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 Post subject: At what point does education matter?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2016 2:17 pm 
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So reading some of the posts here I've come across the criticism that you can't "convince someone to be revolutionary" in the sense that, just because you may educate someone about revolutionary socialism doesn't mean that they'll engage in revolutionary acts. Or put more simply, we can't "force" the revolution, at least not as an elite sect of people conscious of socialism. In fact, my knowledge and understanding of socialism has had a largely superficial influence on engaging in what one might consider revolutionary acts, and I haven't really done jack **** that has changed the material world to my knowledge. Maybe I have without realizing it, but if the revolution happened because of it I'm certianly unaware of it.

So my question to the community is, does education even matter? Of course I think that the real answer lies somewhere in the middle, between a perfect mix material condition and consciousness of how to affect those conditions, but does it even matter if a group of us tries to educate people about socialism? Will material conditions do their job for us?


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 Post subject: Re: At what point does education matter?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2016 3:14 pm 
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Yes. Why? Because it is not only about "knowing" in an abstract intelectual sense. It is "knowing" in a practical sense, of knowing which positions to take, which strategies to use, how to organize, where are the weaknesses and strenghts of the enemy, what to expect of the enemy, etc... etc... etc... etc... etc...

One can completely understand socialist theory but will never make practical action out of it. Yes. But doing practical action without theory is equally hazardous. The proletariat might, due to it's inexperience, do actions that are hazardous to it's intents (Allying with petit-bourgeois, using a form of organization that leads to failure, etc... etc... etc... (Just look at 1848, Paris commune, Spain, Germany etc.. revolutions for some mistakes) It learns over time, by trial and error. This is where Socialism comes in. I claim Socialist theory is nothing more than the experiences of the revolutionary proletariat throughout history understood through a non-Ideological theory, a theory that focuses on the practical use of such experience in order to bring the victory of the proletarian class against capitalism.

So, the answer to your question is, no. "Material conditions" don't "do" anything for people. This is the mistake of today's "Marxists". They don't act, they don't participate in class struggle. The proletariat isn't a magical entity that does revolutions because there is some inherent characteristic in capitalism that leads people towards the particular ideology called revolutionary socialism. We must build the movement, we must interact and fight alongside the rest of the proletariat. And no, we can't build movements out of thin air either.

Then again, these are my particular, incomplete ideas, Brosocialist is free to criticize them.


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 Post subject: Re: At what point does education matter?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2016 6:33 pm 
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There are two main questions being asked here that deal with a lot of very central ideas to Marxism. For starters this brings up the whole idealism vs. materialism debate. On this you can see The German Ideology, I will quote the preface which should give us some light.

The German Ideology wrote:
Hitherto men have constantly made up for themselves false conceptions about themselves, about what they are and what they ought to be. They have arranged their relationships according to their ideas of God, of normal man, etc. The phantoms of their brains have got out of their hands. They, the creators, have bowed down before their creations. Let us liberate them from the chimeras, the ideas, dogmas, imaginary beings under the yoke of which they are pining away. Let us revolt against the rule of thoughts. Let us teach men, says one, to exchange these imaginations for thoughts which correspond to the essence of man; says the second, to take up a critical attitude to them; says the third, to knock them out of their heads; and -- existing reality will collapse.

These innocent and childlike fancies are the kernel of the modern Young-Hegelian philosophy, which not only is received by the German public with horror and awe, but is announced by our philosophic heroes with the solemn consciousness of its cataclysmic dangerousness and criminal ruthlessness. The first volume of the present publication has the aim of uncloaking these sheep, who take themselves and are taken for wolves; of showing how their bleating merely imitates in a philosophic form the conceptions of the German middle class; how the boasting of these philosophic commentators only mirrors the wretchedness of the real conditions in Germany. It is its aim to debunk and discredit the philosophic struggle with the shadows of reality, which appeals to the dreamy and muddled German nation.

Once upon a time a valiant fellow had the idea that men were drowned in water only because they were possessed with the idea of gravity. If they were to knock this notion out of their heads, say by stating it to be a superstition, a religious concept, they would be sublimely proof against any danger from water. His whole life long he fought against the illusion of gravity, of whose harmful results all statistics brought him new and manifold evidence. This valiant fellow was the type of the new revolutionary philosophers in Germany.


Essentially, those that believe by 'spreading the word' we can abolish capitalism have been dealt with by Marx already. At its core, this idea that we can 'force' a revolution is the idea that ideas themselves or pure force of will can force material conditions to adapt to them. This is of course quite silly, as is the opposite assertion. Material conditions nor ideas fully shape our world, we act on the world, the world acts back on us and so we go on throughout history.

So we have demonstrated that our actions cannot fully shape the world, but we've also demonstrated that the material conditions do not control everything either (this may sound familiar to Guardia Rossa if you've ever read Rosa Lichtenstein about Free Will and Determinism, both ideas are non-sensical, she can explain why in much greater detail than here, but my explanation takes quite a different form).

This means that there is a place for Marxists in the process of revolution. On this point I tend to side a lot with the Left Communists that we do not form movements, we 'intersect' with them. Additionally I like the work Nihilist Communism for this question as well, one of the authors used to post here when this place was more relevant. Additionally this quote from Engels can provide some guidance.

“When the conditions no longer permit an organization to act effectively, when it simply comes down to keeping the tie together that unites the association for the time being in order to re-utilize it at the occasion ; those people can always be found who are not able to accommodate themselves to this situation and who simply want to play busybody and demand ‘to do something’, whereas this something cannot be something else than a stupidity.”

Up to this point I have been quite general I will work out the specifics at a later date unless someone beats me to it. I'm developing a post I want to make on interest-bearing capital in the near future too so my time is somewhat split.

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 Post subject: Re: At what point does education matter?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 4:16 pm 
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[quote2="ScientificSocialist"]So reading some of the posts here I've come across the criticism that you can't "convince someone to be revolutionary" in the sense that, just because you may educate someone about revolutionary socialism doesn't mean that they'll engage in revolutionary acts. Or put more simply, we can't "force" the revolution, at least not as an elite sect of people conscious of socialism. In fact, my knowledge and understanding of socialism has had a largely superficial influence on engaging in what one might consider revolutionary acts, and I haven't really done jack **** that has changed the material world to my knowledge. Maybe I have without realizing it, but if the revolution happened because of it I'm certianly unaware of it.

So my question to the community is, does education even matter? Of course I think that the real answer lies somewhere in the middle, between a perfect mix material condition and consciousness of how to affect those conditions, but does it even matter if a group of us tries to educate people about socialism? Will material conditions do their job for us?[/quote2]

Simple answer: Yes. Simple reason: "men"-- change that to "men and women make their own history." OK, they don't make it up, make it up whole cloth, willy-nilly, still they are the agents, and the only agents, of their own emancipation.


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 Post subject: Re: At what point does education matter?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 4:39 pm 
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Alright let us take a crack at this now.

Essentially I believe the OP's question boils down to the classic "What is to be done?" question.

Answering this question involves understanding a lot of different elements, primarily the goals of your actions, the limitations of your actions, and what shapes and removes those limitations. As such to answer this question requires quite a bit of elaboration, quite a bit more than I think is reasonable to condense into a single post to be frank.

This thread contains an immense wealth of information on this subject

weekly-marx-quote-discussion-t59.html

To be brief, reading the works I referenced in my above post can help contribute to your understanding of this subject.

If you want the hard and fast practical answer for what is to be done. Associate with other Marxists, learn more about Marxism, find places to inject Marxism into the working class where it may be receptive i.e. during the Occupy movement or just at work when someone is complaining about low wages or management or something it isn't terribly hard to find some time to one on one with them about whatever they were complaining about and elevate their concerns beyond the immediate, or reinforce their concerns or something. Obviously participation in things like strikes should go without saying, but usually even strikes or other forms of working class struggle are not explicitly anti-capitalist which is where you can further inject some Marxism by attempting to frame the individual struggle within the wider struggle against capitalism, or linking different struggles together etc.

If I've tried wayyyy too hard to abstract from your question about education and have missed the mark please let me know.

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 Post subject: Re: At what point does education matter?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 4:56 pm 
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Broletariat wrote:
Essentially I believe the OP's question boils down to the classic "What is to be done?" question.


That's the thing about Marx: All questions boil down to the classic "What Is To Be Done?" question. That's what historical materialism is. That's the essential point of Marx's critique of capital: "economics" is nothing but the concentrated expression of the social relations of production,


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