Re: (OPE-L) Re: Paresh Chattopadhyay 'Capital, The Progenitor of Socialism'

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Sun Dec 21 2003 - 10:04:38 EST

At 12:58 20/12/2003, jerry responded to my question:

> > Seriously, what would you
> > call someone who, if Cuba's project were to collapse, might say Marx had
> > the last laugh or who might argue against accelerating the process in
> > Venezuela because, in the absence of the fully developed capitalist mode
> > of  production, all attempts at exploding the society would be Don
> > Quixotism?
>Hi Mike L.
>There are those who have taken this, or similar, positions from both
>the Right and the Left.  I certainly don't think that critics of the
>Bolshevik leadership, such as Luxemburg or Kollantai, were
>conservative. However ...

I think Paul Bullock accurately described Paresh's position as 'implicitly
deterministic'; I don't think of Luxemburg and Kollontai as criticising the
Bolsheviks from this perspective.

>I suppose one could claim that Martov and the Mensheviks were
>'conservative' -- but _only_ in relation to the Bolsheviks and other
>political formations to the Left of the Mensheviks. Similarly, one
>could claim that Lenin and Trotsky were 'conservative' _in relation
>to_ Kollantai and the Workers' Opposition.  This does not imply
>support or opposition on my part for either Lenin or Kollantai
>because labeling someone a 'conservative' _in the above sense_
>is not necessarily a criticism.   However, it is misleading to call
>either Lenin or Kollantai (or Castro or Chavez or Chattopadhyay)
>a conservative because this term  is _also_ a political designation
>which is used synonymously with 'reactionary'.    Bush is a reactionary;
>Paresh is _not_!

Please, Jerry, I didn't call Paresh a reactionary (and I certainly don't
know how the others were thrown in--- given that Paresh would presumably be
critical of them all!). As it happens, I have known Paresh for a long time
and have very much respect for his scholarship. (We share, I still think,
an understanding of Marx's conception of the society of free and associated
producers--- see, eg., our quite complementary essays in Alfredo's fine
collection, 'Anti-Capitalism'.) However, I am quite unhappy about the
direction that Paresh has taken about how one constructs that new society
and what is to be done... and in using Marx to support that direction.
Paresh knows that many people would not be happy with the position in the
paper he submitted for the Marx Conference.

>So,  what would I call Paresh?  I would say that Paresh is a
>Marxist and a revolutionary who I have significant political and
>theoretical differences with.  To call him a conservative is, at
>best,  misleading and gets in the way of having a potentially meaningful
>dialogue on the issues.

What in the paper that Rakesh circulated and the abstract that I sent leads
you to view Paresh as a revolutionary?
         in solidarity,

Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Office Fax:   (604) 291-5944
Home:   Phone (604) 689-9510

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