I'm grateful for George Pennefather's warm regards, as the rest of his
post is decidedly chilly, but comradely criticism is always welcome.
George chides me for my undialectical approach in insisting that there
are positive developments within capitalism, though the negative
Of course, I should have expected that insisting on a balanced, which is
to say dialectical, analysis would find me attacked on both sides: Chris
Burford says that I am un-Marxist because I fail to find the positive
elements in the military intervention in Sierra Leone; George says I am
undialectical because I insist that - even though they are outweighed by
the destructive features, there are positive features in capitalism.
But it is George that is undialectical. He says that advances in
technology might appear to be good, but are in there essence conditions
of the perpetuation of imperialism.
Here George is abusing the appearance-essence category by making it into
a dogmatic insistence on the correctness of his analysis even where it
is contradicted by appearance. No matter what the evidence is, he is
saying, the essence is reactionary, so you do not have to pay attention
to any facts that might contradict that essence.
But appearance and essence are never wholly contradictory, form is the
form of its content, not of another content. It *appears* that there has
been technological progress because there *has been* technological
progress, and no dialectical juggling will wish that away.
Undialectically, George puts the contradiction *between* appearance and
essence ('it looks one way, but it's really another'). This is
ultimately apologetic, because it suggests a uniform essence without
The dialectical approach would posit the contradiction *within* the
essence itself. In other words, capitalism combines destructive and
creative elements. It develops the forces of production, but on a narrow
and exploitative basis.
The definition of imperialism is not one in which no progress is
possible, as Lenin makes abundantly clear, but rather one in which the
destructive features predominate over the progressive, making
imperialism as a totality negative, but not denying that there can be
progressive developments within it. One such, for example, is the
numerical growth of the working class. Let George say that is
In message <005301bfbda0$5895e9e0$baff869f@oemcomputer>, George
Pennefather <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes
> It is not, as Jim suggests, a quantitative
> undialectical matter of "the predomination of capitalism's
> reactionary side over its progressive". Capitalism today is
> essentially reactionary in character. Any features which Jim may
> describe as progressive have in fact a reactionary essence whose
> source is located in the dialectical. What Jim describes as the
> progressive features of capitalism today are merely devices to
> perpetuate capitalism as a reactionary system and are thereby
> correspondingly reactionary. Capitalism today is a reactionary
> system which means that the bits that Jim labels as progressive
> constitute component parts of the overall system which means that
> their essence is determined by their existence as constituents in
> the overall system. Since the system, as a whole, is reactionary so
> to are its parts. Capitalism must be conceived systemically. Jim
> pedestrianally mistakes appearance for essence. Capitalism must be
> conceived and analysed as a dialectical unity whereby the essence
> of the parts are determined by the essence of the whole --internal
> relations as opposed to external relations.
> Warm regards
> George Pennefather
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