Social Scientist. v 10, no. 113 (Oct 1982) p. 64.


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Reply

AT the outset I would like to dispel some of the notions that Ghosh and Basu, in their rejoinder, claim to have derived from my article. Although many of these arc predictably concerned with inessentials, I begin with them to emphasise the point that, whatever else may be desirable, shoddy and careless reading of the views to be opposed can hardly be the basis of a "serious defence of polemics".

I have been accused of informing Ghosh and Basu that the New Left is "simply 'Andersen and his ilk' ". Had they read the article they might have noticed that the term "New Left' does not even figure in it. The statement that Anderson represents one trend in this amorphous body of literature is found in the Editorial Note. If this is what is being objected to, it should be clearly stated.

I was also not a little surprised to find portions of my criticism of Anderson rephrased and served up as admonitions to me. Thus Ghosh and Basu assert that, "the perfunctory treatment meted out to Stalin adds nothing and could be theoretically misleading. Secondly, the interpretation of a historical circumstance by the backward-forward metaphor substitutes a description for an analysis." Quite right, but this is what Anderson is doing and my article states it unambiguously:

"In this case the ready sc-ipegoat (Stalin) is presented in terms of pure bourgeois prejudice with not a hint of an analysis of the experiences of socialist states, .. If there is no evalution of Stalin's leadership ... there is no shortage of innuendoes." And a few paragraphs later, I illustrate the inadequacy of Andcrson's use of the backward-forward metaphor, contrasting Lenin's assessment of the material conditions of his theoretical formulations, with Anderson's attempt to prefix Lenin's writings with the stamp of Russian "backwardness"

Further, although I have specifically stated that my article is not concerned with Anderson's account of "European socio-political thought", but with his assessment of a historical phase of the proletarian movement—not just its empirical, but more importantly, its theoretical and organisational aspects—which precisely supplies him with his "criteria of evaluation", Ghosh and Basu claim that I have dubbed the "object ofstudy" anti-Leninist,while only criteria could be so defined!

I have dubbed the search for a "Western" Marxist tradition anti-Leninist for the following reasons:

1) identifying the search as valid demands the assumption that



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