"marxism", "dialectics" and "science"

Justin Schwartz jschwart at freenet.columbus.oh.us
Thu Jun 22 06:26:04 MDT 1995


I wasn't going to get into this and probably shouldn't, but don't you
think talkking about who's really Marxist enough is boring? A Marxism list
is a place for people who are interested in Marxism and willing to chat
civilly about it, regardless of their professed allegiences. As to who's a
real Marxist--why does it matter? I considser myself a Marxist even though
I disagree with a lot of Marx's views, because I think the old man had the
questions right and generally speaking the right tools to approack them,
as well as the morally defensible orientation--the perspective of the
oppressed. A lot of people I know who broadly agree with me (and us) don't
think of themselves as Marxists, but it's difficult to see what's at stake
in the label.

I certianly would not want any thought police to restrict participation in
any discussion to people who identified themselves as Marxist, or with a
particular conception of Marxism. Nor do I think that Marxists themselves
have a cathemism or a set of articles of faith. "I believe in the
Proletariat, the Labor Theory of Value, and the abolition of merkets,
revolution without end, amen." We all of us, Marxist and Marxian, people
curious about Marxism, and libertarians interested in Marxism, have an
intellectual duty to keep an open and skepticla mind about the
propositions of Marxism (and everythinbg else). We have a duty not to
become a hermetically self-sealed sect which responds to criticism with ad
hominem attacks.

This leads to the question of manners. Civility is called for in these
discussions--even with regard to "class enemies" like Chris S. This
doesn't mean we can't flame each other now and then, but the fact is that
rude polemics and unszubstantiated insults are boring unless they are very
imaginative (Ralph D. is very good at imaginative insults) and don't
advance anyone';s understanding., If you think, e.g., tghat use of
something called the hypothetical deductive method is iniminical to
something called dialectics and leads people to serve the interests of
capital, tell us what these things are and how the former has the effect
you describe.

Personally speaking, I think you would be happier or more comfortable in
the CPUSA than in the CoC (of which I am a courtesy member, although my
main affiliation is Solidarity.)

--Justin Schwartz

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