How Those Who Profess to Carry the Banner of Marxism
Fail in the Clearly Evident Tasks of Today
In 2008 there was a meeting in Manchester University concerning the quite evident worldwide crisis in the Capitalist system, this time precipitated by the latest ruse of the Banks to inflate value out of nothing. Their motives were made crystal clear when one day after the cataclysmic collapse in Iceland a prominent British businessman was seen dashing around that country looking for dirt-cheap acquisitions. There can even be a profit in a major recession, if you know what to do and have the disposable wealth to exploit it!
A Marxist from America (as part of a World Tour) was there to explain who was to blame for the crisis. A very large audience (unknown in recent times for such a speaker) was present, primed and ready to hear what the Marxists had to say about this glaringly evident rip–off: it was just possible that they had been right all along, and the gathering were clearly willing to listen to what these people were saying NOW! Nobody else was giving them any sort of explanation, or delivering a meaningful political response to those who perpetrated this almighty catastrophe. For this time it was clearly Capital itself that had caused the Event, doing what it always does, but here clearly showing where it leads.
But what happened? Did the speaker answer the crucial Question posed, and fill his audience with a real purpose to oppose these parasites and kick them out?
NO! He didn’t!
It was in fact the same old story – the same old activist stuff, which saw NO epoch-making opportunity for political action, but only a bigger than usual protest reaction.
You would have expected unanswerable economic analysis. You didn’t get any!
You would have expected a deep and powerful philosophical standpoint, which better than all other positions could explain the causality of such crises and their guaranteed consequences, by the generated actions of the ruling class as they moved to make the Working Class foot this bill as they always do. But you didn’t get that either!
In spite of a clearly “Left position”, and quotes from Marx et al, the contribution of this imported Marxist expert was mere reportage. And the response of our homegrown versions was worse! What did they do? Have another demonstration? The speaker from America had NO Marxist economics to relate. All his stuff was merely different emphases upon the analyses of pro-capitalist economists. And there was certainly NO profundity of philosophical standpoint at all. What he had to say was what is usually said, but writ somewhat larger. It was pragmatic, idealist activism only: it was the politics of the demonstration ONLY - Protest politics, and NOT politics for action! It was certainly NOT the politics of Revolution, which was not arrived at by Marx and his followers in hope, but because they had realised that all real Qualitative Change only occurs in Revolutionary Events, without which the forces of reaction will always triumph and re-establish their status quo.
Implicit in the reformist position is the assumption that change can be brought about incrementally, and imperceptibly, until the new realm appears. Real Marxists have always known that such an assumption is total rubbish. And they have also always known that the majority will never subscribe to their position, unless it becomes increasingly clear in revolutionary situations. Even in Russia in 1917, Lenin returned to find his own party deeply mired in reformist, gradualist myths. In his April Theses he had to tear them away from their self-delusions and get them the face their ONLY task – to prepare for and then lead the coming revolution!
But any such opportunity at the Manchester meeting was missed completely.
The audience went away with no real understanding, no new conceptions, and certainly no fire in their bellies to strive for significant, revolutionary Change. It seems to me that the present day Marxists are ashamed of their revolutionary heritage. Consider how differently many of those at that meeting would have reacted subsequently to the current series of revolutions in the Middle East, if those delivering there had done their job.
These “Marxists” couldn’t raise any real enthusiasm, because they were NOT Marxists!
They were NOT developing their ideas day by day. They were peddling old stuff yet again. Marxism isn’t an eternal Faith. It is the ongoing and never-complete Science of Revolutionary Change. It may not always be evident in day-to-day politics, but it certainly is philosophically!
For it is about all Reality in the process of Change. It addresses both the longer periods of Stability AND the short and crucial Interludes of Qualitative Change. And it is applicable in ALL disciplines. It can deliver the answers not only to Social questions, but also even to such questions as the Origin of Life on Earth, and the impasses in modern sub Atomic Physics.
These so-called proponents of Marxism seem to know absolutely nothing of all this. They have cut Marxism down to a manageable size: it has become their Book of Truth, and this ceased to be their methodology of revealing ever new truths, and their guide to necessary action.
In this important meeting, where an audience was keen to hear something different to the usual stuff, did not have a single Marxist philosopher rising to his feet and revealing profound and new truths arising NOW out of this remarkable crisis. The old truths were considered sufficient!
It was, it must be said, a pathetic performance.
I watched the audience as they filed out. No signs of realisation were evident. Only one or two went up to give in their names. It was an anticlimax, and any follow-up meetings would inevitably decline as a real programme on ALL the necessary fronts was not conceived of, never mind put in place.
A few months earlier I had got my son who was a member of a “Marxist-left” party to get them to invite me to give them a short contribution at a branch meeting.
I have been a Marxist for 60 years, and was highly involved for 17 years in the sixties and seventies, but I finally dropped out because not only was no one developing Marxism, but my efforts to do so were considered to be somewhat reprehensible. I was always addressing questions, which I didn’t think had been adequately addressed, and this was universally considered to be a waste of valuable time, when I should be on the factory gate, selling papers door-to-door, and arguing with everyone I met to get them “to join”. No one seemed to notice that no matter how much activism was poured in, the state of the organisation was clearly in terminal decline and was getting nowhere. No one was developing Marxism and hence all was in clear retrenchment, but the question had to be “Why was this so?”
For the World was increasingly full of new evidence.
Science was delivering new truths, and even non-Marxists were attempting to develop conceptions of Emergence, which was the same as Becomings for Hegel, and Revolutions for Marx) but though they had realised that these did indeed occur, they were, without the necessary philosophical ground, doomed to failure due to their own inadequate standpoint, and in the end turned to studies which insisted on seeing such Events as mere Form, and attempted to solve it with mathematics alone via a “new” area on Mathematics termed Chaos. Real Marxists should have been romping away in such areas – surely their own areas of qualitative Change, but they weren’t! At this branch meeting, I gave a talk about Continuity and Descreteness as discussed by Zeno, and gave examples of how I had addressed similar problems in the complex Analysis and Teaching of Dance Movement. They could not have been more uninterested. No discussion ensued, and I was not asked to contribute again. Clearly they couldn’t believe that I was studying Dance and telling them about it. I realised that they were no Marxists. They were “left” activists only.
I determined to at least carry my discoveries over into a detailed study of Emergences as my contribution to the Marxism of today, and spent several years gradually taking forwards a study of the inner trajectory of such Events. I have Social Revolutions and biological Emergences such as the Origin of Life on Earth as my starting points, and I was finally able in 2010 to publish The Theory of Emergences on the Internet. And not only that! My son and myself set up a new internet-based Philosophical Journal entitled SHAPE, which had issues every 3 weeks containing new papers, a comprehensive Archive of all previous publications, and an increased number of Extended Special Issues on particular topics.
It is a Marxist Philosophical Journal, which ranges across Physics, Mathematics, and Biology, and also addresses a whole raft of philosophical areas such as Plurality, Holism, Freewill, Scientific Truth, Abstraction and Theory in general. And after two years the Journal has begun to make important contributions particularly in the Philosophy of Science, and has even delivered a Non Copenhagen explanation of the famed Double Slit Experiment and redesigned Miller’s Experiment on the circumstances prior to the Origin of Life on Earth. Now, all of this has been the work of a single isolated person making the best of his long education and participation in revolutionary politics. Yet, So far, the response has been another resounding silence.
Where are the Marxists who revolutionise Thinking?
They don’t even exist to criticise the ideas on SHAPE.
The reason must be obvious. They don’t do Philosophy!
Yet, who else can take Philosophy forwards?
Is it the University academics? My experience with what I have read of their work on Zeno and on Emergences would seem to indicate that they are simply not equipped to address these areas in anything but strictly Formal Logic ways. While in Science the extended 100-year retreat in Sub Atomic Physics, where are those to who can demolish the Idealism of the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory? They certainly don’t seem to exist, and for the same reasons as in Philosophy.
No scientists seem to be sufficiently philosophically equipped to counter the Idealism brought in by Bohr and Heisenberg, which has now ruled entirely unassailed for almost 90 years
So, will such “activists” react to the changing World and indeed attempt to change it? The answer, at present, is a resounding, “NO!” Even the tumult in the Middle East has NO Marxists, or even socialists involved. The revolutionists talk only of removing their current dictators and replacing them with a common or garden variety of Democracy as they see in the West. They don’t seem to know that such a revolution will only finally complete the over ripe objectives of the long overdue Capitalist Revolution, which started with the English Revolution in the 17th century, via the French Revolution in the 18th century and culminated in their areas with the Nationalist overthrows of Kings and Imperialists in the 20th century.
ONLY this type of revolution is currently happening in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Syria, which has its aim only to empower the Middle Class, but not to dispense with Capitalism.
Without a true Marxist leadership, NO Russian Revolution would have been possible, and NO similar overthrow will occur in the Middle East. For in spite of the energy and commitment, without an understanding of these Events and the leadership to re-direct it into what is required today, these remarkable Events could once more merely replace one kind of top down control with another.
Remember Marx with all his years in the Library of the British Museum, and Lenin settling down to write Materialism and Empirio Criticism during the Reaction after the failed 1905 Revolution. Marx was right! Dialectical Materialism in ALL fields is infinitely superior to the conceptions of the “conserving class”, but such things don’t happen automatically. Human Beings have to conquer ever-new areas as they become necessary, and thus increasingly “tool up” the Working Class for Revolution.
(A new series of special issues of the Shape Journal on Marxist philosophy are soon to be published on website to address some of the issues raised in this post - watch this space)