Self Determination- Support It!

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Sat Aug 19 09:08:34 MDT 2000

Owen Jones wrote:

> >> Louis,
> >>
> >> is it dialectics to put everywhere a minus, where imperialists puts a
> >> plus (and vice versa)?
> >>
> >> Johannes
> >
> > No.
> >
> > Louis Proyect
>  (Big big sigh of relief for the clarification)
>  Everybody agreed?

As Engels points out in Anti-Duhring, Marx's *direct* references to
dialectics in *Capital* are in obserations at the *end* of a historical and
empirical argument. Marx *never* starts out with such a silly question as
"Is it dialectics?" The non-dialectical mode of thinking is often, I would
say usually, accompanied by a slinging around of the word "dialectics." To
begin a discussion by saying "X is non-dialectical" is almost (not quite but
almost) as bad as to begin a discussion by saying "X is stalinist."
It's also  usually a sign of bad things to come when an argument *begins*
with "X is non-historical" or "X is bourgeois," etc. The place for such
labels (in the rare occasions when there is a place for them at all) is at
the *end* not the beginning of an argument. So by getting agreement on a
negative answer to his question Owen does not advance his argument at all.
Rather, it tends to confuse the whole issue.

Let me then rephrase the argument leaving out the labels that try to turn an
empirical question into a question of high philosophy.

Is it sensible to put everywhere a minus, where imperialists puts a  plus
(and vice versa)?

Answer. It's always a good place to start -- and the burden of proof is
always on the one who disagrees.


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