cj#995> “Ode to Marxism” – the debate goes on


Richard Moore

Dear cj,

Christopher has taken the time to respond to my previous words regarding
marxism.  I find the debate somewhat puzzling since he and I probably have
little fundamental disagreement about the kind of economics and politics
that the world is in need of.  I suppose if I'd written about 'Why I'm not
an environmentalist' I would have gotten flack from that quarter.

The fact is that I hate labels - they just put constraints on your
thinking.  Ideas are free, you can adopt them without taking on all the
baggage that gave birth to them.  I guess that's why I always seek out the
track suits that don't say Aididas on them.

In any case, Chris' contribution is appreciated, and he inspired me to
write my first poem in some time, which you can find after Chris' remarks.

in freedom,

From: "Christopher Black" <•••@••.•••>
To: "cyberjournal" <•••@••.•••>
Cc: "Margaret Wyles" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: cj#994> re: radical mass movement
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 1999 12:57:03 -0400

Mr. Moore,

Thank you for your reply.  In so far as I misunderstood the flow of the
discussion  I willingly stand corrected.

I agree that many working people have accepted right-wing ideology and that
we on the left have to try to get them back but insofar as they see the
right as the solution to the worlds problems we are not going to succeed.
We have to remember that in Nazi Germany the workers who for religious or
other reasons rejected the communists ended up being fascists and this is
quite likely to happen again and in my view is already happening.  They tie
themselves to power and live vicariuosly through it.  The dominant class
controls the media and the media feeds workers a barrage of propaganda
telling them that unions are bad, socialists are out of fashion, socialism
doesn't work.  The result is that workers lose faith in their own ability
to change things and instead become more subservient to the the bosses and
more loyal to them even though it's against their own interest.

So we still are dealing with a class world and everything that Marx or
Lenin or anybody else you want to quote says about class and what it means
is relevant.  I totally disagree with you that Marx and the rest are quoted
like the Bible or that their analysis is doctrinaire.  The whole point of
Marxism is that it is a way of thinking, of seeing the opposites in things
of the movement in the everything around us.  Sure we refer to Marx etc.
What's wrong with that?  Why should people not be aware of what mankind has
already thought about these issues?  Why should we waste our time
reinventing all this?  Do we say to physicists stop quoting Newton and
Einstein, you're being too doctrinaire, its time we thought of the world in
our own way?  No, of course not.  It seems to me that to hold your position
is to misunderstand what Marx and the rest said and what the point of what
they said was.

I also disagree with you on the issue of mass-production.  Mass production
is the only answer to the demand for the satisfaction of the needs of the
mass population.  We cannot go back to some sort of handicraft society.
The point is that mass-production can supply the needs and wants of the
world population.  The issue is who controls mass-production and how it is
organized.  Mass-production of itself doesn't need to lead to pollution or
the degradation of the workers employed in the process.  If working people
control the process for the production of products for need instead of
profit production can be undertaken which doesn't pollute or cause the
harmful effects we now face.   Technology (and I use the word in the sense
Jacques Ellul did as a system as well as tools) can be used benefically.
To say otherwise is slipping into Luddism.

I think a lot of confusion about this has arisen because the socialist
countries in the East Bloc especially had just as bad a record of
environmnetal damage as the capitalist countries.  In my opinion this
stemmed from the fact that as those countries still had to sell their goods
in an international and capitalist market they had to produce at costs
which were the same or lower to compete.  This meant the adoption of
capitalist methods.  They were not allowed the luxury of living in a
totally socialist world in which everybody was operating in a more human
paradigm.  This is one of the reasons the USSR collapsed.  Socialism  means
less exploitation of the workers which means that each unit of goods
produced has more value content and therefore is more expensive to produce.
But since the USSR still depended on trade for many goods it could not
compete. In fact the trade surplus of the USSR became increasingly negative
through the 70's and 80's.  Lenin stated this would happen, that the USSR
would revert back to capitalism unless the rest of the industrialized world
became socialist too. He was right.

As for marxists being out of touch with the sensiblities of todays working
class, well what can I say?  If you have read Marx you will know that he is
even more relevant now than before.  There is nothing new under the sun.
There is nothing about today's economy which was not true of the economy 70
years ago.  Workers are still exploited in the same way.  Profit is produce
the same way.  Imperialism continues to operate.  The contradictions in
capitalism are still there (the ability to satisfy all the needs of the
world but a system which allows those goods to rot or rust if not bought).
What has been learned since Marx?  That we are all aware of the enviroment
now I grant you but that changes nothing except the determination we must
have to change the econmic system.  That we have high speed communication?
Marx could wire a piece to the Heral Tribune in New York and be paid by
wire in seconds before he died.  That wokers work more part time jobs now?
Marx spent a considerable amount of time explaining how part time work will
be used to increase profit and lower wage costs.  That corporations can
shift production to low wage areas?  They have been doing that since the

To be blunt without I hope being offensive, those who discount Marx or any
other thinker who tried to liberate the working people of the world from
their plight is anti-worker, anti-intellectual, and in a word reactionary.

Christopher Black
Toronto, Canada


Dear Christopher,

What inspiring prose!  I fear you've converted me.  I'll endeavor to
express my gratitude....

               Ode to Marxism

        Hark, Hark!  I see the light,
        no need have I to think or write,
        but ponder only to apply,
        immutable wisdoms of Marx on high.

        Like monks who Aristotle knew -
        no need the world itself to view -
        so through Das Kapital can I,
        the world's intricacies spy.

        Why feel I this strange malaise,
        while Hegel's stream I fond embrace?
        The world it seems has missed its cue,
        impossible I know, but true!

        Why did Marx his secrets share?
        Needs inevitability a champion fair?
        If not forewarned our bosses might,
        succumb dialectically in the night.

        But since he spelled it out so clear,
        they've held their ground I trembly fear.
        History's tides are strong indeed,
        but capitalism rides a crafty steed.

        Is it fate or will that finally rules?
        Is noble humanity merely history's tools?
        If all that we do is by Marx pre-ordained,
        then why do we bother to politically refrain?

        Even Marx it turns out sought to rig up the game,
        by stirring the masses to all do the same.
        Shall we do what he said or do what he did?
        Shall we wait for the tide or make our own bid?

        For some inner reason, though Marx might fear it,
        I'll place my own faith in ye olde human spirit.
        It's democratic will that will bring the new world,
        not forces nor tides, nor formulas unfurled.

        I'll go for the dialectic but in my own way,
        applied to another dimension let's say.
        Man's spirit too long by forces subdued,
        through willful liberation shall be renewed.