Chris Sciabarra's Attempt to Reverse-Engineer Marx
jamal at bronze.lcs.mit.edu
Wed Sep 20 01:19:52 MDT 1995
Chris M. Sciabarra says:
> I am deeply impressed with Marxism as an
> intellectual project, even though I am, yes, a libertarian
> "capitalist" pig.
The impressment is the same kind of thing I hear from capitalists
who say they are impressed by Che Guavera, or Ho Che Mihn, or George
Orwell... they admire the genius but wish they were not socialists.
.. and go to task attempting to skim whatever they can from
what these people have done or said, and apply it to capitalism.
That's how capitalism works, after all.. everything is seen
as a commodity or something profitable, or, if it's a threat
to capitalism, the threat must be negated or absorbed. It's
The only other reason for saying one is "impressed" by Marx for one
who is actually opposed to Marx is to "stroke the backs" of those who
would be put off by your hostile presence. Sure, you're
slick.. you know that so long as you smile and act nice,
you can go on doing what you do, and look innocent: presistantly
saying that all socialism is authoritarian, and your version
of capitalism is not.. presistantly forming arguments to show that
this nuance or that nuance of Marx or Engle's writing (or anyone elses)
crypticly reveals the inevitably of some future "tyranny". But
again, we wont be permitted to return to libertarianism's roots,
which were in the left, not the right. capitalists, like yourself,
Chris, stole the word "libertarian" from the socialists.
> I've had many spirited discussions with my Marxist
> colleagues, all of whom, you might be surprised to learn, do
> not simply dismiss libertarian ideas.
It is the phony "libertarian" _capitalist_ ideas we reject, not
the original libertarian _socialist_ ones, which are all laid out
quite clearly in the original anarchist writings.
> In case you haven't
> heard, central planning collapsed in the 20th century.
Gee, didnt I just make that clear? But youre still playing the same
game, Chris.. pretending not to hear when it's made clear that many
on the left are in fact less authoritarian than capitalists like
yourself, which you cannot imagine, or accept.
> on "public property" owned by "everyone" and therefore, no
> one, that the environment has been most ravaged for private
In a world where those who own private property are allowed complete
exploitive "freedom", the pollutants and wastes would (as is repeatedly
demonstrated) be thrown where all those who are not competitive enough,
not cut-throat enough, or just not lucky enough to have the property
would live. Animals, of course, have no voice from which to speak,
so the ocean and the deserts and the wilderness are made dumping
grounds more easily.. but it's not so easy when people live
there.. people resist.
> of the Rothbardian synthesis troubling. But Jamal, he IS a
> libertarian. That label was owned by the original liberal
> left long before the socialists co-opted it.
Nope. Rothbard wasnt even dignificant at the
time of the Spanish declaration of Libertarian Communist
principles, circa 1936, by the CNT. And there were many uses
of the term by the revolutionary left before then. The label
came from the left, and has been co-opted by capitalists like
Rothbard and yourself. But, neither of you are libertarians.
> (It will be
> remembered that in the French Assembly, the liberals sat on
> the Left; it was the socialists and feudal aristocrats who
> sat on the right!)
Wrong again. At that time "liberal" and "socialist" were indistinguishable.
But since you equate "fascist" and "socialist" in modern-day right-libertarian
doublespeak, you place the statists with the feudal aristocrats and
call them socialists. This is just like claiming Jefferson
or Spooner was a capitalist "libertarian". Nope. At that time, the
distinction between "individualist" and "socialist" was not really
in existence. And in fact, these individualists criticized capitalism.
"liberal" referred to all of those who opposed the aristocracy,
and this of course _included_ the socialists and excluded the
aristocracy and the church. Liberalism eventually split
when it became clear that what capitalism meant was that
liberals would be tyrants: capitalists.. rulers over other men's
lives. Some liberals choosing to make some amends to those
they exported in some token way: _but still remaining capitalists_.
Libertarianism, on the other hand, was what the poor (who were soon
betrayed by the liberals they fought with in the French Revolution)
is another word for "Anarchism" which developed as an ideological
stand in which private property would be abolished, but not with
an authoritarian, hierarchical means and ends in mind. Why use another
word? Because "Anarchism" was fully demonized by the early 1900's
and in some countries it was illegal to use the word "Anarchist"
as the name of a publication or group, due to the "Propaganda by
Deed" movement and it's violent underpinnings, which the capitalists
took full advantage of for propaganda purposes against the left.
Obviously if you can convince people that "libertarian" is a word that
refers to capitalism, and that anti-capitalists have no claim to it,
then there are no apparent choices other than statism or capitalism.
This is akin to the way large companies will produce many versions
of the same product, with different brand-names... the same ingredients
but different labels. I will not accept your attempt at limiting my
Sometimes I wonder if the Haymarket Martyrs died in vain..
their speeches spoke passionately of the equivalence of revolutionary
socialism and deep principles of liberty and freedom. The abolishment
of private property is the achievement of liberty for all. But of
course, with folks like you calling yourselves "libertarian", it's
no wonder this history has been obscured... forgotten.. perverted.
> I am not hiding from the more "blatent (sic) Libertarian
> Party politics by claiming to be a `small l' libertarian ..."
> First of all, I am not a card-carrying member
It is not belonging to a party that I am criticizing, it is the ideological
position which you espouse.. that private property in the hands of those who
can get it, is what leads to "liberty" and "freedom". (the "Free market")
It is the "small l" libertarianism which I am criticizing, and whether
you are in the Libertarian Party or not is not the point. (the Party is
simply more visible.) Who cares if you are in the Libertarian Party?
The point is, youre politics suck. The conclusions and reccomendations
mean that people will suffer. You invoke the "Gulag", (a standard
"libertarian" capitalist practice) but ignore Indonesia, or Bohpohl,
or the wage-slaves of the Robber Barrons. Using the argument that
you are not responsible for the actions of the Libertarian Party or
the Republican Party does not free the capitalism of which you cherish
from it's intimate connection to and responsibility for these crimes.
> statists and warfare statists of both parties, with the
> totalitarian left and the theocratic right.
The way you place "welfare statists" in the same category as tyrants
also shows your deep class hatred. Welfare was intended to help
people.. and before capitalists strangled it.. railroaded it and sabotaged
it.. it _did_ work. It was a noble effort by the social democrats..
but, as we can see, social democracy is not strong enough to allow such
things from being destroyed and ground under capitalism's heel.
As a libertarian socialist, I feel it is no use to support welfare
programs.. _because_ if you do not eliminate capitalism, capitalism
will always eventually destroy welfare. It's quite simple.
Libertarianism, as a word, has it's true roots in revolutionary anti-
capitalism. A socialism that accepts that the individual knows what
is best for themselves.. and the individual worker's interests do not
rest in his or her own exploitation, and alienation, which capitalism
afflicts upon him or her. The true libertarian would instantly
reject capitalism, as would the true egoist, and the true individualist:
because capitalism is about being exploited, or exploiting someone else.
About being coerced, and coercing others.
> negative-labels than `utopian'. Good try though." Hey,
> Jamal, I believe that Marx was one of the most brilliant
> theorists in the history of social thought, even if I don't
> agree with many of his substantive theories.
> Methodologically speaking however, he is a master from whom
> many lessons can be extracted.
Right, and of course your whole point of studying Marxism is to find
out how it can be used to strengthen capitalism. How's it's process,
it's arguments, and so on might be used to insure greater profits
for capitalists, and how capitalists might more easily defeat Marxism
when it finally shakes off it's current coat of dogma and lack of
flexibility which paralyzes it.
We can expect to see more and more similar things to the capitalist
"libertarian" individuals. More aspects of the left used to apply
to the right. More promises and illusions and tricks. More symantec
and linguistic traps and mazes, built by folks like yourself. Be
as smug as you want about it Chris, but some of us know what you're
> express." WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. Many on the left DO share
> epistemic premises about the future communist society that
> ARE utopian; but this does not invalidate many of their very
> sound views in the areas of social economics, methodology,
> and philosophy.
Youre "responses" are pretty empty. I notice how in every one of them,
you do not simply say "sure, I was wrong", but rather "many on the left
DO feel this way...", but of course offer no evidence, because it's not
true. It's only true in your imagination. You still characterize the left
as "religious" while holding yourself and your fellow capitalists
up as "realists". It's typical. The fact that you mention each of
my points does not mean you are somehow resolving the issues I'm
bringing up.. it just means you are echoing my quotations of yourself,
like a parrot.
> Ayn Rand at all; he and others should look at my new book,
> AYN RAND: THE RUSSIAN RADICAL (Penn State Press, 1995), which
I saw this book, and instantly recognized what it was: An attempt
to say that Rand was more Marxist than Marx, and to revise history.
Rand herself knew that even though she could make fun
of the propagandistic image of the "muscular worker" (she called
workers "muscular, mindless clods") she had to replace the image with
a muscular capitalist superman. To replace Marxism, (because Rand could
not destroy it) she created "Objectivism", which is, quite frankly,
a pro-capitalist perversion of "Marxism". (Objectivism would have
been more aptly named "Randism", but Rand, full of an arrogant
belief that since the Bolsheviks were "wrong" she must be the ultimately
"right") called her philosophy "Objectivism" (synonymous with
"Truthism"). What else is "Atlas" than in fact the worker oppressed
by the capitalist? But Rand altered the picture to make it appear that
the communist was oppressing "the individual". Instead of
Lenin's Question: "What is to be done?" Rand asks "What can one do?".
Furthermore, Rand even formed a core group of capitalist ideologs
called "The Collective". Is this all a coincidence? Somehow, I
seriously doubt it.
Of course, "the individual" Rand wrote about
represented only a handful of super-rich people.. but
romanticism has, intrinsic to it, the act of identifying with the
"hero" so that one actually believes they represent the fantasy figure,
rather than themselves. This is one reason Rand loved Romanticism so
much: Romanticism allows "everyone" to be "the individual" but obviously
"the individual" cannot be "everyone": "the individual" is only
"one" person, and usually not you or me. But.. Rand had to write
propaganda which was populist in nature, while still countering
the populism of Marxist writing, which was far more honest in
addressing the masses as they were: the masses. (instead of calling
the masses "the individual")
The other reason for Rand's attraction to romanticism was that when one is
daydreaming romanticly, they forget about the evils of capitalism.
Romanticism is the pill that puts the would-be middle-class-revolutionary
to sleep. (Brecht sought to break through the poisonous passification of
theater and movies.) Rand knew she could not win-over the poor.. she had to
convince the middle class intellectuals who had taken interest in Marx
that capitalism was more in their interests than communism. (and
when using the USSR as an example, of course, it's no contest.. but
you know that, dont you Chris?) This is why the first article about
Rand in the early 60's was called "Ayn Rand: Hipster on the Right?"
It was neccesary for the ruling class to try to trick the "hip"
youth into being herded back to capitalism ("hipness" basically meant not
only not being racist, but also not being a sucker for 50's capitalism's
Rand hated Communists with a passion. The Bolsheviks of Russia confiscated
her families property. She dedicated her life to destroying communism
and empowering capitalism with her writing. If one has figured this out,
then Rand's lifetime behavior, and her writing, is quite lucidly
understandable. (Otherwise it just looks like she's another philosopher,
or, one might even think with some delusionary bent that she actually
was "objective", and not deep in her own capitalist subjectivity.)
It's ironic, Chris, that you as a capitalist have chosen to take
on Marx and strip what you can from it to empower capitalism, much as
Rand has done. I can only feel deep disgust for even the best of the
"Communists" who have shunned Rand's writing, pretending she didnt
exist, would go away, or was not a concern. And I say SHAME on the
Communist Party USA for this, too. Everyone I spoke to from it had
this general reaction... "dont face it.. dont read it.. ignore it
and it will go away." If the Communists will lose the war of
ideas, it is their own laziness for which they have to blame.
I sent a package of information to the CPUSA as soon as I knew they
would be on the internet. I know even Gus Hall, chairman of the
Communist Party probably knew about this info. Did they read it?
Did they consider it? Nope. Evidently not. They come on the internet
and didnt even explore the culture and thinking which makes up
the ruling-class ideological presence here. (capitalist libertarians)
But you know how the (so-called) "Marxists" tick, dont you Chris?
You've been on this list for a year. Well, live it up, smartass.
> has been praised by none other than Bertell Ollman, who
> states: "Ayn Rand, a radical? A comrade of Marx,
> methodologically speaking? Libertarians and Marxists BEWARE,
The second I saw your book reviewed in the recent issue of "Non-Serviam"
I knew what it was.. yet another version of "Virtual Marxism". "Virtuality"
is the ultimate lie: that which is not in fact what it is. I saw that
you take great pains to convince the reader that Rand was "dialectical",
so of course if the modern intellectual wants to think dialecticly,
one could usher them into thinking in the Randian "dialectical"
way, and not the Marxist way, which would be distasteful to the
status quo. Marx cannot be buried. Marxism will never vanish from
human collective memory until well after revolution finally occurs.. or:
capitalists can manage to clone it and re-engineer it until Marxism
is no longer Marxism but capitalism. We can only expect this, in
our "post-modern" age of illusions, lies and banality.
- Jamal H.
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