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New Interventions, Volume 12, no 3

New Interventions, Volume 12, no 3

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Published by rfls12802
Political and Historical Magazine
Political and Historical Magazine

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Published by: rfls12802 on Oct 02, 2012
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New Interventions
Volume 12, no 3, Spring 2008
Chris Gray
, Some Key Marxian Concepts 2Base and superstructure In Marxian philosophy
Paul Flewers
, Accommodating to the Status Quo
The ‘Decent Left’ and its
Euston Manifesto
Cyril Smith
, A Significant Anniversary
Two hundred years of Hegel’s
The Phenomenology of Spirit
 JJ Plant
, Secularism, Phobia and Religion 24Is there such a thing as Islamophobia?
Alan Spence
, Proletarian Philosophy 29Fred Casey, the proletarian philosopher
Otto Rühle
, A Left-Wing Opposition to Bolshevism 35Two articles from 1920
Mike Jones
, The Mohammad Cartoons 44The murky story in Denmark
Mike Jones
, Moscow and the General Strike 46How the Soviet leadership saw the British General Strike of 1926
Ryan Worrall
Henry Sara
Rudolf Hilferding 
, Analysing the SovietUnion51
State capitalism, a workers’ state, or a totalitarian state economy?
Mike Jones
, Slobodan Milošević: An Appraisal
67Was he solely responsible for the Yugoslav collapse?
Cyril Smith
, Where Are We Going? 72
Marx against ‘Marxism’
The history of the car bomb, Gustav Metzger’s
Eichmann and the Angel
, Irish nationalism, Direct Democracy78
Chris Gray
Some Key Marxian Concepts
My investigation led to the result that legal relations as well as forms ofgovernment are to be grasped neither from themselves nor from the so-called general development of the human mind, but rather have theirroots in the material conditions of life, the sum total of which Hegel, fol-lowing the example of the Englishmen [that is, Scots] and Frenchmen of
the eighteenth century, combines under the name of ‘civil society’, that,
however, the anatomy of civil society is to be sought in political economy.The investigation of the latter, which I began in Paris, I continued in Brus-sels, where I had emigrated in consequence of an expulsion order of MGuizot. The general result at which I arrived and which, once won, servedas the guiding thread for my studies, can be briefly formulated as follows:In the social production of their life, humans enter into definite relationsthat are indispensable and independent of their will, relations of produc-tion which correspond to a definite stage of development of their materialproductive forces. The sum total of these relations of production consti-tutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which risesa legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definiteforms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material lifeconditions the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It isnot the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the con-trary, their social being that determines their consciousness. At a certainstage of their development the material productive forces of society comeinto conflict with the existing relations of production, or
what is but alegal expression for the same thing
with the property relations withinwhich they have been at work hitherto. From forms of development of theproductive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then an epoch of
We’re Back (We Hope)
The Editorial Board of
New Interventions
apologises for the hiatus in the produc-tion of the magazine since our last issue. This was because our Production Man-ager was hit by a serious illness that prevented him from carrying out his duties.He has made a slight recovery, which has enabled him (slowly) to assemble thisissue. We hope that his health will improve, and that another issue will be assem-bled later on in the year.
social revolution begins. With the change of economic foundation the en-tire immense superstructure is more or less rapidly transformed. In con-sidering such transformations a distinction should always be made be-tween the material transformation of the economic conditions of produc-tion, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, andthe legal, political, religious, aesthetic or philosophical
in short, ideo-logical forms
in which humans become conscious of this conflict and
fight it out. (Marx, ‘Introduction’ to
A Contribution to the Critique of PoliticalEconomy
, 1859, in Marx and Engels,
Selected Works
, Volume 1, pp 362-63)I
T is not at all surprising that analyses of Marx’s views on human history should r
turn time and time again to this passage, in which Marx sets out his ‘research pr
gramme’, so to speak. What was
he getting at? Vast quantities of ink and paper havebeen devoted to the answer to this question by both supporters and opponents ofMarxism. However, if we want to expound Marx in writing we have no alternativebut to add to the pile, given that many of the explanations on offer somehow man-age to miss the point. In particular the recent laudable attempts of those scholars
who have acquired the label ‘Analytical Marxists’ (notably Gerry Cohen and Jon E
ster) to distil from Marx’s writings a series of propos
itions that can be made amena-
ble to ‘philosoph
cal analysis’ suffer nonetheless from a number of failings.
My original intention was to consider only the ‘base–
superstructure’ motif in
all this. However, as the 1859
shows, it is impossible to deal adequately
with Marx’s remarks on this topic without treating of various other key concepts
which appear alongside it in the text. Accordingly, I want to present, first of all,
Marx’s ideas in these areas as far as possible in his own words, before goin
g on todiscuss what other thinkers have made of them. So let us begin with a consideration
of what Marx meant by ‘the productive forces’, ‘relations of production’, etc.
While the notion of human productive powers or forces appears in Marx as early asthe
1844 Manuscripts
Early Writings
, ed Bottomore, p 162), it is first developed in
The German Ideology
. We are informed that:
The production of life, both of one’s own labour and of fresh life in pr
creation… appears as a double r
elationship: on the one hand as a natural,
on the other as a social relationship… It follows from this that a certain
mode of production, or industrial stage, is always combined with a cer-tain mode of cooperation, or social stage, and this mode of cooperation is
itself a ‘productive force’. Further, that the mult
itude of productive forces
accessible to humans determines the nature of society, hence that the ‘hi
tory of humanity’ must always be studied and treated in relation to the
history of industry and exchange. (Lawrence and Wishart edition, p 41)Such considerations are especially important as regards contemporary society, inwhich certain productive forces
mainly machinery and money
become at times
tive forces’ (p
85), and in which the workers are degraded to the level of amere instrument of production (p 312). Thus certain of the productive forces can attimes turn into their opposites; this also applies to production relations (described in
The German Ideology
as ‘forms of inte
course’). At one point
, Marx and Engels assert
that ‘all collisions [!?] in history have their origin, according to our view, in the co

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