Hans and Bakhsar : Dialectics on its head

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
Mon Sep 16 21:08:44 MDT 1996

At 11:03 AM 9/16/96 +0000, you wrote:
>There is a dialectical relationship between theory and mass movements.
>But the movement came first, in an actual historical sense, and also
>in a political sense, that the only test of theory is in practice.
>practice is the base of theory, and also stands above theory as its
>final arbiter.
>Hans puts theory above practice, and methodology above theory, and he uses
>Bhaskar to do so.
>I do not know if this is a fair use of Bhaskar, since I have not read
>Bhaskar. But it seems to me that Hans uses Bhaskar to put dialectics
>back on its head.
>Gary, is it possible to use Bhaskar otherwise ?
>And if it is possible, has it ever been done ?
>If so, give evidence - otherwise I shall continue to view Bhaskar in the
>same way as I would other fantasy aids - useful, but only for fantasies.

Bhaskar as a fantasy aid??!!?? How desperate and dateless do you think I am
, Adam Rose?
On second thoughts you'd  better not answer that.

But in truth once again yours is a serious question that deserves more than
I  can give it. Let me try a  little.

Now you pose the question of theory and praxis and then you cover what is a
linear approach (first the movement the theory) with the  word
"dialectical".  Sleight of hand I think, Adam. Truly.  Moreover  I link it
to the organization background we both share.

The best thing and the  ting that attracted me was IS's activism.  the 'up
and at them' the 'on s'engage et puis on voit' approach.  IS theory such as
it was and is seems to me to rest on two pillar - State Capitalism and the
Permanent Arms Economy.

Both I think are only partially sufficient.  Certainly State Capitalism seem
woefully inadequate today since the collapse of the soviet Union.

But we need to continually advance theory.  We do need to go beyond the
fetishization of activism.  To do that we desperately need to once more
begin to conquer the intellectual ground.

If I had time I would try and document the thesis that the Bolsheviks grew
in the swamp of the progressive movements of the late nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries.  There were countless debates and arguments won before
Lenin could stand up and proclaim "All power to the Soviets".

At a recent Marxism conference I replied to a critics m from a brilliant
Socialist Alet4rnative speaker.  He wanted to know "what is to be done?"

I said that we had to begin to excite the  imagination of people once more.
and that we Leftists had not excited anyone for years.

well if you lead with your chin like that you get whacked and I  was accused
of being excessively autobiographical.

But my point is a serious one.  We have to dare to be innovative.  when I
started reading Althusser the IS Honcho here Tom O' Lincoln advised me to
stop.  He feared for the future of the  sect of course or  maybe he was
worried about my  fantasy level.

Trust me Adam you will not go blind from reading Bhaskar.

What you will find is a challenge  to dominant philosophical notions.  You
will also find a trenchant commitment to ontology and that as I read the
conjuncture we are in is a good deal more useful than say the State
Capitalist thesis.

Sorry  this rambled.

fond regards


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