[OPE-L:2797] CONCEPTION DAY: Part 4 : From Conception to Execution

glevy@pratt.ed (glevy@pratt.edu)
Tue, 6 Aug 1996 02:00:08 -0700 (PDT)

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Although the two Pauls wrote supportive posts on Sunday, I later
discovered that there was a screw-up with the "marxism-digest" and the
posts weren't included in the digest. This made it appear that no one had
supported the proposal. I was beginning to get *very* excited ... and

Additionally, it was dawning on me that I couldn't have picked a worse
time of year to make this proposal since many of the people who might be
interested were still on summer vacation.

On Monday (8/7), however, I received good news on several fronts.

First: John, an old friend from the New School and other struggles,

Second: I enlisted Michael P. He was the first person that I sent out a
special invitation to and he responded quickly and with a characteristically
long message:

"Yes, I would like to collaborate."

Third: Rakesh volunteered and wrote a supportive post to the marxism list
in which he said in part:

"I would like to be one of Jerry's kids in this project to outline
Capital and isolate and discuss outstanding issues."

Things were looking up!

While all of this was going on, there were a couple of lively threads
developing on the marxism list that related to the project. One such
thread was the "Value and wages" one that I had started on Sunday morning.
There was a lively exchange of posts by Steve K (who was called "Captain
Ahab" at the time on the marxism list), John, and myself over the issue of
the distinction between the value of labor power and wages as well as
whether Marx held to a subsistence theory of wages. Another thread
began with a post by Rakesh called "p.e. project/finance capital" and
was retitled "I'm interested in interest theory". In the days that
followed, Paul C, Jim Devine, Steve K, Michael P, myself and others wrote
posts on that thread. The nature of the proposal, and especially what I
meant by the term "outline", was discussed in both threads. Interestingly,
I don't think we've yet discussed the issues that Paul C raised regarding
the determination of the interest rate on OPE-L. [I am not forwarding the
above posts in order to keep the byte count down. If anyone is interested
in receiving copies, I can forward them to you].

On Tuesday, I enlisted Gil's support. Gil was a bit apprehensive at first
in the sense that he was not sure how he would fit into the project. I
assured him that his presence was most welcome (at least by me!) and I
think he has proven to be an important part of the project.

On Wednesday (8/9), there were a number of important developments.

First: I re-sent my proposal, along with some introductory comments, to

Second (and shortly afterwards): Jim Devine volunteered. [After sending me
a private message, Jim sent a post, [PEN-L:125], with the subject line
"comment." It said:

"'what a long, strange trip it's been'.
- J. Garcia, recently deceased."

I thought that it was a commentary on the proposal, but it turned out to
be a comment on the death of Garcia!].

Third: Paul C made a proposal to our group:

"I suggest that we will need a list or list server to deal with this
outline project. I now have a clearer idea of what Jerry means by
an outline."

Others agreed with Paul's suggestion. Shortly afterwards, Paul sent us
the 1977 document reproduced in Part 5 of this series.

On the 10th, I left for two weeks vacation in Connecticut. Rakesh was left
in charge of answering messages about the project in my absence. At this
time we anticipated a start-up date of 9/1 and later revised that to 9/15.
Oddly, the whole time I was in CT, I was about 10 miles away from Gil's
home but neither of us realized that at the time.

Of course, I spent a lot of time wondering and worrying about what was
happening with the project while I was away for two weeks. When I
returned, I found a message from Mike L, dated 8/11, volunteering. On
8/27 Mike wrote in a private message to me:

"The more I think about the project, the more excited I get."

With those words Mike won himself into my heart and we have developed a
good friendship since. Mike: could you tell others on the list why you
were excited by the project then (and hopefully, now)?

On 8/26. Iwao joined our group. Iwao had recently joined the marxism
list. And on 8/30, Paul Burkett (who had been contacted by Mike L)
volunteered. Paul B was the first person that I remember who used the
expression "extending Marx group" to refer to our project.

On August 6, the project was an idea. On September 5, we had a list --
thanks to the efforts of Michael P and Philip Chao, the server manager at
California State University. The new list was called OPE-L. It stands for
"Outline in Political Economy." The name was also chosen for another, odd
reason that I explained in a message to Michael P :

"For this project to work we will need OPE (a bad pun, I know).

The founding members of OPE-L thus included Rakesh, Paul B, Paul C, Jim D,
John, Iwao, Mike L, Michael P, Gil, Paul Z, and myself. To all of the
"founders" I offer my special thanks. You were the ones who took an idea
and helped to make it a reality.


Just for the record: I still think that the original idea for the project
remains valid and that we can generate an outline (or outlines). Perhaps
we could attempt a thread on that topic or, if people prefer, a sub-group
could use EM-L or CAP-L to begin the listing process. I would be
particularly interested in knowing whether others are interested in
pursuing that subject sometime soon or whether it is misguided, etc. (in

In OPE-L Solidarity,


PS: I'll be leaving again for two weeks in CT starting Thursday, 8/8.