Who is a marxist?

Jon Beasley-Murray jpb8 at acpub.duke.edu
Thu Mar 9 16:35:37 MST 1995

First, a quick word or two on so-called "netiquette":

On Thu, 9 Mar 1995, Charlie Post wrote:

> Although I am new to the list, let me put my two cents in:

[substance of post snipped]

> I hope this is not taken as too "impertenent"....

Not at all!  Welcome to the list.

Please, there is no need for the "although" in this first sentence!  I
hope that those new to the list feel quite free to post and introduce
themselves and their work etc.  After a short while of seeing how others
interact, or (better still) looking through the archives, everyone can
easily get the feel of the list.

My one concern is that the "feel" of the list not be intimidating precisely
to newcomers, those who don't have such a great grasp of marxist theory,
those who might not count themselves as marxists but who want to engage in
constructive discussion of the marxist tradition, those from other
liberatory traditions (feminism, postcolonial theory etc.), those who are
not necessarily used to academic or left conventions of discourse etc.
etc., those whom such discourses conventionally silence (women, gays and
lesbians, those without the "requisite" degree of educational and
cultural capital) and so on.

On the whole I think the list is pretty good about this, I should say.

More substantively: I am not sure about the uses of defining either
Stalin or anyone else as either definitively marxist or non-marxist.  I
wonder what others think.  For my part, I'm happy enough to say that
Stalin was a marxist, but still simply wrong.  I don't see how Stalinism
in any way invalidates the work or analyses of (say) Luxemburg, Adorno,
Hall... or whomever.

I'm happy to define marxist according to how others nominate themselves.
I don't see a single definition of marxism that can adequately encompass
the variety and creativity of the various marxist traditions.  Rather, I
am happy to say that there are some marxists I agree with and others with
whom I don't.  Marxism is not an identity, and to suggest marxism is
such, is to reduce it in some ways to some of the problematics of
identity politics.

> Charlie Post

Take care


Jon Beasley-Murray
Literature Program
Duke University
jpb8 at acpub.duke.edu

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