26 March 2014

New Tools for Marxists

Hegel, Part 10

Polynodal semi-chaotic social-system diagram

New Tools for Marxists

This is the last part, and the second last item, in our series on Hegel’s Logic. It is the late SACP stalwart Ron Press’s article “New Tools for Marxists” (see the download linked below) on the application of Chaos Theory to revolution, written in the heat of the post-1994 election moment.

History has not actually ended. Closure of this course is therefore not appropriate.

Hegel’s theories have served us well and will continue to serve. There are not two branches of philosophy. We live in a Hegelian world, no matter what the reactionaries and the post-modernists may wish to think. The unity of human history is a hegemonic idea. Science is well established and universally revered, if not always for the right reasons.

If, because of the collapse of the Soviet Union a generation ago, we are forced to conclude that the Bolsheviks failed in their revolution three generations earlier, then it is more than likely that the reason they failed was lack of philosophy.

Philosophy and the withering away of the State

The revolutionaries must have a clear philosophical theory of how the coming classless society is going to work without a state.

In “New Tools for Marxists”, Ron Press wrote:

‘“…the standard Marxist idea that society passes in a linear manner from primitive communism via class struggle to the ultimate victory when the working class replaces capitalism with a classless society is an unattainable myth. Especially when a classless society was taken to mean the establishment of order and stability, in fact stasis. The theories outlined above indicate that stasis means the inevitable sudden crossover into chaos and collapse.’

Ron Press is saying that the theory of the State, and of the “withering away” of the State, in Marx, Engels and Lenin is not wrong, yet these three did not have the full theoretical means to appreciate in full how “stateless” systems can, and already do, work in nature and in human society.

The revolutionaries of today need a Hegel for today: a Hegel up-to-date.

Let’s finish this introduction with two short quotes from our late comrade Ron Press:

“In the Soviet Union the “Soviet” i.e. committee system was destroyed by restricting the bandwidth of communication, and making one node all powerful.

“But if there is a lesson to be drawn from the study of complexity it is that a complex system given a very “simple” goal (in our case the well being of humankind) develops its own best methods of operation and organisation. Solutions emerge from the system itself.”

Solutions emerge from the system itself.

Hegel could have said that.

The diagram represents a system in which no single node is all-powerful.

·        The above is to introduce the original reading-text: New tools for Marxists, 1995, Ron Press.

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