Feedback from Leo Panitch, plus my reply

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sat May 31 14:25:28 MDT 2003

Dear Louis,

Whatever else you may be excused for have gotten wrong in your allegations
here regarding my view of imperialism on the basis of a radio interview,
rather than asking me to send you the draft of the actual essay that the
interviewer clearly implied was available (since he made clear he had read
it) and that will be forthcoming in the next issue of the Socialist
Register, what I find especially astonishing is your background bio - which
reflects yet again your false attributions to me (and to Colin yet again -
despite earlier correspondence and your complete neglect of everything he
has written over the past 25 years - and especially the past decade). My
position is the exact opposite of what you say - all my work makes
absolutely clear my unwavering position on the centrality of the working
class to the revolutionary project - in direct contrast to the Wallerstein
position; and as for Hardt and Negri,  this was explicitly set out against
them in my and Gindin's 10,000 word review essay on their book in
Historical Materialism 10, published last summer.

Apart from this, I scarcely know what to point you to in my other work,
particularly since this position is so central to all of it, but if you
would have read more than the title of my 1986 book Working Class Politics
in Crisis (the crisis in the title pertains to the institutional politics
that has so far offset revolutionary potential in the working class) this
would have been obvious from every chapter in it, beginning especially with
the first one. And if you, or any of the people you sent your note to, were
to read my Renewing Socialism book with Westview in 2001 (which brings
together many of my SR essays since 1989), especially the first and last
chapter (but it is there in every chapter really), you can't but see how
silly is the claim you have just made regarding my view of the working
class. Oh well, I foregave you for attributing to me support for the
American war on Afghanistan (and I appreciated your later apology when it
was pointed out to you by others how outspoken I had been against it). And
I should be grateful, I guess, for your not attributing to me support for
American imperialism in Iraq now. So I'll forgive you for this latest
clunker too, I guess. Leo


I didn't say that you didn't believe in the centrality of the working
class. I only said that you thought that trying to make working class
revolutions modeled on October 1917 would backfire. In your own words: "The
tragedy of the October revolution was that it could only produce a
ruthless, brutal command socialism." That being the case, how else can one
supersede capitalism? Electing Stanley Aronowitz governor of NY State?

Btw, there is no need to recommend that I read your SR articles. I have
every copy on my bookshelf going back to 1990 and have read them cover to
cover, except those articles that are of no interest to me.

And I forgive you, by the way, for expelling me from the Socialist Register
mailing list.

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