questions for Chris Sciabarra

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri Aug 27 18:05:37 MDT 1999

David Welch wrote:
>I wouldn't consider it particularly suprising that Marx developed his
>theory on the basis of previous bourgeois theories of history. But what is
>left of Marxism after you remove the notion of higher and lower forms of
>society (ways of organising social labour) and of necessary social
>conflict between classes whose interests lay in these different forms.
>Aren't we then back to a moral appeal for socialism. As an aside, I have
>always considered it a powerful argument for Marxism that there was a
>period when the bourgeois too fought to establish their mode of

Two points, one procedural and the other substantive.

I am going to be drafting a "style guide" for the list that I will be
posting every month just to remind folks about certain standards we need to
follow. One of the main ingredients will be the need to avoid repeating the
entire post that one is responding to. There are 2 reasons for this. One,
it is a waste of bandwidth. Comrades in underdeveloped countries where
phone bills are high should not have to go through unnecessary downloading.
David should have clipped 90% of what wrote, but I am not going to make a
big thing about it because the rules are not in place yet. When they are, I
expect everybody to live by them, including me. The other is that makes
reading one's email tedious. One should not be expected to wade through an
ocean of text to get to the salient point.

On the substantive level, Marxism is certainly based on the notion that
revolutionary advances in the means of production are potentially
liberating. That is why I organized volunteers to train Nicaraguans,
Namibians, South Africans, Mozambiqueans, etc. to use high technology in
the form of computer systems, electrical engineering, etc.

My quarrel is with the idea that capitalism is a necessary stage prior to
socialism, or that capitalism can provide benefits of the sort described by
Marx in his early Herald Tribune articles on India. This bogus notion of
the "civilizing" benefits of capitalism is based on ignorance revolving
around the "Asiatic mode of production", etc. I also reject the idea that
capitalism has any sort of uplifting possibilities in the neocolonial world
today, an idea espoused by the late Bill Zimmer and LM magazine.

Marxism is about socialism--the sooner the better. Not promoting capitalist
development like training wheels on a bicycle for a six year old.

Louis Proyect

More information about the Marxism mailing list