More about that relativ

Wed Oct 5 11:36:45 MDT 1994

Date sent:      Tue, 4 Oct 1994 13:18:02 -0400 (EDT)
From:           "Paul W. Cockshott" <cockshpw at>
Subject:        Re: More about that relativ
Send reply to:  marxism at

On Tue, 4 Oct 1994, Philip Goldstein wrote:

>   Chris Connery writes that "I generally agree with Paul Cockshott
> when he writes that
> "I can not think of any conjuncture in which academics have posed a
> serious threat to the established order."

> Angela Davis is an academic who
> studied with Herbert Marcuse, I think.

I got the impression that she was victimised as a black political
activist at a time when the militancy of black working class groups
was high. It was the Panthers rather than academics that posed a

This is a very simplistic way to look at things, academics vs.
activists: Angela Davis' influence was and is so great precisely
because she has a brilliant grasp of Marcuse and German Critical
Philosophy AND she was a black panther, one of the core people who
kept the LA panthers moving in a positively subversive direction when
they could have splintered uselessly at any moment, and her academic
training had no small part in her ability to keep that particular
micropolitical movement focused.
    "Serious threat" is a vacuous phrase, but if you take the time to
read her autobiography from 1972 or 74, you will see that the whole
weight of the LAPD, CHIPS, and eventually the FBI was brought to bear,
via a series of systematic repressions and assassinations, against a
very small group of activists who kept the panthers in California
running.  Davis and the LA panthers were rightly seen as a grave
threat by the police state because they had strong community support
wherever they had time to set up grassroots campaigns within
sympathetic neighbourhoods.  They were systematically wiped out
because once their ideas were supported by the community at large,
the police knew they would be stripped of their pseudo-legitimacy.
Davis' academic background obviously was a major reason that she was
so respected and feared and on the FBI's 10 most wanted list for most
of a year.  A common criminal who hasn't killed anyone or even been
seen at the scene of a crime is not given such royal treatment.  A
black activist, feminist, critical theorist working in the streets to
organize people in 1970 is the DEFINITION of a serious threat to the
police state.  Give props where they are due.
    Please desist from separating academics from people who pose a
real threat, because by doing so, you show yourself as an "academic"
through and through, and are therefore harmless and useless for
furthuring any REAL, future subversion. (Sorry for jumping in in the
middle of your dialogue, but that really bothered me.)


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