newbie on Participatory Economics

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Thu Jul 23 07:32:20 PDT 1998

I agree with Carrol below, but I want to say an opposite aspect of the truth he discusses (Isn't dialectics fun ?).

Marxism is a science of human history. It has some of the characteristics of the "hard" or natural or objective sciences, and characteristics that are wisdom about subjectivity or "soft" science.

But even regarding prediction, Marx and Engels' prediction that the working class would rise and take state power has been fulfilled significantly. It has been fulfilled a lot more than any predictions of bourgeois social science or historical science. Just 70 years after the Communist Manifesto, there was a successful accession to state power. By the 1950's 1/3 of the world's population was within communist systems directly acknowledging that they were fulfilling Marx and Engels' predictions. And it ain't over yet. There will come another even greater fulfillment of the prediction, barring annihilation of the species. Even within capitalism many features of socialism were instituted (unemployment insurance, welfare, many "programs" for the working class) and this was a significant fulfillment of the Marxist prediction of the rise of the working class.

To really appreciate this prediction, one has to think that just about nobody was looking to the poor, downtrodden factory workers in 1848 to be the class that challenges the bougeoisie.

Carrol's reference to "struggle as what is" reminds me that Marx and Engels DID have a theory of TRANS- historical general characteristics of human beings. It is implied in the first sentence of the Communist Manifesto: "The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggles" . This implies that across modes of production, across historical concretes, humans who are robbed of the fruits of their labor will struggle for owning those fruits This is a prediction too. People will not just let you keep ripping them off and will eventually rise up against exploitation and oppression. The fact that the timing is not exactly known does not make it any less definite than that the sun will rise in the sky or that an electron will behave in a certain way.

Regarding the dual nature of human science and

prediction Marx said:

"A distinction should always be made between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of a natural science, and the legal, political, religious, aesthetic or philosophic - in short ideological forms in which people become conscious of this conflict and fight it out."

Charles Brown _ ---------------------------------
>>> Carrol Cox wrote

Preliminary: Frankly, it seemed to me that Lou Proyect's statement on utopian socialism was one of the most precise and (though condensed) comprehensive statements on that question I have ever read. What I offer here are footnotes to it and to some of the responses it triggered.

1) The attempt to write recipes for the cookshops of the future is ALWAYS wrong, whether such an attempt springs from marxist or anti-marxist premises. And Lou put his finger on the core here: the moralism (and hence contempt for the working class) which inevitibly comes to dominate such projects.

2. Most attempts to argue for OR against marxism as a science show an impoverished conception of *both* science and marxism. Paleography is one of the most successful of all sciences, and its predictive power is nil. Geology also flourishes, with little predictive power even in general terms and, as of yet, no predictive power in concrete situations in which such a predictive power would save lives. Despite jokes (usually accurate) about "the weatherman," both meteorology and climatolgy are powerful and flourishing sciences, with very mixed predictive power. In fact, one of the main achievements of these sciences lately has been to undercut the belief that weather *is* or ever will be predictable.

Etc. etc....

...Only the religious could argue that socialism is inevitable, and inevitably successful. Marx put the point when, very near the end of his life, he responded to a reporter's query, "What is?" with a single word, "Struggle." That we know, as did the ancient subjects of Marx's doctoral dissertation.

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