From: "Stephen Taylor" <steve- at>


Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998

cyrilsmith- at (Mr C Smith) wrote on Tuesday, 14 April 98, Subject: dialectics and nature:
Dear Andy,
Flora's cry of anguish led me to put the following ideas together. I hope they will stir things up a bit.

Cyril's Main Heading is, 'DIALECTICS AND ALL THAT'. In the following comment I put a twist on the argument. Legitimate or illegitimate? I must leave Cyril to answer that, though I think he might say, 'it's different sides of a coin.'

What is the connection between dialectic and economics? Hegel, despite everything, stayed trapped inside the categories of bourgeois thought, dominated by the modern form of private property.

Dialectic I take to be reasoning about reasoning itself; 'how we think'. Economics revolves around the operation of value in exchange. I agree that Hegel (and after him, Marx), remained 'trapped inside the categories of bourgeois thought'. Now 'bourgeois' thought is thought that leaves something out, thought blind to its blind side. Hegel and Marx were both unaware that economics turns upon the male-female division in human life. The modern form of private property in East and West is woman.

[Hegel] could not see that human self-creation, which for him meant primarily a spiritual process, was actually the expression of the alienated character of labour.

Human self-creation is procreation. The sun at the centre of the human social system is not 'man', but 'woman' in the form of the mother. In describing himself as the 'Copernicus of the mind' (seeing the thought and philosophical world as inside out), Kant was on the right track but did not take his analysis far enough.

So long as man in patriarchal society sees himself, alongside his male God, as all-central, so long as he alienates woman, blindly refusing to admit the centrality of the mother (Hegel and Marx were both guilty of this), class-divided man will continue to find himself alienated in a life of toil ("cursed be the ground on your account; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Thorn and thistle it will yield, and you will eat the vegetation of the field. In the sweat of your face eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. From dust you come, to dust return.")

His idea of the self-creating labour of Spirit was the opposite of the work of 'a free association of producers'.

If the human spirit were to become adequate to its inherent nature and being, that is, if it comprehended all with god-like percipience, what form would 'a free association of producers' take?

One side would have to encompass the commercial and industrial production of goods and services. The other would be the mother-centred procreation and nurture of children.

Every-thing in the thought-world will be blurred, and philosophy will be indistinct, so long as we do not centre our thinking correctly upon the universal human relationship, which is that between the mother and her new-born child. Genesis, 3,16 (the curse of Eve; for the Greeks see Pandora's box), describes the point wherein the virus of self-inspired suffering enters the human life-cycle. The symphony of natural birth is interrupted by the human mental process. That which 'makes us human' drives a spear into the foundation of its own being, into the mother-infant bonding process, foundation of the human psyche, individual and social mind alike. This is the unseen side.

Don't forget: 'critique', for Marx, does not mean rejecting some scientific results, denouncing them as 'incorrect'. It means tracing the contradictions contained in the categories of the science to their source in the most fundamental contradiction: the inhuman way that humans live. A free life, communism, means the real movement to abolish these contradictions (not just to 'resolve them').

This is true. Furthermore, as Cyril says, we must continue to trace "the contradictions contained in the categories of the science to their source in the most fundamental contradiction: the inhuman way that humans live." And of course, to the cause of that inhuman living, the cause of the disordered psychical process. "A free life, communism, means the real movement to abolish these contradictions (not just to 'resolve them')."

I should add that there is nothing strange in a natural birth, unless we marvel that nature, in simultaneously joining what is parted (mother and baby become physically two, psychologically one), in establishing the mother-infant relationship, is equally laying the foundation of the human psyche or mind. The birth is double-sided. Any further discussion of this, as specialist, and must be left to its own telling.

In "tracing the contradictions . . . to their source in the most fundamental contradiction," we will find ourselves tracing the power inherent in the human mind, and the damage that mind, in social context, inflicts upon itself in the moment of its birth.

Humanity emerges from nature, as 'human nature', through social production, which is natural and human-natural.

Cyril's 'human-natural' is the side I find myself expanding, the idea that our analysis must, in last resort, go back to that which makes us human in the first place, the peculiar nature of the human mind, that lifts our sight to the stars, and in the process dashes our hopes into the mud, as told so anciently in the Curse of Eve, and the Fall.

Steve Taylor