The Woman Question: Reply to Melvin

Sherry & Stan Goff sherrynstan at
Sat Apr 27 07:41:18 MDT 2002

> Keep the status of labor as a commodity under your belt and we can get
> through this.

The status of labor as a commodity I have taken for granted throughout this
exchange.  It is a Marxist list, and if anything is axiomatic, that is.  My
point in all this, if there is one central point there, is the complexity of
the concrete.  The labor theory of value, the centrality of class struggle,
and the goal of that struggle, revolutionary transformation under the class
dictatorship of the proletariat, remain the lodestones.  But if I can posit
an analogy, recognising in advance that analogies are always a temptation to
reification, if this deeper theoretical recognition qualifies as a kind of
compass, our tasks involve navigating over rough and contradictory terrain,
inhabited by enemy forces.  (This particular metaphor is obviously a
refelection of my own experience with light infantry...)  Those tasks
include bringing people together along that terrain, where many are
disoriented, trapped in gorges and thickets, stuck across rivers, frightened
of snakes and the dark... then moving that mass, not in a straight line...
there's a bluff ahead here, impassible mountain laurel there, a swamp... but
negotiating and bypassing obstacles, recalculating at each change--using our
compass to remain cognizant of where we are supposed to end up--the route
changes that are necessary since our last ducks and dodges, in order to
continue moving toward our goal.  If we begin from many points, and we are
opposed by a powerful and malevolent force along the way, then there is no
line of march, but many changing routes, contingent on contact with our
enemy and the specific terrain we are traversing, as we move from these
various points toward a rendevous, where we can link our forces and prepare
for a change from many battles of mobility (to borrow from Mao) to battles
of position, aimed at seizing state power.  To gather our forces along the
way, we have to recognize when some of them are in skirmishes already,
assist them in defeating their immediate enemies, then integrate them into
our our force and resume movement toward, first, that rendevouz, and later,
the major battles.  Sometimes, they will even, based on historical
circumstances, be fighting among themselves, and we will have to resolve
those disputes, through negotiation if possible, but through other means if
necessary.  I am thinking here of the concrete example of the Yugoslav
resistance during WWII, and the Chinese Revolution, where these complexities
never permitted a singular line of march until many contradiction were

Insisting on a singular line of march with a merely potential force strikes
me as dogma, as schematic.  Accounting for these complexities and
contradictions, it seems, is in some ways the essence of Leninism.

Politics is an instrumental and not an expressive activity.



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