[OPE-L] Michael Heinrich and the new conception of the epoch

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Sat Aug 04 2007 - 15:56:10 EDT

I appreciate Michael Heinrich's reply, and it is really none of my business to criticise him very much. It is just that I think that it would be much more provocative, simply to say that what we know about the "big picture" of historical developments is really rather limited, raising the question of how we could best go about gaining that kind of knowledge. There is much we simply don't know. But in order to do something, we do not necessarily need to operate with a confident prognosis of the "march of history" anyway (particularly if it turns out to be flawed anyway). Just paying attention to the real concerns which people have now, and having confidence in our own ability, will do fine. In my experience, many people (including, often, myself) already have problems with knowing what the questions are, never mind the answers. In this regard, when Marx was 24 years old, he wrote:

"A question of the day shares a common lot with any other question 
justified by its content, and hence rational, namely that the question and 
not the answer constitutes the main difficulty. True criticism, therefore, 
analyses the questions and not the answers. Just as the solution of an 
algebraic equation is given once the problem has been put in its simplest 
and sharpest form, so every question is answered as soon as it has become an 
actual question. World history itself has no other method than that of 
answering and disposing of old questions by posing new ones. The riddle 
words of each era are therefore easy to discover. They are questions of the 
day, and although the intention and insight of a single individual may play 
an important role in the answers, and a practised eye is needed to separate 
what belongs to the individual from what belongs to the era in which he 
lives, the questions, on the other hand, are the frank, relentless 
voices of an era, overriding any single individuality; they are its signposts, they are 
the supremely practical utterances proclaiming the state of its own soul."  
(I changed the translation a bit here - cf MEW Eb. 1:p.379; cf Easton/Guddat, Writings of the young Marx on philosophy and society, p. 106-107).


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