Anarchism / Marxism debates

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Sat Aug 21 11:59:09 PDT 1999

Doug Henwood wrote:

> Fans of PP argue that Nancy Folbre's characterization of it as being
> like one long student council meeting is all wrong. But it seems not
> wholly unjustified to me. What do you have in mind?

I'm mostly on Doug's side in this debate, but I think it's worthwhile pointing out that there have been serious arguments (I'm thinking mostly of Hannah Arendt) for making life "one long student council meeting." Late in their lives John Adams and Thomas Jefferson took up in their letters the question, "If there was a heaven, what should it be like." Thomas Jefferson's vision was of an endless Continental Congress: an eternity of persuading and being persuaded.

And in criticizing Duhring's conception of socialism, Engels lists as one of the necessities of human happiness the opportunity and materials for carrying on arguments. Arguing for the sake of arguing, not merely for the sake of results.

A point of view shared by Jefferson, Engels, and Arendt is not self-evidently wrong.

But this does not question at all Doug's argument that utopian planning ignores the route from here to there. Doug and I disagree about some of the details of that route, but I think recognizing that the route exists, that we can't simply move in our heads from here to there, is fundamental.


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