"Killing" the Katzenjammers

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Thu Aug 10 17:41:59 MDT 1995

Louis Proyect:

I've set up a "kill" file for Scott Solomon and Rob Frantz so I won't
receive their incoming e-mail and I want to explain why.

But I have to give you a little background first and this requires that I
speak about my cousin Marvin. Marvin got involved with the socialist
and antiwar movements about the same time as me. He was 3 years
younger and really bright and energetic. However, he was a bit of a
"wild man". He liked to eat worms. He liked to hold his breath until he
fainted. He liked to throw malted milk balls at the movie screen in the
Rialto theater upstate.

This wildness carried over into another form when he got involved
with politics. He just couldn't resist the temptation to argue with
marginal figures, both on the right and the left, while more important
issues were on the front-burner.

Every mass demonstration against the war in Vietnam in the 60's and
70's had a right-wing counter-demonstration. The mass
demonstrations had hundreds of thousands of people while the right-
wing demo had less than a hundred usually. Of course, they would
receive equal coverage on the evening TV news.

Well, the right-wingers were as about as disgusting a bunch of geeks
you can possibly imagine. It was a mixture of activists from the
"captive nations" of Lithuania, etc., YAFers waving big American
flags and Cuban exiles who were usually the most worrisome. The
right-wingers were the kind of subjects Diane Arbus liked to
photograph. They had pencil necks, pasty complexions and beady eyes.
Spittle gathered at the corners of their mouths.

I always had to drag Marvin away from the counterdemonstrators. He
wanted to defend the right of self-determination of the Vietnamese
before this gang, but basically he just liked to argue. That was his

Marvin also liked to argue with ultraleftists. We would go to these big
student antiwar conferences in the midwest where the "revolutionary"
groups, who had zero involvement with the mass demonstrations, set
up literature tables in the hallways. They hoped to lure people into
their cults.

These folks were sort of the mirror image of the right-wingers. They
stood behind their tables, arms folded, wearing a glowering expression
on their face. Since the student antiwar conferences were in the
business of "selling out" the Vietnamese revolution, these folks could
really work themselves into a tizzy over the "betrayals" being
plotted within the conference plenaries. Of course, these "super-
revolutionaries" couldn't organize themselves to get out of the bed in
the morning, let alone organize mass demonstrations.

I always had to drag Marvin away from their tables. He wanted to
defend the value of mass demonstrations while the fringe leftists
wanted to defend the value of COMMUNIST REVOLUTION NOW!, if you get what I
mean. "Marvin," I would say, "there are more important things going on
inside, so let's go right now."

May I suggest that we face similar diversions on this list?

We have been visited by right-wingers like Dana (I don't recall her last
name) and she was eventually driven off. I think some of us fell into
the same trap as Marvin. We felt a need to politically confront this
nineties version of a 1960s right-wing counterdemonstrator.

We have also been confronted by nominally left-wingers like Rob
Frantz and Scott Solomon who actually at an earlier time in their lives
both belonged to one of these ultraleft groups at the literature tables
out in the hallway. There's as much sense in stopping to argue with
them today as there was 25 years ago. Rob is some kind of "social
democrat" with the hots for Hayek. Scott doesn't appear to have any
politics whatsoever.

This list has had some tremendous discussions lately. I think the
recent discussion about the former Yugoslavia has been exemplary. I
think especially of posts by Lisa Rogers and Tom Condit. This is what
we should be concentrating on: solving the big problems of world
politics as we near the millennium. I, for one, don't want to waste my
time wallowing around in the cesspool so that's why I've set up a kill
file for the Katzenjammer kids, Scott and Rob. What other people do is
their choice. I would just suggest that you resist the temptation to act
like my cousin Marvin.

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