[OPE-L:2760] Re: More on abstract labor and Dunayevskaya

andrew kliman (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Tue, 30 Jul 1996 12:50:39 -0700 (PDT)

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I will again "accuse" Murray Smith of what he calls "dissemination of
misinformation," i.e., call attention to the fact that he has his information
wrong. To whit:

'..."The Invading Socialist Society" co-authored by C.L.R. James and Raya
Dunayevskaya whose pseudonyms respectively were Johnson and Stone).'

'..."Dunayevskaya's state-capitalist theory" (which ... was developed over a
period of many years, as both Andrew and I have acknowledged).' I didn't
"acknowledge" this. You attributed acknowledgement to me. I said her
critique of the Russian revision of the law of value was *subsequent* to her
*completion* of her analysis of Russia as a state-capitalist society, on the
basis of concepts and arguments other than the inextricable link between value
and capitalism (and therefore does not need to be "bolstered" by that

The only new point Murray makes is that his charge "formalist and
non-dialectical" was directed SOLELY against Dunayevskaya's view that value
and capitalism are inextricably linked, and NOT therefore also against her
state-capitalist theory, though the latter supposedly needed the former to
"bolster" it, and thus requires this "formalist and non-dialectical" argument.
Hmm. For the sake of argument, though, I'll accept this and respond to
the restated charge. Murray contends that capitalism and value are not
inextricably linked because (limited) production of values predated the
emergence of capitalism. Supposedly THIS is a non-formalist and dialectical
argument? Does Murray at all understand the difference in dialectical
philosophy between existence and Concept? With equal validity, he should
object to Marx's view that all history is the history of class struggles
merely because some "primitive" societies didn't have classes (only social
divisions that led to class differentiation) or that struggles take place
between parents and kids! Or object to the "teleological" concepts that birds
are animals that fly, because dead ones don't, or that chairs are objects one
sits on, because the one next to me is empty. Or to the view that
dialectical philosophy is integral to Marxism because some people who call
themselves Marxists and even chastise others for their formalist and
non-dialectical arguments don't know dialectics from dianetics.

As for my allegedly "vile piece of vituperation," I suppose Murray would
recommend this as a non-vile, non-vituperative model of reasonable, calm

'This is really a vile piece of vituperation directed, apparently, against
my own version of Marxist humanism and the theoretical positions
(including certain Trotskyist ones) that inform it. In the first place, it
equates, entirely illegitimately and irresponsibly, Trotsky's analysis of
the Soviet degenerated workers state (and the transitional social formation of
it was a part) with the defense of Stalinism. It thereby dishonours the
memory of all those Trotskyists whose last words before Stalin's firing
squads were "Long Live the Soviet Union, Long Live the World Socialist
revolution!" In the second place, it ignores the fact that there are no
guarantees of success associated with any attempted transition to socialism.
Guess what Andrew: Marxist socialist politics is a risky business! But
then so to is the complacent notion that the fight for socialism isn't
worth it. Tell that to the millions of people who die every year
from starvation or disease as a direct and indirect result of the
operations of world capitalism. Andrew's comments above are really an
argument for the abandonment of the struggle, apparently in favor of
endless ruminations on "the dialectic of the Absolute Idea."'

For the record, what he's responding to:
"I don't think there's anything authentic about a 'Marxist-humanism' that
would sacrifice in CAD fashion the lives of human beings to the juggernaut of
production for production's sake,
with, of course, the promise of a 'transition' to the realm of freedom, which,
however is not a 'sure thing,' and who knows how many generations will need to
be sacrificed before we get there?"

No mention of Trotsky, so no equating *Trotsky* with the defense of Stalinism,
especially since *he* never called himself a "Marxist-humanist.".

As for my dishonoring the valiant fighters against and victims of Stalinism,
the form of the argument is: "X held my theoretical position on A. X was
martyred for action B. You dishonor the memory of X by disagreeing with me
about C." I suppose this rubbish somehow advances the struggle? This time
I'm not accusing you of possible slander against Dunayevskaya, I'm accusing
you of outright slander against me.

As for the rest: no guarantees, riskiness, sure. But it is one thing to
assume these risks for oneself, and another to consign OTHERS to interminable
wage-slavery, dehumanization, degradation, immiseration, exploitation, and
domination with promises of pie in the sky after they and their children and
their grandchildren and ... have sacrificed their lives for the sake of
industrialization of the CAPITALIST type (domination of dead over living
labor, production for production's sake).

If this is the "fight for socialism," then you're right, I want absolutely no
part of it. I want Freedom Now!, FREELY associated labor immediately with the
revolution, and thereafter. As for my abandoning the struggle, I'll just say
that again, I am accusing you of outright slander, and that I will fight to
the death for new *human* relations NOW and against your "transition" and
"socialism," with every synapse of my brain and every muscle of my body, if
need be leaving this world as a martyr with the words, "Long Live the World
Socialist revolution!" on my lips (or other suitable remarks from the Purple
Prose of Murray Smith).

Irony of ironies! The man who started this whole thing by accusing
Dunayevskaya of being "formalist and non-dialectical" now not only wants to
back away from philosophical discussion, but he shows how little regard for
dialectical philosophy he has by characterizing philosophy OF REVOLUTION as
"endless ruminations on "the dialectic of the Absolute Idea" and insinuating
that it constitutes "abandonment of the struggle"! No, let's not discuss
philosophy of revolution; no need to work out the contradictions between
theory and practice of the new society by thinking through the problem, in
order to help work out a new kind of relation between theory and practice.
Let's just reproduce the divisions of thinkers and doers characteristic of all
CLASS society by following the dictates of the "vanguard" and hoping against
hope that despite the separation of ends and means, and a wealth of
accumulated experience, it will somehow get us, if not to "socialism," then at
least to the interminable purgatory of "transition" = statified property. So
let's forget about philosophy of revolution, and just use words like
"formalist" and "non-dialectical" as swear words against opponents without
knowing dialectics from dianetics.

I originally objected when Murray insinuated that Dunayevskaya didn't really
care about the intellectual merits or cogency of her state-capitalist theory,
but used what she could to justify a prior political position: "It is really
rather surprising that
so 'dialectical' a Marxist as Dunayevskaya could have authored such a
formalist and non-dialectical argument. But then 'program' often
determines theory more strongly than does 'method' -- and Dunayevskaya
was above all concerned to justify her break from Trotsky's 'defensist'
position toward the USSR." He now writes that "To say that Dunayevskaya was
all" concerned to justify her political perspective (which, in the
context, of the world Trotskyist movement of the time necessarily
involved justifying her break from Trotsky's position on the USSR) is
thus simply a statement that R.D. was, at the time, first and foremost
a revolutionary socialist and not an arm-chair theorist."

Yeah, right. Equivalent statements. Who do you think you're fooling? But
given the tone of the rest of Murray's comments, this reads like the
retraction and apology I was looking for.

I accept, Murray.


Andrew Kliman