(OPE-L) thread dynamics

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Sat Jan 31 2004 - 08:25:29 EST

(was "s/v & c/v: macroeconomic categories only?" which was
...[see below])

Cyrus wrote:

> It is indeed unproductive and unfair to change the focus from the
> specific question of appropriation of surplus profits in terms of
> differential oil rents in the oil industry.

It is common practice and normal for the focus of threads to
gravitate in different directions as a discussion continues.  Rather
than attempting to "sidetrack" a discussion, the cause normally
is simpler:  other listmembers react to a portion of what has been
written and ask questions or make comments about what they
are interested in.

To see how this works, let's consider the evolution of the current
thread on oil.  If you re-examine the post "unanswered questions
about rent", sent by Mike L on 1/1, you will see that his questions were an
outgrowth of *both* an old thread from last April, 2003 titled
"Cyrus Bina on Differential Oil Rates"  (which developed out of
our discussions about the causes of the war against Iraq) *and*
a response to what Rakesh had written recently on the list
about rent and your writings on that subject.   What Rakesh wrote
on rent, that Mike L was reacting to, was in the context of
our discussion on *Venezuela* and the Chavez government.  And,
the discussion about Venezuela itself evolved out of a thread
titled "Paresh Chattopadhyay 'Capital, The Progenitor of Socialism".

As for the thread "s/v & c/v: macroeconomic categories only?",
if you go back to the first post with that subject line -- which I
authored -- you will see that it was not only a response to something
that had come up in our exchanges about rent, but it was *also*
a response to something that Simon wrote on 1/6 ... and that was
in a thread on "Labor aristocracy" which eventually shifted focus to an
exchange about the comparative rates of surplus value in the USA
and Mexico and also evolved into "The Church-Turing thesis".

If you or others wish to stick to one topic, then there is an 'easy'
way to do that:  in a comradely way, just tell others that for now
you'd like to stick to a particular topic.  Fred, for instance -- who
focuses like a laser light on a particular issue -- has done that many
times.  (Another alternative, that is being considered, is to have
an on-list *seminar* on a particular subject.)

If we are having a hard time getting more members involved in
the threads on oil and rent, then the most likely explanation is
simply that we don't have a lot of members who are knowledgeable
about those subjects.  That is unfortunate (and perhaps a
consequence of the focus by most listmembers and most other Marxian
theorists on *macroeconomics* rather than industry and regional
class analysis studies), but a reality.  If there are other Marxists
out there -- especially ones who don't reject value theory -- who
are knowledgeable about that subject, then perhaps we could
consider (off-list) adding them.  In any event,  while I have a
strong research interest in industrial organization, I am not an
authority on the international oil industry.  I don't know of
anyone on the list -- other than yourself -- who is.  I can see
how you might find this frustrating and disappointing, but it is
not "unfair".

In solidarity, Jerry

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Mon Feb 02 2004 - 00:00:02 EST