"She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain." (1873) 
                          -- Louisa May Alcott 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 09:09:09 -0400 (EDT)
From: George Pennefather <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>

Jim Heartfield: Here George is abusing the appearance-essence category by making it 
into a dogmatic insistence on the correctness of his analysis even where it is 
contradicted by appearance. No matter what the evidence is, he is saying, the essence 
is reactionary, so you do not have to pay attention to any facts that might contradict 
that essence.

George Pennefather: Facts always merits attention. However they must be analysed in 
the context of the establishment of the specific way in which they constitute a 
manifestation of the essence of imperialism.

Jim: But appearance and essence are never wholly contradictory, form is the form of 
its content, not of another content. It *appears* that there has been technological 
progress because there *has been* technological progress, and no dialectical juggling 
will wish that away.

George: Under imperialism form contradicts content. The forms of production, 
capitalist social relations of production, retard the development of the forces of 
production which is why capitalist forms lead to the development of technology in the 
form of nuclear weapons etc. --a technology that is not "progressive".

Jim: The dialectical approach would posit the contradiction *within* the  essence 
itself. In other words, capitalism combines destructive and creative elements. It 
develops the forces of production, but on a narrow and exploitative basis.

George: I never denied that the essence of contemporary capitalism is not 
contradictory. Of course it is which is why there necessarily obtains a contradictory 
relationship between essence and appearance under imperialist capitalism.

Jim: The definition of imperialism is not one in which no progress is possible, as 
Lenin makes abundantly clear, but rather one in which the destructive features 
predominate over the progressive, making imperialism as a totality negative, but not 
denying that there can be progressive developments within it. One such, for example, 
is the numerical growth of the working class. Let George say that is

George: Jim's artificial construction of a false dichotomy between the alleged 
positive and negative features of imperialism constitutes an ideological illusion 
which opens a window for the entry of reformist politics. It creates ideological 
justification for promoting putative good side of capitalism as opposed to the 
putative side. If capitalism has a progressive character and even essence then there 
is no necessary reason why the quantitative or mathematical relation between the good 
and bad sides of imperialism cannot be reconfigured --a reformist notion.

The numerical growth of the working class is not necessarily progressive. The American 
working class is among the biggest in the world and yet it is quite reactionary in 
political character --essentially it supports American imperialism.

The issue is not so much a matter as to whether the size of the working class is 
growing or not --Jim seems to have a penchant these days for mathematical relations. 
Today it is the political character of the working class that is significant and not  
as some neo-Pythagoreans may think the size of the working class. The objective 
conditions for communist revolution have been present for some time now --whether the 
working class is growing in size, then, cannot be significant. Perhaps Jim's view is 
that  the bigger the working class grows the better the politics.

Anyway even Jim's abstract claim that the working class is growing is rather 
questionable --again the absence of dialectics. In much of Africa it is questionable 
as to whether the working class is growing. Some would say it has been shrinking. The 
making of abstract statements such as Jim's do not amount to a contribution to the 

Warm regards
George Pennefather

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