[Marxism] Rosa Lichtenstein versus JB on dialectical contradictions

Paula Paula_cerni at msn.com
Fri Oct 2 15:57:14 MDT 2009

Unfortunately I don't have time to read through all of this intricate debate 
right now, but I'll have a stab at the first point raised by Rosa. Apologies 
if this is a little basic.

Rosa: "Well, Marx added that the two interconnected 'halves' of a 
'dialectical contradiction' "mutually exclude one another". If that is so, 
then they cannot exist together, which means that [they] cannot 'contradict' 
one another in the way you require. On the other hand, if they do 
'contradict' one another, and both exist at the same time (perhaps as 
opposing forces, or determinations (depending on how you give them physical 
being)), then they cannot "mutually exclude" one another."

This doesn't sound right to me. In every 'real world' contradiction, the two 
terms exclude each other and yet exist together. Male excludes female, 
female excludes male; yet male and female obviously do exist (and act!) 
together. Parent and child are mutually exclusive, in the sense that whoever 
is the parent is not the child, whoever is the child is not the parent; yet 
the parent is the parent of that child, the child is the child of that 
parent, etc. Master vs servant, capital vs labor ... you get the drift.

So perhaps in the real world all contradictions are 'dialectical' in this 
sense. If Rosa objects to Marxists inflating this simple idea with fancy 
words, she may have a point. But the idea itself seems correct.


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