need for apology ?

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Sun Dec 31 09:53:49 MST 2000

Jurriaan Bendien wrote:

> >Carol writes:
> >I think Jurriaan owes both Charles and the list an apology for introducing
> >this mode of polemics.
> My reply is reasonably lengthy:
> You shouldn't prejudge somebody's stance before you've verified what it is.
> It hadn't occurred to me that I was engaging in "polemics". I was making
> the point that the view of history as a inevitable "process without a
> subject" determined by laws impervious to human wills and occurring in a
> necessary sequence of stages, is a deformation of Marxism that is of
> Stalinist origin,

Why spoil a good argument with Stalinist-baiting? And more -- your
claim is not even accurate. If we are going to fix the "blame" on anyone
it should be the Second International, with the obsession of so many
at that time with "evolution." The (necessary) implication of your beginning
with a reference to Stalin, moreove, is that any position held by Stalin
is a distortion of Marxism. And that also happens to be false. Stalin's
argument that language is *not* part of the base, *not* part of the
forces of production, *not* part of the superstrucure, is an important
argument -- and this view of language must be held in some form even
by those, such as me, who have decided that the base/superstructure
metaphor is a bad metaphor. (See the reference to Stalin in Sebastiano
Timpanaro, *Thoughts on Materialism*.)

I doubt that I have ever missed anything very important by refusing
to pay attention to those who wrap their positions (however correct)
in the language of anti-stalinism If the position is correct, someone
else is sure to articulate it without that unnecessary baggage. And in
the present case I am quite able to make the argument myself, as
it so happens, because I've given a good deal of thought and study
to this question over the years. And I resent having my own position
contaminated with unnecessary stalin-baiting.


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