[Marxism] Scope and Limits of Theory: Provisional Draft

S. Artesian sartesian at earthlink.net
Wed Jul 7 08:51:52 MDT 2010

We can argue who does and who doesn't understand class struggle around many 
issues.  Palestine is one.  Kronstadt's another.  The August '68 
demonstrations in Chicago is yet another..

But let's be clear about what triggered this latest spate of argument. 
Angelus made a brief, and benign, remark about the communist critique of 
capitalism involving the abolition of the proletariat.

"And," as the announcer says at Belmont Park, "they're off."  Except these 
horses aren't exactly racing in the same direction.

We have horses heading in a direction that says Marx's analysis of value has 
nothing to do with class struggle, and 20th century revolutions, which is 
essentially an argument that says capitalism has had nothing to do with 20th 
century revolutions.  Now I know there's a school of thought out there that 
says all revolutions are in essence peasant wars, but that's not going to 
get us out of kindergarten.

We have horses heading in the direction-- well actually heading in no 
direction, just pawing at the ground and wondering what Angelus really means 
in his paraphrasing of Marx.

We have horses running ass-backwards, arguing that Marx's support of 
national independence in the mid 19th century can be abstracted from the 
very social content that Marx analyzed to produce an uncritical endorsement 
of a nationalism with the social content of capitalism.

Carrol's comment, like Angelus', is nothing but a paraphrase of the 
statements Marx himself made about his work in numerous iterations from 1845 
on.  Marx's historical materialism is an analysis of historical necessity--  
that's what class struggle is, necessary, essential, inherent, contained 
within the logic, the reason, the development of capitalism and the critique 
of capitalism.

That Carrol's statement of a basic condition, determinant, focus, of Marx's 
work should produce a sort of reflexive disavowal on the part of others 
tells us that understanding, and practicing, actual class struggle requires 
a bit more than waving certain flags, and proclaiming positions.

While the moderator disavows the distinction between a "moral basis" and 
historical necessity, the assertion that 20th century revolutions have 
nothing to do with Marx's analysis of value cuts the ground out from under 
the equally Marxist determination of historical necessity.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Louis Proyect" <lnp3 at panix.com>
> Carrol Cox wrote:
>> Capitalism will _not_decay What Ricardians call the crisis of capitalism
>> is merely the way in which the system periodically renews itself and
>> arises refreshed and powerful, like the Phoenix, from its own ashes.
>> Only Marx's Critique in the volumes S.Arteisan lists can establish fully
>> this NECESSITY rather than mere desirability of an Anti-Capitalist
>> Revolution.
> This is really quite silly.
> The differences do not revolve around moral versus "scientific"
> opposition to capitalism, nor do they entail whether or not a grounding
> in works such Capital is necessary. They clearly are.
> Rather it is over the relationship between understanding the "commodity
> form" correctly, which Angelus does, and the class struggle. This young
> man would certain deserve a PhD in commodity form analysis if graduate
> schools were awarding them (U. of Utah?) but he clearly does not
> understand the class struggle, having put Palestinian and Israeli
> nationalism on the same level. For that he deserves an F.

More information about the Marxism mailing list