File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/97-01-29.113, message 39

Date: Tue, 28 Jan 1997 03:22:45 -0500 (EST)
Subject: M-I: Dialectics [Round 5 part 1]

Andrew Wayne Austin,

                       Setting of Parameters

1. We have carried on this discussion with an excellent rapport. And I must
profusely thank you for your cordiality. You have been accused of being an
anti-marxist, this, that and the other. I do not suspect you to be so. I
still maintain that you are a marxist, we are more or less sharing the same
but certain misunderstandings, lead to you and others to believe, what you call
Historical Materialism and what I call Dialectical Materialism are two
different things. I maintain that they are the self same thing. The only way
we can find this out is by first eliminating the misunderstandings. Then we
narrow down and examine whether real differences exist. There will have to
be, for the reason that neither you nor I are perfect marxist pundits, and
our interpretations are bound to differ here and there. But if there are
sharp and irreconcilable contradictions, that will reveal that either your
or my view is unmarxist or antimarxist or whatever. Until then we will
proceed with unbiased, open minds.

2. Removal of misunderstandings:
One of the things you were accused of was, the recourse to bourgeois
philosophical categories. This is to a certain extent legitimate for the
following reason. As a marxist you would know that the concepts we use are
not our own. They are a part of our social being. In an alienated society,
philosophical concepts are permeated, not only with bourgeois thought, but
the concepts themselves reflect alienation. That is they lack clarity and
have a weak interconnection to other concepts and historical roots. You may
understand marxist texts perfectly, but when you express your views in terms
of a myriad of concepts developed by bourgeois philosophers, for the reader
it becomes extremely hard to understand what you mean. That is, they are
bound to get misunderstood. One the other hand if we use standard marxist
categories, like form and content, chance and necessity, abstract and
concrete etc, etc, etc, then chances of misunderstanding are eliminated. If
we accept that the Marxian system is correct, then to describe it we must
use its own concepts as far as possible. Foreign concepts taint the
meanings. However, I can not expect you to change your terminology and
vocabulary, overnight and altogether. Therefore as a prelude to Round 5
proper, I request you to define and describe certain terms that you use to
describe dialectical materialism, like "scientize", etc. I will scan the
relevant areas and inform you what these terms are. I will try to keep these
down to a minimum. This is important for the future as well. We will meet on
other topics too, and in them if you happen to use these terms, I will know
exactly what you mean.

Response Time:
I hope you will not be displeased with me for saying this; however, I find
that you tend to go for very literal meanings of words and concepts. You
tend to look at them in a strict legalist fashion. This could well be the
reason that you have lately made many a posting correcting yourself. Let us
try to avoid this. We are in no hurry. Take your time, please read and
understand what I say. My mother tongue is not English, so there are bound
to be syntactical errors, which could lead to misunderstanding. Therefore
please read my posts carefully and formulate your reply.

There can be instances, where certain matters are explained and already
clarified but on later occasions, these creep back into your argument to
substantiate your position. (I do not know whether I am also doing the same
unintentionally). As Marx says "You throw it out of the door comes through
the window".

"No Jack in the Box"
Let us try to avoid, little bit here little bit there type of running respones
where bits and pieces are tackled in an ad hoc manner. Jacks in the boxes
only clog up the list. Instead, let us take area by area and cover them
thoroughly. As I did earlier, I will respond only to the main points, I
deliberately leave out some points which I think are of lesser importance.
But when this happens, if you are not satisfied, you may ask for answers.

"Not to Win But to Take Part":
At the time of the original Olympics, commodity production was undeveloped
and the sense and urgency of competition in man was in its infancy. So they
could hold Olympics true to the spirit of the above motto. Now in the final
phase of commodity production the spirit has turned to the opposite of this
motto. It has not only become absolutely necessary to win, but it has also
become necessary to rub it in. After winning, it has become the habit to
show their flag on their vests and utter and mutter. As social being of this
era, we too are afflicted with this. Let us suppres this tendency.

This "debate" is not to decide who is the winner and who is the loser. What
we are engaged in is a constructive dialogue. With open minds let us
acknowledge when the other side is correct. I have noticed you referring to
me in your posts as detractor or opponent. I am neither your detrator or
opponent. Certainly not a detractor. I have acknowledged as many correct
points in you as in Siddartha's. You may use any word you like for the want
of a better word, but please do not get prejudiced by its literal meaning.
Let us co-operate in the search for the truth.

"Burden of Proof"
(This is to give you enough time to find the sources).
a) You are alleging, dialectical materialism to have this misconception or
that. It would therefore be necessary for you to quote from original
sources, of this malady within marxism, that is from Engels and Lenin to
substantiate your contentions. Otherwise, it would be tantamount to your own
illconceived opinions or from malicious publications. And that is not valid.
(You may remember that in my first posting I informed Siddartha, that if he
has to substantiate, he will have to rely only from Marx, leaving out
Engels, Lenin and others. This is the reverse principle of that).

b) Talking about malice, in one of your posts, you implied Engels to be a
(I was expecting Adolfo to take you on and give you the works, but to my
surprise that did not happen). To do justice, the passages must be seen in
their proper context. Please check where they originally should have been,
and give us the reference. On the other hand if you got them second hand,
please quote the
source and fax me (416-281-8001) the chapters to examine the context.(This
is to relieve you of the burden of having to type in the quote in your post.

"Foot in the door"
In order to get my foot in the door for a discussion on science, expecting
some one else to pick up the thread, I made a seemingly outrageous comment
at the end of my post. The 4th Law of Dialectics. I wanted it to appear that
I am putting my foot in my mouth. While I am convinced about this, that was
not the place to declare it. Unfortunately you caught it. You made your
comment in your post to me and that was that. But in a subsequent outside
post in your own words you mocked me. (I don't care a sausage about it, I
asked for it). Since you mocked me I now have the legitimate openning to
talk about it in our debate. Such subjects were earlier closed by you. You
said you did not want to get into a discussion on physics or maths. When I
cover this section, it is not obligatory on your part to make a response on
that. It may be considered that it is for the gallery.

Just like me, there may be certain matters you would want put in as
background conditions. I request you to let me know. Also since Siddartha is
waiting for round 6 he may also suggest certain conditions. All these for
the smooth conduct of the discussion.

Best regards/ Viraj

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