[OPE-L:7214] Re: Marx on solving human problems

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Sun May 19 2002 - 06:45:04 EDT

Re Hans's [72ll]:

> But in the external clash between
> capital accumulation and the limited resources of our
> planet, there is no such other side of the coin which would
> provide a solution, exactly because this clash is external.
> Perhaps this will clarify why I consider the distinction
> between internal versus external contradictions relevant
> here.

On a political and a practical level, I think we are in agreement.
I don't think, though, that the "internal contradictions" vs.
"external contradictions"  distinction really captures this 
relationship.  Consider:  

a) We are all part of nature.  Like all life, we are organic 
matter. Like all, we are matter and atoms.  From that 
perspective there is *simple unity*  and there is nothing
that is alien to us.

b) We struggle with and against natural forces for our
survival.  Our life depends on the lives of other species. 
We appropriate what is part of the rest of nature and
claim it as our own (as do some other species but in more
limited ways.)   From that perspective -- which is the one
that I think Marx emphasized -- we are in *opposition* to
nature.  So there is not simple unity alone, there is also
*difference*.   From the perspective of difference alone,
it makes sense to conceive of this question in terms of 
"internal" vs. "external" contradictions.

c) Both a) and b), though, are one-sided.  We are
neither just the same as all else nor is humankind just different
from all else.  Both sides express, in other words, only
limited sides of this relationship.  Thus, in our everyday
lives we see capital just in opposition to the rest of nature
where it seeks to appropriate nature as an external force and
mould it to serve its purposes.  Yet, capital can not defeat
nature without the defeat of all life and with that the requirements
for the reproduction of capital.  Indeed,  the logic of capital, and
with it the unlimited thirst for surplus value by capital,  if
unchecked drives towards that  end.  Against this logic there
is the logic of the working class.  There is also even under
capitalism a limited role for the state, i.e. reforms can be won 
through struggle which slow this drive towards self-annihilation. 
A *prerequisite*  for this, though, is that since both a) and b) are
one-sided we must grasp the question, not in terms of
simple unity or difference alone -- but with greater complexity
in terms of *unity-in-difference*   Yet to grasp this we can 
not take the standpoint of conceiving of the  contradictions 
between humanity and the rest of nature as "external".   

In solidarity, Jerry

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