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I need to review this long exchange to understand the issues raised better.
 But let me put a question to you. Is there anything called Marxism that
most Marxists agree on?  Second, if there is--is "Marxism" scientific?  If
yes, in what sense?

Kamran

On Wed, Jan 9, 2013 at 8:29 AM, Thomas Smith <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> Dear Tom,
>
> Might you send this to Science for the People list?  For some reason, AOL
> is giving my address as an aim address rather than my netscape address, so
> I was rejected.
>
> thanks
> sam****
>
> ** **
>
> ** **
>
> ** **
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: sam4wp <[log in to unmask]>
> To: SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Wed, Jan 9, 2013 10:16 am
> Subject: Re: Dialectics in Science: An Interview with Helena Sheehan****
>
> Dear Tom and all,
>
> This goes back to how you define "working class."  (I have an article
> coming out in Against the Current on that, by the way, and can send it to
> anyone who asks)
>
> The great majority of the poor are members of the working class--not of
> the lumpenproletariat.  This is true not only in South Africa but in most
> of the world.  And in many parts of the USA, I would add, the Latinos are a
> very large part of the working class however you define that term.
>
> Hal Draper, in his books on Karl Marx's Theory of Revolution, had a very
> nice discussion of how Marx defined and used the term lumpenproletariat, by
> the way.  I learned a lot from it.
>
> best
> sam****
>
> ** **
>
> ** **
>
> ** **
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Thomas Smith <[log in to unmask]>
> To: SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Wed, Jan 9, 2013 6:16 am
> Subject: Re: Dialectics in Science: An Interview with Helena Sheehan****
>
> Dear Mandi,****
>
> I would refer you not only to Michael Parenti, who talks here about
> category C, the “billion poor,”****
>
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KitvwJBRw2Q****
>
> , but also Richard Chilicote****
>
>
> http://www.amazon.com/Globalization-Unmasked-Imperialism-21st-Century/dp/1856499391
> ****
>
>  ****
>
> You seem to be hinting that this poor should be able to become their own
> agency In the struggle to “alter or overturn the status quo” in their
> favor. Here again, the classics are vitally important, because, unless you
> consider Mao a classic thinker—I do not, and here I agree with David
> Westman (except for the part about Trotsky)—none of these people, including
> Fanon, romanticize the poor’s magical power to do so on their own.
> Unfortunately so many “Leftists” today do so, including even to some degree
> Mike Davis, who talks about Latinos, for example, “reinventing” cities of
> the United States. All by themselves. Amazing! I’m actually doing some
> writing about this magical, Wagner-Nietzsche like thinking****
>
>  ****
>
> The lumpen propletariat, as Marx and Engels, and many other socialists,
> pointed out, do not have the capacity by themselves to carry out a
> revolution. Neither, contrary to Fanon, do the peasantry. It is only the
> working class that can do that. Now how that working class can be liberated
> from their bureaucratic misleaders, and how they can be encouraged to
> embrace a socialist ideology, and to reach out to the poor in order to
> offer them leadership—those are questions that were once worked out well in
> Russia in 1917. But conditions have changed, cultures vary, so there are
> enormous practical problems with that task—especially against the
> resistance of the bourgeoisie and its military and its intelligence
> apparatuses—that have to be worked out in each country.****
>
>  ****
>
> Getting back to Science—the classics are NOT very good on science. There
> is great ambiguity here, and that is why many Leftists in the U.S. blind
> themselves to the dangers of establishment science. Stanley Aronowitz has
> written a wonderful book however, SCIENCE AS POWER, which very ably
> attempts to create a Leftist view of science which is fully cognizant of
> these dangers. I just saw Stanley at his 80th birthday party, by the
> way—he looks very healthy and he says he has a lot more projects to pursue.
> ****
>
> Tom****
>
>  ****
>
>  ****
>
> *From:* Science for the People Discussion List [
> mailto:[log in to unmask]<[log in to unmask]>]
> *On Behalf Of *Mandi Smallhorne
> *Sent:* Wednesday, January 09, 2013 3:21 AM
> *To:* [log in to unmask]
> *Subject:* Re: Dialectics in Science: An Interview with Helena Sheehan****
>
>  ****
>
> Yes, you’re dead right, I haven’t read much of Poulantzas, just chunks
> quoted here and there.  Nor have I re-read any PolSci classics for a long
> time. Living in and around a struggle for human rights (sadly, aluta
> continua), I did not find I needed to do so. I do not consider myself an
> intellectual, and not being an academic or one of the lefty gods, I have no
> personal stake at all in coming up with ‘something new’. As a South African
> lefty who has seen one long and noble fight become mired in the swamp of
> neoliberal globalised economics and values, however, I DO strongly feel
> there is room and to spare for something new that will EFFECTIVELY alter or
> overturn the status quo in favour of the poor, especially the non-working
> poor, of whom we have so many.****
>
> I did not, BTW say that the classics are not worth reading; I said they
> need to be built on. And how about addressing the issues I raise – the
> impact of IT and globalisation, and all that has changed because of them?*
> ***
>
>  ****
>
>  ****
>
> *From:* Science for the People Discussion List [
> mailto:[log in to unmask]<[log in to unmask]>]
> *On Behalf Of *Thomas Smith
> *Sent:* 08 January 2013 08:10 PM
> *To:* [log in to unmask]
> *Subject:* Re: Dialectics in Science: An Interview with Helena Sheehan****
>
>  ****
>
> Obviously you haven’t read Poulantzas, nor thought very deeply about these
> issues. The middle class intellectual is frantic to maintain the illusion
> that she or he can come up with something new. Thus anyone who believes the
> classics are still worth reading are reduced to the status of
> Bible-thumping “evangelicals.” Thanks for the compliment, yourself.****
>
>  ****
>
> *From:* Science for the People Discussion List [
> mailto:[log in to unmask]<[log in to unmask]>]
> *On Behalf Of *Mandi Smallhorne
> *Sent:* Tuesday, January 08, 2013 9:30 AM
> *To:* [log in to unmask]
> *Subject:* Re: Dialectics in Science: An Interview with Helena Sheehan****
>
>  ****
>
> Well, merci du compliment, I don’t think! ****
>
> Gramsci died in the 30s. Poulantzas died in 1979 (even Sartre managed to
> outlive him by a whisker!)... 10 years before the fall of the Berlin Wall,
> way before the advent of the information technology stuff that’s made so
> much so different. And I’m afraid I simply don’t think that anything
> written about globalisation before somewhere around 2000 can begin to deal
> with the massive shifts it has created in its fullest flowering. ****
>
> Obviously not everything written in the early 20th century or the 19th is
> outdated, but it needs so much to be built on rather than preserved in
> amber and fought over by its reverent evangelicals. ****
>
>  ****
>
>  ****
>
> *From:* Science for the People Discussion List [
> mailto:[log in to unmask]<[log in to unmask]>]
> *On Behalf Of *Thomas Smith
> *Sent:* 08 January 2013 01:55 PM
> *To:* [log in to unmask]
> *Subject:* Re: Dialectics in Science: An Interview with Helena Sheehan****
>
>  ****
>
> Mandi I think that’s a bunch of trendy nonsense. As Sartre wrote,
> capitalism still is the “horizon” against which we must work, and the basic
> contours of capitalist society: exploitation, the workers vs. the
> capitalist class,  the separation of civil society and state, the formation
> and function of the state as ably analyzed by Poulantzas (updated by him
> for the contemporary period of globalization), the need to be precise with
> our politics, and not form permanent alliances with petit-bourgeois and
> outright bourgeois parties and groups, the need, despite the silly
> communist voice crap (I think I actually know those guys—they think they
> can reinvent the wheel), for permanent revolution, etc. ,etc. Marxism is
> STILL relevant as updated by people like Lenin, Trotsky, Poulantzas,
> Sartre, Gramsci. ****
>
>  ****
>
> *From:* Science for the People Discussion List [
> mailto:[log in to unmask]<[log in to unmask]>]
> *On Behalf Of *Mandi Smallhorne
> *Sent:* Tuesday, January 08, 2013 2:08 AM
> *To:* [log in to unmask]
> *Subject:* Re: Dialectics in Science: An Interview with Helena Sheehan****
>
>  ****
>
> Indeed and indeed. I have just been reading a whole slew of history books
> around the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and marvelling at how very
> different circumstances where then – hugely so in the case of Russia, but
> almost as much in the rest of the world (imagine a world where the Speaker
> could give up his political career as a matter of conscience, because the
> USA had decided to engage in imperialist behaviour... !) The working class
> in the North was so different, class was so set in stone – today I am sure
> Marx would’ve written a different theory. Where is our Marx for today? Why
> do so many lefties (here I think specifically of an online forum I’m
> involved with here in South Africa) waste so much time and energy
> quarrelling  about terminology a century old?****
>
> Mandi****
>
> *From:* Science for the People Discussion List [
> mailto:[log in to unmask]<[log in to unmask]>]
> *On Behalf Of *herb fox
> *Sent:* 07 January 2013 11:22 PM
> *To:* [log in to unmask]
> *Subject:* Re: Dialectics in Science: An Interview with Helena Sheehan****
>
>  ****
>
> Oh my, what century are we in?
> A revisionist is one who revises an existing belief system.  Marx famously
> said "Don't call me a Marxist."  He never constructed a belief system.  He
> did do a superb job defining ideology, explaining capitalism, offering a
> historiography based on class relations, transforming Hegel's dialectics
> into a materialist based dialectics, and some other wonderful analyses and
> conjectures.  It follows that those who use the concept of revisionism are
> asserting that there is a dogma.  Indeed Lenin himself used the expression
> dogma in referring to "Marxism."  Capitalism will be replaced, because it
> is demonstrating its failure to improve and enrich the lives of humans on
> this planet and it is destroying the ability of the planet to support the
> species.  Marx, were he alive today, would surely be a "revisionist,"
> desperately trying to overcome those who for lack of imagination have
> constructed dogmas with names like Maxism, Leninism, Stalinism, Trotskyism,
> Etc.  There are so many developments since his time, in culture, class
> structure, etc, around which he would put his wonderful analytical ability
> to help us understand and develop program.  It is highly unlikely that he
> would join any of the existing groups; and it is likely he would be in the
> library, not in the street, just as he did in writing Das Kapital.
>
> Assuming that subscribers to this list recognize that science has been
> very much integrated into the current socio-economic structure and ideology
> of capitalism, and want science to serve the 99% of the population, it
> seems appropriate that we put ourselves to two tasks: (1) find ways to use
> our science and technology to aid and be responsive to the 99% in the daily
> struggles against injustice, and (2) use our imagination to contribute to
> envisioning an alternate organization of society that will be meaningful
> enough to a majority to grasp its imagination and motivate it to struggle
> for it.  What form that struggle will take we will only know when it
> happens; but it is highly unlikely it will be like any previous struggle.
> Take note that the Bolsheviks operated in a country which was still
> culturally feudal and in which there was a revolutionary movement to which
> it gave leadership.  There has not to this day been any taking of power by
> an organization that mobilized the majority of the population in a
> conscious struggle against a massively hegemonic capitalist superstructure.
>
> The ahistoric application of language and experiences to the real
> situation in this country at this time, especially in light of the massive
> mindfuck that penetrates the majority, will go nowhere.  What is needed is
> a change in popular consciousness and sectarians with their private
> language are not likely to accomplish that.
>
> herb****
>
> On 1/7/2013 7:46 AM, Sam Friedman wrote:****
>
> What this interchange has taught me is:
> 1. There is no agreement about what Marxism is on this list.
> 2.  Some on this list have very strong opinions on this and related issues.
>
> Similarly, one or more of the people contributing to this discussion have
> used the term revolution.  It is not at all clear to me that there is
> widespread agreement on the list about what a revolution is; which of the
> many changes of governments and other aspects of nations the various people
> would consider to be "revolutions;" or what people see as the desirable
> outcome of "revolution."
>
> Nor do I get any sense of the practical activities that these differences
> lead to in various people's cases.
>
> If people want to get serious about these discussions, these seem like
> worthwhile starting points--for brief postings, not for huge ones no one
> will read.
>
> best
> sam****
>
>  ****
>
>  ****
>
>  ****
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Thomas Smith <[log in to unmask]> <[log in to unmask]>
> To: SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE <[log in to unmask]><[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Mon, Jan 7, 2013 6:35 am
> Subject: Re: Dialectics in Science: An Interview with Helena Sheehan****
>
> Just glanced at this. I do not believe that Trotsky was in any way shape or****
>
> form a "revisionist" along the lines of Bernstein, Kautsky, Stalin, or Mao.****
>
> Of course, I am open to evidence to the contrary. But what I belive has****
>
> happened however is that many people who call themselves Trotskyists are in****
>
> fact revisionist followers of Michel Pablo, who believed in liquidating into****
>
> the Stalinist movement. The Pabloite USFI sections in many other ways became****
>
> Trotskyist in name only. For example, adaptation to black nationalism in the****
>
> United States, uncritical hero worship of Third World Stalinists (and even****
>
> of bourgeois Third World Bonapartists like Chavez or Hussein), Sovietophobic****
>
> affinity for openly fascist anti-Soviet groups (like the Forest Brothers),****
>
> or its opposite, Sovietophilia (as in the case of the Spartacist League's****
>
> Jim Robertson, with his love affair of the East German bureaucrats);****
>
> abandonment of the transitional program, liquidation into a social****
>
> democratic, Shachmanite swamp like Solidarity in the U.S., which both the****
>
> FIT and the Trotskyist League have done, etc.****
>
>  ****
>
> -----Original Message-----****
>
> From: Science for the People Discussion List****
>
> [mailto:[log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>] On Behalf Of David Westman****
>
> Sent: Monday, January 07, 2013 1:11 AM****
>
> To: [log in to unmask]****
>
> Subject: Re: Dialectics in Science: An Interview with Helena Sheehan****
>
>  ****
>
> Larry, neither Marx nor Engels used the term revisionism because the****
>
> non-scientific socialists they dealt with were of a pre-Marxian sort****
>
> (although Lasalle adopted some of Marx's theoretical work in a distorted****
>
> form similar to 20th century revisionism, and sought to reach an agreement****
>
> with Bismark in a way similar to the political tactics of 20th ****
>
> century revisionists as well).    The term "revisionism" first came up ****
>
> at the turn of the 20th century in reference to Eduard Bernstein, who was****
>
> once Engels secretary and in 1900 published a book with the theme that "the****
>
> movement is everything and the final goal is nothing", and Francois****
>
> Millerand, who shocked socialists by agreeing to join a bourgeois****
>
> government. For a more thorough explanation of this issue, see ****
>
> Lenin's essay "Marxism and Revisionism"  which explains it very well.    ****
>
> I will go into Lars Lih at another time.****
>
>  ****
>
> David Westman****
>
>  ****
>
> On 1/6/2013 9:08 PM, Romsted, Laurence wrote:****
>
> > Ok. This exchange between David and Carrol is for me an example of the ****
>
> > problem of thinking and talking (and shouting) about revisionism.****
>
> > ****
>
> > 1. What is revisionism re Marx?  (I have some idea, but I am not sure ****
>
> > what you two mean).****
>
> > ****
>
> > 2. Certainly to call someone a revisionist at any type of meeting I ****
>
> > attend would make sense to almost no one.****
>
> > ****
>
> > 3. Who is Lars Lith and why do you two disagree about the significance ****
>
> > of his writing?  His being an "academic petty-fogger" has a nice ring, ****
>
> > but it helps me not at all understand his weaknesses.****
>
> > ****
>
> > Larry****
>
> > ****
>
> > ****
>
> > ****
>
> > ****
>
> > On 1/6/13 11:10 PM, "David Westman" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:****
>
> > ****
>
> >> On the contrary, revisionism is an ever-present danger during the****
>
> >> struggle for socialist revolution.   And it is especially true today****
>
> >> when we are faced with the monumental task of clearing up a century's ****
>
> >> worth of confusion due to the influence of ****
>
> >> Stalinist/Trotskyist/Maoist revisionism which caused tremendous damage to****
>
> the working class****
>
> >> struggle.   And as for Lars Lih, he is just another "armchair****
>
> >> socialist", an academic petty-fogger who has never considered what ****
>
> >> the real tasks of the revolution require.****
>
> >> ****
>
> >> David Westman****
>
> >> ****
>
> >> On 1/6/2013 7:51 PM, Carrol Cox wrote:****
>
> >>> As (if) a new mass left resistance grows, the kind of issue ****
>
> >>> represented, a century ago, by "Revisionism" may, probably will, arise.****
>
> >>> But to shout "revisionist" at the present time is as futile as an ****
>
> >>> argument over Royalism. Debates around Marx, Marxism, Socialism, ****
>
> >>> Revolution have left that ancient quarrel far behind and pointless. ****
>
> >>> As a start, David might read Lars Lih's wonderful book on Lenin & WITBD.****
>
> >>> These ancient scholastic quarrels among socialists are as depressing ****
>
> >>> as the massing of liberals around Austerity and Repression (as long ****
>
> >>> as Obama can be the Enforcer).****
>
> >>> ****
>
> >>> Carrol****
>
> >>> ****
>
> >>>> -----Original Message-----****
>
> >>>> From: Science for the People Discussion List ****
>
> >>>> [mailto:SCIENCE-FOR-THE- <SCIENCE-FOR-THE-?> [log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of S. E. ****
>
> >>>> Anderson****
>
> >>>> Sent: Sunday, January 06, 2013 4:01 PM****
>
> >>>> To: [log in to unmask]****
>
> >>>> Subject: Re: Dialectics in Science: An Interview with Helena ****
>
> >>>> Sheehan****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> David,****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> Within the article, I posted a foto of Ms Sheehan at a pro Syriza ****
>
> >>>> rally. I think this indicates that she has an "activist strain in ****
>
> >>>> her thought." As for the revisionism you have mentioned, that may ****
>
> >>>> not have been her intent to raise within this interview on a ****
>
> >>>> subject rarely every mentioned within mainstream/corporate academia ****
>
> >>>> and media.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> I think it is a small and useful breakthru- especially for ****
>
> >>>> circulation and discussion with the US science and academic circles ****
>
> >>>> because here it is so deeply anticommunist and anti-intellectual.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> It will be interesting to hear from others on this listserv about ****
>
> >>>> the value of this interview and our struggle to develop a Science ****
>
> >>>> for the People Movement.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> Happy New Year of Struggle,****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> Sam Anderson****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>     -----Original Message-----****
>
> >>>>     From: David Westman****
>
> >>>>     Sent: Jan 4, 2013 4:54 PM****
>
> >>>>     To: [log in to unmask]****
>
> >>>>     Subject: Re: Dialectics in Science: An Interview with Helena ****
>
> >>>> Sheehan****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>     This is a provocative posting, thank you Sam!   But the problem that****
>
> >>>> she does not consider is the existence of revisionist deviations ****
>
> >>>> from Marxism, particularly the Bernstein-Kautsky revisionism of the ****
>
> >>>> early 20th Century and the later Stalin-Trotsky-Mao revisionism of ****
>
> >>>> the mid 20th Century.****
>
> >>>> These two****
>
> >>>>     revisionist trends which created mockeries of Marxism were ****
>
> >>>> responsible for confusing people about the real revolutionary ****
>
> >>>> content of****
>
> >>>> Marx, Engels, and Lenin.    And she does not seem to have an activist****
>
> >>>> strain in****
>
> >>>> her thought - for her, there is no need to consider anew the tasks ****
>
> >>>> for organization of the proletariat, and to found a modern ****
>
> >>>> anti-revisionist party which commits itself to a renewed effort to ****
>
> >>>> organize for revolution.****
>
> >>>> Marx's****
>
> >>>> Theses on Feuerbach provide us with a very clear justification why ****
>
> >>>> Marx favored such an activist role, not just a contemplative one:****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>     First Thesis on Feuerbach:****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>     The chief defect of all hitherto existing materialism ­ that of ****
>
> >>>> Feuerbach included ­ is that the thing, reality, sensuousness, is ****
>
> >>>> conceived only in the form of the object or of contemplation, but ****
>
> >>>> not as sensuous human activity, practice, not subjectively. Hence, ****
>
> >>>> in contradistinction to materialism, the active side was developed ****
>
> >>>> abstractly by idealism ­ which, of course, does not know real, ****
>
> >>>> sensuous activity as such.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>     Feuerbach wants sensuous objects, really distinct from the thought ****
>
> >>>> objects, but he does not conceive human activity itself as ****
>
> >>>> objective activity.****
>
> >>>> Hence, in The Essence of Christianity ****
>
> >>>> <http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/feuerbach/works/essence/****
>
> >>>> ind ex.htm> , he regards the theoretical attitude as the only ****
>
> >>>> genuinely human attitude, while practice is conceived and fixed ****
>
> >>>> only in its dirty-judaical manifestation. Hence he does not grasp ****
>
> >>>> the significance of ³revolutionary², of ³practical-critical², ****
>
> >>>> activity.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>     David Westman****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>     On 1/4/2013 11:22 AM, S E ANDERSON wrote:****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             Dialectics in Science: An Interview with Helena Sheehan****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             by Ben Campbell on December 15, 2012****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             in featured <http://www.thenorthstar.info/?cat=868> ,****
>
> interview ****
>
> >>>> <http://www.thenorthstar.info/?cat=269>****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             While today¹s left has frayed into many strands, there was a****
>
> time ****
>
> >>>> when the left presented, or at least aspired to present, a coherent ****
>
> >>>> Weltanschauung <http://www.merriam- ****
>
> >>>> webster.com/dictionary/weltanschauung> . This was Marxism, founded ****
>
> >>>> on Karl Marx¹s brilliant synthesis of materialism and the ****
>
> >>>> philosophy of G.W.F.****
>
> >>>> Hegel, which led him and his collaborator Friedrich Engels to an ****
>
> >>>> unprecedented coalescence of existing human knowledge.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             Today¹s crisis of capitalism has, unsurprisingly, led to a ****
>
> >>>> renewed interest in Marxism. Yet any ³return to Marx² will not be ****
>
> >>>> found in an exegesis of ancient texts but in grounding Marx¹s ****
>
> >>>> materialist dialectic in the present. Just as Marx critiqued ****
>
> >>>> 19th-century advances by incorporating them into his thought, so ****
>
> >>>> too must the most promising developments of the last century be ****
>
> >>>> synthesized into a radical understanding for the present.****
>
> >>>> Unfortunately, today¹s left has for too long been relegated to ****
>
> >>>> social and cultural studies, ceding the ³hard² discourse in ****
>
> >>>> economics and science to a new generation of vulgar scientistic ****
>
> >>>> ³quants². The resulting left has too often neglected a dialectical ****
>
> >>>> critique, in favor of a dichotomous relation to science.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             It was not always so. In an attempt to recover some of the****
>
> lost ****
>
> >>>> spirit of the scientific left, I will be interviewing subjects at ****
>
> >>>> the interface of science and the left. I begin today with Helena ****
>
> >>>> Sheehan, Professor Emerita at Dublin City University. Her research ****
>
> >>>> interests include science studies and the history of Marxism, and ****
>
> >>>> she is the author of Marxism and the Philosophy of Science: A ****
>
> >>>> Critical History (available on her website ****
>
> >>>> <http://webpages.dcu.ie/%7Esheehanh/mxphsc.htm> ).****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             Ben Campbell: The advances of 19th-century science were ****
>
> >>>> inseparable from the rise of ³materialist² philosophy. While Marx ****
>
> >>>> certainly belongs to this tradition, he was also strongly ****
>
> >>>> influenced by German idealism, specifically the dialectical system ****
>
> >>>> of G.W.F. Hegel. What did a ³dialectical² materialism mean for ****
>
> >>>> Marx, and how did he see it as an advance over the materialism of ****
>
> >>>> his day?****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             Helena Sheehan: The materialist philosophy of the 19th****
>
> century ****
>
> >>>> was tending in a positivist direction. It was inclined to stress ****
>
> >>>> induction and to get stuck in a play of particulars. Marxism pulled ****
>
> >>>> this in the direction of a more historicist and more holistic ****
>
> >>>> materialism. It was an approach that overcame myopia, one that ****
>
> >>>> looked to the whole and didn¹t get lost in the parts.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             BC: You¹ve written, ³It is no accident that Marxism made its****
>
>  ****
>
> >>>> entry onto the historical stage at the same historical moment as ****
>
> >>>> Darwinism.² What do you mean by this, and what do you see as the ****
>
> >>>> connection between these two monumental figures?****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             HS: The idea of evolution was an idea whose time had come.****
>
> >>>> It was in the air. Historical conditions ripen and set the ****
>
> >>>> intellectual agenda.****
>
> >>>> Great thinkers are those who are awake to the historical process, ****
>
> >>>> those who gather up what is struggling for expression. Marx and ****
>
> >>>> Darwin were both great thinkers in this sense, although others were ****
>
> >>>> also coming to the same conclusions. Marx and Engels were far ****
>
> >>>> bolder than Darwin, carrying forward the realization of a ****
>
> >>>> naturalistic and developmental process beyond the origin of ****
>
> >>>> biological species into the realm of socio-historical institutions ****
>
> >>>> and human thought.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             BC: Engels also wrote extensively on science, particularly****
>
> in his ****
>
> >>>> manuscript Dialectics of Nature ****
>
> >>>> <http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1883/don/index.htm> , ****
>
> >>>> unfinished and unpublished during his lifetime. What is it about ****
>
> >>>> this document, and Engels more generally, that has been so ****
>
> >>>> controversial in the history of Marxism¹s relation to science?****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             HS: There is a tension in Marxist philosophy between its****
>
> roots in ****
>
> >>>> the history of philosophy and its commitment to empirical ****
>
> >>>> knowledge. For the best Marxist thinkers, certainly for Marx and ****
>
> >>>> Engels themselves, it has been a creative interaction. However, ****
>
> >>>> some of those pulling toward German idealist philosophy, ****
>
> >>>> particularly that of Kant and Hegel, have brought into Marxism a ****
>
> >>>> hostility to the natural sciences, influenced by the Methodenstreit ****
>
> >>>> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methodenstreit> , an antagonistic ****
>
> >>>> conceptualization of the humanities versus the sciences, which has ****
>
> >>>> played out in various forms over the decades.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             The critique of positivism has been bloated to an****
>
> anti-science ****
>
> >>>> stance. The tendency of some to counterpose a humanistic Marx to a ****
>
> >>>> positivist Engels is not supported by historical evidence, as I ****
>
> >>>> have demonstrated at some length in my book.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             BC: It seems to me that this synthesis of dialectical****
>
> philosophy ****
>
> >>>> with materialism has always been contentious. On one hand, as you ****
>
> >>>> say, there is the danger of reducing an anti-positivist stance to ****
>
> >>>> an anti- scientific stance. On the other hand, there is the threat ****
>
> >>>> of ³the dialectic² being reduced to a mere rhetorical flourish for ****
>
> >>>> an otherwise bare scientism.****
>
> >>>> Other writers, like John Bellamy Foster, have argued that Marxism ****
>
> >>>> after Marx and Engels split along these lines. Do you agree with ****
>
> >>>> this assessment?****
>
> >>>> After****
>
> >>>> Marx and Engels, what or who best demonstrated the potential of a ****
>
> >>>> ³dialectical² science to transcend this divide?****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>              <http://www.thenorthstar.info/wp- ****
>
> >>>> content/uploads/2012/12/bernal.jpg>****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             HS: No, I don¹t agree with it. There have always been those****
>
> who ****
>
> >>>> synthesized these two streams. Most familiar to me is the 1930s ****
>
> >>>> British Marxism of Bernal ****
>
> >>>> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Desmond_Bernal> , Haldane ****
>
> >>>> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._B._S._Haldane> , Caudwell ****
>
> >>>> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Caudwell> , and others, ****
>
> >>>> and****
>
> >>>> post-****
>
> >>>> war Eastern European Marxism. Regarding the latter, it suffered ****
>
> >>>> from the orthodoxy of parties in power, but it wasn¹t all ****
>
> >>>> catechetical dogmatism. In the United States, Richard Levins ****
>
> >>>> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Levins>****
>
> >>>> and Richard Lewontin <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Lewontin> .****
>
> >>>> This would still characterize my own position today.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             BC: Yet despite the ability of some to transcend it, there****
>
> does ****
>
> >>>> seem to have historically been much ambiguity concerning what a ****
>
> >>>> ³materialist dialectic² would really entail. Some, like philosopher ****
>
> >>>> David Bakhurst, have traced ****
>
> >>>> <http://books.google.com/books/about/Consciousness_and_Revolution_i****
>
> >>>> n_ Soviet_P.html?id=ZY_r3yYCmsAC>  some of this ambiguity back to ****
>
> >>>> the philosophical writings of Lenin. Bakhurst argues that while ****
>
> >>>> Lenin appeared at times to advocate a ³radical Hegelian realism², ****
>
> >>>> at other times his philosophy failed to transcend a rather vulgar ****
>
> >>>> materialism. How did any such ambiguities in Lenin¹s own writings ****
>
> >>>> contribute to subsequent debates in Soviet science?****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             HS: Yes, I would agree with that. Lenin could be very ****
>
> >>>> philosophically and politically sophisticated, but I never thought ****
>
> >>>> his philosophical position quite gelled. Some of his texts on ****
>
> >>>> reflection theory were epistemologically crude. As to the effect on ****
>
> >>>> Soviet debates, these were beset by the tendency to deal with ****
>
> >>>> writings of Marx, Engels, and Lenin as sacred texts. This ****
>
> >>>> rigidified further after the Bolshevization of all academic ****
>
> >>>> discipline, when there had to be one and only one legitimate ****
>
> >>>> Marxist position on every question. A quote from Lenin stopped any ****
>
> >>>> further debate.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             BC: Such talk about the rigidity of Soviet science****
>
> inevitably ****
>
> >>>> leads to the specter of T.D. Lysenko. For readers who may not be ****
>
> >>>> familiar, could you briefly describe Lysenko¹s work? How would you ****
>
> >>>> respond to those who use Lysenko as a cautionary tale about the ****
>
> >>>> danger posed by Marxism or dialectical thinking to biology?****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             HS: T.D. Lysenko (1898­1976) was a Ukrainian agronomist who****
>
> came ****
>
> >>>> to prominence in the U.S.S.R. in 1927 when his experiments in ****
>
> >>>> winter planting of peas were sensationalized by Pravda. He became ****
>
> >>>> lionized as a scientist close to his peasant roots who could serve ****
>
> >>>> the needs of Soviet agriculture in the spirit of the first ****
>
> >>>> Five-Year Plan. He then advanced the technique of vernalization to ****
>
> >>>> a theory of the phasic development of plants and then to a whole ****
>
> >>>> alternative approach to biology. This was in the context of wider ****
>
> >>>> debates in international science about genetics and evolution, ****
>
> >>>> about heredity and environment, about inheritance of acquired ****
>
> >>>> characteristics. It was also in the context of the Bolshevization ****
>
> >>>> of academic disciplines and the search for a proletarian biology ****
>
> >>>> and the purges of academic institutions.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             The issues were many and complex. There has been a tendency****
>
> to ****
>
> >>>> flatten them all out into Lysenkoism as a cautionary tale against ****
>
> >>>> philosophical or political ³interference² in science. However, I ****
>
> >>>> believe that philosophy and politics are relevant to the theory and ****
>
> >>>> practice of science.****
>
> >>>> Lysenkoism is a cautionary tale in the perils and pitfalls of ****
>
> >>>> certain approaches to that.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             BC: If we turn from the Soviet philosophy of science to that****
>
> of ****
>
> >>>> the non-Marxist West, you see a greater reluctance to mix ****
>
> >>>> philosophy with the content of science. Instead, a lot of canonical  ****
>
> >>>> ³philosophy of science² (e.g., Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, Feyerabend) ****
>
> >>>> has more to do with scientific method. What does Marxism, with its ****
>
> >>>> emphasis on contradiction, have to say about the scientific method? ****
>
> >>>> I wonder specifically about Lakatos¹ background ****
>
> >>>> <https://www.dukeupress.edu/Catalog/ViewProduct.php?productid=5986&****
>
> >>>> v iewby=subject&categoryid=542&sort=newest>  in Hegelian Marxism ****
>
> >>>> and whether there are affinities there.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             HS: One big difference between these two traditions in****
>
> philosophy ****
>
> >>>> of science is that Marxism pursued questions of worldview, ****
>
> >>>> exploring the philosophical implications of the empirical sciences, ****
>
> >>>> setting it apart from the narrow methodologism of the other ****
>
> >>>> tradition.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             However, Marxism also addressed questions of scientific****
>
> method. ****
>
> >>>> There is an elaborate literature dealing with epistemological ****
>
> >>>> questions from a Marxist point of view. There have been many ****
>
> >>>> debates, but the mainstream position would be critical realism. ****
>
> >>>> What is distinctive about Marxism in this sphere is how it cuts ****
>
> >>>> through the dualism of realism versus social constructivism. ****
>
> >>>> Marxism has made the strongest claims of any intellectual tradition ****
>
> >>>> before or since about the socio-historical character of science, ****
>
> >>>> yet always affirmed its cognitive achievements.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             The fact that Lakatos had a background in Marxism made him ****
>
> >>>> inclined to take a wider view than his later colleagues, but I find ****
>
> >>>> that he left a lot to be desired in that respect. Nevertheless, ****
>
> >>>> contra Feyerabend, I think that the project of specifying ****
>
> >>>> demarcation criteria, so central to the neo-positivist project, is ****
>
> >>>> a crucially important task.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             BC: Karl Popper famously invoked a ³falsifiability²****
>
> criterion as ****
>
> >>>> a means of solving the demarcation problem, which refers to the ****
>
> >>>> question of how to distinguish science from non-science (or if that ****
>
> >>>> is even possible).****
>
> >>>> Popper¹s solution has influenced many scientists but has been ****
>
> >>>> strongly critiqued in philosophical circles. How does a Marxist ****
>
> >>>> approach inform this demarcation problem?****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             HS: There is a need for criteria to distinguish between ****
>
> >>>> legitimate and illegitimate claims to knowledge. The positivist and****
>
> >>>> neo-****
>
> >>>> positivist traditions contributed much to the formulation of such ****
>
> >>>> criteria.****
>
> >>>> They did so, however, from a base that was too narrow, employing ****
>
> >>>> criteria that were too restricted, leaving out of the picture too ****
>
> >>>> much that was all too real, excluding historical, psychological, ****
>
> >>>> sociological, metaphysical dimensions as irrelevant. Marxism agrees ****
>
> >>>> with the emphasis on empirical evidence and logical coherence, but ****
>
> >>>> brings the broader context to bear. It synthesizes the best of ****
>
> >>>> other epistemological positions: logical empiricism, rationalism, ****
>
> >>>> social constructivism.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             BC: Today, Marxism stands at its weakest historically, right****
>
> as ****
>
> >>>> the global economic crash seems to have most vindicated it. ****
>
> >>>> Similarly, Marxism has almost no direct influence on 21st-century ****
>
> >>>> science, yet discoveries and perspectives seem increasingly ****
>
> >>>> ³dialectical² (e.g., biological emphases on complex systems, ****
>
> >>>> emergence, and circular causality). What do you make of the ****
>
> >>>> situation at present? Would it be possible to develop a ****
>
> >>>> ³dialectical² or even ³Marxist² science without Marxism as a ****
>
> >>>> political force?****
>
> >>>> Or will science always be fragmented and one-sided so long as there ****
>
> >>>> remains no significant political challenge to capital?****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>              <http://www.thenorthstar.info/wp- ****
>
> >>>> content/uploads/2012/12/sheehansyriza.jpg>****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             Helena Sheehan at SYRIZA solidarity rally****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             HS: Yes, Marxism is at a low ebb as far as overt influence****
>
> is ****
>
> >>>> concerned, precisely at a time when its analysis is most relevant ****
>
> >>>> and even most vindicated.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             I think that people can come to many of the same****
>
> realizations and ****
>
> >>>> conclusions as Marxists without calling themselves Marxists.****
>
> >>>> However, I don¹t think there can be any fully meaningful analysis ****
>
> >>>> of science that does not analyze it in relation to the dominant ****
>
> >>>> mode of production.****
>
> >>>> Such an analysis shows how the capitalist mode of production brings ****
>
> >>>> about intellectual fragmentation as well as economic exploitation ****
>
> >>>> and social disintegration.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             I don¹t think that left parties having any chance of taking****
>
> power ****
>
> >>>> in the future will be Marxist parties in the old sense, although ****
>
> >>>> Marxism will likely be a force within them. I am thinking ****
>
> >>>> particularly of SYRIZA, with whom I¹ve been intensively engaged ****
>
> >>>> lately. One of the leading thinkers in SYRIZA is Aristides Baltas, ****
>
> >>>> a Marxist and a philosopher of science.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>             Thank you, Helena.****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>>              <http://www.thenorthstar.info/wp- ****
>
> >>>> content/uploads/2012/12/heinrichhoerle_monumentunknownprothesis.jpg****
>
> >>>>             Monument to the Unknown Prothesis, by Heinrich Hoerle****
>
> >>>> (1930)****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> ****
>
> >>>> author- "The Black Holocaust for Beginners"****
>
> >>>> http://blackeducator.blogspot.com****
>
>
>
>
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