Marx's dialectic

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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

Quote:
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;

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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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ocelot
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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:

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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.

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jura
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Mar 7 2012 16:25

Surprise, surprise, it's back to the Afterword, the Holy Grail in your mental mission, even though Marx (not in an Afterword, but in the actual text of his work, I might add) explicitly relates "all dialectic" to the "Hegelian 'contradiction'". Good luck then. You should know, though, that the more rational part of your supposedly revolutionary discoveries was already made in the 1970s in Germany, by philosophers of language who were keen on reconstructing Marx's arguments. Most of that was soon shown to be wrong. My final words will be: Dieter Wolf, Der dialektische Widerspruch im Kapital and Ingo Ebe: "Dialektik - eigentümliche Logik eines eigentümlichen Gegenstands?".

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 7 2012 22:26

Jura:

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Surprise, surprise, it's back to the Afterword, the Holy Grail in your mental mission, even though Marx (not in an Afterword, but in the actual text of his work, I might add) explicitly relates "all dialectic" to the "Hegelian 'contradiction'".

Except he didn't do this. You misquoted him again. [You probably still think it's from Volume 3, too!]

And, your 'interpretation' of Marx would have him believing that Hegel's dialectic is retroactive, and can reach into the past!

Now, you might wish to turn your nose up at the only summary of 'the dialectic method' Marx saw fit to publish and endorse in his entire lifetime (and that's only because it holes your 'theory' below the water line), preferring at the same time to interpret an isolated footnote in such a way that it makes Marx into an imbecile -- but, that's your problem.

Quote:
Good luck then. You should know, though, that the more rational part of your supposedly revolutionary discoveries was already made in the 1970s in Germany, by philosophers of language who were keen on reconstructing Marx's arguments. Most of that was soon shown to be wrong. My final words will be: Dieter Wolf, Der dialektische Widerspruch im Kapital and Ingo Ebe: "Dialektik - eigentümliche Logik eines eigentümlichen Gegenstands?".

In which case, armed with these 'scholarly works' (from where you no doubt learned that this footnote appears in volume 3 of Das Kapital) you should be able to shoot me down in flames, shouldn't you?.

But you don't, you just ignore what Marx himself actually said, and moan when I remind you of it.

From which we may conclude that the following is little more than bluster and bluff on your part:

Quote:
Most of that was soon shown to be wrong.
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jura
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Mar 8 2012 07:43

"So fremd ihm der Hegelsche 'Widerspruch', die Springquelle aller Dialektik" (MEW 23, p. 623)... I mean, put it in Google Translate if you don't speak the language wink.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 8 2012 08:27

No need to , MECW has translated it for us, and I quoted it earlier.

In which case, you either agree with me, or you think Marx was an imbecile.

Take your pick...

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jura
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Mar 8 2012 08:52

The Moore-Aveling translation to English, as in many other cases (compare e.g. the subtitle of Vol. 1) is simply wrong. By the way, I'm sure you know that MECW were produced by Progress Publishers. I certainly wouldn't trust them on questions of the correct translation or interpretation of Marx. Curiously, you don't seem to mind that the sources you use were edited by Stalinists, high priests of dialectical mysticism.

It's very clear from the original to what the clause "the source of all dialectic" refers to. There is no ambiguity. Ask anyone who speaks German. There is no way that the clause can be related to anything else than "the Hegelian 'contradiction'".

Now, I don't think Marx was an imbecile, I just think that when he spoke of the dialectic, he was referring to Hegel's method of deriving categories (which he transformed, demystified and used in constructing Capital), not to the ancient art of dialogue. Your disgust with the traditional, ontological interpretation of dialectics is understandable (and I share it to a great extent), but I am afraid you are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It's noteworthy that you pay no attention to the structure of Capital (i.e. the analysis of the form of value, or the theoretical movement from money to capital, and many other paradoxical situations which are then theoretically resolved by introducing new categories in the presentation) in critizing dialectics. Unfortunately, that's precisely where all of the "dialectic" in Marx's sense takes place. It's a specific mode of presenting a categorial system; in his case, the categorial system of political economy.

Of course the so-called "three laws", the notion that "formal logic is bourgeois" and all the rest of it are rubbish (that's not really breaking news to anyone on these forums). But that does not mean that Marx did not incorporate important aspects of Hegel's mode of presentation into his own.

And it can't be reduced to "coquetting" and stylistics, I am afraid. Either you admit that terms like "appearance", "essence", "form of appearance" (all Hegelian categories, as I'm sure you know) play an important role in Capital, or the relationship between, say, value and money, or value and price of production, will be a complete mystery to you (or you will even be forced to admit that Volume 3 contradicts Volume 1, as Böhm-Bawerk argued over a hundred years ago). Unfortunately, you don't seem to write much about this so there's nothing I can refer to. I'm even inclined to doubt you have any understanding of Marx's actual critique of political economy, because you never seem to mention any of it and keep talking about Engels, Lenin and the rest of them (whose philosophical ideas, I admit, were mostly wrong – but this was shown by other Marxists like Karl Korsch and Anton Pannekoek long before you set sail on your crusade).

Angelus Novus
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Mar 8 2012 09:20
Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
R68:

No, it's when it's put in capitals... roll eyes .

Well, you know, in German, it's always put in capitals. That's just how they roll with nouns, yo.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 8 2012 10:14

Jura:

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The Moore-Aveling translation to English, as in many other cases (compare e.g. the subtitle of Vol. 1) is simply wrong. By the way, I'm sure you know that MECW were produced by Progress Publishers. I certainly wouldn't trust them on questions of the correct translation or interpretation of Marx. Curiously, you don't seem to mind that the sources you use were edited by Stalinists, high priests of dialectical mysticism.

And yet, I should trust you!? Someone whose interpretation would have us conclude Marx was an imbecile, and thus whose work wasn't fit even to be published, let alone translated! [But, see below.]

Quote:
It's very clear from the original to what the clause "the source of all dialectic" refers to. There is no ambiguity. Ask anyone who speaks German. There is no way that the clause can be related to anything else than "the Hegelian 'contradiction'".

In which case, Marx was an imbecile, after all. You really must engage your 'common sense' module when translating, you know.

Or do you really believe that Plato was aware of, and used, the 'Hegelian contradiction' -- in which case Plato, not Hegel, invented it -- even though Plato was remarkably quiet about it? Indeed, Plato scholars have been remarkably incompetent in missing it, too!

If so, and with all due respect, Marx isn't the only know-nothing here...

But you reply:

Quote:
Now, I don't think Marx was an imbecile, I just think that when he spoke of the dialectic, he was referring to Hegel's method of deriving categories (which he transformed, demystified and used in constructing Capital), not to the ancient art of dialogue. Your disgust with the traditional, ontological interpretation of dialectics is understandable (and I share it to a great extent), but I am afraid you are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. It's noteworthy that you pay no attention to the structure of Capital (i.e. the analysis of the form of value, or the theoretical movement from money to capital, and many other paradoxical situations which are then theoretically resolved by introducing new categories in the presentation) in critizing dialectics. Unfortunately, that's precisely where all of the "dialectic" in Marx's sense takes place. It's a specific mode of presenting a categorial system; in his case, the categorial system of political

So, in other words, it isn't the source of all dialectic, just his own!

If so, Marx was wrong, after all.

By way of contrast, my interpretation implies Marx wasn't wrong.

Hmmm. Wonder which is preferrable...?

And I do not just reject the 'ontological' interpetation of the dialectic, but every single version of it if it derives from Hegel, directly or indirectly, in howsoever an attenuated or nuanced form that is -- since Hegel's 'attempt' to derive his system is logically flawed from beginning to end.

I'd post a link to where I have demostrated this, but (1) the mods here frown upon it, and (2) you unwisely resist all attempts to rescue you from errror, and become arrogant and abusive with anyone who tries.

Quote:
Of course the so-called "three laws", the notion that "formal logic is bourgeois" and all the rest of it are rubbish (that's not really breaking news to anyone on these forums). But that does not mean that Marx did not incorporate important aspects of Hegel's mode of presentation into his own.

Except we already know Marx abandoned Hegel in his entirety.

How do we know? Well, in the Afterword, he published a summary..., er, you can fill in the rest.

Quote:
And it can't be reduced to "coquetting" and stylistics, I am afraid. Either you admit that terms like "appearance", "essence", "form of appearance" (all Hegelian categories, as I'm sure you know) play an important role in Capital, or the relationship between, say, value and money, or value and price of production, will be a complete mystery to you (or you will even be forced to admit that Volume 3 contradicts Volume 1, as Böhm-Bawerk argued over a hundred years ago). Unfortunately, you don't seem to write much about this so there's nothing I can refer to. I'm even inclined to doubt you have any understanding of Marx's actual critique of political economy, because you never seem to mention any of it and keep talking about Engels, Lenin and the rest of them (whose philosophical ideas, I admit, were mostly wrong – but this was shown by other Marxists like Karl Korsch and Anton Pannekoek long before you set sail on your crusade).

Again, we can speculate all day long about this, but fortunately, Marx put an end to all this when he very helpfully published a summary...er, once again, you can fill in all the rest.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 8 2012 10:22

Sorry, I meant to include this:

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Unfortunately, you don't seem to write much about this so there's nothing I can refer to. I'm even inclined to doubt you have any understanding of Marx's actual critique of political economy, because you never seem to mention any of it and keep talking about Engels, Lenin and the rest of them (whose philosophical ideas, I admit, were mostly wrong – but this was shown by other Marxists like Karl Korsch and Anton Pannekoek long before you set sail on your crusade).

I have left these rather inconseqential characters out so far, but they will receive a good going over, too.

Be patient...

Anyway, you'll not read what I have to say, will you? So why make this point?

And I leave Marx out since he abandoned this obscure and mystical way of viewing things.

You should emulate him... smile

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 8 2012 10:20

Angelus:

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Well, you know, in German, it's always put in capitals. That's just how they roll with nouns, yo.

Good point.

Oh dear. My entire thesis falls apart! Dolt that I am, how could I have missed this blindingly obvious point?

What next? You'll be telling me grass is green?

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jura
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Mar 8 2012 10:37

You don't seem to be very responsive to arguments, either. The ancient dialectic is different from what Hegel called the dialectic (in a way, you are like the Stalinists who conflated all of the historical meanings of "dialectic" into one big concept, and then wrote textbooks about it). This is perfectly consistent with what Marx says in that passage: that Hegel, with his category of "contradiction", got right to the "source of all dialectic". (Needless to say, even the category of "contradiction" is mystified in Hegel. In Marx's version, it has nothing to do with logical contradictions of the form A & ~A, or with "material oppositions", e.g. two cars crashing. For a rational discussion of the meaning of "contradiction" in Marx, refer to the two German sources I cited earlier.)

Anyway, apparently your interpretation of some of the basic concepts of Marx's theory of value suggests my doubts were correct. In a rare (on your part) discussion of something that actually relates to Marx's Capital, you write:

Rosa Lichtenstein wrote:
Can't exchange values exist where there is no use value at all? What about antiques? They seem to have an exchange value but many do not have a use value. Same with many works of art and other collectables (such as stamps and old coins). And can't criminals exchange useless items in order to launder money?

http:// anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2008_02.htm (edit: link to crank site broken)

This is laughable, but not that surprising in a 21st century Trotskyist. You don't even understand the basic relationships between value, exchange value and use-value, i.e. the fundamental concepts of Marx's analysis (first five or six pages of Ch1 of Volume 1). How can anything you say be relevant to questions of the structure of Marx's theory – which is exclusively what the Marxian dialectic relates to – if you don't understand its actual content?

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 8 2012 10:48

Jura:

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You don't seem to be very responsive to arguments, either.

Sorry, I seem to have caught that virus from you. sad

Quote:
The ancient dialectic is different from what Hegel called the dialectic (in a way, you are like the Stalinists who conflated all of the historical meanings of "dialectic" into one big concept, and then wrote textbooks about it). This is perfectly consistent with what Marx says in that passage: that Hegel, with his category of "contradiction", got right to the "source of all dialectic". (Needless to say, even the category of "contradiction" is mystified in Hegel. In Marx's version, it has nothing to do with logical contradictions of the form A & ~A, or with "material oppositions", e.g. two cars crashing. For a rational discussion of the meaning of "contradiction" in Marx, refer to the two German sources I cited earlier.)

So, in other words, it's not the source of all dialectic, only Marx's (or is it Hegel's?) version.

And Marx was wrong once more.

But, my version means he was correct.

Hmmm. Still can't figure out which is to be preferred...

Quote:
This is laughable, but not that surprising in a 21st century Trotskyist. You don't even understand the basic relationships between value, exchange value and use-value, i.e. the fundamental concepts of Marx's analysis (first five or six pages of Ch1 of Volume 1). How can anything you say be relevant to questions of the structure of Marx's theory – which is exclusively what the Marxian dialectic relates to – if you don't understand its actual content?

As I said: you tend to become arrogant and abusive when anyone tries to rescue you from your self-inflicted error.

What you really mean here is that I do not agree with your mystical version of Marx's theory.

Fine, but we knew that already.

[And you accuse me of error, when you originally thought this passge came from Volume 3, and I had to rescue you from that error, too!]

And this has nothing to do with Trotskyism, either, since they disagree with me too (and their views are much closer to yours than that they are to mine).

Sorry, and with all due respect, you can stick your sectarian and arrogant prejudices.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 8 2012 10:48

And what happened to your promise not to 'talk' to me until my work had been 'peer reviewed'?

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revol68
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Mar 8 2012 10:50

Rosa whether or not an antique has useful or not is hardly mystical.

You may want to consider that the fact that the term "antique" explicitly signifies the things actual use.

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jura
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Mar 8 2012 10:53

I decided to give it a few more shots. It's becoming more interesting now that you've entered the broken record mode and ceased to comment in any substantial way on anything other people write.

Anyway, I suppose Marx's statement that if a commodity is to have value, it must first and foremost have a use-value is "mystical" to you. I'd be interested in hearing your take on the difference between the "immanent" and "external" measure of value (Hegelian categories again, right in the – published – Zur Kritik, and elsewhere...).

S. Artesian
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Mar 8 2012 10:57

This claim of Rosa's was answered long ago on revleft. Marx is concerned with the organization of social production, the dominant, determining mode.

The accumulation of curios, pets, antiques is exactly what he is not talking about, no more than he is discussing a tailor who is "kept" by a wealthy individual, producing suits only for that individual.

Get rid of the troll.

Rosa Lichtenstein
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Mar 8 2012 11:01

R68:

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Rosa whether or not an antique has useful or not is hardly mystical.

Indeed, and that is why I made that point.

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You may want to consider that the fact that the term "antique" explicitly signifies the things actual use.

Eh? That sentence does not seem to make any sense.

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jura
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Mar 8 2012 11:05
S. Artesian wrote:
The accumulation of curios, pets, antiques is exactly what he is not talking about, no more than he is discussing a tailor who is "kept" by a wealthy individual, producing suits only for that individual.

That's not the issue at all. Marx would never deny that antiques, pets or works of art are use-values. It's right there on the first page.