[OPE-L] [jurriaan] Re: Marx on Chance in History

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Sat Nov 19 2005 - 09:17:29 EST

---------------------------- Original Message ------------------------
Subject: Marx on Chance in History
From:    "Jurriaan Bendien" <adsl675281@tiscali.nl>
Date:    Sat, November 19, 2005 6:25 am


I forgot about this quote, but really the whole quote is worth looking at:

"World history would indeed be very easy to make, if the struggle were
taken up only on condition of infallibly favorable chances. It would, on
the other hand, be a very mystical nature, if "accidents" played no part.
These accidents themselves fall naturally into the general course of
development and are compensated again by other accidents. But acceleration
and delay are very dependent upon such "accidents", which included the
"accident" of the character of those who at first stand at the head
of the movement."

The suggestion seems to be that if "accidents" played no part in human
history, then all human events would occur "by design", presumably divine
intervention, hence the reference to mysticism, i.e. seeing the totality
from the perspective of God which is impossible for humans (characteristic
of mystical statements, is their interpretive combination of different
levels of abstraction through metaphor).

The corollary is that understanding the interconnection of historical
events, in order to separate out the necessary and the accidental, takes
a lot of experience and research, we have to as it were "build up a
picture" of the subject being investigated, in order to understand what
is attributable to personal ideosyncracies, and what is attributable to
the nature of the epoch.

Althusser's philosophical concept of "overdetermination" may have some
methodological use, but it is really a theoreticism, which by seeking to
explain everything, actually explains nothing. Marx's own view was, that
it takes experience and investigation, in order to be able to cognise the
totality in its totality, there are no conceptual "shortcuts" which can
provide instant wisdom - with the proviso that, from a certain point of
view, history can appear as a big mystery, while from another point of
view it can become comprehensible in its internal necessity. Hence his
idea of the materialist interpretation of history as a "guide" for


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