Reading recommended

Gorojovsky Gorojovsky at
Sun Mar 4 19:49:16 MST 2001

En relación a Re: Reading recommended,
el 4 Mar 01, a las 23:21, João Paulo Monteiro dijo:

> Let me begin by translating the sentence you quote above from my book, pg.
> 98. It's would be something like: "Lenin and Mao were both communists
> (which is more than one can say of both Stalin and Trotsky)".
> On its context, this was really just a side remark, totally unrelated to any
> althusserian construct, least of all the epistemological cut (I wonder how you
> made that remarkable association).

Oh, you are giving my answer below in fact. Wait and see.

> Anyway, it begs its explanation, with all due
> care not to fall in one of those arcane and sterile discussions about who were
> the true leaders of the proletariat.

In agreement.

> Let me begin by saying that I very much appreciate Trotsky as a revolutionary,
> writer, historian and theoretician (by that order). I have less sympathy for
> Stalin, although the man was, no doubt about it, an herculean achiever. In my
> opinion they were not communists.

OK, now please watch your own words.

> For all the science and reasoned articulation you drag into it, to be a
> communist supposes an immense leap of faith. You have to believe in that vision
> of freedom, peace and harmony. It's not all that different now from the time of
> the millennium prophets. When you believe in communism, you are possessed by a
> sort of inner moral rage and you don't compromise (except tactically). It gets
> entrailed into your being. All of your nerves are pointed in that direction.

Isn't this a peculiar and most poetical way to express Althusser's
epistemological cut. I mean, you seem to establish a border between good
socialists (people who, in their own limited possibilities, tried to advance
our cause) and communists, that is, people who not only were rationally for
socialism but held an ultimately irrational faith in it. Doesn't this imply
that there is some kind of division between the world of "reason (science)" and
the word of "faith (ideology)". This is the way I read you, at least.

> I can tell Lenin was a communist by the way he literally died of impotence and
> despair at the sight of the resurgent grand-russian bureaucratic beast.

Mark would tell you that Stalin died of impotence and despair at the sight of
the weakness of the Soviet Union relative to its bourgeois enemies. I would
also state that Trotsky agreed with Lenin in his despair at the "dzyezhymorda",
but -yes- his despair was cast in a different state of mind.

What I mean is that what all these people felt (and all that we ourselves feel)
is irrelevant unless it is expressed in acts. And the depth of the struggles
involve both faith and reason, in Stalin, Trotsky, Lenin, Mao as well as in
Joao Paulo, Nestor, Jose or Ivonaldo.

> Or the
> way Mao split with Khrutchov and then launched one last desperate assault on
> heavens in the cultural revolution. They were both cunning and pragmatic
> politicians. Men of science with more than a touch of skeptical refinement.
> Genial tacticians, capable of engaging in the most rude calculations. But with
> that last breath of theirs you know what they were after.

This is another point in your book I would differ with, though only slightly.
Yes, there are moral issues in struggling for what you define as communism
(which is more or less the same thing _I_ would define as such). I feel,
however, that you are taking them a little bit further away than I would do.

> Somehow I can't see this in Trotsky (an haughty fellow, all so full of himself),
> and least of all in Stalin. That's all I meant by that impressionistic remark.
> Not much we can chew here theoretically.

As you saw above, there are some things to chew theoretically up there. As to
what you write on Althusser, particularly with

> I think the epistemological cut was one of his major blunders. I have
> no use for this concept at all.

But if I am not wrong it slipped into a side remark by yours. Perhaps I am
splitting hairs... We do agree in that

> there is indeed a distinction to be
> made between ideology and science. But this distinction is a question of
> practice, historically and socially situated. Not the fixed, rationalist
> frontier marked on the realm of pure intellect that Althusser made it to be.

Yes, totality, that is, concrete life, is the actual ground for us.

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at

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