Reply to Proyect

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Tue Nov 16 12:31:54 MST 1999

At 01:32 PM 11/16/99 -0200, Richard Wolff wrote:
>market" as Proyect seems to believe. Our approach to state capitalism has
>to do with its class organization of production - who does the surplus
>labor, who appropriates and distributes it, how and to whom, and with what
>social consequences - not with the organization of the distribution of the
>products of labor (as commodities via markets or as non-commodities via
>alternative mechanisms of distribution). Proyect seems unclear on this
>distinction, although it is central to our work on the USSR as on the other
>topics we have written about.

Thank you for the clarification, although I must say that there is nothing
in your Bad Subjects article that seems much different from what I've read
in various state capitalist venues.

That being said, I commend you for promoting a more pure form of socialist
ideal than has been commonly accepted by all the orthodox Marxist groups.
There is a hoary tradition of philosophical idealism wedded to
anticapitalist yearnings in this country going back to the days of Marx,
but existing in uneasy relationship to the movement he went on to build.

Daniel DeLeon built a movement around such an ideal, while in more recent
years men like Michael Albert have also written millions of words in praise
of his own philosophical ideal. I suspect that his Boston roots and your's
in Amherst evoke a much earlier tradition than even DeLeon. It hearkens
back to the transcendentalism of Emerson and other New Englanders, some of
our greatest citizens and democrats.

In general, Marxish idealism is not harmful. Many young people discover
anticapitalist critiques for the first time in places like the 100 year old
Weekly People, organ of DeLeon's Socialist Labor Party, with its
magnificent visions of a classless society based on the free association of
producers organized into industrial unions led by the SLP. Paul Buhle owes
his introduction to socialist ideas from a chance encounter with the Weekly
People in the 1950s. Nowadays, Z Magazine carries on this fine tradition
with its noble and flawless plans for a future socialist society organized
around Mike Albert and Robin Hahnel's automated communes, whatever they
call it. By affiliating with these sorts of traditions, you are standing up
for what's best in the American grain.

Louis Proyect

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