Re: [OPE-L] It takes two to tango

From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Date: Thu May 19 2005 - 09:28:26 EDT


This is the last post of yours that I will forward to OPE-L.

My reply to the following is simple and unambiguous:  you owe
the readers of Zmag and Left Hook an apology for not telling
them what your "main beef with Holloway et al is."  Get it?
Got it? Good.   I will not respond to any more of your messages
or published works until that happens.

In solidarity, Jerry

----- Original Message -----
From: "M. Junaid Alam" <>
Sent: Wednesday, May 18, 2005 12:09 PM
Subject: Re: It takes two to tango

> "As you made clear in this very message to me, that was part of your
> *actual* critique. What you did in your essay was *hide* part of your
> actual critique from readers."

Wrong again. Perphaps you need an English comprehension lesson: The
historical question was not part of my actual critique of Holloway's ZNet
piece, which was impossible, because *Holloway never talks about that in his
ZNet piece in the first place*. The historical question is, instead, part of
my own criticism of Holloway *in general*. What you are apparently incapable
of understanding is that I think the Holloway thesis falls flat on its face
on its own merits, without even needing to bring into the picture his
underlying assessment of history of "state-centered struggle" as one
betrayal after another. I think my critique is strong enough that even if
you grant his assessment of the past is correct, his theory fails on the
three levels I addressed in my critique: the theoretical, modern political,
and economic levels. Get it? Got it? Good.

It amazes me that with all the word games you play, including this puerile
changing around of the title of all your replies (Taking Debate Seriously,
Taking Yourself Seriously), and exhortations to engage in "Genuine debate",
you fail to answer a very simple question: why don't you engage the article
I wrote on the subject - in other words, why don't *you* engage in "genuine

It's very easy to tear out of context and rant on endlessly about those
passing comments made on a discussion list, so that you can avoid the three
main criticisms of Holloway's thesis I made, none of which have anything to
do with the USSR and social-democracy. What's even sadder though, is that
even when I expanded on those passing comments in a lengthy response to you,
all you came up with is a lame one-line "response" to me that "FDR was a

I wonder when all the people your age are chumping for change on the
street because of Bush's evisceration of the FDR-era program, you're going
to tell them to suck it up because after all, "FDR was a liberal." Well,
thanks for the newsflash!

What profound logic! FDR was a liberal who improved people's lives. Chavez
has improved people's lives. Therefore, Chavez is nothing more than FDR at
best. Really, you got me there; woe is the revolutionary who makes
improvements in people's lives. Far better is the revolutionary who scurries
away from the main organ of power so as to delude himself that he has "won"
something by not even showing up to the fight - and even better than he is
the academic who not only dismisses the revolution as a conspiracy involving
"oil and oil money and international Trotskyists", but barely tries to even
defend his thesis (leaving me aside, let's recall that the whole last issue
of Historical Materialism is being held up because Holloway still hasn't
responded to Lebowitz's critique, which was prepared and sent in long ago).

> wrote:
>>[Quick response to your second e-mail: I *did* send your original
> > comments on the Marxism List, below my replies to them.
> Junaid:
> I have forwarded your message to OPE-L as you requested -- even
> though it was in reply to and included a _private_ message that I sent
> you.  I will cc this message as well to OPE-L. You raise many issues in
> your message and I only have the time now to selectively reply to some
>points.  Already I can hear the refrain:  you are playing 'hide and
> seek'.  Believe what you want to believe.
> [A response to what you write above:  You sent your 2 replies to my
> post (which included my post) but not my two brief replies to your 2
> posts (both of which, as I told you previously,  were posted on
> aut-op-sy first and then OPE-L and Globolist).
> >Indeed, it is a
> >far more valid assumption, since it has about 20 times more members than
> >OPE-L, and  unlike OPE-L, anyone can subscribe there to respond.]
>It wasn't a valid assumption for someone who wants to follow the debate
>with John because OPE-L is where it has been happening lately.
> "As for responding to the argument in your post, that seemed to me to be
> in order since you identified there what your "main beef" with John
>  was."
> >The answer to that one is simple -  I was not writing a piece titled,
> >"My main beef with Holloway", which would have been random and out of
> >nowhere. I wrote in *response* to his piece, which did not broach the
> >subject of the USSR or social democracy in any specific way.
> Sorry, this won't fly as an excuse.  When you stated what your "main
> beef" with Holloway was that superceded anything else that you wrote on
> same topic.  Your "main beef" was not about John personally (an unrelated
> topic) but _directly_ related to your understanding of his perspective.
> Of course, you could have said that it was a mistake when you wrote
> what your "main beef" was (or there could be other legitimate excuses:
> e.g. that you were stoned), but you didn't.
> >There was
> >no space to simply tack on what I happened to dislike about Holloway in
>>my piece, since I'd already dedicated ten pages to responding to what he
> >actually said in the Z piece.
> If something is your "main beef"  then you _find_ space and adjust course
> accordingly.
> >Worse than this, however, is the simple fact
> >that by grasping onto this one list-serv sentence, you carve out an
> >excuse for yourself to ignore my *actual* critique.
> As you made clear in this very message to me, that was part of your
> *actual* critique.  What you did in your essay was *hide* part of
> your actual critique from readers.
> >You have almost nothing to say on Venezuela here,
> >
> >
> Read it again.  I have also written quite a lot about Venezuela (some
> might say, too much!) on OPE-L.
> >Therefore your dismissal of the New Deal, for instance, appears very
> >silly, as if one becomes more revolutionary by holding one's nose and
> >declaring it "liberal". It certainly represented a concrete advance
> >compared to the past.
> You must not remember that I wrote the following:
> "didn't some liberals like FDR make some 'concrete improvements
> in people's lives'?"
> >Frankly I think that one would have to be totally blind to take the
> >Holloway position very seriously at this point.
> We would have to be totally blind to believe that you are seriously
> attempting to engage John in debate.   How else are we to interpret your
> insulting claims about how John (and I) have played "hide and seek"?
> When John said that he would respond to your article, did you think
> that it meant that day ... that week ... that month?   Do you think that
> if you snap your fingers he should dance to your tune? Do you think you
> have a right to be answered by him any earlier than any of the others
> who have published comments and critiques on his book?  You
> certainly _act_ like he owes you something more than he owes his
> other critics.
> In solidarity, Jerry

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