The First Annual Clandestine Worker’s Spatula Marxist Theory Symposium and Dance-a-Thon was held at an undisclosed part of York University campus in Toronto, Canada last night. Attendees who arrived thanks to secret invitations came from locations as diverse as Australia, China, Turkey, India, and Argentina to debate topics ranging from economics to gender politics to philosophy.
The highlight of the evening, according to all in attendance, was the debate on “Yelling About Hegel”, which consisted of York University’s own J. Moufawad Paul, who swiped the keys to get us all into the [REDACTED] building, and a Worker’s Spatula representative who is hot for Hegel. What follows is a 100% factual and 100% accurate transcript, and if J. Moufawad Paul seeks to object in any way, we can only assume his account has been hacked by the Russians, as is traditional in North America.
Moderator: Well, I see we have a packed room for this panel. Expected, I suppose, because if there’s one thing that draws the big crowds, it’s heated arguments about Hegel. You all know the rules: each participant is permitted to yell until they run out of breath, at which point the other begins yelling until they run out of breath. If I start yelling, everyone else has to stop yelling until I finish what I’m saying. The debate is over when somebody flips the table like TİKB did during the Toblerone conference in London. Any preliminary, non-yelled remarks from either of you?
WS: First of all, since we’re going to be yelling about Hegel, I want to give a shout-out to Arif Çelebi. Secondly, on behalf of all of our cadre taking part in the Ramadan fast, I wanted to thank J. Moufawad-Paul for his thoughtful choice of bream for this evening’s iftar. He has been nothing if not a gracious host to us, and has made me personally rethink my prejudiced view that all white settler-colonial English Canadians are hypocritical liberal scum.
JMP: Please, comrade. I also love bream. But I’m glad that I could prove that not all individuals from settler-colonial Canadian society are roughly as culturally sensitive as Justin Trudeau, if not to his right. I hope that this event will be the first in many occasions for meaningful exchange between revolutionary trends across the world. By the way, is there any chance you’d like to accept that Maoism is the third and hi…
Moderator: …AND WITH THAT, WE’RE OFF! START YELLING!
JMP: Oh, is it… is it time for me to start yelling? Okay: WHERE DO I BEGIN? MY POSITION IS ALMOST TOO OBVIOUS: HEGEL IS AN IDEALIST PHILOSOPHER, AND THE REPEATED IMPLICATION BY WORKER’S SPATULA THAT HEGEL IS ON PAR WITH MARX WAS ALWAYS INTERPRETED AS A JOKE UP UNTIL THIS POINT. IS IT ACTUALLY WORKER’S SPATULA’S POSITION THAT, AND I QUOTE, “MARXISM-LENINISM, MORE LIKE HEGELIANISM-LENINISM, AMIRITE?”?(?)
WS: YEAH SURE, WHY NOT? I’M NOT GOING TO GET IN TROUBLE FOR SAYING THAT. YOU CAN’T BE A MARXIST WITHOUT HEGEL. IT’S NOT A FUCKING COINCIDENCE THAT EVERY MODERN REVISIONIST YOU TALK TO CAN’T SUMMARISE THE UNIVERSAL MOTION OF DIALECTICS ON EVEN THE MOST BASIC LEVEL. YOU CAN’T JUST IGNORE DIALECTICS AS A MARXIST.
JMP: I NEVER SAID DIALECTICS WASN’T AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THE MARXIST WORLDVIEW, I WROTE A FUCKING DIAMAT MANUAL. BUT IN THE DIALECTICAL INTERPLAY BETWEEN BEING AND CONSCIOUSNESS, THE BEING IS PRIMARY, AND HEGEL’S SHORTCOMING WAS PRECISELY IN HIS FAILURE TO GRASP THIS.
WS: DID HEGEL MAKE MISTAKES? OF COURSE HE DID. IN SO LONG A PERIOD FILLED WITH HEROISM, TRIALS, STRUGGLE, TRIUMPHS, IT IS INEVITABLE NOT ONLY FOR HEGEL PERSONALLY BUT ALSO FOR GERMAN IDEALISM AS A WHOLE TO MAKE MISTAKES.
MODERATOR: FOUL! No paraphrasing Enver Hoxha or Mao Zedong quotes defending Stalin! That joke is for Twitter only.
WS: Sorry, force of habit.
MODERATOR: That’s fine, just try to make sure it doesn’t happen again. JMP? Can we get your word that you won’t do the same?
JMP: Hey, I never do that anyway.
MODERATOR: Very well. Comrade, would you like to yell a more original and substantial response?
WS: LENIN SAID “INTELLIGENT IDEALISM IS CLOSER TO INTELLIGENT MATERIALISM THAN STUPID MATERIALISM”. WE CAN’T GO THE DIRECTION WHERE WE PAINT HEGEL AS AN ENEMY OF MARXISM!
JMP: I’M A FUCKING PHILOSOPHY PROFESSOR! I THINK PEOPLE SHOULD READ HEGEL, AND I’VE READ HEGEL, AND I’VE TAUGHT HEGEL! I KNOW FULL WELL ALL THE WAYS HEGEL IS MISREPRESENTED, BUT MARX EXPLICITLY IDENTIFIES HEGELIAN DIALECTICS AS BEING DEFICIENT IN ITS IDEALISM, AND THE ANTI-REVISIONIST TRADITION IS REPLETE WITH BREAKS FROM HEGELIANISM AS SUCH, JUST AS MODERN REVISIONISM IS REPLETE WITH BREAKS WITH DIALECTICS AS SUCH.
DIALECTICS IS NOT SIMPLY DEFINED AS HEGELIANISM. THE FACT THAT IN THE MILIEU OF GERMAN IDEALISM A CERTAIN LANGUAGE EMERGED THAT WAS USEFUL FOR MARX IS NOT SOMETHING ANYONE HERE DENIES. THE ISSUE IS THAT YOU COULD JUST KEEP GOING BACK WITH THAT: DO WE NEED KANT TO UNDERSTAND HEGEL?
WS: LENIN ALSO SAID: “IT IS IMPOSSIBLE COMPLETELY TO UNDERSTAND MARX’S CAPITAL, AND ESPECIALLY ITS FIRST CHAPTER, WITHOUT HAVING THOROUGHLY STUDIED AND UNDERSTOOD THE WHOLE OF HEGEL’S LOGIC. CONSEQUENTLY, HALF A CENTURY LATER NONE OF THE MARXISTS UNDERSTOOD MARX!!” DID HE EVER SAY THAT SHIT ABOUT KANT?
MODERATOR: FUCKING FOUL! That’s two quotes from Lenin talking about Hegel in a row! Stop relying on Lenin to make your argumentation. JMP, your turn to yell.
JMP: LENIN IS NOT AN INFALLIBLE SOURCE FOR UNDERSTANDING THE MARXIST METHOD! I HALF-EXPECTED YOU TO QUOTE ENGELS NEXT. AS I ARGUE IN MY BOOK, WHICH YOU’D KNOW IF YOU READ IT, I AM NOT ONLY AGAINST VULGAR MATERIALISM AND PSEUDO DIALECTICS, BUT ALSO AGAINST IDEALIST DIALECTICS IN THE FORM OF “PURE HEGELIANISM”, EVEN AS FOUND IN MARXISM! THIS WAS MAO’S FUNDAMENTAL BREAKTHROUGH: THE NEGATION OF THE NEGATION IS ITSELF A FORM OF IDEALISM!
WS: Yeah, the SMF said the same thing when asked about the Abstrakt piece about Maoist dialectics.
JMP: The SMF?
WS: They’re supposedly a front for the [REDACTED].
JMP: Ah. Well, you see? MLMs.
MODERATOR: You’re not yelling.
JMP: WHETHER OR NOT THE NEGATION OF THE NEGATION IS A HEGELIAN CONCEPT THAT HAS NO PLACE IN MARXISM OR NOT, IT’S NOT THE CASE THAT A KNOWLEDGE OF HEGEL ALONE IS A THEORETICAL DEFENCE FROM REVISIONISM: ŽIŽEK IS A FINE CONTEMPORARY EXAMPLE, HE DEFENDS THE RATIONAL CORE OF HEGELIANISM AS A BASIS FOR MARXIST THOUGHT MORE STRONGLY THAN ANYONE, MORE THAN YOU EVEN, AND YET HE ALSO DEVIATES CONSTANTLY TO THE RIGHT, YOU DON’T NEED ME TO LIST ALL OF HIS ERRORS, YOU’VE MOCKED HIS IDIOCY MORE THAN ALMOST ANYONE.
AND WITHIN ACTUALLY EXISTING SOCIALISM: MANY OF THE CAPITALIST-ROADERS DEFENDED A SORT OF CONSERVATIVE HEGELIANISM, A “RIGHT HEGELIANISM”. HELL, THE FACT THAT YOU EVEN FREQUENTLY EMPLOY THE TERM “LEFT HEGELIANISM” IS A TELL: YOU’RE FULLY AWARE HOW FORMAL HEGELIANISM CAN BE REACTIONARY, JUST AS YOU MUST AGREE THAT THE THEORETICALLY UNDEVELOPED MOTION OF THE MASSES HAS A GREATER REVOLUTIONARY POTENTIAL THAN ANY THEORY NOT APPLIED IN PRACTICE!
WS: FINALLY WE GET TO THE MEAT OF THE MATTER! FIRSTLY: IT’S DEFINITELY TRUE THAT THERE ARE RIGHT HEGELIANS AND THAT OPPORTUNISM AND REACTION HAVE BEEN AIDED BY PEOPLE WHO FORMALLY DEFENDED HEGEL WITHIN REVOLUTIONARY CONTEXTS, BUT WOULD YOU REALLY ARGUE THAT MAO’S CAPITALIST-ROADER OPPONENTS HAD A FIRM GRASP ON DIALECTICS, IDEALIST OR OTHERWISE, GIVEN THAT THEIR FUNDAMENTAL AIM WAS TO CONCEAL RATHER THAN REVEAL CONTRADICTIONS?
REGARDLESS, THIS IS THE SAME AS TRYING TO BRUSH ASIDE MARX BY POINTING OUT THAT OVER 90% OF FORMALLY DECLARED MARXISTS ARE CHARLATANS, FRAUDS, SCOUNDRELS, RENEGADES, AND OTHER INSULTS LENIN WOULD’VE USED. OUR DEFENCE OF MARXISM AS A METHOD AGAINST FORMALIST APPROPRIATIONS OF MARXISM, EITHER IN THE FORM OF A WORSHIP OF ICONOGRAPHY OR A SORT OF RELIGIOUS TEXTUALISM MASQUERADING AS ACADEMIC MARXISM: THIS IS FUNDAMENTALLY THE SAME AS OUR DEFENCE OF HEGELIANISM, WHICH AGAIN, WE CLAIM IT IS NO COINCIDENCE WAS MARX’S PRIMARY POINT OF THEORETICAL REFERENCE.
THIRDLY, YOU MAKE REFERENCE TO THE MASSES: WE DEFINITELY AGREE THAT THERE MUST BE A DIALECTICAL PROCESS BETWEEN MASS AND ORGANISATION, THAT AN ORGANISATION WHICH FAILS TO UNDERSTAND ITS SUBJECTIVE AND OBJECTIVE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE MASSES CAN NEVER BE REVOLUTIONARY, BUT THE VERY FACT OF BUILDING SUCH AN ORGANISATION IS A SUBJECTIVE MANIFESTATION OF TRYING TO DEVELOP A REVOLUTIONARY THEORY WHICH, I PRESUME YOU WOULD ALSO AGREE, IN THE FINAL INSTANCE IS A NECESSITY FOR TRULY REVOLUTIONARY PRACTICE!
SO: IF WE DEFEND HEGEL IN TERMS OF A THEORETICAL BASIS, IT IS NOT BECAUSE WE ARE “IDEALISTS”, ANY MORE THAN YOU ARE FOR DEFENDING “MAOIST DIALECTICS”, OUR ARGUMENT IS THAT TO DEVELOP A CORRECT THEORETICAL LINE, WE NEED BOTH A MATERIAL ENGAGEMENT AND A FIRM GRASP ON WHAT DIALECTICS IS!
JMP: BUT YOUR ARGUMENT ON THE DEFINITION OF DIALECTICS IS BASED ENTIRELY ON HEGEL SIMPLY BECAUSE OF A FORMAL COMMITMENT TO HEGEL’S HISTORICAL ROLE WITHIN THE GERMAN PHILOSOPHICAL TRADITION AT THE POINT OF MARX’S WRITING!
Tragically, the debate was cut short at this juncture when a DHKP-C guerrilla who had infiltrated the symposium began firing a small handgun into the air and screaming: “FEUERBACH ÜZERİNE 11. TEZ!” over and over again whilst the entire crowd fled the room to retrieve their own weapons.
UPDATE: J. Moufawad-Paul has agreed to continue the discussion in an even more private location with the proceedings to be published later this Ramadan. Worker’s Spatula would like to apologise as usual on behalf of the Turkish left for the Mahircis being so goddamned Mahirci all the time.
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