[Marxism] Quiting Marxism, embracing what?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Dec 1 18:17:16 MST 2006

>You are operating on a deeply dogmatic assumption that theory has a
>direct link to practice and that if practice fails the theory is wrong.
>But practice can fail for innumerable reasons -- and more often or not
>from reasons outside the control of the actors. Before you elaborate a
>huge aery and quite academic theory about the relation of theory to
>practice 1960-2006 you have to prove that  a different theory would have
>made a difference, and I don't think it would have. The burden of proof
>is on you.
>What is a theory of history supposed to provide? Directions on which
>side of the bed to get up on and when to blow your nose?

Yeah, I'll get into this in much more depth when I finish writing 
this swans.com article on "Does Socialism Have a Future," but one of 
the most aggravating things about Gabriel Kolko's aggravating book is 
that it blames "theory" for everything that went wrong with 
socialism. Specifically, he says that the 19th century had an 
infatuation with theorizing of the kind found in Hegel's philosophy 
but it could be found everywhere, including Marx who was deeply 
influenced by Hegel. So, all the problems with socialism are rooted 
in excess theorizing. We have to cut out all that gosh-darned 
theorizing. I kid you not. This is what a professor emeritus from 
York University has to tell us poor benighted souls. If you ever hear 
this kind of stupidity coming out of me, you have permission to beat 
me over the head with a day old herring until I am unconscious.

This is not about fucking THEORY. It is about the contingencies of 
history that have wended their way here and there in unexpected ways. 
Ideas don't shape history--blind economic forces do. All socialists 
can do is get in the saddle and try to ride this unruly beast. We get 
thrown from time to time, but we must dust ourselves off and get back 
in the saddle again.

Aaah, I'll have more to say about this in my response to Stan and 
even more when I write this swans article. 

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