Letter from David Gilbert

David Gilbert, Dannemora, NY

Congratulations to the editorial crew for an excellent first issue of Upping the Anti, which I found relevant and stimulating. I especially liked the editorial which argued for theory in a very unpretentious, on point way. And from that perspective, you provided a valuable set of writings. The two roundtables really engaged me, especially the one on organization since I myself am in a state of flux or limbo between my old commitment to democratic centralism, which failed, and my feeling that the anarchist alternatives are inadequate.

The other articles were good too – relevant without being too long or convoluted. (Only the two book reviews seemed a little too abstract). There are just two comments I want to make about some differences of agreement I have. Gary Kinsman, on page 45, discusses the changes of the 1960s and 1970s in a way that I think separates North American capitalism much too much from imperialism. In fact, it was a challenge from national liberation movements that most pushed forward the crisis in this era, and it was on the Third World that the most ruthless measures (structural adjustment programs) to recoup surplus value were imposed.

Secondly, Selma James is right to stress how much nation, race, gender, etc. are class. But I feel that she still concedes too much to traditional (white, male) Marxism because in order to argue the importance of those struggles she feels she has to equate them with class. In truth, they overlap with and form class to a large degree but aren’t completely coterminous. For example, certain class alliances are valid parts of national liberation struggles. To me, we also have to critique the reduction of capitalist “relations of production” to wage labor. The occupation of whole countries as well as work to reproduce labor power are both very much central relations of production for imperialism.

Good going on Upping the Anti, and I hope you get some engaging dialogues going.

David Gilbert
Dannemora, NY