I am new to the internet and e-mail, and this type of seminar.

Mon, 09 Mar 1998 11:21:53 -0500
Charles Brown charlesb@CNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us (charlesb@CNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us)

I am enjoying reading the papers, although I have had a problem sending in comments, and I hope it is ok to try to send this to you directly.
I am happy to see the militant anti-Eurocentrism of Mr. Frank. However, I do think there was something world historically new that emerged in Europe around 1500.
I had Marshall Sahlins as a teacher in '72-'73. The Original Affluent Society critique you make of Ostenle's paper, I have made so many times in my mind while reading. The only footnote in the first sentence of the Manifesto is by Engels who makes an anthropological correction of this type ("all written history" ; class struggle was not the motor of the ancient communes, what I call primary culture).
However, I agree with you that overall Ostenle's paper is very good, and should be more widely published, perhaps after collective critique. The writing style is one of its big strengths.

On "the base-superstructure metaphor" or the fundamental question of philosophy as Engels calls it - materialism or idealism -, and this is the question still: I had reached the formulation "being determines consciousness discontinuously even before I read the last paragraph of your comment on Ostenle. There you use the term "continuously" close to my meaning.
Being determines consciousness discontinuously, That is most of the time of human history, or "continuously" consciousness is in reciprocal determination with being (or ideology has some independence fo being. It is only in the rare revolutions of he mode of production that the determination of consciousness by being is one-sided and manifest. Like the roof falling in making the law of gravity manifest, the law of being determining consciousness is only manifest when the contradictions reach a crisis.
I use the last instance /first instance metaphor in this too. Marx and Engels always say "primarily" and " ultimatlely" being determines consciousness. Being is the alpha and the omega, but not the letters in between. In between, continuously, being and consciousness are more reciprocally determining. Being determines consciousness discontinously, Revolutions occur rarely, discontinuously.
Meanwhile, continuously, determination between being and consciousness is much more reciprocal. This is where everybody from the structuralists to the semioticians through the post-modernists and deconstructionists, all the anti-vulgar materialists are making their living: in this partial truth, this lesser truth.
Being or practical reason (as in Sahlins' book Culture and Practical Reason; vulgarly class self-interest) determining consciousness cannot be ignored or dropped. But direct , explicit appeal to the class self-interests of the working class has exhausted its sufficiency for inspiring revolution. The contribution of Gramsci, Althusser, Levi-Strauss, Sahlins may be if their ideas lead to new channels of appeal through other reasons than "practical" ones for overthrow of the bourgeoisie.

I hope to have more communication with you.