rc-am rcollins at netlink.com.au
Fri Aug 20 18:19:56 PDT 1999

[just got this today, and since there's been some discussion on marx and engels, thought lboers would be interested. the translation isn't great. Negri, as some will already know, is an italian autonomist. he's currently in prison in italy. - Angela]

From: Júlio Béjar <jbexar at mundivia.es> To: Support Toni Negri <toninegri at egroups.com> http://www.egroups.com/group/toninegri


We know the disasters that Engels caused, after Marx death, into german socialdemocracy bosom. We know the disasters that the reference to Engels bore into workers movement dynamics during its century of expansion. Engels was a socialist there where Marx was a communist; Engels was Gotha's Program partisan, whereas Marx was against it and favorable to free ourselves of work. Engels was a dialectic materialist, while Marx only was a bit dialectic, but above all he was a materialist. At last, Engels was fundamentally sectarian, while Marx was libetarian. All sectarian people, in workers movement history, rested on Engels. However, those who considered the communist theory free and opened like the society it must construct, they didn't refer to him.

Althusser, in one brilliant writing from 1982 ("About marxist thought", published in "Futur Antérieur, special number "About Althusser", Paris, L' Harmattan, 1993) talks about a deep equivocal in the basis of friendship and collaboration between these two men [Marx/Engels] and looks with rancorous irony the works of Engels, "the General" (as Marx used to call him). It was Engels who created that "only thought", the "marxist thought" or "dialectic materialism" which so many head breakers and afflictions took to million peoples. If I think about my youth and my marxist propedeuthics, I agree unanimously with the equivocal marked by Althusser. For my ingenuous and libertarian "communism wish", the positivism and the dogmatic arrogance of that DIAMAT [dialectic-materialism] of engelsian origin not only were strangers for me, but I placed them immediately, without rancor, in the shelving of old and useless things.

And, however, this second "bearded man" of socialist iconography was not always so dogmatic and banal. Some years ago, eying old papers about workers movement history, I found by chance one Engel's writing titled "Lines on a critic of politics economy", published in the "Deutsche-Französiche

Jahrbuch" in 1844. What a formidable lucidity in the critic of theory about burgess-ship role and in the identification of its value -the "increased-value" from the workers point of view-, as exploitation and as stregth! That Engels had an extraordinary capacity to submerse into the suffering and the expropriation that production practices in each proletarian! Extraordinary! In the following years, Engels developpes that magnificent investigation-inquiry about "The England working class

situation". A document that will be one of the least studied and, in spite of that, it was going to stablish the guide lines of one of the most repeated ways in workers movement history. Let's inspect this laboratory of "marxian" inquiry (still no "marxist", as afterwards unfortunately will be all the engelsian texts).

Let's take again Althusser's guide for resuming this brilliant book and also to put in evidence the effects it still could have between us. Now, writes Althusser, Engels -that has arrived England and joined Manchester workers- seeks with them the reason of their exploitation and the causes of their fight defeat. Engels informes this situation with a wealth and depth of datums that no one never saw the like of it: always, as logic, from the point of view of proletarians. "A situation in fact that was the result of an unforeseen historic process, but necessary: the fallen of exploited in hands of the exploiters. As for the fight, it was also the result of a factor history. These men had fighted to keep their own lands, they had been win out to expropiate them , they had lost and had been forced again in production's slavery. Now, they were resisting as they could, with shoulders against the wall, day after day, into the brotherhood of solidarity between exploited, but alone in front of the "diktat" of landlords and their laboral organization. The one they had understood was that no one can fight alone, but that it's necesary to join efforts for building a force capable to lead the struggle, to join again to the combatants after each new defeat and to prepare tomorrow's battle...Well then, in this history, works a philosophy, but it's a "philosophy without philosophy", with no concepts neither contradictions. A philosophy that moves itself in the level of need of positive facts and that nourish itself on contradictions and "end of

History", as much over the Revolution as negativity, of men fellowship. Definetively: in big texts, as "The Manifesto", there is a great deal of truth, but it could be so something of lie. The one way to reach truth is to fight and convince oneself in the need of "think in other way".

Surprising and clairvoyant Engels this Engels that, sudenly, comes up! He's the opposite of that senile illness called "engelsianism" or that other one shaking and progresive syndrome called "marxist orthodoxy". This is a "marxian" Engels. More marxian than Marx. He's a spark of eternal Marx: through the inquiry, to proceed denouncing the exploitation, one always renewvable exploitation. Trhough the definition of social classes and power exercised always in a different way. A exploitation that can consist in expropriation of productive value, but that also can become in expropriation of living wishes, in corruptness, in violence and arrogance. To be marxian means to inquiry, without fear. And to fight later, without fear of nothing.

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list