General Comment


Michael Yates
 

As I get older, I think to myself that there are just so many things I don't know. I have certainly attacked the position of others in the past, sometimes in a mean-spirited way. And I have surely engaged in what I like to call "bar talk." That is, yattering on about something without much in the way of evidence. I try not to do this now because I am old and what is the point? On many issues discussed on this list and on social media, people often make statements lacking in evidence of any kind. We all have an ideology in our heads, something that gives us a way to interpret the world. This isn't a bad thing, but the hardest thing to do is to interrogate that internal compass to see how it is doing. It's easier just to say, as if you were on a barstool, well, if you don't support, with a full throat, the shipment of an endless supply of lethal weaponry to Ukraine, you are a fascist supporter of Putin. Even if you think the Russian invasion cannot be justified. People here excoriated Victor Grossman for saying just that. No thought, no close reading of what Victor said, no grasp of his great store of knowledge, just bar talk. If I say that like Russia, Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, again, the bar talkers will run wild.

How do people here react to this: The scholar Zhun Xu has shown that the dismantling of the Chinese communes has not worked out well for either Chinese peasants or Chinese agriculture or the power of peasants and workers. If people comment right away without reading his excellent book or much of anything else for that matter, then they are just engaging in bar talk. 

Someone commented on a post of mine that linked to a YouTube video discussing my new book about work. He just went on about what Marx said. He didn't watch the video obviously. How is this of any value or interest?

I also posted the opening paragraph of an essay that appeared on Counterpunch. No one commented, which is fair enough. But I posted this on a Facebook page devoted to people who grew up in my hometown when I did. The people in this group are, for the most part, conservative and often interested in trivia. But if you say something serious, like the death of workers, in the factory where they and their parents labored, who were exposed to poisons, it might resonate. It certainly did. Men and women told their own stories about how their fathers too died from exposure to asbestos and silica dust, plus the cigarettes many of them became addicted to during WW2 when the government never ran short of them, even as it couldn't feed its troops adequately. Perhaps too, those cigarettes reflected the horrible stress of work in this and every capitalist society. Here, there was evidence that could not be brushed away. Work kills. It did then and it does now.

Anyway, I used to tell my students that they and I wore blinders, whether we realized it or not. The trick was to figure out what these blinders might be and to take them off. A daunting task for sure.


dan
 

Amen....
See also: https://newlinesmag.com/essays/what-an-earlier-war-in-ukraine-can-tell-us-about-the-current-conflict/


Farans Kalosar
 

On Fri, Aug 12, 2022 at 06:06 PM, Michael Yates wrote:

It's easier just to say, as if you were on a barstool, well, if you don't support, with a full throat, the shipment of an endless supply of lethal weaponry to Ukraine, you are a fascist supporter of Putin.

If you're referring to Anthony Boynton, John Reimann, or Michael Karadjis none of them has said anything remotely like this.  But there is an abundance of smearing going on by people who believe in what Lou Proyect used to call the Manichean view that there is an eternal struggle between Darkness and Light, with Darkness being represented by US imperialism and light being represented by whatever or whoever--including a raft of vile genocidal dictators, y compris Putin, Assad, and the late Muammar Qaddafi--for whom nothing good can rationally be said by anybody--but who are nevertheless People's Glorious Heroes because they oppose the USA.  

I continue to respect you deeply, but the crazy accusations and the lies and the malicious distortions of truth here are all on the other side.  This is how it was when Louis fought the good fight, and it's truer than ever today. The anti-imperialism of fools is just that--never more so than when the fools go destructively on the rampage and attack good comrades disingenuously.


Walter Lippmann <walterlx@...>
 

Even one or two of the tens of BILLIONS of dollars being flushed down the Ukraine war could provide a home and a job for every homeless person in the United States of America. And most people in the US had never even HEARD of Ukraine before February of THIS YEAR.

 

Talk about gullibility! 


hari kumar
 

Dear Michael:
Thank you for those comments. Having just expressed something differently, but which I think amount to the same, I was glad to see that.  Actually in this particular digest from MM, your note - & that of Mark Baugher - give me a wee hope that perhaps the list still has more than just a platform for ranters. 
Be Well, Hari 


Walter Lippmann <walterlx@...>
 

When I was 20 and 30, I thought I had all the answers.

 

Now, at 78, I know I don't even have all the questions.

 

 

Walter Lippmann

Los Angeles, California

August 13, 2022


Gibbons Brian
 

W. Lippmann wrote

Even one or two of the tens of BILLIONS of dollars being flushed down the Ukraine war could provide a home and a job for every homeless person in the United States of America. And most people in the US had never even HEARD of Ukraine before February of THIS YEAR.

You can say that about almost anything where one might think $$$ is being flushed... but it's good to know you have your finger on the pulse of most people in the US

Brian Gibbons

 


Farans Kalosar
 

On Sat, Aug 13, 2022 at 01:19 AM, Walter Lippmann wrote:

Even one or two of the tens of BILLIONS of dollars being flushed down the Ukraine war could provide a home and a job for every homeless person in the United States of America. And most people in the US had never even HEARD of Ukraine before February of THIS YEAR.

 

Talk about gullibility! 


Talk about a non sequitur!!  Then talk about bad faith and motiveless malice.


Anthony Boynton
 

I am sure Michael is not referring to me, because I haven't been on a barstool in years. Also, he could not be referring to me when he speaks about Ukraine because I have provided a lot of documentation for my thoughts and positions. And, as a matter of fact, I have not talked about how much money the United States spends on arms it sends to Ukraine. I have defended Ukraine's right to arm itself from any source. It is true that I have held the same principled position since I was a teenager in relation to struggles of oppressed people against invaders. At that time, in the 1960's, I defended the right of the Vietnamese people to arm themselves. The same principle applies to the Palestinians today. Possibly Michael agrees with it, but has yet to make himself clear. 

Michael, do you agree with this principle? 

As I have gotten older, I have learned to be patient. 

I am also sure that Michael is not referring to me calling people on this list "fascist supporters of Putin'' because I have never done that. I don't think Putin is a fascist, I think he is a Great Russian Nationalist, a racist, homphobic, an extreme right wing imperialist and the leader of a police state. He is also the most important leader of the growing worldwide network of extreme right wing governments and movements. 

I wonder if Michael would agree with that characterization.

I wonder what Michael actually thinks about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He sort of implied that he thinks it was justified, but only sort of. What do you think, Michael?

All the best,

Anthony

On Sat, Aug 13, 2022 at 12:21 PM Farans Kalosar <fkalosar101@...> wrote:
On Sat, Aug 13, 2022 at 01:19 AM, Walter Lippmann wrote:

Even one or two of the tens of BILLIONS of dollars being flushed down the Ukraine war could provide a home and a job for every homeless person in the United States of America. And most people in the US had never even HEARD of Ukraine before February of THIS YEAR.

 

Talk about gullibility! 


Talk about a non sequitur!!  Then talk about bad faith and motiveless malice.


Michael Yates
 

Anthony, I don't know you from Adam. I have written about the war a bit. Not much. Search it out and see for yourself. You might note mine is a general comment. So why would you think it was about you? It really doesn't mater much to me what anyone on this list thinks. Whatever it might be, it will have little effect on the carnage in Ukraine. On all the ruined lives. I am for a negotiated settlement to stop the killing. I could shout this from the rooftops, write a million words to defend this position, offer suggestions as to how it might be achieved. None of this will matter one bit. Nor would your or anyone else's criticisms of this position on this tiny, tiny list matter in the least. 


Jeffrey Masko <j.alan.masko@...>
 

And this post is from a "moderator," we can do better on marxmail. This is the second time Micheal has been attacked, the last time by Farans who wrapped his diatribe in praise. This seems to be fine with mods.

I've suggested to actually write and post what you can and cannot do and then hold folks accountable, like other lists do. Instead, it is the subjective opinions of moderators who cannot be disciplined or recalled by the folks on the list. Having an undemocratic mode of functioning online is par with what Jodi Dean calls communicative capitalism, but on a marx-based list?

We had the chance to get rid of the pettiness of Lou after his death, but the list seems more sectarian than ever. Folks can construe this as an attack or an opportunity to create more participation and diversity. It seems this should be, at least in part, up to the folks on the list, not just those who post regularly.



Mark Baugher
 

On Aug 16, 2022, at 9:56 AM, Jeffrey Masko <j.alan.masko@...> wrote:

We had the chance to get rid of the pettiness of Lou after his death, but the list seems more sectarian than ever.
I doubt that any moderator can accomplish much about the problems of sectarianism among the many Marxist tendencies that exist on earth and on this mailing list. That's not a list problem but an historical one. Nonetheless, your points are well taken and should be considered further.

Mark


William Quimby
 

Frankly, the only one bothered by sectarianism on the list are the sectarians themselves. I read the arguments
that rage back and forth for their historical references (e.g. "as Gus Hall said in ....") but the pissing contests do
not disturb me. Perhaps, if I may be bold enough to suggest to those who were (and perhaps still are) involved
in various tendancies, they could do a better job of relating their rants/diatribes/arguments/counter-arguments
to the larger questions of Marxism - class, capitalism, revisionism, exploitation, etc. for the educational
benefit of those of us who are not now, were not, or may never be so involved. Their wisdom and experience
is a treasure.

(PS I was a member of YPSL a long, long time ago!)
 

On 08/16/22 01:37 PM, Mark Baugher wrote:
On Aug 16, 2022, at 9:56 AM, Jeffrey Masko <j.alan.masko@...> wrote:
We had the chance to get rid of the pettiness of Lou after his death, but the list seems more sectarian than ever. 
I doubt that any moderator can accomplish much about the problems of sectarianism among the many Marxist tendencies that exist on earth and on this mailing list. That's not a list problem but an historical one. Nonetheless, your points are well taken and should be considered further.
Mark





Michael Yates
 

What I really appreciated about Louis were the many links he shared everyday, on every topic under the sun. I learned much from these. Plus, speaking just personally, Louis was a generous man, to me not least. Before we met, he mailed me the keys to his apartment so Karen and I could stay there while he was away and we were in Manhattan visiting. It is impossible to forget something like that. One obvious problems with internet communications is that we don't often meet members of a group. No doubt, if we did, we would be able to overlook some personality traits in a person we didn't like that much and accept their friendship anyway. When I was a teacher, it was a couple very conservative faculty who voted for my professorship. A couple of so-called progressives did not. This is because I had known the conservatives for a long time and took them as they were: fellow human beings, with all the goods and bads of most of us. 


Andrew Stewart
 

It really is regrettable that we have been hogging most of the bandwidth for matters that, in the grand scheme of things, are utterly meaningless. 99% of the arguments and polemics are devoted to grandstanding on things that people have absolutely ZERO impact upon, be it a foreign policy matter or minutiae from 20th century sectarian debates or whatever else. All philosophical interpretations...

Meanwhile, we are living through one of the greatest upsurges of labor militancy in DECADES! Where are the threads discussing building interstate solidarity movements with Amazon and Starbucks workers? Louis would have loved to see that.

Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.


Mark Lause
 

Hear hear.  And the gravestone political crisis of our lifetime.


On Tue, Aug 16, 2022, 10:27 PM Andrew Stewart <hasc.warrior.stew@...> wrote:
It really is regrettable that we have been hogging most of the bandwidth for matters that, in the grand scheme of things, are utterly meaningless. 99% of the arguments and polemics are devoted to grandstanding on things that people have absolutely ZERO impact upon, be it a foreign policy matter or minutiae from 20th century sectarian debates or whatever else. All philosophical interpretations...

Meanwhile, we are living through one of the greatest upsurges of labor militancy in DECADES! Where are the threads discussing building interstate solidarity movements with Amazon and Starbucks workers? Louis would have loved to see that.

Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.


Anthony Boynton
 

Great. Let's move on to some substantive issues. I am waiting for all of the contributors to this contribution to make some contributions. 

Anthony

On Tue, Aug 16, 2022 at 10:59 PM Mark Lause <markalause@...> wrote:
Hear hear.  And the gravestone political crisis of our lifetime.

On Tue, Aug 16, 2022, 10:27 PM Andrew Stewart <hasc.warrior.stew@...> wrote:
It really is regrettable that we have been hogging most of the bandwidth for matters that, in the grand scheme of things, are utterly meaningless. 99% of the arguments and polemics are devoted to grandstanding on things that people have absolutely ZERO impact upon, be it a foreign policy matter or minutiae from 20th century sectarian debates or whatever else. All philosophical interpretations...

Meanwhile, we are living through one of the greatest upsurges of labor militancy in DECADES! Where are the threads discussing building interstate solidarity movements with Amazon and Starbucks workers? Louis would have loved to see that.

Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.


Mark Lause
 

"gravest political crisis" . . .  For some reason, autocorrect has become terribly aggressive lately.  :-)


On Tue, Aug 16, 2022, 11:59 PM Mark Lause via groups.io <markalause=gmail.com@groups.io> wrote:
Hear hear.  And the gravestone political crisis of our lifetime.

On Tue, Aug 16, 2022, 10:27 PM Andrew Stewart <hasc.warrior.stew@...> wrote:
It really is regrettable that we have been hogging most of the bandwidth for matters that, in the grand scheme of things, are utterly meaningless. 99% of the arguments and polemics are devoted to grandstanding on things that people have absolutely ZERO impact upon, be it a foreign policy matter or minutiae from 20th century sectarian debates or whatever else. All philosophical interpretations...

Meanwhile, we are living through one of the greatest upsurges of labor militancy in DECADES! Where are the threads discussing building interstate solidarity movements with Amazon and Starbucks workers? Louis would have loved to see that.

Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.


Michael Yates
 

Been writing and agitating about working people, labor unions, labor political struggles, and work for a very long time. None of this seems ever to resonate here. Post a tightly written and argued short essay on what work is in this society. Nothing. Note that you have written a book about work. Nothing. Share a video about work and workers globally. Nothing. I've been on contact with the Amazon Labor Union, sent them books and money. I know someone very influential in the organizing at Starbucks. Hopeful signs. Helped organize many workers. Taught workers in every occupation imaginable, all across the US. For more than 30 years. Asked radicals to consider such teaching. Never got a single taker. Lots of chatter. But so what? We're headed toward fascism in the US and elsewhere. The pandemic is still very much alive. More pandemics will come. The globe is literally on fire. And all of these things are tied together. Yet, we chatter while Rome burns. Has anyone read Michael Robert's great piece on Ukraine's economic prospects. Worth a look. And how about India, Indonesia, the Philippines? What the Sikh farmers did in India puts to shame even the upsurge in unionization in the US by a wide margin. New kinds of organizations, alliances, thinking itself are badly needed.


Frederick Harris
 

I generally agree with what Michael says--although I have found this listserve useful on a couple of occasions when I asked about the determination of the rate of exploitation. 

I contacted Michael Roberts some time ago to inquire about how to calculate the rate of exploitation at the micro level. He indicated that it looked good. But here in Toronto (and not just on this listserve), no one has tried to contribute to the issue. On the other hand, all this opposition to the war from afar seems rather easy when compared to actual opposition to one's own employer--where the latter can retalitate at a more personal level. 

It is instructive that many social democrats or social reformers here in Toronto are opposed to the war between Russia and the Ukraine--but are silent over the issue of the class power of employers. As long as it does not effect their own personal bread and butter, they oppose it. But if it requires them to endanger their own condition as wage worker--forget it. 

I cannot say, however, that I have been very successful at organizing anyone or convincing anyone. The best that can be said is that I have tried to continue to crticize those in power and those who simply look to reform of capitalism (without mentioning "revolution"--as if it were a magical word). That is what I have tried to do on my blog.

As for the organization of Starbuck workers and other workers--to what end? Being organized is better than not organized, but surely union organization that is not linked to a critique of the more general exploitative and oppressive structures will not advance towards the end of the class power of employers. Even Jane McAlevey, who has done some innovative organizing (see for exmaple her book No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age, does not address how we are to link the microorganizing necessary to actually make workers into an organized force at the level of particular employers, fails to address how we are to move from that to the organizing of workers as a class that is opposed to the employers as a class. Indeed, she simply writes off the problem of the issue of structure versus agency. I wrote the following on a linked site to my blog: 

She argues that the problem of structure and agency can be resolved at the micro level of working for a particular employer if the workers are organized (structured). I disputed such a view. Indeed, I asked the question: Do workers work for a particular employer or for the class of employers. The answer, I argue, is that they do both, but working for the class of employers is hardly evident at the micro level, and yet agency must arise as well at that level and not just at the micro level since capital operates at both levels (and the transformation problem has to do in part with this since the production of surplus value at the firm level and its distributiion among various capitalists (and the state) at the macro level are linked so that there is no identity of the production of surplus value and its distribution. 

In any case, I will continue to write on my blog, criticizing social democrats and social reformers, along with the class of employers, because it is perhaps the most effective practice that I can engage in for now; here in Toronto, the "left" is really the social-democratic left (with sprinklings of "revolution" this and "revolution" that sectarian organizations.