CU Course on Hegel, 10
Polynodal semi-chaotic social system diagram
New Tools for Marxists
This is the last item in our series on Hegel’s Logic. It is possible that the next time it is run, which according to the schedule would be the fourth quarter of 2011, it may be re-written or have additional material. But it will still be fitting to end with something like 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. Hegel’s theories have served us well and will continue to serve, but they show too many signs of their pre-bourgeois origin.
There are not two branches of philosophy. We live in a Hegelian world, no matter what the reactionaries 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.
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.
‘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 need a Hegel for today: a Hegel up-to-date.
Let’s finish 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.
Please download and read this text via the link:
New tools for Marxists, 1995, Ron Press (5100 words)