Reply to Adam & Why Bhaskar

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
Sat Sep 14 22:03:20 MDT 1996


Adam, who almost makes me love the English, has asked me "Why  Bhaskar?  Why
not just use Marx to refute the pomos etc."

This is a serious question but as usual I am pressed for time.  However let
me try and say something of interest.

First though let me get the wanker bit out of the way.  I enter a plea of
guilty here. And hope for a light sentence.  It never worked before when I
was in court but perhaps here I will  receive some understanding.

Now I also have  to admit that if I had spent as much time poring over
Capital and Grundrisse as I have over Bhaskar's works I no doubt would have
had an easier time and would know  a lot more about Marxism.

Preliminaries aside, I work as an academic here in Brisbane.  I am well
known as a Marxist.  The epithet "mad" and "terrorist" has been regularly
added to my name for the last couple of decades.  I am also known to be gay.
Now  if I say so myself there is no way to survive in this place with those
qualifications unless one is both street wise and up to date intellectually.
Like most academics I simply have to keep ahead of the mob.  I must follow
the fashion and if I can set one.

Now that is an honest statement of the pressures academics are under. It
might provoke some derisions from the non-academics on this list, but I
would ask them to consider that we have our own work culture and  it should
be at least acknowledged if not respected.

So in this context Marxism to me is both an  intellectual discipline , a
research program as Bhaskar puts it and a political way of life.

For the first part, I simply cannot rest on the classics and quote from the
canon- I have  to keep up with the revisions. That means Habermas, or  the
analytical marxists or Bhaskar. I chose Bhaskar because he is the most
comprehensive.  As well his system touches upon aesthetics & ethics and
these are  particular  interests of mine.  He is also extremely radical
writer and a hater of Thatcher.   I will forgive him many things for that.

He is in addition a genius (true) and his work is simply chockful of
insights and wisdom.

It is  of course  terribly badly written.  It is  a labor to read.  But it
is also a joy in terms of understanding advanced.

Now let me be political again.  What is Marxism for me?  Well I am Irish
Catholics by rearing.  So my  instincts  are to find the faith and hold on.
Think of the Red Flag.

Through dungeon dark  and gallows grim
This song shall be our battle hymn.

Then think of  the old Irish hymn

"Faith of our fathers holy faith" and the line pledging  loyalty in spite of

"dungeon, fire and sword."

That is me to a tee.

Now I know  it is backward and all that, contradictory even.  But I am well
into my sixth decade and I am a Marxist where it is not fashionable and I
hold on.

To repeat myself then, Marxism is both  a way of life and yes a religion for
me and an intellectual discipline.

Intellectually I am not afraid to change my mind about a whole range of
issues.   I have been taught much on this list before its sad decline and I
hope  to learn more on the moderated list.

Politically I have also changed.  I am no longer the hard edged sectarian
party builder. Under young Proyect's and others influence  I have even
patched up a row  I have had here  with the DSP and I spoke to some folk  in
Socialist Alternative on Saturday.  And I read an article by that shit Mick
Armstrong who expelled me from IS  and the strain of it all is killing me!

But there is a core of beliefs  which as I have said remains unchanged and
unchangeable.  And if I may say so it is this core which eventually
reasserted itself and made me recongnise a  comrade in Olaechea and Louis
Godena and others whom I  have and will quarrel with.


Finally Adam asks why should he read Bhaskar? The answer is that he should
try the impossible and read everything.


regards

Gary



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