[Marxism] Models for the Latin American left

Charles Brown cbrown at michiganlegal.org
Tue Apr 11 06:34:07 MDT 2006

Mark Lause: Charles, if you're writing about something that is not
experienced,isn't that fiction?

CB: Interesting thought. There is writing about what we plan to do in the
future, which is not yet experienced, yet, I don't know that we would call
it fiction.  Discussions of socialism speak of things unexperienced , yet,
are they fiction ? Loaded question that.

Discussion of unity of theory and practice, in say _What is to be done ?_
addresses matters not yet experienced,with a plan to experiencing them, yet
it is usually not termed fiction, though its name is taken from a fictional
play by a materialist Russian playwright.

Here I am thinking of reading history as theory, previous experience and
practice as the source some theory for practice in the U.S. today. However,
I don't know if we can revive enthusiasm for some kind of Lincolnism in the
U.S. It is just a thought, as they say. Isn't there a revival of enthusiasm
for good ole American Laissez-Faire in the country today ? Why not the best
national nostalagia ?


  Precision really is essential if you want people to
be on the same page with you.  Otherwise, this can become a mere
exercise in playing with words....

CB: Indeed. I believe you are concerned about precision in the use of the
word "scholastic". I'm using it in the Marxist term of art sense, derived
from the Second Thesis on Feuerbach. By the way, there Marx does not say
anything is wrong with scholastic activity, theory not tested by practice.

Oh I see maybe the imprecision you perceive is not with respect to
"scholastic", maybe ?


On a related point, it seems to me that you are muddling "scholarly,"
"scholastic" and "scholasticism."  These are not the same things.  Marx
always strove to be scholarly in his research and get his facts right.He
didn't like scholasticism, which involved the medieval mind-set wherein
arguments would be made by quoting Scripture, Church Fathers,etc.  

CB: As I say I am using "scholastic" in the Marxist term of art sense as

The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is
not a question of theory but is a practical question. Man must prove the
truth - i.e. the reality and power, the this-sidedness of his thinking in
practice. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking that is
isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question. 

And probably , sorta

The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point
is to change it. 

Now, I just mentioned research on slaveholding in cities and industry
(scholarly work) and you counter with a Marx quote as the ultimate authority

CB; I don't think you are quite precisely portraying my responses. I also
sent Marx on the empirical question of slaves being ultimately limited in
industrial work capacity.  Fredrick Douglass was a mechanic at times. Sure,
_some_ slaves did industrial or manufacturing work. Louis Proyect and Jim
Blaut argue that the first capitalist industry was slave labor, but that is
not _modern_ industry , as defined by Marx in _Capital_. I think Marx's
argument is more persuasive than yours, because overall, there is a big
contradiction for the slaveowners when they have to educate slaves to the
level necessary for _modern_ industrial work.  The proletariat is more
literate than slaves or peasantry, because industrial labor requires a
certain skillset even in socalled unskilled labor. Reading leads to slave
revolt. Also, many tools in industrial plants can be use as weapons. Imagine
about 100 John Henrys with hammers and hot iron organized into plant


Hasn't that imprecision just led to inadvertently turning Marx upside down?

CB: Maybe or maybe you are thinking of Hegel :>)


Mark L.

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