[Marxism] To Vivek Chibber

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Apr 28 09:01:21 MDT 2013


On 4/28/13 10:45 AM, Ken Hiebert wrote:
> I'd like to allow for the possibility that Vivek Chibber is a
> brilliant author who has contributed much to Marxist thought and at
> the same time is someone i would not like to spend time with.
>
> I wasn't there, but I think the ideal response at the time is all
> sweetness and good humour, but at he same time managing to
> communicate to the audience that you are surprised by your opponent's
> outburst.  A veiled tone of mockery might be OK on some occasions.

I had trouble enough trying to explain 300 years of British economic 
history in 3 minutes without devoting time to a clever retort to Vivek 
Chibber. Well, that's one of the reasons I have mixed feelings about 
these academic conferences to begin with. They are imbued with the 
culture of the academy with professors talking to the sans culotte in 
the audience who then have the opportunity to respond to them in the Q&A.

There is something that is deeply hierarchical about academic 
conferences, a ritualized affair that goes hand in hand with refereed 
journals behind JSTOR paywalls. All of it is connected with accumulating 
intellectual capital, as Pierre Bourdieu described it.

People like Charlie Post and Vivek Chibber would not be caught dead 
defending their ideas on the Internet. By contrast, Jim Blaut, who was 
one of the academy's chief critics of the Brenner thesis, took to the 
Internet when he was about my age not long after I launched Marxmail 
like a duck takes to water. He understood that this was the people's 
medium that leveled the playing field. Tenured professors would have the 
chance to tangle with people in high school. That's the way it should 
really be.

Anyhow, I am working on a post about yesterday's sessions that will 
allow me to say the things I could not say in a three minute intervention.




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