Splitting the list?

Jukka Laari jlaari at tukki.jyu.fi
Wed Nov 16 11:21:59 MST 1994

First of all - the style: "sharp language of classics" was mainly aimed at
some public person (politician, ideologist etc). They're about to handle
it. But in some discussion group the situation is radically different. It
isn't argumentation (nor discussion) anymore when one is hitted by a
series of insults. Insulting isn't the way to express disagreement in
marxist circles. Well, at least that's my personal wish.

Secondly, Louis Proyect wrote that "subdividing the list into topics or
interest groups might be productive and worth experimenting with." Sure,
at least that slow reading group on some classic text of Marx would be
very interesting and productive. But then...

What is marxism, anyway? It isn't a science, so it doesn't have same
rules and norms as the sciences do have. Marxism is more sort of
philosophy aiming to provide us general philosophical principles of human
reality (sort of what its like -explanations) and some ethical principles
according which to change our reality. These principles of course do
change every now and then, according our human reality.

Now, if the marxism-list would be divided into a group of special
interest lists, then what's left of marxism as sort of general discursive
process? How the (specially marxist) political will will be structured,
if there's no general theoretico-political discussion?

Soviets knew very well that one has to know a bit of everything (besides
one's own special knowledge). So they (I mean scholars, researchers,
scientists, academics, intellectuals) had quite extensive Bildung. (What's
that in English? Education+ethics+morals?) And that's something to
esteem. So, as much I've disliked good old Soviet marxism
(marxism-leninism) because of its intellectual dishonesty and dogmatism,
I've esteemed the strategy of Bildung it spreaded. There's lot to learn
in it, I believe.

If marxism-list would be divided for example for cultural analysts,
economists, historians, philosophers, politologists and sociologists,
then we will narrow our intellectual interests and our field of vision

Let's face it: among others, economists and sociologists were unable to
handle the fall of Soviet empire - we failed to grasp what was going on
in the 1980s.

(Personally I'm not very interested in the problems of economists - I
like to believe that labour theory of value is sort of philosophical
premise that doesn't have to be proved empirically valid or true: there
are conceptions that show us the way, but that can't be tested in their
own discourse or context - but I would consider myself very uncivilized
if I haven't read the basic writings of Marx on the critique of political

I'd say, that in the theory and analysis of ideology as well as in the
cultural studies/analysis there are dimensions that ought to be known
and understood by all of us who consider themselves as marxists. (That's
one lesson of so-called post-structuralism/modernism.) There ain't no way
of going back to 19th century: we can't understand our world with
conceptual tools that do not know anything about, for example, modern
electronic media or, say, "psychic dynamism" taught us by psychoanalysis.

The good old problem is still with us: how to explain the fact that
people are acting against their own "objective interests"?

Oh, now I have to cut my crap. Hopefully that was sensible and

Hope I can read your discussion on LTV and Lenin and Kautsky in the next
year, too, without subscribing to half a dozen lists.

Jukka Laari


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