evolutionism vs. historicism

snnoonan snnoonan at SPAMmsn.com
Wed Dec 27 23:35:48 MST 2000


Charles,

I don't think the distance between our positions is that great. I agree that
capitalism will end. I agree that capitalism has a formal tendency towards
socialism. The geographic incorporation of new regions, automation, growing
organic composition of capital, scientific advances, concentration and
centralization of capital, growing social and technical division of labor,
the "inevitable tendency" for the rate of profit to decline are all elements
of capitalism that point the possibility of socialism.  But all of these are
formal necessities, matters of establishing preconditions for the
realization of socialism but aren't sufficient to bring about socialism
concretely.

so socialism, like capitalism before it, is not inevitable.

The concrete realization of socialism requires the actualization,
realization and suppression (aufhaben) of  the working class.
The working class has to be successful in abolishing itself.  The
substantive content of socialism is not inevitable even as its material and
organizational prerequisites are an inevitable tendency of the capitalist
mode production.  As Marx wrote in capital the fact that use-value and
exchange-value have not an atom in common provides a formal condition for
the possibility of crisis of accumulation but it does not necessitate any
particular crisis be it temporary or systemic. The commodity-form contains
the potential for its own negation but not the actualization of that
negation.  Take the declining rate of profit, it is the central long term
economic tendency of total social capital and yet it is simultaneously a key
cause of technical and financial innovations, sectoral and spatial shifts in
investment and a primary force in the expansion of the marketing and sales
sectors as capital seeks to shorten  turnover time. With all of these
important processes occurring in complex and contradictory relations
associated with the declining rate of profit it is still true that the end
of capitalism is formally necessary, but the statement is true at such a
level of abstraction I'm not sure how useful it is.   Especially since the
crucial question of what will replace it will only be answered in the
concrete practice of class struggle and is not contained within the economic
logic of capital itself.

And yes, I have read a few things on dialectics. Enough to know that
couching a position in dialectical terminology is not the same as grasping
the processes of the dialectic itself.

Are you familiar with the poster to this list named Chris? He (?) does not
have an understanding of contingency and necessity  that involves tendencies
of the dialectic or of determined and derterminant relations, but rather
holds a position that feudalism could yield capitalism as its only
historical outcome or at least given enough time capitalism had to emerge,
clearly a teleological position. Are you familiar with the mistakes (both
theoretical and political) of the 2nd International and Soviet state
socialism that were couched in terms of necessity and inevitability?  There
were underlying class motives for those arguments but the arguments
themselves were inaccurate and contributed to the sapping of the political
strength of the working class.

I won't reply to future posts on this since I've got to un-sub for a week or
two Thanks to Nestor, George and Jurriaan for their thoughts on
evolutionism and historicism.

Thanks to Yoshie for the Benjamin quotes, very sharp.

Sean Noonan
snnoonan at email.msn.com















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