[OPE-L:7363] Re: Mario Cogoy ...

From: Alejandro Valle Baeza (avalleb@prodigy.net.mx)
Date: Sat Jun 08 2002 - 18:45:26 EDT

Jerry, I am sorry for the delay to answer this. I  had some problems  with
my e-mail. 

On Jun 03 2002 J. Levy wrote:
Re Alejandro V's  [73l8]

>>. Do you know some discussion
>> about economic interest related to academic interest? I read, some years
>> ago, an interesting paper  from J. Petras about politics and
>> Latin-American intellectuals. In such paper Petras argued that personal
>> economic  interest are close related to changes in focus by LA
>> intellectual (And elsewhere  I presume).  In Mexico, by example, during
>> 70's  it was compatible to obtain academic prestige and grants with
>> Marxian ascription. This changed drastically during 80's and 90's and
>> most of Marxian Mexican economist rejected the first M; hence they are
>> now Mexican economist.

>"I think you are referring to his article "The Divergence Between Scientific
>Work and Political Action"  in _Critical Perspectives on Imperialism and
>Social Classes in the Third World_ (NY, Monthly Review Press, l978).
>A very interesting and insightful essay which explores the changing
>relationships  between "The Intellectuals and the Activists". His four case
>studies on the "Divorce of Theory and Practice"  are particularly

I do not remember the reference. Tank you for this.

>A central  conclusion of his essay is the "importance of the organic linkage
intellectuals to the social and economic process" (202).  In that connection
Petras noted that "intellectuals in Latin America have not developed, in
most cases, organic ties with the labor movement" (20l).  I think this
observation is valid in many other areas of the world besides Latin America.
On the other hand, I don't find his swipes at the concept of  *relative
autonomy* to be very convincing, did you?   E.g he wrote that this concept
"is a mode of rationalizing intellectuals' evasion of commitment"; those
who "demand" relative autonomy "demand freedom from the constraints
of class and party"; "In the West the divorce of Marxism from class
struggle is codified in the notion of 'relative autonomy'";  this notion is
"above all, an opportunistic formula" (202).  On the other hand, Petras
seems to be using this expression to convey a "notion" very different from
the way in which that expression has been used re *the state*.   He claims
instead that the  emergence of  the notion of relative autonomy "is a direct
response to the decades of Stalinist hegemony on the Left and to the
bureaucratic-authoritarian control of the party" which "served to legitimize
the freeing of the intellectuals in the cultural realm without challenging
the  bureaucratic conception of the relationship between class and party"
(Ibid).  Perhaps there was a different meaning to the expression
"relative autonomy" in Latin America in the l970's?">

I do not remember how was named but the intellectuals  situation was as you described.

>Did the "Marxian Mexican economists" turned "Mexican economists"
>become, by and large, mainstream (neo-neo-classical) economists or
>heterodox economists?   Relatedly, are most of them now populist,
>liberal, or reactionary?

It is hard to say, because they refuse any label now. You will find them distributed in any possible category; however most of them are mainstream now.

Also, what has been the role of radical (Marxian and heterodox)
economists in the ongoing struggle in Chiapas and in the student revolts
at universities (including UNAM)?
Yes, they are but not as economist. I remember a sentence of  Vidal ( a Spanish economist) "-In Spain- Marxist are not economist and economist are not Marxist". You can apply to most of Marxian economist connected to popular movements in Mexico.

>> In my view, a genuine interest by ecological
> issues and Marxian approach is not only possible but necessary.  An
>> example is J.B. Foster.

Agreed.  What is interesting, though, in this connection is that the
perspectives of Foster and OPE-Ler Paul Burkett are very similar on the
issue of  Marx's perspectives on environmental questions even though the
former is an advocate of the "monopoly capital"  MR (Baran-Sweezy)
school while Paul attempts to extend Marx's theory of value to explain
environmental issues.  In other words, what I find most interesting is that
two authors -- one who thinks that a theory of value is unnecessary and
redundant and another who believes it to be essential to comprehending
the subject matter --  arrive at basically the same conclusion.  But, I
suppose one could then ask a Steedman-like question: if the former
(Foster) can arrive at very similar conclusions as the latter (Burkett),
then could the lather's use of value theory then be said to be unnecessary
and redundant?   I would say no, but I would have to explain Paul's
book (_Marx and Nature: A Red and Green Perspective_) more to
make sense of that claim.  Perhaps the "lesson" here is that two theories
which share the same *conclusions*  can nonetheless have very
different principles and methodologies.   Perhaps what they most share
in common is the desire to answer Green critics of Marx and explain
why the latter was not the anti-Green theorist that many Green writers
make him out to be.  Thus, they share perhaps a similar political
stance (which aims towards Red-Green unity or "eco-socialism") as well
as a conclusion.  Apologies to Paul  (and John B) if I haven't grasped
their perspectives correctly.

Jerry, thank you for your enlighten response.

Cordialmente Alejandro

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