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[Xmca-l] Re: Engels on Laws of evolution and laws of history



It's a very contentious area, Bill.
Marx referred to the *tendency* of the rate of profit to fall, not a law, and that was a deliberate choice of words. And yes, that message from my old friend Davie is pointing to the dangers inherent in the idea of "laws of history."

Andy
------------------------------------------------------------------------
*Andy Blunden*
http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/


Bill Kerr wrote:
Andy wrote:
Hegel never talked of "laws of history", regarding them as belonging to "appearance" and he was in agreement with Kant on that point. Marx never talked of "laws of history" either, talking only of what has happened in the past and the possibilities pregnant in the present. Stalin did talk about "laws of history". In "Dialectical and Historical Materialism" (1938) he talks repeatedly about "laws of history" and what's more the Party knows them, so watch out, and he is always citing Marx and Hegel to prove his point

hi Andy,
As you would know Marx's /Capital/ has numerous references to the laws of capitalism. This could be interpreted as historical law I think. eg. I would see the marxist claim that under capitalism the gap b/w rich and poor continues to increase as verified by history. Other claims are more contentious, eg. the falling rate of profit, but could also be see as a claim by marx about historical laws.

I thought an essay I looked at the marxist archive about Freedom and Necessity threw light on perhaps what you were trying to say: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/txt/davie07.htm, eg. "Unfortunately, the 'Marxist' tradition within the Second International was to revive Hegel's notion. The practice of the International was to submit to 'historical necessity' - 'scientific' laws that determined the movement of society - which would of their own accord pave the way for socialism. This was the opposite of Marx's approach, who argued that the fact that social relations could be analysed scientifically, as governed by laws that acted independently of humanity, was itself precisely the state of affairs that needed to be overcome through socialist revolution"

ie. there are historical laws, the point is more what to do about them, to overthrow capitalism, might move us to a society where there is more freedom and less law.

On Sun, Jan 18, 2015 at 8:49 AM, Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>> wrote:

    "Speak to history" could mean anything to me, Jessica. There are
    two very definite statements being made here which have been mixed
    up in translation. I'd now like to figure out when the meaning got
    changed. I am assuming that the English translation on p. 517 of
    v. 25 of MECW is a good translation of the original German,
    because this version is very reliable. It says:
    "The eternal laws of nature also become transformed more and more
    into historical ones" going on as David Ke noted to talk simply
    about the *variability* of all "laws of nature" as opposed to
    *eternal laws of nature.* That's all.- nothing about human history
    or it's supposed "laws".
    Hegel never talked of "laws of history", regarding them as
    belonging to "appearance" and he was in agreement with Kant on
    that point.
    Marx never talked of "laws of history" either, talking only of
    what has happened in the past and the possibilities pregnant in
    the present.
    Stalin did talk about "laws of history". In "Dialectical and
    Historical Materialism" (1938) he talks repeatedly about "laws of
    history" and what's more the Party knows them, so watch out, and
    he is always citing Marx and Hegel to prove his point.
    So we have in the English translation of "History of the
    Development of the Higher Mental Functions" the epigram: "More and
    more eternal laws of nature are turning into laws of history. - F.
    Engels" and the editors tell us in a footnote that this comes from
    the "Russian Marx-Engels CW, v. 20, p. 553," which actually says:

    /Вечные законы природы /также превращаются все более и более в
    исторические законы.

    for which MicroSoft translator gives me: "/Eternal laws of nature/
    also are converted ever more and more into historical laws," which
    to me is *ambiguous*. What are "historical laws"? Are they
    changeable laws or laws of change?

    David Ke: what does the epigram say in the Russian edition of HDHMF?
    Mike C or Natalia G: can you make an unambiguous translation of
    that Russian from the Russian MECW?

    My interest is only this: did the translators of LSV's Collected
    works mess up the translation of the epigram, or did Vygotsky read
    a distorted translation in his copy of "Dialectics of Nature" in
    Russian translation?

    Andy


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    *Andy Blunden*
    http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
    <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>


    Kindred, Jessica Dr. wrote:

        Does it mean thaqt nothing remains constant, or that
        everything depends on conditions... which does surely speak to
        history.
        ________________________________________
        From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
        [xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu
        <mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>] on behalf of Andy
        Blunden [ablunden@mira.net <mailto:ablunden@mira.net>]
        Sent: Saturday, January 17, 2015 8:37 AM
        To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
        Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Laws of evolution and laws of history

        And I found the Engels he was quoting, in the Russian translation:

            /Вечные законы природы /также превращаются все более и более в
            исторические законы.

        The English translation says:

            The eternal laws of nature also become transformed more
        and more
            into historical ones.

        but then it goes on to say:

            That water is fluid from 0°-100° C. is an eternal law of
        nature, but
            for it to be valid, there must be (1) water, (2) the given
            temperature, (3) normal pressure.

        So this does NOT mean what it appeared to mean. Engels simply
        means
        "nothing remains constant" It is not saying anything about
        "laws of
        history"!!

        Andy
        ------------------------------------------------------------------------
        *Andy Blunden*
        http://home.pacific.net.au/~andy/
        <http://home.pacific.net.au/%7Eandy/>


        mike cole wrote:
            Thanks David -- That is certainly where I must have
            encountered the phrase
            often enough for it to stick in my mind. And thanks to
            Jessica and Andy we
            see versions of the idea in many places.

            Double the pleasure.
            mike

            On Tue, Jan 13, 2015 at 11:36 PM, David Kellogg
            <dkellogg60@gmail.com <mailto:dkellogg60@gmail.com>>
            wrote:


                Mike--

                See Vol. Four of the Collected Works in English: the
                quote you refer to is
                the epigraph to HDHMF. It's from Dialectics of Nature,
                and Vygotsky keeps
                coming back to it again and again, throughout the
                whole text of HDHMF,
                which is one reason why I am assuming (against what
                Anton Yasnitsky has
                written) that HDHMF is a whole book, one of the very
                few that Vygotsky
                completedly completed (and also his longest work).