30 August 2010

Power to the People!

Philosophy and Religion, Part 10b

Power to the People!

This is the last item in our series on Philosophy and Religion. The next course may be a brand new one, in which case your VC may need some help in the form of suggestions and documents. It could either be a ten-part course of classics (a review of the Marxist “canon”), or else a ten-part course of African revolutionaries (Cabral, Sankara, Nkrumah, Nyerere, Kotane, Tambo, Neto and others). Please respond with your preferences.

We meet in the UJ Doornfontein Library. The next session will be as follows: 
  • Date: 2 September (Thursday)
  • Time: 17h00 sharp to 18h30 sharp
  • Venue: The Library, University of Johannesburg , Doornfontein, Johannesburg (former Technikon Witwatersrand). Entrance on slip road by the bridge on Siemert Road.
  • Topic: New Tools for Marxists, by Ron Press

The late South African revolutionary Ron Press provides a very good stepping-off point from our course because he shows clearly where the open end of this study is located. The next time round we must have what the Bolsheviks did not have, which is a clear philosophical theory of how society is going to work without a state. 

In “New Tools for Marxists” (download linked below), 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.

‘Lenin in State and Revolution continued the work of Engels and Marx in outlining the parameters which form the basis for the definition of systems indicated by points (a) and (b). It is interesting that they did not define the form or structure which socialism will have. Lenin recognised these new structures when they emerged. He initiated the slogan “all power to the soviets”.’

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 have an advantage over those of a century ago. In that case, it will be necessary to complete a “State and Revolution” for today, that includes not only the material that Lenin would have included in 1917 if he had had the time, but also material that Lenin would have included in the intervening period up to the present time, if he had had the knowledge of it.

The photo at the top is of the late Ron Press. The two diagrams above, relating to the “Strange Attractor” of Chaos Theory, are from the article.

Please download and read this text:

Further reading:


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