VARIOUS MATTERS, EG. IDENTITY POLITICS

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Mon Apr 17 11:07:39 MDT 1995


In my manic fervor to communicate, which reached new heights of
free-associating logorrhea this weekend, I have seriously
overextended myself.  (I'll explain Gort and Klaatu if you like.
Not all of us share the same popular culture references.)  I still
owe a number of answers to queries, reviews of various books and
articles, personal replies to some of you, etc., but this week I
have other work on which I must concentrate.  Last night I lost a
number of messages, starting with Marquit's post on the CPUSA.  I
don't know what I missed.  I don't know how much time I have to
respond to various matters.

Naturally I am open and interested in being educated on how we can
use the ideas of Negri, Bhaskar, and Spinoza.

On "spirituality".  There is at least one book on Marxism and
Jung, by Walter Odajnuk (I can't remember the last name right,
dammit), not that I would recommend him.  I certainly would not
recommend the Nazi collaborator and Franco-lover Carl Jung.  Most
of the stuff on spirituality is highly dishonest and turns my
stomach, most of all liberation theology.  One really must be
clear-headed and not go in for fakery, but then the left is
desperate and has a long history of readiness to degrade itself.
(I guess we can thank the CP for this too.)  I spent yesterday
(Easter Sunday / the second day of Passover / whatever) listening
to John Coltrane, Sarah Vaughan, and Paul Robeson with a box of
tissues by my side.  For me this is spirituality.  You can't fake
it.  It is a physical thing, not to be obscured with pious
bullshit.

On blacks and the CPUSA.  Mostern was right to point toward
Richard Wright as the key.  Read the final pages of AMERICAN
HUNGER (unexpurgated version of BLACK BOY, Library of American
Edition) and weep.  When time permits, one must discuss in this
regard, even while admitting the real courage and contribution of
the CPUSA towards black civil rights, several decisive problems:
(1) the bureaucratic methods and personalities of the CP (or why
Richard Wright hated James Ford), (2) the class-race nexus and the
'violence of abstraction', (3) the Popular Front and its
implication for anti-colonialism and all anti-buttkissing social
movement, (4) the unconscionable betrayal of the black struggle by
the CPUSA during World War II and how it discredited the CP in the
black community, drove out the best intellectuals (Wright,
Ellison, etc.), and set the stage for the postwar anti-communist
activity of the NAACP leadership.  Richard Wright before 1940
transcended both abstract class schematism and identity politics.
Ralph Ellison invented 'cultural studies' for (Afro-)Americans in
_Negro Quarterly_ in 1943 or 1944.  I find most of what people
think is new today a bloody bore.  I cannot agree with Mostern on
identity politics.  A half-century ago the very notion was
suppressed by the black leadership, intelligentsia, and the black
middle to upper crust in general, and it had to be brought out in
the open.  (This was common knowledge in the 1940s.  Malcolm X
coming out of jail and entering the political scene in the 50's
was nothing new, original, or even particularly interesting; he
just stumbled into the political vacuum created by McCarthyism and
the Cold War.)  Today, identity politics is mainstream; it is an
indispensable part of the marketing strategy of corporate America.
American capitalism cannot survive without it.  That white people
are so stupid they have learned nothing about black objectivity or
subjectivity does not justify the increasing self-stereotyping and
cult of ignorance being inculcated in black youth by the media
(mainstream and black), politicians, mystical and religious
nationalist crackpots, and "organic intellectuals" (did I just
repeat myself?).  Mostern, how naive can you be?


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