Exchanges on Marxism and ecology

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Fri Oct 22 09:23:22 MDT 1999

>>> bernie wool <bernard.wool at> 10/21/99 06:47PM >>>
Marx and Positivism

by David Hookes

This is the summary of a talk given at the International Socialist Forum


It is important locate any philosophical discussion within a concrete historical
context. This is in keeping with Marx*s own dictum in the Theses on
Feuerbach that
"Previously philosophers have only interpreted the world, the task however is to
change it". In this spirit, I list some of the relevant issues that confront
all those who
wish to build an effective movement for socialism:


4. There is a positive feedback between these new technologies and the development of
the understanding of nature. The greater understanding of nature leads
improved technologies, which lead to a better understanding of nature, and so on. This
process has continued rapidly to accelerate in last couple of decades.
It is
commercially driven by the intensification of competition between different sections
of capital thus leading to the highly unstable situation of the global
capital system
at present.

Charles: I have to tend to the side of those who protest that Marxists are always only
talking about the instability and crisis of capitalism. I certainly believe there will
arise another capitalist crisis because of its inherent and internal tendencies. But
the current period marks enormous growth, stability and , yes, triumph , for world
capitalism relative to the world proletariat, and especially in the Belly of the Beast
in the U.S.. And they are using  the current revolution in science and technology very
efficiently and consciously to maintain their current advantage over the working
class. Look at the successful Blitzkriegs on Yugoslavia, Iraq or Panama based on
satellite guided and other precision weaponry. The management of the U.S, economy is
the quintessence effective  bourgeois economic theory at this point, based in part on
computers which make possible rapid movement of funds and financial whatevers, just to
keep things from falling off the wagon on Wallstreet an!
d in the funds of the richest in the world. The bourgeoisie may be able to steal
elections with all the computerization of them and  dominance of the most advanced
computer engineers. Electronic, Big Brother surveillance and spying capability on
workers, consumers, just plain people has exploded exponentially. DNA is used as a
revolution in "crimi"nology and  authoritarian control. The developments of "goods"
gadgetry has created an explosion in the  level of commodity fetishism in the sense of
mysterious hypnotism of consumers/workers and therefore many hours of mindless
existence disinterested in political or social issues. A major form of this is
religion as the opiate of the male masses who can watch sports events on television
for about their entire lifespans except for breaks to go to the bathroom and work.
These are just a few examples.

I think this will destabilize, but it may be after the long run when we are all dead
and in the next generation. Capitalism has stabilized itself more than anytime in its
history. There is less challenge to capitalism than ever before.


8. The cacophony of squabbling sects representing the allegedly anti-Stalinist
revolutionary socialist movement * each sect existing in its own hermetically
universe of discourse, "knowing" that it and it alone has the key to building the
"revolutionary party". Out of desperation for new members and influence
they attempt
to form alliances, with paper-thin protestations of the need for open comradely
democratic discussion. Meanwhile, no doubt, they report back to their
respective central
committees on the possibilities for recruitment of a new layer of paper sellers.


Charles: This rings true, unfortunately.


9. The clear need for a mass party of the working class for socialism built by the
working class not for the working class by an elite group of revolutionary
Such a party will be internationalist at its core due to the character of the class
whose interests its pursues.


Charles: The paradox of this is that the author of this seems to "know-a-lot".


10. There are many rich opportunities for building such a party present today during
the intensifying crisis * the crisis of "the social metabolic processes"
to quote
Istvan Meszaros [1] * of the global capital production system, its manifest inability
to create a viable future for the human species.


Charles: I'm all ears, but the following discussion of positivism does not seem much
concerned with developing a party .  It is an informative analysis of the history of
positivism, but it seems to contradict its critique of the Leninist party as elitist
and intellectuals controlling, because clearly this is written by an intellectual; and
even more it fails to see that Lenin's demand to more tightly link philosophy with the
party rather than leaving philosophy as some elite knowledge distant from masses of
people is more fulfillment of the propositions above than the approach of the author.
Lenin's "vulgarity" is actually his concern that philosophy be discussed in a way that
has at least some chance to be comprehended by masses , by others than technical
philosophy professors.


I believe a central issue is the concept of the "revolutionary vanguard party" and its
malign influence on the development of the socialist movement,
particularly the
disastrous consequences for the Russian revolution. I also believe that the origin of
this tragic mistake lies in the French revolution, which ascribed
importance to the role of a revolutionary intellectual elite, those who can apply
reason to society as a whole. This was given philosophical form in the
philosophy of



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