General /socialism/capital

Scott Marshall Scott at
Wed Mar 29 06:53:52 MST 1995

Hey Ron Press

and he said:

>  I was merely pointing out a particular aspect of how change
>  occurs. I feel most strongly that marxism will become like
>  religion.

I think this is precisely why Engels said, "an ounce of action is worth a
ton of theory." (Did I just inadvertantly prove your point...:-) quoting
scripture?!?!) In the hands of marxist (small m) theologians and ivory tower
scholars it will indeed become a religion. (And please Louis - I am not
accusing Ron of this nor attacking the SACP)

>  A constant dissection of the texts and repetition of
>  past mistakes unless we take into account revolutionary new
>  theories like non-linear mathematics, emergence, chaos, strange
>  Attractors, fractal geometry and so on. Especially when the
>  capitalist theoreticians are beginning to use it against us.

Can these be explained in simple terms. I have a high school education and
what I can make out of these theories is hard for me to connect to any of
the basics of Marxism that I understand. (Just the other day we had a
comrade come to the office fuming about a new round of layoffs in his shop.
The boss told him that due to 'strange attractors' his whole shift was being
put on the street.... or was that 'strange investors'...) Anyway for me one
importance of Marxism as a scientific way of looking at the world is that
there is no part of it that does not connect directly to the basics of the
theory. An integrated whole with plenty of flexibility and room for what is
new and developing. Theory of knowledge, dialectical and historical
materialism, economics, etc - I can see how these parts all have basic
connection to the class struggle and exploitation, national liberation,
equality, war and peace etc.

Einstein is supposed to have quipped once that if there is a god, it must
never the less obey the laws of physics like everyone else. In that most
general of philisophical ways I can see the connections, but I need more
basic and simple explanations.

>  I also agree that the real world is very complex. However
>  sometimes it is essential to try to explained it in simple
>  terms.


>  It does not take a 3 year degree in philosophy, and a further
>  one in economics for a worker to understand that he/she is
>  exploited. It is really very simple. I have discussed this with
>  African peasants who cannot read or write. They know it well.
>  Much better than me. Not only with their logic but with their
>  souls.

But one critical importance of Marxism to me is that it helps me see how my
interests are the same as the African peasants, and we have common enemies
and are oppressed and exploited by a common system. Thus my steel local was
an early and energetic opponent of Apartheid, not out of moral indignation
in the main, but more importantly out of a realization 'your fight is our
fight' and solidarity strengthens us all.

>  However I agree with the general discussions on the list
>  that exploitation is a very complex matter.

But as you've noted, understanding of the complex must be rooted in the
basics. So again to show me how any 'new' theory should modify my approach I
need to be shown how it relates to the basics of exploitation etc.

>  I can fix an exchange value for a hamburger relatively easily.
>  But what of the scull of Ingaloba which is 130,000 old or a
>  letter from Michael Jackson which is only 10 years old. What of
>  intellectual property. They are seeking to patent the discovery
>  of human genes. How much will it cost me when I am ill due to
>  this gene?

To my mind not exactly burning questions of our time unless we are to change
our focus of action to organizing our fellow anthropologists, museum
curators, sports collectors and software developers as the leading force in
making the revolution. And before anybody yells there is room in my
definition of the working class for these folks - but not exactly the
decisive sector in my opinion. (I'm told that Alvin and Heidi Toffler were
once communists and maybe this is how they got onto their new track. "Brain
and information workers of the world unite...etc))

>  Yet exploitation is very simple to understand. It what to do
>  about it.

There you go quoting Marx again. (The scripture on his tombstone)

>  We each of us survey the world from the top of our own personal
>  dunghill. Naturally the view is different. My problem is with
>  those who steal dunghills.

I know this isn't what you meant, but I can't resist. They really don't want
our dunghills.

Sorry - this is all so abstract (but fun) that I am considering selling my
house and going in search of a virtual dunghill.


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