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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 23. 23rd September 1973



Dear Eds,

I did not suggest to Prof Geering that 'Marxism is a set of historical predictions' as Bruce Robinson says in his Salient report last week, since I consider that statement to be anti-Marxist. What I suggested was that as society's level of productive activity increased, implying an ever-increasing appropriation of nature, so people's understanding of nature and of society (or themselves) advances. This is, as I understand it, the basis for the Marxist theory of knowledge which asserts that things can only be known in the degree to which they are changed or altered. To know the taste of a pear one must change the pear by biting it. Since productive activity (changing things)is an iron necessity for human society (as opposed to the specifically capitalist form of productive activity) people's knowledge necessarily advances also, thus rendering obsolete older modes of understanding. Dominant among the latter is religion in which human societies have sought refuge from their own lack of self-knowledge and in which they have represented their subordination to blind (because its not understood) necessity — "God's will".

I am still unsure how Professor Geering deduced from these remarks of mine that "what I call capitalism, religious people call sin", as Bruce Robinson correctly reports him as doing. However to equate an historical stage in the development of society-capitalism — with an empty, arbitrary concept like "sin" is patently absurd. The only purpose such a reduction can serve is to bullshit people that capitalism and sin being the same thing and sin being a permanent fact of human existence, therefore capitalism too is a permanent fact of human existence. Would it be unfair or inaccurate to describe this view as reactionary in the extreme?

Peter Wilson