Who we are/How we write

Juan Inigo jinigo at inscri.org.ar
Thu Sep 14 22:18:48 MDT 1995

Jerry writes:

>This is the third re-write of this post. I want to zero in on just one issue:
>Juan Inigo wrote:
>> According to Jerry's abstraction, the development of the proletariat's
>> conscious action is not produced _by_ the proletariat itself, but _for_ the
>> proletariat by some enlightened declassed intellectuals alien to it! Quite
>> far from Marx, and quite close to the Catholic Church, that claims that
>> "people" must do things _for_ the poor.
>Wherever did you get the above from? It certainly wasn't my post.

In my post I carefully followed the way you were abstracting "workers",
"us" (the members of the Marxism list) and "me" from the determinations
that shape each of the three as specific parts of the proletariat. And I am
positive you are completely aware how essential I find not to isolate any
conclusion from its context, to avoid turning it into an abstraction too.
So my only self-consistent answer here would be to repeat again what I have
developed in my original post. Or, rather, to suggest you read it again
following my reasoning as it flows in it, pointing out where it starts
going out of course according to you and developing what you believe is the
proper course from there on, not to fall into the abstract discussion of an
ending point as if it were not such but an abstract assertion.

>> If Jerry's national narrowness (that makes him suggest as a natural thing
>> that I visit a place located in the hemisphere opposite to where I live)
>Please explain how the suggestion that you visit factories in the "Illinois
>Class  War Zone" was an example of my "national narrowness."

Since this is only a circumstantial point, I will consider it here by
itself, though you can follow its implicit development in my original post
too. Jerry, I am positive you are not a political newborn that resorts to
irony without noticing it, nor that you have already forgotten your post.
And there was nothing in your whole post that addressed my arguments. It
was just an ad hominem argument that went:

a. "Juan believe(s) that he could converse with a group of workers using
the same style of language that he uses with us"

b. Jerry's implicit conclusion: Juan hasn't been in touch with a real
worker in his life.

c. Jerry's solution: Juan must "visit ... Chicago and a tour of the
factories and gathering places (like bars) where workers are congregated in
the "Illinois Class War Zone.""

d. This would be such a funny situation that "Scott: ..., could you please
videotape it and send me a copy? Thanks. --Jerry"

I could have taken this "chicana" (this is the way we call here this sort
of pseudo-argument, rather, provocation, in political discussion) as such
and replied to it just by simply denouncing its nature. But I am not
interested at all in that sort of discussion. So I took it as if it were a
true argument having no further content than itself, and I criticized it by
developing one by one the abstractions it was based upon. On doing so, I
got to the following facts:

a. I live 3 blocks away from the nearest factory and 15 blocks away from a
vast industrial area, with lots of factories and workers being the only
persons you will find around. I know this not because I "tour" to this part
of my neighborhood, but because I worked many years, and I mean it, many
years, as an unproductive wage laborer in a couple of those factories.

c. Furthermore, as I pointed out in my post, "I live in a city that is by
far the largest industrial conglomerate in Argentina, and still the third,
south of the Rio Bravo." By the way, it even includes a district named
"Nueva Chicago" (because of the meat industry originally located there) and
a football team formerly named "Los Martires de Chicago" to honor the
Haymarket martyrs (when the official league was formed, it was "invited" to
change its name).

b. Jerry ironically talks about me needing to go on a "tour" to watch workers.

c. Jerry ironically emphasizes the distance he is postulating exists
between "real" workers and me by suggesting I need to take that tour to a
place that is located more than 10.000 kilometers away from my home and in
his country.

d. on exercising this further abstraction upon me, Jerry falls into the
"national narrowness" of ereasing from the map the workers that stand along
these 10.000 kilometers outside his country.

>I was very tempted to respond to Juan's post with stronger words.

You will never find me unwilling to follow an argument however "strong
words" are used, provided a real development is involved. Moreover, I am
positive some rational arguments demand to be developed by using "strong
words", as Rakesh Bhandari is properly showing here in his critique to the
Militias and to other forms of national/religious alienation.

Some further points concerning Jerry's comments in other posts:

>I do not believe that Juan is "wacky" -- I believe he is sharp, *very*
>sharp. Even if his prose may appear to Ken as a "disease", we still have
>the responsibility to take his ideas seriously. I also don't believe that
>Juan is a "jargon-drunk bore" (although, he can be "long-winded").

(and in another post)

>Juan demands to be taken seriously, a right that he surely deserves.

I have never made such a claim myself. I face the question of developing
science as the necessary concrete form of ruling our conscious
revolutionary action. Therefore, I have always faced the Marxism list as a
proper place for the political struggle in which this development of
science takes concrete shape. Now, this struggle obviously takes shape
through some Marxists taking the question "seriously" (allow me to use this
abstraction just as a mode of expression) and other Marxists just rejecting
even the possibility that such a struggle can possibly exist beyond some
abstract intellectuals' "nonsense." I obviously consider that Jerry belongs
to the former category, but I disagree with him in that his own position in
this sense emerges from some sort of abstract "right" I deserve to be taken
seriously or from some abstract "responsibility" Jerry feels about taking
me seriously.

>If we could move this discussion back to the question: "What do you
>[Juan] think are the issues at stake [in the debate over value, method
>politics]?", then I believe that we could be able to continue that thread.

I have presented to the list the whole question more than once. Yet, given
that Jerry and Jim Jaszewski seem to be interested in starting again from
the beginning, we can attempt a more step by step approach, followed by a
specific discussion on each of them before going to the next.

>Is this a debate merely about the evolution of Marx's thought or is it
>about something more? If so, what?

I have presented from the very beginning the question of the specific
historical forms of scientific cognition as being in itself the question of
the conscious ruling of the proletariat's revolutionary action to transform
capitalism into socialism/communism (the society of the freely, therefore
consciously, associated individuals). Marx was the first one to discover
that this conscious ruling can only take shape as "the reproduction of the
concrete through the path of thought", as opposed to the logical
representation of reality in which alienated consciousness takes shape.
Since it is about each one consciously ruling his/her action by reproducing
its determinations in each one's thought, this ruling is the very negation
of interpreting someone else's texts. On the contrary, Marx texts come in
here to give one's individual process of _cognition_ (that can only be
developed by facing the concrete forms of capital in themselves as the
determinants of one's conscious action and not by abstractly reading
whichever book) the power of being developed as a process of _recognition_
in the corresponding part, from the social point of view.

It is in this context, Jerry, that I'm interested in your comments, not
necessarily a full critique or a structured response, but even only how
does it strike you, concerning Marx's open rejection, along his whole life,
of logic for being the essence of alienated thought, and of dialectical
logic as a system of thought that necessarily ends up in an idealist
inversion or in self-contradiction (see his quotes in my previous post),
vis a vis your assertions (obviously prevailing among Marxists) about
Marx's using a logic and, more specifically, a dialectical logic.

Juan Inigo
jinigo at inscri.org.ar

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