In Defense of the Communist List

Robert Malecki malecki at
Tue Aug 27 01:10:16 MDT 1996

Couldn,t have said it better myself Vadlimir! I am going to put this in a=20
future issue of Cockroach...

Robert Malecki

>I do not see any bona fide reason to destroy Marxism 1 in order to form=20
>separate lists on marxist Blake or physics, "identity politics" or=20
>"neoliberalism," etc.  Why can't these lists exist alongside M1?  This=20
>list is unique not because it is marxist (who is not "marxist" nowadays=20
>anyway?) but because it is COMMUNIST.  Academic/"left" marxism is a=20
>respectable business.  Communism is not.  Harvey and Wood, Eagleton and=20
>Amin have their public, their academic community, their conferences,=20
>and the like to make their views known, their agendas promoted.  We=20
>value and admire them for what they do.  We would be happy if they join=20
>us and let our cause benefit from their intellectual vigor and=20
>knowledge.  But not at the cost of becoming indistinguishable from=20
>their public, their academic community, their conferences, and the=20
>like.  We are DIFFERENT from them because we are communists which means=20
>that for us Blake, physics, "identity politics," and "unequal exchange"=20
>have any meaning if at all only insofar as they help us to achieve our=20
>single goal: to do away with capital, and forever. Not in our heads but=20
>in the air we breathe.  If this list is too messy and a "waste of time"=20
>for Harvey and other intelligent and sensitive human beings, we have=20
>the right to suppose that a revolution or a civil war are going to seem=20
>even messier, even more "waste of time" to=CAthem, for publishing presses=
>may temporarily come to a halt and the people on the street may behave=20
>in even less civilized fashion than we do on our list now.=20
>Academic, "literary" marxism is a necessary form of a marxist theory=20
>under present conditions.  It is also deeply embedded in the bourgeois=20
>academy and culture, and bears all its intellectual and social stigmas.=20
>Moreover, for decades academic marxism has been almost completely=20
>defensive and shaped by the agendas and the very language imposed on it=20
>by the advanced bourgeois theory. (A number of topics proposed for new=20
>list formations demonstrate how insidious this influence is, how far it=20
>has spread beyond campuses and fashionable journals).  When I want to=20
>learn how to argue against the "postmodern" aesthetics or politics in=20
>my classroom I turn to academic marxists and read them with gratitude=20
>(and due caution). But when I need an opinion - let alone help - on=20
>"what is to be done" my authorities are Robert Malecki, Louis Proyect,=20
>Walter Daum, and other comrades who have committed themselves to the=20
>same cause and who - however at odds with one another - dedicated their=20
>lives not to intellectual but revolutionary activities.=20
>Louis (P) has drawn an attractive picture for the future: disciplined=20
>cohorts of marxist intellectuals - united in their collective search=20
>for truth - engage in a constructive and informed debate on the burning=20
>issues of the socialist movement.  The unruly ones, the queer fish will=20
>be straightened out or, perhaps, even excluded.  The rest will enjoy =20
>the full technical and "administrative" support of the team of=20
>moderators (Are they communists? What is the financial foundation of=20
>the Spoons?). In addition, marxist discourse will be split into a=20
>number of specialized discussion  channels, thus facilitating the=20
>fragmentation of revolutionary knowledge and its further divorce from=20
>practice.  I am not against this vision in principle.  Such format may=20
>have its limited usefulness and purpose but only as addition to a=20
>communist list and certainly not as the proper principle of the=20
>socialist intellectual organization and the organization of socialist=20
>intellectuals.  For this plan uncritically envisions for us in the=20
>Internet the same place in the division of labor that capitalist system=20
>assigns to the intellectual and her work in general.=20
>Instead, our place here must be assigned by the revolutionary needs and=20
>goals of the proletariat. The Internet space is not one of the party. =20
>In this space we obtain only as bourgeois intellectuals.  At best,=20
>then, our place here is one of  "specialists," precisely in Lenin's=20
>sense of the word. The only historical sense we can give to our=20
>existence in cyberspace is to become "specialists" on the service and=20
>under control of the working class, above all, communist workers. And=20
>the first service we can render for them in our status as list members,=20
>i.e. as ones who have the middle-class privilege of Internet access, =20
>is to place this tool in their hands.  If this proves impossible to do=20
>directly because of technical and financial reasons we need to become=20
>technical personnel, a mediating link, switch-board specialists between=20
>the international groups of socialist workers who now struggle in=20
>isolation and anonymity. Let us help them to share their experience,=20
>thinking, problems, ideals through us, as communication workers of=20
>organized socialism.  Even the smallest step in this direction will=20
>have more historical significance than dozens of "socialist" or "left"=20
>lists filled by bureaucrats and intellectuals peddling their=20
>"positions" and "lines," will be a small but a vitally important break=20
>in the capitalist regime of communication and division of labor. In=20
>this alternative vision, the first duty of the "specialist" on a=20
>communist list will be to establish close relation with at least one=20
>group of the politically awakened workers, to transmit their voices to=20
>the list and to provide them with the feedback from other workers. =20
>Needless to say, this is not a simple mechanical function.  The=20
>services of the list collective will have to include translation and=20
>international expertise in whatever areas the workers may request our=20
>help: law, economics, history, marxist literature and theory,=20
>statistics, etc. This is of course a very rough outline of a very raw=20
>idea. Perhaps, we can have a discussion of at least the general=20
>direction I have tried to suggest, before the list be shut down and we=20
>go to our specialized stalls.
>Finally, a communist list does not need moderators. Our awareness of=20
>the secret services who monitor this list is all we need to moderate=20
>ourselves by not saying anything which can help their business.  No=20
>other moderation is welcomed.  If the communists on the list cannot=20
>come together for a useful collective work no moderator can help them. =20
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