Controversial Issues Regarding Organic Marxism – A View from China

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Original Chinese Language Article By: Prof. Chen Peiyong (陈培永)

(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)

Translator’s Note: Anyone interested in ‘Organic Marxism can access ‘Organic Marxism: An Alternative to Capitalism and Ecological Catastrophe: Volume 3 (Toward Ecological Civilization) by Philip Clayton and Justin Heinzekehr’. There is a definite ‘Trotskyite’ tendency in this works, which attempts to create an admixture of generally disconnected modes of thought into one essentially incoherent bundle of ecologically led ideology. To achieve this it must permanently separate ‘Marx’ from ‘Lenin’ (and even ‘Marx’ from ‘Engels’), and present a type of distorted Marxism divorced from material reality and te genuine dialectical process. Importing what is essentially ‘bourgeoise’ modes of thought regarding protecting the environment is not required, as these ideas (and more) are already evident within Marx-Engels and Marxist-Leninism. It is te bourgeoisie and the capitalist system that it has created that is destroying the environment, and it is through the works of Marx that this process will come to an end – the bourgeois and new age ideologies of saving the environment are not required and are essentially incompatible with this task. Bourgeois modes of thought often protest environmental destruction whilst remaining silent about the capitalist system doing the destroying. Finally, Organic Marxism tends to use an ‘Orientalising’ viewpoint of China that has no bearing on the reality of China (going as far as including a distorted Daoist thinking into its structuring). Prof. Chen offers a succinct deconstruction of Organic Marxism through an article that originally appeared on ‘WeChat’. In China, Organic Marxism is generally viewed as a Western attempt to undermine China’s success whilst following the Marxist-Leninist path, and through the importation of a racist Trotskyite misrepresentation of China, bring down its Marxist-Leninist regime. Prof. Chen expertly points-out all the logical flaws in the underlying ideology of ‘Organic Marxism’. Under Marxist-Leninism, China is already leading the world in ecologically preservation and sustainability. (ACW 263.2018)

The subject of Organic Marxism has caused much academic interest and debate. As theorists, however, we do not subscribe to the idea that this subject is a ‘conspiracy theory’ and arbitrarily reject it our of hand, but rather approach its deconstruction from a purely academic position that objectively examines its theoretical and philosophical content. This process has led to a number of interesting questions that test the hypothesis of this theory.

Organic Marxism has only been an area of academic interest in China for about two or three years, and stems from a single book entitled ‘Organic Marxism: An Alternative to Ecological Disaster and Capitalism’ (published in the West in 2014, and in China in 2015). Since its publication in the Chinese language, a number of academic papers have been published examining the assertions and implications of this eclectic ideology. Of course, as theorists, we cannot talk for the original author(s), or examine his motivations or personal convictions (as we do not possess this information), but we examine the text that conveys this theory and present our findings for examination and debate.

1) Does constructive post-modernism equate with Chinese post-modernism? In the light of global warming, is it logical for post-modern theorists to ‘return’ to Marx? Is this approach consistent with Chinese Marxism and the academic community that has developed to represent Chinese Marxism? Is it illogical to assume that these contradictory ideas should somehow ‘integrate’ when they appear mutually excluding?

2) Constructive post-modernism and Organic Marxism are considered unrelated topics within the context of Chinese academia. Can we naturally accept the practice of equating the two trends of thought? More to the point, can Organic Marxism in any coherent way be realistically associated with Chinese Marxism?

3) In the name of reconstructing Marxism, Marxism is understood as a mechanistic and deterministic modernistic way of thinking. Does this reconstruction originally mean misreading Marxism and depreciating Marxism?

4) If organic or process philosophy is to emphasize an essential integrity, procedure, connectivity and endurance, then these are already well-known facets of Marxist theory.  This being the case, why would Marxism need to import an alien form of organic philosophy?

5) Can organic Marxism successfully integrate various theoretical resources to achieve a truly organic integrationist theory? Will the diverse nature of these different philosophies and modes of thought lead to in-fighting, disintegration and collapse of the over-all position trying to be attained? What is the point of privileging organic philosophy, when traditional Chinese culture and Marxism are already integrated? Is organic philosophy qualified to compete with the latter two to occupy one dimension?

6) How does Organic Marxism compare when criticised in the light of other, more well-known and conventional forms of Marxism, such as Ecological Marxism, Deconstructive Marxism, and Chinese Marxism? Is Organic Marxism designed to undermine conventional Marxism and its many variants?

7) Is it necessary for Organic Marxist scholars to constantly (and exclusively) emphasize ‘Organic Marxism’? Is there any need to constantly claim to be able to adapt to the demands of the new age, and the recent progress of science? Is there any need to constantly claim to possess a doctrine which can overcome or solve the world’s problems?

8) Organic Marxism criticises partiality, and instead emphasises the harmonising and balancing of predatory capitalism and Socialism, the unity of individualism and collectivism, and the unification of private ownership and public ownership. Is this attempt at ‘unifying’ the private and the public nothing less than ‘eclecticism’?

9) Organic Marxism positions the root of the ecological dilemma as the greed of the US imperialists and the rich, but will this ‘greed’ be excused for those who are not wealthy (i.e. the ordinary and the poor), but who have nevertheless been conditioned by capitalist thinking? Why is the deficient logic of capitalism (which permeates the entirety of capitalist society) ignored?

10) Organic Marxism constantly emphasizes the hope of an ecological civilization in China. Is this a misreading or misunderstanding of Chinese culture? Although it is acknowledged that a type of flattery is in play here, can China really emerge from the reality of its current predicament as a leader of the world’s ecological civilization?

11) Organic Marxism calls for a community that transcends the national level. Will it fall into an ecological utopia? Is it possible to put forward only some ecological slogans and find it difficult to seek real political power?

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©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2018.

Original Chinese language Article:

http://www.cwzg.cn/politics/201702/34183.html

关于“有机马克思主义”的几个有争议的理论问题

有机马克思主义引起了一个不小的学术事件。作为理论工作者,我们反对过于武断地抛出有机马克思主义的政治阴谋论,仅就理论层面上提出几个问题思考。

尽管在中国的出现算起来仅仅两三年左右的时间,尽管只有一本书《有机马克思主义:生态灾难与资本主义的替代选择》(英文版2014年版,中文版2015年版)和几篇以“有机马克思主义”为题的论文,有机马克思主义硬是引起了一个不小的学术事件。

作为理论工作者,我们反对过于武断地抛出有机马克思主义的政治阴谋论,也没有能力去考证代表人物的临危受命、救世安邦的情怀,仅就理论层面上提出几个问题思考:

1、在中国后现代主义或后现代文化研究热的背景下提建设性后现代主义,在热度消减之后又转向马克思主义领域,与中国马克思主义主流意识形态保持一致,是学术向政治、现实的妥协还是理论逻辑推演的必然结果?

2、建设性后现代主义和有机马克思主义在中国的学术语境下本来是不相通的话题,我们能否自然而然地接受将两种思潮划上等号的做法?或者我们能否接受当代中国马克思主义是一种有机马克思主义?

3、打着重构马克思主义的名义,把马克思主义理解成机械论的、决定论的现代主义思维方式,这种重构是否本来就意味着对马克思主义的误读,对马克思主义的贬低?

4、如果有机哲学或过程哲学就是要强调整体性、过程性、联系性、长远性,而这些众所周知是马克思主义理论的特质,凭什么马克思主义需要有机哲学的补充或介入?

5、有机马克思主义杂糅各种理论资源的做法能否做到理论的有机融合?会不会导致互相打架、互相否定?为什么偏要把有机哲学、中国传统文化和马克思主义进行综合,有机哲学有资格与后两者并驾齐驱、占据一维吗?

6、在有机马克思主义的名义下,就可以对其他的马克思主义(生态学马克思主义、解构性马克思主义、中国马克思主义)进行“在哪些方面有道理在哪些方面不足”的任性批判吗?

7、有机马克思主义学者有没有必要不断地强调“有机马克思主义认为”呢?有没有必要不断宣称自己如何适应了新时代的要求、科学的最近进展?有没有必要不断宣称克服了哪些问题,是一种能够解决世界难题的学说吗?

8、有机马克思主义反对非此即彼,强调圆融,强调资本主义与社会主义、个人主义与集体主义、私有与公有、公与私的统一是否是一种理论的折中主义?

9、有机马克思主义将生态困境的根源定位为美帝国主义与富人的贪婪无度,是否会为不属于富人的人群开脱?是否疏忽了资本逻辑塑造出来的现实之人的贪婪问题?

10、有机马克思主义不断强调生态文明的希望在中国,是否是一种捧杀,或者是否是对中国现实的不够理解所致?中国真能走出当代困境成为世界生态文明的领导者吗?

11、有机马克思主义呼唤超越国家层面的共同体,是否会陷入到一种生态乌托邦之中,是否可能只提出一些保护生态的口号而难以寻求到真正的政治力量?

【陈培永,察网专栏作家,哲学博士,教授。本文原载于微信公众号“非菩提者”】

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