MARXIST THEORY: WORKING STIFFS VS HIGHFALUTIN PROFS?

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Wed Apr 5 11:47:42 MDT 1995


Louis Proyect:

I'm no Stalinist, Ralph, but I think the "intellectual work" you describe
is pretty sterile stuff. I believe that the universities are part of the
means of production in bourgeois society and among the commodities that flow
from them are the countless articles and hardcover books published by
academic journals and publishing houses whose audience is totally
academic. It's a pretty hermetically sealed world.

What would be interesting is to see how much "intellectual work" that
goes on in underdeveloped countries without the heavily capitalized
knowledge factories such as Yale, Duke, Oxford, etc. Places where real
revolutions took place such as Nicaragua, El Salvador, etc. tended to focus
the discussion on real problems such as land distribution, the class
nature of the domestic counterrevolution, etc. In Central America during
the 1980's, I don't recall the kind of heated discussion around abstract
philosophy as takes place on this list.

For that matter, there is hardly a word in this list about the deepening
social and economic crisis in the United States. Marx, Engels, Lenin,
Luxembourg were totally focused on the class-struggle in their respective
societies. This does not mean that they didn't make the occasional excursion
into topics such as emperio-criticism, etc. They just knew where the
priorities lay.

By the way, Ralph, if the students and professors on this list had
1/100th of your ability to make abstract ideas clear, then I would find
this discussion of Smith, Postone et al a lot more compelling. Perhaps it
takes self-exile from academia to help develop one's power of communication.

On Wed, 5 Apr 1995, Ralph Dumain wrote:

> Given my years of resentment against professors with their eyes on
> each other's footnotes and their intellectual fingers up their
> asses, must I now come to the defense of intellectual work against
> those sullen defenders of the "practical", who talk piffle about
> the organization of the human brain and chaos theory and then cry
> that our philosophical peregrinations seeking to clarify the
> nature of dialectics are too abstruse and impractical to be of any
> use to practical revolutionaries?  Methinks me smells a rat.  Is
> it that stinky rodent of Stalinism scurrying across my
> cyber-floor?  How could I be brought to the point where I feel the
> need to defend Hans Despain, whom I believe has rendered a
> valuable service by trying to explain the work of Tony Smith?
>


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