brouillard2a1a

The future of Enlightenment

Thoughts on
“Universalism and
its discontents”
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Last Thursday an online discussion of “Universalism and Its Discontents” took place at noon via livestream. It was the first in what is projected to be a series of conversations on the theme of Fixing the Future, related to some of the problems raised by the accelerationist current. Anthony Paul Smith of the online collective An und für sich and Pete Wolfendale of the blog Deontologistics were the primary discussants, with Deneb Kozikoski playing the role of moderator. Mohammed Salemy was responsible for setting up the event. Video footage of the proceedings can be found here.

What follows are some scattered thoughts in response to it.

Kozikoski’s introduction to the speakers’ opening remarks was, on the whole, extremely helpful. She provided a serviceable overview of debate up to this point, the main issues involved, etc. (and did so in a compact enough manner that even a beginner could follow). I hadn’t kept up with all the literature pertaining to accelerationism myself, so the primer was welcome. Her own editorializing was fairly minimal. She remained evenhanded throughout the subsequent exchange.

To briefly recapitulate her summary: Accelerationism poses a challenge to the prevailing negativity of the contemporary Left, the default logic of both its academic and activist wings. Namely, accelerationists reject the defensive posture of “resistance” struck by leftists when new modes of domination emerge from capitalism’s evolving matrix of creative destruction. By extension, this critique also takes aim at the ideological tendency to simply propose the inverse of whatever deleterious effects are associated with capitalist development — a procedure that could well be called abstract negation. Capitalism is a global phenomenon? If so, anticapitalism must of course counterpose local solutions. Universal, alienating, and abstract? Surely leftists are duty-bound to offer particular, disalienating, and concrete alternatives. Rather than delirious Prometheanism, ruminative Epimetheanism. One could go on.

Against the “folk politics” of localism, direct action, and horizontality that dominate the Left today,[1] accelerationists set out to recover the quintessentially modern vision of a global emancipation, working toward “a completion of the Enlightenment project of self-​criticism and self-​mastery, rather than its elimination.”[2] They thus reaffirm the emancipatory potential of science and technology, repudiating the dire predictions of Malthusian doomsayers and primitivists. Kozikoski explained that this broader accelerationist drive to embrace forms of universality discarded by poststructuralists and postcolonial theorists in recent decades puts the fledgling movement at odds with these more established discourses.

“Universalism and Its Discontents” staged this specific antagonism, providing a platform for accelerationism and postcolonialism to debate. Wolfendale represented the former of these two schools, while Smith — a postcolonial theologian skeptical of calls for a renewed universalism — represented the latter.

Smith spoke first. He began by announcing his sympathy with much of the accelerationist program, especially as laid out in Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek’s jointly-written article “Accelerate: Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics.” Quoting the Marxian scholar Alberto Toscano, Smith agreed with the accelerationist argument that forces of production can be effectively decoupled from relations of production and made to serve different ends. “[U]se can [still] be drawn from the dead labors which crowd the earth’s crust,” Toscano asserted, “in a world no longer dominated by value.”[3] Overcoming capitalism needn’t entail scrapping the productive implements it brought into being, as these can potentially be repurposed or reconfigured. Nor is the manifesto’s emphasis on climate change misplaced, in Smith’s judgment. Indeed, he would appear amenable to many of its theses.

Luigi Russolo, La Rivolta, 1911 7654OP999AU12474

Much of Smith’s quarrel with the accelerationists, as Kozikoski hinted toward the outset, seemed to revolve around the premise that the terms “modernity,” “colonialism,” and “Enlightenment” are somehow practically separable, that you can have one without the others. At the very least these terms are closely associated, even if they are not perfectly interchangeable. Wolfendale and others in the accelerationist camp have argued that the Enlightenment is not a monolith, and thus admits of “selective appropriation.” Quoting Mehr Afshan Farooqi’s paraphrase of Dipesh Chakrabarty in Provincializing Europe, Wolfendale upheld this distinction. “To acknowledge our debt to ideas of Enlightenment,” Chakrabarty had written, “is not to thank colonialism for bringing them to us.”

Smith and others schooled in the postcolonial tradition clearly have their doubts as to whether such a neat separation is possible, and the accelerationists’ very desire to disentangle this web of words has given them cause to be suspicious. According to Smith, Enlightenment universalism simply doesn’t hold up under close scrutiny. It is unable to survive the peculiarities of its origin. Both historically and logically, he opined, modernity, colonialism, and Enlightenment are essentially coterminous:

Some have argued that we can eliminate the racist project from the Enlightenment, that the abstract universalism it declared might be separated or distinguished from its historical expression as the creation of the black race, the destruction of black bodies, and the pursuit of wealth. I find such a separation dubious…There is no “true” Enlightenment behind its historical expression. It is how it is historically, for good and ill.

Related to this claim was an interesting objection Smith raised in connection with Williams and Srnicek’s manifesto. Citing its push “[t]owards a time of collective self-​mastery, and the properly alien future it entails and enables,” Smith insinuated that such talk merely obscures the fact that the future they desire is actually quite familiar. He continued:

We are called toward a “properly alien future.” But that alien future is precisely the recovery of a European future. One may be forgiven for thinking this alien future is perhaps only alien to the indigenous, who rather than the Bible might be given [Adam] Smith’s Wealth of Nations or [Karl] Marx’s Capital and told, “One must make sacrifices for the future.” Why not a truly alien future? One utterly alien, even to Anglo-European debates?

During the remainder of the discussion, a great deal of energy was spent trying to parse the meaning of the modifier “properly alien” in “properly alien future.” There was also quibbling about a phrase that appeared in a text Wolfendale wrote for the upcoming summer school session in Berlin, “Emancipation as Navigation: From the Space of Reasons to the Space of Freedom.” Wolfendale had written: “Postcolonialism’s antipathy to (and perhaps fear of) the positive content of modernity is principally political, it has colonized the intellectual and artistic domains, coalescing into a pervasive cultural negativity.”[4] Smith took issue here with the verb “colonize,” which he felt implied a crude reversal: the postcolonialists are now the colonizers, whereas once they were the colonized.

Bafflingly, Wolfendale’s initial inclination was to be apologetic. “That was just a slippage on my part,” he said regretfully. “I shouldn’t have used that word, but I don’t think it has any significance beyond my own personal psychology.” At least from where I stood, however, it seemed a relatively innocent parapraxis. Perhaps the phrase had indeed filtered into his unconscious from somewhere; but if it has, it’s done so fittingly. Fredric Jameson has identified “[the] colonization of the future as a fundamental tendency in capitalism itself.”[5] By this, he meant capitalism’s tendency to annex a foreseeable duration of the present — to invest in an ensuing state of affairs with the expectation of a return. In order for this to work, capitalists must assume that the “ironclad” laws of the economy which presently obtain will hold good for the future as well. Such an assumption tends to foreclose the possibility that things might someday be radically different. This, and nothing else, constitutes “the phenomenon of reification” theorized by Lukács (i.e., commodity fetishism).[6]

Addressing Smith’s complaint about the “properly alien” character of the future spoken of by the accelerationists, Wolfendale proved more tenacious. On this score he was far less willing to concede ground: “The insistence on complete and radical otherness is just a way of shutting down practical engagement…[An ‘alien future’] is not necessarily one that is totally unrecognizable. It’s not a future that we can’t comprehend.” Smith was dissatisfied with this qualification, and suggested “diasporic future” as a possible substitute, but Wolfendale’s instincts were correct. “Radical alterity” as a sui generis notion has for too long gone unchallenged, having become something of a commonplace among pluralistic thinkers indebted to Lévinas’ concept of the “Altogether-Other”[7] or Derridean différance.[8] As Wolfendale rightly pointed out, the idea that the future bears no ascertainable relation to the present amounts to an eschatology, wherein the Messiah will return “like a thief in the night.”[9]

It was unclear from his remarks in “Universalism and Its Discontents,” which covered a range of topics, whether Smith fully concurred with the accelerationists’ contention that the future requires resuscitation. He merely maintained that any attempt to reimagine it should seek to incorporate perspectives traditionally left out of Eurocentric narratives of progress. Though Smith touched on the “brand-building” bravado exhibited by much of the accelerationist literature to date, he never elaborated on this important insight. He thereby missed a perfect opportunity to hit Wolfendale, Williams, and Srnicek where it really hurts. One of the distinguishing features of the accelerationist canon to date, after all, has been its fearless attitude toward the new tasks that confront humanity. Adherents of accelerationism display an unswerving commitment to radical innovation and feats of derring-do. For all their talk of novelty, however, the goal of reviving Enlightenment rationalism cannot help but remind us of the appeal Jürgen Habermas made more than thirty years ago, as he urged his colleagues to carry forward the “unfinished project” of modernity.[10]

combination-of-houses-ligh-sky

Points of contact also exist between Habermas and accelerationist fellow-travelers such as Wolfendale or the philosopher Reza Negarestani, insofar as all of them are exhausted by the seemingly interminable nature of critique. Despite his status as heir apparent to the legacy of the Frankfurt School, Habermas gradually became disenchanted with the relentless negativity of his mentor, Theodor Adorno. Seeking a way out of the aporias opened up by the Dialectic of Enlightenment, Habermas endeavored to retrieve “the normative content of modernity.”[11] Negarestani has written in a similar vein of critical theory’s refusal to take part in the production of new norms. In a recent polemic against “kitsch Marxism,” he declared:

A dedication to a project of militant negativity and an abandonment of the ambition to develop an intervening and constructive attitude toward humanity through various social and technological practices is now the hallmark of kitsch Marxism. Consumption of norms without producing any is the concrete reality of today’s Marxist critical theory.[12]

Although Negarestani would go on to distance himself from Habermas in the sequel to this essay, writing off “Habermasian rationality” as a kind of “conservative humanism,” the parallels between their respective approaches are too numerous to deny.[13] Both attempt to salvage Reason’s legislative capacity to determine the future.

Fielding a question from Salemy toward the end of the discussion, Wolfendale likewise voiced his displeasure at the various “theoretical shibboleths” erected by critical theory and poststructuralism to ward off rationalism after 1945. Habermas similarly detected an affinity between these two streams of continental theory in his Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (1983).[14] Much like Wolfendale today, he hoped to defend the validity of public reason and normative ideals against the decades-long assault on positive articulations of politics, ethics, and aesthetics. But while Habermas was usually careful to stress the divergence of Adorno and Horkheimer’s rationalist critique of rationality — their immanent critique of Enlightenment — from the patent irrationalism of Heidegger, Bataille, Derrida, and Foucault, the distinction was immaterial to Wolfendale. (To be fair to Salemy, Wolfendale, and Negarestani, it’s possible that the qualities separating these two currents simply disappear in the hands of their inept successors, so that they appear functionally equivalent).

Whether critical theory still has anything to offer the historical project of emancipation, or if, like poststructuralism and Smith’s postcolonialism, it’s just another diversionary cul-de-sac, may be left for others to decide. Perhaps in a future article, I should like to adduce that critical theory is not only compatible with but remains indispensible to such a project. For the moment, I am content to invite the accelerationists to consider that their program might in many ways be a repetition of the one Habermas inaugurated in the late 1970s. If they agree that the two programs share much in common, they must ask themselves: Why did Habermas fail? How might they avoid a similar fate?

Notes


[1] “[T]he most important division in today’s left is between those that hold to a folk politics of localism, direct action, and relentless horizontalism, and…an accelerationist politics at ease with a modernity of abstraction, complexity, globality, and technology.” Williams, Alex and Srnicek, Nick. “Accelerate: Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics.” The Accelerationist Reader. (Urbanomic. London, England: 2014). Pg. 350.
[2] Ibid., pg. 362.
[3] Toscano, Alberto. “Logistics and Opposition.” Mute. Vol. 3, № 2.
[4] Wolfendale, Peter. “Emancipation as Navigation: From the Space of Reasons to the Space of Freedom.”
[5] Jameson, Fredric. “The Brick and the Balloon.” The Cultural Turn: Selected Writings on the Postmodern. (Verso Books. New York, NY: 1998). Pg. 185.
[6] Lukács, Georg. “Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat.” History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics. Translated by Rodney Livingstone. (The MIT Press. Cambridge, MA: 1968). Pg. 204.
[7] “Pluralism implies a radical alterity of the other, whom I do not simply conceive by relation to myself, but confront out of my egoism.” Lévinas, Emmanuel. Totality and Infinity: An Essay on Exteriority. Translated by Alphonso Lingis. (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. Boston, MA: 1979). Pg. 121.
[8] Derrida, Jacques. “Différance.” Translated by Alan Bass. Margins of Philosophy. (University of Chicago Press. Chicago, IL: 1982). Pg. 21.
[9] “[Y]ou know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly.” Thessalonians 5:2.
[10] Habermas, Jürgen. “Modernity: An Unfinished Project.” Translated by Seyla Benhabib. Habermas and the Unfinished Project of Modernity. (The MIT Press. Cambridge, MA: 1997). Pgs. 37-55.
[11] “If one retrieves the normative content of modernity…the ‘dialectic of enlightenment’ [falls] apart.” Habermas, Jürgen. The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. Translated by Frederick Lawrence. (Polity Press. Oxford, England: 1998). Pg. 347.
[12] Negarestani, Reza. “The Labor of the Inhuman, Part I: The Human.” e-flux. (№ 52: February 2014). Pg. 8.
[13] Negarestani, Reza. “The Labor of the Inhuman, Part II: The Human.” e-flux. (№ 53: March 2014). Pg. 6.
[14] “The radical critique of reason exacts a high price for taking leave of modernity. In the first place, these discourses can and want to give no account of their own position. Negative dialectics, genealogy, and deconstruction alike avoid those categories in accord with which modern knowledge has been differentiated…and on the basis of which we today understand texts.” Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. Pg. 336.

See also:

  1. Dominic Fox, Accelerationism: Inside and Out
  2. Dan Barber, More on Accelerationism

 

57 thoughts on “The future of Enlightenment

  1. Ross, is it any wonder no one listens to us when they encounter the sort of tortured prose exhibited in this latest post of yours?

    I know it is de rigueur among Marxist ‘intellectuals’ but that just means no one will ever listen to us!

    May I refer you to Chomsky’s comments on such prose?

    http://www.mrbauld.com/chomsky1.html

    Indeed, had the founders of the Enlightenment churned out prose like this (German Idealists excepted), it is arguable it wouldn’t have happened.

      • I do more than that Ross, I can actually explain why comrades who have allowed ‘dialectics’ to colonise their brains don’t; here’s what I had to say in a reply (to this very question) which I posted over at Lenin’s Tomb a year or so ago (slightly edited):

        Thank you for the advice, but I don’t expect the left to agree with me or even listen to me, since comrades are enamoured of this way of looking at the world for non-rational reasons. Here are at least two of them

        First, it provides them with a source of consolation for the fact that Dialectical Marxism has been such an abject and long-term failure (note, I say ‘Dialectical Marxism’, not Marxism; the non-dialectical version hasn’t been road-tested yet). As Lenin was aware –, which is why he wrote Materialism and Empiro-criticism –, in times of defeat, set-back and retreat, revolutionaries turn to mysticism, idealism and other assorted irrationalisms, and they do this seeking both consolation and an explanation for their plight. They can’t change the world, but they can change how they conceptualise it. Since the far-left has known little other than defeat and set-back, there is constant need to seek such consolation, and that is one reason why comrades stick to this world-view like terminally insecure limpets. Indeed, the failure of the 1905 revolution turned Lenin toward Mystical Hermeticism, in Hegel’s ‘dialectic’, a subject which, although he had shown some interest in it before, now began to dominate his studies and his thinking. He immersed himself in it.

        Second, and not unrelated to the above, because Dialectical Marxism has been so spectacularly unsuccessful, and has been like this for so long, revolutionaries have had to convince themselves that (a) this isn’t really so, and (b) that the opposite is in fact the case, or that (c) this is only a temporary state of affairs. They have had to do this otherwise many of them would simply give up. In view of the fact that they also hold that truth is tested in practice, they have been forced to conclude that one or both of (b) and (c) is correct.

        However, because dialectics teaches that appearances are “contradicted” by underlying “essences”, it is able to occupy a unique and highly specific role in this regard, motivating or rationalising (b) and/or (c). In this way, it supplies comrades with much needed consolation in the face of ‘apparent’ failure, convincing them that everything is in fact fine with the core theory — or that things will change for the better, one day. This then ‘allows’ them to ignore the long-term failure of Dialectical Marxism, rationalising it as a mere “appearance”, and hence either false or illusory.

        So, faced with 150 years of set-backs, defeats and disasters, revolutionaries, who will inform you in all seriousness that “truth is tested in practice”, will in respond in the very next breath with: “Well, that doesn’t prove dialectics is wrong!” And they will tell you this despite the fact that both history and practice have returned a rather uncomplimentary verdict — nearly everything we touch turns to dust, or becomes corrupted by sectarianism, bureaucratic inertial or the physical, organisational or verbal abuse of female comrades.

        Hence, just like the religious, who can look at all the evil in the world and still see it as an expression of the ‘Love of God’ who will make all things well in the end, dialecticians look at the last 150 years and still see the ‘Logic of History’ moving their way, and that all will be well in the end, too. This means that the theory that prevents them from facing reality is the very same theory that also prevents them from examining the role that dialectics has played in all this, inviting yet another generation of set-backs and disasters by masking these unwelcome facts.

        Although dialecticians will tell you in one breath that everything is interconnected, in the next they will refuse even to countenance the link between our failures and our core theory, materialist dialectics. Apparently, therefore, the only two things in the entire universe that aren’t interconnected are the long term failure of Dialectical Marxism and its core theory!

        [Of course, this theory isn’t the only reason for our lack of success, but it must take its share of the blame. But, it is almost wholly responsible for the fact that otherwise hardnosed revolutionaries refuse to look at reality as it is, and prefer to see it as the opposite of what it is, and with some degree of courage — without any need for consolation.]

        Now, no one is suggesting that Dialectical Marxism is a religion — but it does function in way that is analogous to one.

        Plainly, revolutionaries are human beings with ideas in their heads, and every single one of them had/has a class origin. The overwhelming majority of those who have led our movement, or who have influenced its ideas, haven’t come from the working class. Even worker-revolutionaries when they become full-time or ‘professional revolutionaries’ become de-classé, or even petty-bourgeois Marxists as a result. Since the social being of these comrades can be traced back to their class origins and current class position, it’s no great mystery that such comrades have (unwittingly) allowed “ruling ideas” to dominate their thought.

        Because of their petty-bourgeois and/or non-working class origin — and as a result of their socialisation and the superior education they have generally received in bourgeois society — the vast majority of (the above sort of) Marxists have had “ruling ideas”, or ruling-class forms-of-thought, forced down their throats almost from day one.

        The founders of this quasi-religion (materialist dialectics) weren’t workers; they came from a class that educated their children in the Classics, the Bible, and Philosophy. This tradition taught that behind appearances there lies a ‘hidden world’, accessible to thought alone, which is more real than the material universe we see around us.

        This way of viewing things was concocted by ideologues of the ruling-class. They invented it because if you belong to, benefit from or help run a society which is based on gross inequality, oppression and exploitation, you can keep order in several ways.

        The first and most obvious way is through violence. This will work for a time, but it is not only fraught with danger, it is costly and it stifles innovation (among other things).

        Another way is to win over the majority (or, at least, a significant section of ‘opinion formers’, bureaucrats, judges, bishops, ‘intellectuals’, philosophers, teachers, administrators, editors, etc.) to the view that the present order either: (1) Works for their benefit, (2) Defends ‘civilised values’, (3) Is ordained of the ‘gods’, or (4) Is ‘natural’ and so can’t be fought, reformed or negotiated with.

        Hence, a world-view that rationalises one or more of the above is necessary for the ruling-class to carry on ruling in the “same old way”. While the content of ruling-class thought may have changed with each change in the mode of production, its form has remained largely the same for thousands of years: Ultimate Truth (about this ‘hidden world’) is ascertainable by thought alone, and therefore can be imposed on reality dogmatically, and aprioristically.

        So, the non-worker founders of our movement — who, as I noted, had been educated from an early age to believe there was just such a ‘hidden world’ lying behind ‘appearances’, and which governed everything — when they became revolutionaries, looked for a priori ‘logical’ principles relating to that abstract world that told them that change was inevitable, and was thus part of the cosmic order. Enter dialectics, courtesy of the dogmatic ideas of that boss-class mystic, Hegel. The dialectical classicists were thus happy to impose their theory on the world (upside down or the “right way up”) since that is how they had been taught ‘genuine’ philosophy should proceed.

        Proof here:

        http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2002.htm

        Hence, when things go wrong in this material world, it doesn’t shake their faith, since their faith lies in that invisible world, which will never disappoint.

        But, just as it impossible to vanquish religious belief by mere argument, I don’t expect to be able to ‘win the left over’ by arguing with dialecticians. [In fact, they react to me just like the religious react to atheists, with hostility, incredulity, emotive counter-attacks, and no little dissembling.] Religious belief, and the consolation it brings in its train, will only disappear when the source of their suffering is removed. As Marx noted: “To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions.”
        I have developed these ideas in considerable detail here:

        http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2009_02.htm

        ———————

        So, most comrades ignore me since they cling to this theory for non-rational reasons (connected with the fact that it provides them with a potent source of consolation) and I therefore seem like a pain in the neck, inviting them to return to the ‘desert of the real’. Fat too scary…

        Now, if I were an Idealist, I’d labour under the illusion that I could argue comrades out of this collective fantasy, but I’m not. As Marx pointed out, a fondness for this useless boss-class discipline, called ‘Philosophy’, is part of the alienation of humanity (I quoted this passage from the 1844 Paris Manuscripts in an earlier post at this site), and since it will take social change to remove the need for such consolation, it will take a very real working class revolution to save you dialecticians from yourselves.

        I stand no chance…

      • I can actually explain why comrades who have allowed “dialectics” to colonise their brains don’t [listen to me]

        You flatter yourself. To claim that “comrades ignore me since they cling to [dialectical materialism] for non-rational reasons” provides you with a convenient excuse. Rather than attribute the fact people remain unconvinced by your arguments to irrational motives on their part (supposedly seeking “consolation”), perhaps consider that your arguments are simply themselves unconvincing. People don’t listen to you because your interpretations are implausible, not because they have some kind of psychological aversion to logic.

        Even on matters of chronology you seem to be terribly confused. For example, you appeal to Lenin’s own argument in Materialism and Empirio-Criticism in order to suggest that

        the failure of the 1905 revolution turned Lenin toward Mystical Hermeticism, in Hegel’s ‘dialectic’, a subject which, although he had shown some interest in it before, now began to dominate his studies and his thinking. He immersed himself in it.

        If it was the failure of the 1905 revolution that turned Lenin toward this mysticism, why is it that he wrote the very text to whose authority you appeal — Materialism and Empirio-Criticism — in 1908? Certainly by then the defeat of 1905 would have pushed him toward a mysticism so complete that none of his testimony from the period can be trusted.

        This isn’t the only time you’ve had difficulty with timelines. In your article on “Dialectical Confusion,” you write:

        In fact, Marx steadily moved away from this theory [dialectical materialism] all his life, to such an extent that by the time he came to write Das Kapital, he had abandoned it altogether.

        By the time he came to write Capital, you say? So by the mid-1860s, at the latest, Marx had said goodbye to dialectical materialism. Remarkable that he would achieve such clarity so long after a revolutionary defeat (the last one would have been 1848 at that point), considering what Lenin later said about thinkers sinking into mysticism at such a remove from revolutionary struggle. Yet you also write that

        the publication of Marx’s Mathematical Manuscripts [Marx (1983)] has revealed the spectacle of a first-rate mind vainly attempting to shoehorn an interpretation of the Calculus into a dialectical boot it will not fit.

        Oh, so these mathematical manuscripts surely were written before Marx penned Capital. Wait, you say they were written in the 1880s? How could Marx still be writing about dialectics after 1867, especially if he moved away from this theory “his whole life”? Clearly, you struggle with temporality and history.

        Finally, there have been non-dialectical and indeed anti-dialectical Marxisms before. Eduard Bernstein’s revisionism rejected dialectics and revolution for a more “evolutionary” model of incremental reforms. Kautsky’s errors after 1914 were attacked by Lenin as “undialectical.” Althusser’s Marxism was certainly not “dialectical” either, and it has been a failure as well.

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  3. The Enlightenment has received more attention from mainstream figures, with the work of Jonathan Israel at the forefront. All of this has obvious relevance for Marxism and the notion of revolutionary politics. Sadly, it seems that there is no Marxist historian stepping up to this mainstream debate. Perhaps after the passing away of Hobsbawm and his peers, as well as their counterparts beyond the Anglosphere (including USSR), the intellectual stature required just isn’t available anymore.

    This piece may have its merits (I can hardly judge, as I haven’t read any of the references listed), but surely it is limited to a certain intellectual niche only.

  4. Thanks for that, Ross, and for at least trying to respond to what I have argued.

    You:

    “You flatter yourself. To claim that ‘comrades ignore me since they cling to [dialectical materialism] for non-rational reasons’ provides you with a convenient excuse. Rather than attribute the fact people remain unconvinced by your arguments to irrational motives on their part (supposedly seeking ‘consolation’), perhaps consider that your arguments are simply themselves unconvincing. People don’t listen to you because your interpretations are implausible, not because they have some kind of psychological aversion to logic.”

    So, apparently, your only counter-argument is that “people remain unconvinced”. Well, we can perhaps dismiss all that Marx wrote on the basis that several other un-named individuals “remain unconvinced”. With easy arguments like this, you’ll win every time. [But how many does it take? Do we have to count heads to arrive at truth? You unwisely failed to say.]

    Even so, it is quite plain that you have missed the point. As I stressed in the introduction to this argument at my site, since I have demonstrated (in unprecedented detail) that this theory of yours makes not one ounce of sense, we must look elsewhere for an explanation why comrades in general have swallowed this mystical theory. To that end, I appeal to Lenin’s argument that in times of defeat, set-back and disaster, revolutionaries can easily be tempted to look to idealist or mystical explanations for this state-of-affairs. And, since Dialectical Marxism has experienced little other than defeat and set-back (something you do not and cannot dispute), the pressure on comrades to look to Hegel (and the tradition that has descended from him) has become irresistible. In its own small way, your work illustrates this admirably well.

    So, the essay to which I linked isn’t aimed at showing that comrades ignore my work (for the reason I suggested in my last post), but at why they have allowed manifestly and demonstrably non-sensical doctrines to colonise their brains. I merely adapted its thesis to answer your specific question. Hence, there is no “self-flattery” involved.

    But what of the other substantive points you make?

    “Even on matters of chronology you seem to be terribly confused. For example, you appeal to Lenin’s own argument in Materialism and Empirio-Criticism in order to suggest that

    ‘the failure of the 1905 revolution turned Lenin toward Mystical Hermeticism, in Hegel’s ‘dialectic’, a subject which, although he had shown some interest in it before, now began to dominate his studies and his thinking. He immersed himself in it.’

    “If it was the failure of the 1905 revolution that turned Lenin toward this mysticism, why is it that he wrote the very text to whose authority you appeal — Materialism and Empirio-Criticism — in 1908? Certainly by then the defeat of 1905 would have pushed him toward a mysticism so complete that none of his testimony from the period can be trusted.”

    Of course, in MEC Lenin was replying to works that made concessions to idealism, mysticism and subjectivism, so they provided the trigger for writing that book, but my point is still sound. Before 1905, Lenin had shown very little interest in ‘dialectics’; after 1905 it began to dominate his thought. So, my chronology isn’t “confused”; even you will have to admit that 1908 comes after 1905.

    “This isn’t the only time you’ve had difficulty with timelines. In your article on ‘Dialectical Confusion,’ you write:

    ‘In fact, Marx steadily moved away from this theory [dialectical materialism] all his life, to such an extent that by the time he came to write Das Kapital, he had abandoned it altogether.’

    “By the time he came to write Capital, you say? So by the mid-1860s, at the latest, Marx had said goodbye to dialectical materialism. Remarkable that he would achieve such clarity so long after a revolutionary defeat (the last one would have been 1848 at that point), considering what Lenin later said about thinkers sinking into mysticism at such a remove from revolutionary struggle.”

    There are several points worth making here:

    1) I exclude Marx from this typology (i.e., that he looked to mysticism in times of defeat). Why? Well, as he himself indicates, he had waved ‘goodbye’ to philosophy by the late 1840s. [See my earlier post at this site on this.] Moreover, he plainly took his own advice:

    “The philosophers have only to dissolve their language into the ordinary language, from which it is abstracted, in order to recognise it, as the distorted language of the actual world, and to realise that neither thoughts nor language in themselves form a realm of their own, that they are only manifestations of actual life.” [The German Ideology.]

    In addition, he himself declared that “philosophy is nothing else but religion rendered into thought and expounded by thought, i.e., another form and manner of existence of the estrangement of the essence of man; hence equally to be condemned…” [1844 Manuscripts.]

    This, I think, helped inure him to the ruling-class discipline that seems to have far too many comrades, including your good self, in its thrall.

    [I have a theory why this happened in Marx’s case, but we can leave that to another time.]

    2) Relying on the above, and what Marx (not Rosa!) actually published in the Postface to the second edition of Das Kapital (see below), it is quite clear that Marx had abandoned ‘dialectics’ as it has been understood in the failed Engels/Plekhanov/Lenin/Trotsky/Mao/etc. tradition ever since.

    Here is the only summary of ‘the dialectic method’ Marx published and endorsed in his entire life (heavily edited):

    “After a quotation from the preface to my ‘Criticism of Political Economy,’ Berlin, 1859, pp. IV-VII, where I discuss the materialistic basis of my method, the writer goes on:

    ‘The one thing which is of moment to Marx, is to find the law of the phenomena with whose investigation he is concerned; and not only is that law of moment to him, which governs these phenomena, in so far as they have a definite form and mutual connexion within a given historical period. Of still greater moment to him is the law of their variation, of their development, i.e., of their transition from one form into another, from one series of connexions into a different one. This law once discovered, he investigates in detail the effects in which it manifests itself in social life. Consequently, Marx only troubles himself about one thing: to show, by rigid scientific investigation, the necessity of successive determinate orders of social conditions, and to establish, as impartially as possible, the facts that serve him for fundamental starting-points…. A more thorough analysis of phenomena shows that social organisms differ among themselves as fundamentally as plants or animals. Nay, one and the same phenomenon falls under quite different laws in consequence of the different structure of those organisms as a whole, of the variations of their individual organs, of the different conditions in which those organs function, &c. Marx, e.g., denies that the law of population is the same at all times and in all places. He asserts, on the contrary, that every stage of development has its own law of population. … With the varying degree of development of productive power, social conditions and the laws governing them vary too. Whilst Marx sets himself the task of following and explaining from this point of view the economic system established by the sway of capital, he is only formulating, in a strictly scientific manner, the aim that every accurate investigation into economic life must have. The scientific value of such an inquiry lies in the disclosing of the special laws that regulate the origin, existence, development, death of a given social organism and its replacement by another and higher one. And it is this value that, in point of fact, Marx’s book has.’

    “Whilst the writer pictures what he takes to be actually my method, in this striking and [as far as concerns my own application of it] generous way, what else is he picturing but the dialectic method?” [Postface to the second edition. Bold added.]

    In the above passage, not one single Hegelian concept is to be found — no “contradictions”, no change of “quantity into quality”, no “negation of the negation”, no “unity and identity of opposites”, no “interconnected Totality”, no “universal change” –, and yet Marx still calls this the “dialectic method”, and says of it that it is “my method”. So, Marx’s “method” has had Hegel completely excised –, except for the odd phrase or two, “here and there”, with which he merely “coquetted”.

    3) So, this is a problem for you, not me.

    But what of the following?

    “Yet you also write that ‘the publication of Marx’s Mathematical Manuscripts [Marx (1983)] has revealed the spectacle of a first-rate mind vainly attempting to shoehorn an interpretation of the Calculus into a dialectical boot it will not fit.’

    “Oh, so these mathematical manuscripts surely were written before Marx penned Capital. Wait, you say they were written in the 1880s? How could Marx still be writing about dialectics after 1867, especially if he moved away from this theory “his whole life”? Clearly, you struggle with temporality and history.”

    I don’t think I said Marx wrote this material in the 1880’s, years after he died. I’m not sure where you got this odd idea.

    Be this as it may, Marx chose not to publish this material, and yet he chose to publish the above summary of ‘the dialectic method’.

    As important as they are, no unpublished work can countermand or take precedence over published material when it comes to interpreting an author’s core views.

    Of course, if you can find a passage written and published by Marx, contemporaneous with or subsequent to Das Kapital, that supports the/your mystical interpretation of his work, let’s see it.

    Oh wait! There isn’t one.

    However, in the unpublished mathematical manuscripts, it is clear Marx is still “coquetting” with Hegelian jargon. He was forced to do so because he was clearly unaware of the vastly superior, non-‘dialectical’ techniques developed by Cauchy and Weierstrass (between 1820 and 1865), and had to rely on the defective methods developed in the 18th century.

    “Finally, there have been non-dialectical and indeed anti-dialectical Marxisms before. Eduard Bernstein’s revisionism rejected dialectics and revolution for a more ‘evolutionary’ model of incremental reforms. Kautsky’s errors after 1914 were attacked by Lenin as ‘undialectical.’ Althusser’s Marxism was certainly not ‘dialectical’ either, and it has been a failure as well.”

    I’m not sure what point you are making. Is that anything that is ‘undialectical’ must succeed? In other words, you think I think it is a sufficient condition for something to succeed that it be ‘undialectical’? Well, that isn’t my position at all. It might be a necessary condition that we abandon this failed theory, but it certainly isn’t sufficient.

    I am surprised someone as sophisticated as your good self would make such a basic logical error.

    [I blame dialectics…]

    And, of course, these non-dialectical versions of ‘Marxism’ certainly weren’t (in Bernstein’s case) Marxist; and Kautsky might have been attacked for being ‘un-dialectical’ but that is an expletive thrown by Dialectical Marxists at other Dialectical Marxists all the time (I give scores of examples of this in Essay Nine Part Two, link given in an earlier post).

    As far as Althusser is concerned, while his brand of Marxism might been ‘undialectical’ it hasn’t freed itself from that even more pernicious form of boss-class ideology: philosophy.

    [This is quite apart from the fact that Althusser’s work is quasi-dialectical in view of the fact that he seems to think there is a role for the (Hegelian) word ‘contradiction’ to play.]

    Finally, as you would know if you have read my work carefully, I in fact reject the idea that truth is tested in practice. I only use/refer to this dialectical dogma to put pressure on Dialectical Marxism itself. For if truth is indeed tested in practice, Dialectical Marxism stands condemned out of its own mouth.

    On the other hand, if truth isn’t tested in practice (as I believe), then Dialectical Marxism takes another, but different, body blow.

    So, my use of the ‘failed motif’ is merely rhetorical. I certainly don’t believe ‘materialist dialectics’ has been refuted by history. In order for that to be the case, it would have to have been shown to be false. But, as I have demonstrated, this theory is far too confused for anyone to be able to say whether it is true or false. It doesn’t make it that far.

    Nice try, Ross…, only it wasn’t.

    • Marx’s Mathematical Manuscripts were written in 1881, two years before he died.

      Whether or not his published works take precedence over his unpublished works is immaterial here. Your claim, which I quoted, was that Marx had “abandoned” this dialectical methodology by the time that he came to write Capital, and that he continued to move away from this theory “his whole life.” Since he employed a highly dialectical methodology in his Mathematical Manuscripts (1881), much to your chagrin, it is patently obvious that he had not fully “abandoned” dialectics by 1867. If, as you say, he continued to move away from this theory his whole life, he’d have left all these dialectics behind long ago by then, in both his published and unpublished writings.

  5. Ross:

    “Marx’s Mathematical Manuscripts were written in 1881, two years before he died.”

    Some of them were, but not all; but you said this:

    “Oh, so these mathematical manuscripts surely were written before Marx penned Capital. Wait, you say they were written in the 1880s?”

    I nowhere said this. [Why do you lot like to make stuff up?]

    Ross:

    “Whether or not his published works take precedence over his unpublished works is immaterial here. Your claim, which I quoted, was that Marx had “abandoned” this dialectical methodology by the time that he came to write Capital, and that he continued to move away from this theory ‘his whole life.'”

    Alas for you, I nowhere say this, either:

    “Marx had “abandoned” this dialectical methodology by the time that he came to write Capital,”

    What I did say was this (and I say it repeatedly across the Internet and at my site — I can post the links to both if you like):

    “it is quite clear that Marx had abandoned ‘dialectics’ as it has been understood in the failed Engels/Plekhanov/Lenin/Trotsky/Mao/etc. tradition ever since.”

    I even quoted this passage from Das Kapital (you know, the one you’d prefer he hadn’t published):

    “Whilst the writer pictures what he takes to be actually my method, in this striking and [as far as concerns my own application of it] generous way, what else is he picturing but the dialectic method?” [Postface to the second edition. Bold added.]

    And I have made this point several times to you, too: I am not questioning whether Marx used ‘the dialectic method’, the only question is: what did he mean by this phrase?

    Well, we needn’t speculate since he very kindly told us — in the passage I quoted in my last post, where not one atom of Hegel (upside down or ‘the right way up’) is to be found. So, and to repeat (since you seem not to be able to grasp this simple point): Marx’s ‘dialectic method’ has had every trace of Hegel excised.

    Not my say-so, Marx’s.

    Now, unlike you, I begin with Marx’s published words — so, and once again: if you can find a passage written and published by Marx, contemporaneous with or subsequent to Das Kapital, that supports the/your mystical re-interpretation of his work, let’s see it.

    Oh wait! There isn’t one.

    So, I interpret these unpublished manuscripts in the light of this, and conclude that he was still ‘coquetting’ with Hegelian jargon, struggling to come to terms with an intractable problem that can’t be solved using such ‘coquetted’ language, but which requires the new techniques introduced by Cauchy and Weierstrass, about which Marx was clearly oblivious (even though they had been published generations earlier).

    So, just like the Grundrisse, he chose not to publish this material, and now we know why.

    So, this comment of yours is irrelevant:

    “Since he employed a highly dialectical methodology in his Mathematical Manuscripts (1881), much to your chagrin, it is patently obvious that he had not fully “abandoned” dialectics by 1867. If, as you say, he continued to move away from this theory his whole life, he’d have left all these dialectics behind long ago by then, in both his published and unpublished writings.”

    You clearly prefer to argue with a straw woman (remember when you asserted that I had claimed Wittgenstein was a communist? — yet another idea you snatched right out of the aether).

    As I said, you lot cling to this ‘theory’ for non-rational reasons. The more you post, Ross, the more the finger of guilt points right at you, my fine friend.

  6. Oops, the bold section above should read as follows:

    “Whilst the writer pictures what he takes to be actually my method, in this striking and [as far as concerns my own application of it] generous way, what else is he picturing but the dialectic method?” [Postface to the second edition. Bold added.]

    And I have made this point several times to you, too: I am not questioning whether Marx used ‘the dialectic method’, the only question is: what did he mean by this phrase?

    Well, we needn’t speculate since he very kindly told us — in the passage I quoted in my last post, where not one atom of Hegel (upside down or ‘the right way up’) is to be found. So, and to repeat (since you seem not to be able to grasp this simple point): Marx’s ‘dialectic method’ has had every trace of Hegel excised.

    Not my say-so, Marx’s.

    Now, unlike you, I begin with Marx’s published words — so, and once again: if you can find a passage written and published by Marx, contemporaneous with or subsequent to Das Kapital, that supports the/your mystical re-interpretation of his work, let’s see it.

    Oh wait! There isn’t one.

    So, I interpret these unpublished manuscripts in the light of this, and conclude that he was still ‘coquetting’ with Hegelian jargon, struggling to come to terms with an intractable problem that can’t be solved using such ‘coquetted’ language, but which requires the new techniques introduced by Cauchy and Weierstrass, about which Marx was clearly oblivious (even though they had been published generations earlier).

    So, just like the Grundrisse, he chose not to publish this material, and now we know why.

    So, this comment of yours is irrelevant:

    “Since he employed a highly dialectical methodology in his Mathematical Manuscripts (1881), much to your chagrin, it is patently obvious that he had not fully “abandoned” dialectics by 1867. If, as you say, he continued to move away from this theory his whole life, he’d have left all these dialectics behind long ago by then, in both his published and unpublished writings.”

    You clearly prefer to argue with a straw woman (remember when you asserted that I had claimed Wittgenstein was a communist? — yet another idea you snatched right out of the aether).

    As I said, you lot cling to this ‘theory’ for non-rational reasons. The more you post, Ross, the more the finger of guilt points right at you, my fine friend.

  7. I’m sorry Ross, but you missed/have removed this part of my earlier reply:

    Ross:

    “Marx’s Mathematical Manuscripts were written in 1881, two years before he died.”

    Some of them were, but not all; but you said this:

    “Oh, so these mathematical manuscripts surely were written before Marx penned Capital. Wait, you say they were written in the 1880s?”

    I nowhere said this. [Why do you lot like to make stuff up?]

    Ross:

    “Whether or not his published works take precedence over his unpublished works is immaterial here. Your claim, which I quoted, was that Marx had “abandoned” this dialectical methodology by the time that he came to write Capital, and that he continued to move away from this theory ‘his whole life.'”

    Alas for you, I nowhere say this, either:

    “Marx had “abandoned” this dialectical methodology by the time that he came to write Capital,”

    What I did say was this (and I say it repeatedly across the Internet and at my site — I can post the links to both if you like):

    “it is quite clear that Marx had abandoned ‘dialectics’ as it has been understood in the failed Engels/Plekhanov/Lenin/Trotsky/Mao/etc. tradition ever since.”

    I even quoted this passage from Das Kapital (you know, the one you’d prefer he hadn’t published):

    [The next section of my reply appears above.]

  8. I think I need to apologise. I had in fact only read a few sections of Marx’s Mathematical Manuscripts, having unwisely taken the word of his commentators that it was a work of dialectics (in the traditional Engels/Lenin sense of that word). I have now checked this work in detail, line by line, and can find only one page and one expression that is unambiguously ‘dialectical’ (in the above sense): Here it is:

    “The whole difficulty in understanding the differential operation (as in the negation of the negation generally) lies precisely in seeing how it differs from such a simple procedure and therefore leads to real results.” [p.3.] [Italics in the original, as is the case with the other quotes I have posted in this comment.]

    That’s it!

    That is the extent of the ‘dialectics’ (in the above sense of the word) in these manuscripts. And even then this indirect reference to ‘dialectics’ (in the above sense of that word) is equivocal, at best. Anyway, Marx certainly does nothing with it.

    Hegel is mentioned only once in the entire book (that is, if we ignore the many references to him made by the editors and the other commentators in that volume), and then only in passing — as many times as Kant and Fichte (p.119).

    ‘Contradiction’, as far as I can see, makes only one appearance:

    “This leap from ordinary algebra, and besides by means of ordinary algebra, into the algebra of variables is assumed as au fait accompli, it is not proved and is prima facie in contradiction to all the laws of conventional algebra, where y = f(x), y’ = f(x+h) could never have this meaning.” [p.117.] [The “y'” here is in fact “y-subscript 1” in the original, but I have no idea how to do subscripts at this blog!]

    I think it is pretty clear that this isn’t a ‘dialectical’ use of this word (with that word understood in the above manner, again).

    Finally, there is this passage on p.56:

    “And here it may be remarked that the process of the original algebraic derivation is again turned into its opposite.”

    If comrades check, they will also see that Marx isn’t arguing ‘dialectically’ here (with that word understood in the above manner, again), he is simply making a point about the algebraic manipulations he had just completed.

    So, this work isn’t in fact an example of Marx trying to shoehorn the calculus into dialectical boot it won’t fit, as I had alleged in one of my essays (and as Ross pointed out above), but it does confirm my view that Marx had waved ‘goodbye’ to that confused mystic, Hegel (upside down or the ‘right way up’).

    Independently of this, Marx’s comments on the calculus are, alas, worthless, as I have argued here:

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2007.htm#Calculus

    [If you are using Internet Explorer 10 (or later), the above link won’t wok properly unless you switch to ‘Compatibility View’ in the Tools menu. For IE11, just add my site to the list of compatibility sites when you access that menu.]

    Finally, I will now alter the aforementioned comment in one of my Essays, so that it reflects this new insight on my part.

    http://anti-dialectics.co.uk/page%2009_01.htm

    • As important as they are, no unpublished work can countermand or take precedence over published material when it comes to interpreting an author’s core views.

      To be sure. And I agree with this. Still, I have no problem with the published postface you make so much of. But I hope you will not think it extravagant that I should supplement his published formulations with a number of his unpublished explanations in letters to friends, etc.

      You should read that “Postface” more closely, also:

      [I have] even, here and there in the chapter on the theory of value, coquetted with the mode of expression peculiar to [Hegel].

      Clearly Marx specifies that he only “coquets” with Hegel’s peculiar modes of expression in a single chapter in Capital, the chapter on the theory of value. However, just before that line, he makes clear that

      just when I was working at the first volume of Capital, the ill-humored, arrogant, and mediocre epigones who now talk large in educated German circles began to take pleasure in treating Hegel in the same way as the good Moses Mendelssohn treated Spinoza in Lessing’s time, namely as a “dead dog.” I therefore openly avowed myself the pupil of that mighty thinker.

      Your commentary:

      [I]t is worth noting that Marx put his allegiance to Hegel in the past tense. Moreover, one can describe someone else as a “mighty thinker” even if one totally disagrees with him or her. For example, I consider Plato “mighty thinker”, but I agree with little of what he wrote.

      This is misleading on a couple of levels. First, the past tense to which you refer is specifically when he “was working at the first volume of Capital, so hardly to the distant past. Second, whether you call someone a “mighty thinker” or not, one commits himself much more to a thinker’s though when he “openly avows himself the pupil” of said thinker. And finally, you ignore the following line from the same postface:

      The mystification which the dialectic suffers in Hegel’s hands by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general forms of motion in a comprehensive and conscious manner.

      In the past you’ve suggested that Hegel turned the dialectic of Hume, Kant, and so on “upside down,” and that Marx recovered the “rational kernel” simply by turning it right side up again. This makes very little sense, since there would be no reason for Marx to complain of contemporaries treating Hegel like a “dead dog.” He’d have to concede that they were quite right to scrap Hegel, as the detour through his thought would only confuse readers. Surely Marx was smart enough to not deliberately confuse those who wanted to understand his critique of political economy.

      Also, Marx would seem to have no reason to say that Hegel was the first to present the dialectic’s “general forms of motion in a comprehensive and conscious manner.” Why wouldn’t these previous thinkers whose dialectic Hegel distorted have done so prior to him?

      Regardless, it is quite clear from Marx’s remark that his “coquetting” with Hegel’s mode of expression is limited to only one chapter in Capital (“the chapter on the theory of value”), which means that it would be a leap to interpret any subsequent uses of Hegelian language as mere “coquetting.” Again, we can only go by what he wrote, and that’s what he wrote. Of course, his references to Hegel go well beyond just one chapter. So which one is it?

  9. Thanks for that Ross. You quote this passage from the Postface:

    “[I have] even, here and there in the chapter on the theory of value, coquetted with the mode of expression peculiar to [Hegel].”

    And then say the following:

    “Clearly Marx specifies that he only ‘coquets’ with Hegel’s peculiar modes of expression in a single chapter in Capital, the chapter on the theory of value.”

    You might be interested, Ross, to know that the MECW translates this passage as follows:

    “…and even, here and there, in the chapter on the theory of value, coquetted with the mode of expression peculiar to him.” [MECW, volume 35, p.19.]

    Notice the extra comma, which suggests Marx was using the chapter on value as one example (among many) where he had ‘coquetted’ with Hegelian jargon.
    [Some have complained to me that one can’t hang a whole new interpretation of Marx on a comma! But, as I have already made plain, I begin with the summary of ‘the dialectic method’ Marx added to the second edition, and interpret other passages accordingly. So, my view doesn’t depend on a comma, whereas yours might depend on the absence of a comma — especially since you have no summary of this ‘method’, written and published by Marx, to which you can appeal. I do!]

    Moreover, it would be rather odd for Marx to have ‘coquetted’ with this obscure terminology in what is perhaps the most important chapter of the book, and not to have done so elsewhere in the same book.

    This interpretation is supported by two salient facts, the first and most important of which you seem to want to ignore:

    1) Marx had already told us what he meant by ‘the dialectic method’ when he added a summary of that “method” to the Postface to the second edition — which summary contains no trace of Hegel whatsoever (upside down or ‘the right way up’) — and yet Marx still calls this the dialectic method — note: not “a dialectic method”, nor yet “part of, or one aspect of, the dialectic method”, but “the dialectic method”).

    Once more, this is the only summary of this ‘method’ Marx published and endorsed in his entire life.

    2) There is precious little Hegelian jargon in the rest of Das Kapital, and what little there is, is equivocal. I defy you to show otherwise.

    Then you add this:

    “However, just before that line, he makes clear that:

    ‘just when I was working at the first volume of Capital, the ill-humored, arrogant, and mediocre epigones who now talk large in educated German circles began to take pleasure in treating Hegel in the same way as the good Moses Mendelssohn treated Spinoza in Lessing’s time, namely as a ‘dead dog.’ I therefore openly avowed myself the pupil of that mighty thinker…
    [I added this comment:]

    ‘[I]t is worth noting that Marx put his allegiance to Hegel in the past tense. Moreover, one can describe someone else as a “mighty thinker” even if one totally disagrees with him or her. For example, I consider Plato “mighty thinker”, but I agree with little of what he wrote.’

    “This is misleading on a couple of levels. First, the past tense to which you refer is specifically when he ‘was working at the first volume of Capital’, so hardly to the distant past. Second, whether you call someone a ‘mighty thinker’ or not, one commits himself much more to a thinker’s though when he ‘openly avows himself the pupil’ of said thinker.”

    1) Well, if you can find a published passage where Marx says he is still a pupil of that ‘mighty thinker’, I’ll concede the point — oh wait, you can’t…

    2) The fact that the very best Marx could do in Das Kapital was to ‘coquette’ with Hegelian jargon hardly suggests he still had a high opinion of that mystical bumbler. Why treat this ‘mighty thinker’ so casually if he still had a high opinion of him?

    3) The summary I mentioned above, which Marx called ‘the dialectic method’, and which contains not one atom of Hegel, shows he had indeed abandoned this Hermetic Harebrain by the time he came to publish his masterpiece. If he still had such a high opinion of this ‘mighty thinker’ why quote a summary of “the dialectic method” that completely ignored him?

    But what of this?

    “Second, whether you call someone a ‘mighty thinker’ or not, one commits himself much more to a thinker’s though when he ‘openly avows himself the pupil’ of said thinker.'”

    I note you find you have to put this in the present tense; here is what Marx actually published:

    “…I therefore openly avowed myself the pupil of that mighty thinker…” [Bold added.]

    Note once again the past tense.

    Now, you might wish that Marx had put this in the present tense, and, indeed, you might even wish he hadn’t published that summary (which shows ‘his method’ is a Hegel-free zone), but, and alas for you, he didn’t, and he did, respectively.

    You then added this comment:

    “And finally, you ignore the following line from the same Postface:

    ‘The mystification which the dialectic suffers in Hegel’s hands by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general forms of motion in a comprehensive and conscious manner.'”!

    In fact, I didn’t ignore this passage; here is what I wrote about it (in that essay of mine you clearly skim-read):

    “To be sure, this doesn’t prevent Hegel from being the first to do what Marx says. What does prevent him is that Hegel wasn’t the first — Aristotle, Kant and the Scottish School beat him to it. [Indeed, they exercised a major influence on Hegel.] Moreover, Hegel failed to present us with a ‘comprehensive and conscious’ form of ‘the dialectic’, as the long quotation above shows — there Marx calls that summary ‘the dialectic method’ despite the fact that it is a Hegel-free zone. Indeed, it isn’t possible to make sense of Hegel’s ‘method’.

    “So, according to Marx’s own endorsement — not mine — ‘the dialectic method’ contains not one atom of Hegel.

    “Naturally, fans of ‘the dialectic’ are guaranteed not like this, but they should pick a fight with Marx, not me.”

    So, had Hegel in fact presented us with a “comprehensive and conscious” form of “the dialectic”, Marx would hardly have had to publish that summary, which he calls ‘the dialectic method’ despite the fact that every trace of Hegel has been removed. [Moreover, that summary is infinitely clearer than anything Hegel inflicted on his unfortunate readers.]

    Then you add this:

    “In the past you’ve suggested that Hegel turned the dialectic of Hume, Kant, and so on ‘upside down,’ and that Marx recovered the ‘rational kernel’ simply by turning it right side up again. This makes very little sense, since there would be no reason for Marx to complain of contemporaries treating Hegel like a ‘dead dog.’ He’d have to concede that they were quite right to scrap Hegel, as the detour through his thought would only confuse readers. Surely Marx was smart enough to not deliberately confuse those who wanted to understand his critique of political economy.”

    In fact, this is what I actually wrote:

    “…Das Kapital owes much more to the dialectical method of Aristotle, Kant and the Scottish Historical School (of Ferguson, Millar, Robertson, Smith, Hume, and Steuart) than they do to Hegel.”

    So, I’d appreciate it if you at least tried to get my ideas straight.

    But what of this?

    “This makes very little sense, since there would be no reason for Marx to complain of contemporaries treating Hegel like a ‘dead dog.’ He’d have to concede that they were quite right to scrap Hegel, as the detour through his thought would only confuse readers. Surely Marx was smart enough to not deliberately confuse those who wanted to understand his critique of political economy.”

    Well, as we have seen, this was all in the past; when he actually came to publish his masterpiece, it looks like Hegel had become a ‘dead dog’ to Marx, too. Why else would he endorse a summary of ‘the dialectic method’ that contained not even one nanogram of Hegel (upside down or ‘the right way up’).

    Hence, it makes perfect sense to me.

    Of course, if you still disagree, perhaps you’d be kind enough to find/quote a passage written and published by Marx, contemporaneous with or subsequent to Das Kapital, that supports your endeavour to re-mystify his work.

    [And good luck with that one!]

    But, what of this?

    “Also, Marx would seem to have no reason to say that Hegel was the first to present the dialectic’s ‘general forms of motion in a comprehensive and conscious manner.’ Why wouldn’t these previous thinkers whose dialectic Hegel distorted have done so prior to him?”

    1) There would be good reason if Marx is here offering a reason why he had abandoned this logical and philosophical incompetent.

    2) You keep forgetting the full quote:

    “The mystification which dialectic suffers in Hegel’s hands, by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general form of working in a comprehensive and conscious manner….”

    And, what is it that “prevents” him from being the first? Easy: he wasn’t the first, nor was he the second, third, or fourth…

    How do we know? Well, had ‘the dialectic method’ (as Hegel presented it) been quite as “comprehensive and conscious” as you seem to think. Marx would hardly have published and endorsed a summary of ‘his method’ and ‘the dialectic method’ that contained not one atom of Hegel.

    This is the rock upon which your attempt to re-mystify Marx must always founder.

    You finish with this comment:

    “Regardless, it is quite clear from Marx’s remark that his ‘coquetting’ with Hegel’s mode of expression is limited to only one chapter in Capital (‘the chapter on the theory of value’), which means that it would be a leap to interpret any subsequent uses of Hegelian language as mere ‘coquetting.’ Again, we can only go by what he wrote, and that’s what he wrote. Of course, his references to Hegel go well beyond just one chapter. So which one is it?”

    Not so, he ‘coquetted’ right throughout the book, as we have seen. [And I’d like to see you quote the ‘many’ passages that refer to Hegel, indirectly, or directly. The MECW index shows there are only nine such direct references in the entire book. Aristotle gets eight (on page 70 be refers to the “brilliancy of Aristotle’s genius” (present tense!), and on p.411 he calls him the “greatest thinker of antiquity” (present tense, once more). Ferguson receives four, Hume two, Smith forty-one, Stewart and Steuart fifteen.]
    I have covered this topic in more detail here:
    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.php?p=1195129&postcount=57
    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.php?p=1356284&postcount=68
    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.php?p=1693775&postcount=260
    http://www.revleft.com/vb/showpost.php?p=1693776&postcount=261
    Finally:

    “Again, we can only go by what he wrote…”

    Indeed, and what Marx actually wrote, as opposed to what you would like him to have written, shows he had indeed waved Hegel (upside down or ‘the right way up’) a fond farewell.

    • You clearly distort what Marx wrote to be what you’d prefer him to have written. Start from the summary of “the dialectic method” he presents in the Postface if you will, and to be certain I am not opposed to that at all, but it would be folly to suggest that anything he wrote in the summary contradicts what he wrote as part of that same Postface.

      Also, your suggestion that Marx “coquetted” with Hegel’s mode of expression beyond the chapter on the theory of value in Capital, let alone throughout his subsequent unpublished writings, is projection on your part. So when you write

      in the unpublished mathematical manuscripts, it is clear Marx is still “coquetting” with Hegelian jargon.

      there is no textual basis for your claim. Rather, you’d prefer him to be just “coquetting” here, even though he only ever indicates that he’s coquetted Hegel’s phraseology in a single chapter in a single work.

      And so we come to that passage, in which you counterposed the additional comma in the MECW to Ben Fowkes’ vastly superior translation, as if it makes an ounce of difference. Prithee, where is the comma in the original German?

      Ich bekannte mich daher offen als Schuler jenes großen Denkers und kokettierte sogar hier und da im Kapitel über die Werttheorie mit der ihm eigentümlichen Ausdrucksweise.

      It is patently obvious to anyone who reads German that Marx specifies the chapter on the theory of value [Werttheorie] as the chapter in which he “coquets” with Hegel’s mode of expression, and only then “here and there” [hier und da]. Whether or not this fits with what you think he “actually meant,” or whether he “surely must not have” been thinking, this is what he actually wrote. Anything beyond that is pure speculation on your part.

      Let’s take a look at a couple of your other claims. First:

      [H]ad ‘the dialectic method’ (as Hegel presented it) been quite as “comprehensive and conscious” as you seem to think, Marx would hardly have published and endorsed a summary of ‘his method’ and ‘the dialectic method’ that contained not one atom of Hegel.

      And then, toward the end:

      [W]hat Marx actually wrote, as opposed to what you would like him to have written, shows he had indeed waved Hegel (upside down or ‘the right way up’) a fond farewell.

      Well surely Marx’s summary of his own method would be compatible with his statements in the same postface. Marx actually wrote that

      The mystification which the dialectic suffers in Hegel’s hands by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general forms of motion in a comprehensive and conscious manner. With him it is standing on its head. It must be inverted, in order to discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell.

      You’d have to go to great lengths and contort what Marx plainly said here in order to make it seem that he did not say, or did not mean, “With [Hegel] [the dialectic] is standing on its head.” As Marx clearly says, it “must” be inverted. Which is precisely what Marx does with his summary.

  10. Ross:

    “You clearly distort what Marx wrote to be what you’d prefer him to have written. Start from the summary of “the dialectic method” he presents in the Postface if you will, and to be certain I am not opposed to that at all, but it would be folly to suggest that anything he wrote in the summary contradicts what he wrote as part of that same Postface.”

    Well, as I pointed out, I begin with the only summary of ‘the dialectic method’ Marx saw fit to publish and endorse in his entire life. What have you got to support your attempt to re-mystify his work?

    Zippo.

    “there is no textual basis for your claim. Rather, you’d prefer him to be just ‘coquetting’ here, even though he only ever indicates that he’s coquetted Hegel’s phraseology in a single chapter in a single work.”

    So, in the most important book he published in his entire life he tells us that the very best he could do with Hegelian jargon was to “coquette” with it, but in unpublished work he suddenly began to use that jargon seriously. Is that what you are saying?

    But, have you got any textual evidence that tells us he stopped “coquetting”?

    Once more, we already know that ‘the dialectic method’ that Marx endorsed contained not one atom of Hegel, so the conclusion is forced upon us: since the latter method is a Hegel-free zone, any use of Hegelian jargon must be non-serious — in fact, we’d use ‘scare’ quotes these days.

    Anyway, there is very little Hegelian jargon in Marx’s unpublished work subsequent to Das Kapital. You are welcome to try and find it.

    “It is patently obvious to anyone who reads German that Marx specifies the chapter on the theory of value [Werttheorie] as the chapter in which he “coquets” with Hegel’s mode of expression, and only then “here and there” [hier und da]. Whether or not this fits with what you think he ‘actually meant,’ or whether he ‘surely must not have’ been thinking, this is what he actually wrote. Anything beyond that is pure speculation on your part.”

    Perhaps you think it was I who translated volume 35 of the MECW? Check it out for yourself, they inserted a comma where I quoted it earlier. So, it isn’t “patently” obvious to the translators of the MECW. You should perhaps pick a fight with them, not me. Their translation suggests that the chapter on value was just one example where Marx had “coquetted”. Moreover, the summary of ‘the dialectic method’ (recall this is what Marx called it, not me ), contains no trace of Hegel. If so, the ‘dialectic method’ Marx used in Das Kapital must similarly be Hegel-free. That being the case, any occurrence of Hegelian jargon elsewhere in that book must be where Marx was also “coquetting”, as indeed the MECW translation suggests.

    Once more: your interpretation would be so much more believable if you could find that missing passage, written and published by Marx contemporaneous with or subsequent to Das Kapital that summarises ‘the dialectic method’ and which uses Hegelian jargon throughout.

    Until you do, your interpretation is, at best, speculative, while mine isn’t since it is supported by Marx’s own endorsement of ‘the dialectic method’, which, as I have pointed out many times, contains not one atom of Hegel.

    I have also challenged you to find the other examples of Hegelian jargon found outside the chapter on value in Das Kapital. You have yet to rise to the challenge — and it isn’t hard to see why: there is precious little of it.

    You also ignored this comment from earlier:

    “Moreover, it would be rather odd for Marx to have ‘coquetted’ with this obscure terminology in what is perhaps the most important chapter of the book, and not to have done so elsewhere in the same book.”

    Why pick on this one chapter? If the Hegelian method (‘the right way up’) was so important to Marx, then why treat it in such a non-serious, off-hand manner in what is perhaps the most important chapter, and only in that chapter?

    But, you return to this passage:

    “The mystification which the dialectic suffers in Hegel’s hands by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general forms of motion in a comprehensive and conscious manner. With him it is standing on its head. It must be inverted, in order to discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell.”

    And argue as follows:

    “You’d have to go to great lengths and contort what Marx plainly said here in order to make it seem that he did not say, or did not mean, ‘With [Hegel] [the dialectic] is standing on its head.’ As Marx clearly says, it ‘must’ be inverted. Which is precisely what Marx does with his summary.”

    1) No ‘contortion’ at all. Once more: I begin with the only summary of ‘the dialectic method’ Marx published and endorsed in his entire life; you don’t. If we begin there, it is quite plain that Hegel’s ‘dialectic’ isn’t the least bit “comprehensive and conscious”, since ‘the dialectic method’ Marx endorsed and employed contains no Hegel at all. Marx would hardly call something “the dialectic method” if it contained no Hegel and had it been the case that Hegel had in fact presented “the dialectic method” in a “comprehensive and conscious” form.

    2) So, as Marx indicated, something does prevent Hegel from being the first to present this method in a “comprehensive and conscious” form: the fact that he didn’t do it at all!. How do we know this? And how do we know that Marx agrees with this assessment? Well, to repeat what I posted earlier (in relation to which, while you quoted it, you seem not to have got the point):

    “Well, had ‘the dialectic method’ (as Hegel presented it) been quite as ‘comprehensive and conscious’ as you seem to think, Marx would hardly have published and endorsed a summary of ‘his method’ and ‘the dialectic method’ that contained not one atom of Hegel.

    This is the rock upon which your attempt to re-mystify Marx must always founder.

    But what of this?

    “As Marx clearly says, it ‘must’ be inverted. Which is precisely what Marx does with his summary.”

    Ah, but Marx also says:

    “It must be turned right side up again, if you would discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell.”

    And what do we find when this has been done?

    No need to speculate, for Marx very helpfully told us when he added a summary of ‘the dialectic method’ to the Postface, which summary contains no trace of Hegel whatsoever.

    As I pointed out earlier, in that summary there are:

    “No ‘contradictions’, no change of ‘quantity into quality”‘, no ‘negation of the negation’, no ‘unity and identity of opposites’, no ‘interconnected Totality’, no ‘universal change’ –, and yet Marx still calls this the ‘dialectic method’, and says of it that it is ‘my method’. So, Marx’s ‘method’ has had Hegel completely excised –, except for the odd phrase or two, ‘here and there’, with which he merely ‘coquetted’. In that case, and once more, Marx’s ‘dialectic method’ more closely resembles that of Aristotle, Kant and the Scottish School.”

    So, to turn Hegel ‘the right way up’ is to see how empty his head really is — which is why Marx’s “dialectic method” is a Hegel-free zone.

    No my say-so: Marx’s

    • To take just one instance:

      [T]he possessor of money or commodities actually turns into a capitalist only where the minimum sum advanced for production greatly exceeds the known medieval maximum. Here, as in natural science, is shown the correctness of the law discovered by Hegel, in his Logic, that at a certain point merely quantitative differences pass over by a dialectical inversion into qualitative distinctions.

      If you read the footnote, Marx himself adds:

      The molecular theory of modem chemistry, first scientifically worked out by Laurent and Gerhardt, rests on no other law.

      There is no “coquetting” with Hegelian modes of expression here. What we have here is straightforwardly a statement by Marx, stating that natural science confirms Hegel’s insight regarding the change of quantity into quality. It’s borne out further in his letters to Engels from 1867. Let me guess, he was just “joking” here?

  11. Ross:

    “To take just one instance:

    ‘[T]he possessor of money or commodities actually turns into a capitalist only where the minimum sum advanced for production greatly exceeds the known medieval maximum. Here, as in natural science, is shown the correctness of the law discovered by Hegel, in his Logic, that at a certain point merely quantitative differences pass over by a dialectical inversion into qualitative distinctions.’

    “If you read the footnote, Marx himself adds:

    “‘The molecular theory of modem chemistry, first scientifically worked out by Laurent and Gerhardt, rests on no other law.

    “There is no ‘coquetting’ with Hegelian modes of expression here. What we have here is straightforwardly a statement by Marx, stating that natural science confirms Hegel’s insight regarding the change of quantity into quality. It’s borne out further in his letters to Engels from 1867. Let me guess, he was just ‘joking’ here?”

    I have in fact already dealt with this in that essay you skim read; here is what I said (but first, let’s see the entire passage) for you to ignore some more:

    “‘A certain stage of capitalist production necessitates that the capitalist be able to devote the whole of the time during which he functions as a capitalist, i.e., as personified capital, to the appropriation and therefore control of the labour of others, and to the selling of the products of this labour. The guilds of the middle ages therefore tried to prevent by force the transformation of the master of a trade into a capitalist, by limiting the number of labourers that could be employed by one master within a very small maximum. The possessor of money or commodities actually turns into a capitalist in such cases only where the minimum sum advanced for production greatly exceeds the maximum of the middle ages. Here, as in natural science, is shown the correctness of the law discovered by Hegel (in his “Logic”), that merely quantitative differences beyond a certain point pass into qualitative changes.’ [MECW, Volume 35, p.313.]

    Values (it is assumed that these are ‘exchange values’) do not become Capital by mere quantitative increment. It requires the presence of a Capitalist Mode of Production (and thus a change in the Relations of Production), or a different use of that money, for this to be so. The capitalists concerned have to do something with these exchange values. Left to itself, money does not change into capital, no matter how large that sum becomes. So, the mere increase of exchange values doesn’t automatically ‘pass over’ into a qualitative change and become Capital. These values have to be invested, or put to use productively in certain specific ways, and that too isn’t automatic (in certain circumstances, they could be consumed). So, what we have here is a change in quality passing over into another change in quality! Quantity has nothing to do with it. The same quantity of money could be used as Capital or fail to be so used. It requires a change in its quality (its use, or its social context) to effect such a development.

    Over the last twenty-five years or so, in my trawl through the Dialectical Dustbowl, I have yet to encounter a single dialectician who has pointed out that the above application of Hegel’s ‘Law’ by Marx contains a serious error!

    “So, £x/$y (or their equivalent) owned by a Medieval Lord in, say, Eleventh Century France, couldn’t become Capital no matter how large this pot of money had become, whereas £w/$z in Nineteenth Century Manchester, even though it might be less than the £x/$y pounds held by that Lord (allowing for inflation, etc.), would be Capital if employed in certain ways. Again, it isn’t the quantity that is important here but the Mode of Production and the use to which the money is put, that are.

    “Furthermore, it is worth asking: How does this money actually ‘develop’? In what way can it ‘develop’? Sure, money can be saved and/or accumulated, but how does a £1/$1 coin ‘develop’ if its owner saves or accumulates more of the same? Even if we redefine ‘save’ and ‘accumulate’ to mean ‘develop’ (protecting this ‘law’ by yet another terminological dodge, thus imposing it on the facts), not all money will ‘develop’ in this way. What if all the money was stolen or had been expropriated from, or by, another non-capitalist? What if it was obtained (all at once) by selling land, slaves, works of art, political or other favours, etc? Where is the ‘development’ here? But, such money could still operate/serve as Capital, howsoever it had been acquired, depending on its use and the Mode of Production in which this takes place.

    “Of course, this isn’t to deny that there were Capitalists (or nascent Capitalists) in pre-Capitalist Europe; but whatever money they had, its nature as Capital wasn’t determined by its quantity, but by the use to which it was put. This is also true in the period of transition between Feudalism and Capitalism (before the Capitalist Mode of Production was apparent/dominant); it is the use to which money is put that decides whether or not it is Capital, not its quantity.

    “In which case, this represents an egregious mis-application of Hegel’s ‘Law’ — by Marx himself! Now, either we believe Marx was a complete imbecile (in that he committed this crass error, and failed even to understand his own theory!), or we conclude he was still ‘coquetting’ with Hegelian jargon. [Again, these days we’d use ‘scare quotes’ in such circumstances, or we’d simply refrain from using such language altogether.]”

    So desperate have you fans of ‘the dialectic’ become in your endeavour to find support for your failed theory in what Marx wrote, you have all forgotten basic principles of Historical Materialism!

    In which case, Ross, this isn’t quite as clear cut an example as you seem to think (even if it is one of the few examples you could have chosen — there are precious few others).

    But, what of the footnote?

    “The molecular theory of modem chemistry, first scientifically worked out by Laurent and Gerhardt, rests on no other law.”

    Well, I think Marx is being ironic here since even the chemistry of Marx’s day didn’t rest on this ‘law’. Even less so today does it depend on this vague and confused ‘law’ — which Hegel dreamt up (based on what can only be described as lamentably thin evidence; to call it weak would be to praise it far too highly) and which Engels then imposed on nature dogmatically (details supplied on request), despite the latter saying the following in Anti-Dühring:

    “Finally, for me there could be no question of superimposing the laws of dialectics on nature but of discovering them in it and developing them from it.”

    So, Marx was still either ‘coquetting’ (as he himself told us he was!), or he was being ironic. Take your pick.

    But what of this?

    “There is no “coquetting” with Hegelian modes of expression here. What we have here is straightforwardly a statement by Marx, stating that natural science confirms Hegel’s insight regarding the change of quantity into quality. It’s borne out further in his letters to Engels from 1867. Let me guess, he was just “joking” here?”

    1) As we can now see, Marx was indeed still ‘coquetting’.

    And, of course, those letters were unpublished, so they can’t countermand what he had to say in published work. But, even if they had been published they pre-date the Postface to the second edition by about five years. In which case, the latter takes precedence.

    Once more, what you need to do is stop quoting/referring to unpublished material, Ross, or published material that either (a) exposes Marx’s lack of understanding of his own theory(!). or which (b) supports his claim that he was ‘coquetting’ in Das Kapital.

    As I have already told you several times, you need to do this:

    find that missing passage, written and published by Marx contemporaneous with or subsequent to Das Kapital that summarises ‘the dialectic method’ and which uses Hegelian jargon throughout.

    2) Where did I say Marx was “joking”? He might have been, then again he might not; but I have nowhere asserted this. You need to stop making stuff up, Ross. You are becoming a serial offender in this regard.

    Finally, we arrive at this rather dyspeptic comment, which alone shows you are beginning to scrape through the bottom of this non-dialectical barrel:

    “Clearly you are just another one of those ‘ill-humored, arrogant, and mediocre’ boors who Marx mocked for treating Hegel as ‘a dead dog.'”

    1) Marx put this in the past tense (as you have been told several times); there is no evidence he was still of that opinion in the early 1870s.

    2) Quite the reverse in fact; since (i) he pointedly called a summary of his “method”, which contained no trace of Hegel whatsoever, “the dialectic method”, and (ii) the very best he could do was “coquette” with Hegelian jargon, it is quite clear that by the time he came to write in his masterpiece Hegel was a “dead dog” for Marx too.

    I am happy to join with Marx in this, so you can name-call all you like, Ross. That’s all that left for you to do, in fact.

    Of course, you could always blow a raspberry, too, if it makes you feel any better.

  12. Ross:

    “Marx was still complaining of these “ill-humored” boors in 1868. It’s obvious that’s what Marx is referring to in the Postface.”

    Alas for you: by the time he came to finish that work, and especially when he published the Postface to the second edition, he too seems to have concluded that Hegel was a ‘dead dog’.

    How do we know?

    Well, this might come as a surprise to you, but Marx added a summary to that same Postface, which he calls ‘the dialectic method’ despite the fact that it contains no trace of Hegel whatsoever. What better way then to indicate Hegel was a ‘dead dog’ than to revert to a form of the ‘dialectic’ that ignores that very same ‘dead dog’?

    Of course, there is a remarkably easy way to shut me up:

    Locate the missing passage, written and published by Marx contemporaneous with or subsequent to Das Kapital that explicitly uses Hegel’s ideas (upside down or ‘the right way up’) , and which thus indicates that for Marx Hegel wasn’t a ‘dead dog’.

    By the way, how’s that search coming along…?

    • Marx published Capital in 1867. These letters appear in 1868, and his remarks in the 1873 Postface essentially mirror them.

      Your entire interpretation rests on a single passage abstracted from a Postface in which Marx clearly indicates that Hegel was the first to clearly and consciously describe the dialectic’s laws of motion, and that Hegel’s dialectic is standing on its head and must be inverted. Your claim that inverting Hegel “shows just how empty his head is” is a pure addition on your part, as is your claim that Marx’s dialectic has more in common with Aristotle, Kant, and the Scottish School. There is no textual basis for that claim.

      Also, whether or not you regard it as flawed or not, Marx clearly stated that Hegel’s dictum of changes in quantity resulting in changes in quality was confirmed by natural science. He even cited the scientists whose work he says confirms Hegel’s insight. This is not “coquetting,” and there is no textual grounds for regarding it as ironic, either. Just your personal preference that he wouldn’t have said it, or since he did, that he didn’t mean it.

  13. Ross:

    “Marx published Capital in 1867. These letters appear in 1868, and his remarks in the 1873 Postface essentially mirror them.”

    Except in that Postface he published a summary of ‘the dialectic method’ in which no trace of Hegel is to be found.

    Moreover, he had such a ‘high’ view of Hegel by 1873 that the very best he could do was to ‘coquette’ with Hegelian jargon, and only ‘here and there’.

    So, Hegel was in effect a ‘dead dog’ as far as Marx was concerned.

    After all, why insult the memory of this ‘mighty thinker’ by advocating and endorsing a version of ‘the dialectic method’ that could have been written had Hegel never been born? Why play around with Hegelian jargon in a non-serious manner if Hegel was still a ‘live dog’ for Marx?

    “Your entire interpretation rests on a single passage abstracted from a Postface in which Marx clearly indicates that Hegel was the first to clearly and consciously describe the dialectic’s laws of motion, and that Hegel’s dialectic is standing on its head and must be inverted. Your claim that inverting Hegel “shows just how empty his head is” is a pure addition on your part, as is your claim that Marx’s dialectic has more in common with Aristotle, Kant, and the Scottish School. There is no textual basis for that claim.”

    In fact it is based on the only summary of ‘the dialect method’ Marx published and endorsed in his entire life — which he described as ‘my method’.

    You haven’t even got that!

    [Unless, of course, you have found that missing passage I keep rubbing your nose with…]

    “clearly indicates that Hegel was the first to clearly and consciously describe the dialectic’s laws of motion, and that Hegel’s dialectic is standing on its head and must be inverted.”

    We’ve been over this several times already. Let me walk you through it again:

    Marx said this:

    “The mystification which dialectic suffers in Hegel’s hands, by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general form of working in a comprehensive and conscious manner. With him it is standing on its head. It must be turned right side up again, if you would discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell.”

    So, if this doesn’t prevent Hegel being the first, what does?

    Answer: he wasn’t the first — in fact, as the summary of ‘the dialectic method’ Marx added to the Postface shows: Marx’s method bears no resemblance at all to Hegel’s method (upside down or ‘the right way up’). So, as Marx indicates, Hegel hadn’t in fact presented the ‘dialectic’ in a “comprehensive and conscious manner”. That’s what prevents him.

    Once more: we can see that when the rational dialectic is restored (see the summary of ‘the dialectic method’ you keep ignoring) it bears no resemblance to Hegel’s method whatsoever.

    Well, can you see any resemblance?

    Of course, you’d have pointed out where the two resemble each other by now if there were any.

    So, even you can see — although you’d plainly rather have all your teeth pulled before you’ll admit this –, the rational form of ‘the dialectic’ bears no relation to Hegel’s.

    As I noted, if there were any resemblance, no matter how small, you’d have pointed it out. Your silence on this says it all.

    “Your claim that inverting Hegel “shows just how empty his head is” is a pure addition on your part, as is your claim that Marx’s dialectic has more in common with Aristotle, Kant, and the Scottish School. There is no textual basis for that claim.”

    This is a conjecture on my part, and I posted links to where I have argued this in more detail. You chose to ignore that. Fine, but don’t say there is no evidence when there is.

    Of course, I could be wrong about this influence (even though I still think I am right), but even if I am wrong, the plain fact is that ‘the dialectic method’ that Marx endorsed as ‘my method’ bears no resemblance to Hegel’s,

    In that case, my conclusion (that to put Hegel back on his feet is to see how empty his head is) is fully justified.

    Again: here’s an easy way to shut me up: point out where the summary Marx added to the Postface resembles anything distinctly Hegelian.

    The fact that you can’t (and no one can) shows that the rational form of the dialectic is a Hegel-free zone, as I have repeatedly said.

    But, what about this?

    “Also, whether or not you regard it as flawed or not, Marx clearly stated that Hegel’s dictum of changes in quantity resulting in changes in quality was confirmed by natural science. He even cited the scientists whose work he says confirms Hegel’s insight. This is not “coquetting,” and there is no textual grounds for regarding it as ironic, either. Just your personal preference that he wouldn’t have said it, or since he did, that he didn’t mean it.”

    1) Well, we have already seen that Marx was ‘coquetting’ here. Personally, I’d use ‘scare’ quotes (or leave out all reference to that Hermetic Harebrain), but I’m not sure they were in use in the 1870s.

    2) The fact that chemistry doesn’t confirm this ‘law’ is salient, for if Marx saw this, then he was being ironic. [And it is so easy to see that even the chemistry of the 1870s didn’t conform to this vague and confused ‘law’ that we’d have to brand Marx an ignoramus to have missed it.]

    3) Your view would have us believe that Marx didn’t understand his own theory(!), for if this ‘law’ applied to the conversion of money into capital in the way he says, then he made a basic error (and one you didn’t even spot, for all your airs of sophistication). Hence, the tenor of this entire passage (including the footnote), confirms that Marx was indeed ‘coquetting’ (as he himself told us he was!).

    Anyway, how’s the search going for other passages in Das Kapital (outwith the chapter on value) where Marx is supposed to have used this ‘wonderful’ (notice the use of ‘scare’ quotes there) Hegelian ‘method’ (the ‘right way up’ version, that is)?

    Not too well it seems… :-(

    • Let’s return to this passage in which you highlight Marx’s use of the past tense in avowing himself a disciple of that mighty thinker, and see if we can figure out just how recent this past was. If he still took Hegel seriously in the immediate run-up to Capital‘s publication, or still afterward, then it would follow that he had by no means “long ago waved goodbye” to Hegel. There are plenty of clues, not just in the Postface itself but in letters Marx sent which corroborate his annoyance with these “ill-humored” boors. A proper timeline will help clear things up a great deal.

      Before looking at his letters, here’s the passage again:

      [J]ust when I was working at the first volume of Capital, the ill-humored, arrogant, and mediocre epigones who now talk large in educated German circles began to take pleasure in treating Hegel in the same way as the good Moses Mendelssohn treated Spinoza in Lessing’s time, namely as a “dead dog.” I therefore openly avowed myself the pupil of that mighty thinker.

      Who were these “ill-humored, arrogant, and mediocre epigones who now talk large in educated German circles,” anyway? Perhaps you have some idea who he’s talking about? And why would Marx heap scorn upon them for treating Hegel like a “dead dog,” anyway, if he in fact agreed with them that Hegel should receive such treatment?

      Fortunately, there are extant letters Marx wrote in which he used almost identical language to that which appears in the 1873 postface. Here he names names, and they letters are dated, so we can know precisely when he was expressing these opinions and who he was talking about. Starting with a letter to Engels dated January 11, 1868 (that is, months after the release of Capital):

      At the museum, where I did nothing but leaf through catalogues, I also noted that Dühring is a great philosopher. For he has written a Natürliche Dialektik against Hegel’s “un-natural” one. Hinc Mae lacrimae. The gentlemen in Germany (with the exception of theological reactionaries) believe Hegel’s dialectic to be a “dead dog.” Feuerbach has much on his conscience in this respect.

      The primary target here is the anti-Hegelian pinhead Eugen Dühring, but Marx also vaguely alludes to “gentlemen in Germany” who believe Hegel’s dialectic to be a “dead dog.” He adds that “Feuerbach has much on his conscience in this respect,” suggesting that this perceived obsolescence of Hegel is indeed unfortunate, and that Feuerbach’s contribution to this misperception should weigh on his conscience.

      Marx expands on Dühring’s unfortunate incomprehension of Hegel in a letter written to Ludwig Kugelmann dated March 6, 1868:

      The curiously embarrassed tone used by Mr Dühring in his review is now clear to me. Usually, you see, he is a very bumptious, insolent lad, who sets himself up as a revolutionary in political economy. He has done two things. Firstly (basing himself upon Carey) he published a Kritische Grundlegung der Nationalökonomie (ABOUT 500 PAGES), and a new Natürliche Dialektik (against Hegelian dialectic). My book has buried him in both respects. He reviewed it out of hatred for Roscher, etc. Incidentally he practices deception, half intentionally and half from lack of insight. He knows full well that my method of exposition is not Hegelian, since I am a materialist, and Hegel an idealist. Hegel’s dialectic is the basic form of all dialectic, but only after being stripped of its mystical form, and it is precisely this which distinguishes my method.

      Once again, Marx makes clear that Hegel’s form is “the basic form of all dialectic,” and that what distinguishes his own dialectic from the Hegelian one is that he is a materialist while Hegel is an idealist. Still, it’s unclear from these two letters who he’s specifically thinking of outside of Dühring. Let’s take a look at another letter to Kugelmann, then, this one dated June 27, 1870 (three years after the first volume of Capital was released):

      [W]hat [Friedrich] Lange has to say about the Hegelian method and my application of the same is simply childish. First, he understands rien about Hegel’s method and, therefore, second, still less about my critical manner of applying it. In one respect he reminds me of Moses Mendelssohn. That prototype of a windbag once wrote to Lessing asking how he could possibly take “that dead dog Spinoza” au sérieux In the same way, Mr Lange expresses surprise that Engels, I, etc., take au sérieux the dead dog Hegel, after Büchner, Lange, Dr Dühring, Fechner, etc., had long agreed that they — POOR DEAR — had long since buried him. Lange is naïve enough to say that I “move with rare freedom” in empirical matter. He has not the slightest idea that this “free movement in matter” is nothing but a paraphrase for the method of dealing with matter — that is, the dialectical method.

      Marx here expresses his disdain for Lange’s “childish” attitude toward Hegel, his total incomprehension of Hegel’s method, nor Marx’s “application of the same.” He calls Lange a “windbag” for treating Hegel like a “dead dog.” So the past tense Marx uses in the 1873 postface, in which he “openly avowed [him]self the pupil of that mighty thinker” and defended Hegel against Lange’s dismissal of the philosopher as a “dead dog,” was June 1870. That means he still considered himself Hegel’s pupil well after the first volume of Capital had been published, since Marx was still defending him three years on. So who were the “ill-humored” boors to which Marx referred in the 1873 postface? Easy: “Büchner, Lange, Dr Dühring, Fechner, etc.” — the names he listed in 1870.

      Remember that you wrote:

      [A]s we have seen, [Marx’s high regard for Hegel] was all in the past; when he actually came to publish his masterpiece, it looks like Hegel had become a “dead dog” to Marx, too. Why else would he endorse a summary of “the dialectic method” that contained not even one nanogram of Hegel (upside down or “the right way up”).

      Marx clearly didn’t think that Hegel wasn’t a “dead dog” if he was defending him against this charge in 1868 and 1870. Finally, let’s take a look at a letter that Marx wrote to Joseph Dietzgen in 1868, but which Marx approved for publication on January 9, 1876, even after the 1873 postface:

      …When I have cast off the burden of political economy, I shall write a “Dialectic.” The true laws of dialectics are already contained in Hegel, though in a mystical form. What is needed is to strip away this form…

      Here you have it once again. Marx clearly indicates that “the true laws of dialectics are already contained in Hegel, though in mystical form.” You speculate that this is because Hegel turned classical dialectics topsy-turvy, and that Marx is simply returning to the method of Aristotle, Kant, and the Scottish School. There is, however, no textual basis for this claim.

      Also, regarding the change of quantity into quality, Marx explains what he meant in that chapter in a letter to Engels dated June 22 1867:

      Incidentally, you will see from the conclusion to my Chapter III, where I outline the transformation of the master of a trade into a capitalist — as a result of purely quantitative changes — that in the text there I quote Hegel’s discovery of the law of the transformation of a merely quantitative change into a qualitative one as being attested by history and natural science alike. In the note to the text (I was as it happened attending Hofmann’s lectures at that time) I mention the molecular theory, but not Hofmann, who has discovered nothing in the matter except contributing general direction; instead I do mention Laurent, Gerhardt, and Wurtz, the latter being the real man.

  14. Ross:

    “If he still took Hegel seriously in the immediate run-up to Capital’s publication, or still afterward, then it would follow that he had by no means ‘long ago waved goodbye‘ to Hegel.” [Bold added.]

    Your words, not mine. You seem determined to make stuff up, Ross. Why?

    And thanks for all that detail, but once again it all founders on the same immovable rock: Marx didn’t publish any of it (but see below), but he did publish that summary of ‘the dialectic method’, which he called ‘his method’, and which, unfortunately for you, contains not one atom of Hegel.

    So, as far as ‘his method’ (as it features in his most important published work) is concerned, Hegel is indeed a ‘dead dog’ — Marx can find no role for him, except the use of some of his terminology non-seriously.

    Now, the only substantive point you make (the other stuff was unpublished, and anyway pre-dates the Postface) is this:

    “Finally, let’s take a look at a letter that Marx wrote to Joseph Dietzgen in 1868, but which Marx approved for publication on January 9, 1876, even after the 1873 postface:

    ‘…When I have cast off the burden of political economy, I shall write a “Dialectic.” The true laws of dialectics are already contained in Hegel, though in a mystical form. What is needed is to strip away this form…’

    “Here you have it once again. Marx clearly indicates that “the true laws of dialectics are already contained in Hegel, though in mystical form.’ You speculate that this is because Hegel turned classical dialectics topsy-turvy, and that Marx is simply returning to the method of Aristotle, Kant, and the Scottish School. There is, however, no textual basis for this claim.”

    1) This letter to Dietzgen is similar to the passage you quoted from the Postface. So, we ask the question: what does ‘the dialectic method’ look like when the “mystical form” has been stripped away?

    Again, we needn’t speculate, since Marx very helpfully told us: it looks like the summary he added to the Postface to Das Kapital, which Marx, not me, Marx calls “my method”, and “the dialectic method”.

    The next question (which you wisely avoid) is this: How much of this “method” is in any way comparable to Hegel’s distinctive and monumental contribution to irredeemable confusion?

    The answer quickly returns: none of it.

    As I pointed out in my last post: not even you can find anything Hegelian in this summary of ‘the dialectic method’ That is why you are forced to look to various letters (which, anyway, fail to give us the detail this summary gives us).

    In which case we are forced to conclude that when it came to applying this ‘method’, Hegel was in effect a ‘dead dog’, since Marx doesn’t actually use anything Hegelian in Das Kapital (that is, over and above merely ‘coquetting’ with a few jargonised expressions, here and there) — and, what is perhaps more annoying for you: the summary of ‘the dialectic method’ confirms this.

    So, what are the ‘true laws’ of the ‘dialectic’? Well, they can’t involve ‘dialectical contradictions’, or the ‘negation of the negation’, or ‘unities of opposites’, or ‘quantity turning into quality’, etc., since these are all absent from something Marx does call ‘the dialectic method’.

    We are forced therefore to look elsewhere, maybe back to Aristotle, Kant and the Scottish Historical School (all of whom influenced Hegel deeply). Now, you have studiously ignored the evidence supporting this contention on my part (but i borrowed it from a communist academic, as well as one or two others — follow the links I posted earlier for more details), so no wonder you are blissfully ignorant.

    In which case, this is the ‘true form of the dialectic’ (that Hegel mystified), which, once teased out, leaves nothing distinctively Hegelian behind. Once again, to put Hegel back on his feet is to see how empty his head is. How do we know? Again, this might surprise you: Marx (not Rosa), Marx told us when he called that summary “my method” and “the dialectic method”, even though Hegel is conspicuous by his absence.

    You add this thought:

    “There is, however, no textual basis for this claim.”

    That isn’t strictly true, but let us suppose it is. Fine, if that were so, then we’d have no idea from where Hegel or Marx got these ideas (even though we know that Aristotle and the Scottish School deeply influenced both Kant and Hegel, and even though Marx attributes some of his own ideas to their influence).

    But, even supposing all this is completely misguided, we ,i>do have textual evidence, published and endorsed by Marx, that tells us that as far as “his method” is concerned, Hegel might just as well never have put pen to paper, for the ‘dialectic method’ Marx used contains no Hegel at all — upside down or ‘the right way up’.

    Once more, this is the rock upon which all your vain efforts to re-mystify Marx will always founder.

    And, thanks for that letter from 1867 (concerning Marx’s alleged affirmation of that confused ‘law’ Engels lifted from Hegel): once more, he didn’t publish it.

    But, he did publish and endorse a summary of ‘the dialectic method’ which not only omits all mention of this confused ‘law’, it leaves out everything distinctively Hegelian, too.

    So: as dead a dog as one could wish to find.

    You’d be far better occupied, Ross, trying to find that missing passage, written and published by Marx, contemporaneous with or subsequent to <Das Kapital that restores this dead Hermetic dog, Hegel, to his rightful place in the Mystical Pantheon, rather than quoting unpublished/ambiguous letters (all of which I know about).

    Until you do, I will simply continue putting that non-dialectical rock in your way — you know, the one you keep ignoring since it holes your theory well below the water line.

    • So who was Marx talking about when he wrote in that same postface about the “ill-humored” boors who treated Hegel like a dead dog? Wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that they are the very same anti-Hegelian fools who Marx names in his 1870 letter to Kugelmann, where he again excoriates them for treating Hegel like a “dead dog”?

  15. Ross:

    “So who was Marx talking about when he wrote in that same postface about the ‘ill-humored’ boors who treated Hegel like a dead dog? Wouldn’t it be reasonable to assume that they are the very same anti-Hegelian fools who Marx names in his 1870 letter to Kugelmann, where he again excoriates them for treating Hegel like a ‘dead dog'”?

    They might have been, but then again they might not. I’ll leave that one to you. I’m not too sure it is all that relevant, anyway.

    Why?

    Well, the only hard evidence we have — which you insist on serially ignoring — is Marx’s own endorsement of a summary of ‘the dialectic method’, which, incidentally, treats Hegel like a ‘dead dog’. Even so, Marx had no qualms when it came to endorsing this ‘dead dog’ summary as ‘the dialectic method’, and as his method.

    In which case, if the dialectic method that Marx actually used in Das Kapital was a Hegel-free zone (and we know he used this method since he called it “my method”) then he too was in effect treating Hegel as a ‘dead dog’.

    Whatever Marx might or might not have thought about Hegel, or did or didn’t say about him in private correspondence, when push came to shove and he had to try to account for the dynamic of the capitalist economy in a scientific manner, he found he had to use a method that totally ignored Hegel (except in so far as he ‘coquetted’ with several Hegelian terms-of-art, here and there).

    In practice (never mind the fingers he might or might not have pointed at others), Marx well-and-truly nailed his colours to the ‘dead dog’ tendency.

    • You don’t think it’s relevant to establish more or less when Marx “avowed [him]self the pupil of that mighty thinker” against those ill-humored anti-Hegelian boors who declared Hegel a “dead dog”? One of the pivotal claims in your site rests on the stock you put in the past tense Marx uses in having made this avowal. But since he wrote that sentence in 1873, that past tense could refer to a day before he wrote it, a month, a year, etc. All of which would still be later than the original publication of his masterpiece, Capital. Indeed, especially since we see Marx using the exact same denunciatory rhetoric toward Lange, Duhring, etc. in letters from 1868, 1870, etc. — it is clear that Marx’s self-avowed pupilage continued beyond Capital‘s publication. By no means did he consider Hegel a dead dog, which should be obvious to anyone who has eyes to read that he repeatedly heaps scorn on those who do.

    • Also, since Marx in his letter published 1876 letter states categorically that Hegel’s dialectic provides the basic form of all dialectic, this would logically have to extend to Marx’s own dialectic as well. Whether or not you keep going back to the summary Marx provides in the postface to the second edition (which incidentally is not at all incompatible with his statements elsewhere that he’s “inverted” Hegel’s dialectic, or turned it “right side up”), clearly Marx’s published 1876 statement overrides this previous authority you invoke.

  16. Ross:

    “You don’t think it’s relevant to establish more or less when Marx “avowed [him]self the pupil of that mighty thinker” against those ill-humored anti-Hegelian boors who declared Hegel a “dead dog”?”

    Ross, I really do worry about your eyesight; look back at what you posted earlier and my reply to it:

    “They might have been, but then again they might not. I’ll leave that one to you. I’m not too sure it is all that relevant, anyway.”

    Notice, it’s to whom Marx was referring, not when he did so that I declared irrelevant.

    Can I ask you be far more circumspect in what you attribute to me? Whether I succeed or not, I do at least try to get you right. You have shown on many occasions that you are somewhat cavalier in this regard in return.

    “One of the pivotal claims in your site rests on the stock you put in the past tense Marx uses in having made this avowal.”

    It is in fact a rather minor point at my site (and here), palled almost into insignificance next to my repeated references to the summary of ‘the dialectic method’ Marx added to the Postface, both here, and in the Essay to which you referred.

    Of course, Marx must also be included among those who, in practice, if not in word, treated Hegel as a ‘dead dog’ — see my last post (the substantive aspects of which you blithely ignored — no surprise there!).

    So, let us assume for the purposes of argument that you are right, that Marx still regarded Hegel as a ‘mighty thinker’ in the mid-, to late-1870s (although not even the letter you quoted says this), even then, it is certainly possible to regard a philosopher as a ‘mighty thinker’ but reject all, or almost all, of what they say. [In the essay to which you sometimes refer, I pointed out that I think Plato was a ‘mighty thinker’ even though I disagree with nearly everything he said.]

    Can we say the same of Marx in relation to Hegel?

    Yes we can.

    And why is this Rosa?

    I’ll tell you…

    Here is the material you studiously ignored in my last post:

    “Well, the only hard evidence we have — which you insist on serially ignoring — is Marx’s own endorsement of a summary of ‘the dialectic method’, which, incidentally, treats Hegel like a ‘dead dog’. Even so, Marx had no qualms when it came to endorsing this ‘dead dog’ summary as ‘the dialectic method’, and as his method.

    “In which case, if the dialectic method that Marx actually used in Das Kapital was a Hegel-free zone (and we know he used this method since he called it “my method”) then he too was in effect treating Hegel as a ‘dead dog’.

    “Whatever Marx might or might not have thought about Hegel, or did or didn’t say about him in private correspondence, when push came to shove and he had to try to account for the dynamic of the capitalist economy in a scientific manner, he found he had to use a method that totally ignored Hegel (except in so far as he ‘coquetted’ with several Hegelian terms-of-art, here and there).

    “In practice (never mind the fingers he might or might not have pointed at others), Marx well-and-truly nailed his colours to the ‘dead dog’ tendency.”

    Consequently, even if you are right that Marx still thought Hegel a ‘mighty thinker’ in the mid-, to late-1870s, in practice he quite clearly disagreed with that logical and philosophical incompetent (my words, not his!), otherwise he wouldn’t have endorsed a summary of ‘the dialectical method’ that treated Hegel as a ‘dead dog’.

    Once more, Marx’s actions speak louder than any words you might want to attribute to him.

    You:

    “By no means did he consider Hegel a dead dog, which should be obvious to anyone who has eyes to read that he repeatedly heaps scorn on those who do.”

    As I pointed out (which is well worth repeating since you seem not to have noticed it):

    “Whatever Marx might or might not have thought about Hegel, or did or didn’t say about him in private correspondence, when push came to shove and he had to try to account for the dynamic of the capitalist economy in a scientific manner, he found he had to use a method that totally ignored Hegel (except in so far as he ‘coquetted’ with several Hegelian terms-of-art, here and there).

    “In practice (never mind the fingers he might or might not have pointed at others), Marx well-and-truly nailed his colours to the ‘dead dog’ tendency.”

    So, Ross, your theory keeps floundering on that non-dialectical rock I have mentioned several times already.

    Given what has gone before, aggravated by your selective blindness when it comes to Marx’s published words, I have no doubt I will have to point this out to you many times more.

    [I have even less doubt you will continue in this way(nor do I expect you to change, even though, according to Heraclitus, you should do — in fact you are living disproof of this aspect of ‘dialectics’) since you cling to this theory for the non-rational reasons I outlined earlier.]

    • Your claim that Marx practically regarded Hegel as a “dead dog” is controverted on numerous occasions by what he wrote himself. Sorry, but I trust what Marx said about Hegel’s continuing relevance, evidenced by his total disdain for those who declared him a “dead dog” (such as you now declare him yourself) both in private letters and the published postface, more than your efforts to remove any traces of Hegel from Marx’s mature thought. The summary to which you repeatedly direct me, and which I have no problem with whatsoever, appears in the very same postface as his condemnation of those who regard Hegel as a “dead dog.” No less than the summary, these are his published words, contemporaneous to it, and should remove all doubt as to how Marx felt about Hegel, who avowed himself the pupil of this great thinker and defended him from “ill-humored” boors and “insolent lad[s]” such as yourself.

  17. Ross (posted to distinct sounds of the wooden base plate of a barrel being scraped):

    “Also, since Marx in his letter published 1876 letter states categorically that Hegel’s dialectic provides the basic form of all dialectic, this would logically have to extend to Marx’s own dialectic as well. Whether or not you keep going back to the summary Marx provides in the postface to the second edition (which incidentally is not at all incompatible with his statements elsewhere that he’s “inverted” Hegel’s dialectic, or turned it “right side up”), clearly Marx’s published 1876 statement overrides this previous authority you invoke.”

    Well, we seem to be going over the same ground again: here is the reply to this point I posted earlier (which you also seems to have ignored — well, at least you are consistent (er… are dialecticians supposed to be consistent?)):

    1) This letter to Dietzgen is similar to the passage you quoted from the Postface. So, we ask the question: what does ‘the dialectic method’ look like when the “mystical form” has been stripped away?

    Again, we needn’t speculate, since Marx very helpfully told us: it looks like the summary he added to the Postface to Das Kapital, which Marx, not me, Marx calls “my method”, and “the dialectic method”.

    The next question (which you wisely avoid) is this: How much of this “method” is in any way comparable to Hegel’s distinctive and monumental contribution to irredeemable confusion?

    The answer quickly returns: none of it.

    As I pointed out in my last post: not even you can find anything Hegelian in this summary of ‘the dialectic method’ That is why you are forced to look to various letters (which, anyway, fail to give us the detail this summary gives us).

    In which case we are forced to conclude that when it came to applying this ‘method’, Hegel was in effect a ‘dead dog’, since Marx doesn’t actually use anything Hegelian in Das Kapital (that is, over and above merely ‘coquetting’ with a few jargonised expressions, here and there) — and, what is perhaps more annoying for you: the summary of ‘the dialectic method’ confirms this.

    So, what are the ‘true laws’ of the ‘dialectic’? Well, they can’t involve ‘dialectical contradictions’, or the ‘negation of the negation’, or ‘unities of opposites’, or ‘quantity turning into quality’, etc., since these are all absent from something Marx does call ‘the dialectic method’.

    We are forced therefore to look elsewhere, maybe back to Aristotle, Kant and the Scottish Historical School (all of whom influenced Hegel deeply). Now, you have studiously ignored the evidence supporting this contention on my part (but i borrowed it from a communist academic, as well as one or two others — follow the links I posted earlier for more details), so no wonder you are blissfully ignorant.

    In which case, this is the ‘true form of the dialectic’ (that Hegel mystified), which, once teased out, leaves nothing distinctively Hegelian behind. Once again, to put Hegel back on his feet is to see how empty his head is. How do we know? Again, this might surprise you: Marx (not Rosa), Marx told us when he called that summary “my method” and “the dialectic method”, even though Hegel is conspicuous by his absence.

    —————-

    Can we move on? Or do I have to keep reminding you of that non-dialectical rock upon which your theory keeps foundering?

  18. Ross:

    “Your claim that Marx practically regarded Hegel as a “dead dog” is controverted on numerous occasions by what he wrote himself.”

    But not by what he published in the Postface to Das Kapital, or the method he told us he use there.

    Sorry, but I trust what Marx said about Hegel’s continuing relevance, evidenced by his total disdain for those who declared him a “dead dog” (such as you now declare him yourself) both in private letters and the published postface, more than your efforts to remove any traces of Hegel from Marx’s mature thought. The summary to which you repeatedly direct me, and which I have no problem with whatsoever, appears in the very same postface as his condemnation of those who regard Hegel as a ‘dead dog.’ No less than the summary, these are his published words, contemporaneous to it, and should remove all doubt as to how Marx felt about Hegel, who avowed himself the pupil of this great thinker and defended him from ‘ill-humored’ boors and “insolent lad[s]” such as yourself.”

    Ross, there is nothing new in the above, so, as I pointed out earlier, but you still seem to want to ignore it:

    “Whatever Marx might or might not have thought about Hegel, or did or didn’t say about him in private correspondence, when push came to shove and he had to try to account for the dynamic of the capitalist economy in a scientific manner, he found he had to use a method that totally ignored Hegel (except in so far as he ‘coquetted’ with several Hegelian terms-of-art, here and there).

    “In practice (never mind the fingers he might or might not have pointed at others), Marx well-and-truly nailed his colours to the ‘dead dog’ tendency.”

    Do I here the breaching of hull timbers against yet another of those awkward non-dialectical rocks?

    Sure do…

    • Marx literally castigated those who treat Hegel as a “dead dog” in that very same 1873 postface to Capital. So your claim that Marx treated Hegel as a “dead dog” makes no sense.

  19. No, because Marx’s published words from 1876 state:

    The true laws of dialectics are already contained in Hegel though in a mystical form. What is needed is to strip away this form.

    Regardless of how you feel about Hegel, Marx here clearly states that the “true laws of dialectics” are already contained in that mighty thinker’s thought. Whether or not Marx mentioned it in the summary he provides in the 1873 postface, here is Marx stating in an 1868 letter that he gave permission to be published in 1876 that the “true laws” are in Hegel. Marx demystified Hegel’s dialectic by inverting his idealism (which is what Marx said “must” be done in the 1873 postface, by the way),

  20. Sorry, my last post should have read as follows:

    Ross:

    “Your claim that Marx practically regarded Hegel as a “dead dog” is controverted on numerous occasions by what he wrote himself.”

    But not by what he published in the Postface to Das Kapital, or the “method” he told us he used there, which method does treat Hegel as a ‘dead-dog’.

    “Sorry, but I trust what Marx said about Hegel’s continuing relevance, evidenced by his total disdain for those who declared him a “dead dog” (such as you now declare him yourself) both in private letters and the published postface, more than your efforts to remove any traces of Hegel from Marx’s mature thought. The summary to which you repeatedly direct me, and which I have no problem with whatsoever, appears in the very same postface as his condemnation of those who regard Hegel as a ‘dead dog.’ No less than the summary, these are his published words, contemporaneous to it, and should remove all doubt as to how Marx felt about Hegel, who avowed himself the pupil of this great thinker and defended him from ‘ill-humored’ boors and “insolent lad[s]” such as yourself.”

    Ross, there is nothing new in the above, so, as I pointed out earlier, but you still seem to want to ignore it:

    “Whatever Marx might or might not have thought about Hegel, or did or didn’t say about him in private correspondence, when push came to shove and he had to try to account for the dynamic of the capitalist economy in a scientific manner, he found he had to use a method that totally ignored Hegel (except in so far as he ‘coquetted’ with several Hegelian terms-of-art, here and there).

    “In practice (never mind the fingers he might or might not have pointed at others), Marx well-and-truly nailed his colours to the ‘dead dog’ tendency.”

    Do I hear the cracking of hull timbers as they smash into yet another of those awkward non-dialectical rocks?

    I sure do…

    • Nope. You write:

      when push came to shove and he had to try to account for the dynamic of the capitalist economy in a scientific manner, he found he had to use a method that totally ignored Hegel

      When Marx came to write Capital, against the fools who treated Hegel as a “dead dog,” he openly avowed himself the pupil of that great thinker. So in trying to account for the dynamic of the capitalist mode of production, in his masterpiece, he turned to Hegel, who had first clearly and consciously laid out its dialectical laws of motions, albeit in mystified (idealist) form. Marx goes on to say that Hegel’s dialectic is standing on its head and must be inverted, which is precisely what he does.

      This is what Marx himself writes in the 1873 postface, where the summary you allude to appears, so whether or not he terms like “negation of the negation,” “unity of opposites,” “transformation of quantity into quality” explicitly appear in that summary he’s already clearly indicated that his own dialectic method is an inversion of Hegel’s, placing it on a materialist basis. And not only does Marx write all this in the published 1873 postface, but in letters as well, which only increase the plausibility of this interpretation.

  21. Ross (proving yet again that Heraclitus was talking out of his rear):

    No, because Marx’s published words from 1876 state:

    The true laws of dialectics are already contained in Hegel though in a mystical form. What is needed is to strip away this form.

    Regardless of how you feel about Hegel, Marx here clearly states that the “true laws of dialectics” are already contained in that mighty thinker’s thought. Whether or not Marx mentioned it in the summary he provides in the 1873 postface, here is Marx stating in an 1868 letter that he gave permission to be published in 1876 that the “true laws” are in Hegel. Marx demystified Hegel’s dialectic by inverting his idealism (which is what Marx said “must” be done in the 1873 postface, by the way).

    Again, I have already covered this (looks like my worries about your eyesight were well founded!):

    1) This letter to Dietzgen is similar to the passage you quoted from the Postface. So, we ask the question: what does ‘the dialectic method’ look like when the “mystical form” has been stripped away?

    Again, we needn’t speculate, since Marx very helpfully told us: it looks like the summary he added to the Postface to Das Kapital, which Marx, not me, Marx calls “my method”, and “the dialectic method”.

    The next question (which you wisely avoid) is this: How much of this “method” is in any way comparable to Hegel’s distinctive and monumental contribution to irredeemable confusion?

    The answer quickly returns: none of it.

    As I pointed out in my last post: not even you can find anything Hegelian in this summary of ‘the dialectic method’ That is why you are forced to look to various letters (which, anyway, fail to give us the detail this summary gives us).

    In which case we are forced to conclude that when it came to applying this ‘method’, Hegel was in effect a ‘dead dog’, since Marx doesn’t actually use anything Hegelian in Das Kapital (that is, over and above merely ‘coquetting’ with a few jargonised expressions, here and there) — and, what is perhaps more annoying for you: the summary of ‘the dialectic method’ confirms this.

    So, what are the ‘true laws’ of the ‘dialectic’? Well, they can’t involve ‘dialectical contradictions’, or the ‘negation of the negation’, or ‘unities of opposites’, or ‘quantity turning into quality’, etc., since these are all absent from something Marx does call ‘the dialectic method’.

    We are forced therefore to look elsewhere, maybe back to Aristotle, Kant and the Scottish Historical School (all of whom influenced Hegel deeply). Now, you have studiously ignored the evidence supporting this contention on my part (but i borrowed it from a communist academic, as well as one or two others — follow the links I posted earlier for more details), so no wonder you are blissfully ignorant.

    In which case, this is the ‘true form of the dialectic’ (that Hegel mystified), which, once teased out, leaves nothing distinctively Hegelian behind. Once again, to put Hegel back on his feet is to see how empty his head is. How do we know? Again, this might surprise you: Marx (not Rosa), Marx told us when he called that summary “my method” and “the dialectic method”, even though Hegel is conspicuous by his absence.

    [Bold added.]

    I am sorry to have to repeat it, but until you acknowledge the above points, it seems I must.

    • All this is pure unsubstantiated speculation on your part. Marx nowhere says or even remotely implies that Hegel mystified the thought of Aristotle, Kant, and the Scottish School. You’d like him to have said this, but he didn’t. Rather, the “true form of dialectics” is in Hegel, as Marx explicitly states, and so I would prefer if you would leave out unfounded additions of your own. Marx demystifies Hegel by inverting him, as he also explicitly says in 1873, placing him on a materialist basis.

  22. Ross:

    Marx literally castigated those who treat Hegel as a “dead dog” in that very same 1873 postface to Capital. So your claim that Marx treated Hegel as a “dead dog” makes no sense.

    Marx isn’t the first theorist, nor will he be the last, who express inconsistent opinions (that is, using words that are inconsistent with his/her actions) — anyway, aren’t dialecticians supposed to be inconsistent (or are they only this when it suits them?).

    As I have pointed out several times, whatever Marx might or might not have said (but he nowhere outlines ‘the dialectic method’ in the letter to which you keep referring), in practice he chose to use a ‘dialectic method’ that owed nothing to Hegel, and which summary treated Hegel like a ‘dead-dog’.

    How do we know?

    Marx told us.

    So, you have a choice, Ross: you either accept the only summary of ‘the dialectic method’ Marx published and endorsed in his entire life, or you don’t (thus accepting the validity of the dread ‘law of excluded middle’, even if only here — yet another core tenet of dialectical materialism going out of the window in the meantime, along with Heraclitean change!).

    If you reject it, then there seems to be no good reason why you should accept what he had to say in his letters, or anywhere else for that matter.

    On the other hand, if you accept it, then you will have, inadvertently, inducted yourself into the Grand Old Order of Dead-Doggists, alongside Marx (and yours truly).

    • No, because there’s nothing to indicate that Marx was inconsistent in this. Clearly he thought his own dialectic method to be a rational (materialist) inversion of Hegel’s mystical (idealist) version, and thus did not consider Hegel a “dead dog” at all. The summary he endorses is perfectly compatible with this view. Just because you say he’s being inconsistent here does not make it so. It’s far likelier that you simply don’t understand dialectics, that you are an “insolent lad” like the anti-Hegelian Duhring or an “ill-humored boor” like Lange. And don’t take issue with me using these terms of insult toward you; these are the terms Marx himself used to describe anti-Hegelian fools such as yourself.

  23. Ross:

    All this is pure unsubstantiated speculation on your part. Marx nowhere says or even remotely implies that Hegel mystified the thought of Aristotle, Kant, and the Scottish School. You’d like him to have said this, but he didn’t. Rather, the “true form of dialectics” is in Hegel, as Marx explicitly states, and so I would prefer if you would leave out unfounded additions of your own. Marx demystifies Hegel by inverting him, as he also explicitly says in 1873, placing him on a materialist basis.

    Where did I say Marx said this? [Still making stuff up I see.]

    Once again, you have yet to examine the evidence that substantiates what I have alleged about Marx, Aristotle, Kant and the Scottish Historical School.

    Rather, the ‘true form of dialectics’ is in Hegel, as Marx explicitly states, and so I would prefer if you would leave out unfounded additions of your own. Marx demystifies Hegel by inverting him, as he also explicitly says in 1873, placing him on a materialist basis.

    And, what does this ‘true form’ of the dialectic look like when the mystical shell has been stripped away? [Or do you want the mystical shell to remain in place?]

    We look around, scratching our heads, when all along we forget that Marx told us what it looks like.

    “Where did he do this, Rosa?”, I hear you ask.

    I’ll tell you, Ross, and I’m really sorry I haven’t pointed this out before:

    In the Postface to the second edition of Das Kapital, Marx added a summary of “the dialectic method” which contains no trace of Hegel whatsoever, and which Marx calls “my method”.

    So, Marx’s method is a Hegel-free zone, and which, in practice, treats the latter as a ‘dead-dog’.

    Now, if you had a summary of ‘the dialectic method’ written and published by Marx which presented it along the lines that the Engels/Lenin/Ross (etc.) tradition would have us believe, you’d be ramming it down my throat.

    But you don’t have one.

    Instead, you studiously ignore the only hard evidence in our possession that tells us what Marx meant by the “rational core” of his method.

    Odd that (especially since you claim to be such a faithful adherent to his every word).

    • Where does Marx say that his dialectic method has anything to do with Aristotle, Kant, or the Scottish School? You’re making shit up. All we know is that the “true form of dialectics” was contained in Hegel, which Marx explicitly says. It’s hilarious how desperate you are to remove Hegel, that you’d isolate a single paragraph within the 1873 postface and then insist that Marx’s clear statement in the very same text that Hegel’s dialectic is simply standing on its head and must be inverted to be demystified is somehow inconsistent with his summary. Pardon me if I think it’s rather that you’re an ill-humored boor too thick to understand that they are perfectly consistent, as Marx said of all those who consider Hegel a “dead dog.”

  24. Ross:

    No, because there’s nothing to indicate that Marx was inconsistent in this.

    I note you continue to ignore the only hard evidence we have that tells us what the ‘rational core’ of ‘the dialectic’ amounts to — and, guess what, it’s a Hegel-free zone!

    Now, I nowhere asserted Marx was being inconsistent (I merely pointed out that he’d not have been the first to do this had he done it).

    Why is that?

    Well, when we look through Marx’s published work, we find a summary of ‘the dialectic method’ from which every trace of Hegel had been removed.

    Could this be the ‘rational core’ to which Marx also referred?

    Indeed, it could.

    How do we know?

    Marx told us when he called it “my method”.

    now, you can continue to ignore this, Ross (and I can safely predict you will for the reasons I outlined earlier), but, and with all due respect, you are only making a fool of yourself if you do.

    Clearly he thought his own dialectic method to be a rational (materialist) inversion of Hegel’s mystical (idealist) version, and thus did not consider Hegel a ‘dead dog’ at all. The summary he endorses is perfectly compatible with this view. Just because you say he’s being inconsistent here does not make it so. It’s far likelier that you simply don’t understand dialectics, that you are an “insolent lad” like the anti-Hegelian Dühring or an ‘ill-humored boor’ like Lange. And don’t take issue with me using these terms of insult toward you; these are the terms Marx himself used to describe anti-Hegelian fools such as yourself.

    And, as you fail to note in this increasingly emotive and emotional response, that summary contains not one atom of Hegel.

    So, Marx’s method has had Hegel totally excised, which, and once again, means that in practice, whatever he said elsewhere, he did treat Hegel as a ‘dead-dog’.

    Hence, the method Marx used in Das Kapital owed nothing to Hegel.

    Except, of course, for a few Hegelian terms-of-art with which he merely wished to ‘coquette’.

  25. Ross, in full dissembling mood now (why do fans of the dialectic all do this? — Er… we already know, since this represents an attack on their source of consolation, and just like those who bow to the East or fill the gospel halls around the world, they respond emotively and serially tell fibs):

    Where does Marx say that his dialectic method has anything to do with Aristotle, Kant, or the Scottish School?”

    Where did I say he did? [In fact, I asked this earlier, but you seem to want to repeat this fib. Can’t think why…]

    You’re making shit up.

    No, that’s your job — and, if I may say so, you’re doing an excellent job!

    All we know is that the ‘true form of dialectics’ was contained in Hegel, which Marx explicitly says.

    I’ve already covered this; here it is again(!):

    And, what does this ‘true form’ of the dialectic look like when the mystical shell has been stripped away? [Or do you want the mystical shell to remain in place?]

    We look around, scratching our heads, when all along we forget that Marx told us what it looks like.

    “Where did he do this, Rosa?”, I hear you ask.

    I’ll tell you, Ross, and I’m really sorry I haven’t pointed this out before:

    In the Postface to the second edition of Das Kapital, Marx added a summary of “the dialectic method” which contains no trace of Hegel whatsoever, and which Marx calls “my method”.

    So, Marx’s method is a Hegel-free zone, and which, in practice, treats the latter as a ‘dead-dog’.

    Now, if you had a summary of ‘the dialectic method’ written and published by Marx which presented it along the lines that the Engels/Lenin/Ross (etc.) tradition would have us believe, you’d be ramming it down my throat.

    But you don’t have one.

    Instead, you studiously ignore the only hard evidence in our possession that tells us what Marx meant by the “rational core” of his method.

    Odd that (especially since you claim to be such a faithful adherent to his every word).

    It’s hilarious how desperate you are to remove Hegel, that you’d isolate a single paragraph within the 1873 postface

    Not quite as “hilarious” as your determination to ignore the only summary of ‘the dialectic method’ (which Marx calls “my method”) that he published and endorsed in his entire life.

    and then insist that Marx’s clear statement in the very same text that Hegel’s dialectic is simply standing on its head and must be inverted to be demystified is somehow inconsistent with his summary.

    And when it is inverted, so that it is ‘the right way up’ we can all see how empty Hegel’s head really is.

    How do we know?

    Well, Marx added a summary of ‘the dialectic method’, which he also calls “my method” to the Postface…, well you know the rest –, and will, I am sure, continue to ignore it, even though it is the rock upon which….blah blah.

    Pardon me if I think it’s rather that you’re an ill-humored boor too thick to understand that they are perfectly consistent, as Marx said of all those who consider Hegel a “dead dog

    I am happy to ally myself with Marx, who, in practice did treat Hegel as a ‘dead dog’.

    Or, maybe you have at last found that missing passage, written and published by Marx, contemporaneous with or subsequent to Das Kapital, which summarises ‘the dialectic method’ in the way you wished he had?

    No?

    What a surprise…

    • And I’m happy to ally myself with the actual Marx, who would certainly not have objected to the treatment of Hegel as a “dead dog” in one moment only to practically treat him as a “dead dog” the next.

  26. I’m sorry, I missed this from earlier:

    Nope. You write:

    when push came to shove and he had to try to account for the dynamic of the capitalist economy in a scientific manner, he found he had to use a method that totally ignored Hegel

    When Marx came to write Capital, against the fools who treated Hegel as a ‘dead dog,’ he openly avowed himself the pupil of that great thinker. So in trying to account for the dynamic of the capitalist mode of production, in his masterpiece, he turned to Hegel, who had first clearly and consciously laid out its dialectical laws of motions, albeit in mystified (idealist) form. Marx goes on to say that Hegel’s dialectic is standing on its head and must be inverted, which is precisely what he does.

    Except, you continue to ignore the only summary of ‘the dialectic method’ Marx published and endorsed in his entire life, and which he (not me) he calls “my method”. In its place you substitute a fable invented by the Engels/Lenin/…/Ross tradition.

    The question is: does this summary of ‘the dialectic method’ contain anything recognizably Hegelian?

    Well, if it had, you’d have quoted it by now, wouldn’t you, Ross?

    So, by your own omission you, too, acknowledge that Marx’s method is a Hegel-free zone. [Remember, he, not me, calls it “my method”.]

    But, you have a ‘reply’ — er… of sorts:

    This is what Marx himself writes in the 1873 postface, where the summary you allude to appears, so whether or not he terms like “negation of the negation,” “unity of opposites,” “transformation of quantity into quality” explicitly appear in that summary he’s already clearly indicated that his own dialectic method is an inversion of Hegel’s, placing it on a materialist basis. And not only does Marx write all this in the published 1873 postface, but in letters as well, which only increase the plausibility of this interpretation.

    In fact, he said this:

    With him it is standing on its head. It must be turned right side up again, if you would discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell.

    So, we mustn’t just invert Hegel, we must endeavour to find the ‘rational kernel’.

    If only Marx had given us a clue what this ‘rational kernel’ was!

    Wait! What do we find only a few lines earlier in the very same Postface?

    Why this (edited)!

    “After a quotation from the preface to my ‘Criticism of Political Economy,’ Berlin, 1859, pp. IV-VII, where I discuss the materialistic basis of my method, the writer goes on:

    ‘The one thing which is of moment to Marx, is to find the law of the phenomena with whose investigation he is concerned; and not only is that law of moment to him, which governs these phenomena, in so far as they have a definite form and mutual connexion within a given historical period. Of still greater moment to him is the law of their variation, of their development, i.e., of their transition from one form into another, from one series of connexions into a different one. This law once discovered, he investigates in detail the effects in which it manifests itself in social life. Consequently, Marx only troubles himself about one thing: to show, by rigid scientific investigation, the necessity of successive determinate orders of social conditions, and to establish, as impartially as possible, the facts that serve him for fundamental starting-points. For this it is quite enough, if he proves, at the same time, both the necessity of the present order of things, and the necessity of another order into which the first must inevitably pass over; and this all the same, whether men believe or do not believe it, whether they are conscious or unconscious of it. Marx treats the social movement as a process of natural history, governed by laws not only independent of human will, consciousness and intelligence, but rather, on the contrary, determining that will, consciousness and intelligence. … If in the history of civilisation the conscious element plays a part so subordinate, then it is self-evident that a critical inquiry whose subject-matter is civilisation, can, less than anything else, have for its basis any form of, or any result of, consciousness. That is to say, that not the idea, but the material phenomenon alone can serve as its starting-point. Such an inquiry will confine itself to the confrontation and the comparison of a fact, not with ideas, but with another fact. For this inquiry, the one thing of moment is, that both facts be investigated as accurately as possible, and that they actually form, each with respect to the other, different momenta of an evolution; but most important of all is the rigid analysis of the series of successions, of the sequences and concatenations in which the different stages of such an evolution present themselves. But it will be said, the general laws of economic life are one and the same, no matter whether they are applied to the present or the past….

    “Whilst the writer pictures what he takes to be actually my method, in this striking and [as far as concerns my own application of it] generous way, what else is he picturing but the dialectic method?”

    [Bold added, since I suspect you, Ross, need to book an appointment with the Opticians.]

    Well, that’s a puzzle and no mistake.

    A few lines before telling us we need strip away the mystical shell to expose the ‘rational core’ we have the only summary of ‘the dialectic method’ Marx published and endorsed in his entire life.

    What a coincidence!

    Who’d have thought it!

    Hang on a minute! This summary contains not one single Hegelian concept! No “contradictions”, no change of “quantity into quality”, no “negation of the negation”, no “unity and identity of opposites”, no “interconnected Totality”, no “universal change” –, and yet Marx still calls this the “dialectic method”, and says of it that it is “my method”.
    All a few lines before he told us we need to locate the ‘rational core’.

    So, putting two and two together we may safely conclude that this ‘rational core’, and Marx’s own “method”. has had Hegel completely excised –, except for the odd phrase or two, “here and there”, with which he merely “coquetted” (**).

    Hence, as I have been alleging all along, the method Marx used in his masterpiece owes nothing whatsoever to Hegel (except, of course, for the above jargon (**)).

  27. Ross, with a truly touching display of faith (based on no evidence at all, so this is genuine faith, folks — comparable to that of any self-respecting ‘god-botherer’):

    And I’m happy to ally myself with the actual Marx, who would certainly not have objected to the treatment of Hegel as a “dead dog” in one moment only to practically treat him as a “dead dog” the next.

    And yet that is precisely what he did, since, as he himself indicated, Das Kapital owes nothing whatsoever to Hegel, upside down or ‘the right way up’ — as I have shown.

    [Except, of course, for the ‘coquetted’ jargon.]

  28. The latter part of my last reply but one was somehow garbled, so here is the correct version:

    [Bold added, since I suspect you, Ross, need to book an appointment with the Opticians.]

    Well, that’s a puzzle and no mistake.

    A few lines before telling us we need strip away the mystical shell to expose the ‘rational core’ we find the only summary of ‘the dialectic method’ Marx published and endorsed in his entire life.

    What a coincidence!

    Who’d have thought it!

    Hang on a minute! This summary contains not one single Hegelian concept! No “contradictions”, no change of “quantity into quality”, no “negation of the negation”, no “unity and identity of opposites”, no “interconnected Totality”, no “universal change” –, and yet Marx still calls this the “dialectic method”, and says of it that it is “my method”.

    All a few lines before he told us we need to locate the ‘rational core’.

    So, putting two and two together we may safely conclude that this ‘rational core’, and Marx’s own “method”. has had Hegel completely excised –, except for the odd phrase or two, “here and there”, with which he merely “coquetted” (**).

    Hence, as I have been alleging all along, the method Marx used in his masterpiece owes nothing whatsoever to Hegel (except, of course, for the above jargon (**)).

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