Carrol: Are apples red? Mark & Lou: No,they are round Re: Mark'senvironmentsal panic attack

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Fri Jun 9 13:02:16 MDT 2000

Louis Proyect wrote:

> Carrol wrote:
> >I say, I admit X. Now please tell me how to use X.
> Enough already with the furkakte pragmatism. Not every investigation by
> Marxists leads to practical political action.

I don't know what you mean by "practical political action." As a matter of
fact very little Marxist investigation leads (at all directly) to tactical
or methods. The assumption that there is such a direct link is usually
called dogmatism. But most serious scientific or scholarly investigation
tends to be characterized by a lively sense of priorities. Cultism and
various forms of kookery, on the other hand, assumes that any
question one might ask is equally important. I don't doubt but what
if one checked the byways and dead ends of physical sciences in
19th century you would find a good deal of tomfoolery grounded in
the denial of action at a distance. That 20th century physics leaped
ahead by considering this question does not negate the tomfoolishnes
of any 19th c. investigations.

Now up to a point, the investigations you and Mark focus on are
obviously of a great deal of importance. I don't know of anyone
except Jim Heartfield that would deny that. But a single-minded
pursuit of them absent any political *or* scientific context ceases
to be the pursuit of truth and becomes mere obsessiveness. You
can see that happening, for example, off in one lonely corner of
marxist scholarship where benighted economists wrangle decade
after decade on possible solutions to the transformation problem.
You can see it in Dennis Redman's obsession with maintaining
the displacement of u.s. by european or japanese capital as the
dominant political force. Remember his theory that the NATO
invasion of Yugoslavia represented the U.S. carrying out tasks
dictated by Europe? And my objection at the time was that
Dennis refused to recognize that the political implication of his
thesis was war in the not too distant future between the U.S.
and the E.U.

Now your theory of the imminent permanent disruption of human
activity by global warming certainly has political implications. To
me and apparently to Hans Ehrbar those implications resemble
Plato's call for Philosopher Kings to transform the world. (I will
try to treat his. I have important disagreements with his position,
but it *is* the most obvious deduction from the arguments you
have been advancing. If there are other deductions to be made,
I would like to see them spelled out in somewhat broader terms
than driving SUVs off the market.

I don't even ask for a grand strategy -- and certainly not for
suggestions as to immediate tactics. I would like to see however
some of the strategic principles your analysis of global conditions
generates. And I would also like to see you and Mark take
more seriously the distinction Hans draws between external
and internal contradictions.

> We are trying to educate
> people, not organize a boycott of Jeep Cherokees, for chrissake.

Agreed. But why are you educating people about global warming
rather than about theories as to the origins of language? Now I
could answer that question easily. I don't think you can answer
it at all unless you begin to take seriously the intellectual's obligation
to provide a rationale for his/her investigations. (Incidentally, the
question of the origins of language is one you had better take
very seriously, because your apparent politics are going to depend
for any success at all on the recruitment of large numbers of
bourgeois intellectuals to your position, and that will require doing
more to reach them than simply abusing pomo.)

> Well, in
> your case I'll make an exception. Carroll, the practical implication of all
> this global warming stuff is to stop SUV's in their tracks. I expect you to
> take the offensive on this in Springfield and to hear a full report by the
> end of July. Take no prisoners.

Lou, start using your brain on politics again rather than on scoring
debating points.


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