The Great Depression: atrocious safety conditions, no union rights, as steel-erecters enjoy a 15-minute lunch-break, (New York, 1932, photo Charles Ebbets). Notice how every worker is socially immersed with another worker, except the worker with the whisky bottle on the right.
A modern, living dialectics is essential for social revolution, Steve Masterson continues to explain in this, the fourth in his series on the subject
To continue the logic of the significance of systems theory, chaos and order for a new dialectics, we need to try first grasp the nature of the relationship between the ‘productive forces’ of Marx and of his constant promotion of ‘human development’ and ‘the rich human being’. This will then put in context everything that follows in terms of the burning need for a modern science on the character and quality of human activity (praxis); the new living dialectics needed today to help complete a truly human revolution.
I begin this article quoting then reviewing three of the greatest ever explanatory paragraphs from Marx found in his short 1859 preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. This was written at a time that today seems as ancient language to most of us – but not this piece if read diligently. Today, the best academic sociologists and social scientists do not even begin to reach such heights of clarity and truth, nor did the Stalinists who also quoted and distorted it. Marx mentions the ‘productive forces’; I interpret this as, ‘the totality of human forces, as the technological, social, labour and productive forces’. These forces should mainly be considered as ever-developing, ever-richer and increasing human abilities in general.
Then we look at its significance for human development, the key aspect of the productive forces, in the here and now, and its role in building a potential future human society. We do this by quoting the brilliant Marxist Michael Lebowitz on human development (who also repeatedly quotes Marx). A living dialectical method and a new science of everyday human activities, of conscious revolutionary praxis (they are both the same thing in the end), will start to be outlined in the following articles. But first, the significance of human development for the social revolution has to be clarified, just to put things in context.
‘Mensch’ in German/Yiddish means ‘human being’ or ‘a person of integrity and honour’, so please do understand what is nowadays rightly considered a sexist translation when Marx uses the term ‘men’ in this way. I’d also alert the Reader to be aware of how often and how, even in this short quote, Marx uses words like ‘development’, ‘forces’, ‘contradiction’, ‘transformation’ or ‘process’ as central concepts of always ongoing change. He doesn’t use Read the rest of this entry »