May 2014


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Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]>
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Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 27 May 2014 19:02:11 -0500
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The Amherst Conference was one of the best left conferences I have ever
attended, and Dick Levins's paper in one of the conferences one of the best
I have heard.

But my octogenarian short-term memory fails me. At the end of his paper Dick
laid down three wonderful propositions, and I can only remember the third of
them. All three revolved around what I consider a key issue for contemporary
soc8ialist activists: the scope and limits of theory. The third of his
closing propositions was, "All theories are wrong." (he meant of course,
_eventually_ proved wrong.) That is of crucial importance. But I can't
remember the first two of the three. 

I hope I can be illuminated here.


P.S. There is a new MRE book, selected writings of Rosa Luxemburg. The blurb
for it calls her the most powerful socialist intellect since Marx himself &
I tend to agree. In her day the Grudrisse was not available, but her remarks
on "the final goal" are in the spirit of a wonderful aphorism from that
work: "The anatomy of man is a key to the anatomy of the ape." Bertell
Ollman catches up the import of this in his phrase, "Doing History Backwards
as does sweezy in his phrase "the present as history," as does Mao when he
remarks, "Marxists have no crystal ball." And this is consistent with the
claim that all theories are _eventually_ wrong. We work with the best theory
that we can carve out, but we (must) work with the awareness that eventually
(the present as history) that theory will fail.