From the September-October 2021 issue of News & Letters
The urgency of crises underscores the urgency of projecting Marxist-Humanism. We have always held that what is foremost in enabling this projection is the continued activity and growth of the Marxist-Humanist organization, News and Letters Committees. The magnitude of the simple-sounding task of truly functioning as an organization of Marxist-Humanist people and at the same time of thought, which neither we nor anyone else has fully mastered, is underscored by the fact that organization appears at the apex of Hegel’s Absolute Knowledge:
“the recollection of spiritual forms as they are in themselves and as they accomplish the organization of their spiritual kingdom. Their conservation, looked at from the side of their free existence appearing in the form of contingency, is History; looked at from the side of their [philosophically] comprehended organization, it is the Science of the ways in which knowledge appears. Both together, or History intellectually comprehended, form at once the recollection and the Golgotha of Absolute Spirit….”
Dunayevskaya saw this as ground for “our concept of the relationship both of spontaneity and the party and its inseparability from organization of thought….The two types of organization Hegel has in mind are, first, as ‘free existence’ in its varying ‘historic forms,’ what we would call the movement from practice at historic turning points. Secondly, Hegel is defining ‘intellectually comprehended’ organization and concludes, ‘the two together, or History intellectually comprehended, form at once recollection and the Golgotha of Absolute Spirit.’”
One of our central organizational activities has always been publishing the only Marxist-Humanist newspaper, News & Letters, which entails writing for it, eliciting articles from others for it, editing it, distributing it and discussing it. In recent years our website and newspaper have functioned jointly. Just as important as eliciting Readers’ Views and activity articles is writing theoretical-philosophical essays based on our individual following up of questions that need to be answered both for ourselves and for the movements and battles of ideas.
That individual theoretical work also implies collectivity, including correspondence as part of the process of development, and it is not meant to be the province of a select few. Projecting Marxist-Humanism has not one but many forms. It can take the form of writing articles, engaging in dialogues during a march or correspondence with contacts, raising questions, writing poems or finding pathways to liberation through artistic composition or events.
At the same time, we need to keep finding new ways of arranging meetings and sharing our experiences participating in events. The circumstances of the past year and a half underscore the need to experiment more with online meetings and study groups.
The increasing authoritarianism and political repression in the world—from which the U.S. is by no means immune—reminds us that no individual or organization can be assured of safety and continuing activity, so that now is the time to reinvigorate our efforts to preserve the Archives of Marxist-Humanism and expand their availability to the public.
All our tasks are Marxist-Humanist tasks to the extent that we fulfill them in ways that center our relationship to both philosophy and the movements from practice—and those relationships are what underlie our collectivity.
We need to consciously work all of these out as ways of intervening, of projecting Marxist-Humanism, which to us has always meant concretizing, developing the philosophy. After all, the point of this organization is the goal of Marxist-Humanism—to establish a new society on totally human foundations.
—The Resident Editorial Board of News and Letters Committees, Aug. 26, 2021