Re: The left does not evolve (fwd)

Christopher N Matthews (cnm4@COLUMBIA.EDU)
Fri, 13 May 1994 08:49:25 -0400

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 12 May 94 09:44:26 CDT
Subject: Re: The left does not evolve

C.N. Matthews, in arguing against cultural evolutionism, writes that
"it is an idea with its own birth, development, and eventual death."
I would answer that reports of its death are greatly exaggerated, and I
predict that his prediction will fail. As for its being "an idea with
its own birth (and) development," that is no less true of his beloved
humanism than of my beloved evolutionism. But when he says that his own
"enterprise to me is not scientific, instead it is comprehension of the
struggles which people faced, and the structures of relations and power
they built to deal with these struggles, and ultimately how these
relations supported inequalities," I consider him to be involved in a
self-contradiction. If his enterprise really is "comprehension"of these
real social phenomena, it will entail an ongoing interaction between
reason and evidence; and this is nothing other than science. Thus if he
really pursues his drive for comprehension, he will surely find himself
being scientific, in general; and if he tries for comprehension of
long-term social and cultural trends, he will find himself being a
cultural evolutionist--no matter what he calls himself.
People trying seriously to comprehend long-term social and cultural
processes, to me by any name do smell as sweet. --Bob Graber