« 'Living Marxism' and 'Tory sleaze' | Main | Talk about dumbing down ... »

December 14, 2003


Chris Brooke

It might be a good idea to distinguish your "Marxist discussion lists" here, Oliver.

The first quotation you report, and describe as a "more in sorrow than in anger" remark, was posted to Doug Henwood's lbo-talk discussion list. There are several Marxists who do post to this list, but there are also an awful lot of non-Marxists who post there, too, making "Marxist discussion list" a misleading label for the forum.

The two posts you then mention -- the "slug of lead" remark and the post which links to your own blog -- were posted to a completely different online forum, Lou Proyect's marxmail discussion list, which is obviously and aggressively Marxist-Leninist.

The "fourth contributor" to whom you refer and quote at length was, in fact, the original contributor who supplied the "more in sorrow than in anger" remark in the first place, posting once again at lbo-talk.

It seems to me, then, that you've found some interesting political discussion over at lbo-talk and some crude and offensive remarks over at marxmail, and you've written a post conflating these two very different online fora and tarring them and their various participants with the same brush.

Perhaps a correction is in order?

Oliver Kamm

Fair comment, and thank you for the correction. I was doing it from memory and had erroneously conflated the two lists in my mind. I don't, however, consider that the discussion on LBO-talk was either interesting or intelligent, but merely non-obscene. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and the contributor who likened Norman to Sidney Hook plainly intended it to be a slighting remark, whereas it is in fact a complimentary one. The list is as you say not an exclusively Marxist forum, but you omit mention of its dreary and intellectually otiose quality. I once, some years ago, had an online argument with Henwood (not on that list but on the Post-Keynesian Theory list) in which he giggled a lot because I had denied that equity returns are driven by shifts in demand for equities. The joke, of course, was on him, as is often the case when non-specialists imagine they're dispensing common sense on technical subjects.

David Duff

On the whole I am not given to soppiness but I found that last quote from Sidney Hook rather moving.

Reading you and Norman Geras during this tumultuous year left me puzzled. It was obvious to me that we approached politics from opposite directions and that the war had, so to speak, camouflaged some fundamental differences and yet I felt an underlying sympathy or perhaps 'empathy' is better. Hook's wise words above explains all.
David Duff

hans ze beeman

Oliver, I'm quite sure you already know this excellent analysis by Lee Harris in Policy Review, "The Intellectual Origins Of America-Bashing". As the Marxian immiserization hypothesis has failed (ironically, it hit so-called "Marxist", i.e. socialist countries), he says, some Marxists are so desperate to see some signs of totalitarianism that they support Islamofascism, with whom they share a common enemy. Quite an interesting read.

The comments to this entry are closed.