The mistakes of ALL individual marxists!

Chris Burford cburford at
Wed Feb 1 00:11:30 MST 1995

The mistakes of ALL individual Marxists

Dear Justin,

|I'm not complaining. I just find this composite picture sort of
|fascinating. Who _is_ this guy and how did he get hold of my password,

Welcome to cyber-reality!

Steve Keen

I suggest the hyper reality is in fact unconscious group dynamics which
have been thrown up despite the distances and the electronic medium.
I think I recognise in Justin something I find in myself with this list, a
great difficulty in pacing myself, for my own sake and for the sake of
fellow readers, so that while I am struggling to resolve and make coherent
something in my own mind, my contribution actually has a chance of
constructively stimulating a collective process.

I feel by Justin's great concern to express every point over which he might
disagree with someone, he has in some strange group way set himself up as
a lightening conductor, as a scapegoat for everyone's negative projections.
Psychological processes are almost dialectical: in his intense concern for
his own individual version of truth he has comically come to embody a group
perception, an aggregate of all the faults of ALL marxists.
It is a tough situation in capitalist society to be out of work, and raises
its own problems of pacing yourself, even if you there is not a modem to
tune into several times a day, and Justin is resilient enough to see the
joke about what has happened to him and to share it with us.

As a materialist, and it is very important to me too, to feel anchored in
material reality, I would suggest that we will all be dead
relatively soon, by comparison with the history of the human race.
It is not very important how much we disagree with each other because our
reflections of that material reality are all necessarily relative, partial
and personal.

Tactically too I would suggest that it is easier and more energising to help
the list along by emphasising and amplifying some points of agreement than
by emphasising points of disagreement. We are conditioned powerfully by
the economic base of commodity exchange. We expect quick quality and quick
satisfaction. We are impatient with the character forming punitive discipline
of rigorous study known to the 19th century. It there are twenty posts to be
read in twenty minutes, you are more likely to read the post that agrees
with you on one point, than the post that disagrees with you conscientiously
on 4, with quotations added. Tough but not wicked. And if we concentrate on
amplifying positive well-grounded connections, we have the opportunity of
generating a model of reality which is still relative but which has a
greater chance of appropriately charting the shifting complexity of the true
material world.

Irritability and impatience with fools are undoubtedly part of the
authentic Marxist tradition. However if most of us can agree on the material
basis of reality, then some tolerance of variety in the relative ways we
try to reflect that reality is in order, providing we reasonably try
to work together to address that reality. That too could legitimately be
argued to be an authentic implication of Marxist theory.

Justin, I promise I will not assume you automatically agree with everything
I have said, if you do not reply.

Take care.

Chris Burford
Community Psychiatrist, specialising in schizophrenia.
Member of the Forum for Marxism, Philosophy and Science,
and the Southern Africa Economic Research Unit, SAERU.

London                                   "Only connect..."


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