Date: Sat, 7 Mar 98 01:54 GMT0

From: cyrilsmith- at (Mr C Smith)

To: andy- at

Perhaps the best way to explain why I put "Marxism" in quotes, is to take up your notion of philosophy. I don't believe you can look at how to live humanly as part of something called "philosophy". I think it is the other way round - philosophy is a part of living. Philosophers have hitherto tried to grapple with this question, but were unable to consider it at all. All they could think of was the concept of the human condition, not the condition.

"Marxism", as opposed to Karl Marx, wanted to reduce communism to philosophy. Marx's task was the direct opposite. He had to show how we can, in practice, remove the obstacles to human life. That meant studying the whole history of philosophy, because it was the highest expression of the failure to live humanly, the most significant symptom of the disease which had to be cured. After all, if medicos must study shit, if the patient is to be cured, that is what they have to do!

Hegel was the highest point of philosophy (I think it is all down-hill after that, but I might be wrong) because he grasped philosophical science as expressing the essence of history. Only for Hegel could philosophy have a history. Hegel's Spirit means the entirety of social relations and forms of consciousness. But his pre-eminence only means he is the most alienated expression of alienation. I know that Lenin's study of Hegel was one of the most important things he did in his life, but, without the essential writings of Marx (1844 + German Ideology + Grundrisse) he could never get the story right. Marx was right to see the Phenomenology as the main part of the Hegelian system. The Logic only makes sense when we know that it is a diagram of the way that Spirit works. As such, it is the concentrated expression of an alienated way of life.

To make a revolution possible requires uncovering the disease of which philosophy is the highest expression. That is what Capital is about. Neither Hegel nor Marx can have an epistemology, a theory of knowledge, a scientific account of science. (Wrong again, Vladimir!)

By the way, Aristotle is closer to Marx than Hegel, because he stands at the beginning of class society. (Lenin's genius is shown by his glimmering of an understanding of this.)

On Postmodern philosophy, I can only say that I believe it to be, not just crap, but reactionary crap. These guys have decided for us that there is no such thing as truth, so stop looking for it. Cheek!!! I am, no doubt, reflecting my inability to penetrate their dreadful vocabulary, but I suspect that they deliberately write like that to conceal their vacuity.

What I dream of doing about natural science is to show how, because it can never get a real understanding of humanity, it can't possibly understand nature, except in bits and pieces. Our task is then to criticise it, that means showing how its errors express the inhuman nature of human life.

The trouble is that I'm getting too old to do what I want to do. Still, I shall go on trying.

Best wishes,


PS Have you tried Heidegger? His Nazism is no accident. And yet his stuff on the history of philosophy is amazing. Isn't it interesting that the only philosopher worthy of the name that the twentieth century could produce could never come clean about Auschwitz? C