A new co-moderator. Welcome!

Hans Ehrbar ehrbar at marx.econ.utah.edu
Tue Apr 2 05:43:35 MST 1996

Here is the continuation of my earlier post.  In the meanwhile, Adolfo
has been asking l'st members to commit themselves to the Peruvian
Revolution as a criterion whether they are friends or enemies.  I said
in my previous message that I, for one, cannot make such a
committment.  I think the problem lies with the understanding that
Marxism is a partisan science, which was formulated by Gina but which
obviously informs Adolfo's actions.  I totally disagree, and I also
think I know that Marx disagreed.  My position is that which Bhaskar
called (now I am quoting from memory, I may not have it 100% right):

epistemic relativism but judgmental absolutism.

This means, I recognize that theories, like any other human product,
are thoroughly influenced by the society in which they arise, and it
is very legitimate to ask in whose class interest a given theory is.
But on the other hand, some theories are better than other theories,
And it is my conviction that we are at a point in history in which the
better theories are the ones with more emancipatory potential.
Therefore the researcher does not have to put himself on the
standpoint of the proletariat, all he has to do is to produce good
theory.  This is why I think this list is so important: it is a place
which can produce good theory.  And if Adolfo were to manage to
separate the wheat from the chaff in this list, and get all those to
leave who do not have the right proletarian point of view, then he
would destroy that what is valuable in this list.  I trust that he
won't be able to do this.

I just read your warning, Adolfo, and I thank you for your fairness
to give me this warning.  I have to ask myself: why did I not
warn you earlier?  Why did I write:

Adolfo is trying to force the right consciousness on the people
in this list

and not that what I was really thinking, which was:

Adolfo is trying to force the right consciousness on the people
in this list (which is an absurd program, but which is understandable
given his background)?

Why did I write:

Adolfo is trying to do theory right,

and not:

Adolfo is trying to do theory right, but he does not know how to,
and we can teach him that?

Here is my reason why.  I may not have done the right thing, but here
is why I did it.  It was the almost general consensus on the list that
we were willing to let Adolfo stay on, if he only quit some of his
disruptive behavior.  But since he does not quit it, he only has to
attribute it to himself that he will be expelled.  Adolfo on the other
hand did not want to make this deal, although it would have been easy
for him to do it.  He gave the list every pretext they ever wanted to
expell him.  My reading of this was that Adolfo wanted to be
acknowledged by the list as a true revolutionary, as someone who has a
birthright on this list, and not someone who has to earn a place on
this list by good behavior.  And this is indeed my position.  This is
a list of intellectuals.  But if someone like Adolfo wants to join us,
we should have a seat of honor ready for him, but at the same time
subject him to the same criticism and scrutiny which we apply to our
own work, and hope he learns something from the experience.  This is
why I wanted to give him an unconditional welcome, and not a welcome
with a thousand reservations attached.  Somewhere I knew that this may
have been misleading, but I thought it was less misleading than the
other way.

Even though I know that as I write this here, Adolfo is trying to
lodge a vicious attack against me, I still consider him a true
revolutionary who should have a place on this list.


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