.  Their ahistoricism exhibited what Hayek would call a "pretense
> of knowledge."  The utopian turn in Marx's thought is, in my view,
> epistemic.  He simply believes that people can achieve the requisite
> knowledge to chart their own destiny, and, as I've maintained in previous
> posts, to transcend the unintended consequences of their actions.
> Whereas all previous human history takes place "behind peoples' backs,"
> socialism, for Marx, entails a supreme collective efficacy that is quite
> utopian in its assumptions.  Ironically, it is primarily this epistemic
> assumption that separates Marx and Hayek; the two had amazing parallels
> in their critique of the rationalist assumptions of utopianism.   I
> explore these parallels in greater detail in my forthcoming volume, MARX,
> HAYEK, AND UTOPIA (SUNY Press, August 1995).
> 					- Chris
> ==================================================
> Dr. Chris M. Sciabarra
> Visiting Scholar, NYU Department of Politics
> INTERNET:  sciabrrc at is2.nyu.edu (NOTE NEW ADDRESS)
> ==================================================
>
>
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>

I guess this might be simple minded, but we must distinguish between
utopianism and optimism. To imagine things can get better is different than
either a)positing the map of this society or b)believing in the
"perfectability: of society
Utopianism is used loosely to describe both of these which are not
necessarily compatible. They both partake of a belief in
"progress" which again may or may not be seen as dialectically
constructed from historical circumstnaces. I think that Marx says in a
nutshell from the position of a subject constructed from a set of
specific historica
l circumstances there is the possiblity of broadly outlining or defining
a circumstance (workers control) which such a subject would define as
better. Such a condition is likely to come into being (at some point)
because the latent relations of production reveal that in faxt the worker
(as the source rathr than accumulatr of power) has more power than the
capitalist.

 Seamus Malone
redye at amanda.dorsai.org


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