File spoon-archives/marxism2.archive/marxism2_1996/96-04-30.191, message 106

Date: Wed, 24 Apr 1996 15:32:32 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: histoire du marxisme

Jorn distinguishes between Marxists who have made contrubutions to the
special disciplines, perhaps very important in those disciplines or for
generally scholarly research, and those who have made contributions to
Marxist theory that has had more imme3diate use in advancing the Marxist
goal of proletarian revolution. Thus in the former we might place Bernal
(in history of science), in the latter, to take an instance onw hich we
obviously agree, though he's only marginally in Ralph's 1930-60 period,
Gramsci. This is a fair distinction. I wouldn't classify the former sort
as minor, except for the purposes of the latter. Of course the latter may
be minor for the purposes of the former too. Jorn might say, citing Thesis
11, that the latter, changing the world, is the point. Fair enough, but we
need to interpret the world in order to change it (as well as vice versa),
and it's the ability of Marxism to contribute on all fro9nts that helps
make us confident of its general correctness on the practical one.

Jorn and I will just have to disagree about the contributions of theorists
who operated in the context of Stalinism. Some of them, both dissident,
and other, were scientists, not ideologues. I can't believe I forget to
mention the Soviet economist Kantorovich, the inventor of lenear
programming. If the the planned economt Jorn wants ever has a ghost of a
chance of working, it will be in no small part because of Kantorovich's
work. As to the E. European market socialists, well, we've ytalked about
that. Jorn rejects their work as counterevolutionary socilaism-from-above
because he cannot imagine that workers in power would even tolerate a hint
of market relations. I disagree, so leave it that.

I don't want to hget into a discussion of Cliff. Jorn says the great thing
about Cliff is that his theory allowed the IS tendency to stake out a
neither Washington nor Moscow position. Of course there were other routres
to that path, including variations on the bureaucratic collectivism line.I
think, though, taht the problem with the state cap theory is not with what
it allows but with its suibstantive content. It requires that we accept
that capitalism can exist with neither market relations nor private
ownership of the productive assets. That's too many for me, as Huck Finn
would say. Given that we need not accept these premises to get the result
Jorn wants, namely that Stalinism was unworthy of our support, and snce
the premises are unacceptable, they should not be accepted.


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