[OPE-L:5565] A.G. Frank on Ernest Mandel

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Thu, 2 Oct 1997 11:13:36 -0700 (PDT)

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 1995 21:56:51 -0400 (EDT)
To: agfrank@epas.utoronto.ca
Subject: Ernest Mandel

University of Amsterdam

96 Asquith Ave. Toronto, Ont. Canada M4W 1J8
Tel:416-972 0616 Fax:416-972 0017 & 978 3963
e-mail: agfrank@epas.utoronto.ca


We have lost not only a most humane human being, but the world's
greatest optimist. I don't know which is the greater loss, but
perhaps there was an intimate connection of humane optimism
and/or optimistic humanism; and, if so, the world's loss is
multiplied and all the greater. Not only shall we miss him; we
still NEED him!

My relation with Ernest was professional, political, and above
all personal. It began with his professional/political published
praise of my early work on Latin America and my request to him
for help with my work on dependence, to which he acceeded
logistically by receiving me in the Hague, taking me back to
Brussles in his car, and lodging me at his home in or about 1969.
Ernest later changed his mind about, and became ever more
critical of, dependence "theory" and my work; but our personal
relations continued to flourish.

Another professional tie was our interest in Kondratieffs in
general and the Kondratieff B phase world economic crisis of
accumulation since 1967, about which we both wrotre so much. [A
recent manifestation was the 1989 Brussels Kondratieff conference
he organized whose papers then appeared in a book edited by him,
Kleinknecht and Wallerstein. Another was our concern with whether
Kondratieff lower turning points are exogenous, as he maintained,
or possibly endogenous as I suggest, as eg. in our debate which
began between him and David Gordon in Boston in 1979 as
summarized and continued by the three of us in REVIEW 1994.

Also in 1979, we co-taught a summer school course on the world
economic crisis together at Boston University. As I have
recounted many times, Ernest and I agreed on everything with each
other [and very little with almost everybody else], and we
disagreed in class and in private on only two issues: Ernest said
the revolution is arond the corner in several countries, and I
said that it is not. I claimed that the same capitalist economic
law of value also operates in the "socialist" economies,
including the Soviet Union, which really exist as part and parcel
of the [capitalist] world economy; and Ernest Mandel denied the
same. On several occasions both before -- and all the more so
after -- 1989-91, I found it increasingly difficult to avoid
saying and writing to Ernest that "I told you so."

I also recall standing on a street corner with him in Brussles
waiting for his first wife Gisela to get some film she had left
for developing at a photo shop. Ernest asked me "don't you agree
that we Trotskyists do the best analysis of what is going on in
the world?" and I answered, yes I do. Well, "then you have to
also agree that we have the best political practice," Ernest
continued. NO, I answered, I do NOT agree; and I do not have to,
because what you say is a complete non-sequitur, which was born,
perhaps, more from his own great optimism and humanity than from
his analysis of the evidence, which has hardly supported his
aspiration. Even with all his humanism, I never understood how
Ernest Mandel maintained his inveterate optimism in the face of
all the evidence; and yet, the more the evidence comes in, the
more do we need his optimism and humanism -- as well as his
analysis -- to get out of it. So we shall miss him -- and
continue to need him.

Andre Gunder Frank