[OPE-L:7173] Re: Re: fundamentalism

From: dashyaf@easynet.co.uk
Date: Wed May 15 2002 - 10:26:14 EDT


Fine and Harris joined the main debate fundamentally after it was over and 
the divisions between the so-called fundamentalists and neo-Ricardians were 
such that further discussion of the issues was pointless.  I regarded their 
criticism's as fundamentally dishonest and saw no purpose in responding to 
them. Their discussion of our view of inflation is typically full of 
unsubstantiated assertions. They really did not understand our correction 
of our earlier view on luxury production, which they still argued was 
produced by unproductive labour etc. As far as the work published in 
November 1976 in Revolutionary Communist 5   on Women's Oppression under 
Capitalism by four women comrades in the RCG, which through an analysis of 
domestic labour under capitalism showed why capitalism could  never fully 
socialise domestic work, it was never  taken up by academic Marxists at the 
time. Perhaps one day someone will look at it again.  I didn't  read Fine's 
position in the 1992 book so I have no idea whether he discussed it. For 
myself I believe Marxism has to be put to the service of a new 
revolutionary movement and there is little point in forever going over the 
old debates for the sake of it. As Paul B so rightly said

'we were working to apply Marx's theory to the contemporary scene without 
qualifying the explanations given in Marx's Capital.'

We are still attempting to do that while developing our understanding of 
capitalism/imperialism today. The point is to change the world.

Just in passing in relation to my latest work, Fine dismissed Lenin's 
position on the labour aristocracy in a recent paper 'Globalisation and 
Development' (preliminary draft 2002) in the same cavalier way that he 
dismissed our arguments in the earlier book. This is typical Ben Fine:

'Lenin complemented his study of imperialism with an analysis of the labour 
aristocracy. In crude form, this suggested both that the worker's of the 
imperialist powers benefited from the poverty of the colonies and that they 
were stratified themselves and betrayed by their economistic trade union 

Such propositions simply do not stand up to close scrutiny. It is much more 
appropriate to understand the labour aristocracy as a metaphor. For, what 
Lenin sought to explain and to criticise was the failure of the working 
class movements to progress beyond supporting their own national 
governments in inter-imperialist wars and rivalry. Appeal to the labour 
aristocracy as decisive influence is little more that a crude, causal proxy 
- by appeal to vulgar self-interest and running roughshod over the 
complexity, diversity, composition and content of the working class 

How does one criticise a series of unsubstantiated assertions? Are serious 
standards of debate and discussion not necessary when applied to Lenin etc? 
One would never know that Lenin was building on the writings of Marx and 
Engels in the development of this 'crude, causal proxy' argument of  the 
labour aristocracy.

I had not intended to get involved in this issue re Fine and Harris until I 
looked  again at their 1979 book and remembered how they made their points 
against other serious positions. Nothing has changed for Fine given his 
latest contribution. What happened to Lawrence Harris?

David Yaffe

David YaffeAt 07:20 15/05/02 -0400, you wrote:
>Re Paul B's [7l6l]:
> > For my part I can only say this: F&H seemed to be using this term
> > 'Fundamentalists against us <snip, JL>
>That's what I thought.  Did David Y or yourself ever publish an answer
>to the claims in F&H's book?
>In solidarity, Jerry
>PS re domestic labor: in Fine's Appendix "Reviewing the domestic
>labour debate" in  _Women's Employment and the Capitalist Family_
>(Routledge, l992)  there is no reference to either David Y or yourself.

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