Chris Burford on Anti-Semitism and

Carrol Cox cbcox at rs6000.cmp.ilstu.edu
Sun Jul 2 16:53:44 MDT 1995


    In his short message on anti-semitism C. Burford speaks of "contradictions
among the people." The phrase seems relevant, but we can't keep it unless we
wish to acknowledge some place in "our" history to Mao, for he coined the term
in his essay of that title. Any attempt to "purify" our tradition backwards by
reading out of it all those who made mistakes or committed crimes may be
ahistorical. If this is so, then Stalin too is "one of us," and we cannot
merely dismiss him as a criminal or a fake marxist or as someone who makes us
gag. The issue may even be generic: that is, it may be an issue raised not
specifically by communism or marxism but generically by all revolutionary
responses to the global dominance of capital. I believe others on this list
have argued that there is no automatic safety device to guarantee democracy.

    And to some extent, some kind of centralism is simply a condition of
action, not something we choose or refuse to choose. And again that makes us
confront the possibility of collapse into authoritarianism of any mass movement
for change. There are simply no guarantees in this world (which is why an
earlier thread on progress was, it seems to me, sloppy: No, history is not
progressive, in the sense that progress is guaranteed. The "idea of progress"
in this sense died with the guns of august 1914).
qq      Carrol Cox ISU Normal IL


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