Juan and BS

Scott Marshall Scott at rednet.org
Wed Jun 28 09:03:11 MDT 1995

Jusitn sez:

>Jim J says that it's a shame that Marx has to prove himself over and
>over--or rather, since he's dead, taht we must continually submit his
>ideas and others offered in their spirir to critical scrunity, including
>the most fundamental of them, e,g., the possibility of socialism, the
>role of the proletariat, the chances for self-emanciparion--I do not
>bother top speak of superficial marginalia like the labor theory of value
>(yes, I am being provocative). I say if this id the bourgeois way of
>thinking, sign me up for it.

Scott: This seems to me to get at the basics of a theory of knowledge. If
every generation and in every concrete situation we start from the position
that we know nothing and all is up for grabs and all must be reproved etc.
Then phoey. This is ready made for endless arm chair debate. As I understand
a materialist theory of knowledge the world is knowable. We will never know
the *whole story*, there is always more to learn, but we can build on what
is already known. Accepting the basic ideas and tenents of Marxism in no way
precludes study and development and critical thinking. Quite the opposite
*knowing* the basics and not constantly reinvention the wheel gives us
better tools to understand what is new and developing.

A concrete example: A basic and knowable tenent of Marxism is that the class
struggle is the engine of history in a class system. And dialecticly we know
'unity and struggle of opposites etc.' ie: The class struggle can never be
too onesided for too long. (BTW Marx explicitly denied 'discovering' the
class struggle, but did build his discoveries about how capitalism works on
this basic fact) Armed with this knowledge we can observe society with the
knowledge that no matter how grim the current class situation there will be

Those grounded in the basics of Marxism will then be looking for the tiny
shoots of new and developing working class struggle to emerge with some
confidence that there *will* be struggle on the part of the working class.
They will thus be 'armed' to help further these developments. Marxist won't
be 'caught napping' when real upsurge and struggle develops. Those on the
sidelines debating whether the class struggle is real or not will be caught
out. Those waiting for the headlines to tell them that the fight is on will
be totally taken by surprise at developments and will play little part in
helping to move things in a good direction.

Those who have been side by side in struggle will have greater influence and
will develop faster in understanding the new situtation than those still
debating the 'validity' of developments. (One of the reasons workers make
the best Communists IMO)

An even more concrete example: The new developments in the leadership of the
AFL-CIO. Some are having an armchair field day poo-pooing these
developments: "It's the same old crowd arguing over who will get to be the
piecard of the moment. or So and so is no beter than Kirkland and will
represent no change etc etc." All this kind of shallow and superfical
speculation is for the most part idle chatter. What *is* significant is that
the class struggle and the beginning stirrings of rank and file workers is
forcing ferment and change in labor's ranks in the US. If your organization
just sits around with it's collective thumb in your collective ass and
pontificates you will miss the boat. But if Communists, armed with some
pretty good ideas of where this development is going to go, get into it and
ge their feet wet and help further these developments and help struggle
through the pitfalls, then they can help significantly to move the struggle
and development of class consciousness forward. Remaining aloof or preaching
from afar won't get it.

Just one last note. Being there is not enough. Some groups like to be there
where the action is, but still miss the point. IE: Those who come armed with
leaflets saying 'all is lost, you're just trading one set of sellouts for
another, only a communist revolution will save you' and other silly
pronouncements, are also doomed to irrelevancy. You have to be engaged and
immersed to have any good influence. 'Purity and preaching' are for armchairs.

Justin will have to decide for himself what kind of thinking to sign up
for..... most lawyers......<deadpan>.

Justin if you're going into labor law then get ready to toughen up your
already tough skin. I'll help. I once told this joke in a collective
bargaining session while both the company lawyer and the union lawyer were
present. Only the union lawyer laughed. "If you see a gory red mess in the
middle of the highway, how can you tell if it was an animal or a
lawyer........There will be skid marks in front of the animal." Heard it on
the shop floor.

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