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Additional resources for Anton Pannekoek and the Socialism of Workers’ Self Emancipation, 1873-1960
The fact that this natural law became identified with a struggle for existence analogous to capitalist development did not a ffect the validity of his theory, nor, conversely, did it make capitalist competition a 'natural law'. The differences between Marx and Darwin werejust as signifi cant as their similarities and the failure of Marxists to recognize them was a major weakness of their scientific position. In drawing out the political implications of his analysis , Pannekoek ar gued that Darwinism, like all scientific formulations, was not mere abstract thought but a n integral part of the class struggles of its epoch.
Left with these shortcomings and a mbigu ities, Pannekoek was often compelled to revert to many of the very tenden cies he sought to reject. For all his emphasis on the relative and tentative validity of all forms of knowledge, Pannekoek's Marxism, with its con clusive 'scientific truths' and laws of development, had a powerful sense of finality, of having discovered truth or at least the way to truth. The result was that his a ttempt to revitalize Marxism as a theory of transformation ultimately floundered.
Born the son of a Calvinist pastor, Herman Gorter (1 864-1 927) was by the 1 890's the foremost poet in the Dutch language. For Gorter, the transi tion to socialism came out of his incessant probing into the meaning of life. Prior to becoming a Marxist, the dominant influence on his thought had been S pinoza 's philosophical writings, to which he was attracted by the em phasis on interconnectedness and the unity of physical and metaphysical forces . Like many other Dutch intellectuals, Gorter was first exposed to socialism through the essays of Van der Goes (who was also his cousin by marriage) .