[Marxism] Theory of Violence

daniel.evans920 at ntlworld.com daniel.evans920 at ntlworld.com
Sun Aug 26 07:34:25 MDT 2007

That last one was unreadable.  Why does it scroll all the 
way across the screen?  I've put return breaks at the end of
each line this time. Sorry.

Hi Haines,

Thanks for taking the time to give me your thoughts on 
this.  I am glad you think the syllogism is valid.  I think
it has been a long time coming.

You talk of the state being superstructural and I am not
sure where you are locating the government.  I am not sure
the state is superstructural. I think it is the military
instrument of the ruling class and definitely uses
violence as well as force.  For me the base is the class
struggle and the superstructure is the ideological
reflection of it, the consciousness of it, so I would 
probably locate the government there moulding the state to 
the ever-changing interests of the ruling class but 
sometimes being deflected a little from its course by the
struggle of the workers.  The ruling ideas are the ideas 
of the ruling class as we know (they have got all the 
money) but you seem to have the government down as neutral.

I am not sure why you say that only units of a certain size
can engage in politics.  Didn’t the feminists used to
say the personal is political and isn’t the patriarch usually the `harmony-preserving institution in the family?

I think you can have politics in archaic pre-state
societies, especially in times of hardship, in fact I think 
you can have politics in monkey troops.

As far as your wife’s violent assault is concerned,
politically she may believe that leaving dirty dishes round
the house for her to clear up is not fair and having 
explained that to you a thousand times she may have felt
the need to resort to violence to get that point across.  I
would have to study the concrete circumstances to be sure.
Needless to say, resorting to violence is a dangerous step
as, like war, it has its own logic which can easily get 
away from its initiator.

The observation that violence is the continuation of 
politics by other means I did point out is not a moral 
argument and does not mean that violence is wrong in any 
situation.  I’m merely trying to identify what it is.

>Besides my question about your syllogism itself, I'm uncomfortable
>seeing a syllogism being used as a substitute for social analysis. In
>other words, a syllogism cannot yield a social "theory", and formal
>logic can't be applied to such emergent processes as human
>society. We can't generate truths simply by manipulating words or
>by playing with logic. This, I believe, is a fundamental Marxist

I can’t imagine Marxism objecting to the drawing of conclusions.  Of course, as soon as a conclusion is drawn,
especially in social sciences, it immediately becomes 
historical in a sense and the question becomes where the
politics come from in the here and now.  Marxism has the
best answers to this question but having established the
fact of the conclusion, Marxism’s job is surely made
just that little bit easier.  The dialectic is that we 
could never have come to this now seemingly obvious and 
long over due conclusion without Marxism in the first place.

The idea that violence is the continuation of politics 
surely cuts through a lot of obscurantist nonsense about
violence being the product of human nature or evil or
mental illness etc. just as Clausewitz clarified the nature
of war.

I sense a moral objection as opposed to a reasoned one 
Haines and I am certainly very grateful for your thoughts.
What do you think?

Best wishes,


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