File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/97-03-16.132, message 30


Date: Fri, 14 Mar 1997 19:42:18 -0500 (EST)
Subject: M-I: Reply to Justin


Justin:
Louis objects that game theoretic explanations of the arms race, the cold
war, and various wars, etc. are not Marxust because if they focus on
nations as actors they ignore class. Well, Louis and I have an
unbridgeable divide about whether it matters whether explanations are
Marxist in some suitable sense and it's not worth rehashing that here. I
will say only, Duh? and so what? The issues is whether the explanations
are true. Now of course class, imperialism, etc. are also relevant, but
there can be no serious doubt that the sort of Hobbesian dynamics captured
more explicitly by game theory play a major and imporatnt role in
explaining various kinds of internatioanl conflict.

Louis: 
To invoke Hobbes simply confirms the reactionary drift of much of Justin's
AM. I will let Hobbes speak for himself:

"Hereby it is manifest that during the time men live without a common
power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is
called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man. For
war consisteth not in battle only, or the act of fighting, but in a
tract of time, wherein the will to contend by battle is sufficiently
known: and therefore the notion of time is to be considered in the
nature of war, as it is in the nature of weather. For as the nature of
foul weather lieth not in a shower or two of rain, but in an
inclination thereto of many days together: so the nature of war
consisteth not in actual fighting, but in the known disposition
thereto during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. All
other time is peace."

Unless men live with a "common power to keep them all in awe", they make
war. This is what Hobbes believed. And our resident AM'er Justin believes
that ideas such as this can explain WWI. You are dead wrong, Justin. When
Hobbes talks about "man", he ignores class. We, as Marxists, can not
ignore class. It has primacy. The bourgeoisie made war and it used force
and propaganda to prosecute it. Those who opposed the war like Eugene V.
Debs were jailed. The workers did not put pressure on the bourgeoisie to
make war as a result of nationalist passions. Is that what you believe? Do
you believe that the violent and bestial nature of working people explains
the outbreak of war? I heard this sort of bullshit explanation in grade
school. Surely you don't believe this sort of thing. Well, perhaps you do.


Justin:
Louis is not interested in various bald assertions--I note that he adopts
the royal "we," or maybe he thinks he speaks fora ll of you, or for
Marxists in general, or something like that--about how game theory might
apply to difficulties in coalition building. If he coulkd stop and think
for a moment instead of vomiting bile every time he sees a post by me he
would see that a sketch of the analysis was alreadt provided: feminism is
a public good for women just as socialism is for workers, and creating it
involves the same public goods problems. 

Louis:  
Vomiting bile? Oh, stop squealing like a stuck piglet, Justin. I
simply demanded that you explain yourself fully instead of using
half-baked ideas. You still are not making yourself clear and I thought
AM'ers believed in clarity like Catholics believe in the immaculate
conception.  "Feminism is a public good for women just as socialism is for
workers, and creating it involves the same public goods problems." This
sentence is just muddled phrase-mongering. You have yet to define what a
"public goods problem" is.

Let me formulate a Marxist framework for the problem of feminism.
Feminists such as Judith Butler deny that Marxism can provide meaningful
answers for the oppression of women. Sectarians and economic determinists
representing themselves as Marxists have been hostile to feminism from the
very beginning because they argue that it "divides the working class."
Marxist feminists such as Teresa Ebert argue for a synthesis of class and
gender. Now what in the world are you babbling about when you refer to
public goods? Some kind of game in the Roemerian mold? You should give
your typing fingers a rest and let your brain carry the load for a while.


Justin:
Louis characateristically misreads my application of this sort of analysis
to the breakup of the USSR into its constitutent republics as an account
of the economic collapse of the USSR. He knows and loathes my own analysis
of that collapse,w hich is is in different nonmArxist terms, namely
Haekian ones--incidentally, Louis, Hayek and Mises hated game theory as an
ahistorical abstraction that ignored real social relations. Does that make
you like them better or like game theory better?

Louis:
You are losing it, Justin. The above paragraph is incoherent, to put it
mildly.

Justin:
Louis knwows alla bout my personal situation and knows that if I were
properly motivated I could find the time to learn all about everything. I
should hire him as a personal efficiency expert to see where I could get
more hours in the day. In the meantime, he's right that I do love abstract
argument and that's why I went into philosophy; it's also a lot of what I
love about law. So, I plead guilty. What's the sentence, judge? 

Louis:
What is it that drives people to get persecution complexes when they run
into some sharp criticism? I have no idea what Justin expects to hear when
he mounts a frontal assault on classical Marxism on a list that is a pole
of attraction for classical Marxists. My only suggestion is that you do a
better job of organizing your thoughts and presenting them. Is it
necessary to answer everything I say? As I told you, I wasn't even
interested in a debate with you. I simply wanted to take a whack at
Elster, Cohen and Roemer. I would have done so even if you weren't on the
list or had ever been born.

Meanwhile, you are somebody who has identified with this school for more
than a decade. But you can't muster the effort to write a coherent defense
of your ideas. You simply offer counter-argument to my own posts. Why
don't you give up on the idea of using 3 posts a day to rebut me. Take a
week or so and put together an elegantly reasoned and logically tight
defense of AM. Run it through a spell-checker and grammar-checker, by the
way. The stuff you are writing now is an embarrassment to the English
language and your reputation as a serious Marxist thinker. You are on thin
enough ice with respect to the latter as it is.



Louis Proyect
(www.columbia.edu/~lnp3)



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