[OPE] V. Cyril Smith's communism

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@telfort.nl)
Date: Sun May 18 2008 - 14:08:02 EDT

(a telling excerpt from a talk by Cyril Smith:)

You could say that Marx's working life was entirely devoted to the critique of Hegel's dialectic. I believe that this was at the same time a critique of philosophy as a whole. 

What does Marx mean by 'critique'? He does not mean straight rejection, just replacing each false conception with a 'correct' one. Rather, by negating its categories, Marx's critique grasps how they most deeply express the forms under which people live, and underlines the fact that it is these forms which are in control. (...) 

Even during Marx's lifetime, his followers worked hard and with great devotion to turn his ideas into a philosophical doctrine - and thus to falsify them totally. (...)

'Can a slave be a friend?' [Aristotle] worries. Among other amazing observations, he tells us that: 'Where there is friendship, there is no need for justice'. Aristotle also tries to grasp the nature of exchange, which he sees as the social adhesive. But, he explains, the exchange of commodities in the balanced running of a family enterprise (economia) is quite different from unbounded buying and selling to make money out of money, which he sees as quite hostile to philia. As Marx points out, it is not possible for Aristotle, without the modern conception of labour, to work it all out.

2000 years later, Hegel is attempting in his Philosophy of Right to show the relationship between the three elements of Ethical Life: family, civil society and the State. Love can no longer be the cement in this system, except as the foundation of the family. (In Hegel's story, the family is also the place where women belong. They play no part in the higher levels of his edifice. For example, education is not for the likes of them. Into the kitchen with you, woman!) But outside the walls of the family abode, in civil society, governed by private property, love is quite out of place. It's war out there! So, for all their differences, Hegel agrees with Hobbes that the State is needed to stop the citizens from destroying each other.

Marx's critique of Hegel takes a huge step forwards in 1843, when he criticises Hegel's Philosophy of Right. He sees now that Hegel's attempt at reconciliation is a swindle. Human life demands the transcendence of family, private property and the state. A few months later, Marx is clear that this transcendence takes the form of humans producing for each other humanly, that is, in mutual love. (He says this in the 1844 Comments on James Mill. Capital is 'merely' the elaboration of these brief notes.)

But Marx could only make this advance through his critical study of the false solutions which philosophy had propounded for the problems it had itself uncovered. All of these great thinkers, whether slave-owner, feudal monk or bourgeois professor, has to be studied with care, for they have probed the contradictions arising from the unity and conflict between alienation and sociality. Now, Marx can show, these problems can be resolved, not in philosophical discourse, but in revolutionary practice, and this must be inspired by the critique of philosophy. 

That is why we must not pick out the 'nice' statements of the philosophers, the ones which seem to fit our own notions. In particular, if we put what are apparently Hegel's most reactionary statements through Marx's meat-grinder, we can gain the most profound revolutionary knowledge.

Complete text http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/smith-cyril/works/articles/smith7.htm

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