New to the list.

Andy Daitsman adaitsma at mail.trincoll.edu
Tue Jun 27 16:20:58 MDT 1995


Hell, I've been inactive for awhile, but I'll take a stab at these.  And
then duck...

James Garrett asked:

[brief intro deleted]

>1. What is Marxist literature?

Good question.

Is it literature written by Marxists? literature
>   written by the proletariate? literature that promotes Marxist themes and
>   ideas? (I'm reading Terry Eagleton right now, but any information is always
>   welcome)

Sound like good answers to me.

>
>2. How does the average worker escape the lure of the "American Dream,"

How about by working two or three different part time jobs all at the same
time, and when they add up their paychecks they realize they still don't
have enough to put food on the table, pay the rent, and send their kids to
school properly dressed.  That's where "the average worker" is today.  It
seems to me like our job is to get to them with a critical analysis that
explains why that is happening to them before the join the (name of your
state here)* Militia and start throwing bombs at the feds or "feminazis" or
blacks or other innocents who happen to be victimizable.

[*Michigan's been getting dumped on a lot, as if it's the only state that
has an armed right-wing party.  Of course it's not.  Back home in Wisconsin,
we've had the Posse Comitatus for years.  And there are scads more all over
the place.]

and if
>   a Communist Utopia is an inevitability that probably will not be realized
>   in that worker's lifetime, how is that worker motivated to support a
>   revolution that will yield no fruit for him or her?

This is also a good question, and requires a complicated answer.  First, I
don't think that a Communist utopia is inevitable.  For what it's worth
(FWIW), it's not clear whether Marx did either--there've been huge debates
on this list about the inherent teleology or not of Marxism, which maybe we
shouldn't get into here.  Or maybe we should.  Who am I to say?

Now whether or not it's inevitable, the odds against its happening in any of
our lifetimes are pretty high.  Not necessarily because the transition would
take generations, I actually think the transition would be pretty rapid and
FWIW so did Marx, but because the specific conjuncture of historical forces
and contingencies required to bring about a revolution is pretty rare.
Maybe we'll get lucky, maybe we won't.  Personally, I like the odds better
in the Connecticut state lottery, and I *know* I'm not going to win that...

Which gets us back to your basic question, which is why any of us should
work for a revolution even if we know that we're not personally going to
realize the benefits of the revolution.  And this is where it gets complicated.

I think the first reason is because *it's the right thing to do.*  We have
an analysis of human society that tells us not only that the world is fucked
up, but to a large degree we think we know why and how it's fucked up (not
that we all really agree on that analysis, but...).  Knowing this and doing
nothing about it causes depression and lethargy, and is bad for your soul
(ok, it's a moralistic argument, but it works for me).

Second, once you start working for a revolution you find yourself pretty
quickly in a community of like-minded individuals.  Well, that depends on
the historical moment you're living in and the specific geographical
location you're in too, but let's assume that you find such a community.
Well, then all of a sudden you've got a support group.  People who share
your basic values, are working towards the same goals as you, who are there
to lift you up when you are down, to drink a beer or twelve with you when
you need a release, who are your social network.  Don't underestimate this.
It's important.

If communism is not inevitable, then it will only happen as the result of
directed conscious activity by humans.  I think that's what Marx meant by
people taking control over their history.  We have to push for revolution,
organize and analyze, and do our damndest to speed the arrival of the
conjuncture we're waiting for.  And we have to feed off each other, our
hopes and dreams, as we keep the nose to the grindstone.

The point of view of
>   this question may be bourgeois, but human nature seems to have a "what's in
>   it for me" attitude.

Well, we do live in a bourgeois age.  What is it Marx says in the German
Ideology?  Oh, here it is:

"The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas:  i.e.,
the class which is the ruling *material* force of society, is at the same
time its ruling *intellectual* force ... The ruling ideas are nothing more
than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the
dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships
which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its
dominance."  (In Tucker, Marx Engels Reader, 2nd edition, pp. 172-173).

I guess as long as we live in a society dominated by the bourgeoisie, we're
going to have to deal realistically with bourgeois attitudes.

>
>3. How do Marxists and Marxist thinkers (especially poeple who publish for a
>   living) resolve the apparent contradiction of the commodification of their
>   work?  Can the overthrow of capitalism be brought about by capitalistic
>   means?

I'll leave this one to the dialecticians in the group...

>
>If some of these questions seem simplistic or obvious, please forgive me: I am
>new to Marxism and wish to learn more.

That's why we're all here James, we all want to learn more about Marxism.
Welcome to the list.

Andy

>
>James Garrett
>james at tekelec.com
>
>
>
>
>
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>
>



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