I guess to me, the most important thing about Marxist is the method. It is the scientific method as it applies to human affairs.
I became a scientist at an early age. My Dad built me a chemistry lab in the water heater closet. I got merit badges in electricity and herpetology. I gave up religion and God as a child.
When you believe in things that you don't understand. Then you sufferThe thing I like about electronics is that you can so easily and thoroughly test its description of the world. Take for example Ohm's Law: Current(A)= [Pressure(V)/Resistance(Ω). Everything in electronics depends on its absolute correctness, from the largest generator to the tiniest transistor. In point of fact, everything in the universe depends on it, and in turn, everything in the universe validates it. In designing an electronic circuit, you can depend on it absolutely and categorically. You give me any two out of the three and I can tell you the third with equal precision and without hesitation. That equation is working flawlessly a billion times on this very computer as I type this. That is the scientific proof that Ohm's Law accurately understands that small view of the cosmos that it addresses. In the world of electronics there are no competing theories on the relationship between A, V and Ω, no sectarian division with some backing a different formulation, or if there are, we don't hear from them because their computers don't work. :-) It is simply the scientific description of that relationship, which is to say it is the dialectical-materialist understanding of that relationship. It is a thoroughly grounded materialism that rejects all mysticism but understands contradiction, the unity of opposites, and the way matter and energy and inextricably tied together. Ohm's Law applies to matter (electrons) in motion.
I think it could even be said that science is a sub-branch of dialectical materialism. It is dialectical-materialism as applied to the natural world broken down into bite sized disciplines. And what science requires is an unflinching regard for the truth. Science can brook no prejudice, it requires that we see the world as it is and act on that knowledge alone. There will always be unsettled areas in science where our understanding is as yet not so complete as Ohm's Law, and this will naturally give rise to different descriptions of a phenomenon, and honest differences among scientists. This is at the heart of the method by which truth is arrived at, but all must be dedicated to tracking down that truth no matter where it leads. This is what science requires and what science requires, dialectical-materialism requires as well.
Marxism is dialectical-materialism
I regard Marxism as dialectical-materialism applied to the human social condition. Like all science ultimately must be, Marxism is an applied science because theory sans activism lacks substance. Its name honors the man who, in the 19th century, first rigorously applied science to the human social condition from a progressive activist perspective.
Of course, given all the complexities of humanity, it isn't as simple as modelling the flow of electrons through a conductor. Added to which, its theories ain't all that easy to test, which brings us to the significant of historical-materialism because we can test our understanding of how things worked in the past and gain some understand of the underlying principles that shape things. Still, it is limited because it is backward looking, whereas all our tasks are before us.
For this reason also, it is incumbent on us not only to assist, but to learn from every new mass revolutionary upsurge, and to do so without fear or favor, because they are reflections of this historical process going forward and they don't care about our theories. Our theories must conform to them and not the other way round. Also since failure means end times for humanity, again, Marxist is an applied science. We should not shrink from calling ourselves social engineers.
Still it absolutely requires the unflinching honesty, and the rejection of all prejudice and mysticism, required of all science. And it requires something else: It requires more than a love of science; It requires a love of humanity, because unlike most scientific specialities under capitalism, the risks are high and the pay is poor. But more than anything, I think it requires a longing for social justice and a gut feeling for right and wrong. You have got to know which side of the barricade to stand on.
With regards to the mass revolutionary upsurge that we loosely refer to as the Arab Spring, and most dramatically with regards to violent revolutions in Libya and Syria, it must be admitted that Marxists in the West, and Leftists generally, have fallen into two broad categories, those that don't know which side of the barricade to stand on and act as if it isn't happening, and those standing on the wrong side of the barricade, this is true. I'm grateful for you and Binh and Andrew, Cort, Brian and more than I can count, but not that many more, but we are a clear minority on the Left. This is a sorry state of affairs. Added to which, many of these people presume to judge the people actually making revolutions by how closely they follow their teachings.
The worst group are those that cloak themselves in Marxism and stand on the wrong side of the barricade. They are corrupt. They do double damage and I am becoming more and more convinced that they stand as a place holder that keeps a real mass-based revolutionary movement from developing. They certainly stand as a barrier to the masses in the US learning from the revolutionary experiences of the masses in Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Syria and now Ukraine. When the folks from Kafranbel came to LA, I publicized it in the usual places but nobody came from the LA Left. Imagine a Left that itself would have taken this up and promoted this event widely.
Not only do all the Counterpunch articles on the revolutions in Libya, Syria and the Ukraine stand on the wrong side of the barricade, they do it with corruption. They say things they must know aren't true or they leave out important facts, they very selectively quote, sometimes mis-quote. They plagiarize. They lie. They aren't engaged in an honest quest for the truth. They don't argue like scientists, they debate like lawyers. Many of their ilk will use moderation of comments on their website to filter out opposing views. Counterpunch solves that problem by allowing no comments.
Since these of is fundamentally a corruption of method, there is no honest search for the truth here, I believe that controls everything at Counterpunch. If that where not the case, we would at least read a range of views on these revolutions, there would be the occasional article representing the revolutionary view on these struggles.
These revolutions-in-progress are not only the leading edge of human social development, they are the most important classroom for Marxism. Added to this, these revolutionary mass struggles badly need the clarity that Marxism can give them and we can begin to plumb the depths of the damage caused by allowing a corrupt organizations like Counterpunch to represent Marxism.
Example of MSM Corruption on Ukraine
When I speak of corruption, I'm not talking about a few bad actors or actions in an otherwise sound core, I'm talking about a rottenness that goes down to the bone. I believe that this Sunday's round of TV news talk shows gave us another good example of it. Of course the Russian invasion of Ukraine got top bill everywhere, but I couldn't believe I watched George Stephanopoulos interviews John Kerry extensively about the US response to Russia army invading Ukraine and nobody even mentions the Budapest Memorandum.
This 1994 treaty, signed by Bill Clinton promises the Ukraine that the US has its back in case of foreign invasion. Russia and Britain are also parties to this treaty, and it got Ukraine to give up its nukes, which made the world a safer place for everybody. If we can convince Israel to give up her nukes based on US guarantees to defend her under very specific conditions, if the Chinese can get North Korea to give up her nukes in return for certain security guarantees, I say have at it. It will mean less nukes in less hands and we all can sleep better.
Of course, the US ability to negotiate such deals in the future will depend heavily on what they do when that marker is called in and Ukraine is calling in its now. And nobody is talking about the Budapest Memorandum? Ok, I can't say nobody on the Sunday morning TV talks shows mentioned it. I saw the extensive interview with Kerry and the ABCNews This Week discussion, and nobody mentioned it. Then I switched in time to catch the CBS Face the Nation round table discussion and nobody mentioned it there either! But how can that be? It is a very big deal even if it is an embarrassment to a US imperialism that clearly has no interest in a military confrontation with Russia over the Ukraine.
I can't believe they don't know about it, backed as they are by teams of researchers. I think they all know about it and they all have conspired to talk as if it didn't exist. This implies a corruption that is thoroughgoing and indicts the SecState and everybody sitting in on those round-tables.
The Budapest Memorandum
The Budapest Memorandum is most certainly this Sunday's Elephant-in-the-Room and even in the MSM, when it is discussed, we are subjected to such weasel words as:
There will surely be much debate over whether the Budapest Memorandum is a legally binding agreement requiring action.As if the Ukrainians thought they were signing up for a "We wish you well" when they gave up their nukes!
This "ignore the memo" strategy is not going to work, BTW, because Russia has its own "Save Ukraine" memorandum giving it a duty to save Ukraine from a “fascist and Nazi creeping coup” that goes back as far as Feb 12th and it has been calling for three party talks under the Budapest Memorandum for two weeks now, talks which will presumably now be about Russian troops invading Ukraine.
I see the same sort of corruption on the Left and in Counterpunch generally and it has come out most clearly in the debates around Libya and Syria. Do you notice how often we completely devastate a "fact" or "story" only to see it continue to be repeated on infinitum by this opportunist Left. Mint Press, Carla Del Ponte, phony massacres, etc., it doesn't matter how completely we debunk them, they revive them as soon as there is a fresh audience. And they generally don't answer our critiques in the first place, except with insults and diversions like "Oh Yeah, what about Bahrain?" They have no integrity. Counterpunch does this too. There is no use arguing with people like that except to expose them.
It just seems to me that on the really critical stuff they are 100% bad and even if you write good stuff for them in other areas it doesn’t matter because they will always be 100% bad on the critical stuff, That's the way opportunism works. Unfortunately, looking at it that way, you will quickly draw the conclusion that opportunism is the dominate trend on the Left, but if that is where a clear headed examination of the problem leads you, as a scientist, you must seriously consider it. But then, speaking from the heart, what other conclusion can be drawn when you have seen the pictures of dead children, destroyed cities and refugee families and still hear these so-called Leftist mouthing words about CIA schemes, Islamic terrorists and proxy wars?
My friends on SAC try on convince me not to waste my time trying to win people from the Left to their cause. They have had much greater success among just about every other segment of the US population. I understand why they feel this way. This is real. They have to be pragmatic and the Left is just about the only segment of the US population that sides with Assad and actively campaigns against the revolution. This, in turn is getting me to think that what is really going to have to happen is that another New Left is going to have to be built from people that aren't tied to this opportunism and at least know which side of the barricade to stand on even it they don't know the first thing about Marx or socialism. All that can be learned; I'm don't think what should be in the heart can.