Marx's dialectic

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jura's picture
jura
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Mar 7 2012 13:34
Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
Nothing useful to contribute, then, eh?

To paraphrase, you are as much at home in absurd contradictions, as you feel at sea in the Hegelian contradiction, the source of all dialectic. (http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch24.htm)

S. Artesian
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Mar 7 2012 13:41
Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
SA:
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So says the troll.

Which, I take it, means that you still haven't managed to locate the missing passage, written and published by Marx contemporaneous with or subsequent to Das Kapital, that supports your attempt to re-mystify his work?

No big surprise there then.:)

Of course there are such quotes, throughout Marx's correspondence and in his mathematical notebooks, written before his death.

You impose a purely artificial, and academic, requirement of "published" when in fact the volume of Capital you read in English, and the English translation of the afterward to the second edition were not published in Marx's life time.

That's what makes you a troll.

S. Artesian
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Mar 7 2012 13:48

Comrades,

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.

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ocelot
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Mar 7 2012 13:54
Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
Ocelot:
Quote:
So, not Aristotle then...

I've already dealt with this in my reply to R68.

Here it is again:

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But what about this?
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The mystification which dialectic suffers in Hegel’s hands, by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general form of working in a comprehensive and conscious manner. With him it is standing on its head. It must be turned right side up again, if you would discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell.

Indeed, this isn't what 'prevents' Hegel from being "the first to present its general form of working in a comprehensive and conscious manner". What actually prevents him is the fact that Aristotle, Kant and the Scottish Historical School (of Ferguson, Millar, Robertson, Smith, Hume, and Stuart) had beaten him to it.

All Hegel managed to do was mystify things.

So, still no support for your argument.

Hmm. I submit that there exists one category of people who read that Marx quote as meaning "Hegel mystified the dialetic but he was still the first to present its general form of working in a comprehensive and conscious manner", and another will read it in a way congruent with your interpretation. My hunch is that the former category is very much larger than the latter category, which I suspect may well have a cardinality of one.

But let's try an altogether different tack. Let us assume for the moment that you are right and that the Great Hegelian Marx Conspiracy is in fact hiding THE TRUTH from humanity/the workers. What difference will it make when the scales are lifted from the eyes of the mislead and we are brought out into the light? How will this new truth change how we act and organise. In what way will it further the class struggle?

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 7 2012 14:07

SA:

Quote:
Of course there are such quotes, throughout Marx's correspondence and in his mathematical notebooks, written before his death.

All, unpublished, and all equivocal

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You impose a purely artificial, and academic, requirement of "published" when in fact the volume of Capital you read in English, and the English translation of the afterward to the second edition were not published in Marx's life time.

Not me. Had Marx thought they were important, or represented ideas he wanted to countermand what he had already published, he would have published them.

Unfortunately for you, he didn't.

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That's what makes you a troll.

Now, who was it who said that if you repeat a big lie often enough, the unawary will believe it?

So, you have only another 999,999 repetitions to go, and some of the good folk here might start to give it credence.

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jura
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Mar 7 2012 14:09
Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
Not me. Had Marx thought they were important, or represented ideas he wanted to countermand what he had already published, he would have published them.

I guess he didn't think much of Vol. 2 and 3, then.

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Mar 7 2012 14:12

I can empathise with frustration at the mystical bullshit that surrounds Marx's supposed 'dialectical method' that is typical of some schools of Marxism. But that doesn't mean that the fundamentals of Marx's critique of philosophy, i.e. his own critical perspective, does not embrace certain dialectical properties. Revolution is dialectical after all. It is the subjectivity of the workers destroying the objectivity of contemporary social relations in order to create a new objectivity. That is a dialectic right there. If you don't at least some basic dialectical notions how can you explain historical change or the possibility of communism?

At the same time, Hegel is a major influence on Marx and it is more complicated than simply saying he rejected or accepted him. Surely it is easy to comprehend that Marx takes what he likes and does away with what he doesn't? I think quoting these tid bits is also a bit unhelpful because they can only be understood in the context of the Paris Manuscripts, The Theses on Feuerbach and The Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right ... All of which need to be read together, contextually, historically etc.

I think that if you say Marx totally rejects Hegel then you are saying, by extension and even if you don't consciously mean to, that Marx is rejecting Feuerbach, because Feuerbach is placing Hegelian dialectics on a materialist basis (albeit a vulgar materialist one).

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 7 2012 14:20

Ocelot:

Quote:
Hmm. I submit that there exists one category of people who read that Marx quote as meaning "Hegel mystified the dialetic but he was still the first to present its general form of working in a comprehensive and conscious manner", and another will read it in a way congruent with your interpretation. My hunch is that the former category is very much larger than the latter category, which I suspect may well have a cardinality of one.

Well, we can speculate all day long about what Marx might or might not have meant, but he very helpfully put paid to it all when he added a summary of 'the dialectic method' in which not one atom of Hegel can be found.

So, even if I am the only one on the planet who has taken account of what Marx actually published, so be it.

Truth is not to be found by counting heads.

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But let's try an altogether different tack. Let us assume for the moment that you are right and that the Great Hegelian Marx Conspiracy is in fact hiding THE TRUTH from humanity/the workers. What difference will it make when the scales are lifted from the eyes of the mislead and we are brought out into the light? How will this new truth change how we act and organise. In what way will it further the class struggle?

I have in fact explained this in almost PhD length and detail at my site.

I can't post a link -- the mods frown upon it -- but if you do a google search for this sentence (and then use the 'Quick Links' at the top to jump to section 7) Case Studies), you can read it for yourself:

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"This Essay deals with some of the background reasons for the long-term failure of Dialectical Marxism."

If you find that account too long, let me know and I'll post a very much shortened version of it.

But. let's turn what you say around:

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How has 'the dialectic' changed how we act and organise? In what way does it further the class struggle?
Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 7 2012 14:22

R68:

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I still wanna know what Rosa does on her nights off.

You really do know how to advance the scientific nature of Marxism with these incisive contributions of yours.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 7 2012 14:30

Malva:

Quote:
I can empathise with frustration at the mystical bullshit that surrounds Marx's supposed 'dialectical method' that is typical of some schools of Marxism. But that doesn't mean that the fundamentals of Marx's critique of philosophy, i.e. his own critical perspective, does not embrace certain dialectical properties. Revolution is dialectical after all. It is the subjectivity of the workers destroying the objectivity of contemporary social relations in order to create a new objectivity. That is a dialectic right there. If you don't at least some basic dialectical notions how can you explain historical change or the possibility of communism?

I don''t see why you have you import and then use the obscure word 'dialectical' here; it adds nothing, but merely seems profound, when it isn't.

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At the same time, Hegel is a major influence on Marx and it is more complicated than simply saying he rejected or accepted him. Surely it is easy to comprehend that Marx takes what he likes and does away with what he doesn't? I think quoting these tid bits is also a bit unhelpful because they can only be understood in the context of the Paris Manuscripts, The Theses on Feuerbach and The Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right ... All of which need to be read together, contextually, historically etc.

Sure, in his early work, Hegel was influential. But Marx gradually waved 'goodbye' to this philosophically and logically incompetent mystic -- as I have shown.

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I think that if you say Marx totally rejects Hegel then you are saying, by extension and even if you don't consciously mean to, that Marx is rejecting Feuerbach, because Feuerbach is placing Hegelian dialectics on a materialist basis (albeit a vulgar materialist one).

Well, I didn't say I accepted everything Feuerbach wrote; but I certainly think he was a major advance on Hegel. Indeed, I use several of Feuerbach's ideas in my essays to show how Hegel's work, and derivatively, 'materialist dialectics', represents a fetishisation of language.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 7 2012 14:31

R68:

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Rosa, are you flirting with me!?

Only if a swift knee to the goolies is flirting...

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 7 2012 14:36

Jura:

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I guess he didn't think much of Vol. 2 and 3, then.

You missed a significant qualifying clause in my reply; here it is again, highlighted this time:

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Not me. Had Marx thought they were important, or represented ideas he wanted to countermand what he had already published, he would have published them.

So, I don't reject Marx's unpublished work, far from it. But no unpublished work can countermand published work.

I hope that is a little clearer.

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Mar 7 2012 14:44
Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
Had Marx thought they were important, or represented ideas he wanted to countermand what he had already published, he would have published them.

Well, the three volumes of TSV offer a lot of material to accomodate into your graphomaniac project, then. I suggest doing a search on "contradiction" in them.

Also, the quotation from C3 where Marx refers to "contradiction" as the "source of all dialectic" (singular, uncapitalized) must have escaped your maniacal attention.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 7 2012 14:48

SA:

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Comrades,

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.

It's worth pointing out to comrades, too -- which for some reason you forgot to mention (can't think why you did!) -- that when you tried (unsuccessfully) to define a 'dialectical contradiction' over at RevLeft, I had to remind you that Marx added the following codicil: "mutually exclude", which you admitted you had forgotten.

So far from it being the case that my "comprehension of the actual history of Marx's work is severely impaired, distorted, and disavowed", it seems I know more about it than you.

Especially when you keep ignoring the only summary of 'the dialecical method' Marx published in his entire life, from which Hegel had been completely excised.

So, when we pay attention to what Marx actually published, and not to what you wish he had published, my points still stand.

Unless of course you have found that missnig passage...smile

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

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ocelot
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Mar 7 2012 15:12

OK, so my brief browsing of your site reveals that you were in the SWP but got pissed off with them (so far, so normal) and then later decided that "Dialectical Materialism" was the source of all evil within the Trotskyist movement and that by writing hundreds of thousands of lines of obsessional screeds on this single insight, you can create the foundation for a dialectics-free Trotskyism that will free us all?

Good luck with that. roll eyes

edit: also this...

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So, even if I am the only one on the planet who has taken account of what Marx actually published, so be it.

is classic laugh out loud

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 7 2012 15:15

Jura:

Quote:
Well, the three volumes of TSV offer a lot of material to accomodate into your graphomaniac project, then. I suggest doing a search on "contradiction" in them.

No problem; Marx was obviously still 'coquetting'

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Also, the quotation from C3 where Marx refers to "contradiction" as the "source of all dialectic" (singular, uncapitalized) must have escaped your maniacal attention.

In other words, you think Marx believed that, say, Plato's dialectic was learnt from Hegel -- no doubt Plato had access to a time machine!

So, we either view Marx as a complete idiot, or we interpret this passage differently.

Now, you have misquoted this passage, and it's from Capital Volume One, not Three (so in your haste to malign me, you became a little sloppy with the facts):

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John St. Mill, on the contrary, accepts on the one hand Ricardo’s theory of profit, and annexes on the other hand Senior’s “remuneration of abstinence.” He is as much at home in absurd contradictions, as he feels at sea in the Hegelian contradiction, the source of all dialectic. It has never occurred to the vulgar economist to make the simple reflexion, that every human action may be viewed, as “abstinence” from its opposite. Eating is abstinence from fasting, walking, abstinence from standing still, working, abstinence from idling, idling, abstinence from working, &c. These gentlemen would do well, to ponder, once in a wwhile, over Spinoza’s: “Determinatio est Negatio.”

Bold added

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch24.htm

Here is what I posted at RevLeft on this:

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The first thing to note is that this sentence is ambiguous:
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He is as much at home in absurd contradictions, as he feels at sea in the Hegelian contradiction, the source of all dialectic.

You seem to think its meaning is obvious, that Marx is claiming that "Hegelian contradiction is the source of all dialectic", but this is not plausible, and for several reasons:

1) Marx goes on to appeal to Spinoza's principle to illustrate the source of the dialectic:

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It has never occurred to the vulgar economist to make the simple reftexion, that every human action may be viewed, as “abstinence” from its opposite. Eating is abstinence from fasting, walking, abstinence from standing still, working, abstinence from idling, idling, abstinence from working, &c. These gentlemen would do well, to ponder, once in a way, over Spinoza’s: “Determinatio est Negatio.”

which, of course, predated the invention of Hegel's supposed 'contradictions'. If so, Hegelian 'contradictions' can't be the source of all dialectic (as Marx clearly indicated by quoting Spinoza). And, indeed, they aren't, for the dialectic originated in Ancient Greece.

2. The sentence itself gives us a clue as to Marx's intentions:

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He is as much at home in absurd contradictions, as he feels at sea in the Hegelian contradiction, the source of all dialectic.

The final clause could refer back to this:

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as he feels at sea in the Hegelian contradiction,

or to this:

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He is as much at home in absurd contradictions

or, what is far more likely, to this:

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He is as much at home in absurd contradictions, as he feels at sea in the Hegelian contradiction,

In other words Marx is alluding here to the sort of puzzlement that motivated the early Greeks to engage in dialectic (the pursuit of truth through argument and counter-argument), puzzlement that now surfaces in Mill's mind.

And this interpretation is supported by point 1) above -- Marx appeals to the puzzling features of Spinoza's principle.

So, far from Marx being guilty of a simple historical error (the claim that Hegel's contradictions are the source of all dialectic, which they plainly aren't), he is pointing out something much less controversial, that puzzlement is the source of the dialectic (in fact, this is a remarkably Wittgensteinian claim to make).

In that case, I do not have to appeal to the 'coquetting' passage to explain Marx's use of 'contradiction' here, since he is alluding to this puzzling feature of Hegel's work, not endorsing it.

I hope that makes things a little clearer for you.

You really must start to think for yourself, and stop slavishly following tradition.

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Mar 7 2012 15:27
Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
1) Marx goes on to appeal to Spinoza's principle to illustrate the source of the dialectic:

I suggest you read Hegel's Science of Logic; Hegel explicitly acknowledges the Spinozian origin of this "principle" and comments favourably on the thesis, developing it further.

The rest of your argument is completely misguided. The German original makes it pretty clear to what the clause refers:

Marx wrote:
So fremd ihm der Hegelsche "Widerspruch" [the Hegelian contradiction], die Springquelle aller Dialektik, so heimisch ist er in platten Widersprüchen [flat contradictions].

So much for your rigorous scholarly work. Get your oeuvre past peer review and we'll talk.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 7 2012 15:27

Ocelot:

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OK, so my brief browsing of your site reveals that you were in the SWP but got pissed off with them (so far, so normal) and then later decided that "Dialectical Materialism" was the source of all evil within the Trotskyist movement and that by writing hundreds of thousands of lines of obsessional screeds on this single insight, you can create the foundation for a dialectics-free Trotskyism that will free us all?

You need to read my essays a little more carefully, since I added this significant detail:

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1) It's important to emphasise from the outset that I am not blaming the long-term failure of Dialectical Marxism solely on the acceptance of the Hermetic ideas dialecticians inherited from Hegel.

It's worth repeating this since I still encounter comments on Internet discussion boards, and still receive e-mails from those who claim to have read the above words, who still think I am blaming all our woes on dialectics. I am not.

However, no matter how many times I repeat this caveat, the message will not sink in -- and that's after several years of continually making this very point!

It seems this is one part of the universe over which the Heraclitean Flux has no power!

What is being claimed, however, is that adherence to this 'theory' is one of the subjective reasons why Dialectical Marxism has become a bye-word for failure.

There are other, objective reasons why the class enemy still runs the planet, but since revolutions require revolutionaries with ideas in their heads, this 'theory' must take some of the blame.

So, it is alleged here that dialectics has been an important contributory factor.
It certainly helps explain why revolutionary groups are in general vanishingly small, neurotically sectarian, studiously unreasonable, consistently conservative, inconsistently deferential to 'tradition', and almost invariably lean toward some form of substitutionism.

Naturally, this has had a direct bearing on our lack of impact on the working-class over the last seventy years or so -- and probably for much longer -- and thus on the continuing success of Capitalism.

And I then supply several links to the most recent posts of numpties who have also advanced this rash claim of yours, to which happy band I will now add your good self. smile

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and that by writing hundreds of thousands of lines of obsessional screeds on this single insight, you can create the foundation for a dialectics-free Trotskyism that will free us all?

Yes, you seem to be the sort of plonker who would have said this of Marx;

Quote:
and that by writing hundreds of thousands of lines of obsessional screeds about capitalism, you can create the foundation for a classles society

Now, please return to my site, and post here another set of brainless comments about what you allegedly found there, so I can poke more fun at you.

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jura
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Mar 7 2012 15:29
Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
Yes, you seem to be the sort of plonker who would have said this of Marx;

OK, now she seems to think her work is comparable to Marx's. Adding "delusions of grandeur" to the symptom list.

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Mar 7 2012 15:37
Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
Now, please return to my site, and post here another set of brainless comments about what you allegedly found there, so I can poke more fun at you.

Beg all you want. I generally don't waste my time with sane Trotskyists, why would I bother with you?

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 7 2012 15:40

Jura:

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I suggest you read Hegel's Science of Logic; Hegel explicitly acknowledges the Spinozian origin of this "principle" and comments favourably on the thesis, developing it further.

Read it?

I have been studying it for over 25 years. And where did I deny the above; I even used it to interpret what Marx said!

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The rest of your argument is completely misguided. The German original makes it pretty clear to what the clause refers:

Then you plainly think Aristotle and Plato had read Hegel's execrable book, eh?

And, even though you say that my argument is 'misguided', you failed to explain why; so I can only conclude this is bluster on your part.

After all, you got the source of this quote wrong -- attributing it to volume three! So much for 'scholarship'!

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So much for your rigorous scholarly work. Get your oeuvre past peer review and we'll talk.

Was Hegel's 'Logic' peer reviewed? Was Das Kapital?

And what makes you think I want to 'talk' to an elitist prig like you?

Moreover, I fail to see how your cod (partial) translation of the passage in German supports your attempt to prove that Plato had access to a time machine. roll eyes

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 7 2012 15:42

Ocelot:

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Beg all you want. I generally don't waste my time with sane Trotskyists, why would I bother with you?

Oops.., plainly you have been.smile

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 7 2012 15:50

Jura:

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OK, now she seems to think her work is comparable to Marx's. Adding "delusions of grandeur" to the symptom list.

And this comes from volume three, too, I suppose?

But you miss the point. I am comparing Ocelot to the sort of plonker who will accuse me of doing something 'obsessional', when he is quite happy to accept from others that they devote their lives to ending capitalism, as I have, but refrain from childish slurs about their 'obsessional' activities.

In other words, I was accusing him of open and blatant inconsistency, a logical term, I own, is probably way beyond your meagre logical capacity, your brain apparently having been nuked by too much Hegelian 'logic'.

.

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jura
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Mar 7 2012 15:56
Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
Moreover, I fail to see how your cod (partial) translation of the passage in German supports your attempt to prove that Plato had access to a time machine. roll eyes

It certainly proves what the clause refers to – contrary to your interpretation, which is hence misguided. Marx refers to the "Hegelian contradiction" as the "source of all dialectic". Make of it what you want.

Broadly, there are two options: you either write another 10 000 word essay in purple Comic Sans on the grave "historical mistake" Marx made here, OR you accept that the term "dialectic", as many others, can mean different things in different contexts. In that case, it won't be that difficult to comprehend that Marx is referring here to the Hegelian category of "contradiction" as the source of all "dialectic". Given "dialectical" is how Marx described his method of presentation in Capital, it means that the category of "contradiction" (not to be confused with logical contradiction or material opposition, as was pointed out on these forums long before you appeared) is central to Marx's own procedures in constructing his critique of political economy. (This is especially clear from the first four chapters in Capital and in the corresponding parts of Zur Kritik of 1859.)

S. Artesian
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Mar 7 2012 15:57

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], 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.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 7 2012 15:58

R68:

Quote:
I'm interested in finding out more about Rosa's hobbies, does she enjoy going to cinema, coffee with friends, perhaps even a night out listening to death metal and chugging cheap beer?

Check out my YouTube page:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL00F31177D9EF4EA2&feature=view_all

I play lead guitar (rock and blues), and go to the cinema when there is something worth seeing -- which isn't very often.

I drink Stella.smile

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 7 2012 15:59

SA:

Quote:
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], 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.

Only 999,998 to go...

S. Artesian
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Mar 7 2012 16:01

You'll be gone way before that, Rosa. Count on it.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 7 2012 16:18

Jura:

Quote:
It certainly proves what the clause refers to – contrary to your interpretation, which is hence misguided. Marx refers to the "Hegelian contradiction" as the "source of all dialectic". Make of it what you want.

Hey, I thought you would only 'talk' to me when my work had been 'peer reviewed'! Looks like you don't even know your own mind, let alone what Marx meant...

Anyway, I disagree with what you say. It doesn't imply what you allege.

But, lets' suppose you are right; if so then Marx was an idiot. I prefer to think he wasn't, so I reckon my interpretation is superior.

Quote:
Broadly, there are two options: you either write another 10 000 word essay in purple Comic Sans on the grave "historical mistake" Marx made here, OR you accept that the term "dialectic", as many others, can mean different things in different contexts. In that case, it won't be that difficult to comprehend that Marx is referring here to the Hegelian category of "contradiction" as the source of all "dialectic". Given "dialectical" is how Marx described his method of presentation in Capital, it means that the category of "contradiction" (not to be confused with logical contradiction or material opposition, as was pointed out on these forums long before you appeared) is central to Marx's own procedures in constructing his critique of political economy. (This is especially clear from the first four chapters in Capital and in the corresponding parts of Zur Kritik of 1859.)

Well, we can speculate all day long about what Marx did or didn't mean.

Fortunately, he put paid to all this when he added a summary of 'the dialectic method' (his words, not mine) to the Afterword to the second edition of Capital (volume one, not three, just in case you got that wrong, too), but which contains not one atom of Hegel -- no 'contradictions', no 'unity of opposites', no 'quantity passing over into quality', no 'negation of the negation', no 'internal relations'...

Now, this is the only summary of 'the dialectic method' Marx published in his entire life. I prefer to listen to what he had to say, and interpret the rest of Capital in this light, and not allow myself to impose on it a mystical tradition that seems to have you in its thrall.

And, by the way, over which you have become emotive and abusive, a bit like the way that other religionists defend their simple faith.

Which shouldn't surprise us, should it, since you are happy to learn from that confused Christian mystic, Hegel.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 7 2012 16:20

SA:

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You'll be gone way before that, Rosa. Count on it.

Just so long as I am still here when you find that missing passage that supports your attempt to re-mystify Das Kapital.