Re: Charles Ostenle and the Manifesto

Fri, 06 Mar 1998 13:50:59 -0500
Louis Proyect (lnp3@columbia.edu)

>I am also curious to hear
>Louis Proyects' view on this issue. Louis defended the
>base-superstructure metaphor in the CM150-l list a few weeks
>ago.
>
>Manjur Karim

Did I? I am surprised that such a sophisticated formulation would spring
from my typing fingers. I feel like the Shakespearean clown who felt a
burst of pride when he was informed that he was speaking in "prose." He
thought he only knew English.

I find all this discussion rather fascinating, I must say, and I am rather
leery of Martha's remonstrations about world systems theory being "out of
place." After all, Andre's paper was one of the core texts recommended for
discussion in the seminar. I am in the middle of an intensive study of
Incan society based on Murra, Stern, Patterson et al. in preparation for an
article on Mariategui, as part of a series I have been writing on Marxism
and the American Indian. I have a strong affinity with the viewpoint
expressed in "The Communist Manifesto in Light of Current Anthropology" by
Eugene E. Ruyle.

On the other hand, I have spent five years promoting the use of high
technology in Nicaragua and Southern Africa in the 1980s. I feel repelled
by Marx and Engel's concept of "rural idiocy" but by the same token I
believe that socialism can only be created on the basis of the most
advanced technology. The reason for this is simple. The world's economy has
become much more interwoven than it was in the days of the CM and it is
impossible to turn back the clock. Urgent problems of ecology, energy
reserves, farming and fishing, etc. can not be resolved on a local basis,
no matter how seductive the call is to live a simpler life. Capitalism has
opened a pandora's box and the only way to close it is with the tools and
weapons it has put at our disposal.

Louis Proyect