Another note on Wainwright...

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Thu Jul 13 12:57:00 MDT 1995


On Thu, 13 Jul 1995, Chris M. Sciabarra wrote:

> Perhaps Wainwright doesn't fit the mold of dogmatic Marxist--but from the
> perspective of this writer, there is a refreshing quality about her
> writing.  At least she takes the Hayekian critique of the
> social-engineering state SERIOUSLY enough, at least she re-examines the
> epistemic underpinnings of that Hayekian critique... something that
> Marxists should do more often.
>

Louis Proyect:
I picked up the Wainwright book at lunch from Lehman library (I may not
get rich working at Columbia, but the place has its pleasures). From the
chapter on "Hayek and Social-Engineering State", we get the following:

"The assumption that all the knowledge necessary to a socialist
transformation of society can be codified, turned into an overview of
society and draw upon in a single, more or less democratic process,
underlies the reforming and revolutionary ambitions, respectively, of
Fabianism and its latter-day practitioners, and Leninism in its various
forms....The idea of 'autonomy' or horizontal 'network' forms of
coordination has not been part of their vocabulary. Moreover, common to
their conceptions of the party, whether parliamentary or Bolshevik, is
the notion of a leadership that interprets the laws of social development
and, whether through a form of political Taylorism or through formal
democratic debate, is able to distil and centralize the knowledge to the
membership."

This is the final paragraph of a chapter that has not one single word to
say about the historical experience of the Soviet Union or any other
postcapitalist state. Nor is there a single word about the
social-democratic historical experience.

I'll have more to say about this book later on, but I have a real problem
with political scientists who create an entity called "Leninism" and then
group everything within it. Leninism includes in her view, we would assume,
both Trotsky and Stalin, Mao and Castro, Daniel Ortega and Joe Slovo. I find
it much more interesting to examine the subtle and sometimes very great
differences between various "Leninisms" than to just create an ideal concept
and then polemicize against it. This is the methodology of bourgeois social
scientists, not Marxists. I'm starting to get steamed now. So I better
sign off before I say anything shocking or offensive.

PS: Does anybody know of a good way to keep squirrels off the pole
holding up a bird feeder? If so, please contact me privately. Thanks.


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