Complaint to Socialist Unity

We recently received a complaint.

The background to this was an article about the struggle of indigenous peoples in Peru, that used the term “dialectical materialism” in the article title. This term was used by the author to simply be an alternative term for Marxism. None of the content of the article referred to philosophy.

Unfortunately, a person using the pseudonym Rosa Lichetenstein decided this was an open door to introduce their theory that the historical failures of the left are related to philosophy. This diverted the debate away from the substantive issue of indigenous struggles in the Americas, into an obscure argument about philosophy, that is not consistent with the general tenor of the Socialist unity blog.

It s unfortunate that one of the commenters used an offensive swear word to describe Rosa, this would have been deleted as outside our comments policy had I noticed it.

The complainant believes that anyone seeking to argue against dialectical materialism will be ridiculed, and says he feels intimidated by this. However, it is my view that Rosa deliberately acted outside the spirit of this blog by posting off topic, and by rudely implying that anyone not interested in debating this obscure question of philosophy with him was declining to do so only because they are unable to do so. It is hard to imagine any circumstances where this blog would ever invite a discussion of Rosa’s Lichtenstein’s ideas – however Rosa has his own web-site and his own mechanisms of promoting his ideas.

It is unfortunate that sometimes the debate on blogs becomes rude, but it should be pointed out that Rosa is quite rude himself. Posting off topic is sometimes useful as a way of sharing breaking news, but to pursue an off topic discussion is cheeky.

To the Socialist Unity Administrators,

First of all, may I remind you of your own comments policy:

Comments policy

We will delete racist, homophobic, sexist, and derogatory comments about people with physical disabilities or mental distress. Comments will also be deleted that are offensive and insulting about individuals. We will also delete comments by “trolls”, i.e those people whose purpose is to impede debate and who post comments with no regard to the subject matter of debate but whose sole purpose and intention is the baiting of other people

We expect comrades to behave in a comradely and fraternal way and to treat each other with respect. We will moderate comments in a way that a Chair moderates a meeting.

Bad behaviour stifles debate. It infringes upon others right to freedom of speech.

However, from very early on in the thread http://socialistunity.com/?p=3044, Rosa Lichtenstein was subjected to abuse and ridicule from Andy Newman. Indeed, Andy Newman had set the path clear for other contributors to hurl insults. He continues in arguing in bad faith and insists in his deployment of the pejoratives including: ‘ridiculous, juvenile, obsessive, boring, etc’. He also makes plenty of belittling remarks including: ‘If anyone could be bothered to seriously debate him they would much more seriously research their position, and make much sharper arguments.’. This bullying was then carried on by other contributors opposed to Rosa eventually resulting in David Ellis referring to Rosa as a ‘lying C**t’ – http://socialistunity.com/?p=3057 comment #68.

Rosa’s contributions to the thread were appropriate given the title and content of the original thread. Her position was to argue against Dialectical Materialism, a subject to which she spends a good deal of energy refuting. Her work is of particular value to those including myself who are interested in Marxism but who reject the orthodox acceptance of the meta-physical theories of Dialectics. I was especially disappointed with the contempt Andy Newman displayed and what he considers an appropriate way to debate this issue despite of the Socialist Unity’s blog Comment Policy.

I believe it is only fair that Andy Newman posts a public apology to Rosa Lichtenstein on the Socialist Unity Blog, given that he and Derek Wall have ostensibly broken the comments policy.

Up until now I had been largely happy with the standard of content and comments on the Socialist Unity blog. But I feel alienated somewhat in the knowledge that I or anyone else who is not a dialectician, can only expect ridicule and abuse whenever their views are put across in opposition to dialectics.

94 comments on “Complaint to Socialist Unity

  1. Can I just say, regardless of the rights and wrongs of this particular case that I have found the site Rosa runs interesting enough to have cut and pasted some of it onto my memory stick.

  2. David Ellis on said:

    Apologies to Rosa. I got a bit wound up by someone who came to discuss philosophy and method but then refused to answer a simple philosophical question on the grounds that he was not a scientist. I found it dishonest and over-reacted. I believe you called me a t**t as well but please do not feel intimidated. You did invite me to join the discussion at RevLeft afterwards so it can’t have been too bad. Anyway, sorry. Have a think about my original question though and I think you’ll find you’ve been waisting your life on your anti-dialectic campaign.

  3. Adamski on said:

    “Rosa Lichtenstein was subjected to abuse and ridicule from Andy Newman. Indeed, Andy Newman had set the path clear for other contributors to hurl insults. He continues in arguing in bad faith and insists in his deployment of the pejoratives including: ‘ridiculous, juvenile, obsessive, boring, etc’. He also makes plenty of belittling remarks including: ‘If anyone could be bothered to seriously debate him they would much more seriously research their position, and make much sharper arguments.’. This bullying was then carried on by other contributors”

    This seems an acurate summary. I would propose that Andy is banned for 3 months from this site. This seems like the most just and appropriate penalty.

  4. mark anthony france on said:

    Well, well well… I remember feeling a little annoyed by Rosa’s attempts to hijack a discussion on Hugo Blanco and indigenous struggles in Peru…. and followed the mounting frustrations of Andy, Dave and other’ as they reluctantly engaged in a defence of dialectical materialism.

    There are frequent occasions when frustrations lead to excessive language and everyone should endeavour to curb their enthusiams…and remain patient and polite

  5. I think internet abuse is wrong but I bet Alan Garcia is laughing all the way to the next corporate mining project that will displace indigenous people, destroy the Amazon and accelerate climate change.

  6. bhangraboy on said:

    off-topic but did people see this debate?
    am surprised not to have seen it mentioend here. and also isn’t it swp bulletin time? anyone seen them yet?

  7. bhangraboy on said:

    link didn’t come through – was pointing to averypublicsociologist dot blogspot dot com talking about the sp / swp debate.

  8. Charles Dexter Ward on said:

    >>This diverted the debate away from the substantive issue of indigenous struggles in the Americas, into an obscure argument about philosophy>>

    I thought that was the point of Marxism.

  9. Surprised:

    “Anyone else think its weird that ‘Rosa’ pretends to be a woman online??”

    What do you mean ‘pretend’? Comrades, it seems, are still confusing me with my ex-partner; why this is so, I have no idea.

    And yes, I can be rude in response to the almost unremitting hostility and rudeness I have faced from comrades for over 25 years (who, even now, can’t defend their ‘theory’, but react emotionally to my demolition of it). But it wasn’t always like that. I used to be a model of politeness, but that did not stem the flow of abuse, lies and scatological language I received from fans of ‘the dialectic’.

    So now I always give as good as I get (often worse); apparently, abusive comrades expect me to take it all lying down, and that I should be all sweetness and light in the face of their unremittingly boorish behaviour.

    And David Ellis, I explained why I refused to pass comment on that irrelevant question you asked. If you have a problem with my explanation, let’s hear it, but don’t just ignore it.

    Finally, I think that the idea that I ‘hijacked’ a thread that had ‘dialectical materialism’ in its title, and was about the ideas of a comrade who swore by this defective ‘theory’, is a joke.

  10. Green Socialist on said:

    I have my suspicions of Dialectical Materialism, but the thrust of the article was not about Marxist philosophy but on events on the ground in South America, those of us who are not students of Marxism and Marxist philosophy (at least me) got a bit lost trying to follow the thread.
    I think that perhaps Rosa Lichtenstein’s ideas are worth an article of their own, which deal specifically with the arguments on dialectics, rather than taking over other discussions here.
    Its good that ideas are challenged but if people feel the tread is getting off message they get rather irritated.

  11. Karen Elliot on said:

    “Anyone else think its weird that ‘Rosa’ pretends to be a woman online??”

    Rosa has already explained this perfectly lucidly;

    “Dialectical ‘Logic’ derives from Hegel’s (deliberate) misunderstanding of Aristotle…. Hegel thought that certain sentences contained an in-built contradiction.

    If we use Lenin’s example:
    J1: Rosa is a man.
    we can see where this idea came from, and thus where it goes astray… Hegel accepted a theory invented by Medieval Roman Catholic theologians… that re-interprets propositions like J1 in the following way:
    J2: Rosa is identical with Manhood.
    The former “is” of predication was replaced by an “is” of identity. The argument then went as follows: since Rosa cannot be identical with a general term (or, rather, with what it represents, a universal), we must conclude the following:
    J3: Rosa is not identical with Manhood.
    But then again, if Rosa is a man, he must be identical with (or at least he must share in) what other men are, so we must now conclude:
    J4: Rosa is not not identical with Manhood.
    Or, more simply:
    J5: Rosa is not a non-man.

    Inshort – it’s Medieval Roman Catholic theologians who should carry the can here, not the Wittgensteinian Rosa, who speak always simply, pelucidly clearly. See?

    I myself would never pose as a woman. It’s unseemly and confusing for everyone.

  12. Thankyou for that amusing parody Karen, but how does that affect the argument?

    And, why have you bought into the confusion I mentioned above. Namely, this:

    “What do you mean ‘pretend’? Comrades, it seems, are still confusing me with my ex-partner; why this is so, I have no idea.”

    Finally:

    “In short – it’s Medieval Roman Catholic theologians who should carry the can here, not the Wittgensteinian Rosa, who speak[s] always simply, pelucidly clearly. See?”

    Have you tried to read Hegel’s badly misnamed ‘Logic’? If not, then you have no idea what ‘lack of clarity’ means. If you have, then you have no room to poke any fingers at me.

  13. Green Socialist:

    “I think that perhaps Rosa Lichtenstein’s ideas are worth an article of their own, which deal specifically with the arguments on dialectics, rather than taking over other discussions here.

    Its good that ideas are challenged but if people feel the tread is getting off message they get rather irritated.”

    I agree, but experience over the last 25 years has taught me that comrades are ill-equipped to take me on (Karen above being just the latest example), and so they either raise irrelevant points (as David Ellis did), or fabricate words to put in my mouth (as Andy did several times) — or they just become abusive (like Mike).

  14. “…but experience over the last 25 years has taught me that comrades are ill-equipped to take me on…”

    Can the appropriate equipment be purchased, or leased perhaps?

    Are you, in any way, related to John Rees?

  15. Experiance tells me that I’m always right. Other people nevertheless persist in disagreeing with me. If only they understood the rules of formal logic. They would realise they were simply talking absurd nonsense. So I’m very sympathetic to Rosa’s difficulty here. It would be perposterous to even imply that the reason people are dismissive is because of the quality of her arguments. Simply illogical. Why I can remember Rosa putting a photo of a man with a burning paper bag on his head up on her blog to refute an argument I never made. I mean, how can you can argue with that?

    Incidently who on earth complained? Thats the really funny thing about this.

  16. Did you follow the original threads and the subsequent complaint johng?

    Or do you regard ridicule as an acceptable means of debate?

    Consider:

    ‘Up until now I had been largely happy with the standard of content and comments on the Socialist Unity blog. But I feel alienated somewhat in the knowledge that I or anyone else who is not a dialectician, can only expect ridicule and abuse whenever their views are put across in opposition to dialectics.’

    I consider the comments to this thread as a case in point.

  17. “This diverted the debate away from the substantive issue of indigenous struggles in the Americas, into an obscure argument about philosophy, that is not consistent with the general tenor of the Socialist unity blog.”

    So you were innocently swept along in this but after the glass ‘incident’ it’s now all too obscure.

  18. Ah, MrG puts another bag over his head:

    “Experiance tells me that I’m always right. Other people nevertheless persist in disagreeing with me. If only they understood the rules of formal logic. They would realise they were simply talking absurd nonsense. So I’m very sympathetic to Rosa’s difficulty here. It would be perposterous to even imply that the reason people are dismissive is because of the quality of her arguments. Simply illogical. Why I can remember Rosa putting a photo of a man with a burning paper bag on his head up on her blog to refute an argument I never made. I mean, how can you can argue with that?”

    I see, you *still* can’t respond to my demolition of your ‘theory’ — but have to tell yet more lies about my ideas.

    No change there then from someoone who *says* he believes in universal change…

    —————————–

    By the way, anyone who wants to see MrG here slapped about a bit and well and truly put in his place, check these out:

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/Born%20Again%20Mystic.htm

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/brick_head_rides_again.htm

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/Brickhead_Strikes_Again.htm

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/dogmatic_bumbler_compounds_his_errors.htm

  19. Karen Elliot on said:

    “comrades are ill-equipped to take me on (Karen above being just the latest example)”

    Darling Rosa, please at least entertain the possibility that some of us, who are also thoroughly familiar with formal logic, Wittgenstein, Marx and Hegel, simply prefer not to debate with you due to the shrill, confused, declamatory style of debate you prefer, in which philosophy figures only as a set of lessons to be absorbed.

    On a brighter note, you have reminded me of a lecturer I had many years ago who specialised in Wittgenstein and used to tell of how his party trick for years had been to laughingly read out passages of Hegel’s Logic to easily impressed post-graduates and academics and defy anyone in the room to make logical sense of them. Sadly, after doing this for many years, one day he was demonstrating his trick for the umpteenth time when he suddenly realised that the Logic and that it made perfect sense. From that point he felt obliged to start explaining Hegel to his gaggle of Wittgenstein groupies rather than sneering along with them.

  20. Karen:

    “Darling Rosa, please at least entertain the possibility that some of us, who are also thoroughly familiar with formal logic, Wittgenstein, Marx and Hegel, simply prefer not to debate with you due to the shrill, confused, declamatory style of debate you prefer, in which philosophy figures only as a set of lessons to be absorbed.”

    Ah, yet another chicken.

    “On a brighter note, you have reminded me of a lecturer I had many years ago who specialised in Wittgenstein and used to tell of how his party trick for years had been to laughingly read out passages of Hegel’s Logic to easily impressed post-graduates and academics and defy anyone in the room to make logical sense of them. Sadly, after doing this for many years, one day he was demonstrating his trick for the umpteenth time when he suddenly realised that the Logic and that it made perfect sense. From that point he felt obliged to start explaining Hegel to his gaggle of Wittgenstein groupies rather than sneering along with them.”

    Yes, and some Marxists also become Christians. Does that imply we should all copy them, or accept their treachery?

  21. Karen Elliot on said:

    “Ah, yet another chicken.”

    Ironically, but not hilariously, this may be because I fear the hammer blow of your dialectics.

    “So, for nearly fifteen years now, Party YYYY has been a fraction of its former size.” (RL, here)

    I seem to remember that comrade RXXX who (it is widely felt, even among his peers) has made the most significant and original contribution to the state of affairs you describe, actually began his philosophico-political career precisely by hammering away at those of us who took Engel’s ‘Dialectics of Nature’ seriously.

    “..you mystics”

    I’m not a mystic but, for the record, I am given over to blood sacrifices, papal bans and the muttering of diabolical curses.

    “Dialectical Marxism [DIM] is the most unsuccessful major political movement in human history — bar none”

    And precisely how are Wittgenstein’s troops fairing these days? My understanding was that they were inclined to “leave everything as it is”, so perhaps it is unfair to expect them actually to show progress…

  22. KE:

    “Ironically, but not hilariously, this may be because I fear the hammer blow of your dialectics.”

    Still a chicken, though.

    “I seem to remember that comrade RXXX who (it is widely felt, even among his peers) has made the most significant and original contribution to the state of affairs you describe, actually began his philosophico-political career precisely by hammering away at those of us who took Engel’s ‘Dialectics of Nature’ seriously.”

    Maybe so, but what has this got to do with anything?

    And why have you linked to the abbreviations section of my site?

    “I’m not a mystic but, for the record, I am given over to blood sacrifices, papal bans and the muttering of diabolical curses.”

    Yes, I can see why you have to resort to rather weak humour (a quip I have heard more times than dialectical Marxists have screwed up) to disguise the fact that you can’t defend your ‘theory’.

    “And precisely how are Wittgenstein’s troops fairing these days? My understanding was that they were inclined to “leave everything as it is”, so perhaps it is unfair to expect them actually to show progress…”

    It doesn’t matter how “Wittgenstein’s troops” are fairing these days, since they were not so foolish as to claim that truth is tested in practice. But, you mystics have unwisely accepted this mantra, and it has back-fired on you since it reveals that history has refuted your ‘theory’.

    And, I thought you said you knew all about Wittgenstein? If you do you will also know that when he said that “philosophy leaves everything as it is” he was referring to his understanding of philosophy (not traditional philosophy) and thus that it is up to science, technology and political action therefore to change things (as Marx also indicated).

    But, I note you actually had to *misquote* him to try to make that slur stick; so perhaps you too are not equipped to take me on…

  23. Anonymous on said:

    “I note you actually had to *misquote* him to try to make that slur stick”

    how did I misquote him? It’s a direct quote, from PI #124.

    “… ‘Wittgenstein’s troops’… were not so foolish as to claim that truth is tested in practice.”

    Re. the proposition, ‘truth is tested in practice’: If practice isn’t the test of truth, then stop applying that test to dialectical materialism, claiming that it has ‘failed’. If, on the other hand, practice is the test of truth, then please apply that test also to your beloved Wittgensteinian philosophy.

    but, one way or the other, stop wriggling like a fscking eel.

  24. I assume that ‘anonymous’ is Karen:

    “It’s a direct quote, from PI #124.”

    In fact, you edited out a significant section:

    “Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it.

    “For it cannot give it any foundation either.

    “It leaves everything as it is.”

    You just quoted this:

    “leave everything as it is” where the “everything” is unqualified.

    In the original passage, the “everything” is clearly referring to language, not everything tout court.

    In that sense, you misquoted him.

    Karen:

    “Re. the proposition, ‘truth is tested in practice’: If practice isn’t the test of truth, then stop applying that test to dialectical materialism, claiming that it has ‘failed’. If, on the other hand, practice is the test of truth, then please apply that test also to your beloved Wittgensteinian philosophy.”

    Lenin:

    “From living perception to abstract thought, and from this to practice, — such is the dialectical path of the cognition of truth, of the cognition of objective reality.” [Lenin ‘Philosophical Notebooks’, p.171.]

    Marx:

    “The question whether objective truth can be attributed to human thinking is not a question of theory but is a practical question. Man must prove the truth — i.e. the reality and power, the this-sidedness of his thinking in practice. The dispute over the reality or non-reality of thinking that is isolated from practice is a purely scholastic question.

    “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” [Marx ‘Theses on Feuerbach’.]

    A host of other dialecticians can be quoted who say more or less the same thing.

    On that see here:

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%20010_01.htm

    Now, if the ‘dialectical path of cognition’ is indeed practice, then the last 150 years of the almost total failure of Dialectical Marxism returns just one verdict: history has refuted this ‘theory’.

    “then please apply that test also to your beloved Wittgensteinian philosophy.”

    Why should I if Wittgensteinianism is not a political movement, and if doesn’t it make grandiose claims that ‘the path of cognition’ is practice?

    Even so, I am happy to admit the abject failure of Wittgensteinianism if you will also admit the abject failure of Dialectical Marxism.

    But will you?

    I doubt it.

    “stop wriggling like a fscking eel.”

    I am sorry — am I copying you too much?

  25. The last part should, of course, read:

    Why should I if Wittgensteinianism is not a political movement, and if it doesn’t make grandiose claims that ‘the path of cognition’ is practice?

    Even so, I am happy to admit the abject failure of Wittgensteinianism if you will also admit the abject failure of Dialectical Marxism.

    But will you?

    I doubt it.

    “stop wriggling like a fscking eel.”

    I am sorry — am I copying you too much?

  26. Karen Elliot on said:

    “In the original passage, the “everything” is clearly referring to language, not everything tout court.”

    Sadly for you, my slippery little elver, language (broadly conceived) is the one and only concern of Wittgenstein’s philosophy. So, whereas it ‘only’ leaves language ‘as it is’, it also limits itself ‘only’ to language. Therefore, qua philosophy, it leaves Everything (big ‘E’) as it is. Which means that my quote not only not a misquote in the literal sense, but it also represents the philosophy fairly, so it is accurate in the wider sense too.

    Having shown ‘the fly the way out of the fly bottle’, the fly is abandoned by Wittgenstein to spend the rest of it’s life eating shit.

    “I am sorry — am I copying you too much?”

    No, No. If you were able to copy me at all you would immediately become far less dreary, mon petit congre.

  27. Karen Elliot on said:

    Having said that, I have now decided to abandon this discussion. From this point forward you, Rosa Lichtenstein, have been placed in THE BOX and the lid has been firmly shut. While you are in THE BOX you are forbidden to talk to me or anyone else on this blog without prior permission. At some point in the future you may be removed from THE BOX at my discretion. But until such time, consider yourself grounded.

  28. KE:

    “Sadly for you, my slippery little elver, language (broadly conceived) is the one and only concern of Wittgenstein’s philosophy. So, whereas it ‘only’ leaves language ‘as it is’, it also limits itself ‘only’ to language. Therefore, qua philosophy, it leaves Everything (big ‘E’) as it is. Which means that my quote not only not a misquote in the literal sense, but it also represents the philosophy fairly, so it is accurate in the wider sense too.”

    But, this is not so, for Wittgenstein himself criticised mathematics (and in particular Gödel’s theorem) — in fact, 3/4s of his work was in this area, and he regarded it as his most important contribution. If correct, that would change much of modern mathematics.

    Moreover, as he said to Norman Malcolm: philosophy is no use unless it helps clarify our thoughts, and that this cannot but help in the formation of our political ideas.

    Furthermore, as other Wittgensteinians have shown, his ideas affect how we view science.

    So, the ‘leave everything as it is’ comment applies only to language (as he indicated). Wittgenstein’s ideas, on the other hand, can change things. Indeed, *if* I am right, then my ideas will represent the biggest change in Marxist philosophy in 150 years.

    So, nice try — only it wasn’t. You still misquoted him.

    “No, No. If you were able to copy me at all you would immediately become far less dreary, mon petit congre.”

    Better dreary than mystical.

    “Having said that, I have now decided to abandon this discussion. From this point forward you, Rosa Lichtenstein, have been placed in THE BOX and the lid has been firmly shut. While you are in THE BOX you are forbidden to talk to me or anyone else on this blog without prior permission. At some point in the future you may be removed from THE BOX at my discretion. But until such time, consider yourself grounded.”

    As I said: censored. You can’t cope, can you? I did say you mystics were ill-equipped to take me on.

    “Having shown ‘the fly the way out of the fly bottle’, the fly is abandoned by Wittgenstein to spend the rest of it’s life eating shit.”

    Hope you enjoy your meal.:)

  29. Karen Elliot on said:

    This is not censorship – we can all hear you and you are permitted to say what you will. It is simply that I will not respond to your arguments unless you first ask – nicely – to be let out of THE BOX.

  30. Karen Elliot on said:

    On second thoughts, in the interests of democracy I’ll concede that I shall allow you out of THE BOX only when and if you call for a public vote right here and the majority of the audience vote to let you out of THE BOX which, through your foolish actions, you have allowed yourself to be deposited in.

    Let no one say that I lack mercy.

  31. Karen Elliot on said:

    Either that, or a simple, polite request from you will do the trick… I don’t care which. Until then, you will hear nothing from me. I am in your hands.

  32. Karen Elliot on said:

    Comrade Vengence, has it ever occurred to you that ‘ROSA LICHTENSTEIN’ is an anagram of ‘ANTITHESIS CLONER’?!

    What a fsck!ng giveaway…! Does he think we don’t notice these things?

  33. KE:

    “This is not censorship – we can all hear you and you are permitted to say what you will. It is simply that I will not respond to your arguments unless you first ask – nicely – to be let out of THE BOX.”

    Ok, I was wrong — in fact you are just sulking.

    “On second thoughts, in the interests of democracy I’ll concede that I shall allow you out of THE BOX only when and if you call for a public vote right here and the majority of the audience vote to let you out of THE BOX which, through your foolish actions, you have allowed yourself to be deposited in.

    Let no one say that I lack mercy.”

    I rather like it in the box, since it confirms I am indeed too much for you to handle.

    “A sort of Socialist Unity version of the old Roman Catholic Index.

    Either that, or a simple, polite request from you will do the trick… I don’t care which. Until then, you will hear nothing from me. I am in your hands.”

    Please can I stay in the box.
    And if your responses here are anything to go by, your replies will not be sorely missed.

    ———————

    Vengence of History:

    “But Rosa how does Zane Grey fit into all of this?”

    I see that the annual service for your ‘relevance’ chip is long overdue, either that or you just like being enigmatic.

    ——————-

    “Comrade Vengence, has it ever occurred to you that ‘ROSA LICHTENSTEIN’ is an anagram of ‘ANTITHESIS CLONER’?!

    What a fsck!ng giveaway…! Does she think we don’t notice these things?”

    [Incorrect pronoun corrected.]

    Which confirms yet again that you lot are seriously ill-equipped to take me on — your ‘best’ point so far is an anagram!

    Ouch…

  34. Anonymous on said:

    why dont the mob of you dileticians have a witch hunt and burn rosa at the stake? scary you all call yourself marxists. interesting mob justice you are proposing karen, oh, but maybe you like to call it ‘democratizing the forum’. frankly i’d be extremely worried if you helped lead any type of revolution. you know what the ‘box’ becomes in fascist state….? even the fact that you chose the apt metaphor ‘box’ is worrying, but we won’t read into too much…

    the catholic church locked galileo away, to maintain control… so i guess you are in good company.

    maybe you can pray for rosa so that she might see the light? like your aforementioned wittgensteinian professor.

    and when hegel came down from the mountain, he held the the testimony…. and all the people went ‘ooooooooohhh’

  35. why dont the mob of you dileticians have a witch hunt and burn rosa at the stake? scary you all call yourself marxists. interesting mob justice you are proposing karen, oh, but maybe you like to call it ‘democratizing the forum’. frankly i’d be extremely worried if you helped lead any type of revolution. you know what the ‘box’ becomes in fascist state….? even the fact that you chose the apt metaphor ‘box’ is worrying, but we won’t read into too much…

    the catholic church locked galileo away, to maintain control… so i guess you are in good company.

    maybe you can pray for rosa so that she might see the light? like your aforementioned wittgensteinian professor.

    and when hegel came down from the mountain, he held the the testimony…. and all the people went ‘ooooooooohhh’

  36. Rosa and Karen — like two drag queens who don’t know whether to bitch-slap or cock-fight.

    J — … interesting mob justice …

    It does feel a bit like that.

  37. J:

    “why don’t the mob of you dieticians have a witch hunt and burn Rosa at the stake?”

    Make no mistake J, that is precisely what some of them would do with me if they got a chance — that is, if we are to believe some of the words they have said to me and about me (here or on other forums).

    Almost to a man/woman/answering machine, they all respond in a highly irrational manner to the fact that I have demolished their sacred creed. [Or even to the fact that I *dare* to question it!]

    Nevertheless, even though they all fall out with one another over, say, the class nature of the former USSR, the permanent revolution or what to do in a strike, they all club together to defend this dogma. Maoists, Stalinists, New Communists, Orthodox and Unorthodox Trotskyists, Libertarian Marxists…the lot. This is one doctrine that unites every last one of them. And they all become highly emotional and abusive in its defence (except they do not actually defend it, they distract attention onto other things — anything to deflect attention from the fact that they can’t defend it). And as you can see here, they even get annoyed if that fact is pointed out, too!

    But, then, oddly enough, they will all go on to use the ‘dialectic’ to ‘prove’ diametrically opposite conclusions, accusing one another of not using it right (as if there were some way to tell!), or of not “understanding” it (when no one in fact does). This is, of course, because this ‘theory’ can be used to justify anything you like, *and* its opposite (and sometimes in the same breath). That’s one reason they like it — it can be used any which way they please.

    It is after all a source of consolation for the fact that dialectical Marxism is such a long-term failure (since it teaches them that appearances ‘contradict’ underlying ‘essences’, so that if it appears that dialectical Marxism is an abject failure, the truth must be the opposite!). In that case, they hold onto this ‘theory’ for emotional reasons (hence the almost universally irrational response to my work). So, as with religious consolation, it will take a workers’ revolution to rid us of the conditions that require dialectical consolation, and thus the motivation to swallow this sub-Hegelian guff — I stand no chance.

    Indeed, these sad characters will need the working class to save them from themselves…

  38. Karen Elliot on said:

    “interesting mob justice”

    Indeed – putting a man in an imaginary BOX… it’s getting like Abu Ghraib around here. How will dear Rosa cope with the oppression? My guess is that he will somehow manage to struggle through, undaunted and none the worse (or wiser) for it. But I will not say that directly to Rosa, as he is still firmly in THE BOX. Indeed, Mme Miaow, I am surprised that you have broken discipline in order to speak to him directly. You know it’s against the rules.

  39. Karen Elliot on said:

    It’s terrible there in THE BOX:

    “Flies all green and buzzin’
    In the dungeon of despair
    Who are’ll those people
    That is shut away down there
    Are they crazy
    Are they sainted
    Are they heroes someone painted
    Are they -isms
    Later ornated
    Once they come they have been tainted

    But a dungeon and a sin
    Require naught but lockin’ in

    Could be a her but it’s probly a him
    Could be a her but it’s probly a him
    Its what’s the deal were dealin’ in
    Its what’s the deal were dealin’ in

    Any dungeon have a trailer
    Were the torture never stops”

    FZ, since you asked…

  40. Dear Koba on said:

    Has it ever occured to Rosa that it is not his “work” but his personality that we find so objectionable?

  41. Dear Koba #52: Has it ever occured to Rosa that it is not his “work” but his personality that we find so objectionable?

    Just curious, but what happened to the mantra, “It’s politics not personalities that count”?

  42. Dear Koba on said:

    “It’s politics not personalities that count”

    In which case why doesn’t Rosa try to discuss politics?

    And why does Rosa conduct his argument in such an antagonistic, point scoring way, while seeming incapable of listening to other people, or even understanding what they are saying? Why does Rosa troll other people’s bulletin boards seeking to rudely divert discussion to his pet hobby horse?

    Plenty of people over the years have argued similar philospohical views to Rosa’s without provoking the same reaction.

    Personalities do affect the way debates are conducted, and Rosa is continually an antagonistic know-all

  43. KE:

    “‘work’?”

    You Dithering Dialecticians need to make your minds up — either I am in the ‘box’ or I am not, unless, of course, it’s a dialectical box and I am both in and not in it…

  44. Koba:

    “Has it ever occured to Rosa that it is not his “work” but his personality that we find so objectionable?”

    Who cares? You lot still can’t respond to my demolition of dialectics.

  45. I find Karen Elliote’s continued refusal to accept that that Rosa has demolished dialectics little better then fascism. It will perhaps surprise no-one that I have it on good authority that Karen is an…..ex-organiser (sinister pause).

  46. Koba:

    “In which case why doesn’t Rosa try to discuss politics?”

    Because the poisonous influence of Hegelian Hermeticism needs to be excised first.

    “And why does Rosa conduct her argument in such an antagonistic, point scoring way, while seeming incapable of listening to other people, or even understanding what they are saying? Why does Rosa troll other people’s bulletin boards seeking to rudely divert discussion to his pet hobby horse?”

    [Incorrect pronoun corrected.]

    This thread is about me — how can I possibly ‘divert’ it? And I am antagonistic because (1) I have no respect at all for comrades who have swallowed the mystical guff they found in Hegel and (2) because of the damage this ‘theory’ has done to Marxism.

    Moreover, I have to score points since I am not allowed the space to do otherwise. Anyway, you lot can’t even respond adequately to the points I make!

    And it is not possible to ‘understand’ what dialecticians are saying, since it is quite clear that *they* do not understand what they are saying. Not one of you can explain this ‘theory’ in compensable terms.

    “Plenty of people over the years have argued similar philosophical views to Rosa’s without provoking the same reaction.”

    Name a single Wittgensteinian/Fregean who has done what you say. A good 90% of my work is totally original. I challenge you to prove otherwise.

    “Personalities do affect the way debates are conducted, and Rosa is continually an antagonistic know-all.”

    And you are a nescient wimp.

  47. Rosa Klebb on said:

    55, Shhh, listen everyone, is that Schrodinger’s Cat we can hear, scratching to get out of the box…?

  48. Ah the G-man raises his head tentatively above the parapet once more:

    “I find Karen Elliot’s continued refusal to accept that that Rosa has demolished dialectics little better than fascism. It will perhaps surprise no-one that I have it on good authority that Karen is an…..ex-organiser (sinister pause).”

    Nice try, but we all know you are too much of a scaredy-cat to take me on.

    Plus you know no logic. It’s over two years since I advised you to toddle off and learn some.

  49. RK:

    “55, Shhh, listen everyone, is that Schrodinger’s Cat we can hear, scratching to get out of the box…?”

    No need to — it’s a Dialectical Moggie, and exists both sides of the container.

  50. Skid:

    “Maybe you should complete some tasks before you’re allowed out”

    No need to; I am happy where I am.

    Look at all the attention I am getting.

    Hits at my site have gone up 200% as a result.

    More please…

  51. Dear Koba on said:

    “Hits at my site have gone up 200% as a result.”

    People slow down to look at road crash fatalities as well.

  52. Anonymous on said:

    Timecube!!!!!!!!!!

    Now that is a find but not as crazy as this thread

    And to think they called Keith Joseph mad

  53. Again, looking back through this thread. I think it is fair to conclude that Dialecticians are by and large childish and petulant. Why should anyone take you and your Hegelianism seriously?

    The ball is on your court to justify dialectics. If you cannot manage that, then please refrain from abuse.

  54. Inigo Montoya on said:

    #63 – Hits at my site have gone up 200% as a result.

    Well they’re all coming from here and since most of the posters on this site are, well, a little wacky to say the least, I’m sure you’re creaming off the top layers. You know, the kind who wear bow-ties into town and wear garishly coloured waistcoats when they’re not even playing snooker.

  55. #71

    But Alex, the problem is in how you frame the issue.

    There is no polarisation in the workers movement, or even among marxists between “dialecticians” and “non-diallecticians”.

    What you have signally failed to do is establish any causal connection between philosophical adherence to the dialectic and politic judgement in concrete examples. Indeed if we think of the major political strands within the British labour movement, people arguing politics so different from Harold Laski to Ernie Roberts would descibe themselves as dialectical meterialists.

    If you fail to discuss politics, and fail to apply Rosa’s revealed wisdom to concrete examples, then people are likely to mock.

  56. Inigo Montoya

    “You know, the kind who wear bow-ties into town and wear garishly coloured waistcoats when they’re not even playing snooker.”

    If that is the limits of your imagining of how weird people can get, then you haven’t been round the far left very long!

  57. Andy:

    “What you have signally failed to do is establish any causal connection between philosophical adherence to the dialectic and politic judgement in concrete examples. Indeed if we think of the major political strands within the British labour movement, people arguing politics so different from Harold Laski to Ernie Roberts would descibe themselves as dialectical meterialists.”

    1) That is not so; check this out:

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%2009_02.htm#CaseStudies

    2) But, even if this were correct:

    “What you have signally failed to do is establish any causal connection between philosophical adherence to the dialectic and politic judgement in concrete examples”

    that would show that ‘the dialectic’ is practically useless. I can live with either outcome.

    3) Your point about Laski and Roberst only serves to confirm my allegation that this ‘theory’ can be used to ‘justify’ anything you like, and its opposite.

  58. Just a question – has anybody on this thread ever actually used dialectics for any practical purpose? When I was studying Marx in my youth, I found a lot of ideas I could use, but I have never yet found one for the dialectic.

  59. Distinction between qualitative and quantitative shifts in politics. What might be described as a “tipping moment”? Discussions of alienation in capitalist society (which have their roots in the Hegelian tradition and are simply incomprehensible without it), understanding the way in which conservative philosophers were often more insightful about the horrors of modern capitalism then liberal ones? One could go on and on and on. The latter point is rather important as Rosa finds it impossible to understand that Enlightenment philosophers (and Hegel certainly was one, as was Kant, although Rosa proudly claims not to be able to understand a single thing the latter said) might both have been wrong about essentials but at the same time opened the way for newer and better ideas. Of course this is to be seperated from schematic accounts of DiaMat involving tales of chickens, eggs and boiling kettles, which seems to be Rosa’s limit in terms of critical discussion. Marx’s relation to Hegel is shaped by his view that classical philosophy of the Enlightenment represented the highest stage of bourgoise thought: his relationship to it therefore is complex. One irony of Rosa is that for all the accusations of mysticism, she seems totally trapped in the mystical certainties and scepticism (yes both go togeather) of standard bourgoise philosophy. She might try reading (critically) Lukac’s on Reification. It could have been written about her…

  60. skidmarx on said:

    Centrally the dialectic may be thought of as the way the development of class struggle tends to resolve as a battle between two opposing social forces, in our society the working class and the bourgeoisie. When I asked one of my housemates in 1988 this question, she said it’s like when Cliff starts a speech “This is the balnce of class forces”.

    The individual laws of the dialectic represent a way of trying to account for the discontinuities that Aristotelean logic fails to account for. I’m engaged in a long term muscle-memory project where I seem to see signs that the learning process follows a dialectical path, otherwise it does seem sometimes that social processs show a dialectical nature the way that nature looks like fractals

  61. Now, you see Andy, this has allowed at least two comrades here to fire up a few brain cells and attempt to show that this ‘theory’ has a few practical implications (too, bad these examples do not work — as I have shown). But, the point is that this proves that dialecticians can think (albeit not too well) — and in MrG’s case, that he can copy ideas from John Rees’s article in the latest Socialist Review (to which a supporter of my site has already sent in a reply).

    Now for that alone you should thank me.

    However, since I am not allowed to respond, I will leave you dialectical day-dreamers to resume your dogmatic slumbers.

    Goodbye for now…

  62. Karen Elliot on said:

    THE BOX lid shuts….

    It’s a shame Rosa has a style of (non=)argument which effectively precludes genuine debate. Eg., it made me disinclined to point out that, despite the silly diatribes against dialectics, I think s/he has a point about the relevance of Wittgenstein and the similarity with some aspects of Marxism. Wittgenstein’s ‘On Certainty’ is, er, certainly worth studying from that point of view. I can safely say that now that s/he has departed….

  63. Green Socialist on said:

    #82

    From my memory Cliff used to always fill his talks with “exetera execera exetera” like Jul Brynner is the King and I! He was my favourite of the 3 old Trots, certainly a better thinker than Ted Grant and Jerry Healy don’t go there!
    Rosa, I think I agree with you on dialectics, but then again like Marx, I am no Marxist, but enough already! Your point has been made, repeatedly….

    The whole idea of “scientific socialism” is a bit flawed, like the capitalists who call what they term “economics” a “social science”

  64. JohnG here ignores the many cases in nature and society which do not fit into this Idealist rule (for it was invented by an Idealist, Hegel). There are many things that do not go through a “tipping point”. Several have been listed on other threads here, and many more at Rosa’s site. John is invited to respond to them — if he can.

    In that case, this ‘law’ of Engels’s is not just vague (we are never told what a “quality” is , for example, nor how long a “leap” is supposed to last), it applies only sometimes (if at all). Hence, it cannot safely be used in political deliberation.

    John’s comments about the usual examples is also instructive:

    “Of course this is to be separated from schematic accounts of DiaMat involving tales of chickens, eggs and boiling kettles, which seems to be Rosa’s limit in terms of critical discussion.”

    First of all, this seems to be rather harsh, not on Rosa, but on John Rees, for his only example of this ‘law’ from the ‘natural world is the water boiling case.

    http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=10592

    But, dialecticians can only get away with this because they refuse to tell us what a “quality” is. And we can see why; if they were to use Hegel’s definition, this example would fail — this can’t be an example of qualitative change, since the substance remains H2O throughout. No new Hegelian “quality” emerges.

    On Hegel’s definition see here:

    http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/help/glossary.htm#quality

    Furthermore, this is misleading:

    “The latter point is rather important as Rosa finds it impossible to understand that Enlightenment philosophers (and Hegel certainly was one, as was Kant, although Rosa proudly claims not to be able to understand a single thing the latter said) might both have been wrong about essentials but at the same time opened the way for newer and better ideas.”

    John omits an important caveat; Rosa also claims that *no one* understands Hegel (and not just her). Indeed, she has often challenged John to explain Hegel to the rest of us, but he has always backed off. Perhaps then she is right: at least both her and John do no understand Hegel. Others are welcome to prove her wrong. To date, no takers. [But see below.]

    And this is incorrect too:

    “Marx’s relation to Hegel is shaped by his view that classical philosophy of the Enlightenment represented the highest stage of bourgeois thought: his relationship to it therefore is complex.”

    In fact, Marx progressively and increasingly rejected bourgeois philosophy all through his life. Here is what he thought about philosophers:

    “We have shown that thoughts and ideas acquire an independent existence in consequence of the personal circumstances and relations of individuals acquiring independent existence. We have shown that exclusive, systematic occupation with these thoughts on the part of ideologists and philosophers, and hence the systematisation of these thoughts, is a consequence of division of labour, and that, in particular, German philosophy is a consequence of German petty-bourgeois conditions. *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, Students Edition, p.118. Emphasis added.]

    Notice that: the German philosophers John lionises Marx criticises for their distortion of ordinary language — which is exactly Rosa’s point. And that is why it is not possible to understand Hegel: the language he uses is distorted.

    And this is incorrect too:

    “One irony of Rosa is that for all the accusations of mysticism, she seems totally trapped in the mystical certainties and scepticism (yes both go together) of standard bourgeois philosophy. She might try reading (critically) Lukac’s on Reification. It could have been written about her.”

    Perhaps John would like to share with us his proof that Rosa is “trapped” in bourgeois philosophy? In fact she rejects all philosophy, ‘bourgeois’ *and* Hegelian. Indeed, this is ironical, for it is John who looks to that quintessential *bourgeois* philosopher, Hegel, for guidance.

    Finally, she tells me she has read Lukacs’ “confused book” (her words), and fails to see its relevance.

  65. skidmarx on said:

    “But, dialecticians can only get away with this because they refuse to tell us what a “quality” is.”

    Something that is definitely missing from the John Rees thread, so I thought I’d see if there was any here. But no.

  66. #82 Skidmarx:

    “The individual laws of the dialectic represent a way of trying to account for the discontinuities that Aristotelian logic fails to account for.”

    This is a familiar allegation (which is never substantiated), but you not only fail to tell us what these “discontinuities’ are, but how ‘dialectics’ is able to compensate. In fact, it is quite easy to show that Aristotelian logic, and even more so modern Temporal and Modal Logics, can cope with change and development. But, quite apart from this, it is even easier to show that ‘dialectics’ itself cannot account for change, and that if this theory were true, change could not in fact happen.

    Comrades can find the proof here:

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%2007.htm#Dialectics-Cannot-Explain-Change

    “I’m engaged in a long term muscle-memory project where I seem to see signs that the learning process follows a dialectical path, otherwise it does seem sometimes that social processes show a dialectical nature the way that nature looks like fractals.”

    Without wishing to sound impertinent, Christians also claim to see the ‘handiwork of God’ in nature and society. The question is: Is the underlying theory sound? I maintain that it isn’t, and invite dialecticians to show otherwise.

    ———————-

    #84, Karen:

    “It’s a shame Rosa has a style of (non=)argument which effectively precludes genuine debate.”

    It seems to me that, far from it being the case that Rosa does this, it is you dialecticians that present us with few if any arguments. What I have seen here is in fact a display of petty childishness we do not normally witness when our other ideas are attacked. In that case, it seems that comrades here are the ones who do not want to debate. One only has to wonder why. We are not normally shy at defending our ideas against, say, free marketeers, or against the apologists of ‘enlightened imperialism’. We do not descend into petty abuse and fabrication in the face of their criticisms; we usually mount a reasoned defence. Why is this not the case here?

    Could it be that Rosa is right that dialecticians *cannot* defend their commitment to ‘dialectics’ and that they are indeed emotionally attached to this theory (for reasons she outlined above — #47)? This is beginning to look like the most likely explanation.

    ————————–

    #85 Green Socialist:

    “Rosa, I think I agree with you on dialectics, but then again like Marx, I am no Marxist, but enough already! Your point has been made, repeatedly..

    The whole idea of “scientific socialism” is a bit flawed, like the capitalists who call what they term “economics” a “social science””

    But both Rosa and myself are Marxists, and both of us consider socialism a science — and that it would benefit Marxism greatly if this mystical theory were excised. The aim of her project is to improve Marxism and make it more successful, not the opposite.

    The reason for the repetition is that many comrades have not seen the arguments, and even more just put their fingers in their ears and shout “La, La, La!”

  67. skidmarx on said:

    “you dialecticians that present us with few if any arguments”

    But you don’t let that stop you going on and on and on.

  68. What is this if not idealism, does he read his own words?

    “…the dialectical method. The origins of this term lie in Greek philosophy where “dialogue” – the clashing of two or more opposed points of ***view*** – was seen as the way to get at the truth.

    …we can begin to see how this method can describe social change.”

  69. A supporter of Rosa’s site has sent Socialist Review a response to this rather poor article by Rees. If they do not publish it, it will appear at her site in January.