The politics of interpenetration

glevy at acnet.pratt.edu glevy at acnet.pratt.edu
Sat Aug 26 06:06:32 MDT 1995


We periodically have a ongoing exchange of ideas concerning process and
list norms.  In my view, this is good since it tells us that we are
committed to making this process work. Although the purpose of the list
is to exchange views on Marxism, we must also recognize that this list is
a form of social interaction and communication where many of us get to
know each other more than we know many co-workers or acquaintances. Some
of us, as one list member told me privately, become "cyber-friends."

When I was a student in the New School's Economics Department there was a
period, for many years, when the students (over 90% of whom considered
themselves to be Marxists) were able to relate to each other with respect
and comradeship even though we came from many different, and sometimes
opposing, traditions in Marxism. Everyone recognized, even those who were
members of left political tendencies and parties, that we all benefited
from a intellectual climate where we respected each other and attempted
to learn from each other. Something similar is needed with this list.
Virtually every political perspective that Marxists have is represented
on this list (although some perspectives have a disproportionately high
representation, i.e. Trotskyism, and others a disproportionately low
representation, i.e. social democracy and the Communist Party). Most views,
we must frankly admit, will not change as a result of our Net exchanges.
Yet, we should continually strive to exchange perspectives in a way that
enhances communication and understanding rather than eroding them.

Sometimes a strong response is called for. When there are ad hominum
attacks, when other member's positions are distorted, and/or where there is
offensive (e.g. sexist, homophobic, etc.) language being used, it is the
responsibility of *all* (rather than the person being attacked) to
respond. "An injury to one is an injury to all."

Sometimes a little compliment can help as well. We all want to think that
our ideas are read and respected. I frequently, as many list members
know, send short private messages that say something like "I enjoyed your
post." The basic point that I'm trying to make here is that it is in all
of our interests to make this list work and we should communicate with
each other with that goal in mind. Now ... let's get back to discussing
chaos theory.

Jerry


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