[OPE-L:819] Re: Aggression: two qestions and a proposal

Alan Freeman (100042.617@compuserve.com)
Sat, 20 Jan 1996 05:04:13 -0800

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I sent this by error direct to Gil without CC-ing to OPE. Apologies.

Gil Skillman writes [OPE 799] citing Alan Freeman [OPE 779]
"Consider for example the points which Gil and Steve have been
making. The argument about exchange and equivalence was first
made seventeen years ago by Cutler, Hindess, Hirst and Hussain.
I come across it every five years; it was wrong then, it is
wrong now, and it is easily disposed of as Paul C has shown."

Gil replies:

I believe that these remarks are inappropriately dismissive ...
there is an implicit assumption in his post that certain
theoretical fundamentals have already been established beyond
question, rendering further ground-laying efforts at best

My mouse should eat my keyboard if I ever imply such a thing
again. That's fair comment. I retract. But I shall cheat, and
retract in a churlish manner, and make a point, too.

Gil goes on to say:
...suppose that I were now to announce that the OPE-L debate
concerning the connection between "equivalence" and "equality"
has clearly been resolved in my favor, even though the debate
has not yet ended. Wouldn't this announcement necessarily be
taken as presumptious and perhaps a bit arrogant?

I know you wouldn't say such a thing. But what you did say on
12 December in OPE 710 was:
The problem here is that both Marx and Aristotle are wrong,
having committed a fundamental logical error (or rather,
Aristotle committed the error and Marx followed him).

Am I allowed to say "The problem is that both Hindess and
Skillman are wrong, having committed a fundamental logical
error (or rather, Hindess committed the error and Skillman
followed him)"?

Under attack... if Marx is attacked in categorical terms then
is it surprising this attracts categorical responses?

I propose a relation of exchange-equivalence: when I write
something about Gil, I will first try the word 'Marx' in place
of 'Gil' and revise it if it sounds dismissive or settles
disputed questions ex ante; and when you write something about
Marx, you try 'Gil' in its place and apply the same test.

And I promise not to say anything ad hominem, on condition
someone tells me what it means.


I also can't resist saying that this exchange could be another
casualty of 'identifying the gaps in Marx'. I can also take the
chance, since my objections could be read as laying sole blame
at Jerry's door, to gently point out that such an approach
seems widespread and acceptable 'common sense' in US academia
and it might a good general idea to reconsider and reflect on this.

It mystifies me. I'd like to know where this comes from,
putting up new edifices by looking for holes and filling them
in. Is it a Manhattan thing? Most people who want to put up new
edifices look for a solid foundation on new ground. When people look
for holes as the basis of a construction over here, it's usually a

I'm against identifying the gaps in *anyone* as a method of
advancing. I would rather take one positive contribution in
a sea of a hundred duds, than waste breath on the duds. Indeed,
you *need* duds if you are advancing, to get to the good bits.
I don't think, if you look back on what I've said, that I have
attacked a single *positive* contribution that anyone has made.
Negation begets negation. If Marx is attacked, it may attract
ripostes of equivalent - or even equal - tone .

PS Nothing in the above is meant to imply that Alan is
presumptious or arrogant. Having met him, I know otherwise

However, I can get bloody irritable... Also, sometimes it is
more fun slagging people off, especially when you know they are
generous enough to take it.