Tag Archives: entertainment

Trying to figure out Marxism, page by page…


Video by video, podcast by podcast, and even pretension, by irritating pretension. Before we get too far, do I really understand the works of Marx? Nope I’m still neck deep in working it out, but recently my head crested the surface after something like 2 months of on and off reading, watching and general research.

So if you read some of my other posts on philosophy you may have noticed me mention I do not like it when anyone uses over complicated and difficult to understand terms to describe their work. Especially when it is an introductory piece. There no need for it, and regardless of how fashionable being hard to understand is if you goal is to create something to be use to improve the world, it will need to be able to apeal to people not steeped in your field already.

Now Marx was writing in a different time, and in many ways a climate where deep intellectual materials where simply the norm, so he writing would have been easier to digest. Yet there has been over a century of time dividing his work from us, and while plenty of people exist to carry on his work. Marxist still can’t explain what the fuck Material Dialectics are. There’s this expectation you need to read Hegel, and Marx, and sometime Lenin to really understand what Marxism is. Though I’m here to tell you, in my experience whenever someone has said that, “only x y or z can explain that,” to me it’s been bullshit. I think the real problem is many Marxism either worship the shrine of Marx, hoping to get the long dead man’s approval, or simply don’t really get the methods and just parrot what they know, because it’s confusing and that’s the only thing they know how to do.

That itself is of course an over simplification of what Marxists are doing, an abstraction if you will *wink wink*, but my frustration is real. So what have I been trying to accomplish since late September? To understand the basic of what Marxism are, so I can begin to both discuss and explain wtf it is to my own satisfaction. Because I firmly beilive that if you can’t explain the basics of a concept to a high school student in under 30 minutes, you don’t understand it yourself.

Now I wouldn’t have made is post if I was completely confused still, indeed I would have written much sooner if I had better luck in my search, but I got lucky, and decided to backtrack from Marx and figure out that “Dialectics” are in the Hegelian sense, which was much of the basis of Marx. The Luck Really kicked in when I found this lovely video series outlining the basics of Hegel’s Dialectics.

Not to be confused with the Dialectical Method of Socratic fame.

The Long and the short of it is as follows, Dialectics are not a formula for thinking, they are a method very much akin to the scientific methods. Not a single paths, but a basic system of thought that allows you to critically analyze concepts and physical processes. From what I’ve deduced and inferred from my readings. Material Dialectics, and Hegel’s Dialectics  are in turn a scientific method itself, and almost a scientific method, but still holding on to  the idealism (Think platonic if you aren’t familiar with what idealism entails) present in much of early a pre-enlightenment thinking.

So what is Marx Method? Well he died before he ever laid one out explicitly… THANKS MARX. However, Hegel was more kind, and laid the following three steps which should apply well to Marx with some tweaking. Thanks Hegel!

1 Abstraction, 2 Negation, 3 Concrete.

1. The Abstraction: This is the first step in what is a cyclical cycle. Fairly analogous to Hypothesis and experimental design in the common description of the scientific method. The Material Dialectic, when you begin to attempt to understand anything, first you must begin to make an abstract of it you must deconstruct how you think it work. Determine what it’s parts are, the inputs, the outputs, followed later by how that parts relate to one another.

2. Now like a good materialist as good scientist you must destroy what you’ve made. Now it is time for Negation! You now get to see if your abstraction can survive when it come into contract with the real world, or at least can withstand logical bombardment, in Socratic Method sense, as you and ideally some critics attempt to find its weak points.

3. Concrete is a bad name, but basically once you’ve done your best to negate the abstraction, you should be left either with nothing as your idea was wrong and completely unsalvageable (return to step one) or you should have helped move your abstraction closer to the real (material) world, and can use it to better describe the world. In essence you start with the simple abstraction, and through negation to bring it’s abstracted parts at least partially back together in a way that effectively describes, and ideally helps predicts the world.

4. Same as step one, but you take your idea from step 3 and feed it back though, in an endless cycle as you attempt to approach a perfectly accurate description of reality.

Is that all correct and accurate? Probably not, but if not I can certainly run in it back through the system, because the funny thing was, if I’m even close to being right, I have been doing material dialectics all along.

Questions and comments are more than welcome. If you know a fair bit about Marxism even better, but regardless I’ll keep up my investigations, and share again when I have something of interest.


Why Left Behind Will Not Convert An Atheist

We decided to go see Left Behind today. Earlier I had seen an ad for it that read “don’t bring a non-believer to this movie” in an obvious “they will be converted” tone. So we decided to answer that challenge. And now I’m going to tell you why I’m still an atheist.

First, the movie really isn’t all that good. The music sounded like it was from the 90’s, and it didn’t match the scenes. The lines were terrible and sounded false. And the people didn’t behave in a manner that you would expect them to. If you were hugging your brother and he suddenly disappeared with his clothes still in your arms, would you run to the nearest hospital looking for him? I’d be trying to find out why he disappeared, not assume that he somehow stripped and ran off in the blink of an eye. Would your response to people disappearing right in front of you be to start looting? In a mall still full of people? With cops and security guards still around? It was badly written and badly produced.

Second, it seemed to try and show the horror of being “left behind” while trying to make sure that you don’t see the true horror of it. The movie suggested that if the end times were to come all the children would be raptured. But the Christians who believe in the rapture claim that children are born in sin and you have to be saved to be raptured. So why would all children be raptured? Why would the non-Christian children be raptured? How could the new born babies be raptured? Thy are born, which means they are somehow guilty of sin. And they can’t be saved because none of them could possibly accept Jesus. They couldn’t even have been baptized yet, provided they were born to parents who believe in infant baptism. Those infants wouldn’t be raptured, they would be stuck on Earth with everyone else who was left behind.

Third, a preacher said that deeds weren’t enough, you had to believe to get into heaven. None of the people left behind were particularly bad people, they simply didn’t believe. That means, to accept the story, I’d have to be okay with the idea of bad people going to heaven because they genuinely believe and good people being left behind because they genuinely don’t. What good person deserves to be subjected to 7 years of torment followed by an eternity of hell? And who in their right mind would see what God was allowing to happen and then decide that he was worthy of being worshiped?

Fourth, I’d have to accept a contradiction. Is the rapture the only way that God can accomplish whatever he’s trying to accomplish with it? Then he’s not omnipotent. Is God omnipotent? Then what is the point in the rapture?

After discussing our own reaction to such events if they were to occur, we have decided that, in the event of the rapture, we would have to conclude that Yahweh existed, but we would also have to assume that the other gods could exist as well. We wouldn’t, however, decide to “be saved” and worship Yahweh. Rather we would try and destroy his plan. First we would try and kill the anti-Christ. If we succeeded there, we would try to kill Lucifer and God. After all, they are a threat to us. They are trying to kill us. We would not submit to either side. We believe that that would be the most logical course of action in that situation.


Supernatural is my absolute favorite show. I love the concepts, I love how they don’t scare away from controversy, and I love the characters. Since the new season hasn’t started yet, I’ve been going back through all the old episodes. This is definitely one of those shows where you can get lost if you don’t remember something, so I figured I should reacquaint myself with the earlier seasons.

I’m now back to season 2, and I just watched episode 13. It’s about these people who’ve been committing murders. They turn themselves in claiming that an angel told them to do it. In the episode, Sam is convinced that they’re actually dealing with an angel, but Dean thinks it’s just a spirit. This episode has always resonated with me. Especially since it was released about 9 years ago and I’ve been an atheist for 10.

For those of you who don’t watch the show, Sam is the younger brother. He’s very smart and he’s the moral voice. He’s always asking whether or not what they are doing is right, and he does most of their research on whatever it is they are hunting. Dean sees things as more black and white. Things are either good or evil, human or not. Dean would rather shoot first and ask questions later. He’s also fairly smart, but he doesn’t value knowledge. He thinks that the only knowledge worth having is that which is absolutely necessary. He definitely can come across as proud of his ignorance.

Sam has always been my favorite character because he has the better personality. But Dean’s a better skeptic. Sam has a blind spot where religion is concerned, though his faith is pretty thoroughly destroyed in the fourth season. Sam and Dean hunt ghosts, werewolves, vampires, and even demons. Sam takes this as a sign that all lore is real. He’s willing to believe in all forms of supernatural. But Dean only believes in what he can see.

In this particular episode, Dean says that he loves his job is that it doesn’t require faith. He says that there is nothing looking out for him, there is no God, and there are no angels. This is a very rational view to take: they have no reason to believe that any of those things exist. They’ve seen demons, ghosts, werewolves, etc, but nothing particular to Christianity, or Yahweh. Nothing that couldn’t be explained without Christianity. Sam later reveals that his willingness to believe is out of fear.

Of course, Supernatural does eventually reveal that there are in fact angels and there may be a God. Dean still isn’t sure about God though, and is perfectly willing to kill God if he does exist. Sam is now less faithful, and he seems to be a better skeptic. But Dean still has him beat in that one area.

Eliza Rickman

I feel the need to take a break from my Biblical posts to discuss my new favorite musician. She is a great small time musician. For those of you who listen to the Welcome to Nightvale podcast, she is the artist who sang Pretty Little Head.
I like her music because she has a very sweet voice, but her music tends to be quite dark. Pretty little Head is by far my favorite song, but she also has other great songs: Black Rose, Start With Good-Bye, Stop With Hello, and Devil’s Bones. The only song I’m not really a fan of is Into My Arms. The music is great, but the message isn’t something that I can agree with.
Nonetheless, I would suggest that anybody who is looking for something new to listen to go check her out. Her music is on YouTube. And if you like her, she has a kickstarter going on for her second album. I’m sure she would be happy to get some more support.

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