File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/marxism-international.9710, message 438

Date: 	Tue, 21 Oct 1997 19:38:55 -0800
Subject: Re: M-I: Re: Free Speech

I want to comment on a few things here:

1. I agree that all present suspensions should be removed.

The most important reason for suspension remains willing and continuous
violation of the three post a day limit. This has not been an issue with
Jerry, Dave, and Hugh. I think if Fred posts 6 times a day after already
having been warned, I think he should not be able to post the next day and
get a one day penalty (not a one week suspension). If someone posts twelve
times a day, then she should receive a three day suspension (for the 9
extra posts), plus three more days as a penalty--an overall six day

Living in a post Sokalian age, I am never sure whether these suspensions
have been contrived in order to force a debate about free speech, so I
don't get involved, especially when others are giving me so much else to
think about.

2. Now about Doug and Sweezy: Let's keep Jerry's eminence as a Marxist out
of it (though if people remember his posts from a happier time, as Chris B
once put it, it is clear that he is a very gifted expositor of complex
problems in Marxian theory). Sweezy's relationship to Marxism has been
debated many times, over questions such as the following:

--the role of use value in Marx's theory
--the theorization of value as an equilibrium mechanism for the
*distribution* of social labor, instead of as the foundation of a critique
of inherent disequilibrium and of a determinate mode of production.
--the power of the Ricardian Bortkiwiecian criticism of the transformation
--the replacement of surplus by surplus value, replacement of the falling
profit rate with the idea of a rising surplus
--the nature of competition
--the promulgation of an underconsumptionist theory of crisis, which even
led Schumpeter to suggest that Sweezy was making a Keynesian out of Marx
--the confusion of levels of abstraction from capital in general to many
capitals (especially important to understand the importance of monopoly
capital which is form of market structure to be analyzed a lower level of
--the nature of state spending
--the socialist nature of Stalinist regimes

No doubt, Sweezy has a very able defender in John Bellamy Foster, but the
critics are no less formidable: Roman Rosdolsky, James F Becker, Ernest
Mandel, David Yaffe, Mario Cogoy, Tom Kemp, John Weeks, Moishe Postone,
Guglielmo Carchedi, and Paul Mattick.

Perhaps the best thing to do would be to revisit the Sweezy/Cogoy debate
from the early 70s' it has been translated in the International Journal of
Political Economy in 1987.

3. This said, I think James H is correct to emphasize how much can be
learned from Doug's rich, lucid and painstakingly researched book. I
haven't read it all the way through, but keep on going to chapters and
sections. Once I write my diss, I would like to compare his analysis to
Werner Bonefeld's critique of monetarism (in Open Marxism), to Andrew
Leyshon and Nigel Thrift's Money and Space, Suzanne deBrunhoff (especially
to think about Doug's ideas about the state and crisis). I think Doug is
absolutely correct to argue that many criticisms of his book have been
based on caricature; this is not to say that a Marxian criticism could not
be developed of Doug's arguments, but this will take considerable skill and

4. I did not read Jim B's recent Science and Society essay until today. I
think the whole debate between Jim B and John Willoubhy is several steps
back from where Grossmann left it in 1929--there was not even a reference
to this seminal text in Willoughby's original Science and Society article.
Over a year ago, I typed out  pages of Grossmann's student William J
Blake's interpretation of Lenin's imperialism from 1948 (all from an
unpublished mss). I sent it out in July of 1995, I believe, to Marxism 2;
if anyone saved it, please send it.

At this point, it seems to me that Jim B's struggle against economism is
really only against Marx's doctrine of proletarian exceptionalism. Arguing
that that struggle must develop in a non-economistic fashion is quite
different from championing a putatively independent national bourgeoisie in
the dominated countries. Now it is true that Lenin did argue that the
absense of a classically defined proletariat in the colonies did not make
revolts there any less revolutionary.

But even if we grant the possibility of revolutionary multi-class
movements, that is a far cry from defending any multi-class coalition or
any peasant led movement as a nationalist blow to world capitalism, and I
don't see any method for the analysis of such particular coalitions in Jim
B's work, which retains all the confusions of Mao's New Democracy strategy
(it is Mao's Critique of Soviet Economics that is the more important work,
I believe--see for example the reflections on it by Alfred Sohn Rethel or
Derek Sayer, though Monika Redfelder's criticism in Phil Slater, ed.
Outlines of a Critique of Technology seems pretty decisive to me).   But
since my Ph.D. work is in economics as Jim seems to think--which would make
my  brother cry with laughter--I am obviously unaware of his in-depth
political analyses of the nature of the class compromises he is defending
as national liberation.

At any rate, Jim B, that was one helluva abusive message


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