[Marxism] Yoshie's evolution

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Dec 2 07:30:01 MST 2006

About a month ago, I invited Yoshie back to the list. She didn't even 
answer my email. My first reaction was that she felt too insulted to 
rejoin. Over the ensuing month, I have modified my views. I now 
believe that she has begun to throw whatever Marxist baggage she once 
had overboard and has no interest in defending the kind of views here 
that she is now putting forward on Doug's list or on PEN-L. This is 
how she began a post titled "Time to Get Religion":

"The Marxist tradition once had a world view, a world view (more 
specifically a philosophy of history) of inevitable dialectical 
progress, from pre-capitalism, to capitalism, to socialism, the world 
view that the Marxist tradition borrowed in part from Christianity 
and in part from liberalism. It no longer does, though it remains 
useful as it supplies a theoretical framework and analytical tools. 
Since the world view of inevitable dialectical progress was manifestly out
of this world, the Marxist tradition, as a theory, may be said to 
have improved as a result of the loss of that world view."


Reading this, I really have to scratch my head and ask what kind of 
Marxism she had been reading to reach this conclusion. Daniel DeLeon? 
God only knows.

As far as "inevitable dialectical progress" is concerned, I can only 
cite Paul Sweezy whose legacy she flouts on a daily basis:

Paul Sweezy turned 85 last year and the latest Monthly Review is 
evidence that he is as sharp as ever. I recommend this issue for his 
short but very profound commentary on the Communist Manifesto. Also 
valuable are Harry's and Ellen Meiksins Woods' comments. The three 
pieces were presentations made originally at the latest Socialist 
Scholars Conference.

On the occasion of Sweezy's most recent reading of the CM, he was 
struck by the following famous paragraph:

"The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class 
struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, 
guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, 
stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an 
uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, that each time ended, 
either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in 
the common ruin of the contending classes."

What could Marx be referring to when he speaks of the "common ruin of 
the contending classes?" In Sweezy's view, this eventuality could be 
the ecological ruin of the world if capitalism is not overthrown. 
Such a catastrophic ending--with the looming threat of global 
warming, species extinction, etc.--would not only make life unlivable 
for the workers, but the rulers as well. His proposal is that the 
Marxist movement orient toward the scientific community in order to 
join forces against this danger. This sage's call for a red-green 
synthesis should be heeded by all of us who are committed to Marxism:

"Already, a very large section of the world's scientific community is 
fully aware of the seriousness of the ecological threat facing the 
planet, but what is not widely recognized is that the cause of the 
threat is capitalism itself. Bourgeois economics seeks to hide or 
deny this fact. No wonder. If it were generally understood, 
capitalism would soon be identified for what it is, the mortal enemy 
of human kind and many other forms of life on the planet. In these 
circumstances, our responsibility is not only to help the ecologists 
to get their message across, important as it is, but to convince the 
ecologists themselves as well as the public at large of the truth 
about capitalism, that it must be replaced by a social system that 
puts the life giving capacity of the earth as its first and highest 
priority. As the unfolding of capitalism's deadly consequences 
proceeds, more and more people, including 'bourgeois ideologists who 
have raised themselves to the level of understanding the historical 
movement as a whole,' will come to see what has to be done if our 
species is to have any future at all. Our job is to help bring this 
about in the shortest possible time."

  full: http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/ecology/sweezy.htm 

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