just a thought - again

Ed George edgeorge at usuarios.retecal.es
Fri Jul 12 14:30:57 MDT 2002

Juriaan wrote: 'Mandel was actually not such a great academician or
lecturer either, at least when we knew him, but he gave his all for the
socialist cause. So why knock people like that, because they aren't
perfect in parts of their lives?'

The point is in what part of their lives are these people not perfect.
Maybe Mandel was not a great academician but then he never set out to
be: from the point of view of the academy he wasted too much of his time
on 'politics'. That is one of the reasons I respected him so much. What
disturbs me about Anderson (and to an extent Brenner) is that they are
just going through the motions. I think that Anderson started out with a
commitment to Marxism, that he saw it as a tool to change the world, not
as an intellectual plaything. But this changed some point around the
late 70s or early 80s (I've written about Anderson before on this list;
my thinking should be in the archive somewhere), and from this point
Anderson's affinity with ideas comes across very much as an intellectual
pastime. This bothers me because I learned most (or at least most of the
best) of my Marxism from his work. Nevertheless, despite this, given
what he's come to I see no need to refrain from denunciation: bearing in
mind the effects of the objective situation what has happened to NLR and
to Anderson himself is something we can take a position on. If he also
turns out to be a very bad teacher as well then for me that is just
extra evidence. I cannot believe that his poor teaching skills are due
to personal flaws that he is unable to overcome; no, it seems to me that
he doesn't really care, that he's going through the motions. And if that
is the case, then how sad is that? Really, I've never understood how a
'radical' of whatever stripe would choose to be a professor in a
prestigious United States (or British for that matter) university. I see
it as status seeking; but if you want the status you have to earn it. So
I denounce him: for me, he was on our side, and he left it. So even if
I've learned more from Anderson's books than I learned from Mandel's, in
terms of being a role model of the type of person I aspire to be Mandel
had what I respect in spades, and Anderson now has absolutely none of
it. And that, when it comes to it, is what really matters.

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