[Marxism] Just introducing myself

W. Galusso wgalusso at yahoo.com
Wed Jun 18 14:51:49 MDT 2008

Let me return to the first point, it's not necessary to choice between being "a marxist thinker" and "to activelly support working class fight" (I don keep in mind how it was formulated).
 You may be both a thinker and a militant for the cause of the working class.
The second point may be what I said tt for me is difficult to divorce theory and praxis. So in my perception a marxist involves both "activities"
Of course the share of each activity may vary not only by individuals but also by specific situations (social, historical, cultural, etc).
If I could think some criteria, those would be related to just that, and tt you took upp then you refered to the 11th tesis.
But I don't like to etablish some kind criteria to give a "marxist certificate", I prefer the perspective of an "open marxism", there even definition of what is "a marxist", may differ.

W. Galusso 
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--- On Tue, 6/17/08, Haines Brown <brownh at hartford-hwp.com> wrote:

From: Haines Brown <brownh at hartford-hwp.com>
Subject: Re: [Marxism] Just introducing myself
To: "W Galusso" <wgalusso at yahoo.com>
Date: Tuesday, June 17, 2008, 8:31 PM

> In fact I find difficult to imagine a "marxist thinker" that don
> try to promote the historical interests of the working class: theory
> and praxis should not be divorced (according to my understanding of
>  a marxist perspective)

I don't want to be contentious, for I agree with your point, but I
still believe the problem is real.

In historiography, in the natural sciences, in sociology, etc., it is
not difficult to encounter thinking inspired by Marx, but by people
who really don't appear to be members of the working class. And when
one encounters them directly, can appear to be either quite
indifferent to the working class or paternalistic. On the other hand,
there are plenty of folks who are regularly active in class struggle
who have neither studied Marx nor have any idea of what Marxism is
about. So I suspect it is a valid to ask what makes a Marxist
intellectual a part of the working class or what makes a labor
activist a Marxist? 

I wouldn't be inclined to say it is a matter of the amount or kind of
work they do. Intellectual work, even if it preoccupies one's time and
energies, seems not alien to membership in the working class. At the
same time, just because someone dedicates himself to the interests of
the working class does not make him a Marxist, and not just because he
is uneducated or unsophisticated, but because he does not define the
parameters of his effort in Marxist terms.

So what defines a Marxist? Given that Marxism is the only developed
ideology of the working class, one assumes that a Marxist is
relatively self-conscious and scientific in his understanding of the
situation of the working class under capitalism, even if that is not
always expressed in the person's writings or speech. It makes little
difference to one's Marxism if this outlook is, on one hand, an
esoteric technical issue or, on the other, is a crude embrace of some
elementary Marxist formulae or policies. This scientific outlook means
explicitly or implicitly adopting a materialistic monism and a
naturalistic methodology, and therefore arguably a scientific realist
view of things.

Besides a scientific presumption that our statements or actions have
truth value (vs deconstructionism, say), it seems that unavoidable is
a class analysis. For example, last evening I viewed a quite
interesting biography of Eleanor Roosevelt on TV. One can have no
doubt of her sincere and intense concern for the well-being of
ordinary people. These people are in fact the working class, but her
service was not to them as a class, but because they were relatively
disadvantaged. Am I on solid ground to suggest that a populist is not
a Marxist because people are not viewed in terms of social class--in
terms of their relation to the means of production, but in terms of
their empirical properties? Class obviously does not always have to be
the focus of our attention, but in the person's mind should there not
be this functional relation?

Finally,it seems that associated with essential Marxism is the idea
that the aim is not just to understand the world, but to change
it. That is, there must be a scientifically-justified hope that basic
change is possible and necessary, and that one's intellectual ventures
somehow, in some way, however remote, facilitate that socio-economic

Well, I'm just thinking out loud here, but I stick my neck out because
in light of the issue raised, I feel the need of some criteria by
which to distinguish Marxists from both people active in class
struggle without Marxism, and from intellectuals who benefit from a
Marxist analysis but are not concerned for class struggle or social

You will note that I avoid the issue of what "Marxism" is in terms
of specific ideas (and a dialectic of theory and practice seems to beg
the question). As you say, there are many varieties of Marxism, but
does not one have to draw the line somewhere between being a Marxist
and selectively adopting some Marxist ideas, or between being a
Marxist and being simply a labor activist? So I suggest these three
criteria: a) scientificity, b) functional link between understanding
and class, c) functional link between understanding and basic
socio-economic change. 

What do you think?

Haines Brown 


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