SV: [OPE] Marta Harnecker's Ideas

From: Anders Ekeland <>
Date: Mon Dec 07 2009 - 03:13:56 EST

Hi Jerry,

I do not think your comments are relevant. In a discussion of what socialism is - the Soviet experience (Chinese, Cuban, Yugoslavia etc. etc.) are relevant.

I have never asked MH to write three volumes, neither Lenin nor Sraffa. But for me Lenin is attacking the controversial issues with full intellectual force. He relates to other people's opinions and theories - very directly.

Sraffa does not. Like MH he does not place himself in the theoretical landscape and writes a book that has a very limited use, but without making those limitations - as he saw them - clear to the readers. (Read Ajit Sinha's article in CEJ recently - did Sraffa think that the notion of "centers of gravitation" was untenable, did Smith go for const. ret. to scale - or increasing, cfr. Sraffa's 1926 article). A ten page intro, an afterword woth an outline of theoretical consequences would have reduced the amount of discussion about what Sraffa meant, what the PCBMC implies. Not that Sraffa's words would decide the issues, but it would have created a better framework for the debate. Clarity not introvert obscurity should be an objective in scientific prose.

But since I have engaged myself in this debate, because the question of leadership, of building democratic and creative revolutionary organisations have been an important issue for me (it is an important issue for all of us) - I promise to read MH closely and return with some comments before X-mas.

Because even on the way to abstract leve she operates I do not think her ideas are up to the task she has given herself.


> From: GERALD LEVY []
> Sent: 2009-12-07 03:47:52 CET
> To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list []
> Subject: RE: [OPE] Marta Harnecker's Ideas
> > Historical experience - very indirectly - and that's the problem. Any
> > discussion of the ban on factions in the Bolshevik party? Not a word.
> > How can you use/discuss the concept of democratic centralism without
> > relating it to the existence in the Bolshevik faction (1903-1018)
> > later in the Bolshevik party (1918 - 1921).
> <LOL>
> Anders:
> You remind me of many conversations which I had with
> anarchists back in the 1970s who, whenever socialism
> was discussed, insisted on raising the topic of the
> Kronstadt rebellion.
> Although I have worked with many anarchists in the
> period from 1990 to the present day, I can never
> think of a single instance in which when discussing
> something akin to "ideas for struggle" the subject of
> Kronstadt came up. And why should it? We can go
> over ad nauseum our interpretations of past political
> struggles or we can map out a strategy forward
> which takes into account *in a general way*
> historical experiences. Had Harnecker gone into an
> in-depth discussion of debates among the Bolsheviks
> I would have put her article down and forgotten about it.
> Had she done what you ask then it would never have
> had the capacity of making an impact on current
> struggles because workers and communities in struggle
> would have dismissed it with a yawn.
> There are parallels in political economy: had Sraffa's
> _PCBMC_ been 900 pages long , do you think it would have
> had more of an impact? I think not. Would Lenin's
> _Imperialism_ have had more of an impact if it was 3
> volumes long and was a similar size as _Capital_? I think
> not. Lenin understood well the advantages of a "popular
> outline". So should we. This is not to say that extensive
> historical analyses don't have a place. They do. But, it's
> a matter of different horses for different courses. I
> think Harnecker chose the right horse for the course that
> she wanted to follow. Whether there are failings with
> her paper is an open question but what you suggest as
> a failing is rather a failing on your part to appreciate
> the intended purpose of the article, imo.
> In solidarity, Jerry _______________________________________________
> ope mailing list

ope mailing list
Received on Mon Dec 7 03:17:02 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Thu Dec 31 2009 - 00:00:02 EST