In conversation with Karen Ng’s book “Hegel’s Concept of Life,” Ron Kelch takes up the concept of life and “naturalism” and their relationship to freedom in Hegel, Marx, and Marxist-Humanism. Whether one takes Marx’s starting point of freedom with respect to human life activity that is inextricably part of nature or Hegel’s beginning again from Nature as mediation, the self-determination of the unifying Idea cannot be taken for granted in the face of the spontaneous self-bringing forth of liberty.
This essay probes ways to make new beginnings in a period of reaction. It includes some of the themes of her work toward the book she had tentatively titled “Dialectics of Organization and Philosophy: ‘The Party’ and Forms of Organization Born out of Spontaneity.”
May Day and its celebrations became a good moment to explore the relationship between theory and the movement from practice by revisiting Marx’s intimate connection to the issues that led to May Day.
In the union vote at Amazon in Alabama, the overriding issue was the dehumanization of laboring activity underlying Amazon’s brutal working conditions. The tyrannical conditions begin from an algorithm that runs an army of robots that don’t get sick in a pandemic.
Since the term “Marxist humanism” has once again become current, but subject to the most varying, and often sanitized, meanings, we present Raya Dunayevskaya’s 1961 writings on “Marxist Humanism in New Books and Reviews.” Once more, we face the questions she explored then: Why now, and how did these writers end up so opposite to where they seemed to be starting from?
The challenge from below has brought new attention to Marxist humanism. Defeatism and undialectical misreading, to rebury Marx as a “gradualist” and ethical utopian, deepens the separation of the intellectual both from the revolutionary ideas of Marxist-Humanism and from the concrete movements reaching for Humanism, socialism, and the creation of a new society.
Excerpts from the Introduction to the new pamphlet on ‘What Is Socialism?’
Readers’ Views on: Trumpism, Racism and the Specter of Fascism; Vaccine Inequality and Injustice; Organizing Amazon; Can Humanity Survive?; Criminal Injustice; Trust Women; Marx’s Humanism and Love; Why Read ‘N&L’?
Originally titled “These Uncivilized United States: Murder of Rev. King, Vietnam War,” this piece speaks to King’s actual, non-sanitized life and legacy, as well as to the ingrained violence of U.S. racism, including what was seen on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol.
What is socialism? From Left to Right, this question is becoming central to political discussion. For me, it raises another question, too: What is philosophy? This is where I will begin, with the young Karl Marx.
Readers’ Views Part 2 takes up: the needed return to Marx’s Humanism, and Voices from behind prison bars.
At a time when the social crisis is total—political, economic, cultural, ideological—this clarion call for a return to the original form of the Humanism of Marxism speaks to today’s need for more than just political change, but for a total view and a total solution to global retrogression.
Excerpt from Dunayevskaya’s March 25, 1979, Political-Philosophic Letter “Iran: Unfoldment of, and Contradictions in, Revolution” that gives a history of revolt and speaks to today’s rebellions in that country by workers, women and youth.
readers views, nov dec 2015, part 2
A discussion with Philip Zimbardo followed the San Francisco premiere of “The Stanford Prison Experiment,” a movie based on his notorious 1971 experiment. It raises questions about the meaning of being human, which for Marx turned on needing human beings as free beings whose self-determining, free, conscious activity is not a mere means but the first necessity of life.
Worldwide, the refugee crisis is unprecedented and is fueled by war, terrorism and climate change. The worldwide response is paltry with country after country turning away or deporting frantic and desperate people in search of a safe haven.
Letters and comments sent in by readers or taken down, to and about the articles in News & Letters or current events.
Leelah Alcorn’s last words, making her suicide an appeal for Transgender people to be “treated like humans” and to “fix society” if her death is to “mean something,” were stunning.
The electoral victory of Greece’s Syriza represents resistance to brutal austerity. Alarms are raised by Syriza’s alliance with the racist, theocratic Independent Greeks party.
As a Black man, I asked myself: Why—through the dialectical crises of the social relations of production and the subsequent implosion of multiple outlived modes of production—has racism persisted? Why, despite the relations of property literally bursting asunder, does racism survive? How and why does racism, sexism, homophobia survive revolution after revolution? Will we again be left behind after the next revolution?
From the September-October 2014 News & Letters
THE FREE SPEECH MOVEMENT AND THE BLACK REVOLUTION
I am in the movement still because of the Free Speech Movement (FSM)—it turned my life around. I studied everything about the New Left. I came to Berkeley and decided this is where I needed to be. [=>]
From the July-August 2014 issue of News & Letters
Crowds filled Hong Kong’s Victoria Park on June 4 to remember the massacre in Tiananmen Square 25 years ago. Under Hong Kong’s separate administration they bore witness to the two-month-long mass movement of students and workers that spread to city after city across China, and [=>]
From the July-August 2014 issue of News & Letters
UNCHAINING THE DIALECTIC
Raya Dunayevskaya’s 1953 breakthrough on Hegel’s Absolute Idea enabled her to illuminate a path not traveled by previous generations of revolutionaries. She is quite emphatic in raising the importance of “Unchaining the Revolutionary Dialectic” (May-June 2014 N&L), and capturing what [=>]
The new November-December 2013 issue of News & Letters is online.
News & Letters, Vol. 58, No. 6
November – December 2013
The Syrian Revolution as the test of world politics
On Aug. 21 the genocidal regime of Bashar al-Assad murdered over a thousand civilians, mostly women and children, with sarin gas in the Damascus suburbs of Eastern Ghouta. [=>]
Although we, as a state capitalist tendency, had been saying for years that we live in an age of absolutes, that the task of the theoreticians was the working out materialistically of Hegel’s last chapter on The Absolute Idea, we were unable to relate the daily struggles of the workers to this total conception. The maturity of the age, on the other hand, disclosed itself in the fact that, with automation, the worker began to question the very mode of labor. Thus the workers began to make concrete, and thereby extended, Marx’s profoundest conceptions, for the innermost core of the Marxian dialectic, around which everything turns, is that the transformation of society must begin with the material life of the worker, the producer.
From the Writings of Raya Dunayevskaya
Why Hegel’s Phenomenology now?
Editor’s Note: 2012 is marked by potential historic turning points and the search for new beginnings. It also marks the 25th anniversary of Raya Dunayevskaya’s last writings. We present part of her unfinished “Why Hegel’s Phenomenology? Why Now?” which was an important aspect of her work on Dialectics of [=>]