marxism-digest V1 #360

LeoCasey at LeoCasey at
Sat Aug 19 09:30:28 MDT 1995

Chris Burford complains that my response to Jeff is unduly abrasive, and
>My problem is how am I to have concurrent exchanges of a reasonably
>rational level with Jeff.
when I am being so dismissive.

Our difference, Chris, is both our ability to pretend that "reasonably
rational" discourse is taking place when the other party's postings consists
of little more than steady accusations of imperialist lackey,
counter-revolutionary, etc. etc. ad naseum, and our level of tolerance for
engaging in such an exchange. For the most part, I just try to avoid such
exchanges as unproductive wastes of time. Occasionally, the devil in me is
drawn out to point the sheer insanity of it all -- I mean call me a
counter-revolutionary out to discredit Leninism and Trotskyism if you want
(frankly the last living Leninists and Trotskyists do a far better job of
discrediting than I ever could), but what world do you live in where the
masses are knocking down the doors to get to Trotsky's doctrine of permanent

As much as I come out of a Marxist and socialist tradition, and as much at it
has framed my way of looking at the world in  terms of power relations and
how one might go about transforming those relations, after 25 years on the
left and with the current real threats we face I have developed one
fundamental political prejudice -- I have no time for the rituals of
dogmatism designed to convince those who invoke them that the faith is still
secure, and that the world must change to conform to the dogma. At a certain
point in your life, a point which for me coincides with a radical right in
power that is attempting to undo a century of popular victories (who would
have thought a decade ago that public education itself could be in
question?), you take stock of where to put your limited energies. It is one
thing to find yourself on the political margins as a matter of principle, for
an intelligent political strategy can change that; it is an altogether
different matter to find yourself politically marginal as a matter of
self-investment, because marginality has become a sign of remaining true to
the faith (and the more marginal, the more faithful.)

Thus, just as this list is schizophrenic, as I noted a little while back, my
attitude toward it is schizophrenic. At times, I am drawn toward its
challenging intellectual exchange which help me clarify my thoughts and
sharpen my politics; at times, it appears to me as one of the last remants of
all that self-deluding, self-destructive "Leninist party building" of the
early 1970s. Insofar as I am anything approaching this label of masochistic
with which you have framed me, it would involves submitting myself to the
latter in hopes of getting a little of the former.

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