For Hibbert: LM and Russia

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David J Webb

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Jan 16, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/16/98
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Adam, I agree that the Russian revolution is irrelevant to the political
situation nowadays, but the problem is that present forms of consciousness
are completely rooted in the defeat of the Russian revolution, although
many people would not subjectively explain their ideas in that way. I once
wrote a letter to LM which was printed on p6 of LM101, saying "You cannot
combat Tina by merely pointing out its demoralising consequences". Tina
(there is no alternative) rests on experience this century, and now those
experiences (including the failure of USSR) are ideological assumptions
held by the majority of people. To attempt to reopen old debates on Russia,
to talk of the law of value etc would only underline how as socialists we
had failed to internalise the experiences of the last few decades and so
there would be no line of contact between us and most people.

Frank Furedi said in issue LM100 that LM was regrouping "all those who
believe human beings should play for high stakes." I point out that you
cannot regroup those who want to play for high stakes in the abstract,
without setting out an anti-capitalist stall. You are left polemicising
against the downbeat nature of modern society, and hope that this alone
will make people seek out a more upbeat alternative. I find when I talk to
people about politics, and I point out the acceptance of limitations, more
and more people are prepared to say 'yes, we should be limited' and will
even point to this century's history to prove it.

What I am trying to say is that to really convince someone you have to talk
about Russia and the law of value. Without a) crisis theory and b) belief
in the possibility of a planned socialist alternative, opposition to the
current mood in society is pointless. On the subject of crisis theory, I
noticed that in a recent LM online commentary, Phil pointed out that
without working class struggle there is no reason to expect economic
depression (which is the autonomist line taken by Radical Chains, which I
thought the RCP opposed). What that means is that the only problem there
ever was with capitalism was w/class opposition. Now we are not struggling,
the system doesn't have a problem, according to Phil. So maybe Hitler was
right! There was nothing wrong with Germany, except for the Bolshevist
troublemakers, which a little dose of fascism could deal with! You see the
RCP is moving away from its former Grossman-Rosdolsky-Yaffe position which
saw crisis as an inevitable economic phenomenon.


Adam Hibbert

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Jan 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/19/98
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Thanks, Dave, for your considered response. I remember the letter you
wrote in LM, and thinking at the time how close to the bone your points
came. Maybe in response to your post I can outline why I eventually
decided your letter was slightly off the mark.

In article <01bd22cf$ab65ebc0$b83563c3@djwebb>, "David J Webb"
<surfw...@yahoo.com> wrote:

* Adam, I agree that the Russian revolution is irrelevant to the political
* situation nowadays, but the problem is that present forms of consciousness
* are completely rooted in the defeat of the Russian revolution, although
* many people would not subjectively explain their ideas in that way.

Though sympathising with this in crude terms, I disagree with the
'completely' here; it tends to collapse too many parallel historical
dynamics into one, geographically-confined event. In some ways, we might
describe the failure of working class leaderships in the West as causing
that defeat, not straightforwardly resulting from it.

But in particular, what must not be dismissed is the extraordinary cost to
bourgeouis ideology that their victory cost them. By this I mean, that the
revolution actually succeeded in finally wresting away from capitalism its
claim that the Enlightenment promise, including that of universal
progress, was their baby. In the course of defeating the revolution, the
bourgeois intelligentsia found it necessary to eject the baby with the
bathwater, to deny the possibility and desirability of such expectations.
You can clearly track this pessimistic development in everything from
western sociology to Literature through the 30's and beyond (Furedi
presented such results in his discussion of "the other 1960's" in
'Mythical Pasts, Elusive Futures').

TINA flows almost directly from this crucial development, which itself
left capitalism no greater claim to being the best of worlds than 'all the
alternatives are worse'.

* Tina
* (there is no alternative) rests on experience this century, and now those
* experiences (including the failure of USSR) are ideological assumptions
* held by the majority of people.

Agreed - but add the above.

* To attempt to reopen old debates on Russia,
* to talk of the law of value etc would only underline how as socialists we
* had failed to internalise the experiences of the last few decades and so
* there would be no line of contact between us and most people.

Also, clearly agreed.

* Frank Furedi said in issue LM100 that LM was regrouping "all those who
* believe human beings should play for high stakes." I point out that you
* cannot regroup those who want to play for high stakes in the abstract,
* without setting out an anti-capitalist stall.

I am not so sure this is true - Sure, you must be in possession of the
anti-capitalist goods. But tactically speaking, you may have to bite back
the revolutionary critique in order to mobilise forces that (perhaps
against their own interests) further the interests of the revolution: cf
the discussion between Lenin and Luxemburg on supporting bourgeois
nationalists. I come down with Lenin, here: it might appear duplicitous
and fraught with the danger of assimilation, but as long as the activist
is alert to these, much more progress is possible: and that is our
overriding duty, if we're serious.

* You are left polemicising
* against the downbeat nature of modern society, and hope that this alone
* will make people seek out a more upbeat alternative. I find when I talk to
* people about politics, and I point out the acceptance of limitations, more
* and more people are prepared to say 'yes, we should be limited' and will
* even point to this century's history to prove it.

That is exactly the problem - which is why LM has gone in so hard on those
occasions when issues like the constraining of science, or press freedom,
have come up: here at least there's a thing of some recognisable value,
which most of the audience we must win over have some passionate concerns
for.

* What I am trying to say is that to really convince someone you have to talk
* about Russia and the law of value. Without a) crisis theory and b) belief
* in the possibility of a planned socialist alternative, opposition to the
* current mood in society is pointless.

Not just pointless, but unarguable. The only reason people like us can
oppose it is because we see the credible possibility of a real
alternative. However, some people, whether for academic, commercial,
conservative, anarchist, religious, or whatever other reasons, also seek
to resist the same thing. We have to demonstrate to such people, and those
attracted to them, that we can fight the trend harder and more
consistently than any of them - it's at that point that they come to us
and demand to know more (or recognise that they have to choose between
accepting the trend OR communism, and choose the former). And I think it's
only at that point that the important theory you defend has relevance in
propaganda / recruitment etc. All of which is not to say that that theory
has no place in our analysis; of course it remains the only reliable
source for our praxis - the point on which we (perhaps) disagree is at
what point in the mediation of theory and practice you have to hit the
punter with the whole schmoo.

On the subject of crisis theory, I

* noticed that in a recent LM online commentary, Phil pointed out that
* without working class struggle there is no reason to expect economic
* depression (which is the autonomist line taken by Radical Chains, which I
* thought the RCP opposed).

I certainly oppose it. What on earth was Phil talking about?

* You see the
* RCP is moving away from its former Grossman-Rosdolsky-Yaffe position which
* saw crisis as an inevitable economic phenomenon.

Maybe this is symptomatic of the transmogrification of the RCP, but I have
to say I would be very surprised if anyone who was seriously involved in
the RCP could make such a claim. If Phil really meant what you took him to
say, I would be with you in raising an eyebrow . . .

fraternally,

Adam

----- All your ideological problems discreetly resolved -----
----- a.hi...@ucl.ac.uk * http://www.informinc.co.uk -----


David J Webb

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Jan 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/19/98
to

Dear Adam, thank you for your reply to my email. First of all, with respect
to crisis theory, please check out LM commentary at
http://www.informinc.co.uk/LM/discuss/commentary/10-29-97-CRASH.html. There
it says:

"Financial crises can never, on their own, create real social crises. Most
commentators have been too preoccupied with PE ratios, yield curves, and
anxiety about the shadowy speculators to see what is different today. **The
missing ingredient compared to the 1930s is the absence of genuine social
(or, to use a passe term, class), opposition to capitalism. It was this
force and its ramifications, both domestically and internationally, which
precipitated the real turmoil of the 1930s**, not merely the 1929 collapse
in share prices. Without the pressure of this social challenge, the free
market system will always be able to muddle through. That is what we can
expect today, even more so than was the case in the late 1980s." Please
read the rest of the article so you can see he is talking about the
possibility of Asia leading to 1930s style depression.

If the only trouble in the 1930s was social opposition, well then the
problem is removed!! From this standpoint, trying to build an opposition is
quixotic. By the way, I do see that the Establishment has more room to
manoeuvre nowadays, but in the absence of any opposition I would have
expected them to score bigger gains, and make deeper inroads into our
standards of living, but maybe their abandonment of the field of economic
progress saps their will to do that. Take for instance in Japan, the crisis
seems permanent but Grossman pointed out the length of the crisis is
undefined, it just depends on how quickly the counter-vailing factors can
be mobilised. Well they are taking their time!!!

I also see that capitalism will not collapse of its own accord, the system
will muddle through it we do not oppose it, but nevertheless 1930s style
Depression cannot be indefinitely postponed. Even if some investment is
going on now, that will tend to lower the rate of profit and eventually
occasion greater problems.

On your other points:

> But in particular, what must not be dismissed is the extraordinary cost
to
> bourgeouis ideology that their victory cost them. By this I mean, that
the
> revolution actually succeeded in finally wresting away from capitalism
its
> claim that the Enlightenment promise, including that of universal
> progress, was their baby.

Yes, this is vintage RCP stuff. I have been thinking recently that I ought
to read Meszaros' Power of Ideology (if you can recommend owt else, please
do). The cost is to their ideology, and the RCP assumes this is a big price
to pay. Well, maybe next time round when struggle re-emerges they won't be
able to claim to represent progress themselves, and so they will have been
denuded theoretically. Although if they can make the ideological leap now,
I dare say they could leap back. In our non-ideological times it is
difficult to grasp the significance of ideology, which just seems to be
sheer pigheadedness. If you look at Euro debates, you can see how the
Establishment has itself ridiculed the Tory stance as ideological, ie
stubborn and pedantic and ultimately against the British interest. I was
trying to work out the other day how I would explain to someone why Britain
insists on staying in Ireland. You would think that in our non-ideological
times they could get rid of a millstone by leaving Ireland and presenting
it in a good light, especially as demographics will ultimately undermine
British rule. The best answer I could come up with was "for the same reason
Russia won't contemplate leaving Chechnya, China won't contemplate leaving
Tibet, and France didn't leave Algeria voluntarily." Ultimately, it
undermines the ideological foundations of their rule elsewhere in the UK,
but this word 'ultimately' means nowt. No one is going to take them task
now. So they have junked their ideological position on progress. Does this
matter?

> TINA flows almost directly from this crucial development, which itself
> left capitalism no greater claim to being the best of worlds than 'all
the
> alternatives are worse'.

Not a problem at the moment for the capitalist elite, although its
demoralising consequences for the majority in society are debilitating.



> * Frank Furedi said in issue LM100 that LM was regrouping "all those who
> * believe human beings should play for high stakes." I point out that
you
> * cannot regroup those who want to play for high stakes in the abstract,
> * without setting out an anti-capitalist stall.
>
> I am not so sure this is true - Sure, you must be in possession of the
> anti-capitalist goods. But tactically speaking, you may have to bite back
> the revolutionary critique in order to mobilise forces that (perhaps
> against their own interests) further the interests of the revolution: cf
> the discussion between Lenin and Luxemburg on supporting bourgeois
> nationalists. I come down with Lenin, here: it might appear duplicitous
> and fraught with the danger of assimilation, but as long as the activist
> is alert to these, much more progress is possible: and that is our
> overriding duty, if we're serious.

I see your point. The RCP appears more libertarian than anything else.
Although communism is obviously not libertarian!! Arf!! Arf!! As soon as
the revolution happened, the Tory, Labour, Lib Dem, Green SNP, Plaid Cymru,
BNP etc parties would be closed down and banned! But libertarianism is a
way of appealing to forces in society who don't support out-and-out
capitalist dictatorship, even thought socialists aim for a proletarian
dictatorship of the majority themselves.But even so, you are appealing to
people who are philosophically eclectic. People who may not believe
communism is possible, and who support the capitalist system (passively),
may be outraged by UK libel laws, but if they really understood why the RCP
raised the issues it does, many of them wouldn't buy it at all.

> Not just pointless, but unarguable. The only reason people like us can
> oppose it is because we see the credible possibility of a real
> alternative. However, some people, whether for academic, commercial,
> conservative, anarchist, religious, or whatever other reasons, also seek
> to resist the same thing. We have to demonstrate to such people, and
those
> attracted to them, that we can fight the trend harder and more
> consistently than any of them - it's at that point that they come to us
> and demand to know more (or recognise that they have to choose between
> accepting the trend OR communism, and choose the former).

Here is where you reach the real nub of what I was saying. Eventually, it
will become plain to people that the theoretical foundations of what the
RCP has to say are based on a rejection of the usual account of the 20th
century (1917 and all that). I have found when talking to people that at
first they can't work out whether what I am saying in left wing or right
wing, but as I gradually make it plain to them the opposition to the
culture of limitations, it becomes obvious to them that this is an
anti-capitalist theory, and then the penny drops, and they can take the
easy way out by citing Russia.

> the point on which we (perhaps) disagree is at
> what point in the mediation of theory and practice you have to hit the
> punter with the whole schmoo.

Well, I don't disagree as such. Eventually you will get to the point where
it has to be discussed, and if you can win on crisis theory and Stalinism,
you have finally clinched all the other points which fall into place. **But
I think people don't really know what you are on about until you get to
this point.**

I basically think that social change can only be attempted by classes not
by individuals. Without a return to class politics there can never be
social transformation. We can make various points about civil liberties,
science, panics etc but we are also hostage to an awareness by society as a
whole of the hole it has dug itself into. Maybe the bourgeoisie itself will
react to the 1990s style of politics eventually. A parallel would be
McCarthyism of the 1950s which burnt itself out naturally. But then,
McCarthyism was really out of kilter with a more forward looking world.
Irrationalism positively flourishes nowadays, but eventually it has to run
into the buffers. No doubt a new generation that did not live through 1989
will be less receptive to Blairismo. What I am trying to work out is how we
can more from here. In my full letter to the RCP, I wanted them to write a
new Road to Power or Our Tasks and Methods to outline what can be achieved
and how. I am sorry this reply has been too long. I hope you have
understood at least of some of which I am saying. Regards, David.


John Holmes

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Jan 19, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/19/98
to

I found the exchange between LM loyalist Adam Hibbert and mildly left-
dissident LMster David Webb to be highly clarifying.

A few comments:

On Mon, 19 Jan 1998, Adam Hibbert wrote:

...


> * Adam, I agree that the Russian revolution is irrelevant to the political
> * situation nowadays, but the problem is that present forms of consciousness
> * are completely rooted in the defeat of the Russian revolution, although
> * many people would not subjectively explain their ideas in that way.
>
> Though sympathising with this in crude terms, I disagree with the

> 'completely' here...


>
> But in particular, what must not be dismissed is the extraordinary cost to
> bourgeouis ideology that their victory cost them. By this I mean, that the
> revolution actually succeeded in finally wresting away from capitalism its
> claim that the Enlightenment promise, including that of universal
> progress, was their baby. In the course of defeating the revolution, the
> bourgeois intelligentsia found it necessary to eject the baby with the
> bathwater, to deny the possibility and desirability of such expectations.
> You can clearly track this pessimistic development in everything from
> western sociology to Literature through the 30's and beyond (Furedi
> presented such results in his discussion of "the other 1960's" in
> 'Mythical Pasts, Elusive Futures').

The RCP blunder here is of interest, and reflects their general "born
yesterday" attitudes, which I was arguing against a few months ago when
one Justin Flude was expressing it in cruder terms.

In fact, the capitalists gave up on the Enlightenment at the end of the
19th Century, not waiting for the Russian Revolution, when their system
stopped being socially progressive, as folk like Lenin & Trotsky described
long ago.

I happen at the moment to be reading British Marxist historian E. J.
Hobsbawn's series of books on European and world history, which I find
quite decent and would recommend. They are all titled "Age of..." something,
the first one, "Age of Revolution," is often used as a college history text-
book as it stops around 1848 and is safe, the later ones, less so.

In "Age of Empire," Chapter 11, "Reason and Society" is one long refutation
of Furedi's whole shtick, as it demonstrates that everything the ex-RCP
is now complaining about was if anything stronger circa 1900 or so than it is
now.

> ...


> * Frank Furedi said in issue LM100 that LM was regrouping "all those who
> * believe human beings should play for high stakes." I point out that you
> * cannot regroup those who want to play for high stakes in the abstract,
> * without setting out an anti-capitalist stall.
>
> I am not so sure this is true - Sure, you must be in possession of the
> anti-capitalist goods. But tactically speaking, you may have to bite back
> the revolutionary critique in order to mobilise forces that (perhaps
> against their own interests) further the interests of the revolution: cf
> the discussion between Lenin and Luxemburg on supporting bourgeois
> nationalists. I come down with Lenin, here: it might appear duplicitous
> and fraught with the danger of assimilation, but as long as the activist
> is alert to these, much more progress is possible: and that is our
> overriding duty, if we're serious.

And here we have the mystery of how the Furedistas can justify
climbing into bed with ruling class think tank talking heads in their
ridiculous anti-environment-fetishistic TV program all "discreetly
resolved," as Hibbert promises in his sig.

'Way back before Furedi split with the Proyectilish Third World left
Stalinists of the old "RCT," he had bought into the Stalinist myth that
Lenin believed in supporting "the progrressive bourgeoisie" in the
Third World against the compradors (Mao explains it all nicely in the
little red book.)

Having dropped the Third Worldism, Furedi now is supporting the "pro-
gressive elements" of the *English* bourgeoisie against the reactionary
backward-looking Green types! Hibbert is providing APST a service by
stating this clearly in so many words rather than clouding the issue
with phony "Trotskyist" verbiage.

So Furedi, we hear, believes that the progressive capitalists are the
ones who "play for high stakes." (Dimitrov would have disagreed I
think.) Well, they got 'em.

On the panel was a representative of the Herman Kahn Institute. Herman
Kahn was most well known for coining the phrase, "thinking the unthink-
able," by which he meant thinking about nuclear war. Kahn would probably
have regarded those Reaganauts who were arguing circa 1981 that the US
was capable of "prevailing" as they put it in an all-out nuclear exchange
with the Soviet Union *without* wiping out the human race as crazy, as he
had a soberer conception of the actual military balance of forces. But they
were operating, as the buzzword goes, within his "paradigm."

If that's not playing for high stakes, I for one don't know what is.

>
> That is exactly the problem - which is why LM has gone in so hard on those
> occasions when issues like the constraining of science, or press freedom,
> have come up: here at least there's a thing of some recognisable value,
> which most of the audience we must win over have some passionate concerns

> for...

No doubt the ghost of Herman Kahn, the eco-hacks paid off by the oil com-
panies, and the rest of the Too Live Crew on the "Against Nature" panel
(precisely which one was actually Dr. Strangelove doesn't matter, Peter
Sellers played about 6 different roles in the movie anyway) all love it
when Furedi complains about how the eco-freaks are "constraining science."

But if he tries to recruit them to defend LM on its press freedom case,
he's cruisin' for a bruisin'...

-John Holmes-

Louis N Proyect

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Jan 20, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/20/98
to

On Mon, 19 Jan 1998, John Holmes wrote:

> No doubt the ghost of Herman Kahn, the eco-hacks paid off by the oil com-
> panies, and the rest of the Too Live Crew on the "Against Nature" panel
> (precisely which one was actually Dr. Strangelove doesn't matter, Peter
> Sellers played about 6 different roles in the movie anyway) all love it
> when Furedi complains about how the eco-freaks are "constraining science."
>
> But if he tries to recruit them to defend LM on its press freedom case,
> he's cruisin' for a bruisin'...

Moron, how long did it take you to figure this out? Me and Claude had
these bastards nailed months ago. Stop taking dummy pills and it won't
take you so long next time to figure out who's on which sides of the
barricades. Wake your pal David Stevens up while you're at it. You don't
need to read the very excellent Hobsbawm to figure out that Furedi is a
capitalist roader.

Louis Proyect


David J Webb

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Jan 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/21/98
to

John Holmes <jdho...@igc.apc.org> wrote in article
<Pine.SUN.3.91.980119...@igc.apc.org>...

> I found the exchange between LM loyalist Adam Hibbert and mildly left-
> dissident LMster David Webb to be highly clarifying.

I wonder why I am classed as only 'mildly' left. I certainly don't regard
myself as anything as a dissident. LM is the only publication that is
attempting a Marxist critique of the present situation and I am an
enthusiastic reader.

You said:

> In fact, the capitalists gave up on the Enlightenment at the end of the
> 19th Century, not waiting for the Russian Revolution, when their system
> stopped being socially progressive, as folk like Lenin & Trotsky
described
> long ago.

You are completely up the creek w/o proverbial paddle if you cannot see a
sea change in Establishment attitudes over the past 10 years. No one is
suggesting that capitalism in the days of Lenin and Trotsky was
progressive, but at least the argument then was about how to achieve social
progress. The Establishment did not argue that progress was bad and
undesirable. During the Cold War they argued that free markets were the way
to both economic prosperity and civil liberties, and highlighted the
parallel with the degenerate regimes of Eastern Europe. This is not to say
that they promoted prosperity and liberty in the developing world, but the
debate was still framed in terms reminiscent of the Enlightenment.

What Adam is trying to say is that they have embraced a rejection of
progress - the very concept of progress is seen as negative. It brought us
Hitler and Stalin, the nuclear bomb, and no doubt cloned kids, so the
argument goes. In England, it is as if the Tories lost their nerve, lost
faith in their own project. They could no longer unabashedly support
roadbuilding for example. Where is this 14 lane M25 they at one time
promised us? That is just one example. The debate for the first time since
1789 is phrased in terms of humans ruining the planet/each other, and
although it is a step back from what the business class have traditionally
championed, it is a conservative approach. The trouble is that nowadays if
you say: Build roads, use genetically modified crop strains, dump the oil
platforms in the North Sea, experiment into xenotransplantation and human
cloning, there is an anti-progress alliance from left to right on all this.
In fact if you say these things, people can't really tell if you are right
or left or just out of it! Our task is not the same as Lenin in 1917, it is
more similar to that of Descartes and other philosophes of the
Enlightenment to actually put the case for progress.

> In "Age of Empire," Chapter 11, "Reason and Society" is one long
refutation
> of Furedi's whole shtick, as it demonstrates that everything the ex-RCP
> is now complaining about was if anything stronger circa 1900 or so than
it is
> now.

I will read the chapter now you suggested it, and might have something to
post on it in a couple of days time. [But the fact that Hobsbawm is highly
regarded in education circles is irrelevant! I also take claims to be
Marxist from old Stalinists with buckets of salt, although he I have read
some chapters of The Age of Revolution and enjoyed them. They seem to be
better not as dialectical analysis, but as good overviews giving you the
feel of a different age. I was disappointed that the Age of Revolution
contained almost nowt on the revolution in San Domingo that set up the
Republic of Haiti - a key event in the history of the world, as the failure
of Britain to conquer the place and re-establish slavery was one good
reason why the British bourgeoisie finally abolished slavery.] Yes you may
well be right that irrationalism flourished in the late 19th century, but
you are not really suggesting the current mood resembles that then, are
you? The case for progress could be put to an organised working class.
There is no labour movement nowadays. The collapse of Labourism has added
enormously to the impression that nothing can be done, and destroyed the
belief that fellow workers can be part of the solution.

> And here we have the mystery of how the Furedistas can justify
> climbing into bed with ruling class think tank talking heads in their
> ridiculous anti-environment-fetishistic TV program all "discreetly
> resolved," as Hibbert promises in his sig.

Some ruling class figures do support economic progress. By the way I was
impressed recently by the Institute of Economic Affairs book on Global
Warming, edited by Julian Morris. I am sure this is a right wing think
tank, but so what? I am not going to oppose progress, just because Julian
Morris does. I find far more to agree with in the right than the so-called
left nowadays. Not surprising as what has passed for left so far is
becoming increasingly revealed as the most conservative strand of politics
(listen to Blair!!! Read the Guardian!!! Or the Independent!!!) I read last
week that Milton Friedman, Thatcherite icon, supports the abolition of the
IMF. I wholeheartedly agree!! I am sure leftwingers like you can easily
find some lefty-sounding formula of words to support IMF-imposed adjustment
plans in the Third World - you wouldn't want to be on Friedman's side, now
would you?

> 'Way back before Furedi split with the Proyectilish Third World left
> Stalinists of the old "RCT," he had bought into the Stalinist myth that
> Lenin believed in supporting "the progrressive bourgeoisie" in the
> Third World against the compradors (Mao explains it all nicely in the
> little red book.)

Lenin did not believe that the bourgeoisie in the Third World would
consistently lead the struggle against imperialism. Yes communists
supported the national movement (because of its democratic content), but
they aimed to snatch leadership away from the bourgeoisie. By the way, what
does Mao have to do with it? He may have fought for Chinese independence,
but Lenin's whole idea was to turn nationalism into a vehicle for socialist
internationalism. Please see Memoirs of a Chinese revolutionary, by Wang
Fanxi, translated by former lecturer, Professor Gregor Benton.

> So Furedi, we hear, believes that the progressive capitalists are the
> ones who "play for high stakes."

Well no, they already control society. They don't have to play for high
stakes, except vis-a-vis other imperialist powers, or in the sense of
having to maintain their rule internally. We are the ones who need to play
for high stakes - spurn the dust to gain the prize in words of the
Internationale. But we will never get to transform society if no one
believes in human agency nowadays. If everyone believes we can only make
things far worse, we will just have to get used to the dust.

> No doubt the ghost of Herman Kahn, the eco-hacks paid off by the oil com-
> panies, and the rest of the Too Live Crew on the "Against Nature" panel
> (precisely which one was actually Dr. Strangelove doesn't matter, Peter
> Sellers played about 6 different roles in the movie anyway) all love it
> when Furedi complains about how the eco-freaks are "constraining
science."
>
> But if he tries to recruit them to defend LM on its press freedom case,
> he's cruisin' for a bruisin'...

Well exactly. Only socialists can consistently support these causes
nowadays. Are going to take out a subscription to LM, John? David.


Gary Dale

unread,
Jan 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/21/98
to

> In "Age of Empire," Chapter 11, "Reason and Society" is one long refutation
> of Furedi's whole shtick, as it demonstrates that everything the ex-RCP
> is now complaining about was if anything stronger circa 1900 or so than
> it is now.

Yes, that epoch was well known for victim culture, depoliticisation,
the culture of safety and mainstreamed post-modernism/New Left/Green
critiques of science & progress. Or check out Hobsbawm's own account
of intervening history, the Age of Catastrophe, The Golden Age and the
Landslide. Yeah, The Golden Age, remember that? Days when we were
going to be liberated by nuclear power and colonise the moon; now people
talk of the danger of science and human intervention 'colonising the
future'. Perhaps someone can remind us what Hobsbawn's verdict on
the post-cold war era is?

There are parallels, no-one disputes this and many people have noted them
(because they are sensitive to the fact there is a new mood, to which
the critics of LM are not). The difference with LM is that it is
the only one to situate and explain the present conditions with a rational
analysis founded on specific history.

A good example of the New Mood was C4's 'Crash' last night. This
was the 'Apocalypse Now' version of the history of the motor car.
The once great symbol of capitalist progress was demonised as a Frankenstein's
monster, literally eating us. The futility of human intervention
was underlined by the claim that attempts to make cars safer
couldn't cope with the 'human desire to take risks'. Actually,
I was half expecting F. Furedi to appear given the brief.
He didn't, but then I switched over the BBC Scotland and there he
was.

Gary Dale

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Jan 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/21/98
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jh>But if he tries to recruit them to defend LM on its press freedom case,
jh>he's cruisin' for a bruisin'...

Though I was pleased to see that Auberon Waugh signed a letter
in the Spectator in support of LM's free speech campaign (along with
Noam Chomsky et al.)

David Webb

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Jan 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/21/98
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Gary Dale <g...@ee.ed.ac.uk> wrote in article
<6a4mf3$g...@scotsman.ed.ac.uk>...


> > In "Age of Empire," Chapter 11, "Reason and Society" is one long
refutation
> > of Furedi's whole shtick, as it demonstrates that everything the ex-RCP

> > is now complaining about was if anything stronger circa 1900 or so than
> > it is now.
>
> Yes, that epoch was well known for victim culture, depoliticisation,
> the culture of safety and mainstreamed post-modernism/New Left/Green
> critiques of science & progress. Or check out Hobsbawm's own account
> of intervening history, the Age of Catastrophe, The Golden Age and the
> Landslide. Yeah, The Golden Age, remember that? Days when we were
> going to be liberated by nuclear power and colonise the moon; now people
> talk of the danger of science and human intervention 'colonising the
> future'. Perhaps someone can remind us what Hobsbawn's verdict on
> the post-cold war era is?

I am not quite sure if this is meant to be for or against the RCP take on
things.
But then I don't know exactly what their take on the 19th century fin de
siecle
is, but if you actually read Chapter 11 of the Age of Empire, you will see
on the
second page of the chapter Hobsbawn goes to some length to explain
how progressive ideas were still current at that time. Yes, irrational
thought
may be a feature of the period, but nothing like 1998. I will post an
exact quote from the chapter tonight when I get home. By the way, you
seem to have started a new thread called Re: For Hibbert: LM and Russia,
rather than replying within the existing Re: For Hibbert:LM and Russia
thread.
This will make your message more difficult to see within the
conversation thread. I will post my message tonight within the thread
itself.
Regards, David.

Louis N Proyect

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Jan 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/21/98
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On 21 Jan 1998, Gary Dale wrote:

> There are parallels, no-one disputes this and many people have noted them
> (because they are sensitive to the fact there is a new mood, to which
> the critics of LM are not). The difference with LM is that it is
> the only one to situate and explain the present conditions with a rational
> analysis founded on specific history.

No, you are not the only ones. Lyndon Larouche's fascist cult has a
message that is very close to LM's. You will note that his new book on
Global Warming takes an identical tack to LM. The very same themes are
present: the dangers of Malthusianism and ecofascism; the counter-evidence
of Larouche's "good" scientists, who I'm sure are the same ones that
Furedi touts.

There are interesting parallels between Furedi and Larouche. Both began as
ultraleft Trotskyists. Both went through a profound disillusionment when
the masses decided to ignore them. Both ended up identifying with the
right-wing of the capitalist class in the name of "progress."

Even on the particular points, there is an affinity. They both campaign
for nuclear energy, Project Cassini and against the notion that man-made
greenhouse emissions are causing Global Warming.

There is something for Trotskyists to think about here. What is there in
Trotskyism, as opposed to Trotsky's writings, that would explain such a
defection to the right wing. Granted, Larouche's alliances were with
fascists like the Ku Klux Klan while Furedi's have been with libertarians
at the Cato and Hudson Institutes, but there's some commonality here.

That commonality is in the tendency of Trotskyism to "go for broke." When
you set up a group that almost always has a ten-year time-table for taking
power, it puts enormous psychological and political pressures on the great
"genius" in charge to live up to the membership's expectations. When he
can't deliver, he goes through some sort of crisis and drags the
membership with him. Usually, the group goes into a deeper sectarian trip
like the American or British SWP, but from time to time apparently it can
go in a pro-capitalist direction. Interesting pathology at work here.

Louis Proyect


David J Webb

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Jan 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/21/98
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> In "Age of Empire," Chapter 11, "Reason and Society" is one long
refutation
> of Furedi's whole shtick, as it demonstrates that everything the ex-RCP
> is now complaining about was if anything stronger circa 1900 or so than
it is
> now.

In my hardback copy of the book, p.263, which is the second page of Chapter
11 reads:
"While these forms of obscurantism made some contribution of substance to
the avant garde arts...their impact on the natural sciences was negligible.
Nor, indeed, did they make much impact among the general public. For the
great mass of the educated, and especially the newly educated, the old
intellectual verities were not in question. On the contrary, they were
triumphantly reaffirmed by men and women for whom 'progress' had for from
exhausted its promise. ...What the mases of newly educated lay persons
absorbed, and welcomed if they were politically on the democratic or
socialist left, was the rational certainties of nineteenth-century science,
enemy of superstition and privilege, presiding spirit of education and
enlightenment, proof and guarantee of progress and the emancipation of the
lowly. One of the crucial attractions of Marxism over other brands of
socialism was precisely that it was 'scientific socialism.'"

Need I go on, John? You fool, you cited a book in support of your
prejudices that you haven't even read. 1998 society has a very different
attitude towards social progress than the late 19th century, even if
irrationality had a purchase on a minority then. QED, David.


David J Webb

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Jan 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/21/98
to

> In "Age of Empire," Chapter 11, "Reason and Society" is one long
refutation
> of Furedi's whole shtick, as it demonstrates that everything the ex-RCP
> is now complaining about was if anything stronger circa 1900 or so than
it is
> now.

In my hardback copy of the book, p.263, which is the second page of Chapter

David J Webb

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Jan 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/21/98
to

> In "Age of Empire," Chapter 11, "Reason and Society" is one long
refutation
> of Furedi's whole shtick, as it demonstrates that everything the ex-RCP
> is now complaining about was if anything stronger circa 1900 or so than
it is
> now.

In my hardback copy of the book, p.263, which is the second page of Chapter
11 reads:
"While these forms of obscurantism made some contribution of substance to
the avant garde arts...their impact on the natural sciences was negligible.
Nor, indeed, did they make much impact among the general public. For the
great mass of the educated, and especially the newly educated, the old
intellectual verities were not in question. On the contrary, they were
triumphantly reaffirmed by men and women for whom 'progress' had for from
exhausted its promise. ...What the mases of newly educated lay persons
absorbed, and welcomed if they were politically on the democratic or
socialist left, was the rational certainties of nineteenth-century science,
enemy of superstition and privilege, presiding spirit of education and
enlightenment, proof and guarantee of progress and the emancipation of the
lowly. One of the crucial attractions of Marxism over other brands of
socialism was precisely that it was 'scientific socialism.'"

David.

John Holmes

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Jan 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/21/98
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On 21 Jan 1998, Gary Dale wrote:

> Date: 21 JAN 1998 11:33:55 GMT
> From: Gary Dale <g...@ee.ed.ac.uk>
> Newgroups: usenet.alt.politics.socialism.trotsky
> Subject: Re: For Hibbert: LM and Russia

>
> > In "Age of Empire," Chapter 11, "Reason and Society" is one long refutation
> > of Furedi's whole shtick, as it demonstrates that everything the ex-RCP
> > is now complaining about was if anything stronger circa 1900 or so than
> > it is now.
>

> Yes, that epoch was well known for victim culture, depoliticisation,
> the culture of safety and mainstreamed post-modernism/New Left/Green
> critiques of science & progress.

No more so than this one, which isn't either, unless you've spent too long
in cocktail parties in English academia.

I will gracefully concede (yawn) that I overstated my point re: Hobsbawn,
by far the least important thing I had to say in my post of a few days
ago, which certainly seems to have touched off a nerve (David Webb, *try*
not to post the same thing three times in one hour.)

Hobsbawn did however say, one page before the quote Webb posted so manicly,
that "one way of thinking the then unthinkable was to reject reason and
science altogether. It is difficult to measure the strength of this
reaction against the intellect in the last years of the old century, or even,
in retrospect, to appreciate its strength..."

The mood in the ruling classes at the turn of the century was
... fin de siecle. Pessimist. Decadence was big. Nietzsche was the big
thinker. And between the wars, the Big Thinker was Spengler, "The Decline
of the West." But enough...

The mood *among workers* was quite different, which is what Hobsbawn was
talking about. But since what is being discussed here is LM's orientation
to the Anglo-American ruling classes, it's not too relevant.

Or check out Hobsbawm's own account
> of intervening history, the Age of Catastrophe, The Golden Age and the
> Landslide. Yeah, The Golden Age, remember that? Days when we were
> going to be liberated by nuclear power and colonise the moon; now people
> talk of the danger of science and human intervention 'colonising the
> future'. Perhaps someone can remind us what Hobsbawn's verdict on
> the post-cold war era is?
>

I have just finished *Age of Empire,* and was about to start *Age of
Extremes.* Gary Dale has successfully decreased my enthusiasm for reading
it.

-jh-


John Holmes

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Jan 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/21/98
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(Due to a minor glitch in my computer account, I had to remove the "Re:"
in order to reply to David Webb, thereby involuntarily starting a new
thread. Hope this does not cause inconvenience. -jh-)

On 21 Jan 1998, David J Webb wrote:

> Date: 21 JAN 1998 00:18:05 GMT
> From: David J Webb <surfw...@yahoo.com>


> Newgroups: usenet.alt.politics.socialism.trotsky
> Subject: Re: For Hibbert: LM and Russia
>

> John Holmes <jdho...@igc.apc.org> wrote in article
> <Pine.SUN.3.91.980119...@igc.apc.org>...
> > I found the exchange between LM loyalist Adam Hibbert and mildly left-
> > dissident LMster David Webb to be highly clarifying.
>
> I wonder why I am classed as only 'mildly' left. I certainly don't regard
> myself as anything as a dissident. LM is the only publication that is
> attempting a Marxist critique of the present situation and I am an
> enthusiastic reader.

OK, I'll take that one back. Any left-dissidence David Webb expresses from
orthodox Furedi-ism is hardly consequential.

>
> You said:
>
> > In fact, the capitalists gave up on the Enlightenment at the end of the
> > 19th Century, not waiting for the Russian Revolution, when their system
> > stopped being socially progressive, as folk like Lenin & Trotsky
> described
> > long ago.
>
> You are completely up the creek w/o proverbial paddle if you cannot see a
> sea change in Establishment attitudes over the past 10 years.

Sure, there's a "sea change." Their attitude now is triumphalism, history
is over, capitalism has won. Recent economic events in Asia, strikes here
* there like the UPS strike in America and the French strikes last year,
etc., are beginning to disrupt this triumphalism, but it is not yet
dissipated.

No one is
> suggesting that capitalism in the days of Lenin and Trotsky was
> progressive, but at least the argument then was about how to achieve social
> progress. The Establishment did not argue that progress was bad and
> undesirable.

Then as now, there was a spread of opinion, with the dominant shade being
pessimism and fear of the future (Nietzsche, etc.)

During the Cold War they argued that free markets were the way
> to both economic prosperity and civil liberties, and highlighted the
> parallel with the degenerate regimes of Eastern Europe. This is not to say
> that they promoted prosperity and liberty in the developing world, but the
> debate was still framed in terms reminiscent of the Enlightenment.

Ha. At the height of the cold war, they were claiming that capitalism and
socialism were "converging." The free marketeering boom was an evanescent
product of the late '80s.

When Lech Walesa got down on his knees before the Pope, that was not
exactly an expression of Enlightenment thought. And Reagan, the great
leader of Cold War II, was an explicit opponent of the Enlightenment
(which the Reaganauts essentially regarded as a communist conspiracy.)

Even in Europe, in the late '70s the "new French right" came out explicitly
*against* the French Revolution, and therefore against the Enlightenment.

>
> What Adam is trying to say is that they have embraced a rejection of
> progress - the very concept of progress is seen as negative. It brought us
> Hitler and Stalin, the nuclear bomb, and no doubt cloned kids, so the

> argument goes...

This is new?

In England, it is as if the Tories lost their nerve, lost
> faith in their own project. They could no longer unabashedly support
> roadbuilding for example. Where is this 14 lane M25 they at one time
> promised us? That is just one example. The debate for the first time since
> 1789 is phrased in terms of humans ruining the planet/each other, and
> although it is a step back from what the business class have traditionally
> championed, it is a conservative approach. The trouble is that nowadays if
> you say: Build roads, use genetically modified crop strains, dump the oil
> platforms in the North Sea, experiment into xenotransplantation and human
> cloning, there is an anti-progress alliance from left to right on all this.
> In fact if you say these things, people can't really tell if you are right
> or left or just out of it!

I vote for "out of it." You guys are nuts.

Actually you should be against cloning, as it will probably be used
to preserve endangered species.

> Our task is not the same as Lenin in 1917, it is
> more similar to that of Descartes and other philosophes of the
> Enlightenment to actually put the case for progress.

Descartes? I suppose he could be called an Enlightenment thinker of sorts.

What about Rousseau? What about Voltaire?

It is true, the ruling class abandonment of the Enlightenment has gotten
more intense lately, there was a bit of polemical overstatement in my
previous posting. But what we need now is not money for sheep cloning
and fusion power, what we need -- as in 1789 and 1917, is to

"Ecrasez l'infame"! (Voltaire)

*That's* the nub of what needs to be preserved from the Enlightenment.

>
> > In "Age of Empire," Chapter 11, "Reason and Society" is one long
> refutation
> > of Furedi's whole shtick, as it demonstrates that everything the ex-RCP
> > is now complaining about was if anything stronger circa 1900 or so than
> it is
> > now.
>

> I will read the chapter now you suggested it, and might have something to
> post on it in a couple of days time. [But the fact that Hobsbawm is highly
> regarded in education circles is irrelevant! I also take claims to be

> Marxist from old Stalinists with buckets of salt...

On second reading, I was engaging in overstatement (see my reply to Gary
Dale), but my essential point remains valid I think.

... Yes you may


> well be right that irrationalism flourished in the late 19th century, but
> you are not really suggesting the current mood resembles that then, are
> you? The case for progress could be put to an organised working class.
> There is no labour movement nowadays. The collapse of Labourism has added
> enormously to the impression that nothing can be done, and destroyed the
> belief that fellow workers can be part of the solution.

The British Labor Party, like the rest of the old Socialist International,
croaked in August 1914. The Stalinist 3rd International became a
political corpse when Hitler came to power without a shot fired, and
the revivification Stalinism received when the Red Army conquered Nazism
has now utterly run out, sealed by the collapse of the Soviet state.

But none of this is very new, except for the final collapse of Stalinism.

>
> > And here we have the mystery of how the Furedistas can justify
> > climbing into bed with ruling class think tank talking heads in their
> > ridiculous anti-environment-fetishistic TV program all "discreetly
> > resolved," as Hibbert promises in his sig.
>
> Some ruling class figures do support economic progress. By the way I was
> impressed recently by the Institute of Economic Affairs book on Global
> Warming, edited by Julian Morris. I am sure this is a right wing think
> tank, but so what? I am not going to oppose progress, just because Julian
> Morris does. I find far more to agree with in the right than the so-called

> left nowadays...

Well, so much for Webb as loyal left critic of LM. Clearly he has bought the
package. He *supports* an alliance with "the progressive bourgeoisie,"
in the person of creatures like this Morris fellow, in a bizarre parody
of Stalinist popular frontism. And he is apparently quite comfortable with
the idea of being the "radical" wing of ... what, exactly? The Tories, it
rather sounds like. Sic transit "Revolutionary Communist Party," indeed.



> Not surprising as what has passed for left so far is
> becoming increasingly revealed as the most conservative strand of politics
> (listen to Blair!!! Read the Guardian!!! Or the Independent!!!) I read last
> week that Milton Friedman, Thatcherite icon, supports the abolition of the
> IMF. I wholeheartedly agree!! I am sure leftwingers like you can easily
> find some lefty-sounding formula of words to support IMF-imposed adjustment
> plans in the Third World - you wouldn't want to be on Friedman's side, now
> would you?

Adolf Hitler called for cancelling Germany's unpayable debts to the American
banks in the '30s. Ignoring who was issuing this call, this was abstractly a
supportable demand. Should German (Marxists, radicals, "progressives," or
whatever LM likes calling itself these days) have supported Hitler?

>
> > 'Way back before Furedi split with the Proyectilish Third World left
> > Stalinists of the old "RCT," he had bought into the Stalinist myth that
> > Lenin believed in supporting "the progrressive bourgeoisie" in the
> > Third World against the compradors (Mao explains it all nicely in the
> > little red book.)
>
> Lenin did not believe that the bourgeoisie in the Third World would
> consistently lead the struggle against imperialism. Yes communists
> supported the national movement (because of its democratic content), but
> they aimed to snatch leadership away from the bourgeoisie. By the way, what
> does Mao have to do with it? He may have fought for Chinese independence,
> but Lenin's whole idea was to turn nationalism into a vehicle for socialist
> internationalism. Please see Memoirs of a Chinese revolutionary, by Wang
> Fanxi, translated by former lecturer, Professor Gregor Benton.
>
> > So Furedi, we hear, believes that the progressive capitalists are the
> > ones who "play for high stakes."
>
> Well no, they already control society. They don't have to play for high
> stakes, except vis-a-vis other imperialist powers, or in the sense of
> having to maintain their rule internally. We are the ones who need to play
> for high stakes - spurn the dust to gain the prize in words of the
> Internationale. But we will never get to transform society if no one
> believes in human agency nowadays. If everyone believes we can only make
> things far worse, we will just have to get used to the dust.

Just who is this "we"? Your "we" seems to be er... a bit overinclusive...

Remember what Tonto said to the Lone Ranger?

>
> > No doubt the ghost of Herman Kahn, the eco-hacks paid off by the oil com-
> > panies, and the rest of the Too Live Crew on the "Against Nature" panel
> > (precisely which one was actually Dr. Strangelove doesn't matter, Peter
> > Sellers played about 6 different roles in the movie anyway) all love it
> > when Furedi complains about how the eco-freaks are "constraining
> science."
> >

> > But if he tries to recruit them to defend LM on its press freedom case,

> > he's cruisin' for a bruisin'...
>

> Well exactly. Only socialists can consistently support these causes
> nowadays. Are going to take out a subscription to LM, John? David.
>

Wild horses couldn't drag me to subscribe to the thing.

-jh-


David Stevens

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Jan 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/21/98
to

David J Webb wrote:
>
> Need I go on, John? You fool, you cited a book in support of your
> prejudices that you haven't even read.

I think it likely that Holmes read that book; I just
don't think his retention is very good. He doesn't
even remember his own published assertions in a.p.s.t.
(Or else he remembers, but expects that we will not).

Louis Proyect cited a television show he didn't even
move his lips to watch before writing a critique here.
Holmes' method is superior to Proyect's. I, personally,
have seen John move his lips posting to this newsgroup.

It's just that -- like Bill Guilders -- whenever he
announces his departure(s) for "better things to do,"
I am not sure which sort of cheek holds his tongue.

- David Stevens

Adam Hibbert

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Jan 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/21/98
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In article <01bd2516$05be2ea0$423863c3@djwebb>, "David J Webb"
<surfw...@yahoo.com> wrote:

* First of all, with respect
* to crisis theory, please check out LM commentary at
* http://www.informinc.co.uk/LM/discuss/commentary/10-29-97-CRASH.html. There
* it says:
*
* "Financial crises can never, on their own, create real social crises. Most
* commentators have been too preoccupied with PE ratios, yield curves, and
* anxiety about the shadowy speculators to see what is different today.

As I suspected, your interpretation of the LM commentary is different to
mine. The point Mullan is making here - as far as I can see - is that
crises *in the financial sector* have no bearing on real social crises.
They may well be symptomatic of economic problems / imbalances (as Phil
goes on to outline), but are relatively meaningless in terms of class
conflict (as 1987 testifies, I think).

* The
* missing ingredient compared to the 1930s is the absence of genuine social
* (or, to use a passe term, class), opposition to capitalism. It was this
* force and its ramifications, both domestically and internationally, which
* precipitated the real turmoil of the 1930s**, not merely the 1929 collapse
* in share prices. Without the pressure of this social challenge, the free
* market system will always be able to muddle through.

This is the bit that's got you worried; it might sound more 'Radical
Chains', but the point is only that capitalist crisis can be counteracted
and postponed practically indefinitely as long as the working class is
supine - since the bourgeoisie can reorganise production relations to
ameliorate the crisis entirely at the workers' expense.

* If the only trouble in the 1930s was social opposition, well then the
* problem is removed!! From this standpoint, trying to build an opposition is
* quixotic.

I don't follow the argument, here. You seem to be implying that LM is
transgressing a form of economic determinism (wherein capitalist crisis
materially implies social unrest) and is therefore wavering on its old
principles. LM (and the RCP) never upheld such a deterministic analysis.
Class opposition for us always depended on political consciousness, not
the pound in your pocket. But then, you knew that.

* By the way, I do see that the Establishment has more room to
* manoeuvre nowadays, but in the absence of any opposition I would have
* expected them to score bigger gains, and make deeper inroads into our
* standards of living, but maybe their abandonment of the field of economic
* progress saps their will to do that. Take for instance in Japan, the crisis
* seems permanent but Grossman pointed out the length of the crisis is
* undefined, it just depends on how quickly the counter-vailing factors can
* be mobilised. Well they are taking their time!!!

Good observation, I think. It underlines my point (last post) about how
weakened bourgeois agency was by its victory over the working class. We
are left with a ruling class that problematizes any sign of economic
vigour (again, as Phil's commentary goes on to discuss), and fails to
capitalise on many of the opportunities objectively open to it.

* I also see that capitalism will not collapse of its own accord, the system
* will muddle through it we do not oppose it, but nevertheless 1930s style
* Depression cannot be indefinitely postponed. Even if some investment is
* going on now, that will tend to lower the rate of profit and eventually
* occasion greater problems.

Perhaps the development of new markets shouldn't be underestimated as a
counter-acting tendency, however pessimistic the dominant commentary is
about Asia. Again, LM is constantly having to point out that the sense of
foreboding that permeates much futurology and economic forecasts has less
basis in reality than even a Marxist analysis can stick to it. The prime
boundaries to the realm of what's possible for the bourgeoisie are
currently its own **subjective** constraints..

* On your other points:
*
* > But in particular, what must not be dismissed is the extraordinary cost to
* > bourgeouis ideology that their victory cost them. By this I mean, that the
* > revolution actually succeeded in finally wresting away from capitalism its
* > claim that the Enlightenment promise, including that of universal
* > progress, was their baby.
*
* Yes, this is vintage RCP stuff...The cost is to their ideology, and the RCP
* assumes this is a big price
* to pay. Well, maybe next time round when struggle re-emerges they won't be
* able to claim to represent progress themselves, and so they will have been
* denuded theoretically. Although if they can make the ideological leap now,
* I dare say they could leap back.

I'm not looking to the 'next time round': sure, who knows how the cookies
might crumble? The point is more that they are hamstrung in the here and
now, by having had to rubbish all the values which previously promoted
their interests. In the absence of those, capitalism is left with a
mish-mash of pragmatism and authoritarianism; it has no other cohering
dynamic, and plenty of fragmentationary dynamics (if that's a word). We
might better ask - will capitalism need a return to a positive apologetic
of the old mould, or can the wholly-negative Clinton/Blair ethic run and
run? I think we do better to work on the basis of the latter, for the time
being.

* > TINA flows almost directly from this crucial development, which itself
* > left capitalism no greater claim to being the best of worlds than 'all the
* > alternatives are worse'.
*
* Not a problem at the moment for the capitalist elite, although its
* demoralising consequences for the majority in society are debilitating.

Well, yes and no. If it got to be a BIG problem, they'd deal with it
somehow. But 'like it or lump it' is not the most inspiring motto to rally
the middle classes with, let alone the masses. Capitalism is by nature
corrosive to society. Without some cohering dynamic, its institutions and
codes can come under big strains, and 'like it or lump it' cannot command
a powerful enough loyalty to ensure that those strains don't backfire on
the bourgoisie. BTW, this is not in itself good news for our side: some
things that are bad for them are bad for us too, especially now.

* > I am not so sure this is true - Sure, you must be in possession of the
* > anti-capitalist goods. But tactically speaking, you may have to bite back
* > the revolutionary critique in order to mobilise forces that (perhaps
* > against their own interests) further the interests of the revolution: cf
* > the discussion between Lenin and Luxemburg on supporting bourgeois
* > nationalists. I come down with Lenin, here: it might appear duplicitous
* > and fraught with the danger of assimilation, but as long as the activist
* > is alert to these, much more progress is possible: and that is our
* > overriding duty, if we're serious.
*
* I see your point. The RCP appears more libertarian than anything else.
* Although communism is obviously not libertarian!! Arf!! Arf!! As soon as
* the revolution happened, the Tory, Labour, Lib Dem, Green SNP, Plaid Cymru,
* BNP etc parties would be closed down and banned!

Indeed - just as, in Vlad's day, a successful world revolution would
instantly have destroyed nationalist Poles, despite having unconditionally
supported them up to that point.

* But even so, you are appealing to
* people who are philosophically eclectic. People who may not believe
* communism is possible, and who support the capitalist system (passively),
* may be outraged by UK libel laws, but if they really understood why the RCP
* raised the issues it does, many of them wouldn't buy it at all.

Make that 'just about all of them'. That's politics, bro - get used to
using the enemy . . .

* > some people, whether for academic, commercial,
* > conservative, anarchist, religious, or whatever other reasons, also seek
* > to resist the same thing. We have to demonstrate to such people, and those
* > attracted to them, that we can fight the trend harder and more
* > consistently than any of them - it's at that point that they come to us
* > and demand to know more (or recognise that they have to choose between
* > accepting the trend OR communism, and choose the former).
*
* Here is where you reach the real nub of what I was saying. Eventually, it
* will become plain to people that the theoretical foundations of what the
* RCP has to say are based on a rejection of the usual account of the 20th
* century (1917 and all that). I have found when talking to people that at
* first they can't work out whether what I am saying in left wing or right
* wing, but as I gradually make it plain to them the opposition to the
* culture of limitations, it becomes obvious to them that this is an
* anti-capitalist theory, and then the penny drops, and they can take the
* easy way out by citing Russia.

But if you read what I was saying there again, you'll agree that, if you
take people through the process (making them realise that their reluctance
to go whole hog on social transformation actually undermines their
capacity to defend those basics like free speech that they hold dear),
then chucking 'Russia' in your face is not exactly an easy way out; the
onus is on them to find a workable alternative, or admit that they'd
rather live in a capitalist police state than give revolution a pop.

* Eventually you will get to the point where
* it has to be discussed, and if you can win on crisis theory and Stalinism,
* you have finally clinched all the other points which fall into place. **But
* I think people don't really know what you are on about until you get to
* this point.**

Agreed - and you'll actually make no sense to them if you jump in prematurely.

* I basically think that social change can only be attempted by classes not
* by individuals. Without a return to class politics there can never be
* social transformation. We can make various points about civil liberties,
* science, panics etc but we are also hostage to an awareness by society as a
* whole of the hole it has dug itself into.

There's got to be a leverage point, though. While you might say that the
bunch of petit-bourgeois scumbags who made up the New Left were in no
sense a class, they were nonetheless a logical progression from dominant
ideological trends, and their ideological product is the only game in
town, these days. Now, a few thousand of us can't hope to effect any
significant material change - but we can certainly open up a small space
in political discourse where there's room for ideas of working-class
autonomy to flourish. In that sense, and I hazard only in that sense, can
revolutionaries hope to effect or assist a turn in the tide.

* In my full letter to the RCP, I wanted them to write a
* new Road to Power or Our Tasks and Methods to outline what can be achieved
* and how.

There's room for a lot more experimentation before I would be prepared to
draw firm conclusions on the order of OTAM. My standing instruction to
myself is 'Push a few doors and see which ones give'. You'd be surprised
how small a bump you have to make in such a flat political terrain to get
an audience.

Regards

David Stevens

unread,
Jan 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/21/98
to

John Holmes wrote:
>
> ...
> Well, so much for Webb as loyal left critic of LM. Clearly he has bought the
> package. He *supports* an alliance with "the progressive bourgeoisie,"

Careful readers will note that John's quoted phrase is
merely John's own assertion. None of the posters here
has asserted that any wing of the ruling class is
politically progressive.

The closer the Spartacist ICL approaches the politics
of pink-and-Green reformism, the closer John Holmes'
methods will resemble Louis Proyect's. John's invented
citation here of "the progressive bourgeoisie" is a
good example of this.

> > We are the ones who need to play
> > for high stakes - spurn the dust to gain the prize in words of the
> > Internationale. But we will never get to transform society if no one
> > believes in human agency nowadays. If everyone believes we can only make
> > things far worse, we will just have to get used to the dust.
>
> Just who is this "we"? Your "we" seems to be er... a bit overinclusive...

Then what would you say to a "fighting propaganda organization"
that mistakes itself for an internationalist vanguard Party?

- David ["left hand in boiling water"] Stevens

David Stevens

unread,
Jan 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/21/98
to

David Stevens wrote:
> ...

> It's just that -- like Bill Guilders --

To Comrade -- oops, I mean B'rer -- Gilders,
I apologize for misspelling his name.

It must be a lingering symptom of DuhLeonism,
since I really _do_ know better.

- David Stevens

Louis N Proyect

unread,
Jan 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/21/98
to

On Wed, 21 Jan 1998, David Stevens wrote:

> The closer the Spartacist ICL approaches the politics
> of pink-and-Green reformism, the closer John Holmes'
> methods will resemble Louis Proyect's. John's invented
> citation here of "the progressive bourgeoisie" is a
> good example of this.

Actually John's critique of LM in the past couple of days has been right
on the money. You seem to be the only person around here, except for their
hard-core, who thinks that the world would benefit from hearing speeches
by leading members of the Hudson and Cato Institutes on the environment.
Oh, I forgot the Larouchites. They, the LM'ers and David Stevens are all
gung-ho on the right of big corporations to poison the air and water and
give us all cancer so that they can make larger profits.

Louis Proyect


David Stevens

unread,
Jan 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/21/98
to

Louis "Smaller is Better" Proyect proving my point:

>
> On Wed, 21 Jan 1998, David Stevens wrote:
>
> > The closer the Spartacist ICL approaches the politics
> > of pink-and-Green reformism, the closer John Holmes'
> > methods will resemble Louis Proyect's. John's invented
> > citation here of "the progressive bourgeoisie" is a
> > good example of this.
>
> Actually John's critique of LM in the past couple of days has been right
> on the money.

:-D Thank you, Louis. BTW, I always read your articles,
the same way I always read John's.

- David Stevens

David Stevens

unread,
Jan 21, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/21/98
to

David J Webb replied to John Holmes.

[David, it would be easier to follow quotations
if they were attributed -- your first answer
to Holmes did that, but the second one, like
your post to Adam, quoted a nameless entity.

Meanwhile, I'd like to invite Tom Smith and
everyone else to distinguish among the three
or more active Davids posting to this forum.
On my part, I will start calling Cde Walters
by his full name, instead of David W].

> Do you really think you can win people to a revolutionary platform when
> there is, politically, no working class only a mass of working
> individuals? I support revolution, but this stance of mine has almost no
> repercussions or effects on my life.Even people who do favour confrontation
> in today's Britain doubt that anyone else would support them. I will give
> you an anecdote:
>
> -- <snip of students at Leeds pulling their hands out
> of the boling waters of class struggle in order
> to ensure their self-preservation as a vanguard> --

Uh, don't ask about the ICL's fraternal relations in Brazil. ;-)

> I would not take sides with Germany against Britain or Britain
> against Germany, but I definitely would side with Iraq against either of
> those.

Then don't ask Holmes about the Malvinas War, either. ;-)

- David Stevens

David J Webb

unread,
Jan 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/22/98
to

John Holmes wrote:
> I will gracefully concede (yawn) that I overstated my point re: Hobsbawn,
> by far the least important thing I had to say in my post of a few days
> ago, which certainly seems to have touched off a nerve (David Webb, *try*
> not to post the same thing three times in one hour.)

OK. One of those extra posts was a mistake, as you must have guessed, and
the other one was posted in a different place - for Gary Dale actually -
because he had opened up a new thread with the same title. There seem to be
several threads entitled For Hibbert: LM and Russia!!! Touched off a nerve?
In whom? You or me?!! Obviously, I quite enjoyed the quotation I posted. I
haven't even read the whole of the chapter concerned, but was pleasantly
surprised that just browsing through I could find such a good paragraph.

> The mood in the ruling classes at the turn of the century was
> ... fin de siecle. Pessimist. Decadence was big. Nietzsche was the big
> thinker. And between the wars, the Big Thinker was Spengler, "The Decline
> of the West." But enough...
>
> The mood *among workers* was quite different, which is what Hobsbawn was
> talking about. But since what is being discussed here is LM's orientation
> to the Anglo-American ruling classes, it's not too relevant.

I am sure you are right about the fin de siecle thought 100 years ago. The
bourgeoise naturally do not view their system as a temporary phase before
communism, and so their disillusionment didn't lead them to support the
overthrow of capitalism, but instead led to irrationality. I have read
little on philosophy and am not going to attempt to make comments on
Nietsche. But you see back then, whatever the ruling class disillusionment,
the socialist alternative had not been discredited. Whereas now, old style
Labourism and Stalinism have between them managed to discredit not only
this system by the possibility of an alternative.

By the way, there is a question of 'extent' here. In 1987, Hobsbawm might
have written that we cannot underestimate the irrationality of the 1890s,
but how could you write that in 1997? BSE and the cult of Diana alone just
about corner the market in irrationality.


> I have just finished *Age of Empire,* and was about to start *Age of
> Extremes.* Gary Dale has successfully decreased my enthusiasm for reading

I have not read this book, and I don't possess it. I don't know what his
verdict on social experimentation in the 20th century is, but whenever I
have gone to buy it in the bookshop, I have decided not to waste the money,
as I assumed, perhaps wrongly, that the title meant he now rejects social
experimentation.


David J Webb

unread,
Jan 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/22/98
to

> It is true, the ruling class abandonment of the Enlightenment has gotten
> more intense lately, there was a bit of polemical overstatement in my
> previous posting. But what we need now is not money for sheep cloning
> and fusion power, what we need -- as in 1789 and 1917, is to

There is probably a bit of overstatement in some of my postings. You have
taught me that I ought to read up sometime on the late 19th century just to
understand the comparison with today correctly. I recognise how pointless
it is to reply to this message of yours. I just don't want anyone to think
that your ideas hold water, and so I have decided to reply anyway. Yes,
yes, yes, we need revolution now just as in 1789 and 1917. But who the hell
is going to carry out such a revolution? With no labour movement anymore -
your reference to strikes in France was bathetic - you can talk to people
only as isolated individuals. This is in effect the nub of what I was
discussing with Adam.

Do you really think you can win people to a revolutionary platform when
there is, politically, no working class only a mass of working
individuals? I support revolution, but this stance of mine has almost no
repercussions or effects on my life.Even people who do favour confrontation
in today's Britain doubt that anyone else would support them. I will give
you an anecdote:

When I was at University (in Leeds), our Professor announced that each
student would be charged £20 a year for the photocopies handed out in
class. We all knew the hand-outs didn't cost that much (even if they did,
they ought to be free of charge), as he was calculating it on a 10p a sheet
basis, even though the Chinese department had its own photocopier, and
photocopies could be done commercially in Leeds for 4p a sheet. So I raised
my hand and stood up, and explained that our grant cheques were for our
maintenance and not to subsidise the University, because we were meant to
be receiving a free education. He simply reiterated there was nothing he
could do, as they were short of funds. So 5 mins later, I stood up again
and made the point even more strongly, which he again brushed aside. Before
I stood up again, a lot of classmates had promised to back me up, but when
it came to it, I was the only one who would make a fuss about £20 to a man
I would later depend on for a reference. Some whispered to me, "ask for a
show of hands, and I will put my hand up, but I am not saying anything." So
I myself am entitled to be a bit wary before sticking my neck out in modern
Britain. At work, there are various issues that could be tackled, but
everyone would far rather just moan about the conditions, and if anyone did
anything about it, others would not be supportive. By the way, as regards
the fee, the department could not announce that the fee was waived, but
none of my year paid it, and it was quietly dropped for us, although the
other years paid up!

The collapse of the old labour movement - which ultimately lies behind the
more desperate culture of complaint, or cult of victimhood, nowadays as
people can only trade on pathos rather than force - renders all talk of
revolution abstract and bizarre. If you can't see this, you are just
bleating out the same old line that your antecedents used in the 1970s. It
wasn't that great then, and it completely avoids all the 1990s issues.



> Adolf Hitler called for cancelling Germany's unpayable debts to the
American
> banks in the '30s. Ignoring who was issuing this call, this was
abstractly a
> supportable demand. Should German (Marxists, radicals, "progressives," or
> whatever LM likes calling itself these days) have supported Hitler?

Well why would German Marxists want to take a stance on that? The whole
point about Leninism is not siding with your own local imperialist
bourgeosie. But of course, in a non-imperialist country that would be
different. I would not take sides with Germany against Britain or Britain

David J Webb

unread,
Jan 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/22/98
to

> This is the bit that's got you worried; it might sound more 'Radical
> Chains', but the point is only that capitalist crisis can be counteracted
> and postponed practically indefinitely as long as the working class is
> supine - since the bourgeoisie can reorganise production relations to
> ameliorate the crisis entirely at the workers' expense.

Yes that's right. The crisis would still occur, but it could be
counteracted. I understood Mullan as almost implying the crisis would not
occur, as the crisis only came about through working class opposition, but
I can agree with your formulation.

> Agreed - and you'll actually make no sense to them if you jump in
prematurely.

I think I have ruined a few good chances to talk to people by moving to
what I see as the nitty gritty too soon.


Gary Dale

unread,
Jan 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/22/98
to

dw>Need I go on, John? You fool, you cited a book in support of your
dw>prejudices that you haven't even read. 1998 society has a very different
dw>attitude towards social progress than the late 19th century, even if
dw>irrationality had a purchase on a minority then. QED, David.

Well quite. John might take a trip to see the film Titanic
some time. Now there's a fable for the 90s...


John Holmes

unread,
Jan 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/22/98
to

On 22 Jan 1998, David J Webb wrote:

> But you see back then, whatever the ruling class disillusionment,
> the socialist alternative had not been discredited. Whereas now, old style
> Labourism and Stalinism have between them managed to discredit not only
> this system by the possibility of an alternative.

Yes. Back then was *before* August 14 (the discreditation of Social De-
mocracy) and *before* the collapse of Stalinism in Germany, the Moscow
Trials, the great purges, the Hitler-Stalin pact, etc., which discredited
Stalinism until the world-historic defeat of Nazism by the Red Army revived
it for a period.

The only new thing is the final collapse of Stalinism.

>
> By the way, there is a question of 'extent' here. In 1987, Hobsbawm might
> have written that we cannot underestimate the irrationality of the 1890s,
> but how could you write that in 1997? BSE and the cult of Diana alone just
> about corner the market in irrationality.

Media crazes are far from new, and what is new is how rapidly they wear
off (e.g. Diana). On BSE you are out of your tree. A year or two ago there
could have been serious argument that the eco-freaks blew BSE out of
proportion. Now, there's been some serious scientific study, and it is
quite clear that it is a real problem, and nobody except British
meatpackers and LM denies it.

-jh-

Hunter Watson

unread,
Jan 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/22/98
to

In article <Pine.SUN.3.91.980122...@igc.apc.org>, John
Holmes <jdho...@igc.apc.org> wrote:

> On 22 Jan 1998, David J Webb wrote:
>
> > But you see back then, whatever the ruling class disillusionment,
> > the socialist alternative had not been discredited. Whereas now, old style
> > Labourism and Stalinism have between them managed to discredit not only
> > this system by the possibility of an alternative.
>
> Yes. Back then was *before* August 14 (the discreditation of Social De-
> mocracy) and *before* the collapse of Stalinism in Germany, the Moscow
> Trials, the great purges, the Hitler-Stalin pact, etc., which discredited
> Stalinism until the world-historic defeat of Nazism by the Red Army revived
> it for a period.
>
> The only new thing is the final collapse of Stalinism.

This is incoherent, John.

creb...@antares.com.br

unread,
Jan 22, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/22/98
to jdho...@igc.apc.org

In article <Pine.SUN.3.91.980120191...@igc.apc.org>,
John Holmes <jdho...@igc.apc.org> wrote:

> Adolf Hitler called for cancelling Germany's unpayable debts to the American
> banks in the '30s. Ignoring who was issuing this call, this was abstractly a
> supportable demand. Should German (Marxists, radicals, "progressives," or
> whatever LM likes calling itself these days) have supported Hitler?

By the way, the recently late former Brazilian dictator, general Geisel-
a German-Brazilian, of course, of the 2nd. generation, believed that "the
worst pollution is that of misery" and belived that enviromentalists and
the Amnesty International were all part of a nasty conspiracy of
foreigners "disrespecting our sovereignity and meddling in our internal
affairs". And then he proceeded to buy some nuclear power plant from the
Germans that never went of the ground. When "development" is made into
some Graal and panacea for all 3rd. World ills, disregard the question of
political democracy, you of the LM won't be surprised when you find
yourself among such bedfellows.

Carlos Rebello

-------------------==== Posted via Deja News ====-----------------------
http://www.dejanews.com/ Search, Read, Post to Usenet

Hunter Watson

unread,
Jan 23, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/23/98
to

> In article <Pine.SUN.3.91.980120191...@igc.apc.org>,
> John Holmes <jdho...@igc.apc.org> wrote:
>

> > Adolf Hitler called for cancelling Germany's unpayable debts to the American
> > banks in the '30s. Ignoring who was issuing this call, this was abstractly a
> > supportable demand. Should German (Marxists, radicals, "progressives," or
> > whatever LM likes calling itself these days) have supported Hitler?
>

> By the way, the recently late former Brazilian dictator, general Geisel-
> a German-Brazilian, of course, of the 2nd. generation, believed that "the
> worst pollution is that of misery" and belived that enviromentalists and
> the Amnesty International were all part of a nasty conspiracy of
> foreigners "disrespecting our sovereignity and meddling in our internal
> affairs". And then he proceeded to buy some nuclear power plant from the
> Germans that never went of the ground. When "development" is made into
> some Graal and panacea for all 3rd. World ills, disregard the question of
> political democracy, you of the LM won't be surprised when you find
> yourself among such bedfellows.
>
> Carlos Rebello

It is very difficult, nay, impossible for a first or second generation
immigrant to Michigan's Upper Peninsula to be considered a "Yooper".

How long does it take to become a Brazilian? If one happens to be of German
"blood" does it take longer?

Hunter Watson

creb...@antares.com.br

unread,
Jan 25, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/25/98
to hwa...@up.net

In article <hwatson-ya0231800...@news.up.net>,
hwa...@up.net (Hunter Watson) wrote:

> It is very difficult, nay, impossible for a first or second generation
> immigrant to Michigan's Upper Peninsula to be considered a "Yooper".
>
> How long does it take to become a Brazilian? If one happens to be of German
> "blood" does it take longer?
>
> Hunter Watson

No doubt the late general considered himself Brazilian - and anyone else,
for that matter, myself included (although he complains in his memoir of
being kept out of the expeditionary force that fought in Italy during
WWII). The point here is only the crazy idea the General had that buying
a prototype of a nuclear power plant from West Germany against American
opposition and someday joining the nuclear club could in someway atone
for all Brazilian social shortcomings; I wonder whether the LM will
someday have Geisel as a kind of honorary posthumous memeber.

Carlos Rebello

P.S. By the way, it should be said that at those late 70s, it was the
grant of asylum made by the Carter administration that saved the life and
liberty of Vargas's political heir, Brizola, who had been suddenly
withdrawn his right of asylum by the Uruguayan military dictatorship.

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