|Socialism is dead. Long live (Cuban) socialism!
(i) the socialist experiment has collapsed
(ii) the age of socialism is dead
(iii) the death of socialism is not temporary.
From these assertions I inferred that in DJs judgement "socialism is dead for good and all" (The Island, 6th January).
In the same article in which he proclaimed the death of socialism, however, DJ declared that in Cuba (which belongs to the same socialist age) socialism has survived defiantly. His thinking on this matter seemed to me to be a text-book example of the fallacy of composition i.e. when what is true of a part is therefore asserted to be true for the whole. If a hack writer to a Sunday newspaper had written the article, I would have just ignored the logical blunder. But when a university lecturer in political science whose self-regard is notoriously boundless, makes an apocalyptic pronouncement on socialism on the basis of an elementary logical blunder, I for one, felt that it should not be allowed to pass unnoticed. Perhaps social scientists do not take him seriously enough to take issue with him.
In his reply to me DJ urges me to read ("Carlo simply must read") Engelss letters to Bloch if I wish to understand deep political theory. To spot an elementary logical blunder I dont have to read Engelss letters to anybody. DJ says that the fact that socialism is alive in Cuba does not mean that it is not dead elsewhere. My point is that if socialism is alive somewhere it is plain wrong to announce that socialism is permanently dead.
His pontifical certitude about the permanent death of socialism now manifestly shaken, DJ also says in his reply, that the death of the age of socialism does not mean that socialism will not prevail in certain parts of the world and even predominate some day. If so, what is the point of certifying prematurely the "conjuncturally determined" permanent death of socialism? Internal consistency and logical rigour are not the striking characteristics of DJs writing. He must have intensely disliked mathematics at school. As to the collapse of socialism in the USSR, the LSSP leaders were firmly predicting it, ever since Leon Trotskys Revolution Betrayed was published in 1937.
I like to believe that my outlook is scientific and I find sociobiology the most useful guide to understanding the secular world. I can integrate Marxist insights into my general outlook. Because DJ used to swear by Marxism, and the collapse of capitalism as the result of its own internal contradictions is what Marx predicted, I sought DJs opinion on what I regard to be the essence of Marxist theory. Having contemptuously dismissed my version of the essence of Marxism as a clumsy, vulgar rendition, he has given us a short version of his implicitly self-proclaimed, superior, sublime understanding. Here goes
(i) Marx is one of humanitys greatest thinkers
(ii) Marx caused a revolution in science
(iii) Marx founded the science of History
(iv) Marxist theory is superior to any other theory
(v) Marxism contains the richest conceptual structure and provides the strongest analytical weaponry available
(vi) Marxism cannot be exclusively or even primarily relied upon as understanding all human affairs...
Words, words, words. As for Dylan Thomas, so for DJ words seem to be their vocation. Can anyone get the foggiest notion of what Marxism is about from DJs shorter version of it? When you ask DJ a question what you get is not an answer but a bibliography and a self-advertisement. This is happening a bit too often. Sooner or later somebody is going to call his bluff!
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