the poverty of chaos and dialectics

Scott Marshall Scott at
Mon Sep 18 07:39:00 MDT 1995

>My opinion here also derives from my perspective on dialectics,
>which as Hans commented, is a many-headed beast. My perspective
>leads me to believe that a lot can be done to improve capitalism
>via reforms which strengthen welfare state and workers rights,
>and I can support that position using my chaotic analysis, as it
>happens. This perspective also stems from the belief that the
>"main game" at the moment is providing theoretical support for
>those who would oppose the right's push to dismantle every
>vestige of the welfare state, in the name of "capitalist

This I find very telling. It seems to me to indicate that your
interpretation of dialectics and chaos is somewhat tailored to your
understanding of what tactics and strategy are called for at this moment. I
think this is quite natural and a happy circumstance for your belief system
- but It also underlines the materialist basis of the positions we take. I
don't mean this in any pejorative sense at all, but you have the luxury of
interpreting the needs of the time as being the need for gradual change. And
you find support for that perception of reality in chaos. Others with a more
immediate need for change and survival might just as well find chaos'
conservatism about change to be backward and restrictive and have a very
valid point in relation to their own class interests. In other words while
chaos theory might be described as philosophically neutral, how it tends to
be used in argument in the social sphere might not be.

I don't think qualitative and quantitative change are at all interchangeable
in the Marxist usage of dialectics. Qualitative change produces a completely
new thing ie: socialism replaces capitalism. Power is transferred from one
class to another. I do think it's true that a whole series of quantitative
change, welfare reform, workers rights, greater democracy, the fight against
racism all play an important and necessary role in moving towards socialism.
But these quantitative changes do not gradually add up to the qualitative
change of socialism - of course this is the historic debate between reform
and revolution. The problem with this debate is when it becomes as it has a
thing in itself that divides those who fight for reform from those who fight
for revolution - an unnecessary divide for the most part.

     --- from list marxism at ---


More information about the Marxism mailing list