Marxism, fashion etc. blog

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at
Tue Jul 22 09:43:16 MDT 2003

Hi David,

Good solid, inspiring analysis here ! We always need fresh themes.  Didn't
know you were such a keen gardener. Youssef was thinking of starting one on
my balcony, he bought me a plant with purple/lilac flowers, we had it for a
while but in the heat it got so thirsty that it literally just slumped, I
would feed it water again, and within 10 minutes, wham, it was standing up
again. But I don't know what happened to it, it seems to be gone. I guess
you always have to tend your plant, I am not good at it, I prefer to tend
people, but not good at that either. My older brother did a diploma in
horticulture after having a mental breakdown, he knows a hell of a lot about
it, works as a gardener at times.

There is also the Trotsky-in-Mexico connection, and you know what happened
to him. He just refused to shut up.

Might just go for a walk at my local Hampstead, which is called Flevopark
(we also have a swimming pool on the edge of it). I lived for a while in
1990 with a Green Party organiser in New Zealand who wrote books on
gardening (see e.g.
so I know your angle (she also wrote a history of the modern feminist
movement called Up from under - New Zealand is often referred to as "Down
Under"). That ""hiring out" business really isn't so creative, is it ? Good
critical point, also, health risks. But who is interested in creativity ?
Exploiters ?

You ask:

So, I ask, how is it with ornamental gardening in Cuba? Not the officially
maintained stuff, which I am sure is world class and very interesting given
Cuba's devotion to saving and cherishing its history and uniqueness among
the nations, but what the people do in their little plots, on their
balconies and steps, and perhaps in common areas where the motivation is not
food production but the production of beauty.

I believe investigation of this would provide a little window into the
understanding of how people have changed themselves under the impact of 44
years of revolution.


Yes, I am keen on those those little plots, but you cannot be Voltaire all
the time you know. There is a limit. Taste is important, ecology is
important. I haven't investigated this phenomenon seriously in Cuba, I still
have to go there, I just have to finish with my housework now, I have a
headache and I am under stress. This little plant plot story is undervalued,
under-researched. Usually these days, when people talking "plants", they
mean such things as:

(1) marihuana
(2) a type of slowly, incrementally developing personality (maybe as in Bob
Dylan's son's band, The Wallflowers)
(3) hidden microphones or objects deliberately left in somebody's living
(4) a specific type of clone
(5) sexual activity involving insertion
(6) hair, etc.

Real plants, the green things that provide spiritual refreshment and a
calming influence, in Holland tends to be more for advanced players. The
environmentalist movement here is enormously large, in terms of people who
belong to environmental associations of one kind or another. Lot of people
in a small area, high population density, see.

What parts of the analysis should we tackle first, do you think ? A
materialist theory of the history of people's gardening activity; the use of
gardening in relaxation; health issues in gardening; the political
significance of plants; plant theory and botanical classification systems
from the 19th century to the present day; gardening as an activity for
building the party; gardening as a progressive phenomenon as a whole; the
class struggle in the domestic gardening world (keeping up with the
Joneses); gardening at the point of production; the class struggle in the
gardening business; what is Yates Corporation really doing ?; the
contribution of gardening to human and social welfare; the sociology of
gardening - which social classes concentrate most on the garden; who the
friends of the people are, and why they go gardening; Monsanto versus the
gardeners; the specific charm of meat-eating plants; variations in gardening
culture considered from the standpoint of different modes of production in
the history of human kind; the implications of the division of labour for
gardening activity; vegetable Marxism; the rise in the organic composition
of capital within the gardening sector, and its implications for the
declining rate of profit, taking into account the trend in world market
prices; is too much, or too little gardening a good thing or a bad thing ?;
the economics of labour-time within the gardening world; gardening
strategies for advanced players; getting the garden that fits with your
personality and your politics, without being offensive to your neighbour; is
the "secret life of plants" scientific ? The political implications of using
pesticides versus organic gardening; can gardening insights be generalised
from gardening to hairdressing, or only vice versa (philosophy of science
question) ? The ideal plant to give to you lover, even if you do not know
her so well yet ? Plant odour and how to manage it; Gardening for small
budgets - eat your produce and save money, share your produce and save more
money; gardening as collective activity; gardening and mass politics; great
gardeners protests of the 2Oth century; gardening during wartime; the
political significance and symbolisms of plants and plant-colours; the
meaning of "green fingers"; weed problems and their implications for visual
clarity in the garden; gardening on steep gradients, geographically
considered; fossil gardens and their meaning for us today; the political and
health implications of genetically modified gardens; Gardeners in the
Guinness Book of Records and what we can learn from them about political
success; Gardening quotations for all seasons; whe do we raise the slogan of
a gardener's Soviet, etc.

Well I just have given you some ideas, but it is a very extensive subject
you know, and the power of gardeners is underestimated hugely. The gardener
you know is often better than the gardener you don't know.

Hope this helps,


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