Scholarship and politics (was Re: Proyect v Woods)

George Snedeker snedeker at
Sun May 20 17:42:42 MDT 2001

in a special issue of Monthly Review in I think 1999, Ellen woods, Paul
Sweezy and Harry Magdoff were all interviewed. I think it was a 50
anniversary year issue. in her interview, Ellen Woods says that her primary
political work has been as a writer. . now, does this count as political
activism? does it make her ideas more or less true? I'm not sure.

----- Original Message -----
From: Craven, Jim <jcraven at>
To: <marxism at>
Sent: Sunday, May 20, 2001 7:16 PM
Subject: RE: Scholarship and politics (was Re: Proyect v Woods)

> Andrew Austin wrote:
>  However, the political position
> of a person is not entirely irrelevant to the form and content of their
> arguments!! From a historical materialist point of view, thought is the
> reflection (or at least the refraction) of one's social location. One may
> gain considerable insight into a person's intellectual products by knowing
> where they stand. This is particularly important in decoding rhetoric, as
> capitalist and racists are keen on dressing their interests up in populist
> terms.
> Response (Jim C): I think all of this is true enough and of course, in
> of formal "logic" the particular political position of an individual does
> not automatically affirm or impeach the form and content of argument or
> evidence of that individual. But, when discussing whether or not a
> particular person (Woods) is "A" or "THE" leading "Marxist" theoretician,
> is quite proper to inquire as to what concrete struggles that alleged
> Marxist "theoretician" is involved in. Where one can be considered a
> "conservative" or "liberal" without being involved in any concrete
> action(s), the dialectical unity of theory and practice of Marxism, along
> with the mandate for Marxists to be involved in real struggles in  the
> world, makes the question of the praxis of the self-described or asserted
> Marxist a legitimate one; and, further, such a question is not akin to
> attempting to impeach the arguments of a person via impeachment of the
> purported politics of the person making an argument ( a form of ad
> Further, I find the notion of a Marxist "theoretician"--as opposed to a
> Marxist or Marxist "activist"--a bit reductionistic and not in keeping
> the asserted dialectical unity of theory and praxis fundamental to
> In other words, I find the notion of "House Marxist" or "Academic Marxist"
> or even Marxist "theoretician" to be somewhat oxymoronic from the
> of Marxism itself. Marx himself was driven out of so many places and died
> economically poor because he was indeed doing a whole lot more than
> in his life and much of the "theory" that Marx developed came out of and
> in service of his concrete involvement in real struggles in the real
> On the other part of this thread, I think it is clear that the nazi
> Holocaust has been used by Zionists, via Jewish exclusivists and others
> assert there was only ONE Holocaust or assert only the Jewish victims of
> nazi Holocaust are worth remembering or deserve special remembering) many
> whom are also active Zionists, to attempt to cover-up/legitimate the
> inherent racism in/ugly history of Zionism along with the racist and
> imperial machinations and alliances of Zionists and their ugly
> But I also agree with the author of this thread that the misuses and
> manipulations of the Zionists and Jewish exclusivists in using the nazi
> Holocaust to promote Zionist agenda other forms of Holocaust denial
> (specifically of other Holocausts) should never lead one to minimize or
> any aspects or dimensions of the nazi Holocaust; in other words, any form
> Holocaust denial or exclusivism is ugly, racist and in the service of
> of reaction.
> Jim C.

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