Forwarded from Alex LoCascio

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Oct 23 06:36:11 MDT 2000


Been loosely following, via the web archive, the debate re: Brenner's thesis
on the origins of capitalism as well as the digression on ATC and its
alleged political relationship to Brenner's theoretical work.

Without involving myself in the touchy debate between the Brennerites and
the MR-type developement theorists you seem to favor, As a lapsed Solidarity
member (currently a "formal sympathizer"), I feel obligated to note that
there is a misperception among independent Marxists outside the organization
as to the exact role that the celebrity intellectuals within the group play
in its everyday political life.

The fact of the matter is, David Finkel has more of a role in the day-to-day
production and editorial perspective of the magazine than Brenner or any of
the other academic celebrities who lend their name to the masthead.  This is
not to say that Wald, Brenner, and company don't involve themselves in ATC
or the group, only to say that their role is overstated by outsider
misperceptions.  Regardless of whether one agrees with the generally "Third
Camp" perspective espoused in ATC, it's safe to say that it reflects the
Left-Shachtmanite views of Finkel more than anything else.  So I think it's
a bit incorrect to assume there's some sort of correlation between Brenner's
theoretical work and the everyday political perspectives espoused in ATC
(although it is true that Brenner emerges from the Third Camp tradition).

Incidentally, independent Marxists tend to make the same mistake when
discussing Solidarity's role vis-a-vis TDU and Labor Notes.  It's only a
very small portion of total Solidarity membership that plays a role in these
projects, and there is no formal connection between TDU and LN, which are
essentially apolitical and non-socialist labor reform projects, and
Solidarity, which is essentially a socialist regroupment effort.

I'm not giving away any great secret here.  Just trying to correct some


My reply: Thanks for the clarification, Alex. This would probably explain
ATC's abysmal positions on Yugoslavia since the guy putting together the
stuff is an orthodox "third camper". That being said, I have exchanged
email with Brenner on Yugoslavia and could not detect any differences with
Finkel on these questions. I wasn't that surprised about Brenner. What did
surprise and depress me was the willingness of ex-Trotskyists like Alan
Wald and Diane Feely to go along with that mess, Branka Magas and all. I
suppose the drift of the Mandelistas to the "humanitarian intervention"
right explains this to a degree.

Louis Proyect
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