How Not To Defend Engels

Preface

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Although I am highly critical of Dialectical Materialism [DM], nothing said here (or, indeed, in the other Essays posted at this site) is aimed at undermining Historical Materialism [HM] -- a theory I fully accept -- or, for that matter, revolutionary socialism. I remain as committed to the self-emancipation of the working class and the dictatorship of the proletariat as I was when I first became a revolutionary over thirty years ago. [That puts paid to the allegation that those who reject DM soon abandon revolutionary politics. I have never accepted DM.]

 

My aim is simply to assist in the scientific development of Marxism by helping to demolish a dogma that has in my opinion seriously damaged our movement from its inception: DM --; or, in its more political form, 'Materialist Dialectics' [MD].

 

The difference between HM and DM as I see it is explained here.

 

Summary Of My Main Objections To Dialectical Materialism

 

Return To The Main Index Page

 

Contact Me

 

Quick Links

 

 

(1) Introduction

 

(2) Reactions

 

(a) 'Del'

 

(b) 'Anti-Capital'

 

(c) UcanbPolitical

 

(d) JLowrie

 

(3) Conclusion

 

(4) Appendix

Introduction

 

A few weeks ago I posted the following comment on Michael Robert's economics blog:

 

It's a pity you decided to spoil your otherwise excellent blog with the unscientific and philosophically ridiculous ideas put about by Engels, Michael. I have taken them apart here (and, believe it or not, from a Marxist angle): http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2007.htm

 

As I have come to expect from Dialectical Mystics, those that bothered to reply immediately resorted to abuse and personal attacks, posting unsubstantiated allegations fortified with a few blatant lies, but absolutely no attempt to respond to my criticisms of their failed theory. Since it is highly probable that these comrades are fellow Trotskyists --, or, at least, non-standard Trotskyists --, their response confirmed something I have pointed out several times at this site: Trotskyists are the most abusive, irascible and emotional opponents of my ideas, almost invariably reacting like Trotsky, angrily and irrationally. George Novack records the following meeting he and Max Shachtman had with Trotsky in Mexico, in 1937:

 

"[O]ur discussion glided into the subject of philosophy.... We talked about the best ways of studying dialectical materialism, about Lenin's Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, and about the theoretical backwardness of American radicalism. Trotsky brought forward the name of Max Eastman, who in various works had polemicized against dialectics as a worthless idealist hangover from the Hegelian heritage of Marxism. He became tense and agitated. 'Upon going back to the States,' he urged, 'you comrades must at once take up the struggle against Eastman's distortion and repudiation of dialectical materialism. There is nothing more important than this. Pragmatism, empiricism, is the greatest curse of American thought. You must inoculate younger comrades against its infection.'

 

"I was somewhat surprised at the vehemence of his argumentation on this matter at such a moment. As the principal defendant in absentia in the Moscow trials, and because of the dramatic circumstances of his voyage in exile, Trotsky then stood in the centre of international attention. He was fighting for his reputation, liberty, and life against the powerful government of Stalin, bent on his defamation and death. After having been imprisoned and gagged for months by the Norwegian authorities, he had been kept incommunicado for weeks aboard their tanker.

 

"Yet on the first day after reunion with his cothinkers, he spent more than an hour explaining how important it was for a Marxist movement to have a correct philosophical method and to defend dialectical materialism against its opponents!... [Trotsky later wrote:] 'The question of correct philosophical doctrine, that is, a correct method of thought, is of decisive significance to a revolutionary party....'" [Novack (1978), pp.269-71. Italics in the original. Bold emphases and link added. Spelling altered to conform with UK English; quotation marks modified to agree with conventions adopted at this site. Several paragraphs merged.]

 

The accuracy of Novack's memory is confirmed by the following comment recorded by Trotsky himself:

 

"...It would not be amiss, therefore, to refer to the fact that my first serious conversation with comrades Shachtman and Warde, in the train immediately after my arrival in Mexico in January 1937, was devoted to the necessity of persistently propagating dialectic materialism. After our American section split from the Socialist Party I insisted most strongly on the earliest possible publication of a theoretical organ, having again in mind the need to educate the party, first and foremost its new members, in the spirit of dialectic materialism. In the United States, I wrote at that time, where the bourgeoisie systematically in stills (sic) vulgar empiricism in the workers, more than anywhere else is it necessary to speed the elevation of the movement to a proper theoretical level. On January 20, 1939, I wrote to comrade Shachtman concerning his joint article with comrade Burnham, 'Intellectuals in Retreat':

 

'The section on the dialectic is the greatest blow that you, personally, as the editor of the New International could have delivered to Marxist theory.... Good. We will speak about it publicly.'

 

"Thus a year ago I gave open notice in advance to Shachtman that I intended to wage a public struggle against his eclectic tendencies. At that time there was no talk whatever of the coming opposition; in any case furthest from my mind was the supposition that the philosophic bloc against Marxism prepared the ground for a political bloc against the program of the Fourth International." [Trotsky (1971), p.142. Bold emphases and link added.]

 

Trotsky's heirs and epigones have proven to be no less emotional and irrational in their 'defence' of Engels's theory, and that turned out to be the case with the comrades over at Michael's blog. Not one of them seems capable of defending Engels so they all engaged in deflection, abuse and emotive attacks on me -- again, as we have seen is the case with the vast majority of Dialectical Mystics with whom I have 'debated' this 'theory' over the last thirty-five years.

 

Now, I am not complaining about this; as I noted above, I expect it, and for reasons explored in Essay Nine Part Two (where I also explain why Dialectical Marxists behave this way). Given what I argue in that Essay, had I received a warm welcome, or even a rational or considered response, I would have concluded that I had only gone wrong somewhere.

 

Reactions

Del

 

This comrade replied to my comment with the following example of impressive erudition and persuasive logic:

 

Nobody is interested in your anti-Marxist rants. You have 'taken apart' nothing except your own credibility as a would-be philosopher. [An interesting error given the fact that I claim to be an anti-philosopher, like Marx -- RL.]

 

To which I replied:

 

In which case, del, I am sure you'll be only too happy to show where I go wrong, won't you?

 

Think you're up to it, big boy?

 

And, 'Big Boy' del was indeed 'up to it' with the following scholarly reply to another comrade (jlowrie, who had tried to defend me):

 

Well jlowrie, Rosa is a notorious troll whose ignorance of Marx (not to mention Hegel who (sic) she admits that she can't understand) has been exposed numerous times over the years. This person is a rabid fanatic with a deep animus towards the Hegelian tradition and has for years spammed ignorant and dishonest propaganda in order to deny the basic historical fact that Marx was strongly influenced by Hegel from beginning to end.

 

To which I responded:

 

del:

 

"Well jlowrie, Rosa is a notorious troll whose ignorance of Marx (not to mention Hegel who she admits that she can't understand) has been exposed numerous times over the years. This person is a rabid fanatic with a deep animus towards the Hegelian tradition and has for years spammed ignorant and dishonest propaganda in order to deny the basic historical fact that Marx was strongly influenced by Hegel from beginning to end."

 

So, you can't actually show where I go wrong, del. You are merely content to attack me personally (a sure give-away that you have no case against me, so you have to resort to abuse and fibs).

 

Even if Marx was influenced by Hegel, how does that show Engels's theory (Dialectical Materialism/Materialist Dialectics) is valid?

 

Is there any chance you can stick to the point?

 

"Hegel who she admits that she can't understand…”

 

In that case, I'm in good company, since it is impossible for anyone to understand Hegel, and I defy you to show otherwise.

 

'Big Boy' del retorted with another exemplary display of rationality (quoting me):

 

"So, you can't actually show where I go wrong, del. You are merely content to attack me personally (a sure give-away that you have no case against me, so you have to resort to abuse and fibs)."

 

You deserve to be "personally attacked" insofar as you are a notorious fraud and the readers should be informed of your history before making the decision to waste hours reading your long-winded nonsense. As for showing where you went wrong, that's all been done numerous times in other forums. As I have no desire to give you more opportunities to spread falsehoods or to waste time arguing with a brick wall I will pass on that.

 

"Even if Marx was influenced by Hegel, how does that show Engels's theory (Dialectical Materialism/Materialist Dialectics) is valid?"

 

It doesn't, I was just pointing out one of the more ludicrous aspects of your trolling routine (i.e.,: the idea that Marx "gave up" on Hegel by the time of Capital, which is an utter lie that you like to promulgate) to those unfamiliar with you.

 

"In that case, I’m in good company, since it is impossible for anyone to understand Hegel, and I defy you to show otherwise."

 

There are plenty of great Hegel scholars who have illuminated and clarified the great thinkers philosophy but your religious faith in Wittgenstein and Russell prevents you from seeking out any sympathetic expositions of Hegel's works.

 

He later added the following (again quoting me):

 

"In that case, I'm in good company, since it is impossible for anyone to understand Hegel, and I defy you to show otherwise."

 

Numerous scholars "understand" Hegel although there are certainly controversies about how to interpret certain aspects of his thought, as is the case with all great philosophers. I give you John N. Findlay, for instance, whose notes on Hegel’s Phenomenology greatly clarify a text that might seem daunting, if not, incomprehensible at times. Hegel's problem for modern readers is difficult, jargon-laden language. Hegel's works are certainly understandable to one who puts in the effort and has an open mind.

 

Also, many make the same exact claim about Marx's Capital. But, just as with Hegel, difficult to understand doesn't equate to impossible to understand.

 

Since the above was published I agreed with Michael not to fill his comments section with dozens of replies, but to write them here and post a link at his blog. In which case, here is my (new) reply to 'Big Boy' del:

 

Readers will no doubt note that del still can't actually show where I go wrong but is content merely to abuse me some more. That by-now-clichéd tactic is yet another dead give-away that he is way out of his depth on such issues, abuse being a rather transparent and unsuccessful endeavour to deflect from that fact.

 

You deserve to be "personally attacked" insofar as you are a notorious fraud and the readers should be informed of your history before making the decision to waste hours reading your long-winded nonsense. As for showing where you went wrong, that's all been done numerous times in other forums. As I have no desire to give you more opportunities to spread falsehoods or to waste time arguing with a brick wall I will pass on that.

 

So, as predicted, del not only can't show where my arguments go astray, he can't even post so much as one single link to where he thinks others have done this. No doubt readers will draw their own conclusions from his abject failure in this regard.

 

But what about this?

 

It doesn't, I was just pointing out one of the more ludicrous aspects of your trolling routine (i.e.,: the idea that Marx "gave up" on Hegel by the time of Capital, which is an utter lie that you like to promulgate) to those unfamiliar with you.

 

It isn't I who said Marx had 'given up' on Hegel when he came to write Das Kapital, but Marx himself who indicated it. Hard to believe? Check this out (taken from Essay Nine Part One at my site, which del failed to consult, hence his studied ignorance):

 

Some have pointed to Marx's own words -- where he refers to "the dialectic method" -- in order to counter the above allegations. The question is, of course: what did Marx himself -- not others -- what did Marx himself mean by that phrase?

 

Well, we needn't speculate. Marx very helpfully told us what he meant by it in that very same Afterword to the Second Edition. There, he quotes a reviewer in the following terms:

 

"After a quotation from the preface to my 'Criticism of Political Economy,' Berlin, 1859, pp. IV-VII, where I discuss the materialistic basis of my method, the writer goes on:

 

'The one thing which is of moment to Marx, is to find the law of the phenomena with whose investigation he is concerned; and not only is that law of moment to him, which governs these phenomena, in so far as they have a definite form and mutual connexion within a given historical period. Of still greater moment to him is the law of their variation, of their development, i.e., of their transition from one form into another, from one series of connexions into a different one. This law once discovered, he investigates in detail the effects in which it manifests itself in social life. Consequently, Marx only troubles himself about one thing: to show, by rigid scientific investigation, the necessity of successive determinate orders of social conditions, and to establish, as impartially as possible, the facts that serve him for fundamental starting-points. For this it is quite enough, if he proves, at the same time, both the necessity of the present order of things, and the necessity of another order into which the first must inevitably pass over; and this all the same, whether men believe or do not believe it, whether they are conscious or unconscious of it. Marx treats the social movement as a process of natural history, governed by laws not only independent of human will, consciousness and intelligence, but rather, on the contrary, determining that will, consciousness and intelligence. ... If in the history of civilisation the conscious element plays a part so subordinate, then it is self-evident that a critical inquiry whose subject-matter is civilisation, can, less than anything else, have for its basis any form of, or any result of, consciousness. That is to say, that not the idea, but the material phenomenon alone can serve as its starting-point. Such an inquiry will confine itself to the confrontation and the comparison of a fact, not with ideas, but with another fact. For this inquiry, the one thing of moment is, that both facts be investigated as accurately as possible, and that they actually form, each with respect to the other, different momenta of an evolution; but most important of all is the rigid analysis of the series of successions, of the sequences and concatenations in which the different stages of such an evolution present themselves. But it will be said, the general laws of economic life are one and the same, no matter whether they are applied to the present or the past. This Marx directly denies. According to him, such abstract laws do not exist. On the contrary, in his opinion every historical period has laws of its own.... As soon as society has outlived a given period of development, and is passing over from one given stage to another, it begins to be subject also to other laws. In a word, economic life offers us a phenomenon analogous to the history of evolution in other branches of biology. The old economists misunderstood the nature of economic laws when they likened them to the laws of physics and chemistry. A more thorough analysis of phenomena shows that social organisms differ among themselves as fundamentally as plants or animals. Nay, one and the same phenomenon falls under quite different laws in consequence of the different structure of those organisms as a whole, of the variations of their individual organs, of the different conditions in which those organs function, &c. Marx, e.g., denies that the law of population is the same at all times and in all places. He asserts, on the contrary, that every stage of development has its own law of population. ... With the varying degree of development of productive power, social conditions and the laws governing them vary too. Whilst Marx sets himself the task of following and explaining from this point of view the economic system established by the sway of capital, he is only formulating, in a strictly scientific manner, the aim that every accurate investigation into economic life must have. The scientific value of such an inquiry lies in the disclosing of the special laws that regulate the origin, existence, development, death of a given social organism and its replacement by another and higher one. And it is this value that, in point of fact, Marx's book has.'

 

"Whilst the writer pictures what he takes to be actually my method, in this striking and [as far as concerns my own application of it] generous way, what else is he picturing but the dialectic method?" [Marx (1976), pp.101-02. Bold emphases added; quotation marks altered to conform with the conventions adopted at this site.]

 

In the above passage, not one single Hegelian concept is to be found -- no "contradictions", no change of "quantity into quality", no "negation of the negation", no "unity and identity of opposites", no "interconnected Totality", no "universal change" --, and yet Marx still calls this summary the "dialectic method", and says of it that it is "my method".

 

So, Marx's "method" has had Hegel completely excised --, except for the odd phrase or two, "here and there", with which he merely "coquetted".

 

In which case, del should pick a fight with Marx, not me.

 

Or this?

 

There are plenty of great Hegel scholars who have illuminated and clarified the great thinkers philosophy but your religious faith in Wittgenstein and Russell prevents you from seeking out any sympathetic expositions of Hegel's works.

 

Numerous scholars "understand" Hegel although there are certainly controversies about how to interpret certain aspects of his thought, as is the case with all great philosophers. I give you John N. Findlay, for instance, whose notes on Hegel’s Phenomenology greatly clarify a text that might seem daunting, if not, incomprehensible at times. Hegel's problem for modern readers is difficult, jargon-laden language. Hegel's works are certainly understandable to one who puts in the effort and has an open mind.

 

(1) Where have I "expressed religious faith" in Wittgenstein and Russell? As usual, del is long on assertion, short on facts. I have certainly used Wittgenstein's method in many of my Essays, but never "expressed religious faith", or any sort of "faith", in him (in fact, I criticise him at my site -- proof supplied on request), and I also take Russell to task in my Essays. Other than praise his The Principles of Mathematics and his 'Theory of Descriptions', I reject practically everything Russell had to say about Philosophy, Logic, Metaphysics, Ethics and Politics.

 

I'd ask del for of my "religious faith" in these two, but we already know he is allergic to any mention of the word "evidence".

 

(2) Sure, there are experts who try to make Hegel comprehensible, but there are also experts who try to make the Christian Doctrine of The Trinity comprehensible (a dogma that originated in the same neo-Platonic quagmire from which Hegel's ideas emerged), but it is still open to doubt whether any have succeeded. Certainly del offers us no evidence at all that a single one of them has made Hegel comprehensible.

 

(3) del refers us to Findlay's work on Hegel -- I presume he means Hegel. A Re-examination. I have that book on my shelves, have studied it, so I am mystified which part of that book del thinks makes Hegel comprehensible. What we find in Findlay's book in place of any attempt to make that Christian Mystic's ideas clear is one set of obscure ideas 'explained' in terms of another set of obscure ideas, leaving the bemused reader no wiser at the end. What have I missed? Perhaps del can point me in the direction of a page or two that he thinks make Hegel any the less obscure or less incomprehensible?

 

Findlay, of course, swallows hook, line and sinker, Hegels' logical howlers, which I have exposed here and here.

 

The following is just one of my demonstrations that not even Hegel could possibly understand Hegel:

 

The Revenge Of The 'Either-Or' Of 'Commonsense' 

 

Returning now to Hegel's reference to the "Either/Or" of "abstract understanding", which largely motivates the general disdain for the LEM displayed by DM-fans, we find few crumbs of comfort for beleaguered dialecticians.

 

[LEM = Law of Excluded Middle.]

 

Unfortunately, these terms ("either" and "or") have been lifted from ordinary language, and, as we have seen several times already, it is unwise for anyone (least of all Hegel-groupies) to criticise such words, since that tactic invariably backfires on any foolish enough to try. Admittedly, Hegel wasn't attacking the use of "either-or" in that specific area, simply the restrictive dichotomy he claimed these words introduced into thought --, one imagines by that philistine (but nonetheless mysterious), disembodied, inner alter ego, the "abstract understanding" -- very helpfully and 'scientifically' identified for us by Hegel without the use of a laboratory, any evidence whatsoever, or even so much as a consulting couch! Freud would have been most impressed:

 

"Instead of speaking by the maxim of Excluded Middle (which is the maxim of abstract understanding) we should rather say: Everything is opposite. Neither in heaven nor in Earth, neither in the world of mind nor of nature, is there anywhere such an abstract 'either-or' as the understanding maintains. Whatever exists is concrete, with difference and opposition in itself. The finitude of things will then lie in the want of correspondence between their immediate being, and what they essentially are. Thus, in inorganic nature, the acid is implicitly at the same time the base: in other words, its only being consists in its relation to its other. Hence also the acid is not something that persists quietly in the contrast: it is always in effort to realise what it potentially is." [Hegel (1975), p.174; Essence as Ground of Existence, §119. Bold emphasis added.]

 

Nevertheless, it is difficult to see what Hegel was trying to say here. That is because any attempt to interpret him requires the implicit or explicit use of the very terms he claims are misleading. The construal of his work requires decisions be taken about whether he meant either this or that by what he actually said. If an author always means both -- or maybe even neither -- then interpretation is rendered impossible and any attempt to unravel their meaning becomes self-defeating (as we are about to see).

 

So, if Hegel were right, if absolutely "everything is opposite", and there is no "either-or" anywhere in the universe, it would be impossible to disentangle what he meant from what he didn't, since we would be unable to decide whether he believed of, say, any two sentences P and Q one or more of the following:

 

H1: (i) Both P and Q; (ii) either P or Q; (iii) neither P nor Q; or (iv) either P or Q, but not both.

 

But, if, say, P and Q were inconsistent (that is, if, for instance, Q implies not P, or vice versa -- for clarity's sake an example will be given below), and we interpreted his words one way -- perhaps that he believed both P and Q, since to do otherwise would involve the implicit or explicit use of the dread 'either-or' --, then, plainly, we would have to conclude that he accepted both as part of the "unfolding of truth" (as he might have put it), which would mean by his own lights, of course, that we would be unfolding error in place of truth!

 

Hence, in order to reject one or other of the above options, we, too, would be forced to appeal to, or employ, an "either-or" -- that is, we would have to conclude that Hegel accepted P or he accepted Q, but not both.

 

On the other hand, if we were to remain true to Hegel's dictum -- that "neither in heaven nor in Earth, neither in the world of mind nor of nature, is there anywhere such an abstract 'either-or' as the understanding maintains" --, then we would have to conclude he accepted both.

 

So, any attempt made now to specify exactly what Hegel meant would undermine what he actually said about the use of the "either-or of understanding", for we would have to accept that Hegel asserted one thing (P), or he asserted something else (Q), but not both. Without that assumption it would become impossible either comprehend or defend him. If Hegel genuinely cast doubt on the "either-or of understanding" (and he wasn't being deliberately enigmatic, disingenuous, mendacious, or merely playful) -- and assuming he was correct to do so  --, then any attempt to interpret him as asserting P or asserting Q would have to conclude that he asserted both. [Again, I give a clear example of this, below.]

 

In that case, any determinate interpretation of Hegel would have to ignore his own advice, and reluctantly accept the deliverances of the "either-or" of ordinary language (or 'commonsense', along with its corollaries), and acknowledge that, concerning either P or Q, he believed, or accepted, only one of these, not both, and hence that he was a fully paid-up member of The Friends Of The Either-Or Of Abstract Understanding.

 

Here, truth would advance -- by means of yet another dialectical inversion -- by forcing us to disregard Hegel!

 

In order to make this point more concrete, let us suppose that:

 

"P" is: "Neither in heaven nor in Earth, neither in the world of mind nor of nature, is there anywhere such an abstract 'either-or' as the understanding maintains",

 

and,

 

"Q" is: "There is in fact an abstract 'either-or' somewhere in the world of mind and of nature (etc.)."

 

So, as above, Q implies not P, or vice versa.

 

Now, either Hegel accepted P or he accepted Q -- which would, of course, imply that there is at least one 'either-or' "in heaven or in earth (etc.)" -- namely, right here in front of us, right now.

 

On the other hand, if Hegel (or anyone) took his advice and accepted both P and Q, thereby rejecting this annoying "either-or", then not much sense could be made of what he was trying to say.

 

Incidentally, the above criticism isn't affected by Hegel's own interpretation of these controversial words, nor any technical meaning his epigones might want to attribute to them, since they, too, would have to conclude that he meant this or he meant that, not both. It solely concerns how we are to understand him now, in this world, by our consideration of those very material words (in print, or on a screen), quoted earlier.

 

Hence, it is beside the point whether the rationale for his own dialectical, then speculative criticism of the use of such words by the "abstract understanding" is legitimate or not (irony intended). Hegel's writings appear before us now as phenomenal objects, hence, given the additional fact that they aren't self-interpreting (especially when we recall that Hegel is no longer with us to explain himself -- but, even then we would have to accept he meant either P or Q, not both), they face the ordinary cannons we employ elsewhere to understand anyone's words. In order to read and perhaps interpret Hegel as believing this or that, but not both, we are forced to ignore his advice and employ the dread "either-or".

 

Naturally, this is just one more annoying reason why ordinary language can't be by-passed, or undermined, no matter which 'genius' cons some of us into thinking otherwise.

 

Once again, it is little use complaining that this is not how Hegel wanted his use of the "either-or" of "understanding" to be interpreted (i.e., we should view it ironically  -- that is, that we should interpret it this way but not that), since he himself holed that complaint well below the water line when he asserted:

 

"Instead of speaking by the maxim of Excluded Middle (which is the maxim of abstract understanding) we should rather say: Everything is opposite. Neither in heaven nor in Earth, neither in the world of mind nor of nature, is there anywhere such an abstract 'either-or' as the understanding maintains. Whatever exists is concrete, with difference and opposition in itself. The finitude of things will then lie in the want of correspondence between their immediate being, and what they essentially are. Thus, in inorganic nature, the acid is implicitly at the same time the base: in other words, its only being consists in its relation to its other. Hence also the acid is not something that persists quietly in the contrast: it is always in effort to realise what it potentially is." [Ibid. Bold added.]

 

Hence, if "everything is opposite", and it is accepted that Hegel's work was written somewhere on this planet, and copies still take on a physical form in this universe, then anything he committed to paper must be its own opposite, too --  or, he was wrong.

 

[Irony intended, again.]

 

In either case, it would be foolish to believe Hegel was serious (or, and what is far more likely, that he had thought things through with due care) when he wrote the above words, while also accepting what he said about the LEM -- the dread "either-or".

 

So, and following Hegel's own advice, the above passage should in fact be re-written more consistently along the following 'Hegelian', deny-there-is-an-'either-or', lines:

 

"Instead of both speaking and not speaking by the maxim both of Excluded Middle and not Excluded Middle and (which is and is not the maxim of abstract understanding) we should and we shouldn't rather say: Everything is, and some things are not, opposite. Neither in heaven nor in Earth, and both in heaven and in earth, neither in the world of mind nor of nature, and both in the world of mind and of nature, is there anywhere such an abstract 'either-or' as the understanding maintains, but there is, and it is everywhere, too, while it is nowhere as well. Whatever exists is concrete, and it isn't, with difference and opposition, and also without difference or opposition, in itself, and not in itself, too. The finitude of things will and will not then lie in the want of correspondence, but also with actual correspondence, between their immediate being, and what they essentially are, or are not, and, indeed, both. Thus, in inorganic nature, and outside it, the acid is and is not implicitly at the same time, and at other times, the base, but it isn't the base, either: in other words, but also in the same words, its only being, and its many other beings, consist, and do not consist, in its relation, and absence of any relation, to its other, and whatever isn't its other. Hence also the acid is not something, and it is something, that persists quietly, and not quietly, in the contrast, or the accord: it is always, and is it is never, in effort to realise what it potentially is, and what it actually is not."

 

Everyday, boring old non-abstract understanding will, I think, readily see what arrant nonsense results from Hegel's 'genius' when we apply his ideas to his own words -- providing we remain in this universe.

 

Any who object to the above re-write can, of course, neutralise its implications by demonstrating that Hegel's work wasn't actually written in this universe, or on real paper, but was printed on Ideal paper neither in heaven nor on earth -- and that they themselves don't exist anywhere, either (or both, or neither), in order to do that (or not).

 

[On the 'acid and base' fiasco -- even if we were to take Hegel's comments about those chemicals seriously -- see here.]

 

In a recent book [Stewart (1996)], several misinterpretations and misrepresentations of Hegel's work were corrected by a handful of Hegel scholars. However, there would seem to be little point to this exercise if Hegel's ideas about "either-or" are to be believed. If he were right -- that in the entire universe there is no "either-or" -- there would be some truth even in the wildest allegations about him and his work.

 

[LOI = Law of Identity.]

 

For instance, these: that (i) Hegel fully accepted without question the unlimited applicability of the LOI in every conceivable circumstance without any qualifications whatsoever (and this includes its use in dialectical and speculative thought as well as in relation to change, conceptual or material), and he did not; that (ii) he flatly denied that reality or thought is contradictory in any sense at all, and he did not; that (iii) he doubted the truth of every single one of his own ideas all the time, and he did not; that (iv) he wrote nothing at all in German in his entire life, and he did not; that (v) everything he wrote was actually written by Schelling -- in fact it was published only yesterday, and it wasn't --; that (vi) he was a Shape-shifting Martian, and he wasn't...

 

[Anyone attempting to reject one or more of the above alternatives on the grounds that Hegel must have accepted one of them, or one of them must be true, but not both -- or, indeed, that such objectors must do likewise, too -- will, alas, have to employ the dread LEM in order to do so, vitiating Hegel's challenge, as well as their own objections to the above argument.]

 

It could be objected that this completely misunderstands the nature of DL as Hegel himself conceived it. Unfortunately, even that response is framed in ordinary language -- and, it was foolishly written in this universe! --, so, since a decision has to be taken over whether or not it is valid, a quick reference to DL will indicate it is both.

 

[DL = Dialectical Logic.]

 

This means that until DL-fans commit themselves to one or other view (but not both), it is impossible even to begin to evaluate anything they say -- and neither can they!

 

Unfortunately, just as soon as they actually manage to specify what they mean (i.e., that they genuinely intend this but not that), we must cease to take them seriously -- since they would then have employed the dread LEM, thereby undermining their own criticisms of it!

 

Either way, such defenders of Hegel may be ignored even before they decide whether they agree with the above argument, or not (or both).

 

It could be objected that the above conclusions are ridiculous and do not follow from a consistent application of the dialectical method; hence Hegel can't be saddled with any of them.

 

Once more, these 'ridiculous conclusions' either do or they do not follow from what Hegel wrote. If the above rebuttal is right, and they don't follow, then there is at least one either-or at work here, namely this one -- since, in that case, both options wouldn't be correct -- only one option would be the right one, namely that they don't follow. And, if that is so, these 'ridiculous conclusions' do indeed follow, after all, since Hegel would, in that case, be wrong to assert there is no either-or anywhere in existence when one such has just been used to reject one option in favour of the other!

 

So, taking each 'ridiculous conclusion', one at a time, if we maintain that it doesn't follow, then we will have applied the LEM once more -- in that we would thereby have denied that that particular 'ridiculous conclusion' both does and does not follow, and thus that one of these either-or options must obtain. Hence, we arrive at the same result.

 

On the other hand, if they do follow, then they do, anyway.

 

Either way, they follow.

 

QED

 

The problem with sweeping claims like these (which litter Traditional Philosophy, and not just Hegel's ill-considered work) -- in this case, concerning the supposed limitations of certain principles of FL (and especially those that express patterns of inference mirrored in our use of ordinary language and informal logic, such as the LOI, the LOC and the LEM) -- is that they invariably collapse into incoherence, as we have just seen.

 

[FL = Formal Logic; LOC = Law of Non-Contradiction.]

 

Which is why, once again, we can say with complete confidence that no one (not even Hegel) could possibly understand Hegel!

 

Do we find any of those who eulogise Hegel -- like that ex-Wittgensteinian, Findlay -- asking such searching questions about Hegel's 'logic'? In the forty years I have been studying Hegel, I have yet to find a single example. [Please e-mail me if you think I have missed something.]

 

No good looking to 'Big Boy' del for guidance in this regard, either; he thinks it is possible to understand such loopy logic.

 

The catch is: he has yet to show how that is possible.

 

[I have subjected Hegel's odd ideas to even more searching criticism in Essay Eight Part Three.]

 

Anti-Capital

 

Another comrade who is even more abusive and irrational is 'Anti-Capital' [AC], who argues rather like an irascible character I locked horns with over at RevLeft and Libcom (as well as a few other sites) ten or more years ago -- S Artesian [SA] -- an individual who even accused me of being an undercover cop, so desperate had he become! Readers are invited to compare AC's posts with SA's, where it will soon become clear that, despite the LOI, there is a high probability that two are indeed identical.

 

[I had thought that the discussions over at RevLeft were no longer available, but it now turns out that some of them can be accessed at a domain with the url, "revleft/space". That means I have been able to retrieve several revealing comments SA posted there. The Libcom remarks were in comparison quite easy to access.]

 

Here is AC:

 

Apparently, not many comrades here have had to deal with Lichtenstein before, and believe me, they are lucky and better off for it.

 

How appropriate that Lichtenstein shows up here at the same time as a new virus.

 

Fun fact: Lichtenstein has bots crawling the web, searching out any use of the word Hegel or term dialectics. Say either one 3 times aloud and like Beetlejuice, Lichtenstein shows up.

 

As for "taking apart Hegel's dialectics (and from a Marxist angle…)" well, Marx did that himself about 125 years ago with his Introduction to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right; with The German Ideology, with his historical writings on the class struggles in France, etc.

 

It's no news news. [Quoted from here.]

 

To which I replied (slightly edited):

 

AC:

 

"Apparently, not many comrades here have had to deal with Lichtenstein before, and believe me, they are lucky and better off for it."

 

So, here is yet another comrade who can't defend Engels but has to resort to posting personal comments about me instead.

 

"How appropriate that Lichtenstein shows up here at the same time as a new virus."

 

He is now comparing me to something that will kill tens of thousands! As I pointed out to del, that is a sure sign you, AC, can't show where I go wrong but have to resort to abuse to deflect from your predicament.

 

"Fun fact: Lichtenstein has bots crawling the web, searching out any use of the word Hegel or term dialectics. Say either one 3 times aloud and like Beetlejuice, Lichtenstein shows up."

 

Even 'funner' fact: I have no 'bots'; I wish I were that technically competent to programme one. But, AC now has to resort to lying.

 

How did I get here? I subscribe to Michael's excellent blog, and he regularly sends me emails, which I always read, and that is what led me here, to this particular article. That's how I found it. No bots anywhere in sight.

 

"As for 'taking apart Hegel's dialectics (and from a Marxist angle…)' well, Marx did that himself about 125 years ago [in fact it's more like 177 years -- RL] with his Introduction to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right; with The German Ideology, with his historical writings on the class struggles in France, etc.

 

"It's no news news."

 

In fact (AC likes facts, it seems -- but, alas, his facts turn out to be fake), I posted the following (comrades can check back if they don't believe me):

 

"It's a pity you decided to spoil your otherwise excellent blog with the unscientific and philosophically ridiculous ideas put about by Engels, Michael. I have taken them apart here (and, believe it or not, from a Marxist angle)...."

 

Can any of the good people here see the following words in my comment?

 

"As for 'taking apart Hegel's dialectics (and from a Marxist angle…)'...."

 

No?

 

Well we already knew that AC likes to make stuff up. At least he's consistent. [Added on edit: keep AC's sloppy approach to accuracy in mind when it comes to judging his honesty and his attention to detail.]

 

What I have done is take Engels's theory apart, and AC can't show where I go wrong. How do we know that?

 

We can see it from the further 'fun' fact that AC has to tell fibs about me, make stuff up and compare me to a lethal virus.

 

All aimed at deflecting from his plight.

 

AC then posted this pathetic response:

 

Did I mention that our Beetlejuice lacks a sense of humour? [Spelling altered to UK English.]

 

Which just about sums up this rancid comrade, who thinks it is "humorous" to compare me with a virus that will kill tens of thousands of workers. Apparently this 'socialist' thinks it funny to joke about their death.

 

Thereupon, AC refused to engage directly with me (hardly surprising!), but he did try to engage with me indirectly via his debate with jlowrie, posting the following (which was an attempt to show that Marx was influenced by Hegel when he published Das Kapital):

 

But of course, when the original edition was written, much less published, Marx had included the Hegelian terminology. That's one.

 

And for two, removal of the Hegelian terminology in order to make the substance of the critique more understandable says nothing about Marx's own relationship to Hegel's system.

 

That Marx was not a "Hegelian" is transparently clear to the less than casual observer who just might be familiar with development of Marx's critique of both Hegel and the young Hegelians, going all the way back to 1844. That Marx, in a specific sense continues Hegel's quest to apprehend the methods, manner, by which human beings make the world "their own" requires a bit more effort....

 

Fortunately, that fairytale was refuted by Marx's own characterisation of "his method" (reproduced above) -- there, Marx quotes a summary of "the dialectic method" which is a Hegel-free zone, and yet he, not me, he still calls it "my method" and "the dialectic method". Notice: Marx isn't here referring to "a dialectic method", nor yet merely to "part of, or one aspect of, the dialectic method" -- or even "one man's take on the dialectic method" -- but "the dialectic method".

 

Even more significant: this is the only summary of "the dialectic method" Marx published and endorsed in his entire life, and it contains not one atom of Hegel (upside down or 'the right way up').

 

AC prefers to ignore Marx's own words, and then he has the cheek to point his grubby fingers in my direction.

 

In AC's debate with jlowrie, he (I am assuming AC is male, his arrogance and snootiness suggests he is), he added these thoughts:

 

But the issue is how you reconcile your endorsement of L&L [Levins and Lewontin] with your "admiration" of RL's [Rosa Lichtenstein's] essays on "anti-dialectics." I believe it's fair to say that RL would reject not just the "necessity" of "dialectical thinking" but also the validity, if not the possibility of "dialectical thinking" claiming, as she does, that dialectics is nonsense.

 

I have not bothered to bluster against RL here, nor even argue with her. I did that years ago in my youth and found it to be singularly unproductive. Her/his answer to every question is basically "You first. Show me where I'm wrong, then I'll answer your questions." When you do show her/him the historical inaccuracies in her account of Marx's relationship to Hegel's system, he/she simply goes on about the placement of a comma here or there, the meaning of the world "coquette" and never answers the questions.

 

I've never argued that "dialectics" exist or don't exist; or that it is essential to "think dialectically" with Rosa, or with anyone else for that matter. I did and do argue the historical record, and the lack of support in the historical record for her arguments. As an example, in one of our "arguments" RL argued that the dialectic was an encumbrance that prevents, interferes with proper perception, apprehension, understanding (use whatever word you, or RL, wants) of a condition or situation.

 

Well, since RL claims that by the time Marx wrote Capital he had freed himself from all influence of Hegel, I asked RL -- where then in Marx's earlier workers, when Marx was still entangled or connected to Hegel, we can find the mistakes in his analysis, in his critique of capital, that we can directly assign to the Hegel connection? Where for example in the Grundrisse, considered by many to show the persistence of Marx's connection to Hegel, is the analysis of capital not only different from that delivered in Capital, but mistaken? Where is the impact of fixed capital on the cycle of capital, on profitability, on the relation of capital to wage labor in the Grundrisse, not only different from that presented in Capital, but mistaken, and what are the mistakes?

 

Of course, I got no answer. I recommend you give it a try. Maybe, because you have praised her erudition, she'll be more inclined to answer you.

 

IMO, the historical record is clear, and RL has absolutely no understanding of the historical record. The development of Marx's critique of Capital, is concrete-points to the real movement of capital; the real social results of the relations of capital. If Marx was entangled in Hegel's system prior to Capital, if Hegel's system is nonsense and impedes comprehension of the concrete world, then Marx's earlier works must demonstrate that Hegelian limit, the Hegelian flaw. So where are Marx's mistakes that are later corrected in Capital?

 

I know you're concerned with the extreme negativity that seems to have gripped my soul and I thank you for your concern, but as Popeye said, I yam what I yam. I’m old, but not too old to change. It's just that I think I'm right, and I'm prepared to argue being correct based on the historical record, and actual development of capitalism, not on the placement of a comma, or the real meaning of the word "coquette." [Bold added -- keep those highlighted passages in mind when you compare them with what SA had to say, reproduced below, here, here and here.]

 

Of course, AC won't engage with me, since he knows he will lose, so he finds he has to attack me indirectly.

 

Bear the following in mind as you read on:

 

AC: Alas, or may [sic], fortunately, the argument with RL took place on the now defunct revleft website. [Quoted from here. As noted above, some of the material posted to RevLeft is still available.]

 

I will, however, make the following points in reply:

 

(1)  AC is correct, I reject 'dialectical thinking' as incoherent non-sense (not to be confused with "nonsense" -- follow this link for an explanation of the difference), but then I reject all of Traditional Philosophy as incoherent non-sense. I have explained why here (summarised here).

 

(2) AC:

 

"I have not bothered to bluster against RL here, nor even argue with her. I did that years ago in my youth and found it to be singularly unproductive. Her/his answer to every question is basically 'You first. Show me where I'm wrong, then I'll answer your questions.' When you do show her/him the historical inaccuracies in her account of Marx's relationship to Hegel's system, he/she simply goes on about the placement of a comma here or there, the meaning of the world 'coquette' and never answers the questions."

 

I used a tactic like the one SA mentions in my 'debates' with him, which is part of the reason I think AC is SA (the 'comma incident' can be found below), except, as was the case with SA, and as we have seen is the case with AC, when it comes to an accurate report of another's words 'both' are careless with the details. When I was 'debating' AC/SA over at RevLeft, I would ask him several difficult questions (a few of the latter have been reproduced in the Appendix), which he just ignored (since he manifestly couldn't answer them; he is soon out of his depth when it come to philosophy and logic, even though, like other dialecticians, he seems to think he can pontificate about both -- which is an excellent example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect in action).

 

He later asked me a few questions to which I not unreasonably replied "When you answer the many questions I have asked you, which you have ignored, I'll be only too happy to respond to yours". He never did rise to that challenge, but he has now re-written history to suggest it was I who was being obstructive. Some of our debates over at RevLeft are no longer available (those prior to 2010 appear not to have been saved); I have been able to find several from 2010 where I lock horns with SA, and readers will soon see the same arrogant, dismissive tone and sick sense of 'humour' on display from SA.

 

Here he is (from 2010, slightly edited):

 

"No, we don't know that. You know that, like a psychotic knows he or she is Napoleon, like a Jim Joneser knows that Kool-Aid is a fun drink. [Interesting use of "fun" -- RL.]

"We know from detailed reading of all of Marx's works, his manuscripts, his economic studies, his correspondence, that he does recognize the relationship of labour to the conditions of labour as a composed contradiction; the reproduction of wage-labour and capital as the reproduction of opposition and identity where each exists only in the organization of the other. Marx states, and demonstrates this in numerous iterations throughout his manuscripts.

"We know Marx is no Hegelian. He demonstrates that. We know he appropriates dialectic -- explanation, amplification, expansion as, through, by opposition and contradiction -- in his analysis of capitalism and the prospects for its overthrow. He demonstrates it.

"And of course, good job avoiding any comment on the validity of the law of value -- once again you escape any engagement with the substance of Marx's analysis." [Quoted from here, post #8. Spelling modified to UK English. Links to RevLeft take the reader to the page in question not the actual comment; there is no longer any way to link directly to individual posts, which is why I have had to number them.]

 

Me (slightly edited):

 

"Smarty Pants (still proving I'm an 'irrelevance' by replying to me -- Added on edit: SA had earlier claimed I was 'irrelevant'):

 

'No, we don't know that.'

 

"Now, this might come as a surprise to you, but Marx added a summary of 'the dialectic method' to the Postface to the second edition of Das Kapital, which contained not one atom of Hegel -- no 'contradictions', no change of 'quantity into quality', no 'negation of the negation', no 'unity and identity of opposites', no 'interconnected Totality' --, and yet Marx calls this the 'dialectic method'. So, Marx's 'method' has had Hegel completely excised --, except for the odd phrase or two here and there with which he merely 'coquetted'.

"I'm sorry if I've failed to point this out to you before. [Added on edit: In fact I had pointed this out to him dozens of times; so I was being ironic.]

"Of course, if you can find a passage, published by Marx, contemporaneous with or subsequent to Das Kapital, that supports your aim to re-mystify his work, let's see it.

"Oh wait -- you can't..." [Quoted from here, post #9.]

 

SA:

 

"My apologies to the others on this thread for replying to Rosa, thus giving our idiot lady of the anti-dialectic the opportunity to derail another discussion of the substance of Marx's analysis of capitalism and the immanent prospects for its overthrow.

"Since the idiot lady's comments have nothing to do with...Marx's dialectical analysis of capitalism, nor the scientific validity of the law of value, it shouldn't be too hard to ignore them." [Quoted from here, post #10.]

 

Me:

 

"I'm sure the good people here will notice that all you have to offer is yet more abuse, mingled in with the same old discredited mysticism." [Quoted from here, post #11.]

 

There is more of the same, but at greater length, here, and across the next few pages.

 

The 'debates' over at Libcom are much easier to access. Readers can now check for themselves whose memory is to be trusted.

 

Here is SA (over at Libcom, slightly edited):

 

"That's what makes you a troll....

 

"When arguing with RL, you are arguing with someone who's comprehension of the actual history of Marx's work is severely impaired, distorted, and disavowed. It's like arguing with a person who thinks he's Napoleon that the invasion of Russia was a mistake. Remember, you're arguing with someone who thinks he's Napoleon, so the discussion can have no fruitful outcome....

 

"Rosa's a troll. It's one thing to be kicked out of forums [I've been kicked out of revleft, Proyect's 'marxmail' chat room, etc -- these are SA's comments, not mine! -- RL], for not swallowing the ideology of the chat room moderators. It's another thing to get kicked out for being a troll. Libcom needs to get rid of this troll." [Quoted from here. Paragraphs merged. Remarks collated from three separate posts on the page. Bold added; compare the highlighted passage with another highlighted earlier. Also compare it with the tone adopted by AC on Michael Robert's blog.]

 

In response to which I had to keep saying things like the following:

 

"Of course, your personal attacks on me confirm that you can't win an argument with me, and have to resort to abuse." [Quoted from here.]

 

Plus ça change...

 

A few pages after the above exchange, I added this comment:

 

"Now it's all the same to me if this has stumped you, but when, in x months or years time, you claim yet again to have answered all my questions, I will quote this conundrum back at you (and this page, too) to show you are just as full of hot air now as you were at RevLeft." [Quoted from here.]

 

"So, the next time I assert that you have failed to answer my questions (and you reply that you have), I can quote these threads, in addition to those at RevLeft, where you prevaricated to Olympic Standard, as proof you are full of hot air." [Quoted from here. I return to this below.]

 

Again, readers can check; SA refused to engage with the problems I posed for his theory, and the questions I asked him, but insisted I engage with his questions (just as he had done over at RevLeft). For example, this is what SA had to say in response:

 

"Now I certainly don't expect Rosa to engage such a challenge -- what we will get is more puffery about 'as soon as you answer my questions' blahblahblah..." [Quoted from here.]

 

We can see yet again the same dismissiveness and evasion displayed by AC; he asks me questions but refuses to answer mine.

 

Here is SA again, doing another excellent AC impersonation:

 

"You cannot explain a single category of Marx; you cannot answer a single question about Marx's analysis of value; you can't clarify the very points that many people find so difficult in volume 1 and that many consider to be Marx's demonstration of his dialectic -- including those people who disagree with dialectics. There is nothing of substance in anything you write about Marx's work, since Marx's work is first and foremost the analysis of the opposition, the conflict, the contradiction, as he repeatedly identifies it, between labor and the conditions of labor The hot air, and the empty head, are all yours." [Quoted from here; paragraphs merged. Bold added; again, compare the highlighted words with those highlighted earlier.]

 

"She claims: 2) There is much to be learned from his earlier work, provided we too strip it of its mysticism. As a self-proclaimed advocate of historical materialism, this would seem to be a task of considerable importance to her. And to us. But when challenged to show us exactly how such stripping should be done, what should be stripped, and what will emerge that is substantively different and which more acutely apprehends capital after this process she has nothing to say except... 'Others can do that.'" [Quoted from here.]

 

To which I replied:

 

"Well, I did say I would be happy to explain stuff to you, if you were finding it all a little too difficult, but only if you answered the questions I had asked you first and which you have been ducking for two years -- and which, as we can see, you are still ducking, as I predicted you would.... Well, as we can see yet again, all you have left in your depleted armoury is abuse and prevarication -- again as I predicted." [Quoted from here.]

 

"Whimped out, I see...

 

"No worries, SA, I'll just link to these threads the next time you try to con the members of another board into thinking you have answered my questions." [Quoted from here; bold added.]

 

And I was right; all he responded with was this:

 

"The above response from our resident dissembler is exactly the reason she was banned from RedMarx." [Quoted from here.]

 

In fact, I was banned from RedMarx because I was far too effective at demolishing DM and the mystics there couldn't cope.

 

SA again:

 

"GFY [i.e., Go F*ck Yourself -- RL] Rosa, nobody's whimped out. There's just no point engaging with a pathological shirker like you. I've answered every point you've raised and showed how nothing you raise makes any practical difference to Marx's critique of capitalism.... Go troll somewhere else." [Quoted from here.]

 

To which I replied (slightly edited):

 

"In other words, you can't answer this question (which I have been asking you now for at least two years, here and at RevLeft) -- namely

 

'Assuming you are 100% right about Marx and the "dialectic" -- in that case, other than merely copying his use of "contradiction", what is your justification for using it? And I predict that you will deflect attention from it and/or avoid it some more -- since you can't answer it without admitting that the only reason you have for using "contradiction" in the way you do is a slavish adherence to tradition.' [Quoted from here.]

 

I had been asking SA questions like this for over two years prior to this (as I have demonstrated in the Appendix), and long before he asked me any questions, too, but, after an initial pathetic response, SA made no attempt to reply and simply retreated into a dialectical sulk.

 

SA/AC shouldn't feel too bad; in over 35 years asking Dialectical Mystics what one of these mysterious 'contradictions' is, I have yet to receive a clear answer, or any at all. Not even professor Andrew Kliman could tell me! You will struggle long and hard and to no avail to find a clear and non-question-begging explanation what one of these mysterious 'contradictions' is in any book or article that attempts to 'explain' Hegel to his bemused readers -- certainly Hegel didn't. That forms part of my claim that no one understands Hegel -- not even Hegel does! [On that, see above.]

 

[I have said much more about this topic in Essays Eight Part Three and Nine Part One, where I consider several attempts made by Marxists and non-Marxist Hegelians to explain what a 'dialectic contradiction' is, and show that they, too, have failed.]

 

Here I am at RevLeft again in 2010 (this was a question directed at SA):

 

"You have been asked to do this (or rather to explain, and not define this term) for over a month. Indeed, you have also been asked to explain what one of these obscure 'dialectical contradictions' is, and you have signally failed to do so." [Quoted from here -- Post #92. The rest of the discussion on that page is instructive.]

 

(3) But what of this?

 

AC:

 

"I've never argued that "dialectics" exist or don't exist; or that it is essential to 'think dialectically' with Rosa, or with anyone else for that matter. I did and do argue the historical record, and the lack of support in the historical record for her arguments. As an example, in one of our 'arguments' RL argued that the dialectic was an encumbrance that prevents, interferes with proper perception, apprehension, understanding (use whatever word you, or RL, wants) of a condition or situation.

 

"Well, since RL claims that by the time Marx wrote Capital he had freed himself from all influence of Hegel, I asked RL -- where then in Marx's earlier workers, when Marx was still entangled or connected to Hegel, we can find the mistakes in his analysis, in his critique of capital, that we can directly assign to the Hegel connection? Where for example in the Grundrisse, considered by many to show the persistence of Marx's connection to Hegel, is the analysis of capital not only different from that delivered in Capital, but mistaken? Where is the impact of fixed capital on the cycle of capital, on profitability, on the relation of capital to wage labor in the Grundrisse, not only different from that presented in Capital, but mistaken, and what are the mistakes?

 

"Of course, I got no answer. I recommend you give it a try. Maybe, because you have praised her erudition, she'll be more inclined to answer you." [Quoted earlier. Bold added.]

 

Anyone who cares to read the debates over at RevLeft or at Libcom (partially quoted above and again below) will see this is exactly the sort of criticism SA levelled against me back then. Here he is on RevLeft:

 

"You think that Marx's work prior to volume 1 is tainted with the mystical idealism of Hegel. How about you show us where specifically in those earlier works Marx's analysis is tainted with that Hegelian mysticism -- where Marx's analysis of capitalism is weakened, is mistaken, and show us how that weakness and those mistakes can be traced back to his prating about with Hegel's dialectic.

"Show us an error, mistake in the Grundrisse which is correct in vol 1. Show us the mistakes in A Contribution to the Critique that Marx rectifies in vol 1, and show us how those mistakes can be traced to Marx's pre-volume 1 methodology." [Quoted from here, comment #292. Bold added.]

 

A comparison of the two highlighted passages above shows how little AC has changed in ten years.

 

In reply, I even listed the issues SA had ignored (in direct response to him asking me exactly what he had ignored -- and I itemised them several times); all to no avail. He continued to ignore them as if I had failed to list them! [I have now moved that material to the Appendix.]

 

Finally in this regard, here is the origin of AC's reference to "commas"; this also comes from my 'debate' with SA at RevLeft (back in 2010) -- these are my words (slightly edited):

 

"Here is the passage in question, as it appears in MECW:

 

'...I therefore openly avowed myself the pupil of that mighty thinker, and even, here and there, in the chapter on the theory of value, coquetted with the mode of expression peculiar to him.' [Marx (1976), p.103.]

 

"You will, no doubt, note the comma separating the clauses:

 

'and even, here and there, in the chapter on the theory of value, coquetted with the mode of expression peculiar to him.' [Added on edit: I am here quoting the punctuation found in MECW, Volume 35, reproduced on-line. SA seems to think its my punctuation!]

 

"Had he meant what you allege, this would have been:

 

'and even, here and there in the chapter on the theory of value, coquetted with the mode of expression peculiar to him.'

 

"The comma clearly indicates that Marx was giving that chapter as an example, but not an exclusive example, of where he was 'coquetting'.

"Now, your interpretation would have Marx using Hegelian jargon non-seriously in (arguably) the most important chapter in the book, but elsewhere seriously. That makes no sense at all.

 

"My interpretation not only agrees with the punctuation in the official MECW version, it's also consistent with the summary of 'his method', 'the dialectic method' he added to the Afterword to the second edition, in which there is no trace of Hegel at all.

 

SA: 'His use, and demonstration of, contradiction, antagonism, conflict, inversion, negation, alienation, appropriation is consistent and continuous throughout his explorations of capital and goes far beyond his explanation for the unavoidable complexity in the chapter on value.'

 

"And yet, your view would have us believe that Marx changed from being non-serious to being serious in his use of this jargon. My interpretation sees Marx's use as consistently 'coquettish' throughout the book.

"Your view leaves you with the intractable problem of trying to explain why he suddenly changed from being non-serious in the most important part of Das Kapital, to being serious in the less important part.

"And good luck with that one...". [Quoted from here, comment #82. Link added.]

 

So, AC is wrong, my argument is based on Marx's own description of "the dialectic method", which he calls "my method". Issues about that comma, and the word "coquetting", are tangential to that. Independently of that, it is almost as if SA/AC thinks I added the comma to the MECW edition!

 

Readers need to recall my earlier words about AC's honesty and attention to detail.

 

But, what of this?

 

AC: Among the many aspects, and developments, of the Marxist critique of the capitalist world RL has failed to grasp, and can't be bothered with, is that of uneven and combined development. Thus you get the notion of state capitalism, a state capitalism with or without a new bourgeoisie, which new class we cannot detect developing in the "shell" of the old mode of production in Russia, China, Cuba. It's spontaneous generation. Or magical thinking. You make the call. If those revolutions actually produced state capitalism, we can chuck historical materialism into garbage can. [Quoted from here. Paragraphs merged.]

 

Again, this is straight from SA's playbook. He can't respond to my demolition of his ideas so he thinks that if throws enough mud at the wall some of it will stick.

 

Of course, SA/AC blithely ignored the fact that the theory of state capitalism arose directly out of the theory of combined and uneven development. His point about a "new class" that "we" (who?) "cannot detect developing in the 'shell' of the old mode of production in Russia, China, Cuba", is as unfortunate as it is misguided. Where does he think the capitalists currently in China came from? Or those now emerging in Cuba? Or those that soon emerged in Russia in the early 1990s after the old Soviet Union imploded? Can 'we' "detect [them] developing in the 'shell' of the old mode of production"? SA certainly can't. So, where did they come from? Was it 'spontaneous generation' or is this 'magical thinking'? Can he account for any of this using ideas drawn from his mystical version of Historical Materialism?

 

UcanbPolitical

 

Then there is this snotty contribution from the above comrade:

 

I have tried to read Rosa's untidy collection of thoughts. My only suggestion is she collates it into one coherent article out of respect to the reader. All I can say is that she only understands the distinction between agitation and propaganda and not much else. Her observations relate only to agitation where historical materialism and its lessons are supreme. It does not hold with propaganda where more complex ideas are directed at fewer readers The fact is that unless we conquer capitalism intellectually we will not defeat it physically. Thus while historical materialism suffices for agitation, it does not for propaganda. This is where dialectics comes in. Revolutionaries like Tony Cliff, despite their pledges to adhere to Marxism, clearly did not comprehend dialectical thinking. How else could he arrive at the preposterous proposition that the USSR was state capitalist, when that great Dialectician Marx, observed that capitalism could only exist as many capitals or not at all. Cliff's thinking, shorn of dialectics was wooden, whereas Marx, observing the pushes and pulls between capitals, the essence of dialectics, was able to describe their laws of motion.

 

I do not find Rosa's contributions useful or insightful and will not pursue reading her "all over the place" therefore lazily constructed writings. (I know some good cut and paste colleges). [Quoted from here.]

 

Had this comrade made the effort, he [again, the tone suggests he is male; I hope he'll forgive me if I am mistaken], he would have seen I have collated my ideas into several coherent articles in order to help those new to my ideas. Here are just a few Introductory Essays (the first of which does what he asked -- I have collated my ideas "into one coherent article", but, dare I say it, he was too lazy to check):

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Why%20I%20Oppose%20DM.htm

http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/Anti-D_For_Dummies%2001.htm

http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/Why_all_philosophical_theories_are_non-sensical.htm

http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/Outline_of_errors_Hegel_committed_01.htm

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Outline_of_Hegel's_errors_01.htm

And here are a few Essays that summarise my main criticisms of 'dialectics':

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/essay_sixteen%20Index.htm

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Two.htm

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Three_Part_One.htm

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Three_Part_Two.htm

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Four_Part_One.htm

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Five.htm

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Six.htm

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Seven_Index.htm

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Seven-Part-01.htm

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Seven-Part-01b.htm

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Seven-Part-01c.htm

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Eight-Part-01.htm

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Eight-Part-02.htm

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Nine-Part-01.htm

http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Nine-Part-02.htm

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Ten_Part_One.htm

http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Eleven_Part_One.htm

http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Eleven_Part_Two.htm

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Twelve-Part-01.htm

http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/Rest_of_Summary_of_Twelve.htm

http://www.anti-dialectics.co.uk/Summary_of_Essay_Thirteen_Part_One.htm

I have been writing this material since July 1998 (which now amounts to over 3.5 million words), editing, re-writing and re-formatting it so that almost anyone can read it with ease. So much for my alleged "laziness".

 

But, what about this?

 

Thus while historical materialism suffices for agitation, it does not for propaganda. This is where dialectics comes in. Revolutionaries like Tony Cliff, despite their pledges to adhere to Marxism, clearly did not comprehend dialectical thinking. [Ibid.]

 

This comrade perhaps skipped the following section of Essay Nine Part One (a link to which is included in the Preface to every single Essay on my site, and that includes this Essay):

 

[It is worth pointing out that the material in this section depends heavily on the evidence and argument presented in other Essays at this site, which have demonstrated time and again that DM makes not one ounce of sense, and that its theses soon fall apart when examined closely -- and, indeed, that they are far too vague and confused to be assessed even for their truth or falsehood. On this, see Essays Three Part One to Eight Part Three. That isn't the case with HM.]

 

It could be objected that the distinction drawn between DM and HM at this site is completely spurious; hence, the specific and controversial claims made in this Essay are completely misguided, if not downright false.

 

However, as will be argued in Essay Fourteen Part Two, HM contains ideas that are non-sensical only when they are translated into DM-jargon. The eminent good sense made by HM -- even as that theory is understood by workers when they encounter it (often this is in times of struggle) -- testifies to this fact.

 

[HM = Historical Materialism; DM = Dialectical Materialism; LOI = Law of Identity.]

 

The clear distinction that exists between these two theories isn't just a wild idea advanced at this site; it can be seen clearly in the day-to-day practice of revolutionaries themselves. No Marxist of any intelligence would use slogans drawn exclusively from DM to communicate with workers; indeed, few militants would even attempt to agitate strikers, for example, with the conundrums found in DM. On a picket line the alleged contradictory nature of motion or the limitations of the LOI don't often crop up. How frequently does the link between part and whole loom large in the fight against the Nazis? How many times do revolutionary socialists have to explain the distinction, or the link, between 'quantity and quality' in the fight against, say, austerity?   

 

Consider, for example, the following slogans: "The Law of Identity is true only within certain limits and the fight against the sanctions against Venezuela!" Or "Change in quantity leads to change in quality and the defence of pensions!"

 

[Excellent examples of the utter uselessness of the above 'law' can be found here and here.]

 

Or: "The whole is greater than the sum of the parts and the campaign to keep hospital HH open!" Or even, "Being is identical with but at the same time different from Nothing, the contradiction resolved by Becoming, and the fight against the DFLA!"

 

[DFLA = Democratic Football Lads Alliance, a neo-fascist street movement in the UK.]

 

Slogans like these would be employed by militants of uncommon stupidity and legendary ineffectiveness.

 

In contrast, active revolutionaries employ ideas drawn exclusively from HM -- as that theory applies concretely to the current state of the class war -- if they want to communicate with workers. The vast majority of revolutionary papers, for example, use ordinary language coupled with concepts drawn from HM to agitate and propagandise; rarely do they employ DM-phraseology. [A handful examples of the latter have been considered here.]

 

As Ian Birchall informs us:

 

"[Red] Saunders thinks that the IS [the forerunner of the UK-SWP -- RL] attracted the best of the 1968 generation through its politics -- 'Neither Washington nor Moscow' -- but also through the accessibility of its publications, it used ordinary language rather than the jargon of other far-left groups." [Birchall (2011), p.422.]

 

Only deeply sectarian rags of exemplary unpopularity and impressive lack of impact use ideas and terminology lifted from DM to try to educate or propagandise the working class. Newsline (the daily paper of the old WRP) was notorious in this regard; but like the Dinosaurs it resembled, it is no more. [The NON, it seems, took appropriate revenge.]

 

[NON = Negation of the Negation.]

 

It could be objected that no one would actually use slogans drawn from certain areas of HM to communicate with or agitate workers. That doesn't mean HM is of no use, so the same must be true of DM. For example, who shouts slogans about "Base and Superstructure", or "Relative Surplus Value" on paper sales? Who tries to propagandise workers with facts about the role of the peasantry in the decline of feudalism? Once more, this means the distinction drawn in this Essay is entirely bogus.

 

While it is true that no one shouts slogans about the relation between "Base and Superstructure" on paper sales, or prints strike leaflets reminding militants of the role of the peasantry in the decline of feudalism, they nevertheless still use slogans (often popularised slogans) drawn exclusively from HM, or which connect with HM as the latter relates concretely to current events in the class war. Nearly every article, leaflet or slogan is informed by ideas drawn from HM.

 

In stark contrast, again, none at all are employed from DM.

 

To be sure, revolutionary papers in general casually employ a handful of jargonised expressions drawn from DM (in the vast majority cases, this is confined to the use of the word "contradiction") in some of their articles, but this forms only a very minor part of their output -- even though few, if any, comrades will use such terms in slogans on street sales, on demonstrations or in discussions on the picket line.

 

Anyway, as will be shown in Part Two of this Essay, the use of DM-terminology like this is merely a nod in the direction of tradition and orthodoxy. Indeed, we are forced to conclude this since no sense can made of such jargon -- as we have seen, for instance, here, here, here and here. Hence, the employment of DM-terminology simply amounts to a declaration, or an admission, of 'orthodoxy' on the part of the individual or group using it -- an 'in-group'/'out-group' marker, as is argued here. DM-jargon does no real work (other than negative) in such circumstances, unlike concepts drawn from HM.

 

[Claims to the contrary have been neutralised here, here and here.]

 

So, just like Marx in Das Kapital, revolutionary papers merely "coquette" with Hegelian jargon -- and even then, only "here and there".

 

Hence, at least at the level of practice -- where the party interfaces with the working class and the material world --, DM is totally useless.

 

[Indeed, as we will see here, there is no evidence that DM, or any of its jargon, was used even by the Bolsheviks in October 1917, or, for that matter, for several years after.]

 

Consequently, tested in practice -- or, rather, tested by being left out of practice -- the status of DM is plain for all to see: At best, it is a hindrance; at worst, it would totally isolate revolutionaries and make them look ridiculous.

 

This shows that the distinction drawn at this site between DM and HM isn't spurious in the least -- when they communicate with workers, militants draw it all the time.

 

Nevertheless, it could be argued in response that this attempt to separate HM and DM would fragment and compartmentalise our knowledge of nature and society. Such an approach to knowledge would possess clear, Idealist implications, suggesting that human beings are unique by implying that mind is independent of matter. If mind is dependent on matter (howsoever that link is conceived) there must be laws that span across both of them. And this is partly where DM comes in.

 

Or, so it could be argued.

 

But, that isn't so. As noted above, DM is far too vague and confused for it to function in this way; it can't account for anything, social or natural (as the Essays at this site demonstrate -- indeed, if DM were true, change would be impossible). Hence, even if there were natural laws that governed these two spheres (and I will pass no comment on that possibility here), and an inventory were drawn up of all the viable alternative theories capable of accounting for the above hypothesised connection, DM wouldn't even make the bottom of the reserve list of likely candidates. It is far too vague and confused.

 

So, HM can and is used in agitation and propaganda; DM is totally useless. If the above comrade thinks otherwise, then perhaps he can cite a few examples where ideas exclusive to 'dialectics' have been used to propagandise workers -- or, indeed, have any practical applications in the class war. I have considered a few such examples of the latter in Essay Nine Part Two (here and here), where I also show they actually depend on HM, not DM.

 

If this comrade thinks we are going to defeat the capitalist class with this ramshackle and incoherent 'theory' (DM), then he has another think coming.

 

Finally, concerning this comment:

 

Revolutionaries like Tony Cliff, despite their pledges to adhere to Marxism, clearly did not comprehend dialectical thinking. How else could he arrive at the preposterous proposition that the USSR was state capitalist, when that great Dialectician Marx, observed that capitalism could only exist as many capitals or not at all. Cliff's thinking, shorn of dialectics was wooden, whereas Marx, observing the pushes and pulls between capitals, the essence of dialectics, was able to describe their laws of motion. [Ibid.]

 

This is common practice among DM-fans -- that is, accusing other Marxists of not being 'dialectical' when the accuser is, of course, being fully compliant with this eternally malleable 'theory'/'method'. Plainly, this rhetorical flourish is to Dialectical Marxism what 'holier-than-thou' is to religionists. It is simply boilerplate, standard issue, sectarian knock-about, and should be treated with all the contempt it deserves.

 

Again, I have given dozens of examples of this dishonest ploy in Essay Nine Part Two, here, here and here.

 

JLowrie

 

This comrade made a valiant attempt to defend me, but he raised a few points that are worthy of comment (in addition to my response to him posted at Michael's blog):

 

Why waste your time on him, Rosa? You are not the first to find Engels inadequate. [Quoted from here.]

 

It isn't a waste of time if Engels is still viewed as some sort of authority in this area with revolutionaries quoting him and accepting his defective theory. His philosophical ideas are still regarded as valid by the vast majority of revolutionary Marxist parties (I have given dozens of examples in Essay Two), and while that is so they need to be debunked. Especially since his theory has had clearly identifiable, negative affects on practice (which have also been detailed in Essay Nine Part Two).

 

If you have a link to refutations by yourself or others of Rosa’s views on dialectics, I should appreciate it. [Quoted from here.]

 

There aren't any such links, which is why no one posted even so much as one. [E-mail me if you think differently.]

 

Then there is this (slightly edited):

 

In his famous letter to Weydemeyer [corrected spelling -- RL] of 1852 Marx asserted "Long before me, bourgeois historians had described the historical development of this struggle between the classes, as had bourgeois economists their economic anatomy. My own contribution was (1) to show that the existence of classes is merely bound up with certain historical phases in the development of production; (2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat; [and] (3) that this dictatorship, itself, constitutes no more than a transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society."

 

But (2) is merely a thesis, not at all demonstrated, a product of Hegelian supra historical philosophising, which Marx was later to abandon, as suggested above. Our theories of history must be based on historical developments, not a-priori historical theses whose 'supreme merit consists in being a-historical.' Thus Rosa holds that the Chinese and Cuban revolutions are manifestations of state capitalism, because she adheres to the idealist view that socialism can only appear in the most economically advanced countries i.e. universal laws that she condemns in Engels!

 

First of all, I have nowhere condemned universal laws, provided they are scientific laws. Anyway, Engels's 'laws' are far too vague and confused to be described as laws, let alone as universal.

 

Second, it isn't too clear if J Lowrie accepts the other a priori principles expressed in the above letter, namely items (1) and (3), or, indeed, those found elsewhere in Marx's work. If we reject all three of the above (as well as the others), what is there left that is at all distinctive in Marx's work? Nor is it clear by what criterion J Lowrie decides which ideas are a priori and which are a posteriori.

 

Third, it is true that item (2) wasn't "demonstrated", but that is also the case with everything one finds in Hegel, including the existence and nature of all those obscure 'dialectical contradictions'. And yet J Lowrie seems quite happy with some of those ideas (upside down or 'the right way up').

 

Finally, I have nowhere argued that socialism can only be created in the most economically advanced countries. What I have argued, alongside Trotsky and Lenin, is that socialism can't survive in a sea of capitalism -- indeed, as we have seen was the case with the former Soviet Union, the 'People's Democracies' in E Europe, and as we are beginning to see in China, Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. They are now fully integrated into the capitalist world economy, and what is more they also have their own exploited and oppressed proletariat to prove it.

 

~~~~~oOo~~~~~

 

There are several other rather dubious remarks advanced by others, concerning the validity and value of Engels's philosophical ideas in the comments section on this page at Michael's site, but since I have covered them all in my Essays (especially Essay Seven Part One, where I also show that Marx's ideas on the calculus are worthless (Engels's are even worse!) -- I am a mathematician, by the way -- and which aren't even 'dialectical'!), I won't cover them again here.

 

Conclusion

 

So, were readers able to see a single argument in the comments section over at Michael's blog that made some, any, attempt to show where my case against Engels is mistaken, faulty or weak? As should now seem reasonably clear, other than Jlowrie's comments, what we find in place of sane and sober criticism are personal and abusive remarks, spiced up with blatant lies.

 

This is the kind of reception one receives from Trump fans and Fundamentalist Christians. I'd hate to call DM-fans a cult, but the case for their defence grows weaker with each (non-)attempt of theirs to defend Engels's 'theory'.

 

Appendix

 

Unless indicated otherwise, these are all my words in reply to SA (slightly edited):

 

"For example, you ignored this:

 

'1) Unpublished remarks cannot out-weigh or countermand published sources. We have a summary of the 'dialectic method', which Marx saw fit to publish, and endorse as 'his method', which contains not one shred of Hegel.

'2) In stark contrast, you can't refer to or quote a single published source, contemporaneous with or subsequent to Das Kapital, that supports the traditional view you hold.'

 

"And several times (me gain):

 

'Well, as I have pointed out to you now over twenty times, this flies in the face of what Marx actually said in his most important published book. And I added the following earlier this evening (which you have once again chosen to ignore):...

 

"1) Unpublished remarks cannot out-weigh or countermand published sources. We have a summary of the 'dialectic method', which Marx saw fit to publish, and endorse as 'his method', which contains not one shred of Hegel.

"2) In stark contrast, you can't refer to or quote a single published source, contemporaneous with or subsequent to Das Kapital, that supports the traditional view you hold."

 

'To give you just two of that places I had to remind you.'

 

'And this:

 

"And Marx is right here, not wrong, as you assert that I have asserted, since this does not prevent Hegel being the first, as I have told you before, but you just ignore what you do not like to see, and then you perseverate over the same tedious points. Here it is again:

 

'Indeed, this does not prevent him from being the first, since Hegel did not do it all.

'What prevents Hegel being the first to do this is, as I said, the fact that he did not do it at all. But, what he did do was mystify a process that Aristotle had first discovered, and which was put in a more scientific form by Smith, Ferguson, Millar, Robertson, Hume, Stewart and Kant, and, of course, Marx himself.'

 

"You need to address what I actually say, not what you would like me to have said. [Bold in the original.]

 

'And this:

 

SA: 'And this in turn is exactly why I think you and Rosa are idealists, classic idealists, in conflating 'philosophy' with history, and confusing description with demonstration [with Rosa providing the max in confusion by repeatedly citing Marx citing the Russian reviewer's description as the description of Marx's dialectic -- which is to say it is a presentation, rather than demonstration of the dynamic of capitalist accumulation, and the impairment of accumulation.'

 

"In fact, I go out of my way to emphasise that philosophy is a load of hot air, so how can I possibly conflate '"philosophy" with history'?

"But, and once more, you prefer allegation to proof or evidence. Where do I 'conflate' these, and where do I confuse 'description with demonstration'?

"Ah, but you then refer us to the following as 'proof':

 

SA: 'with Rosa providing the max in confusion by repeatedly citing Marx citing the Russian reviewer's description as the description of Marx's dialectic-- which is to say it is a presentation, rather than demonstration of the dynamic of capitalist accumulation, and the impairment of accumulation.'

 

"But, Marx (not I) published it, and it is the only published summary of 'his method', 'the dialectic method', that Marx endorsed.

"If you can find a better and more comprehensive presentation of it (or any at all!), in a published source contemporaneous with or subsequent to Das Kapital, as I have said several times, I will recant.

"But you have repeated failed to do so -- since you can't.

"But, even if I am wrong, how does this show I am an idealist? That is, as opposed to just being wrong."

 

'But there are many others.

 

SA: 'You, however, have not answered the two questions, which themselves contain the fundamental answer to "moving on."'
 

"1) They are off-topic in this thread.

"2) And I did answer them, but not in the way you expected, or wanted. Here's my answer:

 

'As I said, it's far more important to halt the flow of Hegelian poison into Marxism.

'The class struggle will proceed quite nicely even if we do not yet understand the inner working of capitalism.

'Marxist parties will not however run smoothly if they remain in thrall to dialectics, which, of course, means that our intervention in the class war will continue to falter.'

 

"In stark contrast, you just flat out ignored the examples I listed above.

 

SA: 'And idealism at work.... and it's alienated labor. "Our intervention" in the class war is not determined by our positions on Hegel. To make that argument puts you in the position of Tribune's pretend dialectician preaching philosophy to his pretend Palestinians, but from, of course, the opposite/identical "philosophical" perspective. Which is why it's important to "move on." Rather than swearing loyalty to historical materialism because it is so easy to do that since "most of it's already been done" for you, the task is exactly that of making the transition that is inherent in the answers to the questions you refuse to answer.'

 

"In fact, as I have shown, this Hegelian infection has made a bad situation worse. Do I have to repeat what I have posted several times already, just for you to ignore it yet again?

 

SA: 'You can posture all you want about "jargon," but if the jargon's a waste of time, with no material consequences, then so is your posturing.'

 

"Jargon that neither you nor any other 'dialecticians' can explain -- which is, of course, why the traditional view you espouse will never be scientific, and thus cannot be used to change society in the direction of socialism.

"Which in turn is part of the reason why Dialectical Marxism is almost synonymous with long-term failure.

 

'If you think the problem with Marxist parties is that they are infused with, entranced by Hegelian jargon, then you don't know spit about historical materialism.'

 

"Where have I said this: 'the problem with Marxist parties is that they are infused with, entranced by Hegelian jargon'?

"Once more, you prefer to paraphrase me, and erroneously, rather than quote me.

"Which is, as I have pointed out to you since you arrived here, a fault you seem determined to repeat, over and over.

"Once more: shall I do the same to you? [Quoted from here. Comment #198. Italic emphases in the original.]

 

Well, I think readers get the picture: SA had absolutely no intention of engaging in debate with me, merely in belittling and pontificating. The same is now the case with AC.

 

SA/AC had been like that ever since he first appeared at RevLeft (in 2009) -- hence the tone I began to adopt toward him; I started to take the p*ss.

 

Latest Update: 24/04/20

 

Word Count: 15,560

 

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