My purposes in joining this list

Chegitz Guevara mluziett at shrike.depaul.edu
Mon Nov 20 12:42:40 MST 1995


On Sun, 19 Nov 1995, Robert Peter Burns wrote:

Before I proceed, I would like to publically apologize for the patronizing
way in which I belittled your beliefs. However, the fact that the modern
GOD is decended from an ancient Summerian deity, who was one among many,
that along the way, beliefs from other historically documented religions
found their way into the Judeo-Christian-Islamic ideology, is the basis of
my atheism, i.e. I'm an atheist because I can historically trace the
development of the belief in GOD to a time when he wasn't GOD, such that
it demonstrates to me that GOD is the creation of mankind, and not the
other way around. To reject GOD on political grounds is opportunism, and
logic cannot DISPROVE or prove the existence of GOD, leaving one with an
agnosticism.

I will also freely admit that the reason I became an atheist had nothing
to do with logic or historical progression, but was that I was "forced" to
be an atheist in order to join my former political organization. This
bothers me because I think it was intellectually dishonest (not to mention
how much it hurt at the time). I think that it could have been handled in
a much better way, taking the time to convince me, rather than ordering
me. Be that as it may, I have no desire to return to a belief system that
I consider fundimentally wrong.

>        1. that there are serious problems with adopting a dogmatic,
>        physical-reductionist, scientism reminiscent of 19th materialism
>        in today's intellectual and scientific context <see the last of
>        my posts on "vulgarities">;

Be careful here. There is great danger in "throwing out the materialist
baby with the mechanistic bathwater" as Comrade Timpanaro said. Very few
people on this list actually subscribe to vulgar, so-called "orthodox,"
Marxism. Prior to your arival we had an interesting, although not
thorough, discussion on Chaos theory. Some mention was made of fuzzy
logic, but that went nowhere.

The fact that *some* scientists have ben troubled by the idea that matter
seems to be continually reducable, and thus, reality is made up of
nothing, should not be read to imply that science, as a whole, is coming
back over to religion. Be that as it may, I have also noticed this
disturbing trend, with such boks as, "The End of Materialism," etc.
However, a proper reading of history will show that this is not a new
trend, but at best, a temporary resurgance of a trend that never went away
(Mach and Avernus come immediately to mind).

One could also point to scientists who lend their names to creation
"science." Does this mean that science is begining to accept that GOD made
the world in 6 days? Hopefully not. I think that part of the problem lies
in the overall trend of people *in general* to retreat to religion due to
the decreasing influence they have over their own lives.

Scientists are hardly immune to social pressures. Furthermore, acceptance
of theories many times has litle to do with the validity of the argument,
and everything to do with a particular scientist's position in the
scientific world. Scientists will often defend to the death theories that
reailty seems to prove wrong, because they have invested too much time and
effort into building a carear on a particular viewpoint. Its demolishment
means the end of their fame. Hopefully, in a socialist society, where
scientists must compete for what little funding there is, rationality, not
egoistic reasons, will carry the day.

>        2. that it would be better to read Marx in a more humanistic/
>        Aristotelian/Hegelian spirit--as many more recent views of Marx
>        suggest we should <and on the basis of Marx's own texts, too>
>        --so that we can handle problems about ethics and the role of
>        reason in history, in logic and mathematics, and in science
>        itself in a more satisfactory way.  You know the kind of thing:
>        we are human beings, not just collections of atoms <humanism>;
>        matter is never without "form" <Aristotle>; we are not just
>        animals, we are rational animals <well, some of us are, I hope>,
>        and our rationality unfolds and develops historically and socially
>        <Aristotle as corrected by Hegel>;

Unfortunately, crude materialists have successfully anointed themselves
with the perfume of orthodox Marxism. In attempting to reject this crass
materialism of the Social Demorcats, Western Marxists, like Korsch and
Lukacs went too far, and for them, mind became the determining element.
Mind is presuposed and preexisted by matter, but that does not mean that
in all cases matter is the determining element. Marx and Engels both
discuss how the mind is not only influenced by reality, but influences
realtiy as well. The first chapter of "The German Ideology" describes very
well what the Marxist ideal is on the relationship between real and ideal
is, as well as Engels', "Ludwig Feuerbach," etc.

>        3. that because of the blindingly obvious fact that, however
>        you add up the pluses and minuses, all previous *attempts* at
>        instituting a totally planned economy have not resulted, to say
>        the least, in vast increases in working-class enthusiasm for
>        the cause of socialism, it is urgent that we think more
>        carefully about how we go about the task of using planning
>        first to subordinate the market, and then to make it wither.
>        I realize that whether we should call what these previous
>        attempts did result in, "planned economies", is doubtful; but
>        be that as it may, the attempts were *travesties* of what Karl M
>        had in mind, and that gives the point to serious rethinking
>        on this subject.  Jim J correctly pointed out that leftwing
>        priests are a distinct minority.  An even more distinct minority
>        are those self-styled marxist regimes which greatly added to
>        the credit of socialism with the international proletariat, or
>        achieved *lasting* contentment for their domestic populations.

Again, I think that one must look for historical factors in the failure of
so-called, "planned economies," before one can ascribe an inherent fatal
flaw to social planning. In its time, the Soviet Union grew from a
collapsed third world semi-colonial backwards agrarian country, to, at its
height, the fastest growing, most scientifically advanced (in space
technology, medicine, and a couple of others), country in the world. For
the first 30 odd years of its existence, the U.S.S.R. exerted a tremendous
influence and inspiration on the workers of the world. Not until the
Stalin revelations and invasion of Hungary did that influence begin to
wane (The process began earlier in the U.S. with the advent of
McCarthyism).

>        I admit to now feeling somewhat discouraged from even
>        bothering to continue on this list.  I thought we could respect
>        each other's differences over the reasonability of religious
>        belief; I didn't really want to get into religion, but felt I had
>        to respond when my intelligence and conscience were subjected to
>        ill-informed disdain.  I admit to using some condescending language
>        too, but I think a fair reading of the record reveals that I was
>        severely provoked.  I would prefer at this stage just to concentrate
>        on the ways in which marxist philosophy and economics can be revitalized
>        in the light of recent politics and recent science.  But if marxists
>        can't engage in these issues without insulting people's intelligence
>        and consciences, then they are going to go nowhere fast, intellectually
>        *or* politically--which I am sure you'd agree would be a GREAT PITY.
>
>        Peter

Well, don't quit the list just because we're rude. Hitler was a very
polite person, and look what he was capable of. Gentleness and
comradeliness is still a lesson many of us have to learn. That doesn't
mean we're bad people, we're just drawn that way. ;)

Marc, "the Chegitz," Luzietti
http://shrike.depaul.edu/~mluziett

I'm not anti-society, society's anti-me
I'm not anti-religion, religion's anti-me
I'm not anti-tradition, tradition's anti-me
I'm not anti-anything, I just want to be free.

Mike Muir of Suicidal Tendencies



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