Geras Marks Marx

Norman Geras, on Normblog, has offered comment on Jeremy Seabrook’s god-complex in a post that is interesting and positive in the main part, and as it has attracted local interest in South London, I repost my comment here.

“Is it a report card on Marx that we want to have Norman G deliver? He says “Marx got many things wrong. But some he got right”. Thus red pen corrections replace red critique. Lets do a proper exam – where are we on the development of political capacity today? Consider Geras’s list: ‘political capacity: the result of characteristics it [the working class] possessed [past tense] – geographical concentration, trade union and political organization, literacy, technical competence, political and economic experience’. (Nepal aside) I wonder if we can recognise ‘increasing’ capacity today, or just immaterial skills, good typing, complicity and reification. Geras cites ‘populations educated, increasingly aware, competent – and not well-shaped for tolerating being dictated to’. This seems like wishful thinking in the context of the murder/death/kill I see on my screen every night. I of course want to transduce wishful thinking into something more, but we need also to make a real assessment of Left failings. An encouragement grade might be to mark this as: good effort but need to try harder”.

I recognise the terrible pathos of writing like this during exam time, and my efforts to drink sufficient coffee so that I can face the pile of scripts I have to grade, possibly in the sunshine in the bourgeois garden of Toadsmouth, may be making me a bit frantic. But, things are not so simple that we can just unthinkingly nod in assent to those who might like to say that Marx was enamored with capitalism, that there was some sort of dialectical embrace, that the proletariat was a shifting category, that working class political organization is … well, yes, of course all this is worthy of debate on the blogs – but the pathos I mostly feel is that there is also much to be said for being more organized than the simple trade unionism of yore, and didn’t Marx say something like this as well…

Some sort of commentary also tranduced over to Rough Theory, with this. And more on AHQ to come here soon.

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