Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Please post your comments with questions and discussion topics for August meeting here


Al Campbell said...

I will try to post to this blog and see if it works - blogs are not a media that I have worked with
I think we are getting behind on the reading (or at least the posting of questions to talk about in August), and so I will post this. I think the idea was t make these short, and we can then expand them at the summer school.
Here is my issue, put simply - again, we can sort out unclear ideas when we gather. Marxism in particular and materialism more generally argue that our ideas are a reflection of the reality we are part of (not a mechanical reflection, not one way, but dialectical, with a degree of autonomy). Bourgeois ideas reflect and promote the capitalist reality and order, and Marxist ideas reflect and promote the proletariat reality and order. So how then can Marxism claim universal validity - how can it claim it is right and the bourgeoisie ideas are wrong, if the ideas all arise (even dialectically) from the experience and class interests of the people involved? What prioritizes Marxist ideas as "true" and bourgeois ideas as "false propaganda." Why are all other political positions the result of the environment they are in and the role they play but Marxism claims to be above that (ie, universal validity)? Lowy speaks to this, and I am not sure if his answer is satisfactory - but it is worth thinking about the question (what makes Marxism right, how do we know it and not its opponent are right?) and Lowy's claimed response.

Hasan said...

I will try to post some questions concerning the reading material of different weeks which we can discuss during August meeting. And, it would be great, at least if other participants post questions which they think we can discuss during meeting.

A general question:
One of the corner-stones of young Marx’s discussion seems to be the term civil society although he seems to almost abandon this term in his mature writings. Why does Marx utilize the term civil society very often in his early writings and then ignores in his later writings?

Hasan said...

On the Jewish Question:
In on the Jewish Question Marx argues that political revolution is not enough for human emancipation. In fact he maintains that political revolution which dissolved feudal society only achieved “throwing off the bond that fettered the egoistic sprit of civil society. In this sense, he argues that it dissolves civil life into its constituent elements without revolutionizing these elements themselves and subjecting them to criticism”….and “political emancipation is a reduction of man to a member of civil society, to an egoistic independent individual on the one hand and to a citizen, a moral person, on the other” After this discussion he defines his emancipation project as follows:

“ Only when actual individual man has taken back into, himself the abstract citizen and has become a species-being in his everyday life, in his individual work and his individual circumstances, only when he has recognized and organized his own powers as social powers so that social power is no longer separated from him as political power, only then is human emancipation complete.”

Today, What would be the relevance of this discussion for a progressive agenda?

Hasan said...

In German Ideology, Marx seems to think that a successful progressive agenda can only be feasible worldwide. He implies that, local practices can fail as a result of the extension of interaction with capitalist markets.

He puts it as follows:
“The contradiction of an existing world of wealth and culture, both of which conditions presuppose a great increase in productive power, a high degree of its development. And, on the other hand, this development of productive forces (which itself implies the actual empirical existence of men in their world-historical, instead of local, being) is an absolutely necessary practical premise because without it want is merely made general, and with destitution the struggle for necessities and all the old filthy business would necessarily be reproduced; and furthermore, because only with this universal development of productive forces is a universal intercourse between men established, which produces in all nations simultaneously the phenomenon of the “propertyless” mass (universal competition), makes each nation dependent on the revolutions of the others, and finally has put world-historical, empirically universal individuals in place of local ones. Without this, (1) communism could only exist as a local event; (2) the forces of intercourse themselves could not have developed as universal, hence intolerable powers: they would have remained home-bred conditions surrounded by superstition; and (3) each extension of intercourse would abolish local communism. Empirically, communism is only possible as the act of the dominant peoples “all at once” and simultaneously, which presupposes the universal development of productive forces and the world intercourse bound up with communism. Moreover, the mass of propertyless workers – the utterly precarious position of labour – power on a mass scale cut off from capital or from even a limited satisfaction and, therefore, no longer merely temporarily deprived of work itself as a secure source of life – presupposes the world market through competition. The proletariat can thus only exist world-historically, just as communism, its activity, can only have a “world-historical” existence. World-historical existence of individuals means existence of individuals which is directly linked up with world history.” (German Ideology)

Does it mean that any national and more local progressive practices are absolutely futile attempts? In the light of current failures and partial successes, what would be the requirements of successful national and more local alternatives?

David Fields said...

Marx thinks that a sucessful progressive agenda can only be feasible wordwide because capitalist development itself is a world-historical process. Immanuel Wallerstein caputures this approach very lucidly in his work. Wallerstein argues relentlessly that capitalism is and has been a historically specific social system with interconnections that stretch beyond geograpical locales. The capitalist division of labor is manifested in the world economy and as such, the development of productive forces has been and continues to be what Marx specifically stated as the "universal (worldwide) intercourse of men established". The development of the property-less mass was not an isolated interconnecting process but rather a world-wide historical development which depended on revolutions and market transactions which occurred globally - the development of higher level production tasks of the core countries rested on the complete subjugation and domination of the periphery through primitive accumulation. In essence, local progressive practice are futile attempts because history has shown that such movements have ignored the world-hisorical dimension of capitalism. They indeed became home-bred institutions surounded by supersition, reproducing the filthy business of capitalism. Therefore, it is a very difficult task to arrive at the necessary requirments for successful national and local alternatives. Given this, and the current world-wide bifurcations, how can we, as a vangaurd, act and think and globally with such power that it arouses the masses?