OK, let's put an end to all this

Greg Schofield gschofield at one.net.au
Sun Jun 17 05:05:55 MDT 2001


Dayne  thanks for your comments.

At 04:03  17/06/01 -0600, you wrote:
>On Sun, 17 Jun 2001, Greg Schofield wrote:
>         . . .
> > I would love to again get more involved with this list, but some of these
> > matters must be fairly dealt with, my view is progressively becoming
> > hostile to "dependency theory" as a whole, I am finding many of the
> > assumptions incorrect and have found Julio's arguments persuasive.
>
>DG: Greg, you seem to mistakenly believe that the existence of this list
>is based on consensual political agreement, not only that but agreement on
>"dependency theory."  Actually it is a "marxism" list and if i remember
>correctly it is advocated by the moderator of the list that it is not
>meant to be a doctrinaire marxism.

Yes I understand this as well, but I also see that the dominant theoretical
position is loosely speaking "dependency theory" and vital assumptions do
not seem to be getting answered. This of course is fine, a list, any list,
is bound to take on its own character and those feeling out-of-step are
bound also to clash - I like this list and am not rubbishing it, but as I
said "dependency theory" I am liking less and less.

In truth I would have to go through the material of the list, very
carefully in order to give anything approaching a worth-while critique. I
am not placing myself in this position at the moment, but rather raising a
couple of important points that I would like to see addressed.


>         You also seem to believe that anyone on the list who makes a
>particular argument defending dependency theory at a particular juncture
>in the list's convoluted and ongoing arguments, has caucused together with
>everyone else who has ever defended dependency theory and achieved
>political unanimity - that all agree with any one argument put forth by
>anyone else in defense of dependency theory.

No I don't believe in any caucusing on the list, even if it did happen it
would only be to a small degree and no more than chats between like-minded
friends. No I have no general problem with a particular theory being
dominant, it is just the theory itself. I don't doubt that comrades hold it
honestly and that it has been derived from a background of previous debate
(which is sufficient reason for its predominance without bringing anything
else into the picture).

No the challenge I am placing is genuine - that is I have drawn out just
two problems and asked comrades to show me their case (I am not asking for
a full thesis, just some clear statements about 1) how surplus is extracted
from worker's in the first world as a form of exploitation of worker's in
the third world. 2) How does this or anything else abrogate Marx's
Manifesto of communist duty.)

Dayne, I can understand how you have interpreted my statements, they are a
fair reading of my meaning, so much of this post is merely clarification of
the original.


>         This is my guess why you want to start a debate with *the
> list.*

Not quite I believe I can see several serious errors in "dependency theory"
not the least of which is praxical/political. Perhaps, I am in the wrong
(obviously I do not think so), but rather as the issues have several times
been touched on but not to my knowledge answered properly (I am quite
prepared to accept a couple of quotes from previous posts - I just cannot
find any at the time when I became conscious of the problem).

In short, I think there is error in the dependency theory which is being
danced around (I don't expect anyone to agree to this put-down, I mean it
to simply characterise what I think I am seeing). Error after all would not
be errors if they could easily be seen, so even if I am right I cannot see
this as a damning indictment of anyone.

> > So here is my challenge, for what it is worth - someone show that David
> > Welsh is wrong, or simply demonstrate how first workers exploit third
> > world, at the moment the whole thing simply seems based on romantic
> notions
> > which I find are profoundly anti-worker and embrace political passivity.
>
>DG: I don't think that 'first world workers' exploit 'third world
>workers'; if anyone on this list has said that, i disagree with them.

Actually it has been said in a number of different ways and fairly often,
but that is not the point. I am not holding the theory to ridicule because
people may have expressed it badly, if I have read this wrong please
correct me (seriously), but if it is a real expression of the theory, a
logical part of it whether it is said or not said, then that is a real
debate because I believe it is erroneous to the core.

Dayne, presuming you hold to dependency theory (I only say this not to
label you one way or the other) there is no reason why your version need
embrace worker exploitation of worker, but I might well be justified and
posing the question what is the relationship between the first world worker
and the third? I don't think such a question is unfair by any measure.

> > I have in the past had comradely dealings with communist rank and file
> > activists in the third world, despite the huge disparities in resources I
> > have always found we faced similar problems (much more intense and
> > sometimes deadly in the third world). I have never met any such activists
> > who has asked anymore of communists in the first world then do the same
> > they are doing amongst their own working class - organise.
>
>DG: I generally agree with you, Greg.  Julio's participation on the list
>has left me puzzled because i have seen no indication that he is
>organizing "amongst [his] own working class."

Perhaps he isn't, I am not, nor have I for two years. However, as some
parts of his view attempt to dispel a huge "unsurmountable" difference
between first and third world workers it could fairly be said it lends
itself to organising amongst any "world" worker we happen to be amongst.
Again, not wishing to be ultra critical it is reasonable to conclude that
unless there is another dimension to dependency theory, the politics of the
first world worker seem to pallour somewhat compared to that of the third.

> > I have always found that taking up international issues and neglecting
> > domestic ones, tends to result in very little practical help actually
> being
> > received, a comforting amount of self-satisfaction, and an appalling
> > neglect of the communist duty outlined in the Communist Manifesto to
> > struggle to realise worker's immediate interests.
>
>DG: Again, i agree with you Greg.  This is a basis for my criticism of
>Julio. He seems to have achieved a unity of theory and practice by
>theorizing that what needs to be done is to organize the upper strata of
>workers in "the rich countries," that is, *elsewhere.* (BTW i recently
>glanced at a chart published in the local news media which indicated that
>Mexico was the tenth "richest" nation in the world. i don't recall if the
>ranking was by national income, GNP or whatever.)

I doubt if Australia would be in the top ten (I can see why Mexico could
be), but the standard of living here is definitely far more first world
than that of Mexico. Likewise I think India may be well up on the wealth
charts (well beyond Australia that is for sure), but I doubt that any
Indian comrade would for instance not recognise the overall higher standard
of living of Australian workers (mind you many Indian workers do enjoy a
reasonable standard of living).

So I speak from a country which has historically a high standard of living
and so all my organising activity could be said to have been amongst the
upper strata on a world scale (mind you many of the workers in Australia
only scratch by despite everything else). I am not the slightest bit
ashamed of this and more over advocate the same in any first world country.

>I cannot remember this
> > being qualified by the workers needing to be "romatically" super-exploited
> > as a condition of acting on this duty, as now seems to be the case with so
> > many communists.
>
>DG: I also don't recall this qualification being made.

Dayne this last part was put in for effect - obviously me using the word
romantic is prejudicial, but if my view of the errors of this theory are
correct that is exactly the correct label for the error (God knows I have
fallen for the same error often enough). A romantic error of some type or
another is very common in the communist movement today (even if you hold to
dependency theory and believe it does not suffer from it), there are those
who romanticise figures such as Stalin and Mao, even Fidel, or particular
historical events (barricade mania), or socialism so purified and above
history that barring the pearly gates and Peter and his keys it is heaven.
Romanticism exists widely in our movement and unfortunately I think I can
see signs of it here - everyone else is free to disagree and at least it is
a charge far less rankling than many others.

Greg Schofield
Perth Australia





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