[OPE] Message from David L

From: Jerry Levy <jerry_levy@verizon.net>
Date: Tue Dec 09 2008 - 11:46:47 EST
---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------
Subject: My unsendable post, pasted
From: "David Laibman"
Date: Tue, December 9, 2008 11:24 am
To: "Gerald Levy"

Here is the item I originally tried to post to OPE. Again, I have no
idea what's going on, re .eml, etc.
Dear OPE comrades,
I am usually a lurker, not a participant -- mainly because of the
press of time, and my fear of picking up a ball and then not running!
(Very bad thing to do in rugby, I know. And in USA football.)
Anyway, in re the discussion about who is or is not a Marxist, and
what criteria one might apply: my own favorite definition of a Marxist
is this: A Marxist is a person who sincerely believes her- or himself to
be one. Period! *If* you believe you are working in the broad
tradition associated with Marx -- or even if you feel your work draws
significantly on some aspect of that tradition, but not all of it --
then you are a Marxist. Why should anyone care to so self-identify?
Simply because s/he wants not only to "do" a certain sort of social
science, or engage with the world politically in a certain way, but also
to make a statement of association with the working-class, socialist,
revolutionary movements of the past century and a half. But there is
the danger that the "flag" one raises will be misinterpreted; that
others will fail to receive one's actual message because of ideological
derailment. Each individual must make her or his choice in this
situation. And it means that there are people whose writings and/or
activism who do not consider themselves to be Marxists -- and therefore
are not, according to my proposed definition -- who *I* nevertheless see
as making significant contributions to what *I* see as the Marxist
project in the broadest sense; while others who do self-identify as
Marxists do *not* -- in my view of their work -- make significant
contributions, and may even do harm. These latter are Marxists, in my
sense, but bad ones! That judgment, of course, is always open to
dispute, just as others may feel the same way about my work. It is not
-- or should not be -- personal; it is just a matter of scientific
judgments made in a climate of open debate and subject to confirmation
over time.
My sense of OPE is of a shared commitment to inquiry in political
economy and related fields that sees the *relation* to the Marxist
tradition in social theory as of singular importance, even while some
participants have concluded that the time has come to drop the "Marxist"
label for what we all want to promote: good, sound, revolutionary,
critical, and emancipatory social theory. I still find it important to
retain that label, for principled political reasons, but I would seek to
associate it with open, evolving scientific work that draws on all
sources for its own growth and development, and avoids sterile adulation
and textual (what's the new European term? "Philological") approaches.
And I completely understand the point of view of those who prefer to
separate themselves from certain dogmatisms by stating that Marx,
brilliant and important as he is, must now take his place in the
pantheon of early contributors to scientific and humanist social science
and politics, without lending his name alone to a "doctrine." We are
really not that far apart.
Just some thoughts.

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Received on Tue Dec 9 11:49:16 2008

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