Leprechaun Of Logic Soils Himself In Public
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Summary Of My Main Objections To Dialectical Materialism
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Mr G, always keen to plumb new depths of idiocy, has continued to dump his aimless thoughts on the good people who frequent Lenin's Tomb, some of which 'thoughts' were directed at me, some at others, but many at no one in particular -- his favourite audience. [Unfortunately, as noted above, Haloscan links no longer work!]
Indeed, the good people there reciprocate: for no one in particular seems to appreciate his 'ideas'.
In this reply, I will, however, concentrate on relevant issues, even if only to teach him by example what that those words mean.
[And you can quit smirking at the back! I for one have faith that this concept will, one day, seep into the congealed tapioca he stores between his ears.]
[MD = Materialist Dialectics/Dialectician, depending on context; DM = Dialectical Materialism; FL = Formal Logic.]
Two years ago I began by being rather nice to Mr G (you can find the links below), but he soon started to accuse me of lying, of posting rubbish, and then he developed a familiar affliction peculiar to DM-fans: he began to attribute ideas to me that I did not hold, and would never hold, nor which could reasonably be inferred from what I do believe. And he is still doing it. [As will soon become apparent.] So, I became rather aggressive in return toward him, and I now heap more abuse on him than he can cope with.
And this is why (as I note on the opening page of my site):
How Not To Argue 101
This page contains links to forums on the web where I have 'debated' this creed with other comrades.
For anyone interested, check out the desperate 'debating' tactics used by Dialectical Mystics in their attempt to respond to my ideas.
You will no doubt note that the vast majority all say the same sorts of things, and most of them pepper their remarks with scatological and abusive language. They all like to make things up, too, about me and my beliefs.
25 years (!!) of this stuff from Dialectical Mystics has meant I now take an aggressive stance with them every time -- I soon learnt back in the 1980s that being pleasant with them (my initial tactic) did not alter their abusive tone, their propensity to fabricate, nor reduce the amount of scatological language they used.
So, these days, I generally go for the jugular from the get-go.
Apparently, they expect me to take their abuse lying down, and regularly complain about my "bullying" tactics.
So, these mystics can dish it out, but they cannot take it.
Given the damage their theory has done to Marxism, and the abuse they all dole out, they are lucky this is all I can do to them.
Well, now that Mr G is out-gunned in all departments (logic, philosophy, abuse and, of course, comprehension of the word "relevant"), all he can do is moan, and throw a few weak terms of abuse back at me:
The difficulty with Rosa is that she simply becomes abusive when anyone challenges her ideas, and responds to not a single argument put to her. I would say that I have enough abuse and witch-hunting from other people and one hardly expects it from people who imagine they're on the left.
Anyone who follows the links I have given (these can he found here) will soon see that I do in fact reply to his 'arguments' (where any sense can be made of them, that is), whereas he ignores most of mine.
I've given a number of examples of how the word 'contradiction' is used in ordinary language, and demonstrated that, in our language, we use the term about other things than contrary propositions within statements (even at the most simple level when someone asks 'are you contradicting me?' which is not a reference to a statement containing a contrary proposition).
Once more, these 'examples' have been batted out of the park here, but in more detail, here. And readers will note, too, that Mr G is here still confusing contraries with contradictories. And yet he expects to be regarded as an 'expert' in logic. Well, we may suppose he is when he delivers speeches to his extensive collection of soft toys at night, in his bedroom. But he will need to find an audience composed of sentient beings slightly more intelligent than his teddy bear if his reputation is to be enhanced significantly in this regard.
But the metaphysician Rosa continues to use words in her
own special way without explaining the relevance. And then, having based her
argument on utterly obscure technical issues from formal logic, turns round and
accuses other people of being 'philosophical'. Its like a very good
The term 'contradiction' is obviously rather important in the context of this argument (a dialectical contradiction might be considered a necessary contradiction) because whenever anyone offers an example of a dialectical contradiction, Rosa responds by suggesting that its not a 'contradiction' (presumably its just a difference and not necessary at all) the main argument being that contradiction simply means a statement containing a contrary proposition.
Therefore the capitalist mode of production can't be understood with dialectics, because dialectics rests on a faulty understanding of what a contradiction is.
And this somehow relates to mystical ideas developed by ruling classes through the ages. To which are counterposed Rosa's ideas developed by other ruling classes through the ages. It's really not very compelling.
One might add a little quote from Bernard Russell. Anything that can be put in a nutshell should probably stay there. [Spelling mistakes corrected, as they have been in other quotations on the current page from this numpty.]
You will note, dear reader, if you managed to stay awake while you read through the above missive, that he fails to quote a single example of my allegedly odd use of "contradiction" -- while I quote his every word. Mr G then indulges in something he falsely accuses me of doing: i.e., re-defining this word (or rather, using it in an idiosyncratic sort of way) as he now does himself, referring to it as a "necessary contradiction", while failing to note that all contradictions are necessary, anyway, but false.
He then says this:
Rosa responds by suggesting that its not a 'contradiction' (presumably its just a difference and not necessary at all) the main argument being that contradiction simply means a statement containing a contrary proposition.
Once more, he failed to quote any of my words to this effect, for all I have said so far is that his examples fail to illustrate what he (or anyone else) means when he/they refer to 'dialectical contradictions' -- but, all the while, and once again, managing to confuse contradictions with contraries.
I am sure I am not the only one who thinks that the only way to pound even a vaguely accurate idea into this numbskull's head is perhaps to use a jack hammer.
Someone power it up; I'll give it a go...
He then re-asserted the following (something he airs regularly):
And this somehow relates to mystical ideas developed by ruling classes through the ages. To which are counterposed Rosa's ideas developed by other ruling classes through the ages. It's really not very compelling.
As I have said to him many times, he has not read my evidence and argument, so no wonder he does not find it "compelling". On that basis, presumably, the very next time he encounters someone who says he has read only a page or two of Marx, and finds it all not very "compelling", Mr G will agree, and buy her/him a drink.
For then he will have found his soul-mate.
He ends the above with a nutshell comment from Russell about nutshells (he should pass it along to the editors at Socialist Worker, and demand that they publish fifty page articles on any and all such topics from now on), but he should have quoted two of Russell's other pithy sayings, for they apply to him:
(1) "Most people would rather die than think; in fact they do."
(2) "The worse a man's logic, the more interesting the results that flow from it."
As if his earlier comments were not embarrassing enough, he heaps more ordure on his rapidly sagging reputation with this:
In everyday language Rosa's argument rests on claiming that it is a mistake to talk about 'contradictions' in reality, as opposed to 'contradictions' in statements about it.
Nowhere do I argue that it is "a mistake to talk about 'contradictions' in reality, as opposed to 'contradictions' in statements about it." [This is just another example of Mr G attributing his own garbled thoughts to me.]
What I do argue is that I can make no sense of the claim that contradictions exist anywhere else than in language, and I challenge dialecticians to show otherwise. To date none have. Indeed, it is hardly likely that this dunderhead (who does not even know the difference between a contradiction and a contrary!) will be up to that task, either.
Hegel's great crime was notoriously to treat of
contradictions as things that could exist outside of statements. Partly he was
able to do so as he saw the unfolding of history as an idea and not a material
The real debate is whether its possible to separate Hegel's general philosophical schemas from his notion of a contradiction in reality. There is a large literature on this which Rosa sadly ignores.
Well, it is undeniable that Hegel claimed there were such things, but he neglected to prove there were any, and the rather weak, aprioristic argument he offered his readers has more holes in it than Mr G's string vest. [A brief summary of Hegel's blunders can now be found here; a much more detailed examination of the idea that there are 'dialectical contradictions' has been posted, here.]
Moreover, Mr G doesn't know whether I have ignored the "vast" literature on this topic, since he hasn't read my Essays (indeed, other than those to which I have linked in the previous paragraph, the Essays where I deal directly with Hegel haven't yet been published!).
No worries; Mr G has a licence to invent.
Instead Rosa proceeds like a medieval theologian ruling out 'action at a distance' as impossible on the basis of a philosophical theses (in this case the philosophical theses is that reality cannot have contradictions, only statements about it can). Attempts by medieval philosophers to rule out the possibility of the gravity were shown up as irrelevant by the progress of science. Rosa's arguments are hardly more compelling.
Once more, the reader will note that Mr G doesn't quote where I rule out "action at a distance", or anything like it --, and no wonder, I have never done so. In addition, he ignores Relativity, which has rid the universe of gravitational forces, replacing them with motion along geodesics. [The reader is encouraged not to take my word for this, but to consult the evidence I have amassed here; summarised here and here.]
Now, Mr G would do himself a huge favour if he resisted the temptation to rely on defunct scientific ideas in order to make his case, such that it is. While he accuses me of medieval predilections, he is content to ignore Einstein in preference for Newton (who, incidentally co-opted a Hermetic idea in order to model his idea of "force" -- evidence for that assertion can be found here and here).
At no point does she do more than show that the use of the
term 'contradiction' within the Hegelian and Marxist traditions is incompatible
with Formal logic.
To which the answer can only be: so what? Surely the main question is whether this method illuminates reality. The answer is yes it does. What relevance Formal logicians debating what can and can't be said in a sentence have for people concerned with what can and can't happen in capitalism, is something which Rosa has never addressed.
There is so much invention here, Mr G should consider changing his name to Enid Blyton -- after all, he writes as if he were the Noddy of Philosophy.
Mr G Goes To Town
Far from not doing what he says I do, I argue extensively (across more than 300,000 words), in several of my Essays, that no sense can be made of Hegelian, or even of DM-'contradictions', howsoever one tries (links above) -- and irrespective of the 'demands' of FL.
Now, as to whether this 'method' "illuminates reality", I will pass no comment --, except to say that, since we can now see all too clearly the deleterious effects that too much Hegelian Hermeticism has had on the brain of this sad waffler, the only illumination that the highly repetitious books on dialectics should be allowed to provide is that which is given off by Hume's bonfire when we consign them to its flames.
Has anyone got a can of petrol...?
Why should we be interested? Rosa here will claim that its important because of the failures of Marxism and make a series of assertions about these failures being connected to a belief in dialectics. These assertions are not very convincing or well argued, and sadly demonstrate that knowledge of formal logic does not necessarily lead you to coherent arguments.
Once again, since he hasn't read my arguments, he is in no position to judge. A serious defect like this would slow most ordinary human beings down, or would at least make them a little more diffident about passing an opinion on the basis of total ignorance, but not the denizens of Planet Gormless (named after Mr G, their Guru).
Mr G Attempts A Cutting Remark
As we have seen, and as we are about to see, this Superior Being will say anything, do anything, invent anything to protect the precious 'dialectic' -- just like other fully paid-up 'god'-botherers do with the Bible.
Much of the following (the relevance of which is lost on me, as I suspect it is on Mr G) I will allow my colleague, Babeuf, to answer when he returns (if he can summon up the energy to bother with this wally):
One very interesting problem in Rosa's account of human history is on the role of religion. Apparently one Babeuf turned up at Marxism and presented a related argument. He suggested that the argument of the anti-dialectic crowd wasn't simply philistine because whilst technical vocabularies were necessary for questions of technique, and later theoretical languages about technique, and whilst this differed from ordinary language.
a) everything said in the technical or theoretical
language could be translated back into everyday language (it's a kind of
and b) it differed from philosophy which was 'religious', and religions were about small elites befuddling the masses and persuading them that they needed an 'elite' to do their thinking for them (hence this philosophical/religious language can't be translated back into ordinary language).
Comrades can read for themselves what Babeuf actually said here (and in his own words, not mine); but Mr G has added several of his own witless comments in order to help the reader misunderstand the argument:
a) everything said in the technical or theoretical
language could be translated back into everyday language (it's a kind of
and b) it differed from philosophy which was 'religious', and religions were about small elites befuddling the masses and persuading them that they needed an 'elite' to do their thinking for them (hence this philosophical/religious language can't be translated back into ordinary language).
Now, I do not know why Mr G thinks a translation is also a shorthand, but he needn't take my word (nor yet Babeuf's) for the conclusions we drew about philosophy, language and ideology; here is Marx, agreeing with us both:
"For philosophers, one of the most difficult tasks is to descend from the world of thought to the actual world. Language is the immediate actuality of thought. Just as philosophers have given thought an independent existence, so they had to make language into an independent realm. This is the secret of philosophical language, in which thoughts in the form of words have their own content....
"...The philosophers would only have to dissolve their language into the ordinary language, from which it is abstracted, to recognise it as the distorted language of the actual world, and to realise that neither thoughts nor language in themselves form a realm of their own, that they are only manifestations of actual life." [Marx and Engels (1970), p.118. Bold emphases alone added.]
"The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it. The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance. The individuals composing the ruling class possess among other things consciousness, and therefore think. Insofar, therefore, as they rule as a class and determine the extent and compass of an epoch, it is self-evident that they do this in its whole range, hence among other things rule also as thinkers, as producers of ideas, and regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age: thus their ideas are the ruling ideas of the epoch." [Ibid., pp.64-65, quoted from here. Bold emphases added.]
But what has Mr Gormless got to say about these well-established Marxist ideas? Wonder no more:
There are many difficulties here, but for a Marxist the
most striking thing is the extraordinary ignorance of the historical role of
religion in the development of techniques, theories of these techniques, and
indeed scientific discoveries of many kinds, this being true since the beginning
of human history.
Perhaps the funniest thing about all this is the huge strides that were made in the science of logic by medieval theologians whose work Rosa is otherwise familiar with. Without this work its unlikely that Rosa could construct the arguments she makes today.
But, who wants to deny the historical role that religion has played? Where have I even attempted to do so? Indeed, I myself have noted it here -- which fact Mr Gormless would know if he gave up that debilitating habit of passing comment on ideas without actually having read them.
But, if religious ideas are to connect with material reality in some form, they will need to be translated in ways that Marx noted above -- i.e., into the material language of the toiling masses: ordinary language. After all, when it comes to science and technology, banging on about the "Holy Ghost" isn't much use, and even if you believe that forces are mystical beings (as Newton did), you are going to have to study them utilising mathematical rules that themselves enjoy a material connection with reality, at some point.
All of this is closely related to problems often referred
to as demarcation criteria (how do we distinguish between philosophy and
science, a line which actually shifts through the course of history) and the
closely related problem of the progress of scientific knowledge.
Science was bound up with religion for most of human history and it is only in the period leading up to and following the enlightenment that human knowledge progressed by strictly separating these domains.
That this was progress can't be denied. But how do we explain developments (most of them in recorded history) which proceeded because of, rather than in spite of theological and religious beliefs?
I would suggest a bit of the old dialectical thought might come in handy here. Anyone confused by any of the above might try playing a quick game of Civilizations.
Its incredible to me that someone who proudly calls themselves a historical materialist can know so very little about actual human history. And that someone who denounces philosophy can substitute purely philosophical arguments for such knowledge. Stand up the real anti-philosophers. (Hegel, for all his idealist faults, was the first philosopher to suggest that progress of human ideas had to be understood historically. In that sense he was far in advance of Rosa and Babeuf whose thought remains mired in the 17th century).
Now, if anyone wants to comment on these banal thoughts, even where some relevance to the overall debate can be ascertained in them, they are welcome to do so. I will merely make a few observations:
(1) Hegel was not the first to suggest that progress of human ideas had to be understood historically. Kant, Ferguson, Smith, Millar, Hume, Herder, Montesquieu and Hamann were. But, and once more, Mr Know-Nothing here would know this if he bothered to read my Essays. What Hegel managed to do, of course, was mystify the whole process. [On this, see Meek (1967b), and Wood (1998,1999).]
(2) In view of the above, and in view of the fact that Hegel's mystification derives from ideas dreamt up by Plotinus (who connected reality with "emanations" from 'God'), even if it were the case that Babeuf and myself are mired in the 17th century (but Mr G later alleges we are mired in the 19th! He's not the "Emanation's" gift to consistency, is he?), we would still both be stunningly modern in comparison to this charlatan, who relies in ideas that were concocted in the second century (and provably even earlier still).
Now, in a long reply to another comrade (Red Eck), about which I will say little, Mr G passed this comment:
Rosa speaks utter mumbo jumbo about, for example, the history of religion and its role in human society. Its simply a repetition of Enlightenment thought which reduced the role of religion to that of social control, and therefore did much the same with the history of political ideologies. The whole of Marxism is an attempt to move beyond this perspective. Rosa wants to take us back to the 18th century. Her arguments are the product of being overly impressed with the tradition of analytical philosophy when she went to university. She obviously got embarrassed because the Marxism she had learnt was not incompatible with what the profs had to say. Instead of thinking more about Marxism she just tells us what her profs said.
And all this is dressed up as a form of populism championing ordinary folk. Its bourgeois ideology -- simon pure, which believes that philosophy ends with last (sic) bourgeois ideologues and is still fighting priest craft in an age where it is no longer priests we have to worry about.
(1) As Red Eck pointed out, Mr G cannot possibly know this, since he knows neither me nor my professors.
(2) None of my professors were Marxists, and my one teacher who was a Marxist, was certainly into Hegel in a big way. Mercifully, he failed to infect my brain with the latter's mystical 'theories'.
(3) Now, correct me if I am wrong, but Hegel was a professor wasn't he? In that case, Mr Gormless here prefers the mystical ramblings of that non-worker, Hegel, to the arguments I have constructed using only the language of the working class (or which can be translated with ease into it), as Marx himself instructed us to do.
(4) I never get embarrassed -- except over the crass things comrades like Mr Gormless here say in the name of Marxism.
(5) Can someone please refer this twerp back to Marx's comments, where he says just about the same as me (concerning ordinary language, and ruling-class ideology). [More details here.]
(6) What comments on religion? The ones of mine that agree with Marx's, by any chance?
In another little side-swipe at me, this Waffle-Meister had the following to say (notice how 'relevant' it is):
This debate always reminds me of the character Mr Logic in that unfunny comic Viz. The implicit joke about mr logic was that by constantly using formal logic in interpreting statements made by people in everyday situations he wasn't being very logical. Generally the strip ended with him being punched on the nose.
There is a similarly irritating feel about Rosa's ridiculous little rants. Someone who has so completely missed the point that you don't know where to start.
Nice to see where Mr G gets his 'complex' logical ideas from: Viz 'magazine'.
And, since he knows no logic, his comment carries about as much weight as creationist claims about evolution, the Bible and science (since they too are based on wilful ignorance).
In another response to Red Eck, Mr Gormless made this remark:
Metaphysics is concerned with ontological statements. Rosa's beliefs (sic) that there cannot be contradictions in reality but only in statements is a metaphysical belief. As is incidentally, logic (quite literally as it can't be proved with reference to physical phenomena: the propositions of logic are the purest kind of metaphysical statements imaginable. Attempts to ground logic in anything but itself have always failed). It is indeed a 'contradiction' that Rosa's arguments against philosophy can only proceed by utilizing the purest kind of philosophy, a philosophy incidentally, whose progress was greatly shaped by medieval theologians debating what an omnipotent God would look like. This does not at all mean that logic is nonsense or wrong. But it does mean that Rosa's argument is nonsensical and wrong.
My reply runs as follows:
(1) I nowhere say there can be no contradictions in reality (which explains why this serial liar didn't quote me to that effect) since the claim that there could be any is far too vague to assess for its truth or its falsehood. And so it will remain until Mr Gormless (hah, some hope!), or someone else with a working brain, tells us what a 'dialectical contradiction' could possibly be. If we haven't a clue what the latter are, how are we supposed to determine if there are any in nature and society? No good looking to this numpty for help, as we have seen.
(2) Mr Gormless very helpfully exposes his almost total lack of knowledge of logic here. But even if he were correct, what has this got to do with anything I have ever asserted? Where have I ever claimed that logic can or can't be "proved with reference to physical phenomena", or that it is (or even that it isn't) possible to "ground logic in anything but itself"? Perhaps the reader will believe me now when I say that this plonker has an impressively insecure grasp of the word "relevant", and likes to invent stuff as the whim takes him.
(3) Precisely where is there anything that I have asserted, or denied, that is based on "the purest kind of philosophy"? Even the most superficial perusal of my site will show that I argue against all forms of philosophy. As my colleague Babeuf noted in his report of a debate he attended at Marxism 2007):
Dialecticians, as Rosa has observed from years of experience debating with them, like to put words in the mouths of their opponents by attributing to them some other philosophical theory, which they can then condemn as "undialectical" or "mechanical". And so in one of the three-minute contributions later in the meeting, a speaker from the floor dismissed the anti-Dialectical contribution as "empiricist" -- on the basis of no evidence whatsoever. Empiricism should be rejected (as Rosa argues elsewhere) as much as Dialectics and any other philosophical theory (as opposed to scientific theories). Granted, most empiricists have shown far greater ingenuity than Dialecticians have in making their theories sound plausible, but that cannot rescue them. Alternatively, if the Dialectician is more inclined to play fair, s/he will often ask "what philosophical theory do you propose instead of Dialectics?" The question contains a false assumption, namely that the rejection of one philosophical theory requires another philosophical theory to take its place. As the contribution made clear, the answer is to reject the premises of the question: all philosophical theories should be repudiated as a part of ruling-class ideology.
(4) If my arguments are nonsensical, how is it that this logical minnow is able to understand them enough to say that they are "wrong"? [Of course, that depends on what this airhead means by "nonsense" -- even though that might be to attribute to him far too much rationality.]
(5) Given the proven links there are between Hegel's confused ideas and Hermetic Mysticism, it is a bit rich of Mr Gormless to trace (even partially) my ideas (with no proof at all) back to medieval theology.
But, now he reveals his true colours (yellow, I think):
If Rosa is going to be allowed to troll and abuse people in this manner the least that can be done is that my responses are posted. It should be said that Rosa is one of the vilest elitists I've ever seen post on a board. I really hope people are not taken in by her. She's a bit thick really. [Bold emphasis added.]
Lenin's excellent blog is unfortunately visited by Nazis, racists, homophobes,
sexist pigs, supporters of mass murder in Iraq (all of whom are soon banned),
rabid Zionists --
and supporters, too, of all the murderous inequalities the human race has had inflicted
And yet Mr G openly equates me with such characters -- and with all the even viler types who post on openly hate-ridden boards (this can be seen by his indefinite reference to "on a board").
But, why is this? Why is it that I am every bit as vile as they are?
Have I advocated the mass murder of Jews (hardly, since I am one), or of Palestinians? Have I advocated the nuking of Iran, or the castrating of gays? Have I argued that women are an inferior sub-species, or that the poor deserve all they get, and worse?
No, but Mr G equates me with all those who have advocated these and more.
So, what heinous crime have I committed that warrants such a slur from Mr Gormless -- one that is far far worse than anything I have said of him, or would say of him?
The answer is plain for all to see: I have dared to attack the Sacred Dialectic. That is enough to make me a vile elitist, and one of the worst on the internet!
In Essay Nine Part Two I have explained (in Historical Materialist terms) why DM-fans tend to react this way, here, here and here.
Hence, because I dare to attack the mystical theory that gives some sort of
sense to his petty-bourgeois, aimless existence, Mr G hurls foul accusations at me:
I am comparable to the very worst and vilest denizens of the world-wide web -- which,
because they too post on "boards", must include child rapists!
What more proof do we need that this 'theory' works for Mr G like an opiate, providing him with consolation for the fact that Dialectical Marxism has enjoyed unprecedented lack of success over the last 100 years or so -- and for the additional fact that the UK-SWP is half the size it was before Chris Harman resurrected DM in 1988? And all this despite the unprecedented world-wide radicalisation we have seen since 1999, and the prominent role the SWP has played in the StWC, and Respect. [Which has now split!]
The long and sorry tale of the slow decline of Dialectical Marxism (including the UK-SWP) can be found here. [2014: Mr G has now left the SWP along with about half its membership -- yet another 'dialectical' success story?]
If truth is tested in practice, practice has plainly refuted dialectics.
Add to this the fact that this 'non-elitist', Mr G, is quite happy to bad mouth me (a member of the working class), even while he prefers the mystical ideas of that arch-elitist, Hegel.
There is more of the same, I'm sorry to have to say. In reply to my response to his comments about Marxism 2007, he confirmed the above assessment of him (that he is an opiate-loving mystic):
I hope that people do check the link to Babeuf's statements at Marxism. They will see that he says exactly what I say he says. I've said it once and I'll say it again. Rosa's argumentative tactics are identical to those of right wing Zionist trolls. Endless misdirection, abuse when she can't think of an argument, and a bleating and aggressive sense of victimhood. One of the things I find particularly objectionable is that she is simply defending establishment philosophy: and acting as if she's the victim of some establishment conspiracy. Marxists aren't the establishment Rosa in case you hadn't noticed. You are. [Bold emphasis added.]
The reader will note once again the projection onto me of his own faults and foibles. Except, he openly equates me with Zionist trolls who defend the slaughter of Palestinians!
As I noted earlier, this desperate soul will say anything, do anything, sink to any level, in order to defend Dialectical Dogma.
And he continues to lie, for if one thing is plain from my Essays, I attack all forms of Philosophy, not just the Hermetic variety that has paralysed his one remaining brain cell.
In another reply to Red Eck, Mr Gormless continued along similar dissembling lines:
Use of the term 'Paradox' to describe what Marx referred
to as 'Contradictions' would run into exactly the same problem as use of the
term 'Contradiction' does from the standpoint of formal logic: Paradox's in
formal logic exist in statements not in reality.
If you think this through in a serious way (unlike Rosa who when confronted with an argument ignores it in favour of continuing to bash a straw man) you'll realise that this whole argument makes any kind of social theory of capitalism impossible, and more than that, just IS a form of idealism. That's perhaps the biggest irony of this whole 'discussion'.
Once more, Mr G asserts that I ignore something which I do not; indeed, and once again, I have devoted Essays in excess of 300,000 words to discussing examples of alleged 'contradictions' in nature and society. [On this, see Essays Four through Eight Parts One and Two.] And, of course, this only appears to be the greatest of ironies to this airhead since he thinks he can criticise my work from a position of total ignorance.
In one aside Rosa attacks articles in Socialist Worker for referring to 'contradictions' implying that this is the result of fealty to 'dialectics'. Its not. Its fealty to ordinary language. Google contradiction and you'll find that people use the term all the time in precisely the way Socialist Worker does.
Now, I have carried out such a 'Google' search, and the only place one finds individuals using the word "contradiction" as it is used in Socialist Worker is in sites promoting dialectics (and that includes Stalinist and Maoist sites -- indeed, it is hard to fit a party card between those two traditions and Trotskyism itself in relation to their adherence to this 'theory', but nothing else!) --, except you can find this term in a few dictionaries.
Now, this is what I have argued elsewhere concerning that particular phenomenon:
On the other hand, if dialecticians aim to re-define the word "contradiction" as "conflict" then their theory would merely become a form of stipulative conventionalism -- since there is nothing in the meaning of either the everyday word "contradiction", nor in its FL-twin, that remotely suggests such a connotation; nor is there vice versa with "conflict".
In that case, it is now clear that this word has been re-defined just to make 'Materialist Dialectics' work. But, we should be no more convinced of the acceptability of that manoeuvre than we would be if, say, an apologist of Capitalism 'defined' it as "natural" and "beneficial to all". If the re-definition of terms provided a "royal road" to truth, those with the best dictionaries would surely win Noble Prizes.
To be sure, one online dictionary lists the following as a definition of the word "contradiction":
"contradiction, n 1: opposition between two conflicting forces or ideas...."
However, dictionaries are repositories of usage, and are neither normative nor prescriptive (except in the senses mentioned below). In this case, the above dictionary is clearly recording the 'dialectical' use of this word -- by Dialectical Marxists! That doesn't imply that this word means anything when used this way -- certainly dialecticians themselves can't tell us what it means!
The same dictionary also defines the word "Nirvana" -- but, which materialist wants to admit that that word actually means anything (that is, apart from its emotional import)?
Indeed, dictionaries 'define' many things
about which dialecticians would have reservations.
"God: A being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions.
"The force, effect, or a manifestation or aspect of this being.
"A being of supernatural powers or attributes, believed in and worshiped by a people, especially a male deity thought to control some part of nature or reality.
"An image of a supernatural being; an idol.
"One that is worshiped, idealized, or followed: Money was their god...."
"negation n 1: a negative statement; a statement that is a refusal or denial of some other statement 2: the speech act of negating 3: (logic) a proposition that is true if and only if another proposition is false."
No mention here of "sublation" or of the NON, but does that force dialecticians into accepting this 'definition'? Of course not; they pick and choose when it suits them.
[NON = Negation of the Negation.]
Consider, too, the definition of "wage":
"1. Payment for labour or services to a worker, especially remuneration on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis or by the piece.
"2. wages Economics The portion of the national product that represents the aggregate paid for all contributing labour and services as distinguished from the portion retained by management or reinvested in capital goods.
"3. A fitting return; a recompense." [Quoted from here; spelling altered to conform with UK English.]
"An amount of money paid to a worker for a specified quantity of work, usually expressed on an hourly basis." [Quoted from here; spelling altered to conform with UK English.]
Are there any Marxists on the planet who are prepared to accept this definition of what wages really are?
So, dictionaries record ideology just as much as they register use or meaning.
In that case, with respect to "contradiction", the writers of the above dictionary have plainly recorded the anthropomorphic use of this word by DM-fans themselves.
This is what Mr G says next:
What ordinary people do not do generally is couch every
proposition in terms derived from the linguistic turn of the late 19th century
or on the other hand formal logic...
Rosa over the last couple of years has proved too frightened to engage in debate and so either just behaves like she has access to special secret knowledge which mere mortals don't possess, or on the other publishes long diatribes on her looney and obsessive site to which people can't respond, which are personal attacks mixed up with tedious ranting about her own pet obsessions.
He is right about one thing, ordinary speakers don't use the word "contradiction" as it is employed in logic (but who said they did?), but then they don't use it as dialecticians use it, either (which is why Hegel was the first to so employ this word) -- otherwise comrades like Mr G, and papers like Socialist Worker, wouldn't have to inform their ordinary readers (alas, there are far fewer of them these days than there were before Chris Harman resurrected DM in 1988) of their novel DM use of it. How many times does that paper find it has to tell its readers what they mean by "the" or "and"?
And, far from refusing to engage in debate, I am notorious right across the internet for doing the exact opposite. [Google my name for proof of that fact.]
For instance, at RevLeft, before they banned me for being too effective, in just over five years I have registered nearly 18,000 posts debating (mostly) dialectics. And, from mid-2004 up until September 2005, I used to debate with this sad character regularly. But, I refused to continue, because it was apparent to me that Mr G wasn't the least bit interested in debate, just in airing his own random thoughts on irrelevant topics (as can be seen from much of the above), interspersed with lies and fabrications (same comment), all the while refusing to respond to my arguments.
[In order for the reader to check that this is the case, I will post here the links to Lenin's Tomb where the above took place.]
As for my site, if being a lunatic involves trying to help in the scientific development of Marxism (by ridding it of the sort of mysticism that has infested the congealed porridge between Mr G's ears), then I admit to being totally off my mind.
In response to an earlier comment of mine, this pudding-brain replied as follows:
"What more proof do we need that this 'theory' works for him like an opiate"
Considerably more than you can provide Rosa.
The careful reader will note that Mr G doesn't deny that proof exists (which shows that DM works on him like an opiate), only that I might need some help if I am to retrieve it.
No worries on that score, then -- Mr G is quite happy to supply container loads of the stuff each time he tries to 'debate' with me. [More on that here.]
Indeed, he later (inadvertently) offered this comment in support of my argument (that DM works on him rather like a religious opiate):
And as Marx put it, Being determines Consciousness.
Quite right, too, and as I noted earlier, that explains why Mr G's petty-bourgeois class position explains his need for mystical consolation.
Now in response to a comrade who posted this (quoting Hegel):
"It is clear from all this that the dialectic process involved in sense-certainty is nothing else than the mere history of its process -- of its experience; and sense-certainty itself is nothing else than simply this history. The naïve consciousness, too, for that reason, is of itself always coming to this result, which is the real truth in this case, and is always having experience of it: but is always forgetting it again and beginning the process all over. It is therefore astonishing when, in defiance of this experience, it is announced as 'universal experience' -- nay, even as a philosophical doctrine, the outcome, in fact, of scepticism -- that the reality or being of external things in the sense of 'Thises', particular sense objects, has absolute validity and truth for consciousness. One who makes such an assertion really does not know what he is saying, does not know that he is stating the opposite of what he wants to say."
Thanks for proving, yet again, that this stuff makes about as much sense as the Book of Revelation.
The Bossman of Bollocks responded:
Rosa is obviously horrified at the suggestion that the notion of sense certainty has a history. I find it amazing that a philosopher from that period could come up with such an idea. Generally speaking you can try and make sense of things or you can imagine that the history of thought is a history of howlers until we came along. The latter perspective (which seems to be what informs the way Rosa reads Hegel, and is of course the idea that Hegel was challenging all along) just strikes me as silly.
Here, he is right about another thing: I am horrified --, but only over the fact that there are materialists in the UK-SWP who take this Hegelian clap-trap seriously.
And there is no history to "sense certainty" since that phrase was coined in Hegel's day. Earlier empiricist attempts to impose a class-based ideology on the world (when early modern thinkers pictured knowledge -- appropriated by bourgeois individuals -- as the result of the deliverances of a set of atomised bundles of sensations) makes no sense either -- since such theorists had to distort the material language of the working class to make their case, as Marx noted.
So we have nothing worthwhile to learn from these buffoons. [More on this in Hacker (1987, 2007).]
But, as I pointed out above, Mr G's petty bourgeois "being" explains his 'consciousness', so no wonder he thinks there is something to learn from such ruling-class hacks.
Now, in reply to this comment of mine:
Why is this a contradiction, as opposed to being merely inconsistent, or something else (such as simply confused)?
Mr G attempted this rather weak response:
Because the policies of financial institutions of the ruling class are not merely 'confused' or 'inconsistent'. They do the things they do because there is no right thing to do under capitalism. That is because capitalism is a contradictory system. Its necessary to understand these contradictions if you want to understand why capitalism does the things it doesn't. A refusal to acknowledge this is one reason why orthodox economics cannot understand why crisis happen, in much the same way you can't understand the history of your own thoughts.
Can you spot in there any attempt to explain why the example given isn't an inconsistency, and why it has to be a contradiction (or, indeed, why the whole attempt to depict capitalism in this way, with such simplistic terminology, isn't just "confused", as I actually believe it to be)? Can you?
Sure this numbskull simply repeats the claim that capitalism is "contradictory", but that is all he can do: repeat the same empty mantra without explaining why this word ("contradiction") fits at all here, and what work it is doing. Indeed, this is all he can do, for he knows no logic, and the impoverished conceptual tools Hegelian Hermeticism has saddled him and other DM-fans with are quite inadequate to the task. We saw earlier that he hadn't a clue even about the difference between a contrary and a contradiction.
And sure, orthodox economics can't explain why crises occur, but our theory isn't doing too well on that score, either. And it is far from clear that the word "contradiction" is helping here in any way, especially if the likes of Mr G here plainly haven't a clue what this word means, even as it features in his own 'theory'! Witness his incapacity to explain it, and his confusion of it with contraries.
Next, he unwisely tried his hand a little 'philosophising':
Rosa you unbelievable clot. It was the 18th century term used to provide foundations for the doctrine of empiricism. Hegel was arguing that this was a concept and hence could not serve as a 'foundation' outside of the realm of the thought. Thus those who argue that sense certainty provides a foundation outside consciousness are 'saying the opposite of what they thing they are'. In other words its a critique of empiricism, even if an idealist one. But its perfectly coherent and clear what he means IF you understand the term 'sense certainty', its history, and the body of thought he's referring to.
Rosa is a perfect example of someone mocking things they can't understand simply because they haven't been bothered, and not because there is anything inherently incoherent.
Its actually deeply disturbing to think that someone so unfamiliar with the history of philosophy presumes to educate others in her own ignorance.
Appalling. What is also appalling is that it does a real disservice to those who are interested in ideas and want to learn things. Absolutely the worst example of a pretentious twit I've ever come across. It's a real crime from a socialist point of view. Demagoguery of the worst kind.
We have already had occasion to note the fact that Mr G is ready to sit and learn, open mouthed, at the feet of bourgeois elitist philosophers. Now, he reveals how willing he is to accept the impenetrably confused ideas he found in Hegel's Hermetic House of Horrors -- and he does this simply because Hegel says such things are thus and so (whose 'arguments' are pi*s poor, anyway -- several have been dissected here, here, and now here; more will be added when I publish my Essays on this Idealist Bungler).
Again, can anyone detect an argument in the above, as opposed to series of dogmatic assertions? Is it any wonder then that I wrote this in Essay Two?
Dialectics is a conservative theory precisely because its adherents have adopted the distorted methods, a priori thought-forms and meaningless jargon of Traditional Philosophy.
Now, these accusations might seem easier to make than they are to substantiate. In fact, the reverse is true, as we shall now see...
As will soon become apparent, for all their claims to be radical, when it comes to Philosophy DM-theorists are surprisingly conservative -- and universally incapable of seeing this even after it has been pointed out to them!
[An excellent example of this, and one that has been highly influential on how DM-theorists receive and then respond to such criticism has been posted here.]
At a rhetorical level, philosophical conservatism like this has been camouflaged behind what at first sight appears to be a series of disarmingly modest disclaimers, which are then promptly flouted.
The quotations given below (and here) show that DM-theorists are keen to deny that their system is wholly, or even partially, a priori, or that it has been dogmatically imposed on the world, not read from it. However, the way that dialecticians themselves phrase their theories contradicts these seemingly modest-looking denials, revealing the opposite to be the case.
This inadvertent dialectical inversion -- whereby what DM-theorists say about what they do is the reverse of what they do with what they say -- neatly mirrors the distortion to which Traditional Philosophy has subjected ordinary language over the last two millennia (outlined in Essay Three Parts One and Two, and in Essay Twelve Part One), a point underlined by Marx himself:
"The philosophers have only to dissolve their language into the ordinary language, from which it is abstracted, in order to recognise it, as the distorted language of the actual world, and to realise that neither thoughts nor language in themselves form a realm of their own, that they are only manifestations of actual life." [Marx and Engels (1970), p.118. Bold emphasis alone added.]
However, unlike dialecticians, Traditional Metaphysicians were quite open and honest about what they were doing; indeed, they brazenly imposed their a priori theories on reality and hung the consequences.
But, because dialecticians have a novel -- but nonetheless defective -- view of both Metaphysics and FL (on that, see here and here), they are oblivious of the fact that they are just as eager as Traditional Theorists have ever been to impose their theory on the world, and equally blind to the fact that in so-doing they are aping the alienated thought-forms of their class enemy, whose society they seek to abolish.
Naturally, this means that their 'radical' guns were spiked before they were even loaded; with such weapons, is it any wonder that DM-theorists fire nothing but philosophical blanks?
[FL = Formal Logic.]
DM is a conservative theory precisely because its adherents have imported, and then adopted, the distorted methods, a priori thought-forms, theories and meaningless jargon they found in Traditional Philosophy.
For many, the above accusations might seem far easier to make than they are to substantiate.
In fact, the reverse is the case, as we are about to discover... [The proof can be found in Essay Two (link above).]
As I note, dialecticians are incapable of seeing when, where or why they slip into dogmatic mode, even when the reasons are served up to them on a plate.
Now, when we were being nice to one another two years ago, I made that point to Mr G (that DM-fans impose their theory on reality); he denied he was doing it. We can now see that the reverse is the case, and he is still alarmingly blind to this fact.
And that's it! That's the best this serial waffler has to offer in his endeavour to undermine my devastating attack on DM, which is, even now, eating away at what little remains of his brain.
It is surely too late to save Mr G from his own folly, but it isn't too late to prevent other, younger comrades from catching this "disease of the intellect" (to paraphrase Wittgenstein). Hence my Essays, and my combative stance.
So, keep clear Mr G, or Rosa will slap you around some more.
My colleague, Babeuf has just posted this at Lenin's Tomb:
Having just returned from holidays, I find johng
[Mr G -- RL] has been
trying to criticise the arguments I put forward at the Marxism 2007 talk on
Dialectics. At this late stage, I don't think anyone can object that I'm
sidetracking the discussion on the prison officers' strike, which has petered
out by now. Rosa has already been dealing with the matter, so I'll concentrate
on what I think is the one remaining area of contention.
After trying to summarise what I said at the Dialectics meeting (which can be read here), johng makes the following objections:
There are many difficulties here, but for a Marxist the most striking thing is the extraordinary ignorance of the historical role of religion in the development of techniques, theories of these techniques, and indeed scientific discoveries of many kinds, this being true since the beginning of human history. ... Science was bound up with religion for most of human history and it is only in the period leading up to and following the enlightenment that human knowledge progressed by strictly separating these domains. ... That this was progress can't be denied. But how do we explain developments (most of them in recorded history) which proceeded because of, rather then in spite of theological and religious beliefs? ... I would suggest a bit of the old dialectical thought might come in handy here. Anyone confused by any of the above might try playing a quick game of Civilizations. ... Its incredible to me that someone who proudly calls themselves a historical materialist can know so very little about actual human history.
Since I've argued (like Rosa) that "the old dialectical thought" can only serve
to mystify, I can't agree.
Neither can I agree that any of the above touches on my argument at all, but since it may have a superficial plausibility, I'll explain why. johng's argument only appears to work because it elides a crucial distinction between religious institutions on the one hand, and the language of religious ritual and holy literature on the other. So, to take one of many examples, the Benedictine order, after the Cluniac reforms of the 10th century, became the most important transmitter of new technological skills and ideas in civil engineering and agriculture across Europe. Thus a religious institution played a materially progressive role. But anyone who has ever examined medieval treatises on farming or architecture will find that the language used for conveying the practical ideas is -- unsurprisingly -- practical, and not religious. You can give your thanks to God at the start of the treatise and at the end, but if your chosen task is to enable others to construct more efficient ploughs or water-mills, or to show them how they can take advantage of the greater load-bearing potential of pointed arches, then the religious talk eventually has to stop and the practical talk has to begin. And that is exactly what these writers did.
As a believer in Dialectics, johng has characteristically failed to think his argument through, and rushed for the universal glue of Dialectics to fix it up, thereby compounding ordinary confusion with mystical confusion.
But there need be no mystery here. The same abbots and bishops who were happy to sponsor entirely earthbound practical and technical work also sponsored the propagation of religious ideas. Again, the Dialectician would want to rush away from rational argument here, preferring mystificatory talk about "contradictions". But both the technical treatises and the religious mumbo jumbo served to entrench the power of the abbots and bishops as members of the ruling class. Better ploughs, water-mills or bridges served to increase the surplus they needed to live their unproductive ruling-class lives and to sustain the Church as a ruling-class institution. Religious ideology served to make the rest of the population accept the Church's demands (including demands on their labour), again sustaining the Church as a ruling-class institution. Certainly, grand cathedrals and abbey churches had an ideological role to play, but bishops and abbots didn't want the structure collapsing on them, so they relied on those who had the necessary technical expertise -- they didn't simply rely on God or angels to stop a 1000-ton stone ceiling from falling on their heads. (To pre-empt johng's next likely objection, of course religion then and now did not only serve as an ideological buttress for the ruling class, but that is not of relevance to the present argument.)
In previous discussions on Dialectics at the Tomb, certain individuals have been keen to pose as heroic activists disdainful of the supposedly time-wasting anti-Dialectical arguments that Rosa and I put forward (many of these same individuals, as it happens, are merely Dialecticians switching tactics after seeing their arguments shot down). Readers who have come this far may wonder what it all matters. I could say that examining the behaviour of a past ruling class is legitimate work for Marxist historians, and that it can give us greater critical distance the better to interpret the behaviour of our own ruling class. I could also say that we are, as Marxists, supposed to be interested in the development of the forces of production, although this is rarely in evidence (hence the woefully ignorant repetition of "the handmill gives you society with the feudal lord" without the realisation that Marx's slip needs correcting).
But beyond this, let us ask ourselves how Dialectics is used. Here we saw a perfectly intelligent revolutionary socialist activist (johng -- but I don't want to single him out here) throwing together a fundamentally flawed argument in the knowledge that Dialectics could be invoked and all would be well. In this particular instance, it has little relevance for the next demo you help to organise, or for the Socialist Worker articles that will have to be written if, say, the housing bubble suddenly bursts. But would you want to rely on people who are in the habit of constructing shoddy arguments and then invoking Dialectics to finish the job and to silence objections? That's fortunately not the situation we're in today in the party to which many Tomb readers and contributors belong, but if Dialectics is not given a rough ride whenever it appears, its use can easily spread. Other Trotskyist parties have degenerated and split -- for various reasons -- into warring factions, where leaders hurl Dialectical spells at each other like the wizards of children's cartoons. At the beginnings of our party's history, Tony Cliff was faced with charges that his state capitalist theory was "mechanical" and "undialectical"; he won support by arguing his case carefully, persuading others rather than demanding that they follow him because his Dialectical spells were more powerful than those of the other wizards.
Let's keep it that way.
And Mr G has posted this profound reply:
Babeuf is simply wrong to imagine that it is possible to neatly separate the development of religious thought and technical arguments in this way. But I have no intention of trying the patience of people further on this topic....
Babeuf has simply done the usual trick of regurgitating an argument that is wrong, then claiming that its right by hammering on a table, and then using the fact that I don't agree with him to argue that my disagreement JUST GOES TO SHOW....etc, etc. Don't know what it is with the logicians but they seem incapable of imagining that they're not the greatest thing since sliced bread....
Babeuf is quite wrong to imagine that religious, technical and philosophical developments can be so neatly separated. They can't be. But there is no point in debating with people who so strongly believe that they MUST be right that they're not interested in reasoned or rational debate (let alone empirical evidence). It also needs to be said that the printing of deranged nonsense about me on a blog where there is no right to reply is the act of a stalker: not a comrade. And anyone who collaborates in any way with someone who behaves like this, I will not engage with.
Mr G is so lost in his own little world that he thinks that anyone who disagrees with him uses exactly the same debating tactics he uses.
Of course, instead of proving his point (that religious, technical and philosophical developments can't be so neatly separated) he just asserts it. He doesn't even notice that Babeuf didn't argue this; but no matter, if Mr Gormless says he did, then he must have.
As we have seen, this God-like being only has to speak and a whole ideal world of nonsense springs into being.
And Mr G said, Let there be light: and there was gloom.
And Mr G saw the gloom, that it was good: and Mr G failed to divide the gloom from the confusion.
And Mr G called the gloom Dialectics, and the confusion he called even more of the same. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And now he moans some more:
It also needs to be said that the printing of deranged nonsense about me on a blog where there is no right to reply is the act of a stalker: not a comrade. And anyone who collaborates in any way with someone who behaves like this, I will not engage with.
He gave up the right to be treated like a comrade when he equated me with racist, fascist and Zionist murderers.
Incidentally, Babeuf has sent me this short response to Mr G's 'reply' (that is because 'Lenin' has closed that particular thread):
Regurgitating! As if he's forever hearing anti-Dialecticians tell the one about 10th century Cluniac reforms to Benedictinism and their relation to medieval technological progress!
I am have just spend several hours searching Lenin's Tomb, and have found one of the comments pages where Mr G and I have debated before.
This has been done to show that Mr G threw the comradely and respectful manner I displayed toward at the start him back in my face, underlining why I am now so aggressive toward him.
Anyone who checks out the above will see that the debating tactics he uses these days are those he has always used.
Hacker, P. (1987), Appearance And Reality (Blackwell).
--------, (2007), Human Nature, The Categorial Framework (Blackwell).
Marx, K., and Engels, F. (1970), The German Ideology, Students Edition, edited by Chris Arthur (Lawrence & Wishart).
Meek, R. (1967a), Economics And Ideology And Other Essays (Chapman Hall).
--------, (1967b), 'The Scottish Contribution To Marxist Sociology', in Meek (1967a), pp.34-50.
Wood, A, (1998), 'Kant's Historical Materialism', in Kneller and Axinn (1998), pp.15-37.
--------, (1999), Kant's Ethical Thought (Cambridge University Press).
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