Forwarded from Anthony (follow-up to Sid)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri Dec 7 15:44:12 MST 2001

Regarding social and individual consicousness, Marxist 'laws' and more.
Reply to Sid.

I think Sid and I have very different understandings of Marxism. Sid wrote,

"So what about the Marxist law of "social being determining social
consciousness" which you were implicitly referring to in your last post
about ethics being socially determined?"

In my view social being determines social consciousness only in an
indirect, and mediated way. In modern 21st century imperialist socieity,
wage workers frequently are not conscious that they are members of
something we call 'the working class'. Their consciousness is mediated by
all sorts of historic, cultural, and experiential factors - the collapse of
the Soviet Union for example. The same is true for all classes, and all
individual classes in society.

I rarely use the term 'law' in regard to social processes, although Marx,
Lenin and others did. I don't because the term is usually used too loosely.
Most of what most marxists call laws are 'tendencies' in my view.

Sid continued his post with the following,

"Now you speak of individual consciousness which is perhaps different from
the average social consciousness? If so, there appears to be two levels of
consciousness. One relative that is socially determined, and the other
absolute or individual which can be far ahead (or behind) of the social
norm or the social average. I hope that you realize, the point is not at
all trivial. The question then becomes what is the source from which this
individual consciousness arises and why is it different from the average
social norm."

I am not sure what you mean by "social consciouness". I usually use the
term to mean the dominant social consciousness of a society - not the
average social consciousness of a society. However, I raely use the term -
preferring to talk about class consciousness. by class consciousness I mean
the dominant consciousness regarding membership in a class, class self
interest, class solidarity, history, and future potential within a given
social class. So, for example, the working class of the United States is
not class conscious.

Many individual members of the working class in the United States however,
are class conscious.

Sid continued his thoughts by saying,

"You cannot get away by simply referring to the law of contradiction and
merely stating the two aspects."

Well, yes. I can. Social contradiction different class and individual
consciouness of society, and 'social consciousness' is determined by the
history of society.

As for Buddha and the Asiatic mode of prduction...

I don't think there ever was just one Asiatic mode of production - I think
Marx didn't really understand Asia and its history very well and was trying
to draw theoretical conclusions when he didn't have enough evidence.

I don't think that the mode of production in India at the time of Buddha
was backwards in relation to the modes of production existing in other
parts of the world - for example Europe - at that time.

And, I think that whatever and whoever Buddha really was (assuming he was a
real and not just legendary person), was certainly a product of his society
and his time.

All the best, Anthony

Louis Proyect
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