RE: Suggested rules of the game(1): intro

Michael Williams (Michael@MWILLIAM.U-NET.COM)
Sat, 7 Feb 1998 17:52:27 +0000

Andrew wrote:
> I have never claimed that "it is possible to read Marx without any
> interpretation." As members of this list know well, I make it a regular
> practice to speak of the TSS *interpretation*.

OK, if you say so. I am beginning to wish I had never attempted to
articulate the feeling generated in me by the accumulation of
repeated suggestions from Andrew and Alan since I joined OPE-L about
how discourse was to proceed in order to avoid misrepresenting Marx,
illegitimately, de facto, censoring certain viewpoints etc. The
overall impression (that I am not prepared to substantiate
further) tends to be that everybody else can aspire at best to
'interpretations' of Marx (usually wrong-headed), but that TSS
is the Royal Road to the truth of what Marx said and meant. What
is more, I find the overall tone of the discourse from which this
impression arises to be bullying and unpleasant.

Since I genuinely find these second order conversations a waste of
time, not least because one easily gets sucked into them (as I have
been now), I will respond to the outstanding posts addressed
primarily to points raised by me, and then drop the topic.
Nevertheless, I do feel disgruntled about having to read what I
perceive as little moralistic lectures inserted in the middle of some
substantive discussion, and I repeat my request that they be put in
separate posts, in a separate thread (such as this one) so that I can
have the option of not reading them, without running the risk of
missing substantive points in the 'real' debates that make OPE-L so
enjoyable and useful.

Andrew again
> I have likewise never claimed that it is possible to read Marx without
> questioning "whether he was 'right' in any sense." I do think it is possible
> to distinguish between questions of internal (in)consistency and questions of
> truth (falsehood), but that's not the same thing.

1. Again, OK if you say so - but that is at odds with the very strong
feeling I have garnered over the last couple of years.
2. One can make this distinction, but it is not necessarily bad
practice to sometimes bracket any such distinction. More strongly,
whilst one can make a reasoned distinction of this nature, I think
there is no such separation 'out there' in the relationship between
real social forms and the categorical systems by which we try to
grasp them.

> As for Michael's claim about "not always separat[ing] defence of TSS from
> Defence of
> Marx," I'm not sure what he means.

I have already pointed out instances of this. It is my impression. I
am not prepared to put any more work into getting my point across. So
lets just drop it.

> Obviously, something's bothering Michael, and I don't mean by my flat denials
> to make light of this. But I simply don't know what's bothering him.

I accept that I haven't managed to communicate my concerns to you -
and, as above, I am giving up trying. Your concern is touching, but
don't worry I can live with what is bothering me.

> I do
> understand that he doesn't like to read protests against a suppressive mode of
> discourse,

Well, I'm afraid you misunderstand me on this. There is a time and a
place, and a weight to be attached, on all of which we seem to
differ. I can live with it, even if you chose to ignore my request

> but the charges quoted above seem to be about something different.

No they are not, they part an parcel of the self-righteous hectoring
tone in which (unfortunately, given their intrinsic merit) TSS
arguments on this list are often swathed. (And If that bothers you,
you will have to live with it, because I'm giving up on this

> I therefore hope that Michael will reformulate his charges in a way that
> expresses what he really means, what's really bothering him. Then we may be
> able to have a fruitful dialogue about them.

I am afraid your hopes will be disappointed. I cannot be bothered to
expend further energy. I look forward to truly fruitful dialogues on
matters of substance, not procedure.

Comradely greetings,
"Books are Weapons"
Dr Michael Williams
Department of Economics Home:
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences 26 Glenwood Avenue
De Montfort University Southampton
Milton Keynes SO16 3QA
tel:+1908 834876 tel/fax: +1703 768641
fax:+1908 834979