I will try to comment directly on this book when it comes out, assuming I can afford it after many many purchases this year.
I have read Woods’ Reason in Revolt, years ago.
But on the basis of this introduction, my initial criticisms here are more or less confirmed. Figures like Alan Woods are stuck in the past at a time when the issue of socialism needs a new framework. Woods’ intro here seems to make every mistake you can make on the subject and that we have criticized here. Use the search box on the sidebar for ‘Alan Woods’.
First, the issue of dialectical materialism is like an obsession for Woods who takes it as the summit of philosophy. It is hopeless junk and many faithful Marxists have thought so from the start. You cannot find a progressive public anymore with that idiotic mishmash from Engels, apparently. I do however think it has an accessory historical interest in another way, as discussed in my short essay Samkhya: Ancient and Modern. The question of dialectic has been one of confusion in Marxism and it usage borders on the fallacy, or, rather, triadic logic is by and large a mystery and a legacy of mistakes by Marxists. Put it to one side as a research project and keep its fallacies out of the way. Dialectic in the sense of a debate has a perfectly good usage. But the realm of Hegel from which the idea comes is that of a metaphysical quagmire, or so it seems. The question is not necessary for socialists trying to escape marxist swamp water. Let us note that many will disagree but that we enter the realm of rival mysticism and the brand of vicious reactionaries like Gurdjieff, itself controversial, makes mincemeat of the pseudo-triadic dialectical materialism which is a kind mysticism, that Woods wants to escape. The realm of Hegel is fascinating but in the Marxist context it sows confusion, and worse in the failure to start with Kant. It was Schopenhauer, the great antagonist to Hegel, who said that Hegel had confused the thinking of a whole generation. Witness Marxists in that regard. Hegel is a great thinker, maybe, but he confuses. Someone like Lukacs may be an exception. Again, who cares: socialism doesn’t need this, nor does it need the hopeless debate between idealism and materialism. Physics once highlighted materialism, now it seems like an idealist show.
Marx’s materialism is dated now and belongs to the early nineteenth century, and his reductionist scientism is a lost cause now. In the era of quantum field theory it makes no sense anymore. The result is to banish will, consciousness et al from a very narrow psychology. This again is of no use to a real socialist at this point. The idea was to escape from religious entanglement. But that problem seems irrelevant now, it is not mystical religion to speak or query consciousness and will (which admittedly are very tricky).
Kantian ethical socialism is a late nineteenth-century parallel socialist stream, neglected but far superior to the Marxist muddle.
We could go on and on here, and may do so later, but I think our current generation needs to abandon Marxism and start over. We have several versions here that resolve the confusions of Marx’s theories of history, and that attempt to discipline thinking with constructivist model of socialist or neo-communist social models. Marx’s thinking is far too complex and no one ever really understands it. Marx has a lot of other good material, but as a system it is a failure.
I fear that obsolete Marxism, which has failed in every case, has so much momentum plus an army of idiots that our hopes for postcapitalist society as socialist will be swamped in another Marxist fiasco.
I would offer Mr. Woods a cautious warning that the first of the ‘Revolution’ if it ever comes will be a battle to free the path to socialism from Marx jackknifed into different frameworks. Let’s get that over with now.
[marxmail] Video & Introduction to The History of Philosophy: A Marxist Perspective by Alan Woods
Date: Wed, Sep 29, 2021 10:50 am
Introduction to The History of Philosophy: A Marxist Perspective by Alan Woods
14 September 2021
Image: Wellred Books
The latest title from Wellred Books, The History of Philosophy: A Marxist Perspective by Alan Woods will be out in only a few days. We publish below an excerpt from the Introduction to the book, explaining why revolutionary Marxists should study the history of philosophy, and the enormous debt that Marxism owes to earlier thinkers, and in particular to the giants of philosophy that lived in the revolutionary, youthful phase of the bourgeois epoch.
Watch Alan Woods’ introduction to ‘History of Philosophy: a Marxist Perspective’ – an important new work published by Wellred Books.
Pre-order your copy now so that you can read and study the book with peers, friends and comrades: http://www.marxist.com/hop.htm
The starting point
I first started work on The History of Philosophy some twenty-seven years ago, when writing Reason in Revolt, a book that dealt with the relationship between Marxist philosophy and modern science. The book was a big success, but it turned out to be much longer than I had originally anticipated. Due to considerations of length, I was reluctantly obliged to omit the first part, which dealt with the history of philosophy, leading up to Marx’s great revolution, the theory of dialectical materialism.
The intention had been to publish The History of Philosophy as a separate work sometime in the future. But for different reasons, that decision was delayed to make way for more pressing tasks. For more than two decades, the manuscript was put to one side, left to the gnawing criticism of the mice, as Marx once said, referring to the unpublished text of the German Ideology. It was eventually published on our website, and was favourably received, but the original intention of publishing it as a book remained unfulfilled until now…