[Marxism] Time and Reality

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Sun Aug 15 14:00:53 MDT 2004

This is a post I sent to the list on May 7, 1999 (prior to the
establishment of list archives I believe). There was an important
response to this post from Nestor, but I have apparently lost. I am
posting it now because it bears on the question of how important Marx's
study of Value (as a social relation) is for marxist politics. I find it
strange that Tony simply dismisses Volume I of _Capital_ as of no
importance, but I don't intend to argue with him directly.

Incidentally, both James S below and I could have been a bit gentler in
our response. The author of the original post agreed with us in his


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: An extension of Marxist history
Date: Fri, 07 May 1999 08:07:05 -0500
From: Carrol Cox <cbcox at mail.ilstu.edu>
To: marxism at lists.panix.com
References: <v04204e0ab358100f7b45@[]>
<003f01be9884$417452c0$ab2f91d0 at jnstewar>

I missed the post to which James S. is responding, but if his quotations
are representative that post was indeed deeply anti-marxist. I would
like to expand on both parts of James's comments.

(1) "Who says it's been unsuccessful?" This is excellent. Based on any
available historical as opposed to mechanically utopian evidence,
socialist revolution has in only a little over a century become a major
element in world history. It has been hugely successful. Quite aside
from the technology, this maillist would have been inconceivable in

(2) "The simple fact is that civilization is based on no such thing
["growth as a goal"]. If one were writing the ABC's of Marxism,
Proposition A would be: Capitalism introduced the growth as a goal into
human history, thereby subordinating human happiness (which exists in
the present) to the Future. Proposition B would be: The aim of socialist
revolution is to recapture the present as reality, which is to be
achieved only by destroying the reality of the future (growth).

It is true, of course, that capitalism is/was the most efficient method
of growth that ever has been and (we hope) ever will be devised. That is
why it must be destroyed to make room for humanity.

Note: An *Immediate* future is embodied in work. I make a sandwich, and
my eating of that sandwich in a minute or so is implicit in the making.
But that is not growth. That, in fact, is a virtual present. Capitalism
by making the sandwich a commodity deprives the making of it of any
meaning, for its meaning (if it has any) is only to be determined when
(first) it is sold and (secondly) the value (not worth) of the price is
discovered in a yet further future (the market for means of production
for the production of more sandwiches [growth]).

It is in that sense that under capitalism the Future is the Real, while
under socialism the Present will be the Real.


"James N. Stewart" wrote:

> <A different, fetal, explaination to why Socialist revolution has hitherto
> been unsuccessful.>
>     Whe says it's been unsuccessful?
> <Civilised society is based on one premise above all others: to grow. With
> this as our driving force, we find the means by which to accomplish this to
> the best of our ability, hence, now, we have capitalism: our best, most
> efficient way of <achieving growth at present.>

>     This is a charming nineteenth century approach to rationalization.  If
> it is what youth is thinking I can only suggest that education is in order.
> This appears to be just another version of viatlism.

>     The simple fact is that civilization is based on no such thing.  If this
> premise were true we would have had the industrial revolution in the
> vicinity of Jerico centuries ago.  What we observe, however, is that
> civilizion tends toward stability 9 or at least it tends to resist change)
> and tends not to grow much, if at all.  Growth, as such, is an element of
> capitalist ideology.  To posti that it is the essence of civilization is a a
> classic example of the reification of ideology.  Is it not?

>     Worse still, you assume a conclusion and select your evidence based on
> those conclusions.  This has been known traditionally as "begging the
> question,"  i.e. you borrow the question from the conclusions.  Not
> persuasive argumentation.

> "Don't put no constrictions on the people.  Leave 'em da hell alone."
> Jimmy Durante

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