Re: (OPE-L) thread dynamics

From: Cyrus Bina (binac@MRS.UMN.EDU)
Date: Sat Jan 31 2004 - 20:03:16 EST

Dear Jerry,

As you know (given our brief, yet remarkably productive, meeting last year
in NYC), I am gasping for time and thus unable to focus adequately on the
valuable and illuminating exchanges that are often taking place on OPE-L.
Therefore, I am pleased that you have put me in the context of the
progression of discussions that have eventually ended up with the question
of oil and rent.  Again, not being aware of the interests of other
contributing members of this virtual community, the lack of systematic
follow-up (and, perhaps, ignorance) of all exchanges is a weakness that I
could not remedy so far.  This, of course, stems from the fact that I do not
have enough time to read all the postings, cover to cover.  Therefore, I
sincerely apologize for my usage of word, 'unfair.'  I did not use it
strictly in a judicial sense, but in its loose colloquial connotation.  At
any rate, from now on, I will try to revise my own expectations and keep my
figures crossed for further comments from interested interesting colleagues
on OPE-L.  Finally, regardless of all this, your leading participation in
this community (i.e., OPE-L)--and your sheer energy and enthusiasm--is more
than remarkable.  I, for one, am grateful to you for your artful task of
community building.

Thanks for putting me in the context and offering me a *cold* glass of

Warm regards,


----- Original Message -----
From: "gerald_a_levy" <>
Sent: Saturday, January 31, 2004 7:25 AM
Subject: (OPE-L) thread dynamics

> (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
> 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

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