Church of Marx the Scientist

Guy Yasko guyy at
Wed Jun 14 06:58:49 MDT 1995

Worker's of the world unite,
(congregation) you have nothing to lose but your chains.

We have been naught,
(congregation) we shall be all.

You may be seated.

It's perhaps the most quoted of Our Holy Father's Blessed Inkings, but I'll
begin my sermon today with the 11th Thesis on Feuerbach:

The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the
point is to change it.


You just can't quote that11th thesis enough.

Aside from Richard's unkind and unproductive comments on Aniello's english,
to which Joseph Lockard has responded ably, and about which more below, I
agree with the substance of Richard's post.  In fact, I think Richard has
touched on the single most important issue for Marxism and this list: the
relation between its theory and practice.  According to Richard, because we
have neglected this issue, the list has come to resemble a cloistered seminary
whose denizens revere the Word but forget the World.  (However, being
somewhat cynical myself, I ask myself:  if people enjoy the construction and
viewing of theoretical rock gardens, who am  I to deny them their pleasure?
And does this sermon really escape the problematics of St. Francis or
Mahayana Buddhism?  But then I don't really care.)

Internet mailing lists bring to mind St. Jurgen's account of the early bourgeois
public culture and its political role in the   _Structural Transformation of the
Public Sphere_.    Early bourgeois publicity in the form of letter writing and
journalism helped democratize society by  "posing the issue of pouvoir as such.
Public debate was supposed to transform voluntas into a ratio that in public
comptetition of private arguments came into being as the consensus about
what was practically necessary."  (pp.82-3)   However, as 19th c. capitalism
colonized Habermas' Kantian paradise, it lost its freedom from domination and
democratizing powers.

 At least on the surface, free (in the sense of uncensored) and open internet
mailing  lists  seem to reopen the 18th century bourgeoisie's version of
publicity.   Just as we are reminded every day of the class character of the
Internet, some of you will no doubt argue that Habermas forgets the class
character of 18th c. publicity, and that all of this was just a ruse, or at best
fig leaf for class domination.  Perhaps so, but even if that is the only respons
my questions generate, I think there is some worth in discussing the issue in
the relation to this mailing list as a particular form of social practice.   Is
possible for today's net publicity to pressure the state and society as the earl
bourgeois public sphere did, or is it too late?  If it is too late, what do we d
Adopt Blanquist tactics?  Do cultural studies?  We need to find out what
constitutes significance in today's world, and then do something significant.
I'm more than willing to abandon this church and join Richard in changing the
world if he can show me something more productive or at least get us moving
in that direction.

On monolinguism

I was born Catholic, but I'm a Protestant on this issue.

Bracketing the issue of the list's practical value for the moment,  I for one
would like this list to move away from monolinguism.  For instance, I don't see
why Aniello can't post in Italian.  Some on this list do understand Italian, and
I expect that these polyglots would introduce discussions on the Italian
threads to others.   Opening the list to other languages would help draw in
people from places without something like a marxism mailing list.   (Japan, for
instance.  There are political discussion groups on the  commercial networks,
but I haven't been able to find anything on the internet).  There are of course
drawbacks to polylingualism.  People would receive mail in languages they
cannot understand, and the volume of the list would increase, tying up phone
lines and filling up disks.  Perhaps the list could somehow include links to
other lists without actually reproducing their content.  At any rate, in an age
of global capitalism, I think we should try a little harder to expand our
horizons beyond the English speaking world.


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