For a non-sectarian and non-dogmatic Marxism list

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Fri Aug 23 06:48:03 MDT 1996


The Marxism list has been a place where spontaneity has been king.
This has led to a mix of worthwhile contributions and poisonous
weeds. In the recent period, weeds have begun to choke out more
beneficial growth. It is time we took a second look at our garden.

I, for one, am not interested in dialoging with everybody on the planet
who considers themselves a Marxist. For example, I don't want to even
be in the same room with somebody who is making the case that trade
unions are not in the interest of working people.

I advocate creating a space that reflects current directions in Marxism
as exemplified by a number of theoretical journals such as the
following:

1) Monthly Review

2) Science and Society

3) New Left Review

4) Capitalism, Nature and Socialism

5) Against the Current

6) Socialism and Democracy

7) Socialist Register

There is a broad consensus among the editorial boards of these
journals that Stalin's policies hindered the growth of socialism, that a
class-based resistance to capitalism must be mounted and that
dogmatism and sectarianism such as the Trotskyist variant are harmful
to the growth of the left.

Many of the same figures appear in an overlapping fashion on the
editorial boards of these journals. This includes:

1) Mike Davis: author of "Prisoners of the American Dream", a study
of the American trade union movement.

2) Ellen Meiksins Wood: author of "Capitalism Against Democracy"
and a leading critic of postmodernism.

3) David Harvey: geographer and author of "The Postmodern
Condition".

4) James O'Connor: leading green-red theorist.

5) Perry Anderson: author of "Considerations on Western Marxism"
and "In the Tracks of Historical Materialism", 2 books that are
essential in understanding the dilemmas of contemporary Marxism.

I advocate that a presence on the Internet exist for the exchange of
ideas among activists and intellectuals who identify with this general
trend. If this is going to take place, it will not be through the
"spontaneous" methodology of unmoderated maling lists. It must be
done consciously.

Ken Campell who has quit M1 in disgust is now in discussions
with Canadian scholars associated with Socialist Register and other
left institutions. He believes that it is feasible to create a series of
mailing lists associated with this network.

This intrigues me. Not only is the place where I have my strongest
political loyalties, it is also a direct link-up with Monthly Review in
New York which distributes Socialist Register in the United States.
Monthly Review is on the same floor as the Brecht Forum where I give
my Internet workshops, and there is constant communication between
the two institutions. Furthermore, Socialist Register authors such as
Ellen Meiksins Wood and Leo Panitch are frequent lecturers at the
Brecht Forum.

It is of supreme importance that the political forces that identify with
these journals have a space on the Internet where our *own*
differences can be aired out. It should be a place where David Harvey
and James O'Connor can discuss out the "2nd contradiction of
capitalism". It should also be a place where Mike Davis and Kim
Moody, who are both authors of important books on the American labor
movement, can compare notes.

It is a waste of our time to have to reply to people like "Neil" and
"MIM", who are sophomoric ultraleftists with absolutely no influence
anywhere.

I am hoping that Ken can help create this space. If he can't, it is my
intention to create a space such as this, a place for nondogmatic and
nonsectarian Marxism, within the Spoons framework. My true goal
will always be in forming a forum for Marxism internationally that
allows for this broad current to exchange ideas. Considering the state
of the left today world-wide, it is absolutely imperative that we be
allowed to exchange ideas in a calm setting free of the lunacy that
pervades unmoderated mailing lists on the Internet such as M1.


Louis Proyect



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