[OPE-L:5080] Re: Antonio Negri

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Mon, 19 May 1997 20:48:02 -0700 (PDT)

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Seongjin: thank you for your very kind, but I fear undeserved, remarks in

> Recently, Negri related Autonomist Marxism has become a fashinabloe trend
> among distressed left intellectuals in Korea after the Althusserian and
> Postmodern fashion receded.
> I never thought Negri related Autonomist marxism follows the classical
> Marxist tradition, and I doubt their interpretation of Marxian political
> economy is correct one.
> As I feel it necessary to respond to these another intellecual fashion, I
> seek help to you.

My initial suggestion would be for you to approach those autonomists in a
comradely way and _ask_ them why they prefer "Open Marxism" to what you
call the "classical Marxist tradition." Another way of doing this would be
to join the aut-op-sy list and pose just that question.

I agree that autonomist Marxism is becoming more popular, and not just in
Korea. Some attributes that make this current particularly appealing to
many are its anti-authoritarianism (which has led to a very interesting
practical political alliance with "class struggle anarchists" in a number
of European countries, most notably in the "social centers" in Italy), the
concept and practice of self-empowerment and independent organizing (or
what Toni Negri and Harry Cleever might call "auto-valorization"),
anti-Stalinism (and anti-Bolshevism as well, especially re the "Leninist"
conception of the vanguard party), active participation in the
struggles of "new social subjects" and international solidarity work (most
notably, in regard to supporting the Zapatistas), and rejection of what
they view as the dogmatism of "Marxist orthodoxy."

Much of the above perspectives the Open Marxists share with the "Council
Communists." Indeed, Paul Mattick Jr., a former listmember, is a member of
aut-op-sy. I find this to be particularly interesting since, in many ways,
the theoretical perspectives on political economy of Mattick (Sr.) and
others influenced by Mattick (e.g. our own Fred and John -- not to
mention Rakesh) differ *sharply* from the interpretations of Negri and
Cleever (and Massimo). In other words, what I find most curious is how two
very different traditions in political economy (one influenced by
Grossmann and Rosdolsky, for instance; and the other influenced by the
Frankfurt school and others) can still share a general political
perspective. I suspect that, as a Trotskyist, you might find much that you
would both agree with and disagree with regarding these perspectives.

> I would like to ask you more after proceeding my work.

Of course -- I would be more than willing to give you some input as you
proceed. But, and this is the point I want to stress, I think you would be
well advised to engage in an open-minded dialogue with the autonomists
rather than viewing their perspective as a "fashionable trend among
distressed left intellectuals."

In solidarity, Jerry