Revolutionaries act in a principled fashion!

Hugh Rodwell m-14970 at
Sat May 18 13:00:57 MDT 1996

Dear Bob,

I obviously owe you (and maybe one or two others) an explanation for
resubbing to m2. I'm not surprised at the strength of your reaction, but I
think you're drawing some parallels that are off the mark.

In the first place, m2 is a discussion mailing list on the internet, and
not a political party. I don't have to accept any political principles to
join it. However we might characterize the politics of some of the
subscribers, there is no political position that all subscribers
automatically agree to. So political swamp or not, I don't put myself in
anything of the kind just by subscribing. It's the same thing as the fact
that I don't put myself in any political position just by reading a book.
And I reserve the right to read or listen to anything I feel like without
anybody else telling me that hearing or reading it automatically makes me
something the dog brought in.

You know very well what I think about the separation of the lists. I think
everybody does. But now the separation has occurred, there is a possibility
that one or two discussions on things like working-class subjectivity,
Hegel and Spinoza and the development of Marxism, and some aspects of
Marxist economics will take place on m2 that I don't want to miss. That's
not a political crime.

You're being a bit unilateral yourself, actually, the way you condemn my
resubbing without any previous discussion of what it might imply. I don't
remember any call for an organized boycott of m2, and I don't think I would
have supported such a call. If m2 erected a wall against m1, there's no
reason why m1 should react by putting up its own wall next to the one
already there.

It's possible that a number of us might have agreed not to subscribe anyway
and  mount a campaign against the split on the grounds that the whole
reasoning behind it was against the spirit of Marxism and detrimental to
politically developing a synthesis of theoretical and party practice. But
we didn't.

m2 is a closed and moderated list, so there's a bouncer on the door. The
rules say more or less that you've got to wear a tie and mustn't discuss
the bouncer or the club next door (no bouncer). So I have this tie in my
pocket that I put on with a little grimace every time I go in, and take off
every time I go out. I don't mention the bouncer or the club next door --
but that doesn't stop me thinking about them. And it's not just one-sided.
The bouncer and the rules tell you a fair bit about the place, sure, but
just by being there, I contribute to its character -- for better or for
worse. (What was it Groucho Marx once said -- I'd never belong to a club
that'd have me as a member?!)

m2's limitations on discussion are very self-contradictory I think. For
instance, since the origin and demarcation of m2 are off-limits there, a
whole Hegelian dimension of self-awareness is shut off. This might not seem
like a big deal, but if you can't critically analyse where you came from,
it makes it more difficult to know where you're going.

So, I don't stand for m2 as an ideology.

I don't *support* its policies, even if I abide by them in my discussions
there (I put the tie on -- it makes me feel uncomfortable, but it doesn't
change my heart). No subscribers are required to make a statement
*supporting* the policies or rules. What is required is passive, you must
abide by the rules, you don't have to put your hand on your heart and swear
allegiance to the flag. In Pinochet's Chile, teachers had to look happy and
enthusiastic when they taught the kids about the coup and the military
regime -- so there *are* differences.

I stand on 'principled dry ground' regardless of the thousands of
undemocratic constraints placed on me by the simple fact of living in an
imperialist society. Just earning a living means abiding by this kind of
constraint in hundreds of everyday confrontations. It can be a real problem
knowing when to say stop so you don't slide into quicksand and get sucked
under. But I don't think the big dividing line in the class struggle runs
between m1 and m2 -- that's inflating their significance out of proportion.

As for accepting 'anything the Fujimoris of the world hand out to you', I
think that is on a different level. Resistance to that calls for collective
action on a mass, organized basis. Obviously, petty instances of
bureaucratism, injustice, arrogance and so on should also be combatted, but
we've got to choose where to concentrate our efforts or we end up running
around all day doing good works out of charity and getting nowhere.

m2 is a restricted forum for certain kinds of discussion relating to Marx
and his ideas. As long as it doesn't try to extend its domain over to m1
and restrict what anybody has to say here -- as it might perhaps by using
statements made here as a basis for m2 disciplinary action -- then I think
we should let it get on with it. I really don't think it's much use as a
litmus test to judge the political character of subscribers.

Anyway thanks for the concern, and I'm sorry I offended your sense of
what's right. Time will show if there's a dynamic to any of this, and if so
where it's heading.



PS I wonder how Robert Crumb would illustrate the past few months'
shenanigans on m1 and m2?!

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