MARXIST HUMOR: UNITY OF THEORY & PRACTICE

Ralph Dumain rdumain at igc.apc.org
Fri Jun 2 10:38:54 MDT 1995


I'm so funny, I can't stand myself:

"If socialism means I have to be nice to people, you can keep your
revolution."

This is really really funny, and the irony is delicious.  One more
time:

"If socialism means I have to be nice to people, you can keep your
revolution."

But it is not nearly so funny as the following from Jerry Glevy:

>Socialists don't have to be "nice" to people and, indeed, many
>revolutionaries such as Luxemburg, Radek, Trotsky and others
>were quite abrasive and, at times, personally insulting to class
>enemies and political opponents.

This is totally deadpan; it's hysterical as a gloss on my inspired
aphorism.

Even better:

>Humor is a part of language and ideology, I would suggest.
>Humor is often class, race, or gender-based.  It can be a means
>with which the ruling class continues its domination.
>Consequently, there can be progressive humor and reactionary
>humor, humor which moves the struggle for socialism forward and
>humor which retards that struggle.  What is humorous for one
>class is frequently insulting to another.

Jerry, please stop, please, you're killing me.  My sides are
splitting.  Your deadpan delivery is technically perfect.  Let's
team up -- please be my straight man, please.  "Humor which moves
the struggle for socialism forward" -- this is priceless, Jerry!
I'm going to sign you up with Progress Publishers.  Great stuff,
great stuff.  You are a master.

>However, revolutionaries also understand the power of language
>and would not have used racist or sexist crudities.

Marx didn't do stand-up, did he?  He confined most of his slurs to
private correspondence and unpublished manuscripts.  Some people
could have gotten the wrong idea about locutions such as
"dirty-Jewish", but he used that expression to get up in the face
of white Christian German intellectuals.  Constipation jokes,
masturbation jokes, Jewish jokes -- that Marx, what a kidder!  Are
Jews born with it or what?

>Had, for instance, a delegate to an international socialist
>convention (at least I-IV Internationals) called another
>revolutionary a "bitch", then the other delegates would be
>jumping over each other in an attempt to denounce the use of
>that term

Oy, what a tough audience!  I surely wouldn't want to be booed off
the stage by Zinoviev.  What a frown!

>not only because it is sexist and offensive, but, also, because
>such language discredits socialists and inhibits political
>organizing.

"Inhibits political organizing."  Al Franken, it's time for you to
retire.  I've got your replacement.

>"My" revolution will not take place without the active support
>and participation of women, and any language or actions which
>interfere with mobilizing class-conscious women is an obstacle
>to the organizing process.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!  Who needs Seinfeld with
material like this?  Nose-picking, parking problems -- old stuff.
Jerry, baby, this is the best deadpan I've seen since Jack Benny
would park his hand under his chin and stare offstage.

Perhaps a Marxist theory of humor should be self-exemplifying,
should itself make you laugh, in true dialectical fashion.

Chris M. Sciabarra sez:

>Bertell Ollman gave several lectures on "humor" as an example of
>dialectical contradiction in action.  Humor, as a category,
>usually plays off of paradox, and for Ollman, it was often the
>best way to illustrate dialectical methods.

Yes, he told me about this.  Listen, Mr. Chris "Ayn Rand"
Libertarian Sciabarra: I know Bertell Ollman.  Bertell Ollman is a
friend of mine.  And you, sir, are no Bertell Ollman.


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