[OPE-L:6692] Re: Internal Discussion Document

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Date: Sat Mar 09 2002 - 15:27:54 EST

At 10:09 AM 3/8/2002 -0500, Alfredo wrote:
>Dear all,
>I have read with interest the document that Jerry mentioned earlier today.
>I think we owe much to Jerry for his tremendous effort over many years, 
>trying to build an open and inclusive forum for the discussion of Marxian 
>political and economic issues. I hope that the list will continue to exist 
>for many years to come in its current form.

Dear comrades,
         I agree completely with Alfredo. I think that Jerry has made an 
important contribution to Marxist scholarship by his maintenance of this 
list and, especially, his continuing efforts to raise questions, to goad 
lurkers into involvement, etc. (Having had the experience of a running a 
political list in Vancouver for a year, I know what that involves.) I 
think, though, there is more than a question of a contribution to 
scholarship; there is also the essential process of helping to create a 
         In contrast, I view the mindset revealed in Alan's letter to be 
representative of the old politics and precisely the opposite of what is 
necessary and desirable. (For me, it seems like more of the same behaviour 
that marked the disgraceful RRPE episode.--- Please note that my language, 
although not vetted by a lawyer, is carefully chosen.)  I'm sure it has 
nothing to do with any organised political tendency he or Andrew represent 
or with their specific theoretical emphasis, and I would guess their 
co-believers would be dismayed themselves. Personally, I find particularly 
repugnant Alan's triumphalist statement that Jerry 'is on the hook. His 
list is dying....'--- an observation which leads him to propose strategies 
('while we are on the offensive') because under these circumstances 'he 
can't really avoid us'. Us. Pretty comradely stuff, eh?
         Of particular concern, though, is the realisation that there are 
people out there who are viewing periods of inactivity and the 
non-involvement of lurkers on the list as victories! We're all 
over-extended (and I'm way behind in preparing a paper for a conference in 
Beijing right now), and  I don't think we should be moved by the fear of 
being seen as 'consorting with the enemy'; however, maybe it is worth our 
taking some time to help in building this community. (This should be 
understood as self-criticism.)
         One thread that has opened up recently is on imperialism, and one 
aspect that emerged was the question of the aristocracy of labour. While 
the paper I presented at the Globalisation  Conference in Havana last month 
is not on imperialism as such, there is an aspect of it that does relate to 
the question of an 'aristocracy of labour' that may be of interest. A 
passage from that paper reads as follows:

>Certainly, even outside the framework of capitalist relations as such, 
>there is the potential for considerable conflict. Whereas the poverty of 
>some producers reflects their lack of access to the productive forces 
>created historically by the collective worker, others have secured high 
>standards of living as the result of their privileged access to those 
>productive forces and their struggles to capture the fruits of the 
>resulting social productivity

         The problem, in short, is that there are inherent contradictions 
within the global working class in part as the result of the successes of 
organised workers in the developed capitalist countries. The solution is 
not, however, to level them downward (ie., to remove the 'aristocracy') via 
competition with low wage workers but to channel their resistance into 
support for the struggles of workers elsewhere and for real transfers of 
resources (ie., to level upward). Not always an easy matter (with racism 
and xenophobia always lurking), as I'm sure some comrades know, but 
something worth exploring when talking about imperialism. If anyone is 
interested in my paper, which explores the concept of a 'communist 
globalisation'  as a basis for critiquing capitalist globalisation, I can 
send it on. It's only 3000 words, and I thought about attaching it (after 
all these months of silence, it's not much on a daily basis!), but this 
would violate our usual practice.

         in solidarity,

Michael A. Lebowitz
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Office: Phone (604) 291-4669
         Fax   (604) 291-5944
Home:   Phone (604) 872-0494
         Fax   (604) 872-0485
Lasqueti Island: (250) 333-8810 

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