Juan Inigo's Marxism: (a response)

glevy at acnet.pratt.edu glevy at acnet.pratt.edu
Fri Sep 15 05:03:17 MDT 1995

> In my post I carefully followed the way you were abstracting "workers",
> "us" (the members of the Marxism list) and "me" from the determinations
> that shape each of the three as specific parts of the proletariat. And I am
> positive you are completely aware how essential I find not to isolate any
> conclusion from its context, to avoid turning it into an abstraction too.

Since Juan (unfortunately) has defended his method in concluding that I
am a "narrow nationalist", I have to say that he has abstracted
from the context and meaning of my original post. He tried to put my
suggestion that he visit a factory and bars in Illinois into a (my words)
"grand scheme." In so doing, he has put everything into a logical form
that (I believe) both oversimplifies and distorts reality. The
determinations that Juan uses do not take social context or contradictory
relationships into account enough. He couldn't just see my suggestion for
what it was (which I regret was somewhat sarcastic) -- he had to (twist
it) and make it into something larger (so that it would fit into his
overly rigid view of the world).

> And there was nothing in your whole post that addressed my arguments. It
> was just an ad hominem argument that went:

Juan abstracts from the fact that hours before I addressed the
substantive issues regarding _Capital_ in another post. I did not want
to confuse the issue by talking more about writing style in the previous
post.  Instead, I opened up a new thread. As that post made clear, my
concerns  were directed against _many_ radicals and not just Juan. By
seeing my  post as an ad hominum attack, he has abstracted from its
content and  meaning. Juan, also, was unable to see the intent behind my
defense of  him from Ken's blistering critique. To be perfectly honest, I
"felt bad"  about how what I initiated, led us away from discussing the
content of  Juan's post. Juan must feel that we all use (or try to use) a
scientific  method in our discourse. This, again, abstracts from the time
and place  of the posts and fails to comprehend the contradictory nature
of our own  "concrete determinations." Other people on the list, no
doubt, understood  the intent behind my post. Juan did not. Why? Continue

  Therefore, I have always faced the Marxism list as a
> proper place for the political struggle in which this development of
> science takes concrete shape.

This shows one of your weaknesses regarding "science." To believe that
"science" is advanced through political struggle on the list is ... a
little far-fetched. It abstracts from the form and method of
communication and the nature of the list itself. It is an example of how
Juan attempts to rigidly understand concrete and contradictory developments
using very abstract concepts.

> It is in this context, Jerry, that I'm interested in your comments, not
> necessarily a full critique or a structured response, but even only how
> does it strike you, concerning Marx's open rejection, along his whole life,
> of logic for being the essence of alienated thought, and of dialectical
> logic as a system of thought that necessarily ends up in an idealist
> inversion or in self-contradiction (see his quotes in my previous post),
> vis a vis your assertions (obviously prevailing among Marxists) about
> Marx's using a logic and, more specifically, a dialectical logic.

Marx rejected a perspective that attempted to understand the world
entirely through logical means because such a perspective, prior to Marx,
abstracted from material reality and the ways in which social and
historical forces enter into the process of human understanding. He did
not reject dialectical logic per se (show me one quote from the mature
Marx where he ever said he rejected the dialectical method in its
entirety?). Logic was indeed viewed as "alienated thought" and "idealist"
when it fails to account for the contradictory ways in which social
reality (and the forces that affect that reality) affect history and one's

By viewing Marxism narrowly as a "science" and by abstracting from Marx's
other purposes in writing _Capital_, Juan has fallen into the trap of
expressing Marx's thought and human understanding in abstract form --
which is a inversion of Marx's materialist method.

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