by Anne Jaclard, Organizational Secretary, Marxist-Humanist Initiative
Jehu’s disgusting diatribe thoroughly misrepresents Kliman and Marxist-Humanist Initiative. Moreover, he neglected to cite the publication in which the article in question originally appeared, Marxist-Humanist Initiative’s web journal, “With Sober Senses” http://www.marxisthumanistinitiative.org/our-publication (so did Libcom, which is what he cited). By violating our re-publication policy, he deprived readers of an opportunity to examine our site and to judge for themselves if his charges against us are true.
The URL of the article is http://www.marxisthumanistinitiative.org/alternatives-to-capital/the-make-believe-world-of-david-graeber.html
If he has any thoughtful readers, they may be interested in the discussion taking place in the comments that follow the article. Those do much to articulate and to clear up some misconceptions about it, including some people’s initial difficulty in understanding how one can critique Graeber’s theory and support the Occupy Movement.
His serious accusation against Marxist-Humanism of being one-sidedly concerned with theory and not practice is untrue. A cursory glance at our website will show some of the movements we have been involved in and support, including Occupy Wall Street, international solidarity work, strike support, and many more. One can also see discussions of Raya Dunayevksaya’s philosophy, which is based in a developing interrelationship between theory and practice; in fact, her concept of “a movement from practice that is itself a form of theory,” articulated 60 years ago, has been copied by many spontaneists ever since. If we talk about theory a lot, that’s because what she called “the movement from theory” has not received the same attention, and that failure is holding back the development of mass movements. One need only observe today’s activists repeating the failures of the 1960s and 70s by thinking that more and more activity will get us to a revolution without the need for a new interrelationship with Marx’s philosophy of human liberation.
Jehu’s personal attacks on Kliman are completely inappropriate to reasoned discussion. Taking one small example: does it turn Jehu into a man of the people to keep calling Kliman “professor,” a designation Kliman doesn’t use outside of academic settings? Kliman teaches for a living because he has to earn a living; maybe Jehu doesn’t work because he is independently wealthy, who knows? How come Jehu doesn’t call Ollman and Zizek “professor”? Should we judge people’s ideas by their occupations, and rule out all ideas from people who teach college for a living? Or is the real message simply the virtues of anti-intellectualism?
Here are just a few of Jehu’s misrepresentations:
· Kliman does not say that the Occupy movement failed.
· It is incorrect to claim that the movement, even OWS in NYC, chose Graeber as their leader or appointed him to anything.
· MHI does not and Kliman does not have anything in common with the straw man position that people “are hopelessly retarded children who must be led by a self-annointed vanguard sufficiently theoretically developed to uncover the path mankind must take to freedom” and “proles are imbeciles incapable of discovering their own wants.”
· Marx did not argue that the Communards “were already this new social organization of society themselves.” He said that the Commune was “the *political* form at last discovered under which to work out the *economical emancipation* of labor.” There’s a world of difference between these statements.