Christopher Hill

Charles Brown BrownBingb at
Sun Mar 16 12:53:41 MST 2003

From: "David Quarter" <davidquarter at>


> CB: As I said, disagreeing with Marx that capitalism originated in class
> antagonism is to disagree with the most fundamental idea and empirical
> demonstration in his work.

DQ:I never said that that I do.  I'm suggesting that it's all right if you
do. I'm suggesting that calling oneself a Marxist might mean
different things for differnet people. It seems rather sectarian to
suggest that only your way is the highway.  I'm also suggesting
that if, through more sophisticated means of investigation,
elements of the Marxist theory are further proven false, I shouldn't
make someone non-Marxist, or anti-Marxist. The theory descends
in dogma when this occurs.


CB: It's alright if you disagree that capitalism originated in class
struggle, but it is not Marx's famous position, so it would be a very
misleading use of language to call oneself a "Marxist", that's all. It would
be like call oneself an Einsteinian and completely disagreeing with the
relativity theory.  No, it is not an example, "my way or the highway". It is
"why call your position "Marxist" if it is the opposite of Marx's position ?
" It's alright to have the position but it acting like the character in
_Alice in Wonderland_ who says words mean whatever I want them to mean. Sort
of soloptisticm , indifferent to communicating clearly with others.

No the issue here is not that of investigation showing Marx's position to be
false. I specifically addressed that. If Ed George has evidence that Marx's
empirical claim is false , then say _Marx_ is wrong, not that Hill etc. are
wrong. And then further , why would you be a Marxist , if Marx is wrong ?


I think that Marx's stage model theory as applied to all of human
history, which was very much popularized by Lenin after Marx's
death,  is false. I think that it is somewhat applicable to the
development of capitalism in western europe, but has little bearing
on the rest of the world (as history has basically shown). Marx's
admitted this much on  different occasions in his writing on Asia
and in his correspondence with Russian social revolutionaries.  I
think there was two sides to Marx -- the stage model, determinist,
side, and the more empirically minded, historically specific side,
and that only the latter Marx should be taken seriously.


CB: I think he calls it "modes of production" , not "stages".  I am not aware
of Lenin "popularizing" a "stage" model as applied to human history outside
of the areas that Marx applied it to.  What work by Lenin are you referring
to ?  There are a number of anthropologists who have used mode of production
analysis outside of Europe. I think Professor Ruyle may be on this list.

Ironically , or whatever, the whole world _is_ becoming capitalist now, so
the pertinence of Marx's analysis of capitalism _is_ global. All the other
modes have been forced into the final "stage" of The Manifesto.  Regardless
of the histories of the various societies over the last 5,000 years, we are
all capitalists now.

I don't know why one would want to hang on to the
> label "Marxist" in that case.

Are Marxist Leninist "real marxist"? Many don't consider them so.
And many Marxist Leninist don't consider the followers of Trotsky
"real marxists" either. So, who is right?


CB: That's not the issue here. The question on this thread is whether it
makes sense to call oneself a Marxist if one doesn't think capitalism
originates in class struggle. It is not the same sort of question as the one
you pose. It is not a question of trying to expel anybody from the ranks of
the "Marxists" , this list or some party , etc. It is an honest question as
to why someone would use the word "Marxist" in such a way. I'm not trying to
stop Ed George from calling himself a Marxist. I'm trying to figure out how
he reconciles what seem to me to be a contradiction in his thinking.


I don't think Marx was as clear in his writing as a lot of poeple --
including yourself perhaps? --make him out to be.


CB: One think he tried to be very clear on is the issue we are discussing,
because he was a man of action. To organize mass action in class struggle, he
had to be clear on his position on this issue: The proletariat had to carry
out its historic mission, and it was a historic mission because of the role
of class struggle in history as the basis of revolutions. Clearcut. Lets go.


It becomes confusing when you use the name
> "Marxist" and reject the central principle of Marxism.>>>>

You're putting words in my mouth.


CB: Substitute "one" for "you".


Sort of like the
> British "Labour" Party now.>>>>>

  NOt at all. The comparison is insulting.


CB: I think the problem is that you are arguing in favor of a position that
you evidently don't hold.


  It would be clearer to get another name,
> "post-Marxist" or something>>>>

  I suggest a name for yourself: stubborn Marxist, rigid Marxist,
vulgar Marxist? Take your pick.


CB: No, I'm a regular Marxist. Well, actually I started out on these lists
calling myself a vulgar Marxist in contrast with the fancy Marxists
,post-Marxists,post modernists. So, I'll accept that one.

But Marxism is not rigid. It is dialectical and revolutionary. Change is
absolute for Marxism, so rigidity is inaccurate. It is stubborn about holding
on to the fundamental principles regarding the role of class struggle. So, in
that sense, yes stubborn like Marx and Engels in the face of erosion of the
basic concepts by bougeois influences, of course.

, if you wanted to indicate that you had developed
> out of Marxism, turned into its opposite or whatever - "anti-Marxism" ?
 I appreciate the suggestion, but no thanks!
 In terms of classless society, there are non-Marxist socialists. Use
> "socialist" .>>>>
I prefer Marxist.


CB: On this thread, you are being incomplete in your discussion if you do not
declare your position on Ed George's thesis as to the origin of capitalism.
Otherwise, you are arguing like a shadow,not out in the open.

But to disagree with Marx on class antagonism as the motor of
> change is to be definitively a non-Marxist socialist. >>>>

  I never said that.


CB: Never said what ? That you disagree that class antagonism is the motor of
change ? That you agree with Ed George ? That Ed George doesn't contradict
that ? What ? You are arguing in the corners of the main issue in the thread.
 Too cute, fancy. Get a bit more vulgar, mate.

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