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 A response to Saral Sakar’s “ From Marxist Socialism to Eco-Socialism — Turning Points of a Personal Journey Through a Theory of Socialism.”

Dear Comrade,

I want you to know that you are not alone; that anyone who has taken the long walk with and through Marx has at times felt like there was something “missing” some “not quite right” in his analysis.  The moment came for me long ago and far away when I understood that Marx’s class analysis contributed little if nothing to the understanding of the transhistorical, transcultural exploitation of women.  Engle’s Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, did not satisfy either me or other feminists such as Shula Firestone who said “In creating such an analysis we can learn a lot from Marx and Engels: not their literal opinions about women – about the condition of women as an oppressed class they know next to nothing, recognizing it only where it overlaps with economics but rather -their–analytic method.”

And of course, this is quite the point; it is not that any position, or statement or sentence take from Hegel, Marx, Engels or Lenin might or might not be wrong, but rather that even though they were wrong, the truth of their analytical method, dialectical materialism, remains untouched by their mistakes.  The mistakes belong to the man, and, they are mistakes that are the result of the failure to apply the laws and principles of the dialectic properly.   That is to say, they are the results of undialectical thinking; a slip or a flaw in dialectical logic.  That sexism was written into the consciousness of these men from birth is no fault of the dialectic, but perhaps even to be understood considering that they were the products of an historically specific time and place.  The dialectic tells us that there is an inherent unity in all opposites such that they are mutually defining, mutually determining essential parts of a single whole.  The idea of inferior and superior, the idea of separation, is disallowed.  What does this tell us?  That, when it comes to their analysis of the position of women in society, these men were flawed dialecticians.

No, we must understand that the truth of socialism is the dialectic, and that the dialectic, is inherently revolutionary.  To truly think dialectically is automatically to think in a revolutionary way.  Let me explain what by this, which is to say, let me attempt to do the impossible and explain the dialectic as quickly and as simply as possible.  The first principle, to the degree to which there is a first principle, is that everything is internally related.  The Truth is the totality; and every part is but a partial truth.  To treat something apart from the totality of the relations which determine and define it is to render it a distortion or “abstraction”.   Now to be sure, no human being and perhaps no machine, can factor in the totality of the internal relations in time and space which have produced even the smallest and simplest thing: a leaf for example.  Thus, we always fall prey to the distortions resulting from abstraction.  The only thing we can do is be conscious of our abstractions.  My dear teacher, Bertell Ollman, is preoccupied in his old age with where we should draw the “lines” of abstraction when we begin an inquiry.  It is a question we must ask ourselves.   But we should never, as begin our analysis without consciousness of the fact that the object of our inquiry is but a moment in time space.

There are other laws, laws which Aristotle sought with his own logic.  Of course, he attempted to negate the law of internal relations with his law of identity.  A is A he tells us, and it is separate and distinct from B.  The dialectic holds that because of the fact that things are unities in difference and unities of opposites, there is of necessity struggle (the opposite of unity), and as a result, change in timespace is the essence of all things.   Whereas Aristotle saw change merely as the realization of essence or as  development  of what is; the dialectic understands change as evolutionary and revolutionary, so that there is a phase transition such that the “thing” moves from one stage of development to another; it becomes something else even as it holds all that has come before it, and all that is in relation to itself within itself as its own self-definition.

So, in the dialectic we find an ontological understanding of Being as becoming, as constantly changing, evolving, undergoing sudden revolutionary transformations into higher stages of existence: these are the revolutionary concepts that undermine any view of the world as what is; of the status quo as eternal.

So, Comrade within this context I will say only two things to you when I want to say many more.   To separate the struggle into Marx’s emphasis on “production” vs an emphasis on ecology is undialectical.  When we consider the ecological destruction of the world, how is it even possible to separate it from production for profits without regard for people?   It is not.

Moreover, I am writing a series for Countercurrents on how the United States interfered in Soviet elections to get Boris Yeltsin elected for a second term, and how they used Yeltsin to bring about the destruction of the Soviet Union.  My point to everyone, is that the Soviet Union did not “fail”, did not die from some grave illness growing within it.  No.  It died because it was killed; because it was defeated by Capitalism, because it could not survive in a Capitalist world anymore that humanity cannot survive in a polluted world.  Stalin did terrible things, killed perhaps millions of people, but he did what he did not for personal pleasure, nor for profit, nor for gain, but out of a distorted desire to keep Communism alive and see the Soviet Union endure.  Under Stalin no spies could spy, no provocateurs could provoke no tentacle of American capitalism could stretch into the Soviet Union.  As David Hoffman elucidates in his book, The Billion Dollar Spy, the CIA had no reliable sources of information on the Soviet Bloc. (p.8) But after Stalin died, they came enmass and it was just a matter of time, until communism crumbled, and the people experienced the “shock therapy” of Capitalism.

Mary Metzger is a 72 year old retired teacher who has lived in Moscow for the past ten years. She studied Women’s Studies under Barbara Eherenreich and Deidre English at S.U.N.Y. Old Westerbury. She did her graduate work at New York University under Bertell Ollman where she studied Marx, Hegel and the Dialectic. She went on to teach at Kean University, Rutgers University, N.Y.U., and most recenly, at The Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology where she taught the Philosophy of Science. Her particular area of interest is the dialectic of nature, and she is currently working on a history of the dialectic. She is the mother of three, the gradmother of five, and the great grandmother of 2.

 

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Red News | Protestation

  2. K SHESHU BABU says:

    Mao said that a man is usually dominated by three systems of authority , political authority, family authority and religious authority.. As for women, in addition to these three, they are dominated by the men ( the authority of husband). These four authorities – political, family, religious, masculine – are the embodiment of the whole feudal patriarchal ideology and system.
    Mao on women 1919-1966 ( sfr-21.org)

    • This statement is an observation but not a systemic dialectical analysis, such as Hegel produced or Marx rendered in his analysis of Capitalism. Firestone attempts such a dialectical analysis, and I have followed in her path, by trying to evolve a dialectic of the relationship between the mode of production and mode of reproduction. These two dimensions must be internally related as q unity of opposites. I have never quite worked it out, but still try.

      Thanks for the comment.