Dialectics of Nature

Hinrich Kuhls kls at unidui.uni-duisburg.de
Sat Sep 14 03:21:37 MDT 1996

In his post *Adam Rose's "exposure" of Hans Ehrbar*,
dated  Fri, 13 Sep 1996, Hans Ehrbar put it the wrong way once again:

>Let me say it again: Marx did not need to be a philosopher; he had his
>worldview buried deep in his head, an invisible compass which allowed
>him to develop extremely relevant revolutionary science.  But for
>those of us who are not Marx or Lenin it may be helpful to make these
>unspoken philosophical premises explicit.  This is what Bhaskar is
>about.  He sees the philosopher as the "underlaborer" of the

Marx had neither an *invisible compass* nor a *worldview* in his head, nor
any first principle or genius insight in his brain, when he was developping
scientific socialism. For socialists the proof of the pudding of their
materialism is the ability to answer the following question without relying
on a deus ex machina: Why and how was Marx able to decipher the two-fold
character of labour?

"I was the the first to point out and to examine critically this two-fold
nature of the labour contained in commodities. .. This point is the pivot on
which a clear comprehension of Political Economy turns." [Capital, vol. I,
p. 49]

Was it that Marx had to resort to Hegel, or was it rather a specific
historical situation where the real social movement enabled him to abstract
and to formulate the internal structure of capitalist societies and hence to
open the insight into the connection of society, nature, and thought?

Characteristically, Hans overlooked the few hints which Adam touched in his

Scientific socialism or the System of Critique of Political Economy do not
need at all any philosophy as a road-bed. Philosophers may consider
themselves as "underlaborers" of science, but it is obvious that both
natural sciences and social sciences will sway at once without empirical

We even don't need *these unspoken philosophical premises*, neither in an
implicit, nor in an explicit form. Once scientific socialism has been
formulated in its outlines, there is a connecting thread for future
generations. As Engels put it: Acquire Marx' System of Critique of Political
Economy, apply it in analyzing a given period of contemporary history within
a concrete country, and develop appropriate political tactics of the
proletarian movement!

Nowadays we still have to add: continue to reconstruct scientific socialism,
and continue to fight its trivialization!

Actually I am not very interested in this discussion on philosophy of
science at this moment, nor do I have the time to do this in a more extended
way. [A collective examination of the situation of classes in an
international comparison - this would be my favourite topic in the next
round of a responsible list discussion.]

And those who visit the Marx-Engels-Internet-Archives from time to time may
know that Hans and I belong to the bunch of Marxists who share a common goal
in bringing Marx' Capital to the Web.

I intervened into this banter on Capital, dialectics, and philosophy of
science at this turning point of *Marxism space* because I think it is of
some political significance to point to the fact that one of the most
enthusiastic members of the Spoon Collective with some influence on how to
provide and shape these lists is a supporter of a bourgeois understanding of
methodology. This has nothing to do with an "exposure", as Hans tried to
talk us into believing by changing the subject line of this thread, but it
is a political point of matter to some extend - at least in this tiny box of
the real world.

Hinrich Kuhls


Hans put another question in his post:

>>Hinrich writes:
>>> HK> Best joke I've ever read on this list: the ordinary mortals are
>>> HK> only able to understand Marx' Capital if reading Bhaskar.
>>Hans defends himself:
>>> This was a secret reference to Lenin, who wrote in his philosophical
>>> notebooks that nobody had ever understood Capital because they did not
>>> know Hegel's Logic.
>I did not mean this so much as a defense of *myself* by appealing to
>Lenin's authority, but I was questioning Hinrich's motivations for his
>laughter: were you laughing out loud too when you read Lenin's
>philosophical notebooks, Hinrich?

As all *secret references* this, too, is a crooked one. I can't comment on
equating Bhaskar and Lenin, as I don't know Bhaskar's writings. But as far
as Lenin is concerned my views have been on the record since 1972. Within
the 2nd International it was he who was most determined to fight
trivialization of scientific socialism.

Lenin insisted on working out non-sectarian political tactics of the
proletarian party and defended Marx' differentiation into different general
political tactics for countries with developed resp. non-developed
capitalistic relations of production.

Lenin is not an icon. There are shortcomings: his understanding of
scientific findings of nature, his resorting to a "genius idea" when
explaining the genesis of Marxian theory, his misinterpretation of Capital,
his explanation of opportunism and class-consciousness.

Hence as far as Lenin wrote that nobody had ever understood Capital because
they did not know Hegel's Logic he clearly was wrong. You do not need any
philosophical system as a precondition of understanding the anatomy of the
bourgeois society.

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