Discussion:
Utopian Socialism, Marx and the Industrial Revolution
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Macdonald Stainsby
2002-03-14 02:15:46 UTC
Permalink
What do comrades have to say about the advance from utopian (west European)
socialism, al la people in the tradition of Saint Simon, Babeuf and Owen- to
scientific socialism: is there a link between the development of
industrialisation and the development of Marx's ideas?
Is the advance from utopian to scientific doctrine more identifiable with the
influence of Hegelian dialectics on Marx and others?
Or have I created a false dichotomy, with both being important?

I believe the creation of the working class in such an identifable "mass"
(particularly in England) helped further the change from "all men are brothers"
to "workers... unite" in the most direct way. Also, the IR made for the gradual
end of socialists being those who pined for the past (Proudhon, et al)- and
created the basis to dream of a future (Blanqui).

-------------------------------------------
Macdonald Stainsby
http://lists.econ.utah.edu/mailman/listinfo/rad-green
http://lists.econ.utah.edu/mailman/listinfo/leninist-international

"They are all Enron, we are all Argentina"
--WEF protesters.
----
In the contradiction lies the hope.
--Bertholt Brecht



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Louis Proyect
2002-03-14 14:23:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Macdonald Stainsby
What do comrades have to say about the advance from utopian (west European)
socialism, al la people in the tradition of Saint Simon, Babeuf and Owen- to
scientific socialism: is there a link between the development of
industrialisation and the development of Marx's ideas?
Is the advance from utopian to scientific doctrine more identifiable with the
influence of Hegelian dialectics on Marx and others?
Or have I created a false dichotomy, with both being important?
It would probably make sense to see the rise of industrialization and
Hegelian philosophy as interlinked. Hegel and and a number of the
post-Kantian philosophers who preceded him (Fichte and Schelling in
particular) were radical bourgeois democrats. They identified with the
forces of social change in Europe that were challenging the remnants of
feudalism. If you want to get the full background on Hegel's politics, read
Georg Lukacs's "Young Hegel".
Post by Macdonald Stainsby
I believe the creation of the working class in such an identifable "mass"
(particularly in England) helped further the change from "all men are
brothers"
Post by Macdonald Stainsby
to "workers... unite" in the most direct way. Also, the IR made for the
gradual
Post by Macdonald Stainsby
end of socialists being those who pined for the past (Proudhon, et al)- and
created the basis to dream of a future (Blanqui).
True.

Louis Proyect
Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org



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Tom Siblo
2002-03-14 19:52:53 UTC
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Dear Mac:

I believe the influence of utopian socialism upon Marx and Engels is
reflected in both the works of Hegel and Feurbach. I know this may sound
like the standard line but isn't.

I spent ten years researching the development of dialectical materialism and
the materialist conception of history. My central thesis for my BA at SUNY
New Paltz in Social History was On the Relevancy of the Materialist
Conception of History.
I began my study under my advisor, Profesor Alfred E Bloch, a student of
Issac Deutcher, he himself a World War II Jewish resistance fighter. I had
critical help from Carlos Da Cunna Phd, the Argentine Socialist World Court
attorney, Eugene Lobel, a former economic advisor to Alexander Dubchek,
Amaru Seshu former member of the Indian Socialist Party and professor of
Economics. I completed the work in 1983 under Gerald Sorin who is a American
Jewish scholar who studied under Irving Howe who has written extensively on
the American Civil War and Immigrant History..
In addition I had correspondence and personal discussion with the late
Geroge Novack and the Socialist Humanist the late. Raya Dunayevskya,
(Freddie Johnson) and former secretary of Leon Trotsky. I was never able to
send her a final copy of my work.
This may all sound very academic but it isn't. My purpose for studying this
particular topic was practical and grounded in my practice as a
revolutionary. I apply what I learn to the realities of the class struggle.
In my original outline I summarized into 15 redbooks all of Marx and Engels
writings including the Critique of Political Economy, Theroies of Surplus
Value, Das Kapital, the Grundrisse. I started with the usual and also read
the entire text of the Holy Family, German Ideology, and Poverty of
Philosophy, The 18 Brumerie of Lousi Bonaparte, Dialectics of Nature and
the Economic Philiosphical Notebooks.. I also read Lukacs, Korsh, Gramisci,
Melosovic, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Bukharin, Trotsky, Luemburg, and Lenin
and how they each made an contribution to the understandinh of dialectical
materialsim.
There is no doubt in my mind Marx was developing his thoughts, Engels did so
as well in the beginning and their individual and combined revolutionary
experiences brought them together on common path. A path very different
than their idealist democratic Hegelian comrades..
I can concluded the two were no different than any young revolutionary of
today looking for answers to the current state of affairs of the modern
world..
I also studied the the Utopians in their own right, reading Owen, Saint
Simon, Seismondi, Schilling and Fichte.
I concluded that Owen and Saint Simon were to Hegel what God is to most
idealists. By taking the time to study Hegel and Feurbach in their English
translations. Hegel became to Marx and Engels what Owen and Saint Simon was
to Hegel. It is far more complex than what I just illustrated but one cannot
deney their influence.

Now Babeuf's influence comes from an entirely different place. I believe
Babeuf represented the coming of the proletarian revolution.. Yes, an
idealist as far as goals but the kind of idealist Marx and Engels fully
could relate to. Babeuf functions as the reality of future working class
revolution. Babeuf as a revlutionary in practice the tremendous influence on
all the early communist workers. These communists as they first called
themselves became the concrete inspiration for the Communist Manifesto.
Their influence on Marx and Engels provided the seeds for the First
International. Their experience transended the class struggles from 1834 to
1871. The first examples of the proletariat in action.
There is no doubt both Blanqui, Proudhoun, Bakunin, Marx and Engels were
influenced by Babeuf, Hegel and Saint Simon.
Marx's entire polemic The Poverty of Philiosophy is an attempt to show the
idealistic direction of this earlier line of political thought. It is
chiefly dealing with Proudhon and Blanquist roots while at the same time
taking some good shots at the master Saint Simon, Francois Quenay Sisimondi
and the other physiocratic determinists of 18th and 19th century Utopianism.
Owen of course fits right in their with this critique however, appears to
have developed more directly from the English schools of Locke and Paine. I
also read Antonio Labriola's Materialist Conception of History
I research further reading Lenin's Materialism-Empiro Criticism and the
Philosophical Notebooks while reading Hegel's Philosphy of History, The
Phemnology of the Mind, and his Logic works first independently and then
combined reading them using Lenin's notebooks.I did this on my own before
ever talking with Raya Dunayeyskya.
I read Lukac's History of Class Counsciousness, Korsch, Philosphy of Marxism
Radek's Essay of History Materialism, Serge's Lenin to Stalin, David Geist's
Essays on Historical Materialism, and all of Dunayeyskaya's works and her
volumes of outlines which was no small task. I also threw in Sommervilles
Marxist Philosphy, Lousi Althusser's Marxism and David Macllean's numerous
books, Isiah Berlin, Edward P. Thompson's works.
I was keeping track in my mind Lukac's and Dunayevskaya's analysis of Hegel
and their view as to how much he influenced Marx. Also I was keeping in
mind Plekhanov and Lenin. Gerorge Novack's works. Novack contributed to a
understanding Lenin's critique of Lukac's which was published in the
International Socialist Review. Novack never wrote anything about
Dunayeyskaya.
I also then began reading Sarte and Merlu Ponty under George Tuckle's
direction who was a closs collaborator of Eugene Lobel. Lobel had loss his
professorship at SUNY after John J Neumier left as President. Alfred Bloch
did the same and so went my professors who passed it own to evetually Sorin.
I made more complete studies of several of the later Leininists but I found
their work suffered from mechanistic materialism.

David Guist's short essay on dialectical materialism was a good primer.. I
read Stalin, Mao and Ho Chi Minh contributions to top the whole thing off
I even consider Fidel Castro's "History Will Absolve Me and Che Guevara's
writings on Marxism.. I must say Stalin made a very minorcontribution while
Mao , Ho Chi Minh, and Castro seemed to take what they learned and combined
together with their oun experiences and produced some very creative and
qualitative tracts worthy of recognition.
I concluded that dialectical materialism as method developed by Marx and
Engels is very relevant to our times. As a method of analysis it is based on
an understanding of what "unfetterd" scientific thinking is and how humanity
must completely remove itself from its barbaric backwardness. By
understanding the dynamics of social change we can arrive at a fully
balanced perspective providing the possibility for the transition into a
progressive human society.
The dialectical method is truly a means whereby we can discuss real time
issues. We can reach a conclusion for taking action and changing society. It
may not always be what we really want the outcome to be at least it enables
us to understand where we are coming from and what is the revolutionary
potential. Dialectical materialism and its Materialist Conception of History
is the science of modern social revolution. There is no other science in
existence designed to promote the transformation from capitalism into
socialism and communism. .
Marx and Engels dialectical materialism removes the "pie in the sky when you
die " and firmly places the responsibility for humanity to determine it own
future. Yes we cannot determine our past and the past does impact on the
present but once humanity become fully conscious of their aleinated
relationship to means of production in as such we are potentially capable of
becoming proletarians.
At this moment then we are able to throw off the shackles of modern wage
and cyber slavery begin to move forward. Ultimately, it is our own act of
determination developed in revolutioanry practice makes a real difference.
As long as we ground ourselves in the material realities by turning the
idealistic dialectic on its head using the materilist dialectic instead can
we accept what we learn as the realities of the cuurent human condition.
From this point we can develop global democratic socialist plan.
Marx and Engels deliberately left this to us to determine and now we have
had the experience of the antithesis provided by the recent modern variants
of socialism throughout the world. Our socialist planning once we throw off
the fetters of U.S Capitalism and its imperialist designs can humanity
further honed down the real solutions. As the new modern proletariat takes
control of its own destiny by fully understanding it past and the object
political need for local, regional, national and international thinking.
When this occurs and social community consciousness turns the working people
to see its political power can real peace and planning occur.
We need to define ourselves as to what we are as a species and what we are
doing to ourselves and others. Only the application of the dialectical
materialist method combined with the application of historocal materialism
can make this happen. There is no other viewpoint that has this potential.
The anarchists and their contribution because of their lack of developing a
method of international planning cannot achieve what is potentially
developed in Marxism.
All other philosophical trends and ideologies are showing their bankruptcy
in our modern times.
There are serious fundamental problems in Marxism today. Each generation
must relearn the method and make their own contribution because Marxism is a
living political ideology. Like a shark Marxism must keep developing less it
will die. Just as we saw in our lifetime the restoration of capitalism now
we know its not a one-way highway but a four lane thruway which travels in
both opposite directions.
As a materialist method very few "Marxists" are interested learning and
studying it as a complete science and a system of thought as it was used and
applied by Marx and Engels.
Please let me illustrate. I cannot say that Ernest Mandel in his Marxist
Economic Theories fully applys the dialectical method because he wasn't. He
together a synthesis using the portions of the leading bourgeois
intellectuals to prove the validity of an outline understanding he had of
Marx's Economic thought.
Lenin would have problems as to his method of analysis. He would have
concluded this as an eclectic work. It is good for providing an outline but
it cannot replace reading Das Kapital or the Theories of Surplus Value.
Mandel made great contribution to the mass understanding of some Marx and
Engels economic concepts but must read Paul Sweezy's Monopoly Capitalism and
Harry Braver man's works and throw in the works of C.Wright MIlls, William
H. Domholf to get a really good understanding of the modern American
capitalist system. Yet Mandel's work is a reflection of how far we as
Marxists are losing the very fabric of our revolutionary thought. Just like
if we want to begin a study of Russian capitalism today one needs to read
Lenin's economic works because knowing the starting point provides us with a
place to begin in understanding what is happening today in Russia.
Trotsky greatest is always discussed but what about his limitations are
another example. He was one in a group of many who were not really
understanding basic dialectical materialist method.. He could not transfer
his true revolutionary experience to those who followed him in America so
instead most of the movement remains splintered and fragmented. He created
the very opposite of what he wanted and knew was needed to achieve. Nedova
Sedova,also a Marxist who knew Trotsky's methods so well made it very clear
when she resigned from the Fourth International and joined with Max
Schactman the alleged earlier "petty bourgeois" oppositionists. Could it be
at Trosky found himself isolated and no longer with his comrades Lenin,
Stalin, Zinoviev, Kollenti, Zeitland and Radek Bukharin, and the rest of the
Bolshevik central leadership what daily and worked together until the
combined intervention and economic problems lead to the liquidation of the
party. Intend he had Cannon, Hanse, Novice, Reed, Chestier, and so many
younger still underdeveloped comrades to bounce ideas off of.
Marx and Engels worked directly with the revolutionary workers of their
times. Lenin had Plekhanov and Luxemburg had Kautsky and it all goes back to
Enegles, and Liebnecht and Merhing. The Marxist method is everything.
Really using it.makes a difference.

As illustrated by the recent discussion concerning Bush reviewing possibly
using nuclear weapons. This has been done by every President since Truman at
one time or another. No one takes this seriously today. Well my friends
think about what Bush's practices are and the position of U.S. Imperialism
today and its need to consolidate its Empire. My answer is No to the Bomb!
Stop the Bombing! Don't Even LET Him Consider It? The nuclear clock is now
closer than ever. Is anyone listening? So what is the best way to approach
this? See it as being a fear technique.of the ruling class. I agree. The
ruling class is always split on this issue, however Bush the Second is a
cowboy and one of the best. He is hard as a rock.. If there was in a
revolutionary International we would submit an analysis, including some the
documents I have seen floating around the Internet the pass few days.
Weighing out the facts it is important for the working class to hear its
leadership condom the thinking of the ruling class as another example of
barbarism in practice and it should never be allowed. As a class we need to
to protest even the consideration. This is in an ideal situation Comrades.
Reality dictates we need to begin to work on this problem foremost and get
things rolling if it becomes more than a review.
When the SWP says they defend the North Koreans in their use of nuclear
weapons as a means of self defense it not Barnes that is the problem here.
Barnes is wrong and needs to be confronted.. I see Barnes as being like the
opposite twin of Bush, Barnes came first with his idea and then came Bush.
I defend the right of any oppressed nation to defend itself but I as a
Marxist I must condemn the thought on their part ever thinking of using a
nuclear weapon. It is barbaric and against the very future of humanity and
it cannot be allowed. If we learned anything since 1950 I don't care
whether or not they are a "workers state." I don't get into the "worker
state" debate because like Sedova said you are "using old outmoded
formulas," -mechanistically applying your Marxist dialectic. So it is
possible to be a dialectical materialist in name and still be a mechanical
materialist. The later leads to ultra-leftism and infantile disorders..
This is the key here. What many Marxist believe is dialectical materialism
is really the old mechanists Lenin talks about. He spent a lot of time
confronting the ideas about these guys who had developed within Russian
Marxist intelligenstia.They considered themselves to be part of the
revolutionary movement.. The last thing we need right now is one-sided
thinking because the work only suffers. If we are serious about the
revolution then it is important to really understand the dialectical method
and how it lead to the development of the materialist conception of history.
Trotsky made a tremendous contribution when he wrote his two books on 1905
and the 1917 Revolutions. It is here where historical materialism is applied
by him and one his great achievements as a Marxist. One finds here a concept
of uneven and combined development as it existed in Pre-Revolutionary
Russia.. It is how he uses these formulations makes this his greatest
contribution to Marxism. He took a concept he found in Marx concerning
"revolution in permanence" and then he provides us with real illustrations.
Here he explains the two most important revolutions of the early 20th
century. All one needs to do is read the great works of Andre Gunder Frank
and James Petras and we find a true modern analysis of underdevelopment and
a contribution which has been helping us understand the globalization of
capital and it modern imperialist variations.
I look forward to your critique comrades because I am here to give it my
best because I firmly believe the working people are the real sleeping giant
and once it receives it wake-up call and there is no telling what is going
to happen. I believe very soon along with our comrades in the rest of the
world we are going to start to participate in the digging the graves for
capitalists and their imperialist system.. Humanity has no other choice then
world socialism and as Ernest Mandel correctly contributed over thirty years
ago in his popularized essay on Workers Democracy how this is going to take
place. It is along these political lines and no other can the current state
of human affairs be transformed from barbarism to democratic world
socialism..
----- Original Message -----


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Sam Pawlett
2002-03-14 18:28:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Macdonald Stainsby
What do comrades have to say about the advance from utopian (west European)
socialism, al la people in the tradition of Saint Simon, Babeuf and Owen- to
scientific socialism: is there a link between the development of
industrialisation and the development of Marx's ideas?
Yes, or Marx's ideas would be wrong (i.e. ideas are determined or at least
influenced by material reality) . In a less theoretical sense, M/E were reacting to
the horrible state the (nascent) working class had been reduced to through
industrialisation. They took England as their model since it was the most
industrialised hence most of M/E's ideas are really about England though they were
seeking a general, global model.
Post by Macdonald Stainsby
Is the advance from utopian to scientific doctrine more identifiable with the
influence of Hegelian dialectics on Marx and others?
No, Marx and Engels were rebelling against German idealistic metaphysics and
embraced materialism. Engels tells the story in Socialism:Utopian and Scientific.
Very crudely, the basic idea of German idealism was that ideas determine reality.
Engles accused the Utopians of this, of thinking up ideas and trying to implement
into reality when things worked the other way around: ideas and ultimately
socialism grow out of material reality. Being is determined by reality and not the
other way 'round.
Post by Macdonald Stainsby
Or have I created a false dichotomy, with both being important?
It wasn't you who created the dichotomy it was German metaphysics, ideas are a part
of material reality (they occur in brains,physical things).

Sam Pawlett


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Mark Lause
2002-03-15 20:01:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Macdonald Stainsby
What do comrades have to say about the advance from utopian (west European)
socialism, al la people in the tradition of Saint Simon, Babeuf and Owen- to
scientific socialism: is there a link between the development of
industrialisation and the development of Marx's ideas?
I confess to what will be a very unpopular position on this list. How are Marxist
"scientific" social democratic parties different than preMarxist "utopian" Louis
Blanc? Or many of the dominant interpretations of "scientific" Leninist
orientations different from the "utopian" Babouvist/Blanquist approach? I think
that this distinction between preMarx and Marxist socialisms are mostly a matter of
degrees, sometimes not even that.

Solidarity,
Mark


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Charles Brown
2002-03-15 20:19:06 UTC
Permalink
Utopian Socialism, Marx and the Industrial Revolution
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2002 14:52:53 -0500
From: "Tom Siblo" <tsiblo at mhcable.com>


Dear Mac:

I believe the influence of utopian socialism upon Marx and Engels is
reflected in both the works of Hegel and Feurbach. I know this may sound
like the standard line but isn't.

I spent ten years researching the development of dialectical materialism and
the materialist conception of history. My central thesis for my BA at SUNY

-clip-

Tom,

You have a truly impressive bio, especially your comprehensive study of Marxism. I look forward to your discussion of dialectic and historical materialism.

Charles Brown


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Louis Proyect
2002-03-15 20:19:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mark Lause
I confess to what will be a very unpopular position on this list. How are
Marxist
Post by Mark Lause
"scientific" social democratic parties different than preMarxist "utopian"
Louis
Post by Mark Lause
Blanc? Or many of the dominant interpretations of "scientific" Leninist
orientations different from the "utopian" Babouvist/Blanquist approach? I
think
Post by Mark Lause
that this distinction between preMarx and Marxist socialisms are mostly a
matter of
Post by Mark Lause
degrees, sometimes not even that.
Solidarity,
Mark
What Marx and Engels saw as its three of main features of utopian thought
were:

1) Ahistoricism: The utopian socialists did not see the class struggle as
the locomotive of history. While they saw socialism as being preferable to
capitalism, they neither understood the historical contradictions that
would undermine it in the long run, nor the historical agency that was
capable of resolving these contradictions: the working-class.

2) Moralism What counts for the utopian socialists is the moral example of
their program. If there is no historical agency such as the working-class
to fulfill the role of abolishing class society, then it is up to the moral
power of the utopian scheme to persuade humanity for the need for change.

3) Rationalism The utopian scheme must not only be morally uplifting, it
must also make sense. The best utopian socialist projects would be those
that stood up to relentless logical analysis.

As Engels said in "Socialism: Utopian and Scientific", "To all these
socialism is the expression of absolute truth, reason and justice, and has
only to be discovered to conquer all the world by virtue of its own power.
And as absolute truth is independent of time, space, and of the historical
development of man, it is a mere accident when and where it is discovered."

All of these themes are present to one degree or another in the sort of
schemas found in Z Magazine's Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel.

Turning to their "Looking Forward", we find the same kind of methodology
that permeated pre-scientific socialism. Their vision of how social
transformation takes place is ahistorical, moralistic and rationalistic. In
a reply to somebody's question about social change and human nature on the
Z Magazine bulletin board, Albert states:

"I look at history and see even one admirable person--someone's aunt, Che
Guevara, doesn't matter--and say that is the hard thing to explain. That
is: that person's social attitudes and behavior runs contrary to the
pressures of society's dominant institutions. If it is part of human nature
to be a thug, and on top of that all the institutions are structured to
promote and reward thuggishness, then any non-thuggishness becomes a kind
of miracle. Hard to explain. Where did it come from, like a plant growing
out of the middle of a cement floor. Yet we see it all around. To me it
means that social traits are what is wired in, in fact, though these are
subject to violation under pressure."

Such obsessive moralizing was characteristic of the New Left of the 1960s.
Who can forget the memorable slogan "if you are not part of the solution,
then you are part of the problem." With such a moralistic approach, the
hope for socialism is grounded not in the class struggle, but on the
utopian prospects of good people stepping forward. Guevara is seen as moral
agent rather than as an individual connected with powerful class forces in
motion such as the Cuban rural proletariat backed by the Soviet socialist
state.

Albert's [and Hahnel's] enthusiasm for the saintly Che Guevara is in direct
contrast to his judgement on the demon Leon Trotsky, who becomes
responsible along with Lenin for all of the evil that befell Russia after
1917. Why? It is because Trotsky advocated "one-man management". Lenin was
also guilty because he argued that "all authority in the factories be
concentrated in the hands of management."

To explain Stalinist dictatorship, they look not to historical factors such
as economic isolation and military pressure, but the top-down management
policies of Lenin and Trotsky. To set things straight, Albert and Hahnel
provide a detailed description of counter-institutions that avoid these
nasty hierarchies. This forms the whole basis of their particular schema
called "participatory planning" described in "Looking Forward":

"Participatory planning in the new economy is a means by which worker and
consumer councils negotiate and revise their proposals for what they will
produce and consume. All parties relay their proposals to one another via
'facilitation boards'. In light of each round's new information, workers
and consumers revise their proposals in a way that finally yields a
workable match between consumption requests and production proposals."

Their idea of a feasible socialism is beyond reproach, just as any
idealized schema will be. The problem is that it is doomed to meet the same
fate as utopian schemas of the 19th century because it is essentiall
besides the point. Socialism comes about through revolutionary upheavals,
not as the result of action inspired by flawless plans.

There will also be a large element of the irrational in any revolution. The
very real possibility of a reign of terror or even the fear of one is
largely absent in the rationalist scenarios of the new utopians. Nothing
can do more harm to a new socialist economy than the flight of skilled
technicians and professionals. For example, there was very little that one
can have done to prevent such flight in Nicaragua, no matter the
willingness of a Tomas Borge to forgive Somocista torturers. This had more
of an impact on Nicaraguan development plans than anything else.

The reason for the upsurge in utopian thought is in some ways similar to
that of the early 19th century: The industrial working-class is not a
powerful actor in world politics. Engels observed that in 1802 when
Saint-Simon's Geneva letters appeared, "the capitalist mode of production,
and with it the antagonism between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, was
still very incompletely developed."

Isn't this similar to the problem we face today? Even though the
working-class makes up a larger percentage of the word's population than
ever before, we have not seen a radicalized working-class in the advanced
capitalist countries since the 1930s, an entire historical epoch. In the
absence of a revolutionary working-class, utopian schemas are bound to
surface. Could one imagine a work like "Looking Forward" being written
during the Flint sit-down strikes? In the absence of genuine struggles,
fantasy is a powerful seductive force.

Another cause of utopian thought is the collapse of the Soviet Union and
its allies. Except for Cuba, there is not a country in the world that
doesn't seem to be galloping at full speed into the capitalist sphere. As
this anti-capitalist reality becomes part of history, it is tempting to
create an alternative reality where none of the contradictions of "existing
socialism" existed.

This is fundamentally an ahistorical approach and will yield very little
useful new political guidelines about how to achieve socialism in the
future. These answers will not come out of utopian fantasies, but in
further analysis of the historical reasons underlying the collapse of the
USSR. In-depth analysis by serious scholars such as Moshe Lewin focus on
the structural problems, not on statements made by Lenin and Trotsky made
on management wrenched out of context.

The biggest problem, of course, is the socialist project itself. What sense
does it make to think in terms of scientific socialism when the
working-class as we know it is not the same class that created the Paris
Commune. If we had something like the Paris Commune in the last 50 years or
so in one of the advanced capitalist countries, left economists would be
thinking about ways that such an experience could be replicated. Since we
lack such an example, we console ourselves with fantasies of a good society
instead.

Louis Proyect
Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org



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Mark Lause
2002-03-15 21:31:53 UTC
Permalink
Louis,

We don't disagree in the substance of present politics.

Historically, many of the early socialists came directly out of the fight for
rationalism against religion. Many were no more moralizing than...well, an
SWPer giving the sales report. And many believe in the class struggle as the
driving force for change. Indeed, the Communist Manifesto rather clearly
states that they are arguing from the same general perspectives of proletarian
revolution as the Blanquists, and that they viewed the radical Chartists in
Britain or and the National Reformers in the U.S. as kindred class political
movements. That was the 1840s, of course...

By the 1880s, Engels distinction between utopian and scientific socialism by
resorting to a classic strawman argument. That is, he took three figures who
most closely took the position against which he wanted to counterpose a
"scientific" approach. The distinction here is within the writings of Marx and
Engels which acknowledge in one place, what it ignores in another.

Solidarity,
Mark






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Louis Proyect
2002-03-15 23:54:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mark Lause
driving force for change. Indeed, the Communist
Manifesto rather clearly states that they are
arguing from the same general perspectives of
proletarian revolution as the Blanquists, and
that they viewed the radical Chartists in
Britain or and the National Reformers in the
U.S. as kindred class political movements. That
was the 1840s, of course...
But the Communist Manifesto makes a clear stand against
non-scientific socialism:

"To this section belong economists, philanthropists, humanitarians,
improvers of the condition of the working class, organizers of
charity, members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to
animals, temperance fanatics, hole-and-corner reformers of every
imaginable kind. This form of socialism has, moreover, been worked
out into complete systems.

"We may cite Proudhon's Philosophy of Poverty as an example of this
form.
Post by Mark Lause
By the 1880s, Engels distinction between utopian
and scientific socialism by resorting to a
classic strawman argument. That is, he took
three figures who most closely took the position
against which he wanted to counterpose a
"scientific" approach. The distinction here is
within the writings of Marx and Engels which
acknowledge in one place, what it ignores in
another.
By the 1880s, utopian socialism was a spent force except in the USA
where various benign experiments were being conducted. Although I am
not an Engels scholar, it seems to me that "Socialism Utopian and
Scientific" was meant less as a polemic than as a kind of
dispassionate explanation of how scientific socialism came into
being. Furthermore, rather than being harsh to the utopians, Engels
was rather generous:

"If in Saint-Simon we find a comprehensive breadth of view, by virtue
of which almost all the ideas of later Socialists that are not
strictly economic are found in him in embryo, we find in Fourier a
criticism of the existing conditions of society, genuinely French and
witty, but not upon that account any the less thorough. Fourier takes
the bourgeoisie, their inspired prophets before the Revolution, and
their interested eulogists after it, at their own word. He lays bare
remorselessly the material and moral misery of the bourgeois world."

In fact, from what I can gather, very little energy was spent by Marx
and Engels in "exposing" utopian socialism. Mainly they tried to
promote scientific socialism through a variety of research projects
and through revolutionary journalism. In the hundreds of articles
that Marx and Engels wrote through the 1880s, I doubt if more than a
handful were attacks on utopians. Of course, Bakunin was entirely
different story. This crackpot was doing everything in his power to
wreck the workers international.

That being said, I believe that utopian socialism is a much bigger
problem today than it was in the mid 19th century. It does not take
the particular form of alternative communities except maybe some
radical hippie communes in the 1960s that I never got invited to, but
it persists more in the realm of theory. I would include all of the
following in the broad category of utopian socialism:

1. Market socialism.

2. Albert-Hahnel (as I just mentioned earlier).

3. Various radical Green initiatives from Murray Bookchin to
bioregionalism.

4. Autonomist squats, fetishization of the Zapatista movement, etc.

5. Promotion of cooperatives such as Mondragon as some kind of
launching pad for the total transformation of society.

This stuff is out there all over the place. I don't feel particularly
generous to it.

--
Louis Proyect, lnp3 at panix.com on 03/15/2002

Marxism list: http://www.marxmail.org



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Mark Lause
2002-03-16 02:37:14 UTC
Permalink
Louis,

You make an important point. My views have been shaped largely be the
fact that the struggle for the triumph of "scientific" socialism in the
US masked the ethnic ascendancy of the German organizations in the 19th
century. Another was Lenin's "Marxism and Revisionism" which argued: (1)
that Marxism had gained hegemony over utopian currents in a nominal sense
by the late 19th century, but (2) that utopian socialism resurfaced in
this broader, self described "Marxism" as "revisionism".

The problem is that equating "scientific" with Marxist implies an
equation between "utopian" and preMarxist. The latter not only included
Fourier talking about the oceans turning to something like lemonade but
self described "workingmen's parties" with leaders like Thomas Skidmore
talking about class warfare and expropriation. The former ("Marxism")
includes Bernstein, Kautsky, Stalin, Mao, etc. as well as anyone we might
find more principled. I don't know how to avoid this latter problem
unless we assume that there is a "real" Marxism that involves only a tiny
portion of those who call themselves Marxism.

As indicated, I'm not optimistic about persuading people of this by
email, but merely registering my protest against categories that obscure
and mislead as much as they might clarify.

Solidarity!
Mark Lause




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Carrol Cox
2002-03-16 04:19:35 UTC
Permalink
[clip]
The problem is that equating "scientific" with Marxist implies an
equation between "utopian" and preMarxist. The latter not only included
Fourier talking about the oceans turning to something like lemonade but
self described "workingmen's parties" with leaders like Thomas Skidmore
talking about class warfare and expropriation. The former ("Marxism")
includes Bernstein, Kautsky, Stalin, Mao, etc. as well as anyone we might
find more principled.
We're running into a problem here that sometimes (it seems to me) gets
magnified on maillists (and is one of the reasons that despite the time
I've spent on them I'm still skeptical as to their political use): a
tendency to follow in practice a somewhat vulgarized version of the
Chinese sloganizing of dialectics: "One divides into two."
(Incidentally, it's not a bad start on dialectics, but that is for
another occasion perhaps.) That is, there seems to be a drive on
maillists (and I include most emphatically the marxism list) to divide
everyone up into two camps, and seeing all members of each camp as
identical to each other. If A, B, C, & D all believe X, then it is
assumed that (1) anyone who believes X agrees with A, B, C, & D on every
other issue also and (2) that A, B, C, and D are defined by their belief
in X, so that anyone who disagrees with X must condemn everything that
A, B, C, and D stand for.

For this kind of two-line struggle (as the Chinese called it and as the
"New Communist" movements of the '70s aped it) can work -- but the
conditions for it to work are both extremely complex _and_ demand a good
deal of what may be called principled sloppiness. You have to stack your
contradictions in the right order (that's the complicated part) AND you
have to resolutely ignore, except in very tactful ways, contradictions
which are not yet "ripened," which are not, that is, directly relevant
to IMMEDIATE central concerns, no matter _HOW_ immensely relevant,
eventually, the "ignored" contradictions might be.

But maillists have an vicious tendency to push to the front just those
contradictions which ought to be kept in the back of the mind and only
discussed among those who are in pretty complete agreement.
(Incidentally, Hunterbear seems pretty good at this. He clearly has very
strong convictins, but he also doesn't let differences over _many_ of
those convictions separate him from those with whom he shares unity on
other issues.) Differences that, in a party engaged in political
practice, could simmer for years or decades before they caused
antagonism have people at each other's throats in weeks it seems like on
maillists.

Unless we can somehow resolve this tendency in maillists they will
constitute an ever growing barrier to forming a new revolutionary party
in the U.S.

I don't know how to avoid this latter problem
unless we assume that there is a "real" Marxism that involves only a tiny
portion of those who call themselves Marxism.
That assumption of course is utterly unacceptable. To assume it is to
mistake Marx for Plato, Marxism for (what its enemies accuse it of
being) just another religion.
As indicated, I'm not optimistic about persuading people of this by
email, but merely registering my protest against categories that obscure
and mislead as much as they might clarify.
Difficult, isn't it.

Carrol

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Edward George
2002-03-15 20:40:10 UTC
Permalink
Louis wrote, apropos of the faults of utopian socialism:

'3) Rationalism. The utopian scheme must not only be morally uplifting, it
must also make sense. The best utopian socialist projects would be those
that stood up to relentless logical analysis.'


Isaac Deutscher (who says it better than me ...;-) ):

'Like most British socialists, Orwell had never been a Marxist. The
dialectical-materialist philosophy had always been too abstruse for him.
From instinct rather than consciousness he had been a staunch rationalist.
The distinction between the Marxist and the rationalist is of some
imponance. Contrary to an opinion widespread in Anglo-Saxon countries,
Marxism is not at all rationalist in its philosophy: it does not assume that
human beings are, as a rule, guided by rational motives and that they can be
argued into socialism by reason. Marx himself begins Das Kapital with the
elaborate philosophical and historical inquiry into the 'fetishistic' modes
of thought and behaviour rooted in 'commodity production' - that is, in
man's work for and dependence on, a market. The class struggle, as Marx
describes it, is anything but a rational process. This does not prevent the
rationalists of socialism describing themselves sometimes as Marxists. But
the authentic Marxist may claim to be mentally better prepared than the
rationalist is for the manifestations of irrationality in human affairs,
even for such manifestations as Stalin's Great Purges. He may feel upset or
mortified by them, but he need not feel shaken in his Weltanschauung, while
the rationalist is lost and helpless when the irrationality of the human
existence suddenly stares him in the face. If he clings to his rationalism,
reality eludes him. If he pursues reality and tries to grasp it, he must
part with his rationalism.'

Isaac Deutscher, '1984 - The Mysticism of Cruelty', in Isaac Deutscher,
Marxism, Wars and Revolutions, ed Tamara Deutscher), (London: Verso, 1984),
67-8.


_________________________________________________________________
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Jim Farmelant
2002-03-16 15:35:50 UTC
Permalink
In discussing Marx's relations with utopian socialism, it should
be noted that during Marx's youth, Saint-Simonian ideas were
very much in vogue in Germany. His father's good friend (and
Karl's future father-in-law) Baron Ludwig von Westphalen was
an enthusiastic Saint-Simonian, and he spent much time discussing
Saint-Simonian ideas with the young Karl Marx. Several of
Marx's professors were Saint-Simonians, so Marx was certainly
exposed to the influence of Saint-Simonian ideas both
at home and at university. And it should also be noted that
most of his friends among the Young Hegelians were familiar
with Saint-Simonian ideas, and they tended to regard Saint-Simonianism
as a kindred movement to their own. Some writers such as
Tom Bottomore have even gone as far as to assert that the
Saint-Simonian influence on Marx was much greater than
has been customarily been supposed. Certainly, at a minimum
Marx did owe some important ideas to the Saint-Simonians
including his emphasis on the importance of class struggle
in the making of history, and his conception of communism
as one, which as Engels put it ''the government of men will be
replaced by the administration of things'' comes almost directly
from Saint-Simon.

Jim F.
Post by Louis Proyect
Post by Mark Lause
driving force for change. Indeed, the Communist
Manifesto rather clearly states that they are
arguing from the same general perspectives of
proletarian revolution as the Blanquists, and
that they viewed the radical Chartists in
Britain or and the National Reformers in the
U.S. as kindred class political movements. That
was the 1840s, of course...
But the Communist Manifesto makes a clear stand against
"To this section belong economists, philanthropists, humanitarians,
improvers of the condition of the working class, organizers of
charity, members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to
animals, temperance fanatics, hole-and-corner reformers of every
imaginable kind. This form of socialism has, moreover, been worked
out into complete systems.
"We may cite Proudhon's Philosophy of Poverty as an example of this
form.
Post by Mark Lause
By the 1880s, Engels distinction between utopian
and scientific socialism by resorting to a
classic strawman argument. That is, he took
three figures who most closely took the position
against which he wanted to counterpose a
"scientific" approach. The distinction here is
within the writings of Marx and Engels which
acknowledge in one place, what it ignores in
another.
By the 1880s, utopian socialism was a spent force except in the USA
where various benign experiments were being conducted. Although I am
not an Engels scholar, it seems to me that "Socialism Utopian and
Scientific" was meant less as a polemic than as a kind of
dispassionate explanation of how scientific socialism came into
being. Furthermore, rather than being harsh to the utopians, Engels
"If in Saint-Simon we find a comprehensive breadth of view, by
virtue
of which almost all the ideas of later Socialists that are not
strictly economic are found in him in embryo, we find in Fourier a
criticism of the existing conditions of society, genuinely French
and
witty, but not upon that account any the less thorough. Fourier
takes
the bourgeoisie, their inspired prophets before the Revolution, and
their interested eulogists after it, at their own word. He lays bare
remorselessly the material and moral misery of the bourgeois world."
In fact, from what I can gather, very little energy was spent by
Marx
and Engels in "exposing" utopian socialism. Mainly they tried to
promote scientific socialism through a variety of research projects
and through revolutionary journalism. In the hundreds of articles
that Marx and Engels wrote through the 1880s, I doubt if more than a
handful were attacks on utopians. Of course, Bakunin was entirely
different story. This crackpot was doing everything in his power to
wreck the workers international.
That being said, I believe that utopian socialism is a much bigger
problem today than it was in the mid 19th century. It does not take
the particular form of alternative communities except maybe some
radical hippie communes in the 1960s that I never got invited to,
but
it persists more in the realm of theory. I would include all of the
1. Market socialism.
2. Albert-Hahnel (as I just mentioned earlier).
3. Various radical Green initiatives from Murray Bookchin to
bioregionalism.
4. Autonomist squats, fetishization of the Zapatista movement, etc.
5. Promotion of cooperatives such as Mondragon as some kind of
launching pad for the total transformation of society.
This stuff is out there all over the place. I don't feel
particularly
generous to it.
--
Louis Proyect, lnp3 at panix.com on 03/15/2002
Marxism list: http://www.marxmail.org
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Carrol Cox
2002-03-16 18:33:25 UTC
Permalink
The terms "Utopian Socialism" and "Scientific Socialism" are perhaps not
the best terminology in which to discuss the issues involved. For one
thing, the word/concept "science" or "scientific" wobbles over time, and
does not carry quite the same force in 20th/21st century English that it
carried in mid-19th century German (or English or French). These terms
today connote a much more restricted set of ideas than the same terms
did 100 or 150 years ago.

There is one very crucial distinction to be drawn between the socialism
of Marx and Engels and that of prior socialists (and not just those
labelled "utopian"), and it is a distinction very much rooted in the
actual working-class movements of the first half of the 19th century.
All earlier socialist/communist thinkers more or less assumed that
socialism would have to come down from on high. Quite probably Marx &
Engels would either never have become socialist or would also have made
this assumption had it not been for the workers' movements that
proclaimed loudly the advent of the working class within the capitalist
mode of production. And to this extent one can claim that the Chartists
and other similar movements were at least of equal and perhaps greater
importance than Hegel & Ricardo.

Those movements transformed socialism from a mere moral idea to a
material fact on the historical agenda. The future became visible in the
present.

Carrol

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Tom Siblo
2002-03-17 00:04:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Carrol Cox
The terms "Utopian Socialism" and "Scientific Socialism" are perhaps not
the best terminology in which to discuss the issues involved. For one
thing, the word/concept "science" or "scientific" wobbles over time, and
does not carry quite the same force in 20th/21st century English that it
carried in mid-19th century German (or English or French). These terms
today connote a much more restricted set of ideas than the same terms
did 100 or 150 years ago.
There is one very crucial distinction to be drawn between the socialism
of Marx and Engels and that of prior socialists (and not just those
labelled "utopian"), and it is a distinction very much rooted in the
actual working-class movements of the first half of the 19th century.
All earlier socialist/communist thinkers more or less assumed that
socialism would have to come down from on high. Quite probably Marx &
Engels would either never have become socialist or would also have made
this assumption had it not been for the workers' movements that
proclaimed loudly the advent of the working class within the capitalist
mode of production. And to this extent one can claim that the Chartists
and other similar movements were at least of equal and perhaps greater
importance than Hegel & Ricardo.
Those movements transformed socialism from a mere moral idea to a
material fact on the historical agenda. The future became visible in the
present.
Dear Carrol:

I completely agree with the statement :""Utopian Socialism" and "Scientific
Socialism" are perhaps not the best terminology in which to discuss the
issues involved.". This is why I stress "dialectical materialist method,"
"historical materialism" or "the materialist conception of hisotry" or the
concept of "uneven and combined development."

So Utopian Socialism is not Marxism. We who are Marxists know this but if
you ask any worker about socialismtoday they would call it a dream.
Socialism whether its scientific or not to most workers is "utopian," a good
idea but it runs against human nature."

I have organized with working people all my life and this is still the
common viewpoint as soon as you begin to talk socialism. They say the same
about "communism." When you raise the word "anarchy or anarchism" the idea
becomes even more distorted.
This is a matter of developing class consciousness. This is what happens
when you have class peace and opportunism in the drivers seat for several
generations.

The idea is turned right side up. What did Marx do ? He turned the
idealistic dialectical method on its head so it would no longer be a "thing
by itself." It becomes a "thing in itself." The greatest contribution made
as far as ending the crisis in Marxism is the "idea." and how it relates to
"false consciousness," "aleinated labor," and everyday life.

Without working people coming into direct conflict with their productive
relationships as they stand in relationship of the means of production and
their own aleinated labor or surplus value is clear. There is zero chance
for class cosnciousness to develop. Marxism is a conflict oriented
revolutioanry method. Conflict runs the dialectic in the concrete.

So as long as you can maintain class peace by giving in small consistent
material pieces of the pie at lowest common equation one can avoid social
revolution. This is a concept given to Roosevelt and he set up a system so
strong that even today the right wing Republicans cannot completely uproot
it. It is this system which keeps saving capitalism when it begins to go
into a crisis.

The future of socialism in America is going to be based on how well we as
Marxist can combine our efforts together to brake through the "false
counsciousness" and the workers themselves experience conflict with the
capitalist and imperialist productive forces. To do this requires a literal
dialectical materialist leap of truth. We have to own up to our own "false
consciousness" and accept perhaps all of our concepts and ideas in our minds
are truly not consistent with Marx or Engels. Tehy are not consistent with
Lenin, Stalin or Trotsky. We are so far away from Rosa Luxemburg and we are
still in our infancy as Marxists when it comes for Marxism and the very
workers we are seeking to liberate.

Comradly

Tom Siblo


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Mark Lause
2002-03-17 01:17:39 UTC
Permalink
The following statement includes two major factual errors: "There is one very
crucial distinction to be drawn between the socialism of Marx and Engels and
that of prior socialists . . . , and it is a distinction very much rooted in the
actual working-class movements of the first half of the 19th century. All
earlier socialist/communist thinkers more or less assumed that socialism would
have to come down from on high."

The fact is that Marx and Engels were won to a preexisting German workingclass
current that espoused class self emancipation, albeit along the lines sketched
by the cooperationist Weitling. So, too, the prevailing view of most of the
"earlier socialist/communist thinkers" after the 1820s was that socialism
required self emancipation. There are differences within "Marxism" that are
yawning voids compared with the differences between revolutionary Marxism and
some of these preMarxist currents.

Frances Wright: "What distinguishes the present from every other struggle in
which the human race has been engaged, is, that the present is, evidently,
openly and acknowledgedly, a war of class, and that this war is universal."
That was 1830 and inspired by New York City politics. Karl Marx was 12 years
old at the time.

Let me also cite a couple of observations from the 1880s and 90s by some of the
old time radicals who had known Fanny Wright and later became founders of
political socialism in the US. Based upon 50 years of experience with ?a great
number of societies, orders, sects and parties,? Joshua K. Ingalls repudiated
?distinctive schools of thought? and declined to wear ?the badge of any party or
repeat the shibboleth of any sect.? Sometimes called an anarchist, sometimes a
socialist, he wrote Jo Labaddie that creeds of all sorts failed when they became
dogmas, as leaders ?become despots and every movement seems to become the mere
creature of a single mind: eg., Comtism, Marxism, Proudhonism, Georgism.?
Another of his old comrades, Lewis Masquerier urged that radicals abandon hope
for a radical social transformation ?by trick or strategum . . . by little labor
leagues, labor or equitable exchange notes, little communistic property and free
love associations?.

Brilliant though they were on many things, Marx and Engels are being credited
for ideas that were already around at the time they entered the movement. We
have failed to learn sufficiently from our experience as radicals, in part,
because we have rather narrowly focused on the conclusions drawn by a relative
handful of "theoreticians" (what a Teutonic term, eh?).

No more icons, popes, and gurus!

Solidarity!
Mark Lause


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Carrol Cox
2002-03-17 02:07:37 UTC
Permalink
[clip]
I just want to protect against misunderstanding because of the way
e-mail crushes tone. I have no disagreements whatever with Tom's reply
-- and my original post was not intended to disagree with anything in
the thread but merely to add what I thought was an important historical
emphasis.

I might add here that the adjectives "historical," materialist," and
"dialectical" are far more important than the adjective "scientific."
And though all three of the former are subject to endless differences of
interpretation and use, those differences can usually be debated with
profit. Debates over whether marxism is "scientific" or not seem to lead
to rather arid circles or mere "turf protection." I think it is
scientific in very important senses, but I prefer not to haggle over the
point.

Carrol

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Alan Bradley
2002-03-17 11:23:02 UTC
Permalink
From: Louis Proyect
That being said, I believe that utopian socialism is a much bigger
problem today than it was in the mid 19th century.
Actually, today (Sunday, my time), I was at the Brisbane Social Forum, a two
day conference involving a fair slab of the left in Queensland and northern
New South Wales, plus sundry blow-ins.

The utopians were out in force.
2. Albert-Hahnel (as I just mentioned earlier).
Albert was a keynote speaker. His stuff was surprisingly good. It was
particularly useful in that most of the young people there had never heard a
lot of really basic stuff that he explained quite clearly. In particular,
he made most of the "anarchists" there look like the posing frauds that they
really are. He was actually talking mass action, and had a good long rave
about class. Like I said, it was surprisingly good. I had to go and have a
beer afterwards to recover.
This stuff is out there all over the place. I don't feel particularly
generous to it.
I was very kind. I was rude to the Greens about the German government and
Yugoslavia, and I gently and subtly* told a "prominent left identity" from
Sydney not to be a sectarian motherfucker, but I left the hippies alone.

(*He and about three other experienced leftists knew what I was talking
about. Nobody else even noticed that I was being nasty.)

Alan Bradley
abradley1 at bigpond.com



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