[Marxism] Different periods, different politics

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Mon Mar 8 22:26:17 MST 2004

Marvin Gandall wrote:
> On the political level, being a pessimist implies all is hopeless and
> nothing will ever change.

(Just incidentally, I don't think you should engage in speculative
psychology of large numbers of people you do not know. Humans are not
that simple.)

Pessimism comes in more versions than are dreamt of in your philosophy,

I am a deep pessimist, myself, and I could put up an argument that Marx

We do not know whether socialist revolution is possible. We do not know
whether, even in the event of a socialist revolution, a socialist
society can be successfully built.

What we _do_ know is that there is no other alternative route to human
survival. Or to put it another way, there is no knowledge more certain
than that contained in Rosa Luxemburg's either/or: socialism or
barbarianism -- with the qualification that given the large element of
contingency in human history, it is possible that the alternatives are
barbarianism or barbarianism.

When the only hope is a remote hope, choose the remote hope no matter
how unlikely its realization.*

The capitalist classes will quite clearly choose utter destruction of
all (Marx: "mutual destruction of the contending classes") rather than
peacefully dissolve themselves. Moreover: Only a working class that has
gone through the process of making a revolution will be a class fit to
build socialism. (Marx: "revolutionising practice")

We know things will change, and in ways we cannot predict. We just can't
know whether we will like the change or not. But as a character in an
old Peter Arno cartoon puts it (he is sinking into quicksand), "I've got
half a mind to struggle."


*P.S. If you play bridge. If looking over the cards, only one possible
distribution will allow you to make the contract, play for that
distribution even if the odds are overwhelmingly against it.

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