Labour Party and the Unions

Jim heartfield jim at
Tue Aug 3 09:14:46 PDT 1999

In message <000401beddc0$8ac3a710$5ef246d1 at>, Max Sawicky <sawicky at> writes
>The LM snipe hunt continues . . .

Churchill's view of Eamon DeValera's negotiating style 'like trying to pick up mercury with a fork' was reported back to Dev: 'Why doesn't he use a spoon?' asked the old maths teacher.

You're hunting, but I'm sat right here.

>This much is merely a mundane restatement of
>Marxism, which I'm surprised is contentious.
>mbs: No you're not.

No, honestly, I am. This is an argument that I haven't had for ten years, and it's like starting up an old engine.

>I'm going to keep after you until you run out of euphemisms.

You say euphemisms, but I think anything but the new Jerusalem itself would be a euphemism to you.

You keep rejecting the answers because they do not approximate to what you want to hear. You should know the classical limitation of all interrogation under torture - when you succeed in forcing your subject to say back to you what you wanted to hear in the first place, you're none the wiser.

>mbs: If you presume to tell people what or how to think,
>why not how to allocate, or more properly, how to organize
>allocation, or, how to decide how to organize allocation?

I certainly never presumed to tell people how to think. I dispute what they think. But in any case, I have an opinion on the present, and even the direction the present is going, but not the future.

I suppose one would have to say that the highest attainment in the organisation of social planning today, would have been the early soviets and Lenin's New Economic Policy, and the best programmatic account of that, Preobrazhensky's New Economics, but the problems they faced would be quite different from any we would face.

>mbs: So, like, when we get our heads together then we
>can talk about how to reconstruct society?

Yes, I suppose that would be right. But avoiding the contrapunctual prejudice, I could argue that each step in social struggle, right back to the contestation of ideas was itself already a comment on social organisation.

>Another tack: what is "social progress" beyond a more
>congenial attitude towards technology under capitalism
>(with which I am sympathetic, BTW)?

To put it schematically, I would say the reduction of necessary labour time (assuming the validity of that economic category) is social progress, with the proviso that its gains are unduly monopolised as well as squandered in the present.

>Why not just admit, you have no political-economic clue?

Clue to what, exactly? I think I have a fair idea of the social and economic forces at work at the moment. To master nature, you must learn to obey her, Bacon said.

>You're cultural commentators with a strong aversion to
>state capitalism, capitalism capitalism, and state-
>sponsored violence. And, like gender transmigration,
>there's nothing wrong with that.

Well, that's mighty big of you.

>If this is 'living marxism,' it's got a case
>of agoraphobia.

Well, I could say 'fools rush in where angels fear to tread', but that would be rude.

-- Jim heartfield

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list