RE: [OPE] Recent serious theoretical discussions: reply to Dogan

Date: Fri Apr 04 2008 - 09:20:51 EDT

[Jurriaan wrote:]
In his writings on the "philosophical tendencies of bureaucratism", Leon Trotsky explained how, after riding to power and privilege over the backs of the workers, the Marxist-Leninist bureaucrats develop a certain fondness and propensity for discoursing about "dialectics".  In this respect,  dialectics offers the advantage that any premise can be flexibly deduced from any other premise to suit one's purpose; any idea can be connected "dialectically" to any other. However, Trotsky recognized this kind of dialectics is totalitarian. Why? Because the bureaucrat defines his vision of the totality in advance, so that his inferiors may be cajoled to conform to it and think accordingly - the whole purpose is to impose that totality on the workers, like it or not. Thus, this "dialectical totality" is merely the philosophical justification and rationalization of bureaucratic power. It is a sad thing when modern Marxists succumb to the same nonsense - and I say this as someone with a lengthy experience of bureaucratic absurdities.
[Dogan replied:]         Obviously you do not understand much of dialectics. This is Popperian nonsense.

It's not "nonsense": what Jurriaan is saying above is , I think, is
an important and valid historical  observation - namely, that bureaucracies
- and all sorts of atrocities - have been rationalized with reference
to the language of 'dialectics'. 
To take one example which Dave Z referred to recently: the Khymer
Rouge rationalized mass killings by noting that there were dialectical
"contraditions among the people" which needed to be resolved.
I agree with Jurriaan that it's a sad (tragic, in many cases) thing when 
Marxists sucumb to this, but it's not merely "nonsense": it is a 
form of discourse and language which has been historically utilized
to rationalize totalitarian rule.
None of the above is an attack on the merits of dialectical thought
as such; it is rather a recognition that "dialectics" (note quotation
marks) has been mis-used and abused by many Marxians both 
historically and at the present time. I think that even the most
"systematic dialecticians" on the list (like Chris A, Tony S, Geert, 
and Mike W) would agree, but they, of course, should correct me
if they disagree.
In solidarity, Jerry

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