Caudwell was the authorial name of Christopher St John Sprigg,
British Marxist writer who died in the Spanish Civil War.
centenary conference sponsored by Marx Memorial Library
in London on 20 October 2007
list of papers presented paper by Helena Sheehan
The following is an extract from Marxism and the Philosophy of Science: A Critical History by Helena Sheehan (Humanities Press International 1985 and 1993).
Christopher St John Sprigg was born in London into a catholic family. He left school, the Benedictine Priory in Ealing, and began his working life as a journalist at the age of 15. He worked first as a cub reporter at the Yorkshire Observer, where his father was literary editor, and then as editor of British Malaya. Upon returning to London, he also ran an aeronautics publishing company with his brother, edited one of its technical journals, and designed gears for motorcars. In addition, he wrote reams of poetry, plays, short stories, detective novels, and aeronautics textbooks. He even edited a volume of ghost stories.
On top of all this, he read voluminously in philosophy, sociology, anthropology, psychology, history, politics, linguistics, mathematics, economics, physics, biology, neurology, literature and literary criticism and much more besides. He did so, not as a dilettante, but as one striving to come to terms with the knowledge of the centuries and to comprehend what it meant for himself and his own age. Despite his lack of a university education, he was becoming, through the London library, a person of very considerable learning, although he had not yet found himself amidst it all. He seems to have been somewhat reserved, even introverted, moving within highly circumscribed social limits, living with his older brother, and having very few friends.
In 1934, at the age of 27, Caudwell became interested in marxism and began to study it with extraordinary intensity, discovering quickly that it provided the key to the synthesis he was seeking. In the summer of 1935, he wrote his first marxist book, which was to have been called Verse and Mathematics: A Study of the Foundations of Poetry, writing at the rate of 5000 words a day. The draft was finished in September, sent off as Illusion and Reality, and was accepted for publication by Macmillan.
Upon the completion of this book, he moved to the east end of London. Soon Caudwell joined the Poplar branch of the Communist Party. He threw himself into all the routine party tasks, fly-posting, street-corner speaking, selling The Daily Worker, as well as joining battle with blackshirts, bravely facing consequent batterings and even arrest. The members of the Poplar branch quickly discerned the utter sincerity of his commitment and accepted him fully as one of their own.
Caudwell was at last finding himself, becoming at the same time both more outgoing and more highly integrated. Just after his move to Poplar, he wrote to friends from his former life:
"Seriously, I think my weakness has been the lack of an integrated Weltanschauung. I mean one that includes my emotional, scientific and artistic needs. They have been more than usually disintegrated in me, I think, a characteristic of my generation exacerbated by the fact that, as you know, I have strong rationalising as well as artistic tendencies. As long as there was a disintegration, I had necessarily an unsafe and provisional attitude to reality, a somewhat academic superficial attitude, which showed in my writing as what Betty has described as the "lack of baking". The remedy is nothing so simple as a working over and polishing up of prose, but to come to terms with myself and my environment. This, I think, during the last year or two I have begun to do. Naturally, it is a long process (the getting of wisdom) and I don't fancy I am anywhere near the end. But I and R represented a milestone on the way, and that, I think, was why it seemed sincere, free from my other faults, and, with its necessary limitations, successful."But it was not really such a long process. Because of the extraordinary intensity of his intelligence, he did, in a tightly compressed period of time, achieve a rare wisdom. During this period of one year of the most vigorous political activity, he wrote prolifically, in the most astonishing outpouring of creative energy, and produced serious marxist theoretical works that can be described as original and breathtakingly brilliant.
No matter what he was discussing, whether poetry or physics or philosophy or whatever else, he had a way of penetrating to the very core and of illuminating in a new way the whole vast and complex network of its connections. He saw the world freshly, and called attention to patterns that had scarcely been noticed before, because he saw with a vision that was wider, deeper, warmer, clearer. He had become a communist in every fibre of his being and was determined to make both the artist and scientist in himself come to terms fully with the marxist.
Indeed he was consumed with the drive to bring this new world view to bear upon the whole of past and present knowledge and to fight for its theoretical and practical fulfillment. His intellectual clarity and his political commitment seemed to mutually reinforce each other, continually bringing both to yet higher levels. His rationality and his emotions seemed to fuse, in such a way that the sharpness of an argument brought the heightening of passion and the heightening of passion made the argument sharper still. A quote from Lenin, which was intended as an epigraph for his writings from this period, explained what he was up to in his work at this time:
"Communism becomes a mere empty phrase, a mere facade, and the communist a mere bluffer, if he has not worked over in his consciousness the whole inheritance of human knowledge."This was what he was about. He had become a communist for real and was determined to work over in his consciousness everything he knew, or could know, as a communist. His Studies in a Dying Culture included essays on philosophy, psychology, history, religion, ethics, aesthetics, love, and much more. The one on physics expanded until it turned into a separate book, entitled The Crisis in Physics. There were others, one on biology, which remained unpublished.* He was looking at everything anew, from a communist point of view, and doing so with striking vitality and profundity.
*Caudwell was his mother's name
During his life, his theoretical works were unknown. Illusion and Reality, the one book he had ready for press, hadn't yet appeared. None of the rest did he consider ready for publication, thinking of them only as drafts to be rewritten, needing 'refining, balancing, getting in it the movement of time, ripening and humanising'. He was unknown even to most of his contemporaries among British marxists. He moved mainly in the circles of the 'anonymous proletariat' and had very little contact with either the party intelligentsia or left-wing literary circles, who knew nothing of his serious work until he was dead.
When the Spanish civil war broke out, the Poplar branch involved itself in the campaign to organise support for the Spanish republic. When they had raised enough money for an ambulance, Caudwell volunteered to drive it across France to Spain. He left in December 1936.
This is a photo I found going through back isues of The Daily Worker.
I believe that it shows Caudwell (far right) on the day of his departure.
Upon arriving in Spain, he joined the international brigades. Soon he was a machine gun instructor and editor of the Battalion Wall newspaper. Meanwhile, his brother had obtained an advance copy of the proofs for Illusion and Reality. He showed them to Harry Pollitt in an effort to persuade the CPGB that his brother would be of greater value to them as a writer than as a soldier. Most biographical accounts say that a telegram was sent by the party to Spain recalling Caudwell to England and that it arrived too late. It is, however, doubtful that such a telegram was ever sent. At all events, Caudwell was soon dead. In the famous valley of Jarama, he was killed in action on his first day in battle. He was last seen firing a machine gun, covering the retreat of his section from a hill about to be taken by the enemy.
Where Caudwell died
So it was that the life of this most brilliant and generous young man was taken from him before he had even reached the age of thirty. Soon British marxists began to realise the magnitude of their loss. They read Caudwell's books with astonishment and discovered that something very precious had been taken from them without their even knowing they possessed it.
Hyman Levy, who edited and wrote the introduction to The Crisis in Physics* in 1939, hoped that when the nightmare had passed man would count the cost of his ignorance in terms of the human suffering and social sacrifice it had brought, in the destruction of such men of promise, even amounting to genius. Caudwell, he said, had combined a social and scientific understanding that would have been rare in a scientist of mature experience. But, remarked Levy, to find them in this young man was almost phenomenal.
* Levy received the manuscript from David Guest. [See section on Guest, who also died in the Spanish civil war,in Marxism and the Philosophy of Science.]
Reviewing the book, JBS Haldane wrote that it was impossible to read it without realising the immense loss the world had sustained through its author's death. Caudwell had explained the ways in which physical theories were shadows of economic realities and had done so with brilliant success. He had written about science as a poet and had something to say about science, something very important indeed, although he had only half said it. Haldane took into consideration, of course, the fact that the book had been left unfinished and that the drafts of the later chapters had been very rough indeed. While making his criticisms of the book, Haldane nevertheless called it 'a quarry of ideas' for generations to come. He also said he knew of no writer in his time whose analysis of the problem of freedom went deeper.
John Strachey was amazed by the flood of works produced by this young man possessed of such creative energy. In his introduction to Studies in a Dying Culture, he remarked that here was a young man who not only warmed his hands at the fire of life, but gave it great hearty pokes; a young man who was so interested in everything, from aviation, to poetry, to detective stories, to quantum mechanics, to philosophy, to love, to psychoanalysis, that he felt he simply had to say something about them all. That, in Strachey's view, was what a man in his 20s ought to be like. After a wandering decade, he had been, at 29, finding himself, gaining in precision, in capacity to focus 'and then the Moors came'. He had embodied an exquisite unity of theory and practice, Strachey noted. He had moreover possessed qualities tragically rare in the British working class movement: width of perception, generosity of sympathy, understanding of human motivation.
The left wing literary circle gathered around Left Review were puzzled to learn of the existence of such a person unknown to them. Its editor at the time, Edgell Rickword, later wrote the preface to Further Studies in a Dying Culture and saw Caudwell as a man of insatiable intellectual curiosity, consumed by a faustian ambition to master all the sciences. Not one to stand dreaming on the edge of strife, nor one to plunge into struggle without thought, the philosopher could not but turn soldier in a struggle in which the forces of enlightenment and of obscurantism were so starkly opposed. Marxism had entered into the very fabric of his being, so that he thought in it. The warmth of emotion glowed through his argument, constituting true eloquence. Rickword told how he had sent the essay on consciousness to a neurologist, fearing it might have become outmoded by subsequent research. The neurologist replied that Caudwell had brilliantly anticipated a whole trend becoming discernable in neuroanatomy. Levy and Haldane had said much the same about his views on physics.
Levy bluntly put the question others must have been asking when they first heard of the publication of The Crisis in Physics: What had the crisis in physics to do with Christopher Caudwell? With the author of Illusion and Reality and Studies in a Dying Culture? What could this poet have to say about science? How could the problems that were vexing modern physics stir one whose mind appeared to move on such a different plane? What could he contribute to the solution of such complex problems? In what way were these very different realms linked in his mind? In what way were they linked in reality?
The answer had already been given by Caudwell himself, many times over in his already published works. Whether a book was about science or about art, it always dealt with both. His philosophy of science could be found in his aesthetics and his aesthetics in his philosophy of science. Variations on the same theme were pursued again and again on various levels in all of his theoretical works, with the striving for a Weltanschauung always the central focus and the driving purpose. The fundamental problematic underlying his discussion of the most diverse topics was the crisis in bourgeois culture in all of its aspects: What was the cause of its theoretical fragmentation?
Caudwell had sought to discern the most basic thought patterns and to discover the lines of connection between these and the most basic socio-economic realities. At the heart of it all was the subject-object dichotomy, which had its basis in the social division of labour, in the separation of the class that generated ideology from the class that actively struggled with nature. This dichotomy distorted all realms of thought and activity. It distorted art, science, psychology, philosophy, economics and all social relations. It was a disease endemic to class society that has become most acute in bourgeois society as the most highly developed form of class society. Only an integrated world view and a classless society could bring to a synthesis what had been severed and had grown pathologically far apart.
In his foreword to Studies in a Dying Culture, Caudwell had outlined the problem. It was an epoch of confusion, dissension, pessimism, and bewilderment. He had referred to Max Planck's expression of the crisis in science: there was scarcely a scientific axiom not denied by somebody and at the same time there was almost no nonsensical theory put forward in the name of science that would not be sure to find believers somewhere.
Bourgeois culture, Caudwell had noted, had achieved much: relativity, quantum mechanics, genetics, psychology, anthropology, new technology. So why the despair? Why did this strange doom hang over bourgeois culture in such a way that its progress seemed only to hasten its decline? Why was each discovery like a midas touch that prepared a new disappointment? Why was it that the more men sought to find a common truth, a common faith, a common world view, the more their efforts at ideological construction increased the sum of contradictory and partial views of reality? What was the explanation?
Either the Devil has come amongst us having great power or there is a causal explanation for a disease common to economics, science and art.He believed it to be the latter, which evoked the further question: Why then had not all the psychoanalysts, philosophers, historians, economists, scientists, and bishops who had surveyed the scene not located the source of infection? His answer was that the Freuds, the Eddingtons, the Spenglers, and the Keynes were not the doctors; they were the disease.
It was for marxists to perform the necessary tasks, both analytic and synthetic: to analyse the causes that made every discovery go bad upon its inventor's hands, to separate real empirical discoveries from the ideological confusion and to synthesise them into an integral world view. There had been great disillusionment in bourgeois culture, but this culture had, in Caudwell's view, yet to shed the last of its illusions. It had shed all secondary illusions: of God and religion, of teleology and metaphysics.
But it had not yet rid itself of the basic bourgeois illusion: that man was born free, but was crippled through social organisation. In its illusory separation of the individual consciousness from the natural and social matrix of its existence, the bourgeoisie had brought to a new level the dualism inherent in class society, generating in philosophy an ever sharper separation of individual from society, of mind from matter, of freedom from necessity, of history from nature, making the fundamental subject-object relation absolutely insoluble.
Caudwell believed that the renaissance charter of the bourgeoisie - to claim for the 'natural man' freedom from all feudal restrictions - had originally been the dynamic force of bourgeois civilisation. It had been a progressive idea in its time and the bourgeoisie had been a progressive class in its rise, for the division of labor had been necessary to further human advance. But it was an idea that had outlived its usefulness. With its utmost potentialities accomplished, it had become a brake to further development.
For Caudwell, it was the lie at the heart of bourgeois culture, for freedom was the product, not of instinct, but of social relations. Man could not strip himself of his social relations and remain man.
Failure to realise this was the cause of the typically modern unease and neurosis. The bourgeois saw himself as a heroic figure fighting a lone fight for freedom, as the natural man who was born free, but was for some strange reason everywhere in chains. He ejected everything social from his soul, making it deflate, leaving him petty, empty, and insecure. With the alienation of social affection from labour, there gathered at one pole all the unused tenderness of humanity, while the other pole was reduced to the sheer coerciveness of bare economic rights to commodities. This generated the most terrible tension, but, with its source hidden in the shadow of the free market, all efforts to break free of it only accentuated it. The bourgeois was always talking about freedom, because it was always slipping from his grasp.
In his illusion of detachment, the bourgeois imagined himself to be a free man, who could direct the social process without being directed by it, who could determine without being determined. He was thus preoccupied with the epistemological problem of the independent observer, wishing to be cognisant of the laws determining the environment he wished to control without himself being controlled, to determine without himself being caught up in the same web of determinism.
This brought him to stand in his own light, able to conceive only of self-determined mind in a one way relation to its determined environment, a free and active subject contemplating a necessary and passive object, making him oblivious to the two way relation, in which his environment also determined him. He became particularly unable to perceive the determining power of social relations upon him and therefore blind to the actual character of social relations determining his individual choices.
In economics, both producer and consumer, whose freely willed desires were supposed to determine production in the best possible way, were themselves, in their very desires, in their very consciousness, determined by the productive forces and social relations of their time. In epistemology, the mind of the observer was itself determined by the environment he observed.
The tragedy implicit in his situation lay in the fact that bourgeois social relations inevitably constrained the very hopes they produced, being grounded in such an illusion. Ignorant of the real determinism of social relations, veiled by the free market, he was subject to forces he could neither control nor understand, to wars, slumps, crises, revolutions. His ordered society was becoming more and more disorderly, his economy was breaking down into anarchy: abroad, idle capital wildly searching for profit; at home, idle hands vainly searching for work. The capitalist, and even the poet, became darker figures - first tragic, then pitiful, and finally vicious.
The bourgeois idealised this one freedom, freedom from all social restrictions except that by which the bourgeois class ruled, that is, the restriction of the means of production itself. Freedom was therefore elevated to a vague, ideal plane, for to interpret bourgeois freedom in a materialist way would be to acknowledge openly the claim of one class to monopolise the means of freedom. The social product was the condition of freedom, and to monopolise it was to monopolise such freedom as society had produced. The freedom of the ruling class was based on the unfreedom of the ruled.
Nevertheless, the bourgeois had high flown notions. He spoke of fine and noble things, while doing base and hateful ones. And, as he became threatened, the discrepancy widened. Bourgeois philosophy, inextricably tied to its social matrix and unable to rise above the standpoint of the individual in civil society, reflected the rhythms of this social process. To show this, Caudwell traced the history of modern philosophy in terms of the development of the class consciousness of the bourgeoisie.
In the first stage, that of bourgeois revolt, the idea that 'I am free in so far as I throw off all social restraint' gave birth to shakespearean tragedy, tudor monarchy, voyages of discovery, Galileo, Newton, and Descartes. The discovery of gravity and of analytical geometry, the exploration of the farthest limits of the world marked the crescendo of the bourgeois explosion into its environment.
In the process, however, the basis of freedom had been separated from the basis of necessity. The bourgeois saw the environment as determined by his free will, but he saw his interaction with nature as a one-way relation. He saw himself as determining, but not as determined. The philosophy of the 17th century, therefore, saw the world in terms of inert matter and creative spirit. With Malebranche and Descartes, substance (matter) was so inert that it required creation anew for each moment of time. For Newton, all transactions of matter were ultimately effected by spirit.
Newton's world was atomistic and inert, requiring God to be the moving and unifying principle, creating, setting in motion and holding together the separate, independent particles of matter. But physicists stood no nonsense from their God in their own particular domain. He was ruthlessly stripped of mercy, love, an only begotten son, everything but his material determinism. Newton's philosophy was one resolutely turned towards the object-nature. It was a world-grasping experimental philosophy.
The mechanistic materialism of Hobbes, Condillac, and D'Holbach expressed the limit of the upward movement of the bourgeoisie. It separated the object from the subject and believed that matter could be completely explained in terms of itself - and that man, as part of matter, could be explained in the same terms.
The very concept of matter had been evolving with the evolution of the bourgeoisie. To Galileo and Bacon, matter was still full of quality and sensuousness. However, to realise matter as owned by the bourgeoisie, to cut the umbilical cord of mutual dependence between man and nature, to free the individual from all relations except those of the free market, that is, the one way relation of private property, it was necessary to eliminate the observer.
As nature was to be apprehended as by a kind of divine apprehension in which there was no mutually determining relation between the active subject and the contemplated object, it was necessary to strip nature of all activities in which the observer was concerned, to strip the object of all subjective qualities. At first, matter was divested of color, sound, solidity, heat, and taste. Motion, time, space, mass, shape were regarded as objective qualities, but in due course, these too were shown to be relative to the observer. Matter seemed to disappear, or become unknowable.
The downfall of mechanistic materialism was not due to the fact that it was materialist, but to the fact that it was not materialist enough. By excluding its qualities from the reality of matter, it contradicted the basis of itself.
At the apogee of the first stage of capitalism, its materialism turned into its opposite, mentalism, as the bourgeoisie passed from its extroverted, dominating, exploring period into its introverted, analytical period. Its philosophy turned away from the object toward the subject, for the object was beginning to slip from its grasp. Hence, Berkeley, Hume and Kant and finally Hegel. The same dualism of subject and object was reproduced, only now calling the opposite parody into existence, without realising its source.
The rebirth of idealism came as the philosophy of a ruling class whose environment seemed to obey its free will and whose distance from its environment was increasing with the growing differentiation of labour. Mind became correspondingly dissociated from matter. Thus was mind stripped in the same way as matter had been before it, and the subject was by stages progressively cut loose from the object. Thus, active, sensuous subjectivity was to be divested of all qualities that tied it to objectivity, making it active, but active upon a nothing, until finally subjectivity had been stripped of the subject-man-and began to strangle itself.
This development reached its climax in Hegel for whom mind was dissolved into ideas independent of the subject. Nevertheless, it still bore the impress of material reality. By comparing its formal and unanchored qualities among themselves, it was possible in a confused way to extract the most general patterns of activity and change, just as by comparing the categories of objectivity among themselves, it was possible to get the confused but general physical laws of mechanism.
The hegelian dialectic represented the high point of bourgeois subjectivity, but, for all its logical rigour and world-embracing grandeur, it was subjectivity active upon nothing and therefore became mere mystical mumbo jumbo. Philosophy had become severely impoverished.
Giving expression to his sense of its history, not only as a philosopher, but also as a poet, Caudwell wrote his Hymn to Philosophy:
Philosophy for Caudwell had become empty and lifeless with the development of class society and with the sources of vitality drained from it.
I saw your figure in a Grecian mode: A stripling with the quiet wings of death, Touching with your long fingers a marble lyre. I was impressed by your immortal age, I was seduced by your adventurous strength, I was relieved by your polite reserve. A winged Idea down the rainbow sliding, With steady steps treading the smoky air, All ranks you visit, courteous swamp-foul. The world's great engines pound asthmatically Fed through Time's recurrences. Man walks to man across a trembling swamp. The scientific sportsman lifts his gun; The second barrel blasts your blue pin-feathers And you fall spluttering, a specific bird. I see your stuffed breast and boot-button eyes Preserved in cases for posterity And lean on my umbrella thoughtfully. I have caressed your sort, I must confess, But give me beauty, beauty that must end And rots upon the taxidermist's hands.
Most disastrous for philosophy, in Caudwell's view, was its conflict with science. Philosophy had flown apart from physics, as subjectivity had drifted from objectivity, with capitalism at this stage maintaining two conflicing ideologies: mechanism for the scientists and idealism for the philosophers. Subjectivity became the province of philosophy, while objectivity was the province of science. The philosopher was no longer interested in matter. The physicist was no longer interested in mind. Hegelianism could not be a physicist's creed, for it denied the need for physics.
Whereas hegelianism reflected the rapid evolutionary expansion of capitalism, the next stage in the development of bourgeois philosophy, phenomenalism, was coincident with its decline. Positivism marked the passing of the bourgeoisie from a progressive class to a reactionary one. The world of physics had become so bare of quality, the object of science had become so stripped of all sensuous reality, that it seemed to become only a ghostly dance of equations.
Physics was thrown back upon philosophy. Scientists were thrown back upon those qualities they had banished from objectivity and abandoned to subjectivity and came to seek in the laws of thought a certitude that they could not find in the laws of matter, only to find that the subject of science had also been stripped bare. Thought too had become ghostly. Only phenomena were left.
Whereas mechanism had sacrificed the subject to the object and idealism had sacrificed the object to the subject, positivism sacrificed both. The process in which matter had become so stripped of all material qualities as to evaporate into mind, and mind had become so stripped of all mental qualities that it solidified into matter, duly brought forth Mach, Russell, Jeans and Eddington.
Phenomenalism was a bastard compromise. It attempted to solve the problem of the subject-object relation by making the relation alone real. The problem was that in positivism all phenomena had equal validity, allowing no means of distinguishing between hallucination and real perception, scientific theory and barbarous logic. The world no longer possessed a unity due to its materiality, nor any unity at all. There was no causality, only sensations. Matter was unknowable and elusive. So too was man.
The physicist could go round and round in circles without ever knowing if he encountered anything real and without ever knowing what to expect next. In fact the positivist would not face up to his premises and was constantly smuggling in some co-ordinating principle to organise the system and give it a standard of validity. He presupposed the existence of the very things he insisted could not be presupposed, shifting from one premise to another without realising it, weaving a mesh of non sequiturs and excluded middles. He could not reconcile the dualism of subject and object, but always brought either subject or object back in again through the back door. In Mach, the subject was brought back as the most economical laws of thought and finally in Jeans and Eddington as a mathematical God. The parallel in aesthetics was art for art's sake, which then went and smuggled in emotivism.
In every way, theory was drifting away from practice. Art was flying away from experience. Philosophy, even philosophy of science, was becoming increasingly remote from science. Positivism, in the name of science, was a philosophy alien to the realm of scientific experiment, and science without the appeal to experiment was pure scholasticism and alexandrian futility. A theory of science drifting further and further from scientific practice gave rise to more problems than it solved.
Thus the crisis in physics. It was a part of the general crisis in science, which in turn was part of the overall crisis in culture. Caudwell saw a causal connection between the crisis in physics and that in biology, psychology, economics, morality, politics, art and, indeed, life as a whole. In a society in which consciousness had become so separated from its environment, because the thinking class had become so separated from the working class, there was growing intellectual fragmentation and cultural disorientation. Consciousness tended to gather at one pole and activity at the other, causing distortion of both.
Theory and practice were sundered in consciousness, because they were divided in social reality. Theory, which had emerged historically out of practice, vested in the same individual, broke apart, as thinking became the prerogative of the exploiting class with the division of the labour process, creating a class that passively and blindly laboured and a class that directed those labours. Bourgeois ideology, increasingly remote from the world of social labour, became increasingly detached from its foundations and the bourgeois class became more and more parasitic, more and more idealist.
Physics was the extreme case, as it was the realm seemingly most remote from potential ideological distortion. But the disease permeating bourgeois ideology was spreading and even physics was now infected. It was sometimes supposed, Caudwell observed, that the cause of the crisis in physics was the discrepancy between macroscopic or relativity physics on the one hand and quantum or atomic physics on the other. This was an aspect of it to be sure, but the fundamental cause of the crisis lay deeper.
The problem was the metaphysics of physics, a metaphysics not so much generated by physics as physics had been generated by it, not in a self-contained way, but in interaction with the rest of reality. The concepts of physics had been formed amid the same social process in and through which reality had been apprehended and conceptualised in all other fields of knowledge. Here too the bourgeois aimed at a closed world, independent of the observer, that he could watch from the outside. Relativity was a magnificent attempt to solve the problem by recreating the closed world of physics in a subtler form, making it four-dimensional, by the complicated method of tensors, the common invariant element in the functions of coordinates. In the end, this too failed, and physics turned in on itself in mentalism and self contradiction.
Physics was rent by the same dualisms as all other disciplines, though in each specific discipline these dualisms played themselves out in specific ways. Physics too was plagued by the flying apart of theory and practice, practice becoming specialised, restricted, narrow and empirical, with theory becoming abstract, uncoordinated, remote and diffuse. The pursuit of physics, in so far as it was advancing along the practical front of experiment, was generating a growing body of knowledge that could not be fit into its existing theoretical framework. There was an explosive struggle of content with form, with increasing anarchy and disharmony both within and between the different domains of physics.
It was the same with all the other sciences. Bourgeois culture was proving increasingly unable to control the forces it generated and to assimilate the good things it produced. It was unable to contain the discoveries it made. Relativity, quantum mechanics, experimental psychology, evolution, genetics, sociology, anthropology, comparative religion were all disruptive forces in bourgeois culture that gave rise to semi-dialectical philosophies and incomplete attempts at synthesis within the anarchy of bourgeois thought.
But none of these could succeed. It was necessary to go to the heart of the matter: to expose the dualism at the heart of bourgeois culture that tore every science apart within itself, as well as isolating it from every other science and from the living whole of reality in which it needed to find its place. What it came down to was the lack of an integrated world view that could encompass all the sciences with their dramatically expanding experimental results and do so within the context of the whole, living, blood warm reality necessary to their vitality and healthy growth.
Because there was no such philosophy within which they could be integrated, science gathered itself around its most practical fronts in detached and isolated sciences. Science decomposed into a chaos of highly specialised, mutually repellent sciences, whose growing separation increasingly impoverished each of them and contributed to the overall fragmentation of human thought. Ironically, the very development of each of the sciences in this situation accentuated the general disorientation.
Every science was a closed world unto itself. With the separation of biology from physics, for example, the world of biology seemed to have all quality, all change, all development cooped up within itself, seeing outside it only the sahara of the closed world of physics - quantitative, changeless and bare. A biology unanchored in physics inevitably began looking for an uncaused first cause, an entelechy, an élan vital or some such explanation of itself.
Within the framework of bourgeois philosophy, the sciences could not be conceived of except as either confusing or dominating each other. Either the fundamental categories of each of the sciences were held to be exclusive, with nothing resulting from their combination except a mishmash or, alternatively, the categories of one science excluded and suppressed the categories of the other. Thus in behaviourism, the categories of biology suppressed those proper to psychology. In mechanistic materialism, the categories of physics were allowed to usurp those of all other sciences. Either each sphere was utterly distinct or they were all the same: that was the dilemma in which bourgeois science found itself.
Science began to despair of the possibility of a general theory of science, falling back on eclecticism, reductionism, positivism, and even mysticism. Without a world view in which to fit his empirical discoveries, the scientist was left with two fundamental choices: Either he regarded his discoveries as limited to his particular sphere, adopting an eclectic attitude to reality as a whole; or alternatively, he erected a complete ideology on the basis of his own discoveries, inevitably leaving much out of account.
What was left unaccounted for was either forcibly reduced to the level of the facts that were accounted for or mystical explanations were sought for the phenomena left unexplained and inexplicable by such a limited ideology. In psychology, for example, Freud proceeded according to the reductive method, whereas Jung tended to the more mystical approach. In any case, each of the alternatives in its own way only intensified the crisis. The internal contradictions within and between the various disciplines could not be solved within the confines of the separate disciplines. They could only be resolved in a larger synthesis that encompassed them all.
As to the situation in physics, the solution of the contradictions within mechanics raised by relativity, those within wave physics raised by electromagnetism, and those within atomic physics raised by quantum theory, had only led to greater contradictions among the three domains. Moreover, the integrations were becoming increasingly unstable.
As a result, the field of physics was being occupied by opposing armies. Einstein and Planck were clinging to the categories of mechanism. Jeans and Eddington were attempting to find substitutes in subjectivism. Dirac and Heisenberg were trying to dispense with categories altogether. Essentially, the situation was that physics had not as yet found any substitute for the categories its own research had revolutionised.
The new categories required could not be formed within the bounds of physics alone, however. No real solution was possible unless the most basic and fundamental categories common to all domains were to be radically refashioned. What physics needed was a new philosophy.
Einstein and Planck were the last physicists adhering to the old metaphysics of physics, whereas Jeans and Eddington represented the most extreme swing in the opposite direction, the most extreme tendency for physical theory to fly away from physical experiment. Einstein stood out as a larger figure than the rest in his aspiration to an all embracing philosophy. Although he did manage to bring together a wide domain of physics, he was still unable to encompass the whole complexity of modern physics. Nor was anyone else able.
With the breakdown of traditional categories and no new ones to take their place, physicists were becoming inclined to call God back in again to sanction the physicists belief in unity, to assure him of a worthwhile end to his labours. But it was a God from the other side. Unlike Newton's God who was Matter, this God was Mind, a mind remarkably like that of the physicist's own. All such introjections of the physicist's mind behind phenomena to take the place of a deleted matter represented a certain falling off and disorientation as compared with earlier physicists' more robust viewpoint.
The state of physics amid all the confusion was disturbing, not only to the physicists, but to the general public as well. Taking up the various problems perplexing to the popular consciousness in relation to physics, Caudwell first examined the problem of the relation of physics to perception. The world of physics seemed to be deviating further and further from the world of perception. The world of relativity physics seemed to be taking physics further and further from reality as directly experienced. In answer to the question of whether the world of physics could be restored to the world of experience, his answer was yes, that it must, for physics was built up and validated from the results of perception, even relativity physics. The discrepancy between Newton and Einstein was settled after all on the basis of the Michelson-Morley experiment. The perceived world, Caudwell insisted, was primary and gave status to only certain of the various self-consistent possible worlds.
An even stickier question in physics was that surrounding the status of concepts of causality and determinism that had become particularly problematic with the development of quantum physics and had brought many physicists to deny causality and to assert a radical indeterminism in nature. Responding particularly to the conclusions being drawn by Jeans and Eddington from Heisenberg's principle of uncertainty, to the effect that causality and determinism were no longer principles of physics and that it was therefore possible to guarantee the freedom of the human will, Caudwell analysed the issue on a number of levels.
Basically his argument was that the fundamental bourgeois illusion, in its false notion of the nature of freedom, had penetrated even into physics. The bourgeois understanding of causality was equivalent to predeterminism, the only sort of determinism that bourgeois could understand. It was the bourgeois nightmare. It was the dread of a class that did not want to be tied to nature by any relation except that of private property, a relation entered into by the individual by virtue of his own free will. Freedom, for the bourgeois, seemed to lie in arbitrary subjectivity, with all causality concealed, hidden in the shadow of the free market.
Those, such as Jeans and Eddington, who seized upon Heisenberg's principle to launch a full-scale attack on determinism in physics, picturing the movements of the particles as indeterminate and the particles themselves as unknowable, supposed that this at last secured the menaced free will of the bourgeois. By this bizarre stratagem, they thought they had freed man from the determinism of nature by eliminating the determinism of nature altogether. Even nature was now seen to exhibit bourgeois free will.
On one level, Caudwell analysed the way this played itself out within the realm of physical theory, tracing it back to the subject-object dichotomy and the separation of the basis of freedom from the basis of necessity in the 17th century. He seemed to have very definite ideas about how the resolution of his dichotomy provided the way out of the anarchy engulfing physical theory. His argument at this level was not fully developed, however, as it came only in the draft notes for the chapters of The Crisis in Physics, which were left in a very rough state, far from ready for publication, when he went off to Spain.
Roughly, he seemed to be indicating that the apparent antinomies of physical theory between quantum and wave, discontinuity and continuity, freedom and determinism, accident and necessity, would find their resolution when thought ceased to move back and forth between mutually exclusive polar opposites. It was necessary to see freedom within the framework of determinism. Otherwise, each was abstracted from the other, distorted and scarred. Determinism and necessity became crystalline and incapable of evolution. Freedom and accident floated about without roots. It was the universal interweaving of domains and not the concept of strict determinism as such that made it possible to speak of the universal reign of law. Part of Caudwell's argument seemed to rest on a distinction between causality as an active subject-object relationship and predeterminism as a passive one.*
*Determinism, as it emerged at the end of The Crisis in Physics is the more general category. Within it, he distinguished between causality and probabilistic determinism on the one hand and strict Laplacean predeterminism on the other.
For Caudwell, then, the crisis in physics was not due to the mystical and contradictory nature of the phenomena discovered, but to the attempt of the bourgeois to keep the world of physics closed and to preserve his own freedom outside it, to keep himself at all costs immune from causality.
Running parallel to the crisis in physics was the crisis in biology.
In Caudwell's unpublished work Heredity and Development: A Study in Bourgeois Biology, the fundamental argument was that all of the sharp antitheses tearing at modern biology: between genetics and evolution, between innate and acquired characteristics, between mechanism and vitalism, were rooted in the characteristic dualism of bourgeois culture. Once the environment had been stripped bare by physics, biology was given the task of accounting for life within it and protecting the freedom of the bourgeois at any price. But bereft of its roots and deprived of an integrated philosophy, it swung back and forth between extreme, one-sided positions and became increasingly anarchic, expressing in its sphere the decay of the bourgeois world view.
Emerging from his discussion of biology was a certain model of the development of the history of science in relation to the history of ideology. Science, in so far as it was always in fresh contact with the world through experiment, progressively illuminated the network of causality operative in the world, but it also threw up a scaffolding, an ideological gloss on the results of experiment. Such ideologies interlaced with scientific discoveries were not superfluous accidents but articulations of systems of nature reflecting the social relations of the time.
Both Mendel and Darwin were scientists, devoted to fact and freshly in contact with the world, but both were scientists with a viewpoint, Mendel with a clerical viewpoint and Darwin with a bourgeois one. The world view appropriate to feudal society was one that saw nature as a stable, ordered, hierarchical system. That appropriate to bourgeois society, while capitalism was on the upgrade, was one with every reason to assert change, competition, and equality of opportunity.
Thus Mendel, opposed to all that industrial capitalism was doing in the world, approached the study of variations in a spirit opposed to change, resting on eternal verities, seeing an unchanging set of genes in changing mathematical combinations producing a changing pattern of phenotypes. Thus, on the contrary, Darwin, seeing the world through the eyes of the ascendant industrial bourgeoisie, came forth with evolution and natural selection.
The great value of darwinism, in Caudwell's eyes, was in seeing change in life, in seeing it as determined by the nature of matter and in conceiving of the world of nature as subject to natural laws. The great weakness of darwinism, however, was in seeing change through the distorting ideology of class society: in picturing progress as the result of an unrestricted struggle for food (or profit) and in imagining life as an insurgent force in a dead universe (the reflex of the bourgeois producer with unrestricted property rights over inanimate things). Darwinism was therefore unable to explain the emergence of new qualities, the change of environment, the existence of variations, the origin of species.
Looking at darwinism from a perspective other than Darwin's own perspective, from an ideology other than bourgeois ideology, Caudwell thought that something survived that was irreducible to bourgeois ideology. Even though both evolution and natural selection coincided with the class consciousness of the ascendant bourgeoisie, he wanted to affirm evolution and to reject natural selection. Evolution was a matter of natural law. Natural selection was bourgeois property extended 'down to hell and usque ad coelum'. It was scientifically superfluous, as transformation was a result of the structure of matter, not of capitalist survival of the fittest, nor of the efforts of an active organism in a passive environment.
Thus Caudwell showed that the world view of an era was far more than the mere sum of the scientific discoveries of individuals. Scientific discoveries received their form and pressure from the social relations of the age. This was shown in the fate of Mendel's ideas vis á vis Darwin's. Darwin's theory was in harmony with the spirit of the times. Mendel's conception, Caudwell said, could only come into its own, in the form of Weissmann's germ plasm theory, when strict darwinism had given rise to the opposite. The development of genetics was exposing the contradictions of the bourgeois standpoint and bringing a continual transformation of fundamental concepts as a result.
However, all such transformations took place within the circle of bourgeois categories, producing not the unity of science, but its disintegration into specialised spheres, each of which represented a specific compromise between bourgeois ideology and a specific group of discoveries. Without breaking through the fundamental dualism at the heart of the whole process, the cycle would continue to reproduce itself, with the same antitheses recurring in new forms all the time, clouding the development of science and diverting it along unproductive paths.
inheritance of acquired characteristics demonstrated this. Caudwell
in an implicit but clear repudiation of lysenkoism, that the whole
was misconceived. Both positions rested on a false antithesis between
and environment, holding them to be mutually exclusive opposites,
than mutually determining aspects within the integral web of becoming.
Both artificially separated organism from environment, making the one
and changing and the other inert and changeless.
On Lysenko and Lysenkoism
In reality, Caudwell contended, it was impossible to distinguish between innate and acquired characteristics, for all characters were a result of a germinal response to a given environment. Every organism as it has actually existed was a synthesis between internal and external forces. A change in external forces could produce a change in character, but only if the organism had a germinal aptitude for responding to that kind of external force in that kind of way. The emergence of new qualities came in the interaction between organism and environment. To attach it exclusively to either term was to reproduce the old dilemmas.
Interestingly, Caudwell saw the science of genetics itself as posing the alternative, claiming that the research of Morgan had itself revealed the inconsistencies of all formulations built upon a dichotomy between organism and environment. Both the conception of an abstract environment selecting mechanistically and the conception of an abstract organism mutating spontaneously were incompatible with the practical results of genetics. The trend of genetics, as Caudwell saw it developing, was to prove that specific characters were not the result of specific genes on a one-to-one basis, but the result of the interaction of numerous genes within an environment. Genes could only express themselves in an integral, interpenetrating relation between the whole organism and the whole environment.
As well read and as thoroughly well informed as he was, Caudwell surely knew that this defense of genetics and declaration of the meaninglessness of the assertion of the inheritance of acquired characteristics set him drastically apart from the dominant trend in the Soviet Union on this question. Yet he never commented on the discrepancy.
This was a pattern he would follow on other issues in which he diverged from the communist orthodoxy of the time. Whether he simply couldn't face up just yet to open and explicit polemic with other communists or whether he felt it would be breaking ranks in the face of the enemy, it is hard to know. It is not hard to know, however, that he did his own thinking and was not prepared to compromise his intellectual integrity. The tone of implicit polemic is so strong in certain cases as to make it clear enough that in his deepest intuitions he knew that he was both heretical and right. In other cases, his unorthodoxy seems to have passed unnoticed, but in the case of Heredity and Development, it was unmistakable, even without any explicit mention of Lysenko,* and it is no wonder that this work went unpublished.**
*Caudwell did, however, make reference to 'a promising young biologist' driven to 'fraud and suicide' over the problem of transmission of acquired characteristics. He was obviously referring to the Austrian lamarckist Paul Kammerer who had been given a laboratory to conduct lamarckist research at the Communist Academy in 1925 and committed suicide upon being confronted with evidence of fraud when he returned to Vienna to collect his books and instruments. Kammerer was at this time glorified as a martyr of science in the Soviet Union. They did not concede the charges of fraud, but Caudwell seemed not to be in any doubt about it.
I wrote to the editor of Further Studies in a Dying Culture,
Rickword, inquiring about the reasons for the exclusion of the biology
study and asking if the conflict between Caudwell's ideas and those of
Lysenko was a factor, with the publication of Further Studies
with the high tide of lysenkoism in the world communist movement in
Rickword replied that the essay was quite long and that it had been
that Further Studies should not exceed
Studies in length.
He added that a third series had been envisaged, but gave no
of why it never appeared (letter to the author March 12, 1980).
*** It was since published in 1986.
The conclusion Caudwell drew from his analysis of the state of biology, poles apart from Lysenko's locating the problem within the science of genetics, was that the problem was not to be located within science, but in the crippling of science by bourgeois social relations. The synthesis could not emerge simply within biology, for it was just the posing of biology as a closed world disconnected from the worlds of physics on the one hand and psychology on the other that was at the root of the trouble. The problem could only be solved by the return of science to a common world view.
Thus, for Caudwell, the new synthesis was bound up with a new form of society. An integrated world view could only be founded upon a new social matrix. From the point of view of the bourgeoisie, it was impossible to grasp the whole. Because the very mode of its existence as a class was based on the contradiction between private ownership of the means of production and the social organisation of labour, between spontaneous desire and laws of nature, between subject and object, its ideology became increasingly detached from its foundations.
The bourgeois ceased to have a dominating world view, because he ceased to dominate nature through labour. He was no longer in control of the process of production, but it was in control of him. Active control of the whole process was now incompatible with private ownership of the means of production, and therefore incompatible with the existence of the bourgeoisie as a class.
Because he could not see his way into the future, the bourgeois increasingly looked to the past, not to the real past, but to an idealised past, a past that need not have led to the present, deluding himself into believing he could roll history backwards and return to an age when private property was not the means of exploitation, when tools were undeveloped enough and scattered enough to be owned by the man who worked them. But history could only move forward, never backward.
The bourgeois could no longer discern the rhythm of the historical process. To do so would be to cease to be bourgeois, to comprehend relations other than relations of property, to connect theory with social practice. Consciousness of the whole could not come in mere contemplation. It could only emerge in an active process in contact with nature through the forms of social labour. For the bourgeois, this was impossible, as he had cut himself off from nature. His hold on the object had broken. He had prepared the ground for his own doom.
Meanwhile, nature had disappeared into the 'dark night of the proletariat'. The object had been slipping from the grasp of the thinking class and emerging into the hands of the labouring class. Those actively struggling with nature, debarred from consciousness by the conditions of their existence, at least followed the rough grain of concrete reality.
With the development of the productive forces, the social organisation of nature took place within the boundaries of the proletariat, with the bourgeoisie more and more remote from it, parasitic upon it, and inclined to impose upon it forms of organization that were increasingly arbitrary. The proletariat, even within its acceptance of the bourgeois world view, could not accept the bourgeois concept of freedom, for its strength was in its forms of social organisation, in trade unions. Its freedom was only socially achieved and socially realised. This was the starting point of proletarian class consciousness. It was only a partial world view stemming from its limited experience, but it had a shattering effect on the hegemony of bourgeois class consciousness. However, it could not rise as yet to a total world view and sought its freedom still within the framework of bourgeois society.*
*Caudwell's analysis took in the situation of various types of 'outsiders' to the bourgeois world view, not only the proletariat, but women and members of oppressed races and nationalities. His sensitivity to the life experience of women as 'aliens' within the bourgeois world view was particularly extraordinary. With uncanny perceptiveness, he showed how the dominant world view was based on the male experience of life and how the first stages of rebellion took the form of demanding women's rights in male terms and in a male world. He traced the stages of development of women's consciousness as at first partial, inchoate, non-cognitive, as a result of exclusion from control of the economy and the cognitive and cultural apparatus of society and he expressed his expectation that a fusion of male and female experience would occur in the course of the revolutionary process and would result in the transformation of both in a new and higher synthesis.
At first, with the proletariat, all the odds were against it, except its organisation and its numbers. At first, the object in its hands could only be concrete and unconscious. But as it developed, the proletariat was not only active and organised, but became more and more conscious. The improved communication and universal education necessary to a capitalist economy was raising the consciousness of the class that would destroy it. The new consciousness was being formed within the shell of the old. The object could only blossom again into social consciousness in the form in which the proletariat could know it, that is, through the process of social labour. The bourgeoisie simply rode on top of this process, most without comprehending what was growing below it.
But some did comprehend. As well as a rising up, there was also a coming down. A section of the most conscious element perceived the true flow of the historical process. As the class struggle advanced, it cut itself off and came over to the side of the proletariat. As a result, a new consciousness was formed, a revolutionary consciousness, a fusion of the most highly developed consciousness produced by the bourgeoisie with the consciousness built on the life experience of the proletariat. Marxism was this new synthesis.
This new consciousness was formed by a sort of tunneling in from both sides, from the movement of disaffected bourgeois consciousness struggling to transcend itself on the one hand, and the movement of organised labour struggling to transcend itself on the other. In the meeting of the two, both were changed. Once the synthesis emerged, it blossomed and filled out and attracted to itself all the genuine dispersed elements of bourgeois consciousness and integrated into itself such advances in knowledge and technique as had been achieved in bourgeois culture. As the revolutionary movement actively expanded and brought into it the most conscious and most progressive artists, scientists and philosophers, its world view gathered into itself all that was best in art, in science, in philosophy, transforming each of these spheres and transforming itself in doing so.
But the synthesis of the most healthy elements of bourgeois consciousness with the life experience of the proletariat had to take place from the standpoint of the proletariat, for it was the most healthy, energetic element in society, organised as it was around the process of social labour. All previous knowledge had to be analysed and reconstructed, broken up and formed into a new pattern, along altogether new lines, along the lines of force opened by the emergence of proletarian class consciousness, as the only class that could end division of society into classes and aspire to a vision of totality.
However, in the process, proletarian class consciousness transcended itself, it became a revolutionary consciousness and in due course a socialist consciousness, and it in turn became no longer a consciousness grounded in a limited experience, but one that drew upon the fullness of social experience and came thus to encompass the whole.
Such a revolution in consciousness was bound up with a revolution in the social relations of production. The expropriators had to be expropriated, ending the enslavement of the have-nots to the haves and the enslavement of both to wars, slumps, depression, superstition and disintegration. Communism was the realisation of a new sort of freedom, returning to the social solidarity that characterised primitive communism, but at the same time gathering up all the development of the interim, the higher level of individuation, the greater complexity of consciousness, achieved through the development of the productive forces.
The social division of labour had been necessary to the development of the productive forces, whereupon the further development of the productive forces had prepared the ground for the abolition of the social division of labour. A higher productive capacity made possible a higher level of human development. It was not a matter of going back to a world of a few beasts and crops and a wandering sun, but a world enriched greatly by the development of science and technology under capitalism.
Caudwell's vision of revolution was total. It was a whole new way of thinking and living. Although the weight of emphasis in his own work was on the development of revolutionary consciousness, it was never disconnected from the necessity of revolution in the relations of production. These were always inextricably bound together. The new world view was grounded in a new social movement, but the social movement could not proceed toward its goals without the development of its world view. Caudwell had found in marxist theory and in the communist movement the framework that pulled it all together in what seemed quite the right way.
But within this framework, Caudwell did his own thinking. He had been inspired by the classics of marxism as well as by later marxist works,* but was not inclined to be constantly quoting them or to be circumscribed by other people's formulations. He worked out his own world view, based on his own knowledge and experience, and, though it converged with the dominant thinking among communists at that time in most respects, it was deeper, fresher, and more developed than most. Where it did not converge, he followed his own instincts, though without calling attention to the discrepancies. It is hard to know just how far he was aware of any such discrepancies, but often an undercurrent of implied polemic indicated that he knew quite well.** This was most notably evident in his theory of knowledge, which was in marked contrast to that of Lenin in Materialism and Empirio-Criticism.
*Caudwell had read Marx, Engels, Lenin, Plekhanov, Stalin, Bukharin, Deborin, Jackson, Levy, Bernal, Needham, Haldane, and probably much more besides.
**His friend Paul Beard indicated to me in an interview in London on 5 July, 1980, that he knew exactly how heretical he was. Sprigg was, in his opinion, a person of great intellectual integrity, but he wouldn't have seen it as his task to engage in internecine strife. Elizabeth Beard (interview in London 10 July, 1980) told me that, when he spoke of marxism, he used to say that some of it was outmoded. She stressed quite emphatically that no one could tell him what to think. His comrade from Popular days, Nick Cox (interview in London 4 July, 1980), spoke of discussions into the night about 'all the world' in which Sprigg would often take a highly innovative approach. He was always cogent and avoided jargon, cliché and shortcuts. He did on occasion express hard-hitting differences of opinion with other comrades. He was also known to make jokes about traditional concepts.
Epistemology was a pivotal concern to Caudwell in the process of working out the outlines of the socialist Weltanschauung. The crux of the marxist approach to philosophy was its restoration of subject to object and object to subject. It penetrated to the material basis from which the dichotomy emerged and brought to philosophy a fullness and vitality it had lacked through the ideological distortion grounded in the class division of society.
Caudwell's epistemology was interactionist rather than reflectionist. In the conscious field, generated by the interaction of subject and object, neither subject nor object, neither mind nor matter, could ever be found completely 'pure'. As knowing was a mutually determining relation between subject and object, neither could ever be totally separated out and isolated from the other.
Knowing was an active relation, a social product. It was the outcome of the labour process past and present. Truth was realised in action; it came, not so much as an end, but as the colour of an act. Feeling tone could never be completely separated from the object in experience. Both object and thought, both response and situation, were given in one conscious glow. Consciousness was not, however a mere iridescence, but real, determinin, and determined.
It was vital for marxists not to fall back into the subject-object dichotomy. The uniqueness of marxism was that it overcame this dichotomy, not be denying one or the other (as did idealism and mechanistic materialism) or both (as did positivism), but by embracing both. Both were real, however inseparable within the conscious field. Each was a constituent of the other. Always the subject was tied to the object as the object was to the subject. Knowledge bore always the impress of both.
Arguing against epistemological objectivism, Caudwell stressed the role of active subjectivity and the importance of breaking with the illusion of the detached observer. It was impossible for the mind to stand outside the universe, to know it without disturbing it or being disturbed by it. Truth might seem to be in the environment, to be objective, independent of the subject, and yet all attempts to extract a completely non-subjective truth from experience produced only metrics. Objectivism could not be sustained and turned into its opposite; complete objectivity brought one back to complete subjectivity and vice versa.
The act of knowing transformed what was known. It was never possible to detach the thing known from the knowing of it. Caudwell opposed all passivist imagery in describing knowledge. Knowledge was not a matter of copying, mirroring, photographing, reflecting. Although he never remarked on Lenin's use of such imagery in Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, he had read the book and his rejection of the reflectionist model was quite explicit and polemically expressed. In no uncertain terms, Caudwell made his point:
The mirror reflects accurately: it does not know. Each particle in the universe reflects the rest of the universe, but knowledge is only given to human beings as a result of an active and social relation to the rest of reality.This particular passage came in his argument against Wittgenstein's Tractatus, but it was a persistent theme and he could not have failed to realise the position he was opposing was also held by certain of his fellow marxists.
Because of his emphasis on knowing as an active process, Caudwell was not disturbed in the least by Heisenberg's principle, which was causing such a stir.
As he believed that each act of knowing involved a new determining force that could not have been allowed for in any original laplacean act of knowledge, he saw Heisenberg's principle as underlying the fact that knowledge of reality produced a change in reality. The idea that men learned about reality in changing it reached its fullest expression in Heisenberg. All laws of science were laws stating what action produced what change in reality.
Implying that a contemplative and passivist epistemology endangered revolutionary activism, Caudwell made the point that social consciousness was not simply the reflection of social being. If it were, he said, it would be useless. It was the fact that the mind could conceive of something other than the existing reality that made progress possible. It was the very disparity between man's being and his consciousness that drove history forward.
On the other hand, Caudwell was also critical of epistemological subjectivism. Knowledge emerged in interaction with the environment. Conceptualisation did not take place in a vacuum, but was based upon empirical observations. Science developed through both hypothesis and experiment. A preoccupation with logic or any other variety of mentalist introversion resulted not in truth but in mere consistency. Such a preoccupation myopically scrutinised the conscious field without reference to the pressures upon it from outside it, in spite of the fact that such pressures from the past were what actually formed it. Rather than remaining alive to the developing subject-object relation, it remained fixated on the forms it took in the past. Logical laws were social. Language was a social product.
On the question of epistemological priority, Caudwell came down firmly on the side of realism, as opposed to any form of phenomenalism, instrumentalism, or conventionalism, consistent and firm in his critique of machism and all varieties of neo-positivism. It was, however, a critical realism, a mediated and historicised realism.
In terms of the debate within Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, it was neither the position of Lenin nor that of Bogdanov. Nor was it the position of Lukacs or Korsch either. It was perhaps the position Gramsci was groping for, but never expressed with such confident clarity as Caudwell. When it came down to it, being preceded knowing, knowing flowed from being and evolved as an extension of being. Decidedly post-Cartesian, Caudwell asserted: I live therefore I think I am. In a concise statement of the fundamental contours of his theory of knowledge, he wrote:
The question of which is first, mind or matter, is not therefore a question of which is first, subject or object ... Going back in the universe along the dialectic of qualities, we reach by inference a state where no human or animal bodies existed and therefore no minds. It is not strictly accurate to say that therefore the object is prior to the subject any more than it is correct to say the opposite. Object and subject as exhibited by the mind relation, come into being simultaneously.... We can say that relations seen by us between qualities in our environment (the arrangement of the cosmos, energy, mass, all the entities of physics) existed before the subject-object relationship implied in mind. We prove this by the transformations which take place independent of our desires. In this sense, nature is prior to mind and this is the vital sense for science. These qualities produced, as cause and around produce effect, the synthesis, or particular subject-object relationship which we call knowing. Nature therefore produced mind. But the nature which produced mind was not nature "as seen by us." . . . It is nature.... as having indirect not direct relations with us.... Such a view reconciles the endless dualism of mentalism and objectivism. It is the universe of dialectical materialism. Unlike previous philosophies, it includes all reality: it includes not only the world of physics, but it includes smells, tastes, colors, the touch of a loved hand, hopes, desires, beauties, death and life, truth and error.Only such an epistemology, which could hold together these different strands without giving way to either naive realism or total relativism, could encompass the whole. Caudwell held to it with utter consistency. It was essential to the underlying unity of his thought and it accounted for the distinctiveness of his position on various issues.
It had implications, for example, for his position on the dialectics of nature. There is no evidence that he knew of the Comintern debate on dialectics of nature centering around Lukacs, but he was obviously acquainted with the standard communist formulations of this time to the effect that the subjective dialectics of the mind reflected the objective dialectics of nature. Although he did not specifically criticise any marxist authors holding this position, it was clear that he disagreed with it. For Caudwell, what was dialectical was neither subject nor object, neither man or nature, but the interaction between subject and object, the interaction between man and nature. He gave expression to his thinking on this in a way that again suggested the possibility of an underground polemic:
The external world does not impose dialectic on thought, nor does thought impose it on the external world. The relation between subject and object, ego and universe, is itself dialectic.It was impossible, to Caudwell's way of thinking, to speak of an objective dialectic, to speak of nature as dialectical in itself. The dialectic emerged in the relation and not in the object or subject in itself. It was impossible to detach subject from object, or to know definitely what either would be in itself without the other. All that man could say about nature was generated by his interaction with it. He could not be the detached observer and know nature apart from his knowledge of it. Even in affirming the priority of nature to mind, he knew it was only possible to do so in and through nature as known by mind. Nature, as known, was a product of human society. Nowhere could the line between the two be precisely laid down.
Knowledge of nature was mediated by the labour process. In its historical development, the labour process not only generated economic systems, but mathematics and the sciences. Emphasizing the full extent of the role played by social labour in the history of knowledge, Caudwell wrote:
Once established, the labour process, extending as remotely as observation of the stars, as widely as organisation of all human relations, and as abstractly as the invention of numbers, gathers and accumulates truth. Faster and faster it proliferates and moves. The bare organism is today from birth faced with an enormous accumulation of social truth in the form of buildings, laws, books, machines, political forms, tools, engineering works, complete sciences. All these arise from co- operation; all are social and common.In this sense, all natural things were artificial. Nature could only be for man in and through his interaction with it. Emphasising the essential role of such interaction, Caudwell stated bluntly:
The dynamic subject-object relation generates all social products - cities, ships, nations, religions, the cosmos, human values.It must seem that Caudwell took a position similar to Lukacs, and so he did, in so far as the dialectic was identified with the subject-object relation and in so far as nature was recognised to be a social category. The difference was that Caudwell was able to hold together the fullness of the subject-object relation. Unlike Lukacs, he did not forget the object. In the interaction between man and nature, he did not neglect to give nature its due.
Actually, it would never have occurred to Caudwell to think that such an emphasis on human subjectivity could somehow negate the cosmic dimension of marxism. He continued to affirm what had been most crucial to marxists in the name of dialectics of nature. Although Caudwell located the realm of the dialectic in the sphere of human interaction with nature and not in nature itself, he realised that what came in the interaction bore the impress of nature and yielded reliable knowledge of nature. He believed, like the rest, that nature developed, not only gradually and in a straight line, but proceeded also by jumps, and that genuine novelty emerged. He believed that the universe was one, that everything was related to everything else; he affirmed 'the altogetherness of everything'. His philosophy of science was based on the anti-reductionist concept of integrative levels: history began where physiology left off, biology began where chemistry and physics left off. Each level embodied fresh laws, inclusive of, but additional to, the laws of previous levels.
What then was the dialectic for Caudwell ? He didn't use the term often, but then he didn't use any of the normal marxist terminology very often. He did, however, see fit to categorise his philosophy as dialectical materialism.
He saw it as a distinctive form of materialism in its stress on the active mutually determining subject-object relation, in its restoration to matter of an inner activity and capacity for history that had been stripped from it in class society, in its synthesis of concreteness and sensuousness with time and process and development. What was dialectical was the relation, the restoration, the synthesis.
Essentially, it was a way of thinking, imbued with a sense of development, of time, of history, that resolved the tension of polar opposites in a higher synthesis. It was the transcendence of dualism in a processive, integrated way of thinking. It was a way of thinking grounded in a way of being, in the mode of existence of the universe itself. Man was a part of nature and his thought could be integrated, because reality could be integrated. Man could think dialectically, because the universe as known by him was one and in motion through a web of mutually determining relations.
Above all what Caudwell was about was setting out the outlines of an integrated world view within which all the intellectual chaos would be resolved and showing its relation to a classless society within which all social fragmentation would be overcome. Within this scheme, science was a critical factor. Caudwell was never in the slightest inclined to a romantic rejection of science. He knew science and embraced it fully. Very much in the tradition of British marxists, he understood completely its role in the development of human knowledge and in the cause of human liberation.
In this spirit, he pursued the ideal of the unity of science. All of the sciences had to be sifted through, reintegrated and reconstituted within the framework of a consistent philosophy. Each of the sciences had to open out to the other sciences-indeed all disciplines had to open out to all others-and each revitalised in its interaction with the rest. Specialisation would continue to be necessary, but integration was absolutely essential. Only in this way could science or art or any other discipline again become coherent and fruitful.
Here Caudwell brought the notion of proletarian science into play, running parallel to his discussion of the notion of proletarian art. In class society, argued Caudwell, every discipline in its implicit assumptions was coloured by class consciousness. There was no neutral world of science or of art, free from categories or determining causes. Both science and art were in this sense social activities.
Class society had in its time enriched both science and art by drawing each to one pole to intensify its development, but at the price of severing it from the other pole, with which it now had to be reunited to develop further. Due to the conditions under which they emerged, bourgeois science and bourgeois art were one-sided, produced in a culture in which a yawning gap had opened between theory and practice, between consciousness and social labour. Thought had stiffened and broken apart in its separation from its organic nexus.
Bourgeois science and art were in crisis, in so far as they were bound up with a culture that was dying. However, with the emergence of a distinctive proletarian class consciousness and with its fusion with a part of bourgeois consciousness separating itself out and adhering to the pole of the proletariat, the gap began to close as the new consciousness drew to itself the development of science and art, refashioning them and integrating them within a consistent world view and within a healthy social force. At this period, something emerged that could be called proletarian science or proletarian art. It was a transitional stage in the development of science or art. It was the process of fusion in which all past knowledge was sifted through and reconstructed within a new philosophy.
The new philosophy was not, of course, given, but emerged within this process and on the basis of concrete knowledge. There were certain criteria that needed to be fulfilled to make a philosophy adequate to its new tasks:
1)It needed to be able to explain all the scientific discoveries of its era within the one framework. Not one of the contending bourgeois philosophies was competent to do this.The process of striving to overcome intellectual disintegration and to integrate the sciences and all knowledge and experience in a unified philosophy ran parallel to the process of striving to resolve economic anarchy in collectivisation of the means of production. The task of the reconstruction of science was hastened and intensified with the achievement of socialist revolution. It would proceed and be brought to a new level in and through the process of socialist construction, as the tunnelling in from both sides and accelerated assimilation of scientific knowledge into the new consciousness continued. It demanded both that bourgeois scientists come to identify with the proletariat and its tasks and that the proletariat come to identify with science and its tasks. Both tasks required a complete refashioning of consciousness. The synthesis needed to come from both sides.
2)It needed to include, as real and unified, all forms of experience: colours, sounds, values, aims, time, space and change.
3)It needed to account for the historical evolution of all the various arts, sciences, and religions and to explain the evolution of their own explanations of themselves.
The assimilation could not be achieved by one side alone. It was this emphasis that most distinguished Caudwell's position from that of proletkult. With the achievement of a full assimilation, proletarian science became socialist science, in the course of the revolutionary social transformation in which the proletariat became no longer a specific class, having expanded to encompass the whole of concrete living, that is, in the course of the transition to a communist society. There could be classless science only in the achievement of a classless society. Until then, there could only be bourgeois science or proletarian science.
It is an argument needing to be looked at freshly in the aftermath of the dismal and horrific episode surrounding Lysenko, in which the notion of proletarian science has left a bitter taste in everyone's mouth. It must be said emphatically that the notion of proletarian science does not stand or fall with Lysenko. Indeed, Lysenko represented the violation of the very process Caudwell was envisioning.
For Caudwell, proletarian science was the integration of the sciences (in which the science of genetics incidentally played a crucial part) within an integrated world view. Caudwell said quite firmly that it was not a matter of imposing the dictatorship of the proletariat on science. It was not a matter of the honest worker telling the scientist what was what in his laboratory or in his theory. Nothing was to be imposed on science. Nothing was to be imposed on the scientist, not even by himself. It was a matter of the assimilation of the scientist to the cause of the proletariat, to the construction of a new society, in which he played his full part within the process and as a scientist.
Science was to be developed by scientists, but a new type of scientist, with his feet more firmly on the ground, with his mind more opened to the whole, with his life and work more organically connected to the society of which he formed a part.
The notion of proletarian science was, of course, fraught with dangers, as subsequent history has revealed in a most tragic way. Caudwell had no way of knowing what was happening in the Soviet Union even as he wrote, but it is clear what he would have thought. He believed that there was something terribly wrong with a society when it became coercive, rigid, and 'tremblingly alive to heresy'. The denunciation of genetics and the arrests of geneticists were the very negation of the process he insisted must be undertaken. So too were the forced and opportunist reconstructions of the sciences in terms of a superficial and dogmatic interpretation of dialectical materialism.
Caudwell did anticipate that a certain crudity and clumsiness might be inevitable in the early stages, rather like what resulted when the proletariat occupied for the first time a role in administration, which hitherto had been the prerogative of the bourgeoisie. At first every mistake would be made, except the fatal bourgeois mistakes. Clearly, he did not see just how crude and how clumsy it could actually be, nor did he realise just how fatal proletarian mistakes could be. However, he firmly stated that what was required was a labourious refashioning, a careful, complex and protracted process, a process that was in fact disastrously short-circuited in the Soviet Union.
The dangers Caudwell saw were more from the other side. He worried about scientists not committing themselves fully enough. His concern was over the bourgeois scientist, accustomed to the role of lone wolf, who would be prepared to merge with the proletariat and accept its theory and organisation in every field except his own. If he remained unintegrated and kept his science in a preserve apart from the development of marxist theory, the result could only be a distortion of both science and marxist theory.
With the two in essentially separate compartments, either there was no interaction or politics burst into his science in the form of crude and grotesque scraps of marxist terminology and his science burst into his politics in the form of gratuitous outbursts of bourgeois indiscipline, assertion of the independence of science or distortions of marxist theory through the retention of bourgeois categories in his own discipline. If scientists, engineers, teachers, historians, economists, artists, soldiers, administrators all indulged the impulse to keep their own sphere separate and to assert its independence from the rest, there would be no revolutionary society at all. The independence of disciplines was bourgeois, the result of the fragmentation of bourgeois ideology, and it must not be carried over into the proletarian state.
It was vital that the scientist not settle for the easy road and mechanically reshuffle the categories of bourgeois science or mechanically import categories from other spheres of proletarian thinking into science. What the proletariat asked of the scientist was that he take the difficult creative road, that he do his own thinking, that he refashion the categories of science, so that science could play its full part in the realisation of the new world view and indeed the new world. The scientist was not being asked to play fast and loose with experimental results, nor to apply dialectics to science, nor to fit the results of science into the categories of dialectics. He was being asked to look at his results rigourously but freshly and to take a broader view, that is, to examine their implications in terms of a world view grounded in the most advanced science.
The same applied to all intellectuals in the revolutionary movement and in the new society. Caudwell, much like Gramsci, envisioned the emergence of a new type of intelligentsia, an active intelligentsia, no longer remote from production, from labour, from the whole vast social process. The new intellectuals would be rooted in the working class movement and develop the new consciousness that would express and carry forward the realisation of its destiny.
It is obvious that Caudwell was trying to do much the same as what earlier Comintern theoreticians were trying to do. Although he was unacquainted with the efforts of Lukacs, Korsch, and Gramsci, as they were unknown in Britain at this time, he was much like them in his emphasis on revolutionary consciousness, that is, on the necessity of breaking radically with bourgeois thought patterns and evolving totally new ones. Like them, too, he underlined this enterprise with an epistemology emphasizing active subjectivity. Caudwell, however, was the most integrated, in so far as he understood the role of science within this enterprise. It is true that his achievement was largely programmatic and that much remained to be done. Nevertheless, given the chaos of conflicting theories on matters of fundamental orientation and given the fact that so little could be taken for granted at the programmatic level, even among the marxists, his achievement was no small one.
Korsch's merit was in calling attention to the neglect of the dimension of human subjectivity within marxism and in defying authoritarianism in the communist movement, but in his constructive efforts he was woefully unsuccessful. Lukacs went further along the way. Indeed, the parallels between himself and Caudwell are striking: the emphasis on proletarian class consciousness as the only force capable of achieving vision of totality, the determination to overcome the subject-object dichotomy, the stress on the active side of the knowing process.
But the contrasts are just as striking. Caudwell was not only far clearer about the nature of class consciousness and the process of its emergence and development, but he was actually able to achieve a vision of totality. Lukacs at this time left far too much out of account, most notably nature, science, objectivity, determinism. Caudwell was able to hold together in one vision both man and nature, both revolution and science, both subjectivity and objectivity, both freedom and determinism.
As for Gramsci, he came closest to a full synthesis, though he was epistemologically vague and remote from science. In Caudwell, the synthesis was more total, more tightly integrated, more firmly grounded in science. In terms of political strategy, on the other hand, Gramsci's analysis was more detailed and more refined. Naturally so, as he was far more politically experienced than Caudwell. It is the affinities that are most significant, however: most importantly, the realisation of the fullness of the revolutionary process.
Both saw revolution in terms of total transformation of thought and culture, a struggle for men's hearts and minds that was connected with, but not reducible to, the struggle for state power. Also, both were competent to come to terms with non-marxist ideas in an appreciative but critical way, well able to move within a wider intellectual world, with a simultaneous stress on the integrity of marxism and opposition to eclectic combinations of marxism with non-marxist ideas alien to its fundamental structure.
Caudwell's importance in the history of marxist philosophy has never been recognised. Such secondary literature as exists, and it is not much, has tended to concentrate almost exclusively on his contribution in terms of aesthetics and literary criticism. Such surveys of the history of marxist philosophy as exist either ignore him altogether or give him only the briefest of passing mention. In Kolakowski's Main Currents of Marxism, for example, he is discussed in one paragraph out of three volumes and The Crisis in Physics is rather unperceptively described as 'a Leninist attack on idealism, empiricism and indeterminism in modern scientific theory', whereas Korsch is given an entire chapter. In most other surveys, Caudwell is not even mentioned.
Even among British marxists Caudwell has been virtually forgotten and never really subjected to full-scale assessment in the first place. The CPGB did have a conference on Caudwell just after world war 2, where his work was regarded respectfully. The major occasion on which a thorough critical evaluation was attempted, the 'Caudwell Discussion' in Modern Quarterly in 1951, was a rather disgraceful affair, in which his philosophy was subjected to heavy-handed and ill-founded attack. Cornforth and Bernal * in particular were extremely severe and even called his credentials as a marxist into question, accusing him of a too favourable attitude to bourgeois intellectual trends, most notably those associated with Freud, Einstein and modern geneticists.
* Both changed their minds about this.
The discussion, which took place during the high tide of zhdanovism and lysenkoism in the world communist movement and the Soviet campaign against cosmopolitanism, revealed more about the state of British marxism in its time under the pressure of these events than about Caudwell. Caudwell's emphasis on genetics was one of the reasons why he posthumously ran into so much trouble at this time. Even his most severe critics, however, could not help but acknowledge his originality and brilliance. In the course of the discussion, there were those who came to his defense. Various contributors, particularly George Thomson and Alick West, answered the attacks fairly capably.
However, even Caudwell's most devoted defenders, however appreciative of his insights and aware of his profundity, have tended to see his importance for them primarily as a home product and haven't fully grasped his importance within the development of marxist philosophy as a whole. Those on both sides have made far too much of Haldane's 'quarry of ideas' metaphor, probably far more than Haldane intended by it, missing Caudwell's essential contribution, which was a tightly constructed and unified analysis of the nature of bourgeois culture and the socialist alternative. He has been interpreted too randomly, as a source of insights rather than as the bearer of a coherent world view.
The years have passed with his philosophical contribution falling into oblivion. Even in an article giving a rather astute analysis of the tradition of British marxism in relation to science, which actually rapped the knuckles of contemporary British marxists for their neglect of this tradition, Hilary and Steven Rose never mentioned Caudwell. Calling for a revival of discussion of the theme of bourgeois versus socialist science, opened in Britain by Hessen and effectively closed by Lysenko, they stated that British marxists in the 1930s never unravelled the argument, obviously ignorant of Caudwell's contribution in this domain.
Now and then, someone remembers, but almost entirely in terms of literary theory. David Margolies's study of Caudwell's aesthetics was appreciative, but left the impression that the central focus of Caudwell was a theory of the social function of literature. His central focus, I believe, was Weltanschauung and his interest in literature fell into place around this. Francis Mulhern's analysis of Caudwell tried to see his literary theory more in terms of its underlying philosophy. Something of Caudwell managed sporadically to break though a screen of althusserian misinterpretation, and what basically came out of it was: 'Christopher Caudwell is an historicist, but not every historicist is Christopher Caudwell'. The New Left Review was to swing even wider off the mark with Terry Eagleton's passing dismissal of Caudwell, summed up in the conclusion that there is 'little, except negatively, to be learned from him'. Caudwell's work was written off as stalinist, idealist, speculative, erratic, 'bereft of a theory of the superstructure', 'punctuated by hectic forays into and out of alien territories' and 'strewn with hair-raising theoretical vulgarities'.
A breath of fresh air came with EP Thompson's attempt to settle his intellectual accounts with Caudwell. It was an extremely perceptive and constructive analysis of Caudwell's work as a whole, which said many things that had been crying out to be said. He sought to highlight what were Caudwell's most central and creative preoccupations, which he rightly noted have been misunderstood by younger marxists. Insisting that Caudwell's work was more significant than had been realised, with its impulse not yet exhausted, Thompson suggested a new way into the evaluation of Caudwell.
He proposed seeing Caudwell as an anatomist of ideologies, as brilliantly laying bare the deep structure of the characteristic illusions of the epoch, as analysing the generation of modes of intellectual self-mystification. It was, Thompson asserted, a brave, even promethean, venture: to effect a rupture with a whole received world view. It was 'the most heroic effort of any British marxist to think his own intellectual time'. Caudwell was walking abroad in his world, encountering the largest ideas and issues and not retreating into the introverted security where marxists existed in a universe of self-validating texts. What resulted from his efforts was, in Thompson's opinion, a body of thought that was more interesting, more complex and more heretical than has been supposed. In refusing the orthodox closures offered by reflection theory and the base/superstructure model, Caudwell was opening the door to a more creative tradition. Thompson was far from uncritical of Caudwell, however, but considered his thought of such extraordinary vitality and relevance that it presented itself for a renewed interrogation.
To appreciate Caudwell's full stature as a marxist thinker, he should not be seen simply as a source for random insights, but as a philosopher who made an original and highly integrated contribution to the development of marxist philosophy that has yet to be grasped and assimilated by other marxists.
In terms of the problematic of this book, that is, the conjuncture of science, philosophy, and politics within marxism, Caudwell offered a most highly developed position illuminating the interrelations. His was a most tightly constructed and plausible argument, analysing the variety of ways these spheres have converged historically, focusing on the chaos of the later bourgeois period and on the new integration that must be effected by marxists.
This is not to deny his faults. He was sometimes in too much of a rush and settled for neat antitheses that were a bit off the mark, but these were not such as to distort his overall argument ordered around his most basic underlying themes. Most of the problems emerging from Caudwell's work have to do with the fact that there has been much water under the bridge since then.
Caudwell, as did his contemporaries of the 1930s left, saw capitalism as undergoing its final crisis and the bourgeoisie as convulsing in its death throes. Events have proved this wrong, calling for a more complex analysis and a more protracted time scale. Subsequent events in the history of marxism, particularly in the Soviet Union, have also complicated matters in a way that Caudwell could not foresee. His view of Soviet society seems euphoric now and, as Thompson rightly says, it 'leaves a dusty taste in our mouths today'.
for this text can be found in end-of-chapter notes on pages 427 &
428 or at http://www.comms.dcu.ie/sheehanh/ch%205.2.pdf
I am grateful to Rosemary Sprigg, executor of the estate of Christopher St John Sprigg, for access to unpublished material. The Caudwell archives are held at the Humanities Research Center at University of Texas in Austin. I am also grateful to Chris Myant for facilitating my access to archives of the Daily Worker and to Nick Cox, William Sedley, Paul Beard and Elizabeth Beard for granting me interviews. There were also those who had written about Caudwell before me and assisted me in doing so: David Margolies, George Moberg, Jean Duparc, Maurice Cornforth and EP Thompson.
I intended at one stage to write an full-scale intellectual biography of Caudwell, but events overtook this project in my life.
PS (2004) There have been further studies of Caudwell in the years since this text was written. A publication of particular importance has been Scenes and Actions edited by Margolies and Duparc in 1986. A number of previously unpublished manuscripts written by Caudwell were published in this, including Heredity and Development as well as some of his letters and short stories. The introduction by Duparc and Margolies is very good, stressing world view and its development in a biographical context.
and the Philosophy of Science: A Critical History by Helena
The Fate of Marxism (1993 introduction)
Also sections on JD Bernal JBS Haldane TD Lysenko
The entire book is now available in pdf format.
Some of my related websites:
Critical perspectives on scienceThe Red Flag: the song, the man, the monument
History of ideas
Contending world views of our time
Unity of science
Grand narratives: then and now
Has the red flag fallen ?
European socialism: a blind alley or a long and winding road ?