Max: Yes 'n' No on tobacco

Chris Burford cburford at
Fri Feb 19 23:52:31 PST 1999

At 18:10 19/02/99 -0500, Greg Novell wrote:


>Well I'll be interested to see what comments I get from
>this list and the general world. I do believe they'll
>be putting my email into the biotag. I think the
>circulation of Barron's is 300,000. If 10% read the
>article and 1% of that 10% decide to send me some kind
>of comment (no doubt not all favorable), I'll be
>getting 300 emails on this topic. Given the
>readership some of them may have quite interesting
>things to say. We'll see. This is all assuming, of
>course, that Barron's does indeed put the thing into

My hunch is that might be optimistic. It is necessary to put scores of hours into this sort of endeavour realising that the effect sometimes only comes through indirectly, and perhaps as a result of collective efforts by other individuals. It is good if collective efforts on this list have helped. I would just point out that the main analysis I posted was taken from the Observer (London). I did pursue some other connections though with obsessive determination.

What is positive is that we are finding ways of getting material, or almost getting material, into mainstream debate. (Will someone post the result?) That requires journalistic compromises but so long as these can be openly noted at least in other discussions, I do not see that as insuperable.

Greg is focussing on the party politics of redistribution at the moment rather than trying to prove in a rigid deterministic and reductionist way that all the attacks on Clinton boil down to moribund tobacco capital.

I think there is a wider question which links up with some of the themes of the thread on "the Jewish Question": the role of bourgeois right and litigation in an advanced capitalist civil society.

What cannot be won by socialist planning, which many would see as over-controlling, can at least partly be won, by demonstrating the culpable responsibility of the tobacco capitalists. The spread to gun capital, and by implication to other forms of capital, suggests a growing trend over the decades to move from unfettered private ownership of the means of production to greater regulation, (including sometimes pro-active self-regulation by the industry concerned as part of their insurance strategy). Thus we could start moving from intensely atomised civil society to a society with much more social foresight, ironically through the intensification of the use of bourgeois right by certain progressive sections of society.

Next steps now and here?

a) someone will say whether it got into Barrons, and if it did not, how the work will be taken forward?

b) to preserve net-etiquette and understanding why it cannot be posted here, could someone else - Max? - write a critique of the article, with some reasonably significant quotes, and submit that to this list? Then we can continue the dialogue here, refine the ideas a bit more, and help assist other contributions elsewhere.

Chris Burford


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