- Capitalism and Alternatives -

And on...

Posted by: Red Deathy ( Socialist Party, UK ) on September 01, 1999 at 12:26:06:

In Reply to: 'Social science' and 'utopianism'. posted by Samuel Day Fassbinder on August 31, 1999 at 18:49:57:

: Similarly, we have a system "drawn in Marx's head" in the Communist Manifesto, for the first acts of the triumphant proletarian regime:

Actually, that was not a system, that was a series of demands designed to hasten the Development of *capitalism* in Germany, fundamentally based on immediate tactical desicions, and which, if you look in Later prefaces to the Manifesto, Marx and Engels later rejected as past their sell-by date.

:One notes the utopian leap of faith: how these "despotic inroads on the rights of property" on the part of national states ("these measures will, of course, be different in different countries") are supposed to lead automatically to a situation where "production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation" was something that should have been proven by scientific socialism, since M/E are claiming to know the laws governing history, but wasn't. If you would like to see a further elaboration of that system, please read Bertell Ollman's Marx: An Uncommon Introduction.

As far as I understand it, they reason they don't describe how such transition occurs is;
1:they just take for granted that Sociaism=Democracy.
2:That as soon as Capitalists are abolished, the workers will just *have* to create socialism.

: When Engels describes what makes his system "scientific" in Socialism: Utopian And Scientific, what we get is a recitation of the historical laws he and Marx claim to have discovered, nothing about proof or methodologies of proof or ways of determining the size and growth of the proletariat to discuss optimum times for launching a global revolution.

I remind the honourable gentleman that teh word 'scientific' has undergone serious shifts in meaning, at the time of discussion scientific meant 'organised system of learning', which is what Marx and Engels were about, in the manner of Hegel. It does not imply that Marx and Engels were latter day social scientists. I think you are applying the modern meaning.

: I don't see why we shouldn't apply this standard to Marx and Engels' theories as well, given that they still lived in an era of peasants (outside of England and possibly France, Germany, and the US).

But preciesly they had England to look to for seeing mature Cpitalism. it hasn't changed much since then, merely spread to more and more countries.

: I just don't think this claim that Marx and Engels knew human behavior well enough to call their system a "science" washes. Where are the experiments, the control samples, the results?

Again, a different model of science- most of their work was reasearch orientated, according to raya Dunaycheveskaya(sp?) their anthropoloical not-boooks are quite worth reading. They regarded the proof of their experiements as being the actual movement of the world, they didn't need 'proof' in laboratory conditions.

:What would falsify Marxism?

The sudden abolition of poverty under capitalism. A capitalism free from crises. An end to class war.

: SDF: When Hamilton, Madison, and Jay sat down to write The Federalist, they didn't just say "we'll have a democracy, of course," and leave it at the popular will to form democracies. There had to be an idea of process, they understood. Can you understand that?

And Marx and Engels would point to the Paris Commune, where the workers established democracy for themselves, without outside help, or utopian planners. Further, they could point to America, or Britain, where democracy was in part, formally, established, and note that such trends could be develpoped.

No Idea who Hamilton Madison and jay are, much less the federalist, I assume, though, that they were leaders of some movement?
: SDF: Go back and read my quote from the Communist Manifesto. Originally it was supposed to be "the state," and how it is to be transferred to the vast majority of the population needs a note on process.

The democratic state. In Marx's prospectus to Bakunin's statism and Anrachy, he responds to bakunin's question 'How many of 6 million Germans will be members of teh government.' marx responds '6 million'.

: SDF: Who gets to participate in that democracy? How count the votes? Why assume the good guys will win? Notes on procedure, once again, are missing. (Please take these into consideration when evaluating my overall argument, that Marx/Engels were utopians too, that what we have of socialism in their works is a sketch, not something that can be called a fully-fledged science, and that there's nothing wrong with that.)

Why design or describe a system? People will have to work that out for themselves when the time for implementation comes, all that matters is the knowledge that people *are* capable of enacting such a system, that the interests of the bvast majority will be in enacting such a system.

: SDF: This is meaningless. Abstractions are the actual, thus they are scientific. Plans don't come of their own accord, they are created by concrete human beings.

Yes, but Marx wasn't that concrete human being, and he knew it. For me to create a plan now would be mere abstraction, a concrete plan would require me to be in the position of immediately implementing it.

: SDF: But, regardless of the actual oppression of the working class, the "slaves" are becoming less and less likely to revolt because their perception is more and more one of what they have to lose if they throw capitalism overboard in a general strike. Calhoun showed how this applied to the depiction of English history in E.P. Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class. In a situation like the one Calhoun described, we will have to abstain from framing general laws presupposing that the bourgeoisie will eventually become inimical to society, since the trend is going the other way, and of course because it's not credible to frame social laws without social evidence.

Well, I dunno, I think an Average 3% fall in American wages over the past 10 years, and the general spread of poverty wages from periphery countries to teh core suggests that conditions are turning again. We have the past where there were serious struggles to look to.

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