[OPE-L] Marx V. Kliman: Contrasting Prefaces and Aims

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Mon Sep 10 2007 - 14:53:48 EDT

Hi Jerry,

I can understand your point of view. As for myself, I am not
"anti-authoritarian" and have never really been that, although probably like
most people I don't like arbitrary "authoritarianisms". I do very much
respect authority, if it is real authority, i.e. based on recognizable
ability, competence and experience. I think that's just part of a civil
life. It is obviously more difficult to respect authority, if it's just
somebody pretending to be an authority when they're not, and I find it
difficult to be "in reverence" of an authority. Some writings or actions are
also definitely authorative, insofar as they contain a lot of thought and
experience about a topic. But if you are a free being, you also have to be
able to question authority - this helps avoid problems of dogmatism - and
not make more of it, than is due to it.

I've had the experience of being in the middle of a demonstration and really
feeling quite isolated, insofar as my own thinking was quite different from
most of the demonstrators. I broadly agreed with what was happening,
otherwise I wouldn't have been there, but I had quite a different
perspective on it. Political participation is a funny thing in my
experience, because you might be in the thick of it and learn very little,
or far removed from it and learn a lot, i.e. there is no guarantees, that
simply doing some recognizable political activity by itself gets better
answers. Basically my experience is that you always have to be able to
distinguish between the political rhetorics, and what's really happening.

As I said, the label "Marxist" doesn't make much sense to me, though I do
accept what Marx & Engels styled the "materialist approach to human
history", i.e. I reject mumbo-jumbo explanations of human life. There are
some fine Marxists who really make the idea come to life, through research
into specific, substantive problems or through a political engagement, but
there is also a lot of rhetorics, and I am not very interested in all that
(well, I've been accused of rhetorics too by people who wanted to see real
meat I wasn't in a shape to provide at the time). I'd regard myself as a
socialist though, I was that way already before I knew what it was, even so,
I don't even think that is very important, except to myself. In fact, often
it's more of a problem to me, than an answer, i.e. I am often thinking, how
would I do things differently, or how would I do things better, from the
point of view I have? Insofar as the answers ain't easy, or I have no
opportunity for an alternative, I often think more about different aspects
of things, than I can solve. Ultimately, the way I make my life is obviously
my own answer. Sometimes that seems a surreal joke, I am miles away from
where I'd like to be, at other times it's very rewarding! I don't regret my
Marxian studies for a minute though, it provided just so much insight, and
stimulated me to delve into things. It's just that I am not very
"doctrinally" inclined, and I find no security in doctrines, at best they
are more a pedagogical device to eludicate a train of thought. Maybe things
would be different, if I was more political or managerial.


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