Obama – After the Rejoicing

The following film shows the unalloyed enthusiam in the street of Harlem after the US election result was declared.

An interesting perspective on what happens next comes from the interview with Sue Webb of the US Communist by Richard Bagley in the Morning Star earlier this week.

Sue Webb argues: “This isn’t a pure campaign, not everything is the way that we’d like it – it’s not a left campaign. But it is the overall direction that’s so important.

“I don’t think people have too many illusions,” explains Webb. “They’ve already started a campaign to collect one million signatures for the Employee Free Choice Act, possibly the most important piece of legislation to advance class struggle in our country.

“The intention is to present one million signatures to the new congress and new administration. They’re very well aware that you can’t just sit back.”

Webb nevertheless enthuses about the buzz surrounding Obama and stresses the importance of his campaign for US race relations. The mixed-race trade union-backed Democrat has drawn unprecedented crowds to rallies across the US during his campaign. Webb believes that this represents a real stirring within US society.

“People who have never been involved in anything have started to become activated in an amazing way,” she says.

“It indicates that people want some optimism and idealism. You could say that’s just naive, you could be cynical and say: ‘What’s it really about?’ but it does represent a progressive force, that people want to move in a more progressive, pro-people direction.”

And Webb believes that there is a real difference between this presidential hopeful and the last Democrat to occupy the White House, saxophone-wielding charmer Bill Clinton.

“He was a big disappointment. But the ultra-right were then in their upswing and now they are very much discredited, although they’re not dead and still very powerful.”

“His election was really the beginning of the dominance of the extreme right in American politics that endured with very minor interruption under Clinton and culminated in the most extreme form under Bush, when the ultra-right not only took control of the White House but Congress,” explains Webb.

The results for ordinary US citizens have been disastrous, echoing the impact of the anti-worker free-market policies pursued by Margaret Thatcher’s administration and its successors this side of the Atlantic.

And, while Webb concedes that Obama is not a left candidate – “if he were a left candidate, he wouldn’t be where he is” – she argues that this is not the central issue.

“Some on the left were saying in 2000: ‘There’s no difference between Bush and Gore – it doesn’t matter, they’re all the same. But we’ve seen that there were tremendous consequences – putting a pre-eminence on the aggressive use of military force and pre-emptive force.

“Where we’re at in American politics, in order to move in a progressive direction towards socialism, our first task is to defeat the ultra-right.

“The order of the day is to build a broad movement that includes even Republicans or conservatives who are opposed to this extreme militarism.

“At this point in American history, it’s not on the agenda to have a left campaign or a left president,” Webb argues. “That’s not where the country is at. It’s not what’s called for and it couldn’t happen.”

Although some leftwingers are doubtful of Obama’s potential to effect any worthwhile change of direction, Webb believes that an Obama administration can be held to account, but only through continued pressure from beneath.

“If there isn’t a mass movement, then the transnationals will be the only ones exerting pressure.”

Prior to the long rise of the extreme right and transnational corporations, the CPUSA had long seen the formation of an “anti-monopoly” front including even small-time capitalists as a crucial step on the path to US socialism.

And Webb believes that the recent financial turmoil means that the possibility of a broad pro-people movement in the US is greater than it has been for years.

“I think now, with the financial crisis, what’s starting to unfold in terms of the struggles going on in the United States is that we’re still engaged in struggles to defeat the ultra-right, but aspects of the anti-monopoly struggle are starting to come forward.

“As progressive a background as Obama comes from – he has had a close relationship with labour and so on – he’s going to be pulled the other way,” she warns.

“It’s going to be an area of struggle, but we’re starting to move into the phase of debating who dictates and who benefits. It will spill over into foreign policy too.”

And foreign policy is an area where many international progressives have voiced concerns on Obama, not least over his warlike declarations on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Webb shares some of their concern. “The most problematic aspect of the things that he’s said is what he said in relation to Pakistan and Afghanistan. It’s going to be a very important area to build mass pressure to turn away from a military approach.”

But she also draws positives from Obama’s pronouncements on Cuba, Colombia, Iran and even Israel.

“You have to look at the totality of the things that he’s said. For example, in a meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, during the primaries, he met 500 Jewish leaders – and he said it again at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee – he said a lot of things you would disagree with, but he said – this is very important – ‘To be pro-Israel is not the same as being pro-Likud.’ And that was a very courageous thing to say and very significant.”

On Iran, “he has argued and continues to argue even despite a great deal of pressure, including further provocative statements by Ahmedinejad made at the UN, to argue for diplomacy.”

99 comments on “Obama – After the Rejoicing

  1. David Ellis on said:

    Electing a black president of the centre left is sort of America’s equivalent of the February Revolution which has thrust the left democrats into power. With the economic crisis and an inevitably growing imperialist/red neck back lash revolutionists will have to plot a careful course if there is to be an October and not a vicious coup.

  2. Fish in a barrel on said:

    Barack Obama – Kerensky
    Mrs Obama – Mrs Kerensky
    Bill Clinton – Rasputin
    George Bush – Tsar of all the Russias
    Rahm Emmanuel – Yevno Azef
    George Galloway – George Galloway
    John Rees – Lenin (in his dreams)

  3. Anonymous on said:

    Scrabble Scores

    George Galloway 23
    Rahm Emmanuel 21
    Barack Obama 20
    John Rees 18
    George Bush 17
    Bill Clinton 15
    Mrs Obama 14

  4. rustbeltradical on said:

    The February Revolution changed the class in power. How could anything remotely analogous be said about an election for President of the United States?

  5. David Ellis on said:

    #9 Well, I think the building of a coalition headed by a leftish black democrat sweeping into power against the `god given right’ of white Americans to rule, whilst it might not represent a change in class rule, is sufficiently seismic to support the analogy.

  6. Anonymous on said:

    The 1848 February French Revolution That put an end to the reign to King Louie which led to the June days uprising?

    Or theRussian Revolution in 1917 with the collapse of Imperial Russia and the downfall of Nicholas 11 and the end of the Romanov dynasty???????????????????

  7. David Ellis on said:

    The problem is who will deliver the April Thesis given the hopelessly sectarian nature of the US Revolutionary Left? They make ours look passable.

  8. rustbeltradical on said:

    In the whole canon of Marxism where is it sectarian to not support political parties of the imperial ruling class? Only among Stalinists.

  9. David Ellis on said:

    It’s not a matter of support it’s a matter of intervention.

    #6 I suspect you’ve just arrived back from the LA conference where you’ve been discussing 2p on the basic tax rate as a possible election winner over a few beers.

  10. Carole Swords on said:

    Barack Hussein Obama II
    Star sign Leo Born August 4th 1961
    He is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School. where he was president of the Harvard Law review .

    Obama worked as a community organiser and practised as a civil rights attorney before serving three terms at the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004 .

    He taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law from 1002 to 2004.

    He was elected to the senate in November 2004 with 70% of the vote.

    As a member of the Democratic minority in the 109 congress he helped to create legislation to control conventional weapons and to promote greater public accountability in the use of Federal funds.

    He made several trips to the Middle East Africa, and Eastern Europe.

    He also helped create legislation regarding lobbying and Electoral Fraud, Climate Change, Nuclear Terrorism, and care for returned Military Personnel.

    He was born in Hawaii
    His father was from Nyanza – Kenya and his mother was from Kansas from English Irish German decent.

    His parents divorced in 1964 and died in a car accident in 1092 .

    His mother remarried and he moved to Indonesia and attended school where he learned about equality and unity in Jakata
    after that he went back to Hawaii to live with his grandparents his mother went back to Indonesia and died in 1995.

    He studied in LA for two years and dabbled in the drink and drug culture majored in political science in NY graduated with a BA from Columbia worked for a few years in the business sector in NYC and returned to Chicago working for a community Catholic Church for three years.

    He was involved in fundraising and the setting up of tutoring and job training programs and was involved in tenants rights organisation at Altgeld Gardens,

    Laws he sponsored were tax credits – for low income workers – health care laws – welfare reform – increased subsides for childcare – the regulations aimed for averting home foreclosures – supported a passage on racial profiling requiring the police to record the race of stoppages – also passaged the legalisation of making Illinois the first state to mandate videos of homicide interrogations.

    The police representatives credited Obama with his active involvement with police organisations in enacting death penalty reforms,

    He questioned Bush on the administrations management and highlighted Americas obligation to its soldiers Iraq war.

    The list goes on ,,,,,,,,,,,,, we should look at his achievements and decide if he is the man for the job being a black man is also very relevant not so much to him but to every child and adult around the Globe it shows that it doesnt matter what colour you are who or where your parents come from also whether you are from a one parent family moved from pillar to post it is the man or woman you want to be also that the world is bigger that the colour of your skin and it doesnt matter how many revolutions there were centuries ago the time is now to make that change.

    And you all can start to make the difference join us if you can in campaning at Mile End East By Election for Respect we meet every day at the Orange Room Burdett road twice a day to campaign for making the change in Tower Hamlets Log on to the Respect website for updates on more information

    WE CAN DO IT

  11. I’d be wary of talking about a ‘red neck’ backlash. I don’t think given the tasks of the moment thats a particularly wise choice of words. Its also true that the most interesting thing about the votes is that the proportion of working class white voters who voted Obama was very high: In Indiana, Ohio and the rustbelt states they swung it. Its true that in a handful of the old confederate states (not many: Arkansas was the main anomoly here) the number of people voting Republican increased: but in general Obama got more of the white vote and in particular the white working class vote, then any democrat for decades. I’m wary as well though of thinking that the lefts task is to unite with anti-militarist Republicans in support of Obama. I think that the task of the left is to mobilise on the basis of the issues surrounding trade and trade union reform and similar issues, and use the energy unleashed by this historic election to do so. The re-appearence of the language of class in a society historically divided by race is one of the most significant things about this election for socialists. So I’d agree on the anti-sectarian line. But I’d be cautious about the popular frontism: which may simply lead to demoralisation before too long. Its a great opportunity for those who want to build on the unity generated in order to challenge the deepest and most debilitating divides in the most powerful working class in the world. Its important not to blow it. Obama waged a disciplined campaign for his class. The left finds itself in much the same situation after the election.

  12. It was the first time in more then a decade that I heard American politicians use the word ‘working class’ as opposed to ‘middle class’ when appealing to the ‘average joe’ (not the plumber). Not often mind you but you occassionally heard it.

  13. Strikes me that the anti-working class elements on this blog like O’Barmy rather too much. As is signified by their unintelligent bias against so called red necks who are in reality working class people rightly distrustful of populist demagogues, usually from the Democrats, who base their appeal on ethnic loyalties. Rather like the dullards who still back Respect.

    Now the Labour Party once deserved rope in order to be supported. But O’Barmy or Respect, both of whom base their appeal on cross class populism, deserve only to be at the end of a rope. Yup its unintelligent to support O’Barmy the future boss of the CIA.

  14. Another Dave on said:

    On the degeneration of conservative populism, from a conservative perspective:

    http://sec.online.wsj.com/article/SB122610558004810243.html?mod=article-outset-box

    “Over the next 25 years there grew up a new generation of conservative writers who cultivated none of their elders’ intellectual virtues — indeed, who saw themselves as counter-intellectuals. Most are well-educated and many have attended Ivy League universities; in fact, one of the masterminds of the Palin nomination was once a Harvard professor. But their function within the conservative movement is no longer to educate and ennoble a populist political tendency, it is to defend that tendency against the supposedly monolithic and uniformly hostile educated classes. They mock the advice of Nobel Prize-winning economists and praise the financial acumen of plumbers and builders. They ridicule ambassadors and diplomats while promoting jingoistic journalists who have never lived abroad and speak no foreign languages. And with the rise of shock radio and television, they have found a large, popular audience that eagerly absorbs their contempt for intellectual elites. They hoped to shape that audience, but the truth is that their audience has now shaped them.

  15. David Ellis on said:

    Strategist: whilst that skit report is quite funny it is part of a massive demobilisation campaign leading up to Obama’s taking power in January. Every newspaper, every TV show will be geared up to destroying people’s illusions in his presidency and dissipating people’s expectations and therefore the pressure on him to actually do anything and of course the sect left is playing its part in this magnificiently. They criticise without putting any alternatives forward or connecting with anybody.

    Another Dave: the intellectual collapse of the American conservative tradition (and what a collapse) means they are left with the option of only a physical response.

  16. #28 David, I think everybody is agreed that activists would be mad if they let the enormous mobilisation they achieved for Obama now be closed down by the Democrat party leadership.

    Not being in USA, it’s hard to say, but from a distance it seems that there is a very good chance of the activists forming an independent organisational structure and keeping the mobilisation going to lobby for the passage of laws and the implementation of policies.

    None of this means you shouldn’t be able to have a laugh – at yourself occasionally – when The Onion takes the piss. And really the skit just makes a point in favour of independence of thought & action, which can only work in our favour.

  17. David Ellis on said:

    Agreed. Though it would surely be better to applaud the incredible effort of the young people who have backed and staffed the Obama campaign at grass roots level.

    What we could do with is an American left coming up with an adapted version of Lenin’s Arpil Thesis. Criticism yes but more importantly mobilising tasks and programme. `The tasks of the proletariat in the present situation’. At the moment they just come across as a bunch of naysayers and conservatives.

  18. Alex #17

    I should know better than to divert debate mysel in repsonse to you, but this is ridiculous:

    Comrades,

    For all those following the debate on the Hugo Blanco thread a few days ago, Rosa’s reply to Andy’s last post before he closed off the thread can be read here:

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

    Is glass a liquid? Goodness me.

    Firtly, the title of Rosa’s articleaccuses this blog of censorship. Now, I am amazed that you cannot undersatnd the difference between editorial discretion and censorship.

    I have neither the means nor the inclination to actually censor Rsa and prevent him putting foprward his views. But I wish him to do so elesewhere, because this forum is not the appropriate place – a very narrow and abstract debate on philosophy was swamping the discussion in the bog, and inhibiting other people from taking part.

    Indeed I gave Rosa much more space on SU blog than the actually merit of his arguments deserve.

    It is highly ironic, that one of Rosa’s main argument against dialectics is the aleged (but erroneuous) claim that it leads to philospohical categories and processes being adopted regardless of the phsyical science.

    Yet here, on the basis of Rosa’s philosophy he – and you – reject an uncontroversial and mature accepted fact from the physical sciences – that glass is a liquid.

    It may be counter-intuitive that glass is a liquid, but it flows.

    http://www.zyra.org.uk/glassliq.htm

    Similarly butter, which rosa claims is a simple solid is an emulsion, that is it a very complex structure whereby two or more liquids are intermingled at the molecular level.

    Rosa claims that not all solids exhibit a dramatic state change between liquid and solid phases. he argues this on the basis of the gradual increasing viscosity of butter and glass, when heated.

    But glass is already a liquid, and butter is a mixture at the molecular level of different substances with differing melting points.

    This is exactly a case of Rosa imposing his philospohical views upon the physical evidence , and making a false conclusion.

    Rosa’s attempt to expunge the dialectic also leads to him making an attack on mature scientific theories.

    I will not tolerate a further bad tempered debate about what Rosa thinks of as philospohy, but to everyone else reads as ramblings from an obsessive.

  19. http://www.counterpunch.org/floyd11052008.html

    November 5, 2008

    “What If Bush Did It?”

    A Prism for the New Paradigm

    By CHRIS FLOYD

    “WIBDI: What If Bush Did It?”

    “This user-friendly analytical tool provides a quick and easy way of determining the value of any given policy while correcting one’s perception for partisan bias. Simply take a particular action or proposal and submit it to the WIBDI test: If Bush did this, would you think it was OK? Or would you condemn it as the act of a warmonger, or a tyrant, or a corrupt corporate tool, etc.? The just-concluded campaign has already shown us how our hordes of our quondam dissidents have signally failed this test, excusing, countenancing, defending or even embracing the actions and positions enumerated below by Chris Hedges:

    “Sen. Barack Obama’s vote to renew the Patriot Act, his votes to continue to fund the Iraq war, his backing of the FISA Reform Act, his craven courting of the Israeli lobby, his support of the death penalty, his refusal to champion universal, single-payer not-for-profit health care for all Americans, his call to increase troop levels and expand the war in Afghanistan, his failure to call for a reduction in the bloated and wasteful defense spending and his lobbying for the huge taxpayer swindle known as the bailout…”

    To which we could add his bellicose saber-rattling at Iran, his promise to roll back “Russian aggression” and extend war-triggering treaty protection to an aggressive Georgian regime (which cluster-bombed its own people, as we learned this week), his advocacy of destabilizing and civilian-shredding military strikes in Pakistan, his opposition to gay marriage (and campaigning with gay-bashing preachers), and his support for extending the death penalty to cover non-fatal offenses, and so on.”

    Obama is funded by Citigroup and supported by some of the most right wing hawks in the USA
    No wonder Labour Party members think he is so radical.

  20. David Ellis on said:

    We can virtually see the law of the excluded middle at work here. Obama is either an unreconstructed direct agent of the US imperialist bourgeoisie or a democratic, lefty socialist whose gonna save the world. Neither of those can possibly be true. The truth is he is a contradiction. We need to be better at exploiting that contradiction than the right wing and make it work for us. Certainly the imperialist bourgeoisie won’t be hindered in their activities by a little thing like a `democratic vote’ and we must make sure that the working class also isn’t hindered and pursues its economic and political interests to the full.

  21. David Ellis on said:

    Hadn’t quite finished that:

    So, being sectarian or opportunist is not going to help us. Formulating a programmme and set of tasks and applying it intelligently will.

  22. I find myself in complete agreement about the ‘excluded middle’ and also how lampooning ‘obama mania’ is just right wing (I’ve just plagerised the latter comment on the Tomb). I’m unsure with comparisons with the Febuary revolution and such like though. This seems to me to be the product of frustration with those who don’t understand about the ‘excluded middle’ then an analyses of reality. Whats happening is a shift to the left in society and a crisis of the dominant ideology of class rule over the last few decades, both domestically and globally. That opens up opportunities which the left should take.

  23. Andy #31: “Yet here, on the basis of Rosa’s philosophy he – and you – reject an uncontroversial and mature accepted fact from the physical sciences – that glass is a liquid.

    “It may be counter-intuitive that glass is a liquid, but it flows.

    Hence old glass window-panes being fatter at the bottom (aren’t we all, dear) due to their age.

    So, okay, you can’t bathe in it – unless you are Cinderella and your bath, as well as your shoes, are made of glass. It’s liquid but slower. Aliens from a slower dimension (which of our lovely groups would that be?) would experience it as unstable like a liquid. A bit like the Chinese on the French Rev — too early to tell.

    BTW 1: Fish #2 — So who’s Kollontai? (There may already be a Krupskaya of her own making and proud of it.)

    BTW 2, someone give johng back his carriage return, puh-leaze! Or are paragraphs reactionary?

  24. Karl Stewart on said:

    Hi, Apologies for going a bit “off-topic.” Posted this brief bit on the “Case for Socialism” thread and it seems to have got lost, anyway, I went along to two sessions of the SP event in town today.
    This morning’s session – a debate between Socialist Party deputy general secretary Hannah Sell and Socialist Workers Party national secretary Martin Smith and then to the closing rally.
    There were around 150 people at the morning event and I’d guess between 350-400 came along to hear Dave Nellist, Kevin Ovendon, Mark Steele, Hannah Sell at the afternoon session.
    Although there are several aspects of the SP that I disagree with, in my view, I think that the SP have got it right in that a Workers’ Party is absolutely essential and I came away with a fairly positive impression overall.

  25. David Ellis on said:

    Well said Carol. It is very important that Respect goes on to do well in this election and hopefully win it.

  26. mark anthony france on said:

    #42 Carole… I wondered who David Ellis is he seems such a nice chap…. I imagine that he lives up north is middle aged and has a beard [a bit like fidel] and has done solid trade union work for many years being an inspiration to fellow workers in a manual occupation. [even if he isn’t at all like that he still seem’s very nice and I love his description of Obama’s victory as similar to Feb. 1917 in Russian!…]
    Hope and pray that everything goes well in Mile End East…. Si Se Puede… YES WE CAN!

  27. Alex, I gave a facetious reference, but my point still stands.
    There is a serious argument that glass is a liquid based upon its lack of internal molecular order. I have never looked into the question of whether it actually flows or not.
    I see from the following “serious” paper that the author argues: http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/General/Glass/glass.html

    The situation at the level of molecular physics can be summarised by saying that there are three main types of molecular arrangement:
    crystalline solids: molecules are ordered in a regular lattice
    fluids: molecules are disordered and are not rigidly bound.
    glasses: molecules are disordered but are rigidly bound.

    And concludes

    There is no clear answer to the question “Is glass solid or liquid?”. In terms of molecular dynamics and thermodynamics it is possible to justify various different views that it is a highly viscous liquid, an amorphous solid, or simply that glass is another state of matter which is neither liquid nor solid. The difference is semantic. In terms of its material properties we can do little better. There is no clear definition of the distinction between solids and highly viscous liquids. All such phases or states of matter are idealisations of real material properties.

    the argument that it is not a liquid and also not a solid is one I am prepared to accept, and this also refutes Rosa’s point whereby he uses Glass as a example of a solid in terms of its transition behaviour to “prove” incorrent remaks by Engels that are accurate for the transition of phase for almost all materials. Glass is indeed an excpetion that proves the rule, becasuse a detailed study of the transitional properties of glass show that the same arguments apply that explai the more dramatic state transitions of other materials

    The fact still stands that Rosa seeks to argue about the physical sciences based upon his philosophical position. The very thought crime that he falsely alleges that his philosophical opponents engage in. I have to say that these theoretical opponents are largely imaginary, as Rosa simply doesn’t understand many of the theories he polemicises against.
    There are two very big problems with Rosa’s approach
    One is that he doesn’t seem to understand that debates on blogs and discussions boards are ephemeral, and also that people don’t take him or his arguments at all seriously. So there is an asymmetry between the obsessively detailed responses he makes to what are casual conversations. If anyone could be bothered to seriusly debate him they wouold much more serioulsly research their position, and make much sharprer arguments.
    Secondly, Rosa has a problem with literalism; whereby he puts far too much store on specific technical meanings of words and phrases, without seeing that they may be used outside that formal context; or that they may have more than one meaning. And there is a certain obsessiveness and even anger from him; reading his articles, there is a great deal of superficial erudition combined with inability to understand or empathise with what other people are saying, if they are using words to mean something different from the literal technical meaning that he has decided they mean.

    As JohnG has pointed out, much of Rosa’s argument is simply his claim that he is the only one allowed to define the word “contradiction”; and also a literalism that puts almost fetishistic significance to whether or not working scientists use explicitly hegelian language.
    Rosa has no insights. His superficially wide knowedlge of philosophy doesn’t mask the fact that he clearly has failed to understand a great deal of it. He is tilting at windmills; and the fact that he has put so many years effort into a futile obsession is sad.

    In particular Rosa has completely failed to demonstarate any mechanism by which dialectical materialism has played the disasrous role he says it has.
    As I said before, the fact that people are not prepared to debate with Rosa, doesn’t mean that they are unable to do so; but that it isn’t worth the effort. Particularly due to the confrontational and obsessive way he debates, his literalism, and his agression

    I am sorry that one or two people. like you and babeuf, seem to think that Rosa is a serious thinker. I think you need to step back and ask yourself what real content there is in Rosa’s work.

  28. Green Socialist on said:

    Well what a surprise the US ruling class is pro-Israel!
    The Pope’s Catholic and bears shit in the woods. Is he a US or Israeli citizen or is is just the fact that he is Jewish? – not that the US middle east policy of Obama holds much more promist than that of McCain or Bush.

  29. terryfitz on said:

    I thought there was a vicious coup in 1917, it happened in October and was called the Bolshevik Revolution.

  30. Fish in a barrel on said:

    According to Wikipedia, Rahm Emmanuel’s dad was in the Irgun. This links RE to a terrorist group. Does the FBI know? Why isn’t he in Guanatanamo?

  31. Louis Proyect on said:

    How depressing to see the CPUSA invoked as some kind of authority on American politics. It has been their tenacious support for the DP that has retarded radical politics since the 1930s.

  32. #46

    “the argument that it is not a liquid and also not a solid is one I am prepared to accept, and this also refutes Rosa’s point whereby he uses Glass as a example of a solid in terms of its transition behaviour to “prove” incorrent remaks by Engels that are accurate for the transition of phase for almost all materials. Glass is indeed an excpetion that proves the rule, becasuse a detailed study of the transitional properties of glass show that the same arguments apply that explai the more dramatic state transitions of other materials”

    I’m afraid not, see:

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

  33. I must protest at Andy Newman’s authoritarian censorship of Rosa Lichtenstein. Lichtenstein’s contributions are inspired. Honestly, It’d never occurred to me that butter could be a cause of such controversy (imagine what lessons could be drawn about dialectical materialism from, say, mayonnaise) and thoroughly entertaining. Please, please do let her (him?) back.

  34. #49 Perhaps you could define what that very unscientific term, “slowly”, used by Rosa means? The word “slowly” used in a refutation of dialectics doesn’t really mean anything. For example, to something that observes at a very “fast” rate, the melting of glass may appear to experience abrupt changes. There is still a lot to learn about the properties of materials and as is evident from both sides of this debate scientists are quite clear that that jury is still out on the properties of glass and other materials. On that basis it would be premature to write off dialectics just yet.

  35. Apologies Andy, but you let the last two comments through, so I hope you do not censor my response.

    Ray, part of my case against dialectics is that none of its terms are well-defined, no less so here. In that case, i am forced to use equally ill-defined notions.

    Engels and Hegel both argue this way (as do many others):

    “It is said, natura non facit saltum [there are no leaps in nature]; and ordinary thinking when it has to grasp a coming-to-be or a ceasing-to-be, fancies it has done so by representing it as a *gradual* emergence or disappearance. But we have seen that the alterations of being in general are not only the transition of one magnitude into another, but a transition from quality into quantity and vice versa, a becoming-other which is an interruption of *gradualness* and the production of something qualitatively different from the reality which preceded it. Water, in cooling, does not *gradually* harden as if it thickened like porridge, gradually solidifying until it reached the consistency of ice; it *suddenly solidifies, all at once*. It can remain quite fluid even at freezing point if it is standing undisturbed, and then a slight shock will bring it into the solid state.” [Hegel ‘Logic’, p.370, §776. Emphasis added.]

    “With this assurance Herr Dühring saves himself the trouble of saying anything further about the origin of life, although it might reasonably have been expected that a thinker who had traced the evolution of the world back to its self-equal state, and is so much at home on other celestial bodies, would have known exactly what’s what also on this point. For the rest, however, the assurance he gives us is only half right unless it is completed by the Hegelian nodal line of measure relations which has already been mentioned. In spite of all *gradualness*, the transition from one form of motion to another always remains *a leap, a decisive change*. This is true of the transition from the mechanics of celestial bodies to that of smaller masses on a particular celestial body; it is equally true of the transition from the mechanics of masses to the mechanics of molecules — including the forms of motion investigated in physics proper: heat, light, electricity, magnetism. In the same way, the transition from the physics of molecules to the physics of atoms — chemistry — in turn involves a decided leap; and this is even more clearly the case in the transition from ordinary chemical action to the chemism of albumen which we call life. Then within the sphere of life the leaps become ever more infrequent and imperceptible. — Once again, therefore, it is Hegel who has to correct Herr Dühring.” [Engels (1976) Anti-Dühring, pp.82-83.I have used the online version here, but quoted the page numbers for the Foreign Languages edition. Bold emphasis added.]

    “We have already seen earlier, when discussing world schematism, that in connection with this Hegelian nodal line of measure relations — in which quantitative change *suddenly* passes at certain points into qualitative transformation — Herr Dühring had a little accident: in a weak moment he himself recognised and made use of this line. We gave there one of the best-known examples — that of the change of the aggregate states of water, which under normal atmospheric pressure changes at 0°C from the liquid into the solid state, and at 100°C from the liquid into the gaseous state, so that at both these turning-points the merely quantitative change of temperature brings about a qualitative change in the condition of the water.” [Ibid., p.160. Emphasis added.]

    Is “gradual” any different from “slowly”?

    And, I am not too sure how else I am to interpret “sudden”, when glass does not go from its ‘solid’ state to its ‘liquid’ state “suddenly”, nor do metals soften “suddenly” like water boils “suddenly”.

    Recall, I am not denying that some “qualitative” changes are “sudden”, just that not all are. Is this being anti-materialist of me? Am I not taking account of all the facts? And are those who criticise me more concerned to defend Engels at all costs, even to the extent of “foisting” this ‘law’ onto nature?

    As I have argued in Essay Seven:

    “So, DM-theorists could specify a minimum time interval during which a phase or state of matter transition must take place for it to be counted as “nodal”. In the case of boiling water, say, they could decide that if the transition from water to steam (or vice versa) takes place in an interval lasting less than or equal to k seconds/minutes (for some k), then it is indeed “nodal”. Thus, by dint of such a stipulation, their ‘Law’ could be made to work (at least in this respect). But, there is nothing in nature that forces any of this on us — the reverse is, if anything, the case. Phase/state of matter changes, and changes in general take different amounts of time; moreover, under differing circumstances even these alter, too. If so, as noted above, this ‘Law’ would become ‘valid’ only because of yet another stipulation and/or foisting, which would make it eminently ‘subjective’.

    “However, given the strife-riven and sectarian nature of dialectical politics, any attempt to define DM-“nodes” could lead to yet more factions. Thus, we are sure to see emerge the rightist “Nanosecond Tendency” — sworn enemies of the “Picosecond Left Opposition” — who will both take up swords with the ‘eclectic’ wing: the “it depends on the circumstances” ‘clique’ at the ‘centrist’ “Femtosecond League”.”

    Perhaps then you will volunteer to be the very first dialectician in history (if, that is, you are one) to be precise here? Just how long is a “node”?

    [Be prepared for abuse, however, if you do attempt this impossible task — for daring to question the adequacy of Holy Writ –, as I have constantly had to endure. You may even have the ultimate dialectical swear word used against you: “Revisionist!”]

  36. Duhring:

    “I must protest at Andy Newman’s authoritarian censorship of Rosa Lichtenstein. Lichtenstein’s contributions are inspired. Honestly, It’d never occurred to me that butter could be a cause of such controversy (imagine what lessons could be drawn about dialectical materialism from, say, mayonnaise) and thoroughly entertaining. Please, please do let her (him?) back.”

    And may we thank you, comrade, for plumbing new depths of superficiality? You might even recieve the Order of Russell Grant for your pains.

    You chose the right name, however, for Duhring too was a no-mark.

  37. Scientific measurement of change varies according to what is being measured. so it’s perfectly possible for a material or condition to have both a slow and fast nodal phase depending on the transition being measured. All that Engels is saying is that at a certain phase there is a qualitative change. I can’t see what’s controversial or unscientific about that.
    Climate change is a good example. Currently, the most accepted scientific evidence shows that at certain points accumulating conditions over a long period of time lead to climate change over a short period of time. This process may extend over a thousand years but it can be described as nodal in relation to the tens of thousands of years of transition that led up to it.
    Dialectics doesn’t set time scales – scientific evidence provides that information. The definition of nodal is: being, relating to, or located at or near a node. It doesn’t define an exact, precise measurement.

  38. Ray:

    “Scientific measurement of change varies according to what is being measured. so it’s perfectly possible for a material or condition to have both a slow and fast nodal phase depending on the transition being measured. All that Engels is saying is that at a certain phase there is a qualitative change. I can’t see what’s controversial or unscientific about that.

    “Climate change is a good example. Currently, the most accepted scientific evidence shows that at certain points accumulating conditions over a long period of time lead to climate change over a short period of time. This process may extend over a thousand years but it can be described as nodal in relation to the tens of thousands of years of transition that led up to it.
    Dialectics doesn’t set time scales – scientific evidence provides that information. The definition of nodal is: being, relating to, or located at or near a node. It doesn’t define an exact, precise measurement.”

    Indeed, and that is as good a criticism of the loose phraseology contained in dialectical materialism as I have heard. There is no way that the word “sudden”, as it is used by Hegel, Engels and others, can be employed to depict all the “qualitative” changes that occur in nature.

    There are many examples over and above the ones I have given here that cannot be called “sudden”.

    Consider the larval stage of moths. The larva/grub will build a cocoon rapidly, but the radical “qualitative” changes inside that cocoon (from larva to adult moth), in its pupal stage, are painfully slow (relative to the previous stage, and to the lifetime of most moths and butterflies) — ranging from a few weeks to many months. To be sure, when the moth breaks out, that change is rapid; but the unseen “qualitative” changes that have already happened before this event takes place, are slow. By no stretch of the imagination is this unseen development, these radical qualitative changes, a “leap”.

    And the same comments apply to the development of reptiles, birds, fish and other animals that grow inside egg sacks. Even a human baby takes nine months to make a “sudden leap” from fertilised egg to fully-developed foetus before it is born –; as is well-known, fertilisation is pretty rapid in comparison.

    So, here, we have “qualitative” changes that are slow, and non-“nodal”, in comparison to earlier or later stages that are unquestionably “nodal”.

    Now, as I noted, I am not denying that some changes can be called “nodal”, only that not all can be.

    Of course, if you want to re-define “nodal” in such a way that it applies to every conceivable “qualitative” change, then how is that different from “foisting” this ‘law’ on the facts, and not reading it from them (as dialecticians assure us they always do)? And how would that be different from a subjective application of this ‘law’, in that nothing in nature dictates that we call every such change “sudden”, as Hegel and Engels did?

    Nature presents us with many different sorts of change. It is only to be expected that Hegel and Engels, who were not in full possession of the facts — or at least, not as much as we are today — would not get this right. So, what exactly motivates your response? Is it a desire to describe nature accurately, or defend a dogma that is so carelessly worded, and which enjoys scant evidential support (if any)?

    It’s not as if I were proposing a non-materialist revision, or advocating a supernatural set of causes here.

    And I realise that dialectics is terminally vague, but that is why I have called it “Mickey Mouse Science”. [No wonder then that it has presided over 150 years of almost total failure.] It is only because every key term in dialectics is no less vague that you can get away with your response. There is no way that, say, physicists would tolerate an ill-defined notion like this –, that is, one that was central to one of their theories — and then complain when it was pointed out.

  39. Using the butter example we will observe a different time measurement of its transition from “solid” into “liquid” dependent on temperature. In a blast furnace this transition would appear virtually instantaneous whereas if left on top of a warm shelf it will be slower but no-one would deny that there has been a qualitative change in structure.
    Perhaps you want to pin down the term “nodal” to define a certain point in all cases which is not very helpful when measuring the variable and complex process of transition in different systems. Thermodynamic entropy explains this process:

    “In thermodynamics (a branch of physics), entropy, symbolized by S,[3] is a measure of the unavailability of a system’s energy to do work.[4][5]
    It is a measure of the randomness of molecules in a system and is central to the second law of thermodynamics and the fundamental thermodynamic relation, which deal with physical processes and whether they occur spontaneously. Spontaneous changes, in isolated systems, occur with an increase in entropy. Spontaneous changes tend to smooth out differences in temperature, pressure, density, and chemical potential that may exist in a system, and entropy is thus a measure of how far this smoothing-out process has progressed.
    The word “entropy” is derived from the Greek εντροπία “a turning toward” (εν- “in” + τροπή “a turning”).[6]”

    “Just because a chemist calls a reaction “spontaneous” does not mean the reaction happens with great speed. For example, the decay of diamonds into graphite is a spontaneous process, but this decay is extremely slow and takes millions of years. The rate of a reaction is independent of its spontaneity, and instead depends on the chemical kinetics of the reaction.”

    The scientific definition of “spontaneous” does not necessarily mean instantaneous nor is the word “nodal” restricted to a specific and absolute point in time.

  40. “There is no way that, say, physicists would tolerate an ill-defined notion like this –, that is, one that was central to one of their theories — and then complain when it was pointed out.”

    Read my post about the scientific definition of “spontaneous”. Why not pull up scientists for using this “ill-defined” word that, to the lay person, invariably means instantaneous or “sudden”?

    Your example of the moth is very curious. It’s quite evident that the development of a moth goes through different qualitative changes. You seem to want to pin down “nodal” to mean an extremely short duration and impose this definition on dialectics for your own purposes.

  41. One final point, I suppose I could be pedantic and claim that during the transition from caterpillar to moth there is a point inside the chrysalis where it is more on than the other. Likewise with the decay of diamonds into graphite. Which is certainly true but does not necessarily define or limit the term “nodal”.

  42. Ray:

    “Using the butter example we will observe a different time measurement of its transition from “solid” into “liquid” dependent on temperature. In a blast furnace this transition would appear virtually instantaneous whereas if left on top of a warm shelf it will be slower but no-one would deny that there has been a qualitative change in structure.

    Perhaps you want to pin down the term “nodal” to define a certain point in all cases which is not very helpful when measuring the variable and complex process of transition in different systems.”

    Indeed, and that just confirms that some processes are “nodal” while others are not.

    And I do not want to “pin down the term ‘nodal'”, merely point out that not all changes in “quality” are “nodal”. In fact, Hegel and Engels “pinned” this term down when they equated it with the word “sudden” and compared that to “gradual” change.

    It is because of the sloppy use of this word by subsequent dialecticians that you are now able to bend this word to fit any circumstances; in other words, you just impose this word on nature as you see fit, entirely subjectively. You are not examining the facts, but starting with Hegel’s word, and trying desperately to fit every phenomena to it.

    And the thermodynamic material is not relevant (I do not contest genuine science); so I do not know why you quoted it. It does not affect the fact that not all changes are “sudden”, to use Hegel and Engels’s word.

    Indeed, if we adapt your example, and heat water up extremely rapidly (using, say, a nuclear explosion), the contrast these two drew between the “gradual” warming of water and the “sudden” “qualitative” change at 100 degrees C would itself disappear. The water would vaporise instantaneously. In that case, there would be no “nodal” comparison for them to make. So your modified example would undermine their example!

    “Read my post about the scientific definition of “spontaneous”. Why not pull up scientists for using this “ill-defined” word that, to the lay person, invariably means instantaneous or “sudden”?”

    I did, and as I noted, it alters nothing. And if scientists use words sloppily, that is no excuse for dialecticians to do the same. The point is that very few of the technical words used by scientists are ill-defined. It is the exact opposite in dialectical Mickey Mouse Science.

    Once more, some “qualitative” changes are “sudden” while others are not.

    “Your example of the moth is very curious. It’s quite evident that the development of a moth goes through different qualitative changes. You seem to want to pin down “nodal” to mean an extremely short duration and impose this definition on dialectics for your own purposes.”

    But, once more, you can only get away with this because you have not told us what you count as “qualitative” change (which is why I have put that word in quotation marks in my replies to you).

    [The ‘definition’ Hegel used — which was an Aristotelian definition (you can find it at the Marxist internet archive (if you want the link, just let me know)) — actually means that many of the examples he and Engels gave of “qualitative” change were not in fact “qualitative” changes to begin with. And that includes the hackneyed example of water turning into ice or steam. No new Aristotelian “quality” comes into being at zero degrees C or even at 100; the substance remains H2O at all times.]

    Once more, it is not I who wants to “pin down” the word “nodal” to mean “short duration”; both Hegel and Engels did that in the quotations I appended to my previous reply. They compared the “gradual” warming of water with the “sudden” “leap” at 100 degrees C, from liquid to gas. In none of their examples were these “nodes” of long duration. It is in fact you who wants to impose your view of “nodes” on them, and on nature! I am just taking them at their word to show that this ‘law’ is defective, *at best&.

    “One final point, I suppose I could be pedantic and claim that during the transition from caterpillar to moth there is a point inside the chrysalis where it is more one than the other. Likewise with the decay of diamonds into graphite. Which is certainly true but does not necessarily define or limit the term “nodal”.”

    But how do you know that? On what biological fact do you base this? Are you not, as Engels said he would never do, “foisting” this ‘theory’ on the facts?

    In fact, all through the changes that this organism undergoes (from egg to adult and then to egg again), it is still the same species. So there is no “qualitative” change here at all in the Aristotelian sense, let alone any “nodes”!

  43. David Ellis on said:

    Come on Rosa, is the movement of the universe wholly determined or wholly random. It is not a physics question so just give your considered philosophical opinion but make it short, readable and no links then we might have a discussion going cos believe me, nobody is reading your endless screeds or your `zany’ website.

  44. David Ellis:

    “Come on Rosa, is the movement of the universe wholly determined or wholly random. It is not a physics question so just give your considered philosophical opinion but make it short, readable and no links then we might have a discussion going cos believe me, nobody is reading your endless screeds or your `zany’ website.”

    Ah, I see you are a believer in the “either-or” of ‘formal thinking’?

    Anyway, that is your problem.

    However, and once more, I am happy to leave that question to the scientists, and, unlike you dialectical mystics, I refuse not *impose* a view on nature. Indeed, it could turn out that reality is neither of these, and that we haven’t yet got the words to describe what the nature of the universe actually is.

    [Odd, isn’t it, that you seem to accept the ‘law excluded middle’ here, whereas I refuse to apply it…?]

    “cos believe me, nobody is reading your endless screeds or your `zany’ website.”

    Even if no one reads my work — which isn’t the case, anyway — what has that got to do with whether I am right or not?

    Can you imagine someone arguing: “Who reads Das Kapital today, and its endless, “zany”, obsessive attacks on capitalism? Therefore, Karl Marx is wrong.”

    Well, perhaps a ruling-class version of you might…

    But, even if I were to accept your challenge and chose one of these two ‘either-or’ options, what has that got to do with whether or not dialectical materialism [DM] is an acceptable theory? As I noted earlier, if we needed a philosophical theory of the nature of the universe (which I deny we do), DM would not be it — it is far to vague and confused to even *count as a theory*.

    And David, if you actually bothered to read my work, instead of being offensive about it from a position of total ignorance, you would see that I reject all philosophical theories (and not just that fifth rate version called “DM”) as just so much hot air.

    Of course, you do not have to read my work, but only a fool would pass comment on something he had not read. Perhaps you are that fool?

    [Note: I said “philosophical theories” above, not scientific theories.]

  45. The fourth paragraph should in fact read:

    “However, and once more, I am happy to leave that question to the scientists, and, unlike you dialectical mystics, I refuse to *impose* a view on nature. Indeed, it could turn out that reality is neither of these, and that we haven’t yet got the words to describe what the nature of the universe actually is.”

  46. “However, and once more, I am happy to leave that question to the scientists, and, unlike you dialectical mystics, I refuse to *impose* a view on nature. Indeed, it could turn out that reality is neither of these, and that we haven’t yet got the words to describe what the nature of the universe actually is.”

    For a philosopher that’s a very odd comment to make considering science has been imposing its views on nature for quite awhile now. Scientists are quite happy to admit and accept this. Indeed, it is the fact that scientist understand that they work with approximations and inaccuracy that allows them to delve deeper into the nature of…er…nature by refining their theory and practice.
    The properties of water at different temperatures and pressures represent qualitative change as does the thermodynamic process. You don’t seem to have an understanding of these processes or you are avoiding this issue. Engels never claimed that water turned into wine.
    YOU are the one defining “nodal” and “qualitative” so that it fits in with your argument but that’s not the definition that Engels or anyone else interested in dialectics accepts. You set up a straw man and when no one is interested in defending it you claim to have won the argument.

    “And David, if you actually bothered to read my work, instead of being offensive about it from a position of total ignorance, you would see that I reject all philosophical theories (and not just that fifth rate version called “DM”) as just so much hot air.”

    You obviously have a lot invested in this which might just explain your descent into rudeness. I think that’s what alienates people. That and the rather sweeping statements you make about science and philosophy. It might help if you took your own advice and increased you knowledge of both.

  47. Ray:

    “For a philosopher that’s a very odd comment to make considering science has been imposing its views on nature for quite awhile now. Scientists are quite happy to admit and accept this. Indeed, it is the fact that scientist understand that they work with approximations and inaccuracy that allows them to delve deeper into the nature of…er…nature by refining their theory and practice.”

    I am not a philosopher, I am an ordinary worker and Trade Union rep (unpaid), who happens to have a Philosophy and a Mathematics degree. And my PhD was on Wittgenstein.

    I am quite happy to acknowledge that scientists have been imposing their theories on nature for many centuries; however they test their theories by experiment, and abandon those that do not work. Philosophers do not. [There are no experiments that can, for example, determine if the Forms exist, or if Goodness is more to be desired than Beauty.] But, this just means that science is conventional.

    But, dialecticians tell us they never impose their ideas on nature; it is this fib that I hope to expose (and explain why they lie to themselves too — you can find that explanation in Essay Nine Part Two).

    “The properties of water at different temperatures and pressures represent qualitative change as does the thermodynamic process. You don’t seem to have an understanding of these processes or you are avoiding this issue. Engels never claimed that water turned into wine.”

    Once more, you are helping yourself to the word “quality”; this is how the word was defined by Hegel:

    “Each of the three spheres of the logical idea proves to be a systematic whole of thought-terms, and a phase of the Absolute. This is the case with Being, containing the three grades of quality, quantity and measure.

    “Quality is, in the first place, the character identical with being: so identical that a thing ceases to be what it is, if it loses its quality. Quantity, on the contrary, is the character external to being, and does not affect the being at all. Thus, e.g. a house remains what it is, whether it be greater or smaller; and red remains red, whether it be brighter or darker.” [Hegel, Shorter Logic, p.124, §85.]

    And here is how this word is defined at the Marxist Internet Archive:

    “Quality is an aspect of something by which it is what it is and not something else and reflects that which is stable amidst variation. Quantity is an aspect of something which may change (become more or less) without the thing thereby becoming something else.

    “Thus, if something changes to an extent that it is no longer the same kind of thing, this is a ‘qualitative change’, whereas a change in something by which it still the same thing, though more or less, bigger or smaller, is a ‘quantitative change’.

    “In Hegel’s Logic, Quality is the first division of Being, when the world is just one thing after another, so to speak, while Quantity is the second division, where perception has progressed to the point of recognising what is stable within the ups and downs of things. The third and final stage, Measure, the unity of quality and quantity, denotes the knowledge of just when quantitative change becomes qualitative change.” [Quoted from here. The original links can be found at my site in Essay Seven]

    Here is how Kuusinen defines it in his book on ‘Marxist’ Philosophy:

    “The totality of essential features that make a particular thing or phenomenon what it is and distinguishes it from others, is called its quality…. It is…[a] concept that denotes the inseparable distinguishing features, the inner structure, constituting the definiteness of a phenomenon and without which it cease to be what it is.” [Kuusinen (1961), pp.83-84.]

    Kuusinen, O. (1961) (ed.), Fundamentals Of Marxism-Leninism (Lawrence & Wishart).

    This is an Aristotelian definition. By no stretch of the imagination is water as ice, as a liquid or as steam a new substance. It remain H2O at all times. These three phases are part of the “totality of essential features that make a particular thing or phenomenon what it is and distinguishes it from others”, and so constitute the same “quality”

    However, if you want to abandon that definition, what are you going to replace it with?

    You do not say — and it’s a good job too, for the above definition was introduced to eliminate trivial variations as “qualitative” changes. Abandon that definition and a whole host of counter-examples emerge that refute Engels ‘law’.

    I can list these if you want me too; but I advise you give it some thought first before you reject this definition, since Aristotle was no incompetent here, and Hegel, even if incompetent, was no fool. They latched onto this definition for good reason.

    On the other hand, if you do want to abandon this definition, then you will in fact be doing me a favour, since it will allow me to sweep this ‘law’ away as almost universally false, with countless counter-examples.

    Unfortunately, its retention would mean that water as ice, liquid or gas has not changed “qualitatively”, as Hegel, Engels and the vast majority of DM-fans suppose. Other favoured DM-examples also fall by the wayside (including the ‘Mamelukes’ example!).

    So, you are caught between a very material hard place and a non-dialectical rock, here.

    Whatever you do, this ‘law’ is screwed.

    “YOU are the one defining “nodal” and “qualitative” so that it fits in with your argument but that’s not the definition that Engels or anyone else interested in dialectics accepts. You set up a straw man and when no one is interested in defending it you claim to have won the argument.”

    Not so, as I pointed out. I have actually researched this topic for over twenty years, whereas you plainly haven’t done any homework at all (or none that can be detected).

    I am relying, not on my ideas here, but on Hegel’s and other dialectician’s definition of “quality”, just as I am taking Engels and Hegel (among others) at their word about what “node” means.

    Moreover, I have quoted these characters in support of my reading. What have you got to quote in support of your non-definition?

    Nothing.

    “You obviously have a lot invested in this which might just explain your descent into rudeness. I think that’s what alienates people. That and the rather sweeping statements you make about science and philosophy. It might help if you took your own advice and increased you knowledge of both.”

    I appeared at SU for the very first time last year, and was a model of politeness initially. From the start, I faced little other than abuse, lies and fabrication.

    I returned again this year, and posted an innocent comment (practically my first one in 12 months), and faced a similar response. Now, I have encountered little other than this sort of response from dialectically-distracted comrades for over 25 years! David Ellis suddenly appears and straight-away he is abusive to me (when I had not said a word to him), but instead of picking him up on this, you criticise me! So, apparently it’s OK with you if others are rude to me and if I take it all lying down (but even that does not stop it from flowing freely), but it’s not OK if I fight back.

    As I have written on the opening page of my site (referring to another page** at my site that lists the scores of places on the internet where dialecticians form right across the planet are just as abusive to me):

    “How Not To Argue 101

    The above page contains links to forums on the web where I have ‘debated’ this creed with other comrades.

    For anyone interested, check out the desperate ‘debating’ tactics used by Dialectical Mystics in their attempt to respond to my ideas.

    You will no doubt notice that the vast majority all say the same sorts of things, and most of them pepper their remarks with scatological and abusive language. They all like to make things up, too, about me and my beliefs.

    25 years (!!) of this from Dialectical Mystics has meant I now take an aggressive stance with them every time — I soon learnt back in the 1980s that being pleasant with them (my initial tactic) did not alter their abusive tone, their propensity to fabricate, nor reduce the amount of scatological language they used.

    So, these days, I generally go for the jugular from the get-go.

    Apparently, they expect me to take their abuse lying down, and regularly complain about my “bullying” tactics.

    So, these mystics can dish it out, but they cannot take it.

    Given the damage their theory has done to Marxism, and the abuse they all dole out, they are lucky this is all I can do to them.”

    **That page can be accessed here:

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

    “That and the rather sweeping statements you make about science and philosophy. It might help if you took your own advice and increased you knowledge of both.”

    As we have seen, you too making “sweeping statements”, and you have shown that you know less about your own ‘theory’ than I do!

    So, I can take lessons from you in how to be ignorant.

    And, nip over to my site, and read, say the second half of Essay Five or all of Essay Twelve, and you will see just how much Philosophy I know.

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%2005.htm

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%2012_01.htm

    [Also: I started off at University as a Chemist, and later swapped to Philosophy. So, my knowledge of science, while not earth-shattering, is not non-existent, either. Moreover, one of my specialist subjects for my degree, and then later at post-graduate level, was the History and Philosophy of Science. My specialist subject in mathematics was Fluid Dynamics. I say this not to brag, but to counter your belief that I am somehow an ignorant dabbler here.]

  48. Anonymous on said:

    “So, I can take lessons from you in how to be ignorant.”

    In Ursula Le Guin’s “The Left Hand Of Darkness”, the main character Genly Ai says at one point “I am exceedingly ignorant” before realizing that it could be seen in that time and place as boasting.

  49. David Ellis on said:

    “Come on Rosa, is the movement of the universe wholly determined or wholly random. It is not a physics question so just give your considered philosophical opinion but make it short, readable and no links then we might have a discussion going cos believe me, nobody is reading your endless screeds or your `zany’ website.”

    `Ah, I see you are a believer in the “either-or” of ‘formal thinking’?

    Anyway, that is your problem.

    However, and once more, I am happy to leave that question to the scientists, and, unlike you dialectical mystics, I refuse not *impose* a view on nature. Indeed, it could turn out that reality is neither of these, and that we haven’t yet got the words to describe what the nature of the universe actually is.’

    I’m afraid this is what marks you out as a lieing cunt. I asked you to say whether you thought the universe is wholly determined or wholly randmom and you say that marks me out as an either or thinker when you know that I’m suggesting that that is what you are. You are dishonest in debate and therefore unworthy of engaging with.

  50. David Ellis on said:

    `However, and once more, I am happy to leave that question to the scientists, and, unlike you dialectical mystics, I refuse not *impose* a view on nature. Indeed, it could turn out that reality is neither of these, and that we haven’t yet got the words to describe what the nature of the universe actually is.’

    What a coward you are. I ask if the universe moves in a wholly determined way (god) or a wholly random way and you say `it could turn out that reality is neither of these’ which is my point exactly. Now, if it is neither tell me what it is in a non mealy mouthed cowardly way you twat. I wouldn’t be this angry if you hadn’t lied in arguement which you pretend to be interested in and spew all over the blogosphere.

  51. I am happy to admit I am totally ignorant of Le Guin’s work, and that I wish to stay that way. The feeling may well be mutual.

    Would that count as an example of the unity of opposites?

  52. Rosa does make people exceedingly angry. I think it is a personality thing rather than becuase of the ocntent of his “theories”, because i) he is extremely literal; and ii) he thinks he is celverer than everyone else.

    But please moderate your language ocmrades and show some self-discipline.

  53. David Ellis on said:

    `Rosa does make people exceedingly angry. I think it is a personality thing rather than becuase of the ocntent of his “theories”, because i) he is extremely literal; and ii) he thinks he is celverer than everyone else.’

    Apologies for language but it is not a personality thing it is because he is dishonest in debate.

  54. DE:

    “I’m afraid this is what marks you out as a lieing cunt. I asked you to say whether you thought the universe is wholly determined or wholly randmom and you say that marks me out as an either or thinker when you know that I’m suggesting that that is what you are. You are dishonest in debate and therefore unworthy of engaging with.”

    And you are a foul-mouthed dialectician (and I have used the worst swera word I can think of here: “dialectician)).

    And you still accept the “either-or” of formal thinking.

    Sad twat aren’t you?

  55. DE (taking a second bite at the abuse cherry):

    “What a coward you are. I ask if the universe moves in a wholly determined way (god) or a wholly random way and you say `it could turn out that reality is neither of these’ which is my point exactly. Now, if it is neither tell me what it is in a non mealy mouthed cowardly way you twat. I wouldn’t be this angry if you hadn’t lied in arguement which you pretend to be interested in and spew all over the blogosphere.”

    No, not a coward, just not idiot enough to think I know the answer to that riddle sat in my armchair. Perhaps you are.

  56. #71:

    “Rosa does make people exceedingly angry. I think it is a personality thing rather than becuase of the ocntent of his “theories”, because i) she is extremely literal; and ii) she thinks she is celverer than everyone else.”

    Certainly wiped the floor with you…

  57. It pretty easy to shoot down theories without offering any of your own Rosa. It would be interesting to find out whether you agree with this quote:

    “The whole development of dialectic should be a warning against the dangers inherent in philosophical system-building. It should remind us that philosophy should not be made a basis for any sort of scientific system and that philosophers should be much more modest in their claims. One task which they can fulfill quite usefully is the study of the critical methods of science”

    I assume you disagree with the law of opposites, the law of negation as well as your bete noire, the law of transformation. The problem with this is that you are rejecting historical materialism as well which means you reject the fundamental principles of Marxism. I don’t know where that leaves you but perhaps you will explain in an abbreviated form what you hold to be true. I’m unlikely to wade through the abundant writings on your website and the best theories are usually explainable in a few sentences or, at the most, a paragraph or two.

  58. It would also be interesting if you answered David Ellis’s question to find out your opinion on irreducible complexity and intelligent design. This is an important question because according to the theory of evolution, genetic variations occur without specific design or intent. From Wikipedia:

    “Opposition [to dialectics] also point to the Law of Transformation as merely describing a process in nature without accounting for it. They claim that the possibility of a series of accidents leading to something as complex as the eye, circulatory system or other parts of the body and then making them work in perfect unison are extremely low. Such an argument bears similarities to irreducible complexity, a common argument against evolution.”

    How does your critique of dialectics differ from that of the proponents of ID?

  59. Ray:

    “It pretty easy to shoot down theories without offering any of your own Rosa. It would be interesting to find out whether you agree with this quote:”

    Look, the only relevant theory I accept is Historical Materialism [HM]. Once more, the physical and biological sciences I leave to the scientists.

    Thanks for the quotation, by the way, but Popper was an idiot.

    “I assume you disagree with the law of opposites, the law of negation as well as your bete noire, the law of transformation. The problem with this is that you are rejecting historical materialism as well which means you reject the fundamental principles of Marxism. I don’t know where that leaves you but perhaps you will explain in an abbreviated form what you hold to be true. I’m unlikely to wade through the abundant writings on your website and the best theories are usually explainable in a few sentences or, at the most, a paragraph or two.”

    I reject the entire theory, root and branch, just as I reject every single philosophical theory. And that is not to reject HM (which theory Hegel pinched from the Scottish School of Historical Materialism, and from Kant, and then proceeded to mystify it. I aim to de-mystify it).

    And why are you so interested in what I hold to be true?

    Apart from the billions of truths science has revealed to us, and the countless truths found in HM, I rather think you will find the things I hold true in addition to these somewhat boring — such as I hold it true that the Nile is longer than the Thames, that London is the capital of the UK, that Blair is a liar…

    Once more, I do not have an alternative theory (other than HM), nor do I want one.

    Here is how I put this in Essay One:

    “From time to time readers will find themselves asking the following question of the author: “Well, what’s your theory then?” No alternative philosophical theory will be advanced here (or anywhere else for that matter). This tactic has not been adopted out of cussedness — or even out of diffidence –, but because it is an important part of the Wittgensteinian method (employed here) not to advance philosophical theories. Wittgenstein’s approach means that no philosophical theory makes any sense. [Why this is so will be considered at length in Essay Twelve Part One.]

    Objections to the use of his ideas are neutralised here:

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

    In fact, for comrades like you, I have written several summary Essays, outlining my objections to dialectics (of decreasing length and difficulty). Here they are in reverse order, with the easiest and shortest first (the first is in fact an article I wrote for ‘Weekly Worker’ last year):

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

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/Anti-D_For_Dummies%2001.htm

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/Why%20I%20Oppose%20DM.htm

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/essay_sixteen%20Index.htm

    “It would also be interesting if you answered David Ellis’s question to find out your opinion on irreducible complexity and intelligent design. This is an important question because according to the theory of evolution, genetic variations occur without specific design or intent. From Wikipedia:”

    Well, of course I am against Intelligent Design, but I am afraid you will be asking until the cows next evolve about my opinions of the things DE asked about, and then to no avail. I refuse to enter into speculation about these things. If that annoys you and DE, so be it.

    Exactly what this has to do with whether or not dialectical materialism [DM] is true beats me, anyway.

    And thanks for this quotation, but it has nothing to do with my objections to DM:

    “Opposition [to dialectics] also point to the Law of Transformation as merely describing a process in nature without accounting for it. They claim that the possibility of a series of accidents leading to something as complex as the eye, circulatory system or other parts of the body and then making them work in perfect unison are extremely low. Such an argument bears similarities to irreducible complexity, a common argument against evolution.”

    In fact, the opposition that dialecticians show toward ‘reductionism’ is uncomfortably similar to creationist ideas connected with ‘irreducible complexity’, and can be shown to originate in the same mystical, nature-philosophy that motivated Hegel and Schelling. So dialecticians have nothing the crow about here. Just when modern science removed ‘god’ from nature, dialecticians succeeded in re-enchanted it (with all those ‘contradictions’, and ‘negations’ — concepts that belong only to human discourse).

    “How does your critique of dialectics differ from that of the proponents of ID?”

    It differs in that my criticism of DM is motivated by, among many other things, my desire to see the scientific development of Marxism re- emerge from its 150 year-long slumber, the fact that I am a militant atheist, and an implacable anti-philosopher.

    Thanks for the link, but I already know about the ‘new dialectic’, which is just a re-packaging of the old dialectic (with all the usual errors thrown in, and a few more for good measure), dressed up in impenetrable academic jargon.

    I need an anti-emetic whenever I read such gobbledygook.

  60. This paragraph should in fact read:

    In fact, the opposition that dialecticians show toward ‘reductionism’ is uncomfortably similar to creationist ideas connected with ‘irreducible complexity’, and can be shown to originate in the same mystical, nature-philosophy that motivated Hegel and Schelling. So dialecticians have nothing the crow about here. Just when modern science removed ‘god’ from nature, dialecticians succeeded in re-enchanting it (with all those ‘contradictions’, and ‘negations’ — concepts that belong only to human discourse).

  61. I am sorry, Ray, I assumed that by the ‘new dialectic’ you were referring to the work of Tony Arthur etc. I did not realise that the link you gave was to Michael Kosok’s site.

    Kosok is an open mystic, and not someone with whom half-way decent materialsts should have anything to do.

    In his alleged ‘formalisation’ of the dialectic, for example, he makes all the usual errors — I expose some of those here:

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/Outline_of_errors_Hegel_committed_01.htm

  62. Rosa

    Please cease and desist posting on this blog about our philospohical theories. Readers have now got the message, and if they wish to debate with you thay can find other forums to do so.

    I am not going to be able to moderate the comments for a whle, so i ask you to voluntarily abide by this.

  63. #72 I don’t think it is the unity of opposites we are demonstrating, more like the opposite of unity. I thought that was the UNITE election threads (one divides into two…)

  64. Sorry Andy, but I posted this about 9am this morning, and it promptly ‘disappered’:

    Andy:

    “”Please cease and desist posting on this blog about our philospohical theories. Readers have now got the message, and if they wish to debate with you thay can find other forums to do so.

    I am not going to be able to moderate the comments for a whle, so i ask you to voluntarily abide by this.”

    “Ok, but please also ask others to stop asking me questions.

    If anyone wants to debate this with me, log on to RevLeft, where I am a long-term regular, and they can do so to their heart’s content.

    http://www.revleft.com/vb/philosophy-f33/index.html

    By the way, as I have told you before: I have np “philosophical theory”, nor do I want one.”

  65. “If anyone wants to debate this with me, log on to RevLeft, where I am a long-term regular, and they can do so to their heart’s content.”

    I did and was struck by how rude you are to people who try to have a non-abusive debate with you about this issue. You also misrepresent what they say and accuse people of being too afraid to respond to you when they clearly have responded. It’s quite bizarre. Based on what I’ve read on RevLeft your style of debate is very off-putting and I don’t think this does you or your theory any favours I’m afraid.

  66. Rosa claims that DM has led to workers defeat yet also claims that it had no influence on the historical materialism of Marx, Lenin, Trotsky etc. Isn’t there a contradiction at work here that we’re not supposed to believe in?
    When asked to provide concrete examples of where DM has led to workers defeat as is time honoured practice for Marxist in order to test theory and practice she is unable to.

  67. Screw it; here is my rely.

    “I did and was struck by how rude you are to people who try to have a non-abusive debate with you about this issue. You also misrepresent what they say and accuse people of being too afraid to respond to you when they clearly have responded. It’s quite bizarre. Based on what I’ve read on RevLeft your style of debate is very off-putting and I don’t think this does you or your theory any favours I’m afraid.”

    Why did you not post this at RevLeft then, where I could have responded without breaking my promise to Andy?

    You have not been at RevLeft for long. You do not know what has gone on in the past. Those to whom I was rude are ones like David Ellis here. They have responded to me at RevLeft in an abusive manner, and, as I said above, if they do this, I will treat them the same way in return. If you expect me to take their abuse lying down, you are sadly mistaken.

    On the other hand, there are many at RevLeft with whom I have a comradely relationship. They disagree with me, but we are civil to one another.

    You have been comradely with me up to now, and I have never been rude to you. That’s the same with others.

    “Rosa claims that DM has led to workers defeat yet also claims that it had no influence on the historical materialism of Marx, Lenin, Trotsky etc. Isn’t there a contradiction at work here that we’re not supposed to believe in?

    When asked to provide concrete examples of where DM has led to workers defeat as is time honoured practice for Marxist in order to test theory and practice she is unable to.”

    Where have I claimed this?

    Nowhere, that’s where.

    What I *have* claimed is that dialectics is *part* of the reason for the long-term failure of Dialectical Marxism (not the workers’ movement). And I have provided argument and evidence to that effect, here:

    http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rosa.l/page%2009_01.htm

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

    So, please to not invent words to put in my mouth, Ray.

    Now, Andy has asked us not to debate this here. So, if you want to debate this further, please log on to RevLeft and to do so.

    If you are not rude to me, I won’t be rude to you. But please, do not make stuff up about me.

  68. David Ellis on said:

    Right, I’m going to try one last time with you:

    I asked if the motion of the universe was wholly determined or wholly random and you refused to answer until we finally got this:

    `However, and once more, I am happy to leave that question to the scientists, and, unlike you dialectical mystics, I refuse not *impose* a view on nature. Indeed, it could turn out that reality is neither of these, and that we haven’t yet got the words to describe what the nature of the universe actually is.’

    By saying that reality could be neither of these you have at least rejected the law of the excluded middle that so paralyses the formal thinker. Though you do talk of reality rather than the material world (and I don’t think you are using it as short hand) which suggests you believe that we cannot really know the world beyond our perceptions of it (Kantian unknowable thing-in-itself). Anyway if the universe is neither determined nor random what are the general laws that govern its movement? An honest thinker would say `the dialectical laws’ but I’m anxious to here what you have to say. Again, try to be brief and no links.

  69. David, Andy has asked me not to discuss such things here. So, if you are indeed as sad as you sound, and cannot live another day without my answer to your irrelevant question, nip over to RevLeft, and I will give you the benefit of my undivided attention.

  70. mark anthony france on said:

    #97… Skiddy.. I would like to thank you for posting this important link. Danger Mouse does rely on a Dialectial Materialist perspective on the universe as do most children’s cartoons. The imposition of an eclectic mix of english empiricism and american pragmatism layered with crude formal logic, destroy’s the capacity of most children to develop a revolutionary praxis… the only escape from this alienating imposition enforced by formal education is the alternate universe of the unity and struggle of opposites that is accessible in popular culture via cartoons.